Personal Pride, In Sections. Part One: Not Very Much Pride
The Boy in the Closet
Growing up gay, but not quite being aware of it, I was often "shielded" from seeing any possible kid of gay imagery. I was obsessed with the little mermaid and would make my X-Men action figures make out with each other, but a pride flag or two men kissing pops up on the TV (in those rare events that they did) and it was a dart fro the remote by my parents.
They thought they were protecting me. They were really teaching me that the feelings I had inside me were somehow wrong and to be "protected from."
Sure, we could all laugh at Charles Nelson Riley, but we he was less a person and more an object. There for our enjoyment, but to be put away before any of his sarcasm fades into some kind of real emotion.
So, I didn't know what capital-P Pride was until I was in my teens. I can't quite put my finger on when it was, but I remember seeing it on TV. A news report. A narrator speaking about the turnout for the annual Pride festival. The variety of men and women on screen was a shock to my system. Harnesses? Men flaunting around in ways usually reserved for women selling men something on TV? Dykes on Bikes? Larger than life drag queens?
I was disgusted. Not at what I was seeing, but because I wanted to be there.
The Teen on the Internet
I'm not the only millennial gay man that discovered that his attraction to men was something that was actually normal when his family got access to the world wide web.
I couldn't talk to anyone about how I felt or what that meant or even what to do about it. But, I was sure that the internet did. And, boy oh boy, did they. I'll get to the herstory of gay culture later on. I was a teen and I wanted to see the how, when, where, and why of two men smooshing their faces and bodies together.
It started out innocent enough. Then something happened around 3AM one summer morning and I found out that (just like straight people) gay people have porn too! The address? SeanCody.com. The content? A weird vouyeristic crush on a model named Dylan who I viewed as an avatar as he wen through a journey I viewed as a "gay awakening,"
I was young, so I didn't know that these things had formulas. Sorry if it offends you, but because I couldn't ask anyone in my real life, I learned abou the bees and the bees and the birds online via pornography.
Now that I knew the how and the why about my feelings, it was time to move on. Now I actually knew what I wanted. I just didn't know where to find it and the idea to seekiong it publically scared the shit out of me.
We'll pick up on that next time when I talk about my girlfriends and lying to myself.