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Man Overboard

“Adam Aboard!” (for Getting Lost at Sea) “Ahoy!” Men Alive! I cannot quite penetrate the surface of it yet, but since returning stateside it has seemed to me that the queer men’s community is steering away from a certain sensibility – a savvy, a risk-taking, a striving to follow its own inner compass to find read more..

 

“Adam Aboard!” (for Getting Lost at Sea)

ManOverboard

“Ahoy!” Men Alive!

I cannot quite penetrate the surface of it yet, but since returning stateside it has seemed to me that the queer men’s community is steering away from a certain sensibility – a savvy, a risk-taking, a striving to follow its own inner compass to find that someday, someway True North – trading in a legacy of traversing terra incognita for the smooth sailing of familiar (translate: hetero-normative) terrain. Yeah –

“Man Alive!” I think every day as I sit here, transfixed at my desk, gazing out from my 39th floor sanctuary onto the seeming boundlessness of lower Manhattan – awash in detail and awaiting exploration. It isn’t much of a jump to feel wholehearted gratitude in taking in the same open space and ocean – day in, day out – after almost six years of intercontinental travel. It’s an altogether new era of life in the so-called (and assuredly felt) “Capital of the World.” As I settle in to take off here, fumbling for footing with these unsteady sea legs, leaving the safety of the harbor has never felt so geographically anchored. I’m overwhelmed by the understanding that after having seemingly been adrift I now can focus on the fact that I’ve been afloat – while perhaps out of touch with the trends – truly led ahead of the curve in this chosen openness to slipshod boat rocking.

Let me jump and drift just a bit more before reining this vessel in –

Family legend has it that my father’s father’s father’s father’s father, a Portuguese pirate, washed up on this shore I’m now looking out on in the early portion of the 19th century. This Mediterranean buccaneer immediately married into Irish riffraff and fled to northern Michigan near its namesake lake. Lake Michigan, the expanse I spent my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood thrashing and splashing about in gleeful abandon. I ask myself whether my Great-Great-Great Grandfather Martino set forth on his transatlantic expeditions exhilarated by the prospect of leaving his homeland or feeling trapped by the upcoming freeloading. Was he more running away or, like his great-great-great grandson, was he closer to heading toward – experience, excitement – through his explorations? Was he avoiding joy in the very journeying to locate it? (I’ve certainly come to conclude that deep-rooted fulfillment cannot flourish well when living a life of constant movement.) Nevertheless, he absorbed the culture around him. A once seafaring “Martino” modified himself into a “Martin,” became a milkman, and begat farmers who tilled the land.

So much of the same can be asked of a bi or gay man in a world increasingly coming to accept us as long as we adapt to it – or at least as long as we assure the establishment that we won’t shake up its systems.

3A

Nothing is original, I know. But some things are sacred! Queer men: Steal what serves you! Forsake what doesn’t! Our highest contribution is in forging our own identity. As individuals and as a crew. We squander vigor and vision when forgoing a craggy equality for a watered down sort of submission.

As a 32-year-old American gay white (etcetera) man (yes – etcetera), I inhabit my own niche, sure, but it’s been formed out of a hodgepodge of uniquely unoriginal second-hand influences – a boatload of the thrifty and thefty, if you will. But I strive for my booty to be the osmotic relationship of what I both seize and share. I am best when in pioneer mode – blazing a personal route, in the flow of what’s already going on, drenched in the desire to do something worthwhile while embracing a readily available freedom – transforming my potential, and fortifying my community in the process.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with manning the ship and planning the course. And I suppose – through this blog – not much is amiss in being all tits to the wind, a friendly figurehead giving in to a tremendous tailwind, not necessarily thrashing and splashing aside port or starboard. But perhaps it’s also in times of writhing and whirling, in attempting to be secure in a fluid universe, we can painfully – then playfully – view going overboard as an act of awareness – that you and I can go from a boater to a floater when it’s time to deflect. Taking the proverbial plunge reminds me that momentum is everything. Now, now, now. The moment to go out on a lofty limb – “ay!”, to walk that perilous plank – is NOW!

