Fringe Benefits

This is the final post in my 2019 Pride Month series “Proudly Reaffirming Identity, Diversity, and Equity,” exploring present-day issues facing the LGBTQ+ and allied communities.

A joke: What do you do with knotted hose? You let the kinks out.

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This past Wednesday, things between my fiance and me ended. Part of me had expected it, and to be brutally honest, it wasn’t the first time this year when I had thought our relationship would end, but it still pierced my heart when it finally did.

I moved quickly from injury to recovery, having already prepared a path in my mind for where I would go next, what I would begin to do as a truly single man. One friend called me to ask how I was doing, and he told me I had already grieved the loss of our engagement, that the end of our relationship was not the start of my grief, but its conclusion. And in many, many ways, he was right.

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It’s the patch of fabric scratching a patch of skin that’s agonizing and incestuous but you can’t get enough.

It’s biting the side of your mouth with your back teeth, the sting of flesh splitting, the intrigue of electricity pulsing in your skin, the sweet discharge of ferrous blood onto your tongue.

It’s the first few breaths after orgasm, lungs empty, yearning, muscles locked in place and paralyzed, every inhalation aromatic and awe-some: you’re smelling oxygen for the very first time.

I’ve been in a mood lately, fostering new views, melding old ones: Creation is destruction, there is attraction in repulsion, beauty exists in the most ugly and painful things.

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A week ago I landed in Mexico City and for the first time hugged the man I love. I had played out the moment of our meeting in my head for months–I’d painstakingly visualized everything I would wear in preparation for that one moment–and each time I thought of it, another scenario played out. In one, I awkwardly said hello and we just sort of stood there. In another, we kissed as passionately as I could imagine.

Instead, when I saw him, I rushed up to him, and in unison we embraced each other in a hug that lasted for such a long, precious moment. His arms curled around my back perfectly, and as mine wove around his body, it felt as if we had been shaped for each other. In that one moment, I knew all the love I felt for him was as deep and profound in person as it had been over the months we’d been seeing each other online.

Except that was a week ago, and this is today.

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I is for It Gets Better (Part Two)

Yesterday I began sharing my story, my own experiences that have shown me it truly does get better. I spoke about my experiences hearing the word “gay” before I knew what it meant, and I shared the slow evolution from confusion to realization that despite all the pain it gave me, helped me to know I’m gay. I ended on a precisely hopeless note, but today all that withheld hope comes pouring out–and I hope you’ll continue with me on this journey.

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I is for It Gets Better (Part One)

Back while I still pondering over what H is for, I felt I was for Invincible. I said to myself, being open, being confident, being who you are, makes you invincible, makes you impervious, makes you incredible. I felt of sharing: When I’m afraid, when I don’t think I can go on, I surround myself with positive things–with thoughts of my friends, thoughts of the great people in whose presence I stand, of the glory of God imbuing everything there is with his light and his love, and then I feel invincible and I can go on.

Last week, I began to wonder if I really is for invincible. Instead, I began to think I is for Individual. I felt of sharing: There is no greater bliss than of knowing who you are, all your faults, all your foibles, all your fortes. To understand what goes on inside is to make you impenetrable, insightful, indivisible. To feel, nay, to know what is hidden beneath your exterior, that part of us that we so often wrongly equate the entirely of “I,” is to open doors and possibilities and events that otherwise would remain lost forever. To be an Individual is perhaps among the greatest gift God has ever given us.

Today, although both of these statements stand true and always will–I am Invincible, I am Individual–I know they are not all I is worth. I is worth a wealth of ideas, a well of inspiration, a river of incentive. I spoke the other night with a wonderful man, a man of whose nature and build I did not think even God could have crafted, and it made me realize, in that strange way that unrelated events inspire worlds of difference, in the way that butterflies in Africa incite hurricanes in America, that I is well worth so much more than all of this.

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November is a time of great feats, and great drawbacks. There’s a few little monsters, however, that are especially pertinent this time of year.

The first is the will to write. It’s a monster worth riding, a monster we want to tame and take under our wings, squeeze the ink from his fountain-pen claws and write masterpieces while he suffers (which in turn is our bliss, but the imagery isn’t as sound as when I started, or at least not as sound as when it started in my head). Other times, the will to write is our master. These times may feel like he completely leaves us, but in truth he’s still there, waiting to strike, waiting to let us capture him again.

It’s all about taming this monster. It’s easy to let him go, to let him wander away, but it’s much harder to get him back. A steady mind and a steady hand and a determined spirit are best when taming this one. Sometimes we may feel it’s best to leave him be, and it’s probably those time when we need steel ourselves the most and reel him back in. The will to write is ours, but only if we catch him.

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