How Christmas Made Me “Ex-Gay”

I sat next to him at Christmas Eve dinner last night. Nice guy. German-born, travelled the world with his UN parents, lives in NY. Artist type. In a room of heterosexual family and friends I wondered if this man could be “the one”–the ultimate Christmas gift–a life partner.

We chatted, we joked, I let it slip out a dozen ways that I am gay. The white wine and his open friendly banter made me believe he was too. “I’m heading home tomorrow,” I placed on the table. He countered, “I wish you would stay.”

Next at the Brazilian Christmas Eve bash (replete with non-stop dancing, darts and enough food to save a medium-sized starving village), I chatted some more with the potential love of my life. Did he look extra deep into my eyes?

As my Brazilian friends, in precise heterosexual pairing, danced circles around the gringos, my love, my mate, my life partner to be, broke my heart with a casual aside about a recent girlfriend being Brazilian, then he twirled away in the arms of a blond woman leaving me standing by the basket of bread (the carbs of comfort).

Maybe it was the switch to red wine or the realization that I was probably the only gay man in a room of nearly 20 couples, but I suddenly felt alone, angry, deflated.

Later, at my parents’ home, watching dysfunctional heterosexual families artistically portrayed in late-night movies (and gay men artfully dying of AIDS on Logo), I thought of a friend, a gay man who although he has survived the “ex-gay” movement, recently got on-line in search of a woman, a wife. I don’t judge him or blame him. In his words (and in the words of an “ex-gay” leader I know) “I’ve always wanted a family.” Perhaps he means, a normal family–normal and easy in the eyes of society. Who wants to be the weird one out? I know I didn’t last night as my Christmas Eve melted down into self-pity and garlic rolls.

I hear people condemn homosexuality because they claim the Bible cries out against it. I hear “ex-gay” leaders who proclaim that it was their relationship with Jesus Christ that transformed them. I would love someone to be honest about this desire to change. It is not the Bible that compels us, (not exclusively) it is society, it is thousands of nuclear family Christmas specials and heterosexually-matched salt shakers and the disappointment that once again the only possible eligible man in the room is irrepairably wrong for you.

No wonder, in the words of John Smid, many of us queer folks create gay ghettos for ourselves (and “ex-gay” ones too!). This Christmas Santa (the letters of whose name also spells Satan) did not bring me a partner, a tall order even for a demi-god like Father Christmas. But the season did give me a little more compassion for those folks who desperately seek to be something they cannot. How we long to belong, even if it costs us our lives.

Merry Happy.

This post has 10 Comments

  1. Tom D on December 25, 2005 at 4:27 pm Reply

    I know I’ve hosted the same pity party before. I imagine we all have. And, ultimately, it’s not a sexual orientation issue.

    It’s important to remember that there are lots of hetero folks out there who bemoan their lack of dating opportunities, even if in a room of heterosexuals. Even if Gorgeous Brazilian Guy were gay, that wouldn’t automatically mean that he would be The One (in fact, more than likely, by basic statistics, he wouldn’t be).

    The One was probably at some holiday function of his own last night, thinking the same things you were.

    So, chin up!

    (I did a radical departure from Quakerism and went to the highest, grandest Episcopal midnight mass I could find last night. Where you could barely see the altar for all the incense smoke. Lots of gay male couples there (what a shock! 🙂 enjoying the outstanding choir, and the chants in Latin. So I was wondering where my partner was. But, when the stars align appropriately, it will happen. These things tend to happen just when you’re not looking for them.)

  2. Bose on December 25, 2005 at 5:08 pm Reply

    Yup, yup, yup, Peterson… I get it.

    It didn’t feel so much like external societal or familial pressure that motivated me to date women and marry — I really loved the traditions, the simplicity, of being straight in a largely straight world.

    My version of quirky holiday dynamics today is hanging out with my partner’s family, to whom he’s not quite out. (The only available bed is a twin, so there’s no where-do-we-sleep issue: I’m happy on the sofa!) It’s been very friendly between me and them for 3 years, so it’s hard for me to imagine that it will be a surprise once everything is in the open… but after having some great conversations with Mike’s dad, we got to comparing notes about post-divorce. It’s strange talking about my divorce without mentioning my orientation, but that’s where I ended up.

    Wishing you the best of the holidays!

