“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..
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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