“we few, we happy few, we band of brothers” from William Shakespeare’s play Henry V
In the last couple of weeks here at Cypher Avenue, we have been commemorating a lot of anniversaries. From The Wu-Tang Clan, to The Roots Things Fall Apart album and Nas’ Illmatic album. April is also the anniversary of what I feel was my best essay written on Discreet City, Where Is My Band Of Brothers.
By no means do I consider myself a great writer, nor is it one of my life’s goals to be known for my literary work. Quite frankly, I feel I suck at it. However I do feel when I do write on certain subject matters, I can write with heart felt emotion, passion and honesty. Where Is My Band Of Brothers is sharing an intimate emotional look at one of my life’s dilemmas. From some of the personal feedback I received from many readers after publishing it, I know that its a dilemma shared by many homosexual men.
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your feedback.
Where Is My Band Of Brothers?
I have been mentally damaged. At least I‘m aware of it. I’m leery and cautious around other gay men. I don’t trust them. I know this is not healthy and I am working on it. Again, I am aware.
This is not so much about my mental short comings when it comes to mistrust, gay men and the gay lifestyle. That is really a separate discussion but it does play a part in my understanding why I only have one friend but would like to have more. As with any of my self-analysis, I always try to think back to the root of the cause. This analysis usually takes multiple paths to come to a few conclusions which can literally translate to “my thoughts being all over the place”.
I don’t want to use the term or pass it off as someone else’s “fault” because for me that would feel like I am not taking responsibility. Please, I am nobody’s victim, but I will try to get you to understand why my reaction is so strong. It’s because gay guys suck. No pun intended. I know this is just frustration talking but I also know there are many homosexual men who are damaged like me.
My partner and I have had conversations pertaining to this and it took me months to come to an understanding. It’s not only because of insecurity, my mind and thoughts have been jaded when it comes to gay men. Let me set the stage on how the ongoing conversation typically goes. He would reminisce about old times with his friends. His thoughts could be triggered by a text message, a phone call or by simply planning a trip between us. He would tell tales of the good times he had with his “brothers”. From his military days to the days working the beat as a police officer, he has never ending tales of the good times he has had with his friends he calls his “brothers”. Oh and they just happen to be gay. This group of guys could meet up at one’s house, hang out, play cards, shoot pool and drink all night. All go to sleep (at the same house), wake up, eat breakfast, go to the gym or go play basketball and in the mist of everything, have ZERO sexual contact or sexual conflict with one another.
The mental conception of older (mentor) gays having sex with much much younger gays, the “little brother” has now be implanted in my mind and it stuck. Mental place card noted. So the conversations I am having with my partner about his “brothers” for me has a sexual component that is not to be trusted but shunned, even if the sexual component is not true. Was this a conclusion from my self-analysis? Well not fully….the self-analysis continues.
I became somewhat comfortable with my sexuality when I was about 22 years of age. Once comfortable, I felt it was my quest to find a “band of gay brothers”. I dreamed about these brothers and romanticized the thought. Growing up in an area, where everyone knows someone you know, I envisioned these brothers of mine would be cool, laid back and discreet, just regular ole dudes.
We could talk shit to each other, watch sports, play video games, talk about music, go to movies, drink, smoke and just do regular guy shit in conjunction with school and work. Pretty much the same stuff I did with my straight friends, except these dudes would be gay. I thought to myself masculine gay dudes would not be into drama and messy shit because we would be just regular carefree dudes. We don’t deal with that type of stuff. I was so naïve. Poor me, so fucking naïve. The guys I ended up with helped begin the “jading” process for me towards other gay men. Meaning that because this was my first experience with a group of gay men, I didn’t know there was another way. This is how I found out gay “friends” occasionally sleep with each other? Wow okay.
That is how gay friendships begin? You have some sort of sexual relations, add water and stir; instant friendship. No big deal right? Yes this is a big deal because underneath, none of us are really friends. We are close acquaintances who occasionally have sexual contact. What I thought was an environment of brotherhood was far from it. What was I to do? What other gay dudes were out there? How can the friendships foster when trying to get an orgasm is involved? Something about this was off but I just rolled with it; until after a couple of years I became detached from this group and moved on.
