The Gay South

“It’s a big enough umbrella…”

This is going to be a departure for the most part. Poltical to an extent, yes, but unrelated to the main thrust of this blog.

First, you might want to read this one. I made it private for some reason. Probably the angry final paragraph, written at a dark time. The rest, the story of “Igor” turned “Elvis”, still stands as one of the crazier Tennessee/Kentucky stories that I can recall.

The thing is, there was lots of homoeroticism in small town Tennessee and Kentucky in the 80s. It wasn’t open, it wasn’t welcome, it wasn’t discussed, but there was plenty of it.

One time my dad walked into the field house and caught me and another football player…I’m not even sure what to call it. Rough-housing? Coaches would have probably (without conscious awareness of the irony) referred to it as “playing grab-ass.” I once later, when drunk, kissed that same guy when we were both about to have sex with our respective girlfriends. He didn’t seem phased by it at all.

Anyway, dad soon wanted me to quit the team because he thought that football was making me gay. I didn’t quit.

When I was a sophomore, I wound up somehow in the same cabin as the senior and junior quarterbacks at spring training camp. They had the “grab-ass” game down to a science let me tell you. The junior, who of course became first-string the following year, didn’t date a whole lot and spoke repeatedly about wanting to join the Navy, be on a submarine. I quizzed him on that once, barely conscious on why, and don’t think I ever got an answer that explained being away from females apart from the obvious, but very much unspoken one at that place at that time.

There were plenty of others. One time at the drive-in, a friend clearly wanted a threesome. Didn’t actually happen. Don’t think the young lady was up for it.

Then there was the time, and this one I kind of regretted, a friend made a very overt pass at me. I was a little freaked out by it and said I’d see him the next day. That didn’t happen either.

Hilariously, I did track him down at a party probably a year later but a friend of his was convinced we were going off to smoke weed and wouldn’t give us a minute alone.

Then there was my long-term relationship. Whereas my family had been politically conservative, his had been religiously so. We met my final year of college. It took me a few more, living in NYC, to decide that, yes, I am definitely gay. Reprogramming myself and getting the negative stereotypes out of my head took a while. I missed out on a lot that, at least in some places, young lesbian and gay people take for granted now (I hope).

Once I made that decision, I went and found him. Hunted him down. Could have been characterized as stalking if he hadn’t been as happy to see me again as I was him. Nearly fifteen years together after an extended long distance courtship.

So, one man’s love can be another’s perceived obsession, I suppose. I was lucky that time. What happened to those days?

Oh. Right.


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