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Gender Identity: Male
Location: St. Louis, Missouri USA
Sexual Identity: Bisexual/Gender Indifferent
It seems that no matter our gender, our ages or our locations, many bisexuals have shared strikingly similar experiences in the gay and the straight worlds. It is reassuring to read others' experiences and feelings about not fully fitting in with the straight world or with the gay world. I have a certain comfort level in both worlds, but I know that I don't totally fit into either world.
This forum is such a breath of fresh air. It truly is a Friendly Place. My hat is off to you, Jamie Joy, for providing this place for us. I only wish that people posted more. With over 300 members, we should have interesting posts to read every single day!
Realizing that I haven't contributed much, I have decided to introduce myself, in hopes that others will do the same and enliven this group with even more discussion. [Here is the group Rob is talking about: ] I'm a 38 year old WASPish male living in St. Louis, Missouri--which is not exactly a hotbed of alternative lifestyles or thought. I was married for a number of years, and I have three wonderful children from that marriage. My ex-wife has the kids and she moved to another city, so I do not share in their lives the way I wish I could.
I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist church where even Jerry Falwell was considered somewhat liberal and masturbation was a fairly serious sin. Church was a central part of my life with morning and evening worship services on Sundays, prayer services on Wednesday evenings and youth activities on weekends. Despite the suffocating influence of religious fundamentalism, I somehow managed during my teenage years to come to grips with my bisexuality-- or at least partially to come to grips with it. Since the beginnings of my sexual awakening, I have realized that I am attracted both to women and to men. I'm a perfect 3.0 on the Kinsey scale, a fact for which I'll be forever grateful as I doubt I'll be a perfect anything else during the rest of my life.
Despite the fact that I grew up in an environment that regarded homosexuality like a plague, I somehow never agonized over my attraction to guys any more than I agonized over any other issue of sexual morality. Which isn't to say that I didn't agonize over sexual issues; I did. Baptist guilt is every bit as powerful as Catholic or Jewish guilt. I distinctly remember on occasion trying to quit masturbating. It turns out that nature is far more powerful than nurture; I could never overcome that natural desire.
I was fourteen or fifteen when I had my first sexual experience-- with another person, that is– and it was a same-gender experience with my best friend. Ironically enough, he was my best friend from church. He and I continued occasionally experimenting sexually throughout my high school years. As things turned out, he's gay but closeted and still active in the fundamentalist church in which we grew up. I also experimented sexually with a few girlfriends during high school. Ultimately I lost my virginity to a particularly aggressive girl during the summer before my senior year.
After my first year of college, at age nineteen, I married a girl who was almost two years older than I was, but she was an extremely inhibited person sexually from the same fundamentalist church. Oh, the mistakes of youth! I worked at that marriage for longer than was good for either of us, although the priceless fruit of that marriage is my three kids. After the first five years, my wife warmed up sexually for awhile. She even admitted to having some same-gender fantasies, and the change made me comfortable enough to admit to her my same-gender sexual attractions. We never reached the point that I felt comfortable enough to tell her that I had actually had sex with another guy, however. That thaw was short-lived, and eventually she became more inhibited again, though not as inhibited as when we were first married. I'm not sure what caused the thaw or the re-freeze. Perhaps the arrival of our first baby had something to do with the latter. In any event, the marriage ultimately failed for a lot of reasons.
When my wife and I split up five years ago, my life took an unexpected turn. A married couple who were friends of mine and my wife also split up. A year later, the husband-- whom I will call Mark-- confided in me that he was gay. After Mark came out to me, he often talked to me about his new (and promiscuous) lifestyle. He had absolutely no inkling that I was not straight; he just thought I was unusually accepting of and non-judgmental about his new way of life. Because he regarded me as such a "cool" straight person, he often nudged me to go to the gay bars with him because I was the one person from his old life who could also share in his new life.
The reason I didn't tell Mark about my bisexuality was twofold: fear and habit. After twenty years of carefully guarding my secret, keeping that secret had become second nature even in the new situation of a friend sharing his secret with me. The Fear, of course, was the entire reason for keeping it secret in the first place. It was that kind of generalized fear, almost paranoia, of having anyone know the truth about me. About a year after Mark came out to me (about 3 and a half years ago), I finally relented and joined him for a night of gay bar hopping on Memorial Day weekend. Mark introduced me as his "straight friend Rob," and even that first night I chafed a bit at that introduction, though I said nothing to Mark.
