6Oct/120

The Face of Gay 12 (Dorien Grey)

RECOVERED

There are three things you should know about author Dorien Grey. First, never ever under any circumstances stand up and offer him your seat. He doesn’t like it and he’ll likely have his security detail get you banned from wherever you are. Second, never ever under any circumstances send him SPAM mail. He doesn’t like it and he’ll definitely have his security detail hunt you down and break your legs. He already has a long list. I know. I’ve seen it. Finally, always under any circumstances read Dorien Grey’s novels. Why? Because his work is worth reading.

Dorien’s life has always been an open book and his blog is a favorite hangout for friends and fans alike. That’s why I feel very honored that he agreed to share his thoughts in this week’s Face of Gay. I’m also honored to call him a friend…especially because he hasn’t asked his security detail to break my legs.

The Face of Gay (Dorien Grey)

Just as politicians a century ago liked to begin every stump speech with, “I was born in a log cabin on the prairie….” I like to begin many of my tales of a long and checkered career with the sentence, “I’ve known I was gay since I was five years old.” I didn’t have any idea what “gay” meant, at the time, and didn’t find out until many years later (at 17, in the Palace Theater in Rockford, Illinois) that I was not alone. Definitions didn’t matter. I knew that I liked other boys, and that would never change. Let me rephrase that sentence for those who choose to find obscenity in the crotch of every tree: I knew I liked other males, and that would never change, though the age group of those to whom I was attracted moved up as I grew older.

I never experienced the doubt, the confusion, or the shame that so many gays endured on the road to coming out. I was never not on the road. I never had to admit to myself that I was gay. I never lied about my sexual orientation, but I became expert at evading a direct answer. Even when I joined the Navy, I answered “no” to the then-standard question, “have you ever had homosexual tendencies” with a clear conscience, since for me they weren’t “tendencies” and I had always had them.

I was blessed with a mother and father who loved me unconditionally. They knew I was gay long before I told them, but they waited for me to tell them—which didn’t occur until I was 33, after my breakup with my partner of six years, Norm, whom both my parents adored. My entire family knew without being told, and they, too, accepted me without question. I have heard so many incomprehensibly sad stories of gays and lesbians disowned by—and in one case I knew of personally, driven to suicide because their parents rejected them for being who they were. How can people DO that?

Growing up when I did, at a time when homosexuality was considered an abomination by not only churches, and when there were absolutely no legal protections or recourse for gays, I can think of only one experience where I was openly—and then only verbally—harassed; in high school, where a bunch of guys I knew drove by and shouted “Queer.” Much later, living in a tiny town in the great north woods there would be anonymous “funny” phone calls (“Hi, this is your buddy, Jack…Jack Meoff” followed by laughter and a hang-up.) Even in the Navy, I’m sure everyone knew I was gay and I lived in terror of being thrown out for being so, but no one ever said anything to my face. Considering what other gays have gone through and are still going through today, I was very lucky.

Since graduating from college, I have lived totally in a world where, for me, heterosexuals exist as peripherally as gays exist in the straight world. For most of my adult life, I have lived in gay neighborhoods, gone to gay bars and gay restaurants and whenever possible shopped in gay stores. I have a number of wonderful straight friends for whom my being gay is about as important as eye color. In short, I have, all my life, simply ignored the straight world as much as it was possible to do so.

When gay friends would agonize over whether to tell a straight friend they were gay, I would always point out that if someone rejected them for being gay, they were never friends to begin with.

I cannot conceive of myself as ever being anything but gay. Yet the gay world is not without flaws. All my life I’ve been fascinated with love and the idea of love. There was a long time when I thought that I was/could not be complete unless I had a partner. As a dyed-in-the-wool romantic raised on storybooks and handsome princes and happily-ever-afters, I’ve had a history of relationships which, if put on paper as a graph, would resemble a 9.0 earthquake on the Richter Scale. I have too often and too easily mistaken lust for love. The gay community’s unfortunate obsession with youth and beauty—which I have to admit I share—has effectively dictated, now that I’ve been aged out of active participation in the community’s mainstream, that I will never again have that which has been so vitally important to my life: a partner to share it.

While many—perhaps most—gays claim that “being gay is not totally who I am,” I’m afraid that, for me, it pretty much is. I can think of nothing in my life that is not at least filtered through the screen of my homosexuality. Everything I do, everything I write is colored by the fact of my being gay. And I can readily see that some might consider this excessively restrictive, or even consider it unhealthy. All I know is that it works for me—and in that phrase lies my entire attitude toward life. If it works for you, and you are not being harmed by it, or harming others, to hell with what the rest of the world thinks.

