But I’m Not Gay

Another from the journal bin. Here’s what happens when a fella gets a little long in the tooth but hasn’t married yet. Also, here’s what goes on at those fancy benefit dinners.bin3


March 22, 1995

I got uncharacteristically drunk after the theater with Bob last Friday night. Not fun drunk. Drunk enough to be sick the next day. We started bar hopping at 11:00. After 2:30 we couldn’t find any more open bars. City that never sleeps, my ass. We got a bag of McDonald’s cheeseburgers and sat in Times Square and ate them. That’s on top of a belly full of scotch. No wonder I was so sick. I got home at 3:30.

He told me his friends think I’m gay. I’ve noticed that gay people like to do that. They like to say that you (or so-and-so) are gay, but you/they don’t realize it yet. I think they do it to swell their ranks. I’m not the least bit insulted and kind of suspected they thought as much for a while. Believe me…if I were gay, I’d be gay with a mad vengeance. There’s no shame and I wouldn’t hide from it. But it’s not my thing. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to experiment over the years but it’s not something I’m curious about. Kissing someone with whiskers sounds about as erotic as swallowing my own vomit.

I spoke at length about this to Velma [Note: a therapist I was seeing at that time]. I asked what would make someone think that. She suggests I have a chameleon-like tendency to emulate the people around me and that I could subconsciously pick up gay mannerisms in an effort to fit in. Makes sense, I suppose. I do have a lot of gay friends. She said I should make hay with it and take a few acting classes. The only thing I’m upset about is that fact that there might be women out there who think, “Gee…what a great guy. Too bad he’s gay.” Do you think that’s possible?

Ann took me to a benefit dinner for the Institute of Asian Studies. It was formal. I clean up pretty good for trash. It was a seven course banquet with entertainment that cost $200 per plate but we didn’t pay for the tickets. Her boss gave them to her. He’s a curator of Asian art and owns a gallery on the Upper East Side. It was a cash bar but I didn’t mind.

I was the youngest person there by several generations. Think about it. Who goes to these types of benefits? People who have a lot of money and free time. And who, generally, has money to burn and time to kill? Old people. Towards the end of the evening I looked around the room and about half the audience had nodded off. I’m sure that people who saw Ann walk in with me on her arm understood right away what the deal is. She certainly isn’t as old as they are, but she ain’t exactly my contemporary, either.

It was an elegant restaurant next to the United Nations. I met some very, very wealthy Asians. They support their own. They served four courses and broke for entertainment. A beautiful Japanese girl in a kimono performed on a koto. Another girl in a kimono played a bamboo flute. Then the girl playing flute did a beautiful dance while the koto player sang. There’s something about the way their hair catches the light—the color and texture of it—that goes right through me.  It fed my every Asian fantasy. I might insist that Ann dye her hair jet black.

We were assigned to a geriatric table. I quickly eyeballed the guy who looked like he could sustain a conversation and not die before desert and grabbed the seat next to him. His wife looked barely alive. I shouldn’t judge because that’ll be me one day, but since that’s a long way off I’ll have a proper laugh.

He was an interesting dude. He grew up in Williamsburg but bailed out for Long Island decades ago. I waited for, and finally got, the stories about how New York used to be a great town but not anymore. It’s all relative. [Note: I’ll say it is.] He knows all about my neighborhood and told me about the Yiddish theaters that used to be on Houston and up 2nd Avenue.

While I was talking to him about the good old days, Ann slid her hand up my leg under the table and was playing around. What an uninhibited little minx she is. If she had mistakenly done that to the old codger sitting next to her instead of me, she would’ve been brought up on murder charges. At least he’d have died with a smile on his face. By the time we got back to her apartment I was out of my mind. We never made it past the living room. I assaulted her against the baby grand piano. Neither one of us can play a note but we finally found a use for that thing.­­­

I’m worried about [my sister’s] impending visit. What’s going to happen when she sees my street is lined, not with flower pots and bunting, but drug dealers and junkies?

