Posts Tagged Pride Parade

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

It had arrived. Although this would be my third year “participating,” I was legitimately scared. I wasn’t sure why it was so scary, but honestly, I was petrified for so many reasons.

My first interaction with Pride Weekend was a mistake. I was making my way to Governor’s Island for a polo match with my family when we found ourselves “stuck” in the parade route. The following year was the first year I was out when the weekend came around. It wasn’t pleasant as I witnessed my relationship crumble before my eyes like an out-of-body experience. I missed the parade that year, but I got a sampling of the other aspects of the festivities.

My fear was grounded mainly in the unknown. While I am a gay man, I do not participate in the typical gay culture. I’ve never been a big fan of gay clubs and what goes on there. I come from a background of a traditional relationship. In the gay world, that is like finding a diamond in the rough. The clubs seem to be the antithesis of this. They are a hot-bed of drugs, promiscuity and raunchy behavior. I know all gay men who go to bars don’t fit into this stereotype, but this stereotype is founded in truth. While I’ve been to a handful of gay clubs, and my comfort level was rising, I still had no idea what to expect. Never before had I been to a circuit party. I was venturing into the abyss, and this caused me incredible anxiety.

While I have learned to let go of the men in my past, I still carry the scars of my relationship with them. They’ve all hurt or used me in some way, shape or form. My biggest fear in life is being alone, and this fear is fed by thoughts of cheating, which is birthed from my baggage. The idea of CK with another man broke my heart. I had clear definitions of cheating, but there were worse things floating through my imagination — Like cheating in a form I feel is unfaithful, but the offender does not.

My relationship with CK was building a great foundation, however, the cement was still wet. We were only dating two months and ten days — Very young for any relationship. In the first month, I had strong suspicions I wasn’t the only man entering his bed. Things didn’t always line up and some of the clear indications were there, however, our relationship was still just forming. I knew there would be a transition period. While he told me he was only interested in me, and I was the only man entering his bed, I was aware how we met. I was also aware of his intentions before we even met through his first major slip-up on Grindr. I couldn’t expect monogamy from the first night — That wasn’t realistic.

While I was fairly understanding and looked the other way early on, I was not going to tolerate infidelity as our relationship progressed and strengthened. For starters, my heart wouldn’t be able to handle the pain, and lastly, it wasn’t safe for my health. I needed to trust him to be faithful. Outside the heartbreak, frankly, we were having unprotected sex. We’d been tested, but there are no guarantees. I trusted him with my life, literally, and if he was sleeping with other men, he was treating my life carelessly.

I sincerely had a feeling his intentions had evolved, but I couldn’t be sure how he would react when faced with temptation. I hoped I was the only man for him. As a result, I was petrified for the life of our relationship. I’d watched my relationship with N publicly combust the previous year, and I didn’t want a repeat.

I’m sure many of you reading think I am overreacting. It’s just a party… It’s just a parade… It’s just a weekend… Well, not to me. To me, it was a litmus test for the strength of my love for CK. I didn’t want that love to be tested, and I didn’t want to have to make a decision that could end my relationship with CK. He was my Superman. He was my world. If I lost him, my world would come crumbling down.

We had plans to go to a huge party at XL Friday night, Matinée circuit party Saturday, and the parade Sunday afternoon. I was venturing into this unknown abyss with faith and hope I could persevere. The thought of CK dropping X and losing control of his inhibitions with some other guy caused me great pain and panic attacks. The idea of another man’s hand groping his package caused me panic attacks. Picturing him dancing shirtless against another shirtless man caused me panic attacks. Every time these scenarios and many others entered my brain, my heart rate would increase drastically, I would start to sweat, and I would get light-headed.

All this added up to me being petrified and frustrated. When I asked CK what clothes I should pack to bring to his apartment for the weekend, and I didn’t get any cooperation or help. It all became overwhelming. To begin with, this wasn’t something I was looking forward to, and his lack of cooperation made me lose my sh*t. “Okay Babe. I’ll talk to you in the morning. Have fun tonight!” I said on the verge of tears as I hung up the phone on him.

