Then today, over lunch, I was talking with two friends about coming out. One of them said how surprised she was that I didn't come out until I was 20, because I seem so open. I thought to myself, there's that word again.
For many people, I'm as open as you can get. I'm sure some out there would like me to be a little less open. Yes, I share a lot of my ideas, thoughts, and experiences. I am a writer, and this is what a writer does. I write this blog, which deals with my identity as a gay man. I write poetry, which is often inspired by my real life. I am also pretty open in face to face discussions. I do talk a lot about sex and identity because these are things that fascinate and interest me. I'm most intrigued by how people respond to such topics. Do they turn red and hide under the table in the fetus position? Or do they join in and offer their two cents? Since these are topics many do not like to talk about, my discussion of them makes me seem extremely open, but does that make me an open book?
I still choose what I tell and share. I do put a lot of time and thought into what I write and what topics I select, but I also don't shy away from things that are hard for me to write about or think about. I like a challenge. For many people that is sex, and I understand this. I struggled with my sexuality for 20 years, but that experience made me never want to go back. I've had to force myself to move beyond that because if I think about it for too long, I'll crumble into a pile of self-pity. I feel like I lost those 20 years. What did I do? Why did I convince myself I was someone I wasn't? Why did I let myself be so depressed? In some ways, I have compensated for that by being so open with my sexuality now and for the last seven years. This makes some people very uncomfortable, which, I have to admit, is part of the pull for me. I do slightly like shocking people. But I also think it's vital to be out and proud of yourself and your identity.
There is a notion within the gay movement to de-sex the discussion. Don't make everyone think or focus on the sex part. I understand this idea and I understand not everything is about sex, but a lot of my life is about enjoying other men, their bodies, and my own body. I think we can celebrate that aspect of the gay community, which I often try to do on this blog.
I do strive to be an open person, and I was pleased with my friend's comment, but I also have to admit that I'm not a completely open book (a few of my pages are stuck together). Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite writers, and she questioned, in many of her books, the idea of ever really being able to know another human being. We can only know what they give us. We will never know their every thought, passion, desire, or even action. For some, this is what makes relationships so difficult.
For me, 20 years was enough of pretending, so I am here on the page trying to be the person I am, but there will always be pieces of me still locked away or scribbled down somewhere to be found long after I've left this world.
(Can I get some credit for putting Howard Stern and Virginia Woolf in the same post?)