New Beginnings

Although it took me a long time to even peek out the closet door at nineteen, it took less than a year for me to bravely swing it wide open. Three years later, the only thing keeping me from demolishing the closet altogether is the fact that I’ve yet to sever my gay umbilical cord and tell my parents. But for all intents and purposes, I’m out and about, and most importantly, comfortable with it, and deep down, I have a feeling that my parents are just playing the family version of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell anyway (walk-in closet game piece sold separately).

Have an English lit class analyze my seemingly successful coming-of-age story and they might brand it as the ABC Family rendition of Joy Luck Club meets Ally McBeal, an episodic and neurotic lesson-by-lesson play-by-play detailing an Asian immigrant’s post-adolescent metamorphosis in the Great White Way that is Gay America. However, unlike that winning pitch for a television series (copyrighted as of now, thank you), I have a feeling that my dive into the U.S. of Gay does not represent—or is even attractive to—the majority of my peers in the gay community… and it’s not just the fact that I’m uncomfortable in Abercrombie and Fitch or any Rodeo Drive establishment that might con me into buying a white t-shirt for more than $100. For me, the essential part of being a homosexual man is not the fashion or furniture choices I make, what music or musicals I listen to, or my ability to perfectly style my hair even if I’m just going out for a jog. I’m homosexual because I like men and I want to be with men; thus, I believe that my value in the gay community is measured in—what else?—the currency of men.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to imply that my value as a gay man is equal to my level of promiscuity, that my shares in GLBT and Company triple every time I get to third base. When I speak of the currency of men, I’m thinking in corporate lingo: I have to use factors that are measurable and quantifiable. I’ve got to cross-reference my data: how many men have I been with versus how long have I successfully been with each; how many of them have approached me versus how many of them I’ve sought on my own; and how many I’ve broken up with versus how many have parted ways with me. In short, if my value is measured in the currency of men, I’ve got to examine my dating history with a microscope... although, in my case, maybe I should be using a magnifying glass. My dating history is, well, already microscopic. If there were a Board of Review for gay dating, I’d have the following brief (aptly named) to place before the chairman and his officials:

  • 2004 / For three weeks, dated a college senior fraternity boy for three weeks; for the first time, went on a date and made out with a boy (place appropriate squeal here)
  • 2004 / For a five week summer fling, dated a twenty-three-year-old Catholic School teacher; was na├»ve enough to crown him with the inaugural title of My Boyfriend, which enabled him to swipe my V-card before we split
  • 2004 / For a few weeks, dated a Young College Republican until it seemed like he was a bit of a hermit... and I am one of the most anti-hermits you’ll ever meet
  • 2005 / Went on a few fun dates with the twenty-two-year-old manager of a Sprint store before having to end my summer internship and consequent fling
  • 2006 (yeah, that was all for 2005) / After having graduated college, went on a few dates with a player of a college junior who became the second person to swipe the V-card before ending almost all communication
  • 2006 / While visiting my family for Christmas, had a week-long winter affair with a friend of a friend that, of course, had to end once I went back to my post-college job away from home
  • 2007 (thus far) / For fifty days, dated a guy who was the closest thing I had since 2004 to being crowned My Boyfriend; we broke up because of several long-run dealbreakers that began to surface early in our relationship

And that’s all I have to show for my more than three years of being out: a handful of failures attributed both to personal obligations and mistakes. Whereas one of my closest friends just went on two dates each with two different guys last week. Whereas the guy who almost could’ve been My Boyfriend got a number at a grocery store parking lot last week. Whereas one of my friends with whom I danced the night away this past Friday was approached by five different guys in a matter of hours. And then there’s me—over three years, there have been a total of seven male figures in my dating history... and altogether, they make up just few months of my out-of-the-closet time. My gay value: Low. And I’m not too happy about that.

But I want to change that. I’m finishing this first column of mine just a few hours into Easter Sunday, and I don’t mind transcending my general irreligiousness to latch onto the symbolism of the occasion: This is a time for new beginnings—and part of the Perfect Twenties that I want to mold for myself is eventual success in the Department of Romance. So now that Lent is over and I can let myself access internet downloads again (as a huge music fan, believe me—it was a challenge), I’m going to make a new commitment: This time around, I’m not waiting for someone to approach me, to kick start a rise in my gay value, and raise my stakes in more ways than one. Change never came passively for the slaves, women’s suffrage, or the Emancipation of Mimi; change means realizing that something can be better and that it’s possible to act in order to better it. So I’m not just going to stand there; fuck, I’m a man who likes men—I’m going to use the cajones I’ve got and whatever it takes, I’m going to do the man thing and put my man self out there.

And by the way—you’re coming with me.

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