Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two Bostons, One Man

A travel agent could make quick work of it, or anybody looking at the itinerary of Mr. Fernández and I would travel to Boston on a Friday, stay and take the train down to New York on Tuesday to attend my nephew’s graduation from Columbia University. So we would travel to two cities over ten days—easy, right?

In fact, it was several cities that I was visiting, since the 58-year old unfolding of myself also incorporates the 18-year old, quivering, version of myself that I was back then trying out on the world. Or rather, the façade I would show if anyone noticed me, poked me out of my shell, and made me present myself. Which is to say that I was young, had just had my first sexual experience with a man, had grown up sheltered and with none of the wiles needed for a big city, and—as if all that weren’t enough—I had only one shot at being a professional musician, and this was it.

It was something that had worried my parents, and my father in particular. My two elder brothers had gone to the University of Wisconsin, and lived at home, where, however often it might be evaded, there was still that watchful eye. But what would Marc do, in Boston? In particular, my father obsessed about what I would do, the first minute I got off the plane. Did he assume that if I could figure that out, the momentum of whatever I chose to do would carry me along for the rest of my life? It may be: We thought that way in those days. One choice would inevitably lead to the next, and next would be the avalanche that would bury your future, your character, your honor. So what would I do, in that first moment in the airport? The question troubled him as well as me.

Here, in Puerto Rico, after decades of planing and deplaning, the question seems absurd. It didn’t then, since I could read the subtext of the question: I would arrive in Boston and be stunned by the enormity of what I had set out to do, instantly realize the complete impossibility of it, and stand in horror and frozen as swirling crowds of sophisticated Bostonians swept past me. They all, knowing utterly well what they were to do, were spinning off to their glorious destinies.

I told my father at last that I would go to baggage, and pick up my bags, which in some way assured him, though of course it didn’t take care of the subtext. But it was important to have an answer, and so I went off to Boston.

I can see it now—it was doomed before it began. Consider the teacher: A famous pedagogue who told me, before hearing me play, that everything I did was wrong. So that meant that for an entire week, I was not to play the cello, but rather to hold the bow at the frog (yes, that’s what it’s called) and then wiggle my way to the other end of the bow, called the tip. Why such foolishness? If I ever knew, I’ve forgotten, and the point was that I had to do it until I could keep the bow completely still in the air. Then—of course—I had to go back from tip to frog. Then I had to do it….

I relieve you, with those three dots of ellipsis, of the tedium I endured, because there was nothing else for me to do, that first week in Boston. I had gone with the intention of spending eight or nine hours a day practicing, so enrolling in school was pointless. I came to this idea through my cello teacher in Madison, who had adopted the same strategy, and look where he had landed! He is now an emeritus professor of the University of Wisconsin, and has only a high diploma behind his name.

So there I was, knowing nothing about how to play the cello, and having nothing to do except brood and wonder—had it been a fluke, that sex with a man? Or would I have to do what I knew, or rather face what I knew, which was that if I had been able to have sex with a man in a public park while lying down on the sharpest rocks in Southwestern Wisconsin and slapping without effect the mosquitoes off me on that July night…. Well, shouldn’t that tell me something? Especially since when I tried to have sex with a girl in the comfort of my own bed, and….

I tell myself now: I did what was quite difficult then, and is still hard for many men and women today. Did I do it well? Of course not, since I had put myself in a place where I had no friends, and no structure to make friends. In fact, I was playing spectacularly to my greatest weakness—I was tempted to make that “my smallest weakness,” which seems more logical, somehow—which was to be shy to the point of social phobia. I give you an example: For much of that year, just getting to the store for food was a victory.   

Well, I also forced myself to go to the library, since a Newhouse without a library card is sort of like a person with a below the knee amputation: We can get along, and even go places, but it’s never quite right. So I was reading books on homosexuality, to the point where I detected a passage in one (famous) book that strongly resembled a passage in another (obscure) book. So I check that out, and sure enough: Blatant plagiarism!

