Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I Don't Wanna Be a Cowboy

I just returned from four days in Houston, Texas. Why? That's a good question. I spent the Labor Day weekend visiting my parents, two sisters, brother-in-law, and niece who have all relocated to Houston in the last four years, which is odd in many ways as we were all raised in Indiana. Both my sisters have lived in Houston for a bit now, but my parents more recently relocated there after spending their entire lives in the same area of Indiana. I have to say I'm very proud of them for making such a big change. They seem happy and have a very nice home, which I got to see for the first time this trip. It was a good visit. I hadn't seen most of them in well over a year, but it was also a different kind of visit. 

Partly it was different because it was the first time I visited Houston with all of them living there. Seeing them for these four days was a reminder of the ever shifting landscape of family relationships and situations. While we all get along and enjoy each other, this time I felt, even more so than before, that I'm moving in my own direction. 

Dustin and I have a very different kind of life from my Texas family, especially since we moved to Orlando over a year ago and this trip made me realize how much I love my life with Dustin. Are things perfect? No. Most of you have seen my rants about my job, but many things are good. Dustin and I have a very different outlook on life than many others do. We want to move around. We like to try new things. We have both become vegetarian. We are atheists (my family is not). We have defined our relationship in terms that many find very difficult to understand. We enjoy the gay community and being a part of it and sometimes when you step outside of that (like going to Houston, TX) you realize how different the gay community can be from the rest of society. 

The gay movement talks a lot about how we are the same as straight people and I understand the point of this and in many ways of course they are right. We are human. We have feelings. We have desires. We should have equal rights, but that doesn't mean we are the same or that we should be the same. I'm always leery of the idea that to be equal you must prove your sameness. Why? My outlook on life is greatly shaped by the fact that I am gay and all of the cultural issues and experiences that come with that and what most straight people can't understand is I wouldn't change it for anything. I love being gay.  

In the past year I've spent every weekend in a gay club or going to a gay event or being with gay friends and I've loved every minute of it (well almost). This has always been what I've wanted and I finally have it. I've found a place I fit and I like the feeling that comes from being in those environments. 

As Dustin and I boarded I plane home last night we recalled how we didn't see one gay person in Houston the whole time we were there, which is odd, because I have pretty damn good gaydar, but the point is there. Florida and Texas may not be that far apart but they are worlds apart. 

While I'm happy for my family, because they seem very pleased with their lives there, I know I can never fully be a part of it. Every time I visit Texas I know I can't live there. It just never feels right to me. Maybe it's all the signs posted on businesses reminding you to leave your gun in the car, maybe it's the Texas flag that's everywhere, even flying above the America flag (they are the only state that can do this), or maybe it's just this sense that I'm not welcome. Whatever it is, it stuck with me this time more than any other time. 

I love my family and seeing them was great. My niece Lily is an amazing kid and I had a great time playing with her all weekend, but part me always knows I'm separate somehow. The son from a distance, the brother from a distance, the uncle from a distance. My life is set on a different path and I'll visit that Texan world from time to time but I don't wanna be a cowboy (maybe sleep with a cowboy, but that's another story).  


  1. I think the knee-jerk reaction is to want to be "the same." I remember a professor mentioning this once in sociology, calling it assimilation, versus some other term I can't recall. I've often had a problem with the idea of needing to be same, myself. Of course, it assumes normativity, primarily heteronormativity, and it presumes a gay "other" (in the bad sense, the binary sense, the Manichean good/evil right/wrong us/them sense). At any rate, I have to admit I found it refreshing to read what you wrote. So many of my friends seem to trip over themselves trying to fit-in while decrying what they see as the silliness of gay culture.

    I, for one, love my Cher doll.

  2. Thanks. I think we would make good friends :) I'd love to see your Cher doll.

  3. Lucky for you I have a link to a picture of it: