You play by the rules, especially when they aren't written.
This evening I was at the rec center after work. I was still on the StairMaster when a couple came in and began putzing around. Soon after they arrived I finished the StairMaster and sat down at one of the machines to recover from the near-death experience of exercise. I looked up and from just under the brim of my baseball cap I saw the man bending over, stretching. After a little bit, it seemed a little unnatural how long he was bending over stretching. The tops of his shorts were rather sheer and I could see the outline of the black underwear he was wearing, and still he bent over, stretching. Right in front of me. I averted my gaze, but I then happened to see him in the mirror. His wife was also stretching.
When I was a young gay man, I basically had two options. Be a part of society or be gay. That's how I saw it anyway. The thought of gay marriage never once crossed my mind. That was so far outside of reality that the thought never even occurred to me. (I was raised and have lived my whole life in Texas, and this might have something to do with that mindset.)
Obergefell v. Hodges thrust us undeniably into the main stream, but there were many of us who were kind of okay being counter culture. I never really thought much of it, myself. My background had been pretty far off the beaten path, so I probably wasn't going to have a very normal life regardless. I remember watching an interview of an older gay man after gay marriage became legal. On the surface he was pretty happy about it. He talked about how it used to be, how we had to be so careful. How slipping up could cost a career and wreck a family. How we used to have to communicate everything in fleeting glances, sideways knowing looks… and right about there I stopped believing he was entirely happy about the changes. Now you can hug your boyfriend right out there in public? Where's the excitement in that?
A friend of mine agreed with my thoughts, and mentioned that when people are unfaithful it's often mostly the excitement and danger that they are looking for - much more than just the sex. So, now that gays are mainstream and getting married and such, where does this leave us? If a man is stretching in a gym, right in front of you for an inordinately long time, what do we make of that?
I think it's still a little different. I could very much be wrong, but here's how it seems to me. When a man (even, or especially one who is married to a woman in a place like Texas) is looking at men for a rendezvous, it could be just the excitement. But, it seems like there is a longing to be a part of that counter culture. To be secretly gay, and have buddies who are also secretly gay and sometimes go to secretly gay parties at speakeasies and drink.
When one or both members of a straight couple is unfaithful, likely they are looking for excitement. I don't see this as a need to be a part of a larger group of like-minded people. Quite the opposite, I'd say. Yes, I know that there are swingers and such, but that's not what I'm talking about here. Excitement, something to make the heart race. Something truly secret and forbidden. If it’s made public, it’s scandalous and embarrassing, and most of all, it’s now boring.
Or, maybe I'm just old. Maybe I'm projecting my own feelings onto the situation. There’s no maybe about it, really, but that doesn't mean that I'm wrong. I was never very good at being gay in the counter culture, actually. I'm not great at being mainstream, for that matter. I just kind of toodle along to my own Latin rhythms, which I've adopted from yet another culture. I've been around for a bit and I think I know what was going on at the rec center. Not that anybody said anything, it's just the feeling I get; the way I read it. He wasn't looking for sex; he was looking for his secretive tribe that lives halfway in the shadows and halfway in light. Maybe I miss that, too, though I've always been far too up-front and open to be a part of a clandestine group. Living in those times did lead to a kind of bond. I do miss that.