Only now does the though occur to me: I should have exposed the (famous) author. But that was unthinkable, since those books that I was checking out? Well, I could only get them by doing two things: squeezing the gay books between a top and bottom regular book. Then, I had to study the librarians: Who was the youngest, the most indifferent,  the least noticing? Because what if she said to me, “excuse me, young man, but I’ve noticed that you’ve checked out Growing Up Gay several times in the last few weeks. Do you need to see a professional?”

I’m sitting in a café frequented by two gay guys at two separate tables; they are young and free and of a type once called “flagrant,” which tells you what the times were like. Because if I could have done what these two kids are doing? Been as out and free and what-they-are with no thought of the consequences….wait. Put it this way—incapable of imagining that there might or could be consequences.

Oh, and consequences? Well, they were mostly internal, though there was a time when a couple of guys tossed a bottle at me on Beacon Street, after calling me a fag. Right—but a fag with nicely long legs, which worked well enough in those days, especially when powered with adrenalin.

No, the real consequences were internal, since I was not going to do anything that would lead to the inevitable. And that was the look on my father’s face, seconds after he had found out that I had been arrested in a gay bar—or even seen going into one—and seconds before he clutched his chest, gasped, staggered to his feet, croaked “I can’t breath,” and then fell to the floor, dying at once from the massive heart attack.

OK—one of the gay guys has left the café. But there’s still an opportunity: Do I go ask a complete stranger, though very much on my team, if he had ever worried about this?

Marc: Sorry, you don’t know me, but we’re both gay, though I am decades older. But I was just wondering—did you have a hard time coming out to your parents?

Complete Gay Stranger (CGS): Fuck off, Gramps!

I report—to be fair—that this dialogue is entirely imaginary, since who knows? Maybe he would be fascinated by a complete relic, since the time in which I was living—about 1976—was not long after Stonewall. OK—it was seven years after Stonewall, but the years back then were slower then. News came by your local paper, which if you were lucky had AP / UPI feeds. But was anybody writing about  what the American Psychological Association, until 1973, still called an illness?

So yes, Boston had a nascent gay community, but would I ever get near it, or even into it? Not likely, since I had no social skills, had never opened up to another person, and was in fact trapped in a pattern of reading from midafternoon to dawn, getting up at noon, experimenting for twenty minutes with the stupid bow trick, and then settling down for more…reading.

How isolated was I, in that year I spent in Boston? Well, perhaps my closest friend from high school was living a mile or so away from me at the time, and how often did I see him? Perhaps twice.  And he, of course, was coming out as well, which meant that he didn’t have the energy to pick up the phone and call me, as I didn’t have the energy to call him.

Because the closet? It has a door, and that door has to be kept closed, closed—nobody, absolutely NOBODY can get in, or peep in, or suspect, in fact, that there may even BE a door. So it’s really not a closet, unless it’s the closet of the secret chamber in your basement, the chamber you have dug alone late at night, when none of the neighbors can hear the chink of pickax against rock, and nobody can see you as you carry the bags of good, solid earth from a place which you will fill with your noxious dreams, your horrible lusts, your sickness awaiting your death.

So it takes energy, all this, since by day you have to go along worrying that someone will have seen you, in all senses of the word. Because they do, you know—and especially the ones who, like you, have built a closet, or dug a dungeon, or perhaps not. Who knows? Maybe they have no need for a dungeon, having chosen offense as the better strategy than defense. Because forget the jocks, it’s the “regular” guys who really can’t face themselves who will out you, call you a fag and a fudge packer, and laugh while you writhe.

And so, in a sense I was lucky. I didn’t have it as bad as some. Because there were a whole lot of gay men who had been there before me, and if the 70s were Wisconsin-cold, the 50s were Siberia. Which was metaphorically where many gay musicians and composers were, unless, of course, you managed to get to Paris, study with Nadia Boulanger—who taught everybody, practically—of any note—and dwell among civilized people. That’s what Ned Rorem did, and his song below, Early in the Morning, evokes so much that wonder that a young man, early in love and life, must feel. It tells you what there is—the café au lait, the croissants, the hosing down of the sidewalks of Rue François Premier, but it neglects to tell you the other, more salient, facts. Because Rorem saved those for his memoirs, when he would spill the beans about the celebrities he had bedded, the youths he had pursued, the debauches that preceded the early mornings, with their croissants and café au lait. Then it was home to bed.

