Good grief where to begin with this topic? It could certainly be the title of a book with many, many chapters. As I have written in the past it has been the women in my life who have had the most profound impact of substance. By that I mean they are the ones who have most influenced and shaped my intellectual, philosophical and certainly political bent. The one possible male exception would be Harry Hay.
For this piece though I am not going to write about Harry but rather a person who has been in my life for the past 38 years. This is a man who is now in his late 70’s who I first met I think in the fall of 1978 or perhaps the spring of 1979 that bit of history being somewhat fuzzy. We met for the first time and gloriously fucked at the Empire Baths and then got together the next night at my house for a repeat. That first night at the tubs I had picked him up in the showers and to be honest it was his quite ample and thick cock that first caught my attention.
I really don’t think of myself as a size queen and have thoroughly enjoyed many penises of all sizes and girths over the years and know from lots of experience that it is not the size of the member but rather the skill of the partner that makes all the difference. It is no longer the case but in my teens, 20’s and 30’s the sight of a large, stiff dick was irresistible with all caution thrown to the wind and if this appendage was attached to a man who also knew how to use it, all the better. I really most enjoyed unwrapping a package that came with no assembly required.
Over the next few years we came to know one another quite well. I learned that he was married and lived in rural Colorado. And most shocking of all he was a Republican! Amazing how if the sex is really good party affiliation seems to rarely be an issue.
Our get-togethers were always sporadic but consistent over the years and I came to truly appreciate our genuine mutual love and his no strings attached generosity. I did meet his wife on a couple of occasions. She is a wonderful, dynamic woman who he still lives with him in a Western, rural and very Republican state. I never asked and have no idea what she knew or did not. From the early 1980’s on, at my insistence, our sex became scrupulously safe which turned out to be a good idea after I tested positive for HIV in 1985. He was always the top though so any risk to him and or to his wife was minimal; latex sealed that deal, even with almost all play being just mutual masturbation.
The dramatic difference in out worldviews and every day life has been a recurrent and at times a challenging lesson for me. Our truly loving relationship has been a reminder to not take my own politics too seriously. I do believe if we could get a majority of the world’s men to lie naked with one another, even just on rare occasions, the world would be so much more peaceful and less toxic in general. Ah, the stuff of dreams.
Though I have only an inkling of how closeted his life may still be I have always been very protective of his identity and his hetero life. He has described himself to me as gay but I don’t ever try to deconstruct that too much. As a good San Francisco friend recently said in describing another queer theorist writing’s in the Gay and Lesbian Review: “his ramblings sound like Tourette’s with a PhD”. No need for me to risk being that sort of analyst with my dear friend.
We most recently got together a few days ago on a visit to Denver. Most of our time was spent soulfully chatting about the recent suicide of a mutual friend and deeply listening to one another grieve and shed a few tears about this loss.
There was a bit of naked play on this visit, nothing to compare to 30 years ago of course, but still enjoyable and generous on his part. No, I did not succumb to lecturing him on the fact that his dick would work much better if he could get the animal product out of his diet. We got to the point years ago where the quality of our time together was not predicated on the rigidity or complete lack thereof of our hard-ons. Something that seems to be a real barometer of many long-lasting gay male friendships I think.
Speaking only from a gay male perspective here I think it worth mentioning the truly amazing and literally millions of gay male friendship networks that are enduring and often totally non-sexual that characterize so much of our queer lives. This is something that truly differentiates us from many of them. Let me close paraphrasing my favorite Harry Hay quote of all time: “the only thing we have in common with the straight world is what we do in bed”.