Saturday, September 14, 2019

My Date Must Be a Boy

Rock Island, Fall 1973

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, heterosexual desire was assumed a constant, a universal of human experience.  Same-sex desire was not mentioned because  there was nothing to mention.

It's not that it didn't exist; we knew about lots of things that didn't exist, like elves and unicorns.  It could not be conceived of.

It wasn't just a certainty that no boy on Earth had ever longed for the touch of another boy, not once in the history of the world.

We were unable to even imagine the possibility.

Boys who obviously longed for boys?

They were looking for a buddy or a role model.  Nothing else could be imagined.

Boys who obviously didn't care for girls?

They were shy, or immature, or hadn't found the right girl yet. 

There was no possibility, not in anyone's imagination, that they may care for boys.

Boys who were derided as "fairies" and "fags"?

Their interest in art and ballet, their inability to catch a ball, obviously represented deficient masculinity, but they desired girls as heartily as every other boy.

Desire for the same sex was simply beyond the boundaries of our imagination.

It was easier to conceive of hobbits.

But there were hints, mysteries to mull over, to contemplate like zen koans, to puzzle out like cryptograms.

Men on tv or in movies who cared for each other, fought for each other, and walked side by side into the future.

Men who didn't marry, who lived alone or with other men.

Men who hugged.

Boys smiled at me, or touched me on the shoulder.

The sight of a muscular frame that filled me with inexplicable joy.

Small subtle signs.

Through the looking glass.
Take the red pill.
With a bit of a mind flip, you're into the time slip.

Sometime in junior high, I read an one-page story in an Archie comic book.  Big Ethel's friends criticize her for being indiscriminate, accuse her of accepting dates with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

On the contrary, Ethel says, she has very exacting standards.
1. Her date must be a boy.
2. He must be breathing.
3. He must be a slow runner (so she can catch him as he's fleeing in terror).

It was just a throwaway joke with the punch line of "slow runner."  But I was mesmerized.  There was something -- a logical fallacy -- a paradox -- a hint.

Slowly it dawned on me: Ethel has a rule about dating only boys.

Such a rule is necessary only if there are other groups of people whom she could date.

Does she only date teenage boys, and not adult men?

Or only date boys, and not girls?

Could a girl date a girl?
Could a boy date a boy?

It's not raining upstairs.

1 comment:

  1. Now I've got an image of idealized 1960s families screaming in terror after seeing two boys kiss. When the stars are right, two boys shall kiss, and anarchy shall be unleashed upon the world, as is written in the Necronomicon.



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