C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Becoming a Not-Man, part 1

FdeF's posts that I linked to yesterday, about growing up gay and terrified by the Church are spurring me to get around to sharing a bit of my history I've been thinking about doing for some time.  I hesitate, first because it's painful to revisit scenes of cruelty and torment in one's life. 

And second, because I really don't want to have to slap some silly-ass, smart-aleck anonymous commenter who might drop in and proceed to preen themselves by telling me exactly where I went wrong in my life, and why, and how, and how much better, oh so much better, they have done, would do, could do, will do.  But I suppose that's the risk you take with blogging.

Anyway, I want to share my story with you guys, my Truckbuddies, triffling as it may be in the scheme of the universe, because by sharing our stories we affirm one another's experience, we validate each other's humanity.  And then too, it's important to tell these stories as a witness to the world, a record for posterity.  To speak the truth, in a world where lies too often inundate and suppress it.

So for whatever it's worth, I'll try to share what was the crucial, defining experience of my life, still to this day.  I'm sure it's pretty much the same story millions of other gay men can tell; this is just my particular edition of it.  If it speaks to you and your experience, I'm glad.  If you're just passing through the Blue Truck, and the story doesn't grab you, and you think you can tell a better one, why then you just keep right on going, buddy, and write your own blog - but don't piss on mine.

This may take several posts.  It's really too late at night here to embark on the whole thing.  So for right now, as a starting point I'm going to post a short selection from a fine book, Becoming a Man (1992), by Paul Monette.  The first half of the book, talking about his growing-up experiences in Massachusetts in the early 1960's, I think most gay men can relate to.  The second half is more about his early literary career, which to me is not quite as interesting.  But Monette is a powerful writer - whose voice is now sadly silent.

Here's the little passage that will serve as an epigraph to my story, just two pages:

The passage ends:  ". . . how sick with confused desire, the carnal thrill of degradation.  The only reality lesson in it for me was not to be recognizably Other."


Stan said...

I never witnessed such brutality myself. I mean there were bullies of course but I never heard or saw them gay bashing anyone.
Of course while reading this I asked myself would I have done anything to come to the poor Austin's defense. Probably not since you don't want to draw attention to yourself. I somehow passed all through school and being tall helped too. It's so different when your young and especially gay. You try to stay under the radar as much as possible. When you get older you see things differently and realize what's right and wrong. Nobody deserves to be treated the way Austin Singer was. Nobody.

Russ Manley said...

No, nobody. But in my time, it seemed no adults cared a rat's ass about it, certainly not the teachers and school administrators. All they really cared about was the hassle of dealing with a complaining parent. I'm amazed to read about these anti-bullying laws and programs they have now; there certainly was nothing like that in our day, was there? It was just suck it up, deal with it, or die faggot. For all that the grown-ups cared.

BobinCT said...

I agree with both of the above comments. I probably wouldn't have had the balls to come to Austin's rescue either, I was just trying to survive myself. And I was able to pass, yes being tall helped, and I always tried to stay under the radar. No, the anti-bullying laws we have today didn't exist back then. I just don't think the teachers and administrators--or the parents for that matter--had any idea of the damage that bullying causes, something we take for granted today. We've made progress in a relatively short period of time, but we still have a long way to go.

Russ Manley said...

Appreciate your comment, Bob. Kids will always be cruel to one another, and there will always be bullies; but we can work to lower the homophobia level that produces those attacks. The young generation now seems, from all I hear, to be in general a lot more accepting of gayness than I ever thought possible.

Related Posts with Thumbnails