To quote Lily Tomlin’s character, Edith Ann: “And that’s the truth!”

 

If you enjoyed this entry, please leave Dorien a comment below. And if you have a story of your own you’d like to share, please let me know!

The Previous 5 entries in the Face of Gay Series:

The Face of Gay 7 (Danny)
The Face of Gay 8 (Anonymous As Scott)
The Face of Gay 9 (Katherine Trick)
The Face of Gay 10 (T.J.)
The Face of Gay 11 (Rob)

 

ORIGINAL RESPONSES
Katherine T. says:
October 6, 2012 at 9:42 am
Brava, Dorien! You’ve lived your life truthfully and beautifully. I only wish more people(sraight or gay) could do so. Knowing who you are and living your life happily accepting and acknowledging ones true self is the greatest gift you can give yourself. You are a remarkable person and I’m glad you’ve shared your experiences and thoughts here. I think it will touch and affect all who read it. I know it did me.

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Diana says:
October 6, 2012 at 9:59 am
Thank you for this glimpse into your personal life Dorien. It’s wonderful that you have always been content with yourself and haven’t had to go through some of the horrendous experiences so many gay and lesbians have had to endure. My heart aches for them.
I was so fortunate to be able to tell my brother this same thing before he died in a terrible car accident at the age of 19, if it works for you, and you are not being harmed by it, or harming others, to hell with what the rest of the world thinks. It applies to all instances in life and I also live by this motto. Thank you, Dorien, for being the great guy that you are.

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Karen says:
October 6, 2012 at 10:01 am
Thank you for a wonderful post. Im happy to see how open you are with who you are. I wish more people could be like that

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clay ball says:
October 6, 2012 at 10:25 am
Thank you for sharing you journey, Dorien…it is inspiring to hear of anyone who is able to live their life true to who they are!

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John Bidwell says:
October 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm
Very fine post as I knew it would be. I’d love to see my two favorite bloggers on the same page more often.
I’m not in to bawdy, so I wouldn’t wear a lof of pins- but my friendship with Dorien is one I do wear very humbly and proudly.
I’m as straight as Dorien is gay- so we both had farther to go to meet half way, but there was never a moment of hesitation along the journey. The deepest respect was always present.
I had some questions, but I was without doubt that Dorien had answers- and that they would be compassionate and educate me in ways that I needed.
The man will never believe all the good that he does and all the lives he touches so deeply, but I’m not wanting to change a single thing about Dorien.

John

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Kayelle Allen says:
October 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm
I’ve enjoyed your books. Glad to get to you know you a little better!

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alan chin says:
October 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm
A very interesting and revealing post, Dorien. You have been blessed by an accepting family and life events. Good for you. Hopefully more and more gay kids will find that acceptance as well.

BTW: there are some gay communities, Palm Springs for instance, where older men are not invisible, simply because there are too many of us to ignore. lol

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Lloyd Meeker says:
October 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm
Thanks, Dorien, for this post — and for telling your story so clearly. It’s inspiring to me.

Like you, I can’t imagine any important aspect of my life that isn’t powerfully informed — even shaped — by my sexual wiring. I consider that a profound spiritual gift.

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Jeff says:
October 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm
Thank you Dorien for sharing your story. It is refreshing to read that someone can be so fully themselves.

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Tom says:
October 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm
Dorien, thanks for being so unabashedly honest. So damned refreshing.

And like you,I feel like I’ve aged out of the dating pool. Funny isn’t it? We spend so long being who we are so they can be who THEY are, and now we’re irrelevant in so many ways. I consider it the young people’s loss.

Tom

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Patricia Logan says:
October 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm
Lovely post Dorien. I’m happy that you have had such a happy life in your own skin. You wear it proudly and openly as so many can’t or haven’t or won’t. I feel for those tormented to remain in the closet and not to be themselves and in my time in hospice I saw many families trying to come to grips with the fact that their sons were dying of the Gay Cancer/Plague. Some told me that they wish that their sons/brothers had been open and honest and let them take the journey with that loved one. Talk about sadness all around… when it was too late. I’m proud to know you as a brother and a friend Dorien

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Hunter S. Jones says:
October 7, 2012 at 2:31 pm
Beautiful blog, just beautiful. Thank you for sharing Dorien’s story with us, Kage.

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Nick says:
October 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm
I love these so much. Dorien has the best one so far. The senior in writing and in life in general. A wise man! Thank you for sharing with us all.

________________________
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the novella Falling Awake (also to be re-published under his real name), and the upcoming Falling Awake II: Revenant.

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