I listen to this song, now, and remember a youth that was more imagined than lived. Because my own experience—then—was much more that of a somewhat lesser-known composer, Richard Hundley, whose Wikipedia page including the dead give-away for all of us homosexuals of the 70s: A complete lack of information about his personal life. OK—there’s this:

Throughout his life, Hundley has had close relationships with many of America's great composers. In the 1950's and 1960's, in addition to his teachers Thomson, Citkowitz, and Flanigan, he was in contact with Noel Farrand, Stanley Hollingsworth, John Brodkin Kelly, Lee Hoiby, David del Tredici, and John Corigliano. He also met and socialized with Marc Blitzstien, Henry Cowell, Gian Carlo Menotti, Leonard Bernstein, Alec Wilder, and Samuel Barber.  

Girlfriend, as we used to say, this ain’t no list, it’s the town’s most popular gay bar after The American Society of Composers closed their convention. And he’s skillful, this Hundley, he evokes mood just as much as Rorem. And ever since I heard the song, Come Ready and See Me, in high school, I loved it. In fact, the song  haunted me for years, with its plaintive refrain, “I can’t wait forever, for the years are running out….”

What was I waiting for? What wasn’t I waiting for, since every kid starts out with the curse of having to figure everything out and the blessing of having enough energy—for the most part—to do it. There was the cello, since I had used it to wage four or five psychic battles. There was my sexuality. And there was my depression, which may or may not have been related to all-of-the-above.

That year in Boston. Doomed, I now know, to failure. But then? I crawled out of the city after a year, went to the University of Wisconsin, buried my dream of being a musician, and clung hard to the improbable wish that I wouldn’t go through my life alone, and unseen.

And so there we were, Mr., Fernández and I, and he was looking at the buildings and the boys, since Boston has as many colleges as your lawn has dandelions, but that was ok, since I? I was whispering down the decades to a person I had left behind but also had reclaimed, since I was murmuring, “you see? It worked out OK in the end, even the cello, though that took several decades longer than estimated, but that’s all right, since the journey, with all of its trudging and wrong turns and the mud splashed up against my face, well, it was worth it.”

Did he hear me, that person who is so much myself, and so little?

I hope so.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday Theology

Well, you know it must be true, since I got it from this website:

It’s not fair, really, to make fun of these people, since shouldn’t I be picking on people—intellectually—of somewhat similar size? There are, after all, a lot of intelligent, thinking Christians, who have to put up a lot of crazies purportedly of their ilk, and do they need me to join the fight? Of course not.

But I was driven to the Landover Baptist Church by a photo I had seen in Facebook:

Facebook is a tease, so once I had looked at that, I had to look at the other stuff, and thus learned that the Bible condemns left-handedness either four or twenty-five times, depending on whether you think that a prophet separating the saints from the sinners—and guess what side each was!—was specifically a condemnation of the left hand.

Right—so I had to occupy myself with that, since it seemed my work of this morning was to tell you all about the Duggars, which was a problem, since everyone but me knew who they were. Why? Because other people watch TV, and so could see the reality show, Nineteen Kids and Counting, which was all about Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the 19—and counting—kids. All of whom are being raised in a “Christian patriarchy” home, about which I didn’t know anything, except that I did, since the whole thing has been around forever. Basically, anything that goes in Saudi Arabia for women and men goes in “Christian patriarchy” as well. Oh, wait, women can work and run for office in Saudi Arabia—in Christian patriarchy, women can’t.

So the Duggars have for the last ten years been exhibiting themselves on television, and we’ve all been able to see that wonderful, wholesome family environment in which alcohol, holding hands, kissing, frontal hugs are banned, and even some sorts of learning as well, since of course these nineteen children can’t go to public schools—certainly a good thing, from the taxpaying point of view—but have to be specially homeschooled, using such worthy pedagogical devices as ACE, or Accelerated Christian Education. Well, it was a Tuesday morning chock-full of discoveries, of which this is the latest:

The ACE curriculum (in "Biology 1099") asserts the existence of the Loch Ness monster as fact, declaring it a plesiosaur, and uses this "fact" to disprove the theory of evolution.[20] In July 2013, this reference was removed from new textbooks published in Europe.

