Different Kind Of Gay

EPISODE 1: Different

July 21, 2020 Goran & Mitch Season 1 Episode 1
Different Kind Of Gay
EPISODE 1: Different
Show Notes Transcript

In our first episode, we welcome all those who are different and ask: what does it mean to be a gay man who doesn’t follow the stereotypes and instead chooses to walk his own path? And where can we find others who are like us? As the endemic of gay loneliness spreads, we look at ways to belong and find the courage to be you.

A Love Surrender production. Created and written by Goran D and Mitchell J.

Music credits for this episode:

  • Acoustic/Folk Instrumental by David Hyde 
  • Radiant Voids by Uniq
  • Quirky Style by AlexGuz 
  • Leave Me Here by Joseph Earwicker
  • Art of Silence by Uniq
  • She Moved Through The Fair sung by Emese Vida
  • Starlight by Noonsol
  • Sneaky Adventure by Kevin MacLeod
  • Dreams by Firefl!es 

Goran

I place my hand over the stranger’s mouth, stifling his urgent moaning as he cums.

I need to be careful. The walls of my bedroom in Sydney are paper-thin and my flatmates have already raised concerns about the surge of last-minute visitors in recent weeks.

"Sorry, mate, I got carried away,” the stranger says, noting my apprehension as he tears off a few sheets of toilet paper and wipes the sleazy sheen from his groin.

“It’s fine…” I sigh, pretending like it doesn't rattle me. This was all just an act, a show; he didn’t mean any of it.

The stranger looks back at me like I just fell from the sky as if this is the first time that he's noticed I am there.

“Do you have a spare towel for me to take a quick shower? I’ve got to run, got a couple of things to finish tonight. "

Until just a few minutes ago, this sex machine I met on Scruff seemed to have all the time in the world on his hands – now he’s the busiest guy alive. Typical! 

Uninterested, I point to the towel drawer, curl up on the mattress and turn my face to the wall so I don't need to look at him as he leaves. Don't ask me who he is. All I want is for him to disappear so I can wash his sweat off my bedding, scrub my body and forget he's ever been here.

How did I end up living this life? I am a 35-year-old who has had only one romantic relationship in the last ten years and it with an eternally drunk Scottish backpacker who ran away as soon as he sobered up. I mean this has got to stop. These people want nothing but a quick release of dopamine. “Goran, you will duct tape that ass shut if need be”, I say aloud, while neurotically loading linen into the washing machine. But despite the warning to myself, I know that this is not the last time I will be doing this.

Gay men steal my heart like no one else can, and yet they leave a wound so deep it never stops bleeding. „Not everyone is the same! “speaks out the eternal optimist in me. But before he can continue, the other voice asks: „Really? Where are they? Why haven't you met them yet “. As this back-and-forth dialogue plays out, I can’t help thinking back to memories of Philip, my ex-boyfriend and the love of my life. 

The last time we were together, Philip left me with a warning.

„Beware of them," he said, as he started the car before making his way to the airport.

„Whom?“, I snapped at him as if yelling at myself for not being able to keep the man I love.

„Gay men ... You are too child-like. You have a pure heart and trust people easily ... and some of them are like fucking hyenas“ .... 

As I watched his car drive away, and his brake lights blink on and then off, I realized I would never see him again. I stood there alone in the open, left at the mercy of the people I feared. After five years of peace, I was back to the minefield called gay dating. And the only thing I could think of was how to get out of it in one piece!

Mitch

Three days in, and New York has been continuously disappointing. Each morning I wake in my hostel wondering how I can possibly fill the hours until I sleep again. I soar to the heights of the Empire State Building and take the ferry to Staten Island just for something to do, not because I have any desire to see either.

I flew to this city via Iceland and, if I’m honest, the knowledge that I could have stayed there amongst the glaciers, violet lupine and lava fields, is enough to make me cry.

What sweet relief it is, then, when I meet a South American man, Paulo, who is staying in the same dorm as me. By nightfall, when I’m ready for bed, he’s rearing to explore and his energy is infectious. He’s also gay, which makes me feel comfortable. In France, I hung out with a male traveller who only wanted to talk about breasts.

“Let me take you to the High Line,” I say, suddenly buzzing and talking about this city as though I live here and know all its nooks and secret curves.

Paulo is impressed, and as the night progresses, we go into a bar and dance together. I feel intoxicated despite only having one drink.

This is me, dancing with a stranger: me, who no one has ever wanted to stand beside; me, who no one here is staring at in horror. Maybe this is the allure of New York, this beautiful city that I can love after all. Yes, I think I do like it here, even if this music isn’t what I’d normally listen to …

“Sauna,” Paulo says and in a second, the word snaps me into sobriety. 