97 thoughts on “But I’m Not Gay

  1. I think wondering must be some primordial thing. I have absolutely no problem with homosexuality. None. One of my sisters was gay and once she realized it, she became a very happy person. But there are several folks I work with who are unmarried, and for some unknown reason, I wonder. I don’t actually care — I like them, don’t criticize them, feel perfectly comfortable — but i do wonder. Weird.

  2. That’s what I’m talking about, there. Just because you don’t think you’re gay doesn’t mean you aren’t, think about it.

  3. I think you should accept it as a compliment that someone thought you were gay. He just wanted you to be. Ha ha. Again, you’re living the high life, invited to the formal dining experience. Scotch and McDonald’s cheeseburgers. I can see why that wasn’t a winning combo, Mark! Although those cheeseburgers make me sick all by themselves. I can’t eat them anymore. They don’t taste like they used to, right?

    • I did feel complimented but a lot of guys are put off by the thought that someone might think they’re gay. I totally get that. It can really mess with your head.

      McD’s crapburgers and an elegant banquet all in one post. I played both ends. But not like THAT!

  4. You are meticulous about your appearance Mark and that is pretty common amongst gay men. It is also common amongst professionals of all types – so much of who we are at work is judged by how we groom ourselves. Anyway, your writing is definitely not gay. Ha! I’d be honest with you good buddy… Bwhahaha!

  5. Reading about the Scotch and Cheeseburgers almost made me puke on my keyboard. When I was in my twenties, some people thought I looked gay. Seeing some pictures, I would agree. I then hooked up with a woman eight years older than me and the next ten years were frustration free. Sometimes she would bring a girlfriend. Nothing like never worrying about your next time that gives you an everyday air of confidence and a pip in your step. Who would of thunk it that a decade or so later the whole attitude changes. We all want to be desired, not loathed.

    • Re: the burgers. Right? What was I thinking? But when you’re young, you think every fiber of your being is invincible. Especially your digestive track. I understood how they got that impression. I was single more often than coupled and always quite neat. I hate to resort to stereotyping but if the shoe fits, etc. It never bothered me.

      • Here is an anecdote I remember about one of my visits to see my brother when he lived on the lower east side: we were heading out for something (probably a play) and I was waiting for Mark out front. At the time, I was reading a really cheesy book about vampires–way before the ultimate cheesy book about vampires that has since permeated our popular culture—that had me totally sucked in. I was in my early 20s and reading about BDSM vampires was the way to go for me. This series ruled my world: it was violently graphic and better yet, pornographic in the worst way. The books were horribly written, full of clichés and really bad literary tropes. The series was the vampire equivalent of the Harlequin Romance, rated XXX.

        I got into conversation with a women sitting on the front steps of his building. Ultimately, the conversation went to the book that was in my hand. You can only imagine how excited I was to find out she was the author—her picture was even on the inside flap.

        Hard for me to notice the junkies in the neighborhood when the real hidden treasures were vampire porn authors. And one of them lived in Mark’s building.

      • I remember her! I had no idea she was an author. She lived on my floor and was polite but quiet. She kept to herself. Her husband was a creep, and not in the interesting lower east side creepy way. He wasn’t nice to her and she eventually left him. He continued to live there alone. The first time I had any knowledge that she wrote was when you showed me her picture in the book jacket. I had completely forgotten that episode.

  6. Now why do I feel like I have to take a stand on homosexuality here? Could it be perhaps because I am a close-minded Ohioan?? I’ve decided I need another blog where I can write like you do, and sort out all that needs sorting in my past and present… must be anonymous however, because of the nurse thing and something called a license. But then again, none of my online friends would know it was me, so that could be weird… could attract a strange lot with the stuff I would be posting come to think of it…. so maybe not! Glad I thought that through… thanks, Mark!

    • You’re welcome! Are there any other problems you’d like me to sort out for you? Just a tip…you can start an anonymous blog but it might not end up that way. And remember…if you’re discovered, all that stuff is out in the ether and you’ll never get it back.