OK, Wikipedia, tell me—does this mean that the kids in over 6,000 schools in the 145 countries, if not in Europe, are being taught that that the Loch Ness monster is real, but evolution is not?

Well, of course the Duggars would buy into the Accelerated Christian Education, especially since they must be of the belief, as the presenter is in the video below, that “these are exciting but challenging days in which to live and serve God!”

Yes, challenging, since it has just been revealed that Josh Duggar, the eldest of the 19 and counting, had “forcibly fondled”—and is it just me that wonders if that’s not an  oxymoron?—five of his sisters. Nobody, in fact denies it, and Josh has had to give up his job at the Family Research Council—one wonders if the research is on the same level as believing in the Loch Ness monster—and even take down his website. Oh, and TLC has suspended the show.

All is not lost, however, since Josh has the support of his family, and even Mike Huckabee—his longtime pal—since here’s the deal: Anyone can sin, and if he or she repents and turns to the Lord, then bam, we gotta forgive him. Because none of us are without sin. And by the way, Josh’s errancy was wonderfully beneficial in the end, since it forced everyone in the family to turn to Jesus, and their faith is all the stronger for it! Wow—great!

It’s distinctly screwy, somehow, though maybe not, since apparently there’s also a belief in Christian patriarchy that women have an innate evil that leads them to tempt otherwise pure men to do such dastardly things as fondle—forcibly—breasts. So Josh, was he really all that guilty? Oh course not—he’s just one more victim in that well-known crusade by the liberal gay agenda to…get ready, here…criminalize Christianity!

Well, I’m liberal and I’m gay, but I do draw the line at criminalizing Christianity. But I do have to wonder whether we still have truant officers, and if so, whether that can’t be told to go after children whose parents are teaching them that the Loch Ness monster….

Right—forget that.

Go after the parents!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Lady Sonnets

“What,” cried Lady in complete disgust, “I can’t believe you don’t understand my sonnet! I mean, you can read Shakespeare and Donne, but you can’t get my sonnet? I don’t get that!”

I didn’t get it either, nor did César, when I spoke with him three or four hours later.

“What does ‘condone’ mean to you,” César asked.

“It means not to punish or take action, or something like that,” I said.

“Right, but when Lady used it in her poem, she thought it meant to deny or reject, so it gave one line a completely different meaning. So we talked about that, and when I left Lady was lying in bed, driving Google nuts with searches for possible alternative meanings of ‘condone.’”

“I think she meant ‘condemn,’” I told him. “Anyway, it would work, if she did, since it wouldn’t screw up her rhyme scheme.”

Lady had her surgery three weeks ago, and her world is now reduced to the twenty feet between bed and bathroom. Except that she is also roaming through Stanford University, thanks to an online poetry course.

“So why Stanford,” I asked.

“Because it’s Stanford,” she replied, as if everyone knew that Stanford was the ground zero for poetry education.

“I have two other students who are critiquing me, and they always rip me apart. Snobs! But the professor gave me an A, for the sonnet you don’t understand!”

“I read it when my brain was tired, after a hard class,” I told her. So we resolved, we would tackle the sonnet after she got done speaking to Yesi, an ex-employee, whom nobody had much liked working with. All right, tell the truth: Jorge, the manager, had given an ultimatum—it was him or her.

“I don’t want to be alone with her, so don’t leave me, Marc,” said Lady. I was good with that, since I figured that Lady wanted to use my being there as an excuse not to have what would likely be a hard conversation. So what happened?

…the hard conversation.

So there I was, at the foot of Lady’s bed, busy writing yesterday’s post, and listening to Cristóbal de Morales, and it worked too! Except for the silence between movements, during which I learned…

“….you broke my heart!”