I’ve always had a weird relationship with alcohol: I could be pumped full of spirits but, if I’m already unhappy or uncomfortable, nothing will shake me from that state. Alcohol doesn’t take the edge off for me at all in these moments; it sharpens the curve into a razor and, right now, part of me is bleeding profusely.

Paulo has come equipped with the names and addresses of different saunas.

“You go,” I offer, though it’s hard to say even these two words because it means the night is over. I’ve got no idea how I’ll get back home, but I’d rather be out here, on these unknown streets than in a sauna – the very last place I want to spend a holiday.

I’m in my late twenties and have never been to a sauna, which makes me an oddity, really. I even feel a little embarrassed that this is the case, but that doesn’t outweigh my refusal to change it.

Paulo begs and begs me – what fun it will be!

Fun? What about what we had? Is that already forgotten?

That beautifully awkward dance we’ve just shared is not enough. 

I, myself, can never be enough.


Goran

I met Philip over the internet in my final year of theatre studies in Banjaluka, one of Bosnia’s largest towns. He comes from a poor neighbourhood in the mountains not far from where I studied but he ended up working at a prestigious hotel chain from the tiny island of Bermuda, where he would make his name as a genius chocolate maker. Kiddo from Bosnia who was raised solely by his grandmother, and now he’s become a celebrity chef, cooking for the Clintons and Beyoncé....one of the lucky ones indeed. For five years we were together, I only knew pure, innocent love. We spent my summer holidays at his beach cottage steps away from the world-famous Horseshoe bay. I know it will sound trite, but I loved that man more than I loved myself. 

What... I don't know...

How did I end up here having meaningless, transactional sex with strangers who leave me empty, depressed and feeling worthless?

"Two Bosnians on a scooter ride through a Caribbean paradise. Sounds like a fucking fairy tale. And guess what, all fairytales end, " Tom spews his bitchiness several years later as I am retelling him the story of Philip. These are some of the most defining moments of my life, but Tom fails to be moved by any of it. Tom, a law student, is a gay man with whom I share a dorm room during my graduate studies in the Czech Republic (182). We became close friends, even though, hand on heart, we were two completely different people. I am an old-school, hardcore romantic, easily in love, monogamous. I only have sex with those I have feelings for. "It's such a waste of time, have sex as much as you can and while you can, life is short," says Tom as he prepares for another hookup with a guy from Gaydar. He sees my values as outdated, heteronormative, traditional and plain boring. When he’s not in class or someone’s bed, Tom spends his time training at the gym with Madonna’s music blaring from his oversized headphones. I live an ordinary, quiet and unassuming life. I spend my free time listening to Loreena McKennit and discovering new potential archeological sites on google maps. Instead of expensive shoes, you will find a carefully curated collection of prehistoric pottery in my closet. I do not travel to Mykonos or Sitges for holidays, but rather spend my summers volunteering for archeological excavations in Portugal.  Let’s be clear, Tom and I have very different associations when it comes to the word: SUBSTANCE (183). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m somehow better than Tom. In gay capitalism, men like Tom are at the top of the pyramid. They rule and get whatever they want. Attention, love, sex, friends, well-paid jobs. If I had a boyfriend, they could have my boyfriend as well, only if they wanted to, of course (185).


Mitch

Sometimes I can’t remember why I wanna live, but I think of all the freaks and I don’t want to miss this

I read these words, aged 17, in the photocopied pages of a zine. It would be years before I found out they were lyrics by the queercore band, Team Dresch, but by then it wouldn’t matter. They had shown me there were other people out there, lingering in the cool pools of shadows.

Freak. Once I might have run from such a word. Now I realise it fits me so well, like a trench coat that I could walk through the toughest, meanest city in knowing I was untouchable. No one wanted to touch me. There was a power in that – after all, who has more strength than a monster?

Let me be upfront with you: I am aware – very aware – that I’m one of those “obvious” gays. Either my voice or the way I walk will give it all away in a second, less than a second. I don’t pretend, don’t see the point in faking something that isn’t there. I’m not ashamed of being me.

Where I run into trouble is what I’m left with, this world that makes me SO tired and confused. Maybe it’s because, as a child, The Wizard of Oz was my favourite movie, but I always imagined finding an Emerald City, not knowing that emerald is a weak gemstone that can break so easily.