I instantly became a hit with his friends. Some of them liked me because I was such a "cool" straight guy. Letting them think that made me feel a bit like a fraud. Some of his other friends, however, didn't believe I was straight. In fact, one of his friends who didn't buy it nonetheless liked me and was hitting hard on me that very first night out. I had such a good time that night that Mark and I started going to the gay bars a lot that summer; too much, in fact. We went almost every other weekend to the bars, and that often included all three weekend nights--Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Tuesday nights, one of the bars played show tunes videos, basically a sing-a-long night at the gay bar, but we didn't require any particular excuse to go to bars on week nights.
Mark never suspected a thing that whole summer, although most of his friends became increasingly skeptical about my supposed heterosexuality. I had become comfortable with people at the bars assuming I was gay. In fact, I asked Mark to quit introducing me as his "straight" friend. I told him that it made me feel out of place, and it did. The fear and the habit were able to maintain their hold only for so long.
But for another development, I would have come out to Mark that summer. However, on several occasions, Mark had told me he wished I were gay because I was his type. Quickly it became apparent to me that if I told Mark the truth, he would become smitten with me. The feeling was anything but mutual, and I didn't want to lose my friend. So I now had a new reason to keep my secret. I did come out to two of his friends who had also become my friends. They both understood my predicament. I fretted at keeping my secret because as refreshing as it was to be among gay people, I still wasn't being myself. One weeknight in early fall, Mark wanted to go out, but I had settled in for the evening, having just enjoyed a pasta dinner and the better part of a bottle of wine. Against my better judgment, I agreed to join him, so he came by and picked me up. He took me to a gay bar I had never visited before. The bar featured male strippers, one of whom was a friend of Mark's, and Mark wanted to drop in to say hello. After the dancer gave Mark a lap dance sitting right next to me, Mark decided it would be funny to have the guy dance for me, so he slipped the dancer the cash. The wine had apparently kicked in by then because, according to Mark, I enjoyed the lap dance way too much for a straight guy. In fact, we left for another bar right after that lap dance, and in the car Mark seemed almost bewildered by my reaction to that lap dance. By then the wine and whatever I'd had to drink at the bar had truly impaired my judgment because that's when I finally told Mark that I am bisexual.
My fears proved accurate. First Mark was hurt and upset that I'd kept it a secret from him for so long. His hurt quickly turned to attraction, and he has been in "love" with me ever since, although I've made it clear to him that I don't have any desire to go there. Coming out to Mark really changed how I could be at the gay bars. There was no more pretense. I could admire the hotties just like everybody else. Although I have fun in the bars, I didn't regard it as much of a place to meet someone with whom I might have a relationship. I confess, I did hook up with guys from the bar when I first came out to Mark. I guess that was the result of being "free" for the first time in my life.
To my surprise, I met someone at a bar who was not a one-night-stand. In fact, the night we met we stayed up all night at a coffeehouse just talking. We had our first date the following night: dinner and a movie with some of his friends. It was quite a different experience for me. Being with a guy had always been a private matter up to then, because being with another guy had always been a purely sexual thing. So this was my first same-gender date! He and I were holding hands in public already, and the experience was exciting, dangerous, exhilarating and scary all at once. I had always believed my attraction to men was purely physical, but this guy blew that theory out of the water. I was very fond of him in the way I had only felt about women until then. He was gay, and to my surprise, was not bothered by my bisexuality; other gay guys had made clear to me that bi guys were fun for sex but not relationships. Perhaps the reason he was more accepting had something to do with the fact that he had lived several years in San Francisco.
Our relationship only lasted a few months and that very definitely was because of San Francisco. He found St. Louis far too unfriendly and stifling to his low-key-but-out lifestyle; he was unfortunately the victim of some anti-gay vandalism. After a couple of wonderful months of dating, he moved back, much to my disappointment. That has now been almost two years, and I still care about him and miss him. My experience dating another guy made me realize an entire aspect of my bisexuality to which I had been totally oblivious: I could be romantically involved with another guy. I had always been turned off by the idea before. My experience made me realize how distinct we bisexuals are from both gays and straights.
For me, the term "bisexual" has become too narrow a term because of the sexual emphasis. What I've really come to learn about myself is that I'm not just bisexual; I'm "gender indifferent" or gi (pronounced like "guy"), a term I picked up somewhere. I do not know if I will ever meet my soulmate. But if I do, I now realize that I not only don't know when or where I will meet that person, I also don't know whether that person will be male or female . . . or even transsexual. Anyway, that's a tad long-winded (okay, maybe more than a tad), but at least you know something about me.
Copyright © 2001 Rob Roi. All Rights Reserved. Posted by permission of the author. Do not copy or post without the author's permission.
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