“…it’s just that I can’t trust anyone…”

“…you can’t allow your insecurities to run your life…”

So I can tell you that the hard conversation lasted through the de Morales, and most of the way through the Orlando di Lasso that YouTube, quite logically, decided to follow up with. Then it was time for the sonnet. Lady, like Montalvo, is of the opinion that all you have to do is read the poem aloud, and the meaning will be automatically clear. So she reads the sonnet:

Can I have your lips pressed against my own?
Boast to the balance of wine’s crystal orb,
From which no love’s tacit tongue could condone,

And drink at will the cause of its reward?

Tipsy shy your humble vanity’s force—

That leads me to dilute my manner’s hold, 

Pray, single soul, if not, one seeks divorce,

That you, as I, can own our own threshold!

The vintage cup at harvest time’s enough. 

May all my weathered seasons be the Fall!

But for two, love, decisions of the crush

Can only be hand picked, if not at all!

Consuming God is our free will bestowed

So your mouth from thus, I devote my ode.

Now do you get it?” she wanted to know.

“I don’t do poetry very well,” I told her. “There’s a lot of stuff I don’t get.”

So she explains it, and I get it, sort of, though it’s still sort of not there. But that’s OK, since Montalvo has also sent me a poem, via a text on my cell phone. So we read that, somewhat guiltily, since Montalvo had sent it just to me.

“I like the image,” I said, and Lady agreed, though we both felt it should be ‘I am a flower growing in a cave,’ instead of ‘I feel like…’

“Hey, ‘I am a flower growing in a cave,’ is perfect iambic pentameter,” I told her.

Don’t worry, iambic pentameter is just five “ta DUMS.”

“I may write a sonnet with that as the opening line, just to see if I can. After all, I made Montalvo do it, so I should probably do it as well.”

Lady responded by smacking her lips shark-ily and rubbing her hands together.

“After all, if Montalvo can do it, I should be able to do it, right?”

Strata of epidermis are flying everywhere!

“And it can’t be that hard, though I had forgotten about the damn twist in the third quatrain….”

Lady has become the alph- hyena zeroing in on the kill.

“OK—so I’ll do it!”

Time for a kiss, and I’m off, asking over my shoulder, “Hey, you need anything?”

“THAT SONNET” she flared back.

Here it is, Lady!

 Flower in a Cave Wall
(Dedicated to Pablo, current-Christian, ex-gay)

So vile the flower growing in a cave,
Its thorny roots refusing rain from God,
Content to rove in beds of filth and crave
The dark, the dank, the peace of steps ne’er trod.
The flower all rank shades of wounds adorn,
Puss-Purple, orange, bile in green and more.
Of him from Blessed Mary then was born
From you, my love, my bleeding heart they tore.
He died upon the rough-hewn cross, they say,
I died the day you crucified our love
And turned to find another game to play.
Dear Jesus, keep my soul in heav’n above!
He died, was wept, and lifted to the sky.
I turn to him in love and yet I die!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Another Life, Not my Own

Today’s question: Should I be happy for Pablo or not?

He was one of my students at Walmart, and I liked him a lot: He had worked his way up from being a stocker to being a buyer, and that—if you can handle the pressure of having to sell twenty million dollars of merchandise in a year—is a great job. So he had done well, and the class that he was in was one of my favorites.

In that class was another student, who at one time gave a presentation on Facebook, which in those days I didn’t use. OK—I did, but I didn’t accept friend requests from my co-workers. Why would anyone? I spent ten hours or so every workday with these people—was I now to go home and spend more time—electronically—with them?

All that changed when Walmart and I parted ways; then, Facebook became my connection to the four hundred students / friends I had lost. And I quickly learned: My Facebook friends were a lot more diverse than most friends are.

There was María, for example, also in the same class with Pablo, and also a wonderful student. Her story was essentially the same as Pablo’s, with the exception that she had been married and divorced twice, and was trudging along the arduous road of single-motherhood.

