Friday, August 4, 2017
My 16 Boyfriends
There's no way to tell without asking them. In gay communities the boundaries between friends and romantic partners are blurry.
You have sex with friends, and often you don't with partners.
You sometimes live with friends, and sometimes live separately from partners.
Looking in from outside the relationship, it's hard, sometimes well-nigh impossible, to tell them apart.
But inside the relationship, you know. He is a romantic partner, with emphasis on the romance. You are in love with him. It is intense, passionate. You want to spend every moment with him, to walk by his side into the future.
The beginning of a friendship is fun. The beginning of a romance is thrilling.
The end of a friendship is sad. The end of a romance is devastating.
I grew up with dreams of a life-long partner, one boy to wake up next to every morning through the years and decades. But living in gay communities takes a tremendous amount of work and a lot of luck -- apartments are expensive and jobs are scarce. So after six months, or a year, or five years, he moves away, or you move away, and you become ex-boyfriends, relegated to occasional visits at Christmas or spring break.
And suddenly you're 56 years old, and you've had 16 romantic partners:
1. Fred the Ministerial Student. About six months in the spring of 1980, my sophomore year in college. When he moved to Omaha to take a church, I moved with him.
Why it ended: He got controlling, and I didn't like him cruising other guys, so I left. We stayed friends.
2. Peter the Greek Orthodox Priest. Actually an ex-priest, now an insurance salesman. About two months in the fall of 1981, my senior year.
Why it ended: I couldn't take his drinking or his weird pushy mom, who kept asking strange questions and once burst in on us in the bedroom..
3. Jimmy the Bodybuilder on Crutches. A grad student in social work. About three months in the fall of 1983, when I was at Indiana University.
Why it ended: He dumped me for another guy.
4. Alan the Pentecostal Porn Star. About six weeks in the fall of 1985, when I first moved to West Hollywood. He tried to start a gay Pentecostal church in Japan, then Thailand, and finally France.
Why it ended: I was still demanding monogamy in those days, and he fooled around with other guys while I was back in Rock Island for Christmas.
5. Raul from East L.A. A cook at a Filipino restaurant. About six months in the fall of 1986 and spring of 1987, but we were on and off for nearly two years.
Why it ended: He finally moved away, but by that time we were more "off" than "on."
6. My Celebrity Boyfriend, a former teen idol. About two months in the spring of 1987. After a post-Oscar party in which I "shared" his friends, he dumped me.
Why it ended: I suspect that I was getting too serious, and he just wanted to "fool around."
Why it ended: We both moved away.
8. Kevin the Vampire. About six months in the fall of 1996 and spring of 1997, when I was living in San Francisco. I was still technically with Lane at the time, so I thought of us more as friends, but Kevin kept making overtures of romance.
Why it ended: I moved away.
9. Joe the Regular Guy, not to be confused with his roommate, Blake the Opera Buff, who I dated for a few weeks before doing the "roommate switch." From October 1998 to the summer of 1999, when he moved to Philadelphia. We tried the two-hour commute for a bit, but by October 1999 we were "single" again.
Why it ended: He moved away.
10. Wade the Beach Boy, recently moved to Florida from Canada to work on his tan. For about a year, from the summer of 2002 to the summer of 2003.
Why it ended: I don't know. We really didn't have a lot of interests in common, so we gradually just faded out.
11. Paul the Catholic Writer. About nine months in 2006-2007, when I was living in Dayton, Originally I was dating both Paul and his roommate Charlie. Each thought the other was straight. When they found out, Charlie left, and I moved in with Paul.
Why it ended: The sex was endless, and way too energetic for my tastes, so I dumped him.
12. Chad the Satyr's Houseboy. For about four months in 2008-2009, when I was living in Upstate New York. The Satyr ordered him around as if he was an employee, but he swore that they were just housemates.
Why it ended: I couldn't take his weird relationship with the Satyr.
13. Troy the French Major. I tried to date him in the spring and summer of 2009, but the Satyr kept sabotaging us. Finally we started dating in September 2009, and stayed together for about five years. He moved to the Plains with me in the fall of 2013, but didn't like it and returned to New York after six months.
Why it ended: He moved away.
14. Jimmy the Boy Toy, the roommate of my platonic friends. A trophy boy boyfriend from April 2014 to sometime in the summer.
Why it ended: He moved away, but before that we were gradually drifting apart.
15. Dustin the Cartoonist. He was an undergraduate art major in Minneapolis, but we still managed to become a couple from January 2016 to sometime in the summer.
Why it ended: He graduated and moved to St. Louis.
I don't regret the fact that my childhood dreams didn't work out, and I'm not, at age 56, still walking hand-in-hand with a boy I met at age 17.
The relationships changed, but for the most part they endured for years after our breakup. I'm still in contact with six, and I stayed friends with Fred and Alan until they died.
Besides, romantic passion is one of the great joys in life, whether it's with one guy or with sixteen.