Monday, August 21, 2006

Always the guest

Over the weekend I had an experience that interrupted my peace... brought up a rush of familiar angst. As I talked to my wife about it, my mind wandered to high school and an experience that may be meaningful.

The experience itself doesn't really have a story to it, it's more of a snapshot. I'm lying on my back in a field watching the stars with three guys from school that I really admire. Two of them are the co-captains of the soccer team, two are on the school's competitive academic team with me, one is a leader in band with me, and one is my best friend. All three are way smart, good looking, self confident, and all around nice guys. In short, I find them to be oddly appealing and incomprehensible. I want to be like them. I want... them.

And how does one have another person?

I think the healthy way to dispatch such feelings is to become good friends with people I admire. To come to know them well enough that they are at once a real person with real faults, someone who affirms my own humanity and value, and someone who is worth knowing even when I see they aren't as perfect as I thought.

That didn't happen for me in high school. Well, not enough, anyway. As we chatted under the stars about friends from school, astronomy (yeah, we were geeky like that), and everything else, I felt great. There was acceptance and an intangible affirmation for me. But ultimately, after the campout was all over I felt like an outsider. These guys had known each other longer than me. I felt like they had a friendship with each other that was more genuine than my own. I was the last invited on the campout. I hadn't been invited to others at all, but that was probably because I lived further away and was a relative new-comer. I was a guest.

I don't want to be a guest. I want to have them for myself. How can I satisfy that hunger? How can I be home?


santorio said...

i was just about to post a comment on what i think is the same theme so i will do it here.

a few weeks ago a colleague from work that i run into only a few times a year asked me to drop by if i was ever in his neighborhood. he lives 40 miles away, so that is not often, but yesterday i was and i did. we talked about work, kids, and stuff. a beginning of a friendship it appears. since marriage i have not had close male friends. i have attributed it to the lack of common interests with men from church, work, neighborhood. hey is there a trend here? am i afraid of establishing a close friendship? or unable to for some other reason? do i give off threatening vibes? a few years ago an article in the ensign from an ssa-bishop if i am remembering right, advised us to develop healthy but of course non-sexual male relationships.

Scot said...

How do you think, L, this fits in with you being gay? I mean, how different are these feeling than other memories of teen unrequited love, where the guy wants to be with a girl 24-7, but knows that’s not what she wants and so he can only be an outsider to her?

Also, don’t you actually know how to satisfy this hunger, to feel at home, if home means where you’re comfortable, where it’s natural for you? It’s that you, where you are today, by most all measures, shouldn’t go “home”.

Maybe people can be gay for different reasons, but I ask all this because this is an area where I found the literature and approach of many “reparative” groups innately wrong and powerless.

My group of friends, 6 guys, practically lived at my house, the congregation point for most the teens in my area. I’ve been honored to twice be best man for them, and they’ve stood by my side and handed me my ring. I love them dearly and I know they love me in return and our relationship has never been sexual. Though I could count two fights with 1 of them, I have never felt alienated from the group or greatly different than them, until after I realized I was gay. Not one of them is gay, but even that was more like realizing I was left-handed to our friendship.

Could it really be you are gay for totally different reasons? Perhaps. Maybe my close friendships saved me from becoming the dreaded uber-gay? :-)

Samantha said...

Hmmm...this seems to be a slight departure from your normal, slightly clinical musings. Delving into the emotional threshold...

Actually, I find it rather refreshing when you don't back up your questions and musings with statistics or quotes from authorities (general or not). It allows us to see "you", which lends a bit of vulnerability to the great -L-, merges the great intellect with the emotional human's kind of beautiful.

But I have my own theories about the "outsider" thing...I don't think it always has to do with being gay (although that's the first thing that comes to mind because it's sort of in your face during high school). There are other things that separate youth from being accepted...high scores on standardized tests...the ability to think outside the box...understanding of things that escape the teen of average IQ...

It's not always about sex or sexual orientation.

I suppose the general term would be "nerd" or "brain". But I'm certain none of this resonates with you...

Loyalist With Defects said...

As usual your blog lends to some higher brain functions. Not that I mind such activities :->

I've also wondered the same. Unlike my wife, I have rare close male friends; lots of associates but not much beyond the daily pleasantries of the day and the standard chatter at the back of the priesthood meeting on Sunday.

Like you, when I have done activities with other men I’ve felt like the third wheel and over time I’ve started avoiding such activities. It has become easier now that I’m married as I can provide a more valid excuse (for myself at least).

I have one male friend whom I would call my best friend. I've have never had sexual feelings or thoughts about this guy. This has made it easier to be friends with him. I think of him as more of a brother (although I've never fought with him like I have my siblings). I don’t see him that often. But when we do get together it’s like we just pick up from our last conversation. I like it. It’s comfortable. It’s also funny though, we are completely opposite in nearly everything in our lives. I’m emotional; he’s not. He likes competitive sports; I can’t stand playing competitively. He’s rather aggressive in how he approaches activities/challenges; I’m just the opposite. He likes working outside; I prefer the controlled climate of an office. I know, I know…opposites attract. But I am serious about never having sexual feelings for him. Could it be emotional connections then? Although I certainly have never been all “open” to him about all my thoughts a feelings.

mark said...

I have experienced similar feelings, too. I remember the first really close male friendship I had...I had been a member of the church about 9 months and started university. I met a guy in my ward close to me in age who was also a convert. We hit it off. (He was and is quite straight, as far as I know.) I remember one night going to see a movie with him, and then walking back home to the student residence where I lived, and feeling somewhat euphoric about the time I had spent with my friend and then perhaps a little lonely and isolated. I remember thinking that this longing for closeness must be an echo of our pre-earth life experiences in the presence of God.

Anyway, now as I reflect on it, I wonder if these feelings of being apart, of being "the guest" or outsider, maybe stem from a need for intimacy at a level that is deeper or different from that which straight men feel towards one another. I wonder if it is not a desire for deep communion with another person who does not and cannot reciprocate because they experience the same type of desire not for one of their own gender but for one of the opposite gender.

Having said that, I wonder if that is true, that straigth men desire a deep communion with their wives of the type that a gay man feels toward another man. I say this because in my observation very often straight men do not seem to have close relationships with their wives and certainly don't seem to look at them as "soul mates" for lack of a better term to describe this type of deep communion.

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, and am not sure where I am going with this comment, so I'll stop here.

Samantha said...

-L-: I assume that the Mark above is the one you thought I was talking about, who knows nothing about me, because he's not?

So, hello to Mark!! If you had a blog link, I'd visit you. I visit everyone...sometimes I talk to them, as well.

mark said...

Alas, Samantha, I have not yet entered the blogosphere as author yet...but if I keep up this routine of reading others' blogs, I'm going to have to join the club ;)