      So are you implying that because you’re a closed-minded Ohioan, you stand is against homosexuality? That’s fine. All opinions are welcome here, especially dissenting ones. As long as we keep it nice. Make your stand and if anyone attacks you, they’ll have me to answer to. It’ll be the quickest way to get their IP address blocked.

      • Mark… I have more gay friends than straight… I am so tolerant it borders having a disorder. I’m not going to go any further, because it would be boring, unlike my alternate self blog. But you are correct, very correct, and wise… More people should think that way, actually.

      • Ah. See what I did there? I read your comment like I was reading from Superman’s Bizarreo World, where everything is opposite. I failed to see the irony. Okay. I’m going to crawl under a rock now.

      • Oh geesh, don’t do that. But you did start it! Ha! Did you vote today? How about you open up the subject of legalizing pot now? Maybe I just did!

      • I surveyed my friends and many are NOT voting to legalize because it was spearheaded by the only 10 companies who’ll be allowed to grow and all 10 made huge contributions to power brokers. It’ll be a crooked monopoly. A cartel.

      • P.S. I didn’t vote. I have a show ticket. I didn’t realize it was election night when I bought it. Colin Quinn’s one-man show, “The History of New York.” Do you know who that is?

  7. I’m pretty sure there are men who pretend to be gay to befriend women and ultimately seduce them, so maybe you missed a trick! The title of this post reminds of a defunct blog with the title ‘I’m not gay’. Its author was an upper class English fop and ladies’ man who called himself ‘Louche’. I think you would have found him fascinating. Maybe you could find his old posts by googling ‘I’m not gay + Louche’.

    • I think there are women who like the idea that they’re so irresistible and seductive they could convert a gay man or at least make him experiment a bit. I know for a fact there are gay men who love nothing more than to bed a straight man. What’s with all this cross pollination? Stay with your own tribe, I say. Don’t rock the boat.

  8. Ah so much to discuss about gay people. Gays are gays and there is nothing wrong with having them as friends. I’ve never actively socialized with any- that is that I’m aware of.

    Did it not occur to your shrink/therapist/friends that folks with OCD are generally very fastidious in dress as well as keeping their house neat and clean. Being neat and clean does not always mean “gay.” That is a moronic idea.

    And furthermore, what’s wrong with marrying later in life? Many folks do so, simply because they ether enjoy being single or have not been lucky enough to find the right life partner.

    • Nothing wrong, is right. Being gay is in your DNA. Nobody chooses it. Why would anyone choose a lifestyle that leads to abuse and rejection by family members. And being neat and clean doesn’t mean your gay, but it sure doesn’t help the cause!

      I don’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with marrying late in life. Did I imply I thought it was a problem? It’s a bloody good thing in my case. If I had married in my 20’s, like so many of my friends did, it would have crashed and burned. I wasn’t prepared for marriage until way, way later. I was too busy eating cheeseburgers in Times Square in the middle of the night. Who’d want to give up that great lifestyle?

      • I totally agree with you. Many men and women are not mature enough to handle marriage when young. I was 27 when I married and that was considered old where I’m from. I just did not have any opportunities for dating and I was not a social butterfly My interests were vastly different from my friends. But at any rate, I think marrying later in life is the best way to go and even though the going can be rough.

      • I agree with you. Too many kids and you don’t have the money, time or, energy to give each one love, attention and a decent home and an education. Besides the world is already over populated. But idiots are still breeding like rats and rabbits. Makes me sick when I see a passel of kids in the stores and parents have no control over their off-spring. We need some laws passed limiting the number of kids but of course that will never happen.

      • People used to have big families because a) they needed extra hands to till the fields and b) the Catlick Church needed as many parishioners as possible to fund their activities. You might want to check out China. They have the laws on the books you’re pining for.

