Why Be Normal?
Your dictionary will offer you up any number of definitions of that little word “normal.” Synonyms include “average,” “common,” “prosaic,” and my personal favorite, “everyday.” It’s one of those pestilential little words handed down to us from the days of the Caesars, as were “seduction” and “excess,” though with considerably less entertainment value, gray rather than scarlet.
I hope you’ll forgive me if I find none of the related concepts attractive. Not anymore at least, having thankfully grown past the age of terror that was adolescence. Normal is that North Star you set your course by when your goal is fitting in, not standing out. Of course, there is an abundance of hammers directed at every nail that does just that, hammers on a mission: to build a house that the nails may or may not want to serve to build. I am one of those nails. When I first sat down to write a piece for the inaugural issue of this magazine, truthfully, I was a bit perplexed. I’m 42, and too pretty to be profound. My boyfriend says, perhaps in jest, perhaps not, that my main purpose in life is decorative; rather intemperate of a former go-go boy, one would think.
But obviously, I can write. Rather well, I think. And of course I’m gay (I mean, who wouldn’t be?), even if I don’t quite fit the mindset and aesthetic that, for better or worse, have come to define what the world at large and we ourselves think of as “gay.” Muscles and tight clothes? Absolutely, even if the former are in a post-holiday state of disrepair. Partnered, in that comme il faut, longue durée way that seems expected in the age of gay marriage? Why, yes, of course. And like everyone else, or so it seems sometimes, I make my home in one of our global gay meccas, in my case, the great and shining City of New York, its liquid nights filled with endless promise, glittering under a neon sky.
But I’m still one of those nails defying the hammer, which is why I’m writing here now, and not even what I’d originally planned. No, what I’d like to do is encourage the young men reading this to be one of those obstinate nails, too. You’ll probably have an easier time of it than I did.
You see, here’s the thing: I’m a New Yorker, with all that implies in terms of self-regard, a mainly black wardrobe, and a taste for exotic food and cocktails delivered to my doorstep at ungodly hours of the day or night. Not even just a gay one, one who thinks “jaded, bordering on decadent” is a goal and mission statement, as the cliché has it. I am HIV-positive, just as an aside, but that seems insufficient in itself to carry a magazine piece, and of as much conversational heft these days as my speaking French or having read War and Peace at 14. My lushly cinematic sex life is not for these pages, either; feel free to rent the movie, though.