Thursday, May 15, 2008

Anything was possible

Sometimes you have a dream and that dream infuses everything your relationships are part of that dream and the dream is part of your relationships and everything is hard but it's the dream that means you'll be okay. And then that dream is over, or no the dream is the same or maybe not the same but similar it's the relationships that are over. Or not all of the relationships, but some of them. Maybe it's harder to dream, or maybe it's just harder. Or maybe some things are easier but not dreaming. Or you're definitely not okay, but you're okay with dreaming. Or you're just not okay, is that okay?

Maybe the dream is love, love which is a commitment. Or maybe the dream is commitment, commitment which is love. Like running into the traffic islands near Dupont Circle and RuPaul's Supermodel is playing, you better work, this is the height of Supermodel, turn to the right, I mean when RuPaul became a pop celebrity and you know it's cheesy but you're doing runway anyway, runway in the town where you grew up but you couldn't dream. They wouldn't let you. Now you've gathered with a million queers or mostly gays and lesbians, gays and lesbians whose dreams are so limited you feel farther away than ever but you're dreaming.

I met him at an ACT UP protest, I remember he came right up to me in the sun with such a sweetness we were both 19 I liked the tiny little silver dot in his nose the way his eyes sparkled even his braces I thought they looked cute. We got arrested together and we did runway to RuPaul and then we got bashed together, my eyes so red I thought it was spraypaint, right next to the 24 hour restaurant I used to go to in high school all of this was big, these were big things, but then I went back to San Francisco and he went back to Michigan and we wrote letters, beautiful elaborate letters that's what people did in the early ‘90s.

If he was my first boyfriend, the first person to hold me when I was having incest flashbacks, we broke down a lot then broke up and broke down and everything was difficult but we knew we were building something in the ruins, that was us the ruins. We wanted to create a world we could live with. A lot of the people I believed in then I no longer believe in now, of course we've all changed and some of us have different dreams. So it's not unique that my first boyfriend and I don't talk anymore, don't talk because I stopped believing in his promises, his promises that we were family not just ruins it took me almost 10 years. I mean 10 years to let him go, not as a boyfriend I mean that lasted a year but as something more: hope. Now I like running into him from time to time, but there are no more dreams.

Today I heard something that I'm still trying to process. I mean it makes me sad and I don't know what else to think. Maybe I feel conflicted, conflicted because it makes me so sad and then I think it shouldn't make me so sad, why this investment in his life choices? In this case, it's a barebacking video.

I want to back up for a moment and say that when we went out, we were absolutely meticulous about safe sex. Soon it would be called safer, and that made more sense, but at the time we even used Kiss of Mint condoms for sucking cock. Looking back, I wonder if our dedication to the rules could only exist in such a pure form because we came of age almost certain that we'd eventually die of AIDS, isn't that what happened to everyone like us? Still we wanted to beat the odds, and we wanted to dream, remember dreaming? This wasn't monogamy or anything silly like that, we didn't believe in such ownership spectacles we were sluts and sure, soon enough our ideas of sexual safety would change too, but not our ethics, I mean I didn't believe our ethics had changed until now.

As far as I'm concerned, barebacking videos participate in a culture of nihilism and selfishness that is one of the grossest manifestations of a gay sexual culture that has given up on any vision of communal care. I won't pretend that barebacking videos don't turn me on -- lots of things that disgust me turn me on. What frightens me is the way in which they actively promote loyalty to condomless sex as the One True Vision of sexual satisfaction. And not condomless sex as part of a safer sex regimen, but the type where come must be unloaded deep within stretched anal orifices, as the camera waits for it all to squirt back into our vision. A negotiated decision to have sex without condoms is a different story, a story never portrayed in the unquestioning, masculinity-drenched fantasies of bareback porn.

I can't help thinking that bareback videos are about giving up, even if I watch them and I don't give up. I mean I'm still committed to safer visions of sexual splendor. I'm struck by the thought that nothing was missing from the sex I had with that first boyfriend. Because anything was possible: that's what we believed. And now, now I wonder what he believes.


james said...

Sad about Barebacking. I feel more sad reading and thinking about your comments about dreams and relationships. Then my mind drifts and I think about a nice relationship I had. Ten years have not yet passed.

Mark said...

As far as I'm concerned, barebacking videos participate in a culture of nihilism and selfishness that is one of the grossest manifestations of a gay sexual culture that has given up on any vision of communal care.

Oh, I could kiss you for that one. 'A culture of nihilism and selfishness'... Spot on , bro. I see that nihilism in online hook-upland, too. Modern sex (for lack of a better way to describe it, I don't want to say 'culture') seems less fun now, more mediated and dis-attached. I used to meet people in the real world and have boyfriends. I used to be able to get laid walking down the street. Perhaps I'm old and haggy now and no-one wants to fuck me, but I don't see my friends having great success off-line either.

My dad, who is homosexual, and who was involved in gay liberation in the early 70s, told me this story about how one of his compatriots in the movement had gotten hepatitis and how everyone in the scene took care of him when he was sick. Years later when talking to my dad about it this man cried. Communal care indeed.

I'm going to be mulling on this all day now...

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

James, yes there's a lot of sadness -- and, of course, beautiful memories sometimes it's good that the mind drifts...

And Mark, yes online is the worst as far as nihilism -- I too miss the time when walking down the street led so much more often to sex, where it was more a part of public possibility -- and I only mean the late '90s...

And this is a good summary: "Modern sex (for lack of a better way to describe it, I don't want to say 'culture') seems less fun now, more mediated and dis-attached" Dis-attached is a good way to describe it.

Love --