  9. I haven’t made up my mind if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that no one ever thought I’m gay. But I don’t think you’ve missed out on a lot of relationships due to the fact that women were confused about your preferences – if a woman believes you’re gay, I expect the women would think of you as less threatening and would talk to you more easily.
    P.S. so did you ever take these acting classes?

    • Being mistaken for gay means you have more options open to you. You might not ever want to capitalize on them–I never did–but the opportunities are there if you’re ever interested.

      Come to think of it, I DID take an acting class or two. Believe it or not, I’d forgotten all about them until you asked. I think everyone who comes to New York dabbles in that sort of thing at one point or another. I did a play with some friends once, too. Bob, who’s mentioned above, pulled me in. They needed someone lily white. I was a cop. Officer Chip Fox.

  10. I like kissing people with whiskers. You don’t know what you’re missing.
    If a woman wanted you and thought you might be gay, trust me, she’d find out.

    You’ve had some right fun junkets in your time, you have. The diaries of a debaucherous devil.

    • Honestly, I have no idea how women make-out with men. Men are so, so gross. Don’t get me started on how disgusting their anatomy is. I’m amazed the human race has sustained all these years.

      I DID have a nice time but I don’t think I appreciated it at the time. Good thing I wrote a lot of it down so I can appreciate it in retrospect.

  11. I have a really good friend who is a colleague – he is gay. We go for coffee sometimes, he is outlandishly camp and outrageous at times in the coffee shop – it is part of his rebellion against those that hold prejudice.
    One day I was not in work he went to the coffee shop on his own. They asked where his “boyfriend” was, confused he explained he was at home working, like normal. The girl said they thought I was his boyfriend. He has played up to it on many occasions in the coffee shop since. However the manageress did say to me “You always looked like you were in love with him.” I replied “I am, he is a fantastically interesting man what’s not to love.” She hugged me and said “Are you married then?” “Yes, thirty years, two grown up children”. She turned to the younger barista preparing my skinny latte and said “Find one like him and marry him quick.” Never been so embarrassed in my like… my friend didn’t help by continually laying his hand on my arm or leg for the next 30 mins saying loudly “So here I am with the most desirable man in London and you steadfastly remain only interested in those without appendages”

    • That’s a fantastic story. You were a victim of “guilt” by association. I’m certain that it happens all the time. Did your friend know you were embarrassed? Were you embarrassed to the point of discomfort? If so, I would’ve hoped he’d stop. It’s all fun and games but he needs to be as respectful to you as you are to him. That can mess with your head and that’s not fun or funny. Thanks for the great comment. It’s a post unto itself.

      • Greatly embarrassed and close to a point of discomfort but not over it. There is another story of us in that coffee shop too that went over the top. My friend ordered a flat white – a new trainee tried to make it by the fern leaf they create in on the top failed a bit and well… it did look like a lady’s private parts. We all were looking at it as she apologised and offered to remake it but he just said, loudly and camply as is his way. “Well I’ll tell you this, it’s been many a year since my lips have been anywhere near something looking like that my love”… What can you do with him but treasure him – they broke the mould after that one.

      • Honestly, I feel bad for people who don’t have any gay friends. Many of them have been through some terrible times on account of being gay and handle it admirably. They’re born that way. There’s no way anyone would choose such a difficult lifestyle that can be filled with rejection and scorn.

  12. Again, great writing. Damn you! I just watched that old Seinfeld episode when people thought he and George were gay. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. People probably though I was gay mainly because I lived alone for years in my 20s. It amazes me that people assume things because you’re not following the typical life path — get married, have babies. So I was a late bloomer!

    • Thank you! That means a lot to me, especially coming from you. And that’s not one of my sarcasms (this time). That Seinfeld episode ran through my mind as I was reading my journal. I was dating in NYC during Seinfeld’s initial broadcast and many of those episodes have a documentary feel to me. I dated lots of those crazy women. I should sue Larry David.

