Oh how sophisticated we all were in our late 20s and early 30s looking at each other and saying, “That’s very interesting, but is it love or lust?” Of course, it was the 70s and the bill some people would pay for wild, random sex hadn’t come in yet.
“I mean, he’s gorgeous, but, Martha, he’s gay.”
“I know that.”
“Well? You can never have him.”
“I don’t want to ‘have’ anyone. But as for that, I think we have each other as much as any two people can. We know each other inside out. We love each other and we’re friends.”
“That’s not all he is.”
“Gay” is a rather impersonal term when it comes down to it. It doesn’t describe anything other than the general idea that a person prefers sex with people of his own sex. There is a, uh, there is a whole RAINBOW of possibilities in that word and, ultimately, we love people — a person, an individual.
But the gay scene in the late 70s was a temple of lust. I found it refreshing. A bunch of guys going out looking for a guy to hook up with — not forever, no white dress, wide-brimmed hat and bouquet, but just that. Desire. I decided then — and I still believe — lust gets a bum wrap.
In the hetero world to which I belong, in those days, people straddled the fence of encouplement and free love. If you watch movies from the time you’ll see the dilemma. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice is a good one to watch. It was the days of “wife swapping” and “open relationships.” People weren’t sure about NOT being in committed love relationships; they were afraid they were missing out but…
Things didn’t work out between the guy and me. They couldn’t, but we were a couple for five years. People continued to say, “It must drive you crazy! He’s so good-looking!”
“What drives me crazy?”
“You know. He’s gay.”
I learned to shrug. In the vast shag rug of love one of the filaments is lust. Our moments of tenderness in bed, our heart-to-heart conversations, our hours of laughter, our fights? OUR moments. No one else’s. Not the subject for debate or dialectic.
“I just want to know, Martha, if everything falls apart, you’ll still be here.”