Jay's Head
Top Ten Lessons for Beginning Homosexuals, p. 2

4.      Patience is more important than lust.

In the Kabbalah (Okay, this one is a little different from the Maxim/Cosmo entries. So sue me. At least I'm still using phrases like "so sue me."), the qualities of 'splendour' (hod) and 'endurance' (netzach) form a binary pair within God. The idea is that there are two sides to every experience of the numinous: the immediate, awesome, atemporal, knock-you-off-your-feet wow (hod), and also a more enduring, patient, time-spanning constancy (netzach). In love, hod gets most of the attention. The zipless fuck, the simultaneous orgasm, transcendent sex. But netzach is where it's really at. Sometimes it takes patience even to get in a relationship. Always it takes patience to stay in one.

5.      The closet is the worst thing in the world.

I thought that being in the closet was one feature of my personality. I was wrong. It colored everything. It restricted how I expressed my emotions, how I bonded or didn't bond with my friends, and most importantly, the lies and the cheap sex and the constant self-hatred created mountains of guilt that made me generally miserable to be around. The closet is the 'worst thing in the world' because, like more obviously terrible things like oppression, it robs you of your humanity, turns you into less than a full person. And what is worse than that?
I have friends who have privately come out to me in the last year, while remaining in the closet to people at large. Some might even be reading this article. COME OUT NOW. October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Use that as a pretext. You have no idea how much you are hurting yourself - really, you have no idea. No matter how hard coming out is, it is easier than staying in the closet. Believe me, it was hard for me to come out. But I am so much happier now, even in ways that you'd think have nothing to do with sexuality. Ask any of my friends. Another thing I found out when I came out: most gay people aren't that much more clueless than I am. Everyone has some neurosis. True, some knew at 11 and came out at 13. But many more struggled. Come out now.

6.      God is related to love.

One guy I was with, who left me because he thinks that being gay is a sin, told me that his 'predicament' of being unable to love (because being gay is a sin) is actually a gift, because it enables him to love God fully. In other words, your love is either directed towards another person, or towards God. Truthfully, I've had similar feelings myself. After so many years of failure, and after all of this loneliness, I've wondered if maybe this is my dharma, that my own loneliness has the "intended" purpose of focusing me on my true path, which is a contemplative one. But I still think that's wrong. I don't think we have a finite quantity of love, that's either directed in one way or another. I think the quantity of our love is infinite, and can be increased or decreased based on how much love we allow ourselves to experience. I love God more when I'm experiencing intimacy (not just sexual intimacy) than when I'm not. When I'm alone, God seems distant and love is hard. When I'm with someone, God seems close and love is easy.

7.      Gay people today have it easy.

When I was in high school, being a faggot was the worst possible thing. It was even worse than being black. (This was Florida, in the 80s. In my not-at-all-tough school, a black kid got beaten up for dating a white girl.) My mother once told me that she could handle anything I could possibly tell her, except if I told her I was gay. Today, those kinds of feelings are off the map. Maybe it's just where I am (New York) or who my friends are (liberals), but it seems to me that hating someone because they're gay is, well, like hating someone because they're black. Who thinks this anymore? I know that lots of people are racist and homophobic. But all gay teens have to do today is log on to the Net and there are resources a click away that I never dreamed of when I was a kid, everything from support groups to netmeeting to articles and coming-out guides. And in my crowd, gay is just another character trait. Thanks, generations of queers who suffered for this liberation. There's work still to be done, but this was easier than I thought.

8.      I am not a good judge of people.

I guess I thought that being more honest about myself and my feelings, not to mention doing meditation and mindfulness practice, would help me be more aware of people and their feelings - and thus more able to relate to them. I was wrong. Christ, I have no idea what makes people tick. They are mysterious. Straight men like to say that "women are mysterious," but actually, everyone is mysterious. I don't get the boy who tells me, and shows me, that he thinks I'm beautiful, wonderful, and sweet, and then dumps me ten days later. I don't get the boy who tells me that he loves me but doesn't return my calls. I don't know whether the mostly-straight kid who told me, in his room, that he wants to be with guys but "wouldn't know what to do" was coming on to me or not. And, I've noticed, it's not just sex. I had a long conversation with someone recently, which I thought went great, and then he told someone else that he was horribly offended by everything I said. I come off as pushy even if I'm trying very hard to be gentle. I come off as indecisive even when I'm trying to be firm. I give up. I have written books about "the immanence of Divinity in our capacity for wonder," but I have no idea what makes people tick.

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October 2002

jay's head
josh ring