Tuesday, March 23, 2010

On the DL in the DMZ

As it happens, boredom and great heaping lots of time on my hands, coupled with the Internet(s) and the inability to leave the house, inspired some virtual globe-trotting. This started as a simple social experiment; as I cannot seem to either get laid, or even engage in conversation, in local chat rooms, I started visiting the rooms of the two places I hope to live while attending law school - Grand Forks, ND and South Royalton, VT.

Each has its own unique charm, its own, different sort of hellacious winter, and a gay population smaller than my blog readership. Frequent forays into the actual city chat room yield only four chatters at a given time, and upon expanding my net to include the entire state of North Dakota (or Vermont), the figures leaped to 17 or so. I have never seen more than 22 people at any given time chatting in either state. This contrasts slightly with 500+ chatting (or cruising) presently in San Antonio.

Not to be deterred from my mission to meet and greet, I messaged the 34 (total) gay men available across two states, and four of them responded. One warned me that there are no gay bars ("...but there is a 'gay-friendly' bar in town ... I even kissed a guy I was on a date with once ..."); note, there are no gay bars in the entire state of North Dakota. The nearest is in the perhaps very aptly named Moorehead, MN., 90 miles away. And Winnipeg, Manitoba is just around the corner.

The gay student alliance at UND (the "Ten Percent Society") hosts a gay dance once-monthly, which incorporates a drag show and a DJ - or so I was told by another gay man from ND. Vermont has thus far declined comment, which leads me to believe that either everyone in South Royalton is absurdly busy with law school, or there are simply no gays in that cold, bedroom community of only 2,300 souls. That they are still thawing under layers of snow and maple syrup hardened into an impenetrable crust is simply too grievous (and funny) to consider.

But, as I am wont to do, I digress ... exploring Vermont and North Dakota, which I did in the course of four emails and a day of passing time got me, as we say in the South, "to thinkin' " about all the cities and towns and continents I have yet to visit. And so I visited - via the Internet(s) - Greece, Paris, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, the UAE, Afghanistan, Iraq, and both Koreas.

That I found black men there - and that they appeared to be doing well, getting laid, and could speak without using "nigga ..." or "holla" in sentences intrigued me no end. That there were gays there at all, and a room full of them with whom I could interact surprised me still more (at least in the case of Iraq and the two Koreas). It is not so much that I did not appreciate that my race extends all over the world, or that black men (especially in other parts of the world) do not all labor under some pre-established cultural or even aesthetic bias.

the Frenemy suggests it is merely about the look ... and the smell of black men that makes them ... us ... uh, me ... undesirable. I argue that a bias established by cultural perception, among other things a result of 250 - 400 years of slavery has a great deal to do with it. I argue that there is a reason why the charming black man I met in Dubai, raised in Italy, is accomplished, educated, and has neither social qualms nor an affinity for the ghetto, and yet every man in the Jackson, MS room has gold teeth and Fubu.

The effects of Apartheid on young black men in South Africa might serve to aid my argument(s), but I find that country - if only in the digital environment of adam4adam.com to be creepy, and its men - of various sizes, shapes, and races, to be something 'other' and off-putting. It's like "Children of the Corn," if Spike Lee directed.

And, as I said, the bigger shock, bigger than that a chunky black man not much different than me told me he was dating five men at present - two of whom were doctors (this was in Paris) - was the very open cruising among soldiers of various stripe in Afghanistan and Iraq. There were more gay men looking in Baghdad than there are in North Dakota and Vermont combined.

Is it the 'other' interpretation of Enduring Freedom, or just that - after 22 months in a war-zone no one cares who sucks whom so long as there is a smile and an occasional friendly embrace? The number of men whose web cams capture a tent and a helmet and a shirt-less comrade in the background is either funny or very sad.

the Frenemy is banging two or three men, if not more, who used to do me for free drugs. One of them said as much just last night, that the only reason he ever did anything with me was for the coke - something which, though suspected ... or understood ... still hurts to hear aloud. the Frenemy seemed only too happy to pass along that information just this morning.

I suppose as I am processing that particular kernel of truth, I think about the experience I gained just from a little late-night, Internet(s) globe-trotting. I am alone in San Antonio - apparently too black to merit a simple 'hello' in response to my message, too invisible to even get a thank you when I buy a round of drinks at a bar ... but I imagine there is still light in my eyes, that there is a still anticipation and hope and something stirring that believes the adage, "This too shall pass ..."

I have been saying that for a long, long time ... and it still ain't passing, which makes me think that either somebody lied, or I am meant to be a REAL late bloomer. I am channeling my mother as I type this, thinking about the light in her eyes.

I messaged a few guys in Kandahar, sent a simple 'hello' to a pale, white, blue-eyed American boy named "Al-Asad." He didn't respond, but I imagine that at that point - perhaps much like mine, for different reasons, he just needs someone to be nearby, and he needs to know he's not alone.


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