Thursday, November 10, 2005

Queer Queries

In evaluating the topic of shadow, I realize that I am an image of their shadow for many people with whom I interact. As a gay man, I represent fear of the unknown or the threat of unrestrained sexuality to those in the mainstream who believe in traditional families. To gay men, I represent the biggest fear of our generation: AIDS. In fact, when my friends have fallen ill and progressed from HIV to AIDS to death, it has been quite difficult for me to watch my own shadow flitting around, losing weight, unable to keep down food or water and finally dying. It has been difficult to watch, but I have tried to make myself be present for my friends because their love and friendship deserved no less than my love and presence.

It has been quite difficult for me over the years to find people who are willing to involve themselves in a relationship with me. This has left me with a few very difficult questions. It would be interesting if people who read this could comment on it and provide me with a bit more insight into the situation.

I figure that I could be off-putting to people with my honesty and disclosure. In the telling of my history with HIV and AIDS, and the grisly details of the deaths of friends, I suppose that I am making it more difficult for me to attract and retain a worthy companion. I hear from my straight friends that I have a type of charisma that I don’t see in myself. If it truly exists, then it should cancel out some of the potential unattractiveness that comes from my unrestrained embracing of both life and death. I know that some personalities simply clash with one another and I rule out those problems as part of the natural progression of relationship development. Still, there should be some part of the population with whom I am compatible and for whom I still find attraction.

This is a complex issue. I could be too picky in my own choices for partners, but I want to be loved and to love. I know that there are self-destructive HIV+ people who are not attractive to me. There are those who approach life with bitterness and they, too, tend to repel my interest in them. I wonder how much my own shadow of AIDS plays a role in who I find attractive. A man who is otherwise healthy, but who looks ill does not attract me. I know that to be superficial, but in our gay community today, I have heard from myself and others that we would rather be sick than look sick. That notwithstanding, I see myself as an intelligent, attractive, fun-loving, loyal, kind and caring soul. I should not accept anything less in a partner. How do I limit myself from relationship using these criteria to mask other factors?

The issue of AIDS and contagion is another point to consider. As an HIV positive male, I know that I am viewed by many as a diseased pariah who threatens their very existence. I can teach them all the ways to protect themselves, but as someone recently pointed out, there is a degree of irrational fear that can not be overcome. As an example, more people are killed in auto accidents than in aircraft crashes, yet there are people who drive every day and yet, will not board an airplane. Is my inability to find a viable partner based simply in their fear that I will become an agent of infection for them? Are they afraid to lose the spontaneity of a disease free relationship?

If not that, then the only other thing that I can imagine is this: perhaps people choose not to engage in relationship building with me because I am seen as not worthy of investment. Why make a friend or engage a potential partner who will one day die? If I had taken this approach to life, I would have no friends at all now. For almost twenty years, I have known my status. I could have completely isolated myself from others for fear of the difficulty that might come when we end up having to end our relationship through my death. On the other hand, I have never kept myself back from developing a friendship with others and many of them learned of sudden onset of life-ending illness. I have lost friends to cancer, for example, who were in the prime of their lives one day and found themselves dying the next. Had I crossed them off when we met because they might end up dying, then I would have not been enriched by their wonderful personalities while here in their earthly bodies. We all die. Every single one of us, and those who aren’t single as well.

What do you think? Is the illness itself too scary? Is it the fear of loss of partner? Or am I just too damn difficult to live with? Or, do I have to be patient and fish in larger ponds, so to speak, to find a partner worthy of my own character, or at least worthy of the character I wish to project…?

If I could write a personal ad for the man of my dreams, it would read as such: Seeking man, age not an issue as much as maturity, attractive in soul, body and spirit, willing to face life together come what may. Must be loyal, kind, caring and intelligent. Exposure to multiple cultures a plus, especially if you speak more than one language. Dog lovers move to the front of the line because you know the meaning of unconditional love. If you are fun in bed and in life, and if you are self-assured, call me now.

I wonder, am I asking for too much?



Anonymous Jonathan said...

Greetings and the like.

During a recent trip to the south of Germany I became very unsettled. I was sort of in shock about the transience of life. I'd thought about it before, even felt it. I'd read the theories about embracing it, flowing with it...yeah, great. But this time it just kind of hit me like a Miata into the mountainside. So there I was interacting with dozens of people, single serving friends as it were. I even got a few email addresses. But in two weeks it would be as if I were never there. When I saw the friend I was there to see, I realized she is at a hugely transitional point in her life, and it was far deeper than a matter of what continent she wanted to live on. I myself was struggling with being comfortable in my own skin. These feelings were all accentuated by a sudden and unexpected death in her family towards the end of my trip. Yeah, life is a series of transient occurances just like frames on a motion picture reel. At times like this I attempt to take comfort in the fact that there are always possibilities.

The exception of course is in trying to find a long term partner. Like so many others, I've loved and lost. But I've also been deeply cared for and despite the most sincere logical yearning, was unable to return the feeling. Tom Robbins wrote that the most important question is "who knows how to make love stay?". He also wrote something to the effect that we spend too much time looking for the perfect partner and not enough time creating the perfect love.

I've been accused by friends of being far too picky. I've actually had a shrink tell me I'm a bit too picky. I've looked through thousands, literally thousands of unique personal adds in the course of the past few years, and I think I've met a dozen people. Of those I think I dated something like 4 of them. How is it that there are billions of people on this planet, and some people it seems can love anyody while others can't find one? Some people would call it having standards. But I believe we are all superficial in our own right. In my case, I really want to find someone whom I percieve to be smarter than me. Its sort of a fetish, or maybe a subset of a more complex fetish. But is valuing intelligence and creativity really truly less superficial than valuing physical beuty? Neither are things that most people can consciously alter to a great degree. Sure you can practice and improve in both endeavors, but the baseline is still there. Love is something you feel, and you know when it feels right. If the proper ingredients arent there then it doesn't matter how good it looks on paper- so I think being less picky will be difficult if you want to feel "in love". Disclaimer: Others, notably ex's disagree.

Probably for you things are signifficantly more difficult due to your unique situation. You've been to hell and back, probably more than other gay men, even other people with HIV have been. Watching friends fade away is a tough thing, and Im suprised you aren't more morbid or bitter about it. Communicating outwardly the details as you felt them is something that maybe a lot of people can't handle, but should. Probably it doesn't make for the greatest pillow talk, but I can't imagine that people find you morbid. You seem to have a zeal for your difficult life, at least in your virtual existence (some day I'd like to know more of you than that) and I can't imagine less than that in person.

PS. If anyone knows how to make love stay, or what happened to the golden ball, email me.

11/13/2005 11:53:00 AM  

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