      If you live alone for too long people start to look for a reason. It can’t be that you enjoy it (which I did), it must be because there’s somethingn WRONG with you. Well, that’s true, too, but I was very happy and content. I was the consumate late bloomer as well. We should have a club with a secret handshake.

      • Yep, I enjoyed being alone and no doubt there’s plenty wrong with me. And definitely sue Larry David, that jackass. I actually wrote a “lost” Seinfeld episode post in three parts a few months ago. Maybe I should dig it up again and post it on my blog…

      • Of COURSE you should post it. A nation of needy, adoring fans is waiting. That’s gold, D. Gold!

        I saw the Larry David play on Broadway. It was an awful waste of time and money. I never liked Curb, either. I’ve surmised that he’s only funny in conjunction with Seinfeld or when he’s mining my journals for material.

  13. I’m commenting first to say that I love all of your art posts. Makes me wish I lived closer to more art. My most recent exposure was a trip to Chicago to see the Art Institute. I wish New York was closer. Someday.
    When I was first married I spent most of my time working alongside a woman who was gay, sometimes in an office where we had meetings with the door shut.
    Well someone started a rumor that marriage had been just a front, and the real action was going on with my coworker.
    I always wondered what made people think that? My broad shoulders? Who knows. Thank goodness my husband had a sense of humor about the whole episode.

    • Hello and welcome! Nice to have you here.

      Chicago has some killer museums. World-class. I wish I could get there. Did you see The Bean?

      People have dull lives and like to gossip and imagine what other people are up to. Generally, they’re jealous of anyone who seems to be having a better time than they are. You should’ve dropped hints that they’re right.

      Thanks, again, for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me. Just wait until next week’s post. It’s my semi-annual contemporary and impressionist art auction review. Tens of millions of $$$ spent on art and “art.”

      • I saw the Bean. It was awesome. It is Millennium Park, practically next door to the Art Institute. Along with the Bean, Millennium Park has lots of other great outdoor art. It was actually my daughter’s idea to see The Bean…she seems to gravitate to that sort of art.

  14. I find it fascinating that so many people here doth protest too much, along the lines of “Oh no, being gay is *fine* — in fact I have loads of gay friends.” It’s how many people in the UK talked about black people in the 70s.

    I get taken for gay all the time. I’m torn between gloating about my inner knowledge and my ability to confuse them, and thinking it’s a bloody curse.

    I absolutely love the idea — and the practice — of not getting as far as the bedroom before you’re at it. I will tell you my sex on the stairs story at some point 🙂

    • I don’t get the sense that people are pulling the I-have-a-gay-friend card. Either you’re reading into something that’s not there or I’m blind. Probably the latter.

      In a way, I wish I had been bisexual. I’d have seen a lot more action than I did. It would’ve made for more robust stories.

      As far is not getting to the bedroom… You know how it is. Sometimes matters are pressing.

    • I sent that word to rehab and it came back clean and sober. Let’s hope it stays that way.

      That’s the result of not having an editor. I wonder if anyone else noticed but didn’t say anything? Personally, I like when these things are pointed out. Funny that I got that particular word wrong.

  15. I got lost laughing with pinklightsaber and rossmurray1 and then, all the “working blue” comments! The comments are as funny/intriguing/delightful as your posts, sweetpea! Thank you for making me smile today! xoxoxox

  16. I think all that frustration about people thinking you were gay made you give that young lady the hard rodgering of a lifetime up against a musical instrument to prove your heterosexual manliness. Boom! Case closed! Exile is all man, baby!

  17. Interesting how we change over time, Mark. When I was in college striking out again with the girls because I drank too many Budweisers, a guy blatantly tried to pick me up, and although I wasn’t judgmental about him, I was all “Hell, no, why would you think that about me?” Now that I’m an old happily married guy, if that ever happened again, I’d guess my rejection would be more of a “thanks, but no thanks.”

  18. I do the same thing! I pick up mannerism or manner of speaking when I’m around someone for long periods of time. I was just browsing through this blog site and ran across your page. First time reader! 🙂

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