As an adult, I moved to the city looking for a gay world I could enter with the ease of feet into slippers. But they were glass slippers, and my feet – swollen and suppurating – would soon shatter this contraption into shards I could never entirely sweep up.

Not everyone understood my despondency and aching deflation.

In a bar one night, a man offered some encouragement. “Go on, put yourself out there. You’re fresh meat.”

Soon after my dour disposition came to outweigh my voice and most people would consider me too depressing to be gay. I can practically quote Prozac Nation verbatim.

My big secret is that I live in a state of constant imagination, playing what if the way someone rushes to the casino for thrills. You know that man who you see waiting at the train station each morning? The one who’s reading a book about Banksy. What if he’s just waiting for the right moment to ask me to come and stencil poetry over this city with him. What if I can meet another type of gay man, not in the gym or sauna, but after colliding with one another in the corner of a musty library. He takes me home to lend a CD I’ve been searching for for years and his walls are lined with bookshelves. I learn he plays my favourite instrument: the harp. 

The question is: where are these people hiding? I should take up bird-watching because I’m always searching for something that you don’t get to see too often.

Surely some of the faults were no doubt mine: whenever I met someone, I likely had the unrealistic expectation that – voila – they would morph into what I had always been looking for and could only find in fiction. Now, time is running out. I’m exhausted HEARING “Let’s catch up soon” just because someone doesn’t have the courage to say you repulse me. Despite the DARK books I’ve read and love, this isn’t what I wanted but, like my favourite authors, I seem incapable of writing happy endings – especially for my own story.

Goran

I was just 10 years old when my primary school teacher Rose told me: "Goran, you are a deep person, get ready for a difficult life." At that time, I didn't really get what she meant by that. Everything became much clearer when, after dinner, one of my dates commented that I was "a very deep man.” I was so happy that I danced my way back to the train station. He blocked my number that very same night. I hate the word deep, how does one un-deep himself? Nah, I don’t want to be a part of gay capitalism. Even if I were given a chance to choose another life, believe it or not, I would still choose the one where I remain nerdy, romantic me. But I do admit, sometimes it's hard to wander through life alone. To be an odd one out. A minority within a minority. Where are the people like me in the gay world? 

And then one Friday night I decided to do something about it. I sat down and wrote a blog post titled "a different kind of gay" and shared my story with others. By the following morning, hundreds of comments were made on the post. Guys from all over the world were reaching out and asking me how could they get involved. Rogerio from Sao Paolo in Brazil told me about his plan to become a teacher and help children from favelas ... Mike from Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States built homes for the homeless and Vietnam War veterans with the organisation Rebuilding Together. Victor from Alicante, Spain, dreamed of a family and a small house on a farm where he could run a shelter for abandoned animals. Their sudden presence in my life was like the lighthouse to a ship lost and floundering in stormy waters.

"If you can't find your place in the community, then make one," wrote Onur from Turkey, ending his message with a big hugging smiley and a few hearts.

As I hugged him back – electronically, at least – I felt that my life had completed a circle and I was just where I was meant to be, creating intimate, meaningful and genuine connections with other people. People just like you. 

Thank you for existing.

You've saved my life.

Mitch

I am early. Of course, I am. I’m so used to waiting that by now it’s become my habit.

From the third floor of the book store, I look down onto the city and try to spot the man who has come to meet me, try to shake off the guilt that he has taken a bus to get here; I was able to walk.

I know his proper name, but to me, he will always be identifiable by his profile: "love surrender."  Surrender is the title of one of my favourite books, and I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than succumbing to this powerful force. And yet …

I’ve been through all of this so many times before. This sitting, smiling, nodding politely before the person vanishes, and if we ever see one another again, nothing but a ghost’s recognition flutters between us.

It’s not yet winter but the air bites us with piranha force until we find ourselves in another bookstore with a café. Here we go again, I think.

But as we speak, something changes, something subtle as the first leaf of autumn reddening the green. I learn he grew up in a war-torn country. Like me, his family is not a stranger to the greedy hands of suicide. He quotes me his bible, The Velvet Rage, and I share lines from Prozac Nation with him in return.

For a time I wonder if this is all just a story until I relax. What is life, if not one story we tell ourselves to make the hours that must follow bearable?

“Your favourite word?” I ask.

“Dove,” he replies.

“Mine’s gossamer,” I say.

Soft, softer: our words coalesce like candle wax, taking the shape of a Rodin sculpture.

It’s a solitary piece that will melt sometimes, break occasionally before the four hands smooth over it, and while it always stands alone in a park, unprotected from the elements, it’s a reminder that he is still there, will always be there near me: 
the different kind of gay.