  3. Jay on December 26, 2005 at 5:42 pm Reply

    Your Christmas man…I’ve had a number of those types in my life. It is an observable, verifiable phenomenon. I used to just think I was only attracted to straight men. Now I understand that I also attract a certain type of straight man. First there was Luke, then Lance, Matt, Ken, and presently Kory. With the last two, I engaged the assistance of my friends to observe the dynamic between the straight man and the gay man. They report the same thing that I have felt for years–an obvious sexual chemistry, with specific instances of flirtation on the part of the straight man towards me. While I am terribly suceptible to their charms and have always been the happy victim of painful crushes on these men, I have also matured enough to know that nothing is going to happen beween us, and am able (usually) to maintain an amused distance. I definitely consider it great flattery that somehow I enchant these men. And…of course…sexuality is a spectrum. Maybe in a different society (and if I were a different type of guy), all of these men would have passed through my arms with the blessing of my lips as well. In this world, all I can say is they have been the source of some lovely dreams. mmmmMMMMM!! hahah!

  4. Rob7534 on December 27, 2005 at 10:13 am Reply

    I think most gay men know what your refering to Peterson. I thought I had my casual run-in with “mr right” at a wedding. While all the formal dances were going on, I snuck outside for some fresh air w/a glass of wine. And was joined by this amazingly good-looking man and we struck up a conversation quickly over nothing, and everything at the same time.

    Until his girlfriend calls him on his cell phone, she was wondering where he was (she was in the reception hall) and he told her was talking a “cool” guy outside. I’ve never been the “cool” guy like ever! HA!

    I ended our little rendevous with a, “I’ll let you get back inside, your girlfriend is waiting for you.” Even thought I wanted nothing more but to be near him and talk more.

  5. sur*facing on December 27, 2005 at 2:13 pm Reply

    hey, you. it sucks; it really does. as a non-homosexual, i’m sure i can’t even begin to imagine how much. i know i’m privileged to just be able to assume that every man i come across who flirts with me is straight and is really interested–in a totally ‘socially acceptable’ way.

    so what to do when a dear, dear friend is hurting legitimately over a real piece of life’s unfairness–even wrongness? sit quietly, remind you that i love you, that i hear you, that you exist and are beautiful; listen and have room for your anger and your grief and your sense of isolation.

    wish there were more for me to do, but that’s part of what sucks, no? there are no remedies; just living through it is enough.

  6. Mark on December 27, 2005 at 3:44 pm Reply

    powerfully intoxicating, that “normality” thing. I’m fairly certain that’s what motivated my desire to marry very early on.

    Here’s hoping for a paired-up Holiday season next year!

  7. Anonymous on December 27, 2005 at 10:37 pm Reply

    Still, as always, you are an incredible man!
    Patrick

  8. Willie Hewes on December 28, 2005 at 10:46 am Reply

    Aw, dude! *zen hug*

    Loneliness sucks much, especially this time of year. You’re amazing though, there’s no way you’re gonna *stay* alone.

    *raises glass to enduring love*

  9. Anonymous on December 31, 2005 at 2:52 am Reply

    Being Trans I know what you mean……
    I went to my niece’s house down in New Jersey for Christmas and per the agreed upon ground rules*, I can’t be Diana among the kids until I transition. So I sat there as “Don” and tried to enjoy the holiday. On the way back to Connecticut that night, I was talking to a friend who was all by herself. Her wife took the kids and wants no contact with her and her parents have disowned her. So in away I consider myself lucky.
    Monday night my nephew stopped by and we went out to the movies to see Syriana in East Hartford with a couple of my trans friends. He got to see me as Diana for the first time, his comment “Cool”.

    *I came out to my brother and sister-in-law about two years ago and my niece and nephews this past Labor Day. At that time we agreed that I would be Don until I was ready to transition in front of their kids who are all under four. Since I could see the logic in that, I agreed, don’t like it, but I agreed.

    Diana

  10. Peterson Toscano on January 4, 2006 at 9:40 pm Reply

    I know that many hetersexual women and men struggle with finding love, but my post is not about the angst of being single (although that is part of it). It is about the lonliness and longingness of not fitting into a world that constantly asserts that heterosxuality is “normal” with hundreds and even thousands of daily references to it in everything from songs in the 10 ten pop charts to heterosexually paired salt & pepper shakers on the table.

    I know that is how it is and there are options available to see positive images of same-gender loving partnerships, but one grows weary (this one at least) and can understand how this steady seemingly benign heterosexual onslaught can make those of us who are not “normal” feel marginalized, oppressed and invisible to the point where we seek to change our sexual orientation to fit in with the pre-packaged society norms.

    Even in a film like Brokeback Mountain we see love mangled and mis-shaped into relationships that bring pain to all because the gay lovers live in a world that does not make room for them.

    Particularly in rural parts of the US and other countries, the person with same-sex attractions finds herself and himself in tight spaces where they often need to contain some of the reality of who they are or possibly face being criticized, ostracized, or even physically attack. Surely this is one of the compelling reasons why many people have sought to become ex-gay. Not the only reason, but a very strong one for many of us, even if we were not fully aware of it at the time.
    _________________

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