If any toe-dipping is to be done, it’s on land – where I now feel myself an immigrant all over again, best gone native anew. A return to a self-realized gay responsiveness and a return to re-forming. If convention is concrete, queerness is fluid – an essence, much wider than even the supposed spectrum that is societally styled sexuality. And it’s a bond. In a mainstreamed tide, I say it’s time to waft it out until we meet the métier that makes us reel against it.

blow-the-man-down

For now, I’m still tapping into the current – but I want to feel more alive and awake to the world than I see so many of my bi and gay brethren allowing themselves to be – moored in uncertainty, I’d rather own my imposture and my looseness around the edges – for this is how we foster a merging integrity.

Yes! I give up a hearty “Shiver me timbers!” as I willingly hurdle overboard – with a reverence for self and sort and spirit and startled by insight as, man after man, I accept the great privilege of glimpsing a piece of myself that tears down preconceived notions, barriers built, boxes we check ourselves into. In you, and you, and – yep – you too…

You come – one by one – overworked and overwrought – for a gesture of play and pleasure – ensuring that this landlubber buys into the virtues of being a freebooter.

While I’m on board with a fellowship of fellow men who love men – I can only do so in the context of an understood brotherhood, not this misunderstood “other”hood that comes when mimicking the models that we hope will bring us consent and certainty. In doing so we assimilate our way out of self-discovery and a distinctive character. Let’s initiate a soaring version of equality that conforms to us, not the other way around.

For one, I choose for my calling to accommodate who I am and what I love, not feel compelled to secure some hand-me-down rendition of it. I’m on board for being lost in this blissfully uncertain sea.

And you?

Simply,

Adam

PS – Reach out anytime to share your respective wishes for going overboard, or simply to give suggestions on how we can better contribute to a queer-centered uprising. Maybe it’s time, after all, to get counter-revolutionary.

Add a Response 17 thoughts on “Man Overboard

  1. ‘…Bathe yourself in the ocean of matter; plunge into it where it is the deepest and most violent; struggle in its currents and drink of its water. For it cradled you long ago in your preconscious existence; and it is that ocean that will rise you up…..’ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    I think it is imperative that we jump the manmade vessels in which we travel for the tumultuous organic life of nature. That is to step outside the bounds and the views that are not only pushed on to ourselves, but pulled in as the wool over our eyes when the sea gets rough.

    I’m not a big fan on conformity – think it is the death of a culture. Gay lifestyle has become so mainstream that it has lost the edge it once had. When striving to be like everyone else, instead of blazing our own path, we simply fade in.

    I think it is wonderful that you have chosen a new a different path for yourself. Never hide, never be ashamed, and hell, post road signs so that others may be inspired to follow a new path.

  2. Because my own life is currently in a “transitional” phase there are many themes in your post that resonate (actually, all your posts of late resonate for that same reason). Being true to myself, blazing a personal route, transforming my potential. Even the idea of “counter revolutionary” speaks to me but maybe in a different way than you meant it. To me it says, “Steve, stop worrying about what you SHOULD do. Do want you WANT to do.” Now IS the time to take a walk on that plank. Oh, and BTW, I’d very much like to see you in a sexy pirate outfit 🙂

  3. Thank you for the stimulating and glorious demonstration of cognitive instability. Your mind is clearly moving and it sparks mine to start moving as well.

    • Exactly, Rebel Red. It’s like, tinkering around and sifting through and getting at – slowly getting at what can be gotten. 🙂 XO Adam

  4. While i enjoyed the entire third blog posting, what I was most touched and compelled by were these words in your post script: “going overboard,” “better contribute to a queer-centered uprising,” and “maybe it’s time, after all, to get counter-revolutionary.” I believe that it is time to get counter-revolutionary.

    Gay men, in particular, have fought for a long time, and through so much, for being accepted and for being “granted” the rights and privileges that are naturally ours by birth: the right to live with and love whom we please, and to have that right recognized officially by the country and state in which we live. (Granted, this is still in process in many parts of the country; however, i do believe that the tide is on our side.) I believe that with this acceptance has come a complacency that needs a bit of shaking up.