I think that was the wake-up call CK needed. I don’t think he fully understood how much anxiety this all created for me. I voiced my frustrations for weeks leading up to Pride Weekend. I told him I was going out of my comfort zone, but I was willing to do it as long as I got some hand-holding. I needed help to get over this. It was just another fun weekend for him, but it was a big deal to me.

After a few minutes, he called me back. We discussed things a little more rationally, and CK’s tone changed. He finally realized I was struggling and tossed out the life-preserver. Now that I knew I had him in my corner, I was a little more relaxed, however, I still wasn’t completely comfortable. It was going to be a long, stressful and exhausting weekend both physically and emotionally. I bit down then and there, and braced for impact as I packed my bag and walked out the door.

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Pride Parade

The next morning, N woke up to me staring him in the face. I don’t know what I was looking at, but I was definitely looking for answers. When he opened his eyes, his expression said it all. It was as if he woke up from a bad dream, only to find it was reality. He kept blinking and closing his eyes and then looking back into mine. I’m sure he saw the pain that was there. I could tell he wanted to be anywhere else but there at that moment.

Neither of us said anything for a few moments until I broke the silence. “Can we talk about what happened last night?” He nodded in agreement and sat up in the bed. I kind of ambushed him before he even had a chance to wake up, but what could I do? It was all I could think about, and I wanted answers.

We talked about why he was so secretive about dinner with his friends. He denied being secretive and said he was completely upfront with me. When I pointed out a few discrepancies in the story, he brushed them off as details lost in confusion of planning for ten people. Then I addressed him kissing the guy. He flat out denied it still. He told me he didn’t know the guy and it was a peck on the cheek in passing. The body language between the two from what I saw would say otherwise, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I said, even if it was just a peck in passing, why were you talking to him in the first place? Why did you both have your phones out? Was this a guy you met before I arrived at the bar. (The man he kissed was Asian, and sure enough, that Monday, an Asian man friended him and wrote on his Facebook wall. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.)

Here, he pled complete ignorance. He told me he had no idea who the guy was and couldn’t remember talking to him. He said he had a dream about talking to a bouncer about music and couldn’t remember what was reality and what was a dream since he was so drunk the night before. I knew this was bullsh*t. In my mind, I took a big step back. This was the ultimate betrayal of trust. We weren’t exclusive, but at this point, if he couldn’t be straight up with me, what did we have? Now, even more so, I felt like I was just a convenient booty call who lived across the street.

I explained how everything looks from my perspective. He stayed home the day before to primp his hair and his body, and donned sexy underwear to a gay club. What was he expecting to happen? He didn’t know I was going to meet up with him until he was already at dinner, so it wasn’t for me, and I pointed he never did that for me in the past. Was he opening the possibility of going home with another guy that night? He told me he shaved his body because he doesn’t like to take his shirt off with a hairy body and said the underwear was just a coincidence. He is a bad liar, so he stumbled over the underwear part. I had him figured out, and he didn’t know how to handle it.

Even now, after time has passed, I get emotional writing this and thinking about his mindset. I was obviously more invested in the relationship, but I had no idea the extent. The first morning he woke up in my bed, we talked about how much fun we had the night before and how compatible we were. However, he jokingly added, “Just don’t fall in love with me.” I should have heeded those words, and it’s my fault for falling for someone who was not as emotionally available.

The NYC Pride Parade was back, and this year I was much more comfortable with my sexuality. Last year, I got trapped in the middle of the parade with my parents — my worst nightmare. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. This year, I made an effort to attend.

We all woke up late that morning and I felt sick, which threw a wrench in our plans to catch the tail end of the parade before Boston hopped back on a bus to Boston. We grabbed breakfast in Hoboken, and I became very ill, spending a fair amount of time in the restroom. I was only able to eat half my sandwich. I had a lot to drink the night before, so I chalked it up to a hangover.

Afterwards, we journeyed into the city. We walked around a bit, and then said goodbye to Boston.

N asked what I wanted to do and told me he wanted to grab drinks. He contacted some of his friends he knew were in the city. Finally, two coworkers responded, so we decided to grab drinks and lunch with them.