She was helped on the way as many are: By a deep faith in God. Nor was it as much God, perhaps, as it was Jesus, and I knew that she went to an Evangelical church. But it was only after reading her Facebook posts that I realized how “Evangelical” the church was, and how deeply it was affecting her thinking. She quoted chapter and verse incessantly, and was convinced that the Godless—should that word be capped? Interesting theological and grammatical question—were imminently poised to snatch whatever last tatters of religious liberty she could still cling to. How crazy was she? Well, she urged her Facebook friends to sign a petition of support for Dolce and Gabana, since they were being persecuted by the gay Nazis.

I learned a long time ago: Facebook can bring out the absolute nastiest in a person, though YouTube, with its greater anonymity, may well top it. At any rate, I didn’t sign the petition, nor did I respond to her increasing rants that we gay people were threatening to topple marriage and Western Civilization into the abyss of sin and moral turpitude. Reading her posts, you could hear the fabric of our society being torn, slashed, rent, sundered, and burned. Presumably, we gay people were dancing Satanically on the ashes.

What made it ironic, I thought, was that Pablo, her classmate, was…well, my gaydar can occasionally blip, but my guess was that Pablo was either heterosexually challenged or homosexually gifted. And since I knew that she was a good friend of Pablo’s outside of work, and they were undoubtedly Facebook friends, I wondered how he felt about all the proselytizing and commentary.

Well, my gaydar had not blipped, but Pablo certainly had, at least in my eyes. Because Millie had liked what Pablo had written:

A mi querida Apóstol Wanda Rolón:

Llegue a la iglesia la Senda Antigua con una vida hecha pedazos, sin trabajo, en depresión, buscando llenar un vacío que había en mi corazón, sin identidad, creyendo que practicando el homosexualismo Dios se equivocó conmigo.  

(To my dear Apostle Wanda Rolón, I arrived at the Church of the Ancient Path with a life in tatters, without work, in depression, seeking to fill a void in my heart, without identity, believing that by practicing homosexuality God had erred with me.)

And who is the dear Apostle Wanda Rolón? Well, everybody in Puerto Rico knows her, since she has the gumption—or perhaps the craftiness—of standing up and telling it like it is: Ricky Martin is an ambassador from Hell. Oh, and she’s not afraid to tell homosexuals the truth, either, and that is that…oh, do I really have to tell you?

More recently, she had been criticized for having received a prophecy—stuff like this happens to Evangelicals—that a group of businessmen would buy her a private jet, since her “theology” is that old, well, actually Ancient Path: “health and wealth theology.” OK—I would call it swindling or, perhaps more politely, hucksterism, since she is the middle man here, between God and man, and her take is 10%, and isn’t that fair? Besides, is she to blame for a prophecy someone made over her? Who wouldn’t be happy, on hearing the news that a private jet was on the way? Oh, and by the way, it never arrived, or maybe we should be hopeful—or perhaps up the commission to 20%--and believe that the prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. The Lord, as you know, works….

Anyway, all of the Godless, in whose camp I reluctantly fall, were sniggering about this, and that was what inspired Pablo to write what he did in Facebook.  

Well, I read the entire post several times over, and came upon the telling sentence:

Hoy por hoy gracias a esta pastora altamente criticada por fariseos y gente incrédula se ha dejado utilizar por Dios para sacar gente como yo de esa cárcel y de vivir una vida de maldición.

(Today, thanks to this pastor highly criticized by Pharisees and unknowing people I have allowed God to use me to free people like me from the prison of living a life of evil.)

I looked, then, at his Facebook page, and realized that sometime after I left Walmart, Pablo had married a woman: He looks, in his pictures, to be quite happy, and he is holding a child (presumably his / theirs) with his wife sitting next to an older child (presumably hers / now theirs).

I pondered the whole question yesterday, when I wasn’t teaching. Was it real, Pablo’s conversion, his “healing” from the “sickness” of homosexuality? Was he bisexual, and thus able to turn his homosexual side off? What had his background been, and why had he felt that God had erred by making him gay?

More—didn’t I want him to be happy? He stands in his photos with a wife and children, and who could not want that for a friend? I am very clear—I don’t need everyone around me to be gay.