    An example from my own life: during President George H. W. Bush’s visit to New York in July of 1986 for the Independence Day Celebrations centered around the Centenary of the Statue of Liberty, I participated in a number of Gay Rights actions, including shutting down Broadway and a “lay-in” in Lower Manhattan to protest the Federal Government’s anti-gay feeling and lack of action towards HIV/AIDS. Where are these kinds of protests now? Where is this, as you put it, Adam, “counter-revolutionary” gay spirit now, now that we have same-sex unions and same-sex marriage? I am not saying that I have the answer; however, your blog, Adam, did touch and compel that activist within me to wonder what role he still has to play in 2014.

    • I am wondering what my roles are as well, William – so I just share and shake up while stewing. Certainly the queer community craves a more open dialogue and, I believe, to cultivate a deep-seated yearning for MORE. For ourselves and from ourselves. One role I have taken on – and that anyone can take on – is of creating pockets of safe space for unabashed kindness and uninhibited connection. In a subtle way at the gym, maybe, and a more intense manner in my bedroom, but ever-present nonetheless. In allowing this space, I’ve received much-needed kindness and connection I didn’t allow myself in difficult, detached moments. We all want so much to be appreciated and to make meaningful contact with one another. Bi and gay men have a unique ability to do this in small and big ways. Let’s marinate in this gift. 🙂 Adam

      • I could not agree more, Adam: taking counter-revolutionary in a different direction, that of kindness, and, definitely, more kindness than we see in the world today, would be a radical undertaking. Creating “pockets of kindness” in the gym, at work, or on the subway, would not only be considered “going overboard,” but would be an appropriate display of an “uprising” during this season when much of the world is suppose to be sharing happiness and good-cheer.

  5. thank you for your insights. it seems we all need to do whatever we can to eliminate hatred in our world. We have a tendency to like those who are like us which makes it more important for us to do what we can to understand those who are different than we are.
    Thanks Adam, you blog gets me thinking!

  6. Great thoughts. We must all be true to ourselves. I wish the Gay community would be kinder to each other, as men who love men we should be excited for each other and hold each other up, since society itself makes it hard to feel free in oneself. So all the fellow support would be great for all.

  7. Thought provoking post, Adam.

    I think you could actually expand the scope. Sure, there is the issue of losing a part of our gay identity in an effort to seek acceptance. But that happens within our own community, too. We say we love diversity, but we can be cruel to our gay brothers because they don’t conform to the “correct” way to be gay.

    Beyond that, across society we need to be looking at celebrating true diversity, rather than trying to water everything down so it makes people comfortable. Too often we’re told “don’t do that” simply because it scares the person who’s making the warning. Unfortunately, people stop, and then lose a bit of themselves because they listened to someone else’s inner voice rather than their own.

  8. This blog entry resonates with me wholeheartedly. As far as “watered down submission” is concerned, I feel like many gay men feel the pressure to recreate traditional heterosexual relationships. You raise an interesting dilemma regarding equality; that is, the extent to which it leads to, necessitates, implies conforming. There’s what I view to be an awful Dutch expression that says if one blade of grass grows taller than the rest it shall be cut. Voilà, the predicament! Equality is an enemy of individuality (and difference) if it must be followed by assimilating and conforming. Don’t you think? Voicing one’s individuality and difference as a brotherhood, being respected and not sacrificing pieces of who we truly are…Thanks Adam for this call to arms, of sorts.

    There’s a French Utopian writer named Charles Fourier (Theory of the Four Movements) who proposes an anti-patriarchal (and anti-Christian) society of free love. He also puts forth an entirely new idea of sainthood by which members of the society become saints after having mastered some aspect of food culture (agriculture, cooking, eating, etc.). In other words, it’s an earthly cult. I think you’d find it intriguing. However, he’d strongly disagree with you when it comes to living a life of constant movement. He believes that life should be lived in constant movement.

    Anyways, thanks for the entry Adam! I’ll take my “answer” off the air.

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