As we all entered the bar, older creepy men were checking N out. One of N’s coworkers pointed out we were both given the up downs. I was a little creeped out by it, but N thrived on the attention. That really turned me off. I was starting to see a side of N I had never seen before, and I didn’t like what I was seeing. At one point, I went to the bathroom. I knew I would be the topic of conversation while I was gone. When we were walking to dinner later, N pulled me aside and told me they asked if we were dating. I wanted to ask him what his response was, but I wasn’t feeling myself. No words came out. He then gave me a peck on the cheek. We were in Chelsea for Pride Weekend. This is the time he could be very affectionate and open, and the only sign of affection I received all day was a tiny peck on the cheek. The guy from the night before got more action than me.

As the day progressed, I became less and less attracted to N. The way he reacted to some of the more disturbing stories recounted at dinner really threw me for a loop. We ordered dinner, and of course, I couldn’t eat it. Between the alcohol and the emotional turmoil, I felt awful. At one point, one of N’s coworkers mouthed across the table, “Are you okay?” I told him I was just really tired from the night before.

When dinner ended, N wanted to continue drinking. It was Sunday night, and I was beat, as were his coworkers. Begrudgingly, he agreed to come back to Hoboken and back to my apartment. When we were one block from my apartment, N reached down and held my hand. It was a very romantic gesture, but too little too late. As we came in sight of his apartment, he released my hand. This romantic gesture lasted all of thirty seconds.

When we got back to my apartment, I decided it was time to tell him about my blog. It was his right to know, and I needed to know if it upset him before I continued. He was shocked to hear about it, but told me he didn’t care and wasn’t going to read it. So, to all my faithful readers, the show goes on. I also came clean about the extent of my relationship with the 40 year-old. I did this because I lied to him about the interaction, but was truthful in my blog. I wanted him to hear the truth from my mouth, not a computer screen. This upset him immensely, which I couldn’t understand. It all happened before I met him. However, he apparently had some background information about this man and was holding it against me. I tried to defend myself, but he didn’t want to hear it. It bothered me that he was so upset, but I couldn’t undo the past.

At that point, we started to watch porn. The computer was out, and I suppose we needed to break the tension. I never did this with Broadway, but I was open to the idea with N. However, he got overly excited by this. He started about how he’d love to be a porn star. Once again, I was losing the attraction to the man in front of me. This was not the guy I fell for. I still had no idea what happened to cause the switch, but something was very different with him.

All of a sudden, we were interrupted by the sound of fireworks. We completely forgot about them. We ran to the balcony to watch. In the middle of all the explosions, I burst out with, “So are we exclusive?”

The next few moments were a blur, but I do know the gist of answer was no. I could understand if we weren’t exclusive up to that point, but I couldn’t fathom not being exclusive going forward.

When he explained his lack of interest in a monogamous relationship, I asked him if he has been sleeping with any other men since he met me. He told me of one guy he hooked up with after our third or fourth date. They exchanged blowjobs, but when this other man told him he was kind of in a relationship, N decided it better to be just friends. (This is also one of the guys he and I were possibly going to meet up with earlier that day.)

I couldn’t understand his rational. If he didn’t want to be “the other man,” why was he willing to seek out another man himself. What we had was pretty great, but he was leaving the door open for himself. If something better came along, he would upgrade. When I expressed this to him, he asked, “Upgrade to what?” I immediately responded, “A better situation.” It was so simple to me, how could he not understand that? I felt so used! He explained he wasn’t seeking out other men, but that didn’t make it any better. I already couldn’t trust him, and I had a pretty strong feeling he was lying.

I felt awful. Like someone stabbed me with a knife. Before the conversation, I knew what his answer was going to be, but hearing him say no broke my heart all over again. I was a shell of a human being.

After we finished talking, we went inside and had sex, and I finally got to have my way with him — All the way this time, not just the tip. It was pretty good too, but ended quickly due to N’s lack of experience.

In my mind, things were beginning to end between us. It’s almost as if that night was our breakup sex. I was pleased to know I got it in at least once before we broke up. I don’t know why, but it felt fulfilling. That’s how I knew it was over. I lost the emotional connection to the man who days earlier I was falling in love with.

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