While these “friendships” were ending, another was beginning. I met a cool masculine guy while in my home town who was from Atlanta, Georgia. He introduced me to his circle of friends and it had an all too familiar feeling about it. It was pretty much the same scenario. So now I guess its fact “all gay dudes who are friends sleep with or have slept together”.
I came to Atlanta with him to visit since I had never been. I had heard great things about the city and wanted to witness some of them first hand. I was introduced to his childhood friends, that also happen to be gay, who were also in town for that weekend. You guessed it…these friends all had sexual connections, past and present. Couple this with myself later being roommates with some of these guys and having to deal with drama, fists fights, messiness and gossip first hand…I was done. The things we do and the mistakes we make in our early 20’s (at the time I didn’t realize these life lessons).
Fuck this gay shit. I wanted bros not hoes…but damn I was one of those hoes. The mental conception that to have a gay male friend means you most likely have had sexual contact with them first, has now been implanted in my mind and it stuck. Mental place card noted. Now in my mid to late 20’s, I knew these types of “friendships” were not for me. I had no friends.
For the most part I was alone and lonely. Yes my insecurities, apprehensions and mistrusts of men was reinforced by the jerks and knuckleheads I did come across after leaving the cliques; however I did come across some cool brothers but sex was involved. Did I miss out on and pass up potential meaningful friendships all because I was lonely, horny and jaded?
I was insecure. This had nothing to do with my sexuality but had to do with my mentality and how I valued me. I didn’t know how to form and foster meaningful male relationships and I understood the relationship I had with myself was also lacking. Looking back on this time, it was good that I was alone and had for the most part isolated myself. Solitude has it virtues.
I can enjoy being alone and not being a part of the group. I have dominance and order. Being alone gave me the opportunity to reflect, heal and grow….and I have. Years later, I was available to allow love to come into my life in the form of my partner. I have a true best friend that I have never had sexual contact with that also happens to be my business partner.
Getting back to my partner and his reminiscing about his “brothers”; I know now that I was viewing his joyful experience through my mentally damaged lens. I was preaching that the majority of gay men only wants one thing and can’t be genuine friends. These factual examples flourish within the community. Hiding in my sermon was the fact that I was jealous that my past homosexual life sucked and his didn’t.
I have gotten over it for the most part but understand I have a long way to go. Through constant analysis (and some therapy) I again understand; I don’t know how to form meaningful male friendships. I have not had any examples. I wish I could explain the emptiness I feel. It is hard for me to verbalize. I can’t put into words the joy and comradery that must exist from true group male bonding because I have never experienced it…but it has to exist and I want it.
I must admit, as I have gotten older my tolerance level has gotten shorter. It is very easy for me to cut folk off from my existence. I can be very judgmental in the fact that I think men should have a certain set of core values. Loyalty, honesty, integrity, ethics and be a man of your word (if you say you are gonna do something, do it) just to name a few, but these few values are major to me. If I sense that these attributes maybe a little off, I cut you off. I know that may sound harsh but learning from the mistakes I made with the messy homosexual men in my past; I don’t want to make the same mistake again. Maybe if I would have learned and done this sooner I would have had less problems back then. I know you have to live to learn but I’m just saying.
But how much should that have an impact on my quality of life now? As I get older, I realized I still romanticize about my fictitious “band of brothers”. Many of us have heard or have said, “I am not looking for friends. I have enough of them.” For the majority of my gay life I feel like men have always wanted something from me but never actually wanted me. They either wanted sex or a relationship but rarely if ever a friendship; why?
Please understand by no means was I an angel and I have done some grimy shit. I do realize with my actions and mental damage, I help pass along the curse but this doesn’t change the facts in how I currently feel. I know I have many great positive attributes but I don’t know how to go about showing a potential new friend/s the great things I have to offer. How do I become friends with another gay man? How can it develop into more than just a casual acquaintance? Hell, how do I find out how? There is not a “How To Make Gay Male Friends” for Dummies. As I stated earlier, I didn’t see any real meaningful examples in my 20’s and still don’t see any tangible examples in my 30’s.
I am putting parts of my past and present self out there because I know there are others who may be currently in or have experienced similarities to this brief story. Outside of gay clubs, the internet seems like it is the only form of gay contact that many homosexual men have. For me this doesn’t equate to a real connection. As you can tell I don’t have the answer. The gay community is just as broken as our larger community. I will say writing this has been therapeutic and hopefully will help others or at least start a much needed conversation.