Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Boys keep swinging
A long, long time ago (when the world was new, and the internet not even a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye) I had an experimenting- bi-curious- questioning boyfriend. He hadn’t done anything with any men at that point, but oh his books… Perhaps they could best be defined as literary gay S/M – Jean Genet, Mishima, and other writers I can’t remember. They had been read, and re-read, and read again. I read them myself, and my mind boggled. Still, I was but a young thing. Innocent, in that eager for life kind of way.
Anyway, he spent a lot of time flirting with my gay male friends. A lot. And we used to go to gay clubs with them, which was quite unusual in those days. There was one guy in particular where you could hardly breathe for the sexual tension in the air between them. After a few months, they snogged at a party – quite publically so that everyone gawped. Soon after they slept together – but after that they hardly spoke, let alone did it again. But why? Had all their sexual tension simply vanished? Or did they just feel awkward? We never really discussed it, so I just don’t know.
Times being as they were, our relationship was very ‘open’ – no one called themselves polyamorous in those days – and he spent a year or so pursuing various people.
Then, suddenly, it all stopped. As far as I know he got married, went to live in the country, and never touched a man again. He seemed to confine his same-sex feelings to the past. It wasn’t as if he was a monogamous bisexual. No, he had “turned straight”. He “didn’t know what I was talking about” when I asked him if he was still into men.
I often think about him and wonder… so was his curiosity satiated? Can you have a “been there, done that” feeling about sexuality? Perhaps you can.
I’ve been wondering a lot about what I posted above, and whether I was right to do it. Was I being ethical? Had I taken someone’s life and just used it for my own purposes? Of course, there is nothing in it that would specifically identify him. The people who were at that party might remember the event as it caused a bit of a stir – after all, he was going out with a girl (me) – but other than that perhaps not even he would recognise this pen-portrait. And while everything I wrote above is true, there are lies by omission: when this was, for instance.
Lifestyle journalists are always slotting their “friends” into their stories: my friend Frances, and her difficult kids; my other friend Maureen and her career failures – but I never believe in them. They are probably the easiest but least rewarding sort of friends: fictional.
But the man above is real. Do I have the right to talk about him behind his back, as it were? Am I exploiting him? Or am I just over-reacting by thinking this is something to worry about?
I have written about him because I think his story raises interesting questions. But I wouldn’t want to hurt him in any way, Above all, he was (and probably still is) a lovely man, and I wish him well.