Jay's Top Ten Lessons for New Homosexuals
Jay Michaelson

National Coming Out Day: October 11

Well, it's been a year since I really came out of the closet, at least reckoning the dates according to when I told my friends, got my gayjews.net member ID, and started really trying to meet guys instead of girls - really, not for occasional sex or furtive encounters, but, you know, to find the love of my life. I've learned a lot of things in the last year, a few of them positive, more of them negative, and all of them completely and utterly clichéd. I can think of no more appropriately clichéd way to present these revelations than the wise-sounding list of commonplace observances, in the mode so prevalent in magazines ranging from Cosmo to Maxim. So, then, as a respite from several months of theological speculations and life-cycle musings, here is some shameless pap: my list of the top ten lessons I've learned about queer life in the 00's:

1.      Looking into the boy's eyes does not count.

I used to think that "eyes were the window into the soul," and that when you looked into your lover's eyes when you were naked, and you shared a moment of true communion, that that meant you really were sharing a moment of true communion. I have learned this to be false. Over the last year, I've looked into at least four sets of eyes and penetrated deep into the soul of my lover, only to find that my lover was (a) just in it for the sex, (b) neurotically self-hating, (c) shallow and superficial, or (d) all of the above. I've come to the conclusion that looking into your lover's eyes reveals exactly what you want to see, and nothing more.

2.      You can't want it too much.

I've really had a wonderful run over the last year. In addition to plenty of sex, and more than one mystical experience, I've had soul-baring relationships with at three beautiful and varyingly great guys, and friendships that I wanted to be relationships with two others. Not bad for someone just Out, but since I'm 31, I see these glimmers of connection in the context of fifteen years of loneliness. I'm still lonely, and keep hoping that around the corner is the big change, the One, the person who will end the years of solitude and carry me off into a new place of being. In other words, I want it too much. One boy, with whom I had the best sex of my entire life, I managed to scare off by coming on too strong. Another's friendship I almost lost by forcing it to be more. Yet another, who just last week said he thinks of me all the time, I almost yelled at on email for not being in touch, until thankfully I stopped myself and recognized the absurdity of such a thing. If you want it too much, you show it, and you come across as creepy. You also don't appreciate what is right in front of you, which, usually, should be more than enough to make you happy.

3.     Sex is sex.

Not love. You might think it's love (see "eyes," above) but it probably isn't. It might be yearning (see "wanting") or it might just be joy in life. You know, what's wrong with fulfilling a yearning, or taking joy in life, having fun? Nothing, as long as you don't confuse it with enduring knowledge and love of another human being (see "wanting" again). The body is wonderful; it's just not always the soul. Sex is great. Let's not make it less so by noticing too much that it isn't something else.

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October 2002

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josh ring