But I also wondered—what had Pablo found out there, in those years when he was practicing that evil of homosexuality? Because it’s a different world, now, for Pablo than it was for me, at his age thirty years ago. And in some ways, I had it easier—there were still bars, and are there any today? Because however much we tended to become drunks, the bars were community. But isn’t everything now over the Internet? Is there any community at all?

Well, I check it out, and yes—there are bars, and there are churches (not, thankfully, of that ancient path) and there are social activism groups, since we have a large gay pride march, and who organizes that? So there were things to do, people to meet, and a life to be led, if Pablo had wanted it.

Or could have gotten to it. Since was it truly the apostle’s doing, this loathing of the sin of homosexuality? Isn’t it more likely that he had felt that way all his life, had been taught that being gay was sinful and horrible, and had been ashamed and hurting for years before getting back on the ancient path? And now that he’s back, well…will he stay back? Anyone’s marriage is a mystery, but how will his fare? His wife clearly knows that he has homosexuality in his past: Will she worry that he’ll go back to being gay? Will she watch him, to see if he watches men? What will all that do to his marriage?

What will he feel, as he grows older? And isn’t it odd that I ask that, since that t was supposed to be the worst fate of gay men: We would grow old, our beauty gone, our money frittered away, our friends fickle and then…bam, we would look around us, and see our heterosexual friends and family surrounded by their children and grandchildren, and how would we feel? Ah, then we’d regret the errors of our ways, as we sat lonely and poor and despised while the whole world went happily on its way, leaving us only misery and dejection! Hah! See!

Did it happen that way? Sure, for some. But more often, I saw people who, like my uncle, had been married and had had children and grandchildren, and yes, that was a blessing. But there was a lingering sense that something had been deprived of him, and of all the other gay men who had played straight all those years.

Two things have happened as I write this: A heart-stoppingly beautiful man has walked into the café, and a sister-in-law has called, since there will be a family gathering tomorrow which of course I don’t want to attend but have to because otherwise there will be hell to pay, since don’t forget, this is Mother’s Day weekend, and for me not to go? Hah, better it would be to spit in her dear face!

I tell you this, since the beautiful man has left the coffee shop untouched by anything but some lecherous looks and memories from me. And it made me remember days long gone with Mr. Fernández, when the love and the sex was newly minted, and had the shine and the value of an ingot of gold. It’s just as good, and even more valuable, but it’s different. And how often have we borrowed against that capital? Because am I spilling any secrets when I tell that every marriage well, tinkers on the brink of insolvency at times? We, like everyone else, have held on when there wasn’t much there to hold onto. And will Pablo have that? Was there ever enough fire raging to produce embers to warm them in later years?

And my sister-in-law? Well, she is one more reminder of how deeply embedded I am in Mr. Fernández’s family, since it is absolutely natural that at any moment Marc can and must be called, for an affair as important as a funeral or as trivial as a search for the right music to play for the event I don’t want to go to. So rather than facing a lonely old age, I’ll have to have well-whetted machetes to break through the family ties that bind.

So I tell myself, I should be happy for him. But the question that nags, really, is this: Is Pablo really happy? Assuming that he is suppressing his homosexuality and feigning someone else’s heterosexuality, well…how could he be? For that matter, when I was trading my soul for the spoils of the corporate world, was I happy?

I ended up happy to have done it, and happier still to have done with it. But there’s a reason, I think, why the whole issue of marriage equality resonates so strongly. Every one of us at Walmart felt the same way, and many of us said it openly: When I walk out that door, I leave it behind me. Put it this way—everybody had a picture of the wife and kids on their desk at work. But how many had a picture of the Home Office next to their bed?

And so Pablo has been saved, and is now married and with children. No, I don’t know if he’s happy, or if I should be happy if he is, or even if he thinks he is. What do I know?

Well, I hope he really has been saved, and that God came in and did a good scrubbing, and tossed that old devil homosexuality out of Pablo’s life, and left the temple orderly and immaculate and straight, God dammit! Because otherwise?

Pablo’s marriage is a sham.