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.