The New Millennial Gay Experience
|Posted on August 29, 2016 at 8:00 PM|
By Dennis Stone
Dreams sometimes reveal a lot about a person’s inner being, and occasionally the reveal is a surprise.
I recall a dream I had a few years ago about a friend who is straight. I was attracted to him, but never had thoughts about turning him my way. Lusting after straight guys is a great way to make yourself disappointed and unhappy, so I never do it. When I’m attracted to a straight guy I recognize it, put it in the “Unattainable” box in my brain, and then put the box in a corner, under some old blankets.
In my dream I was at a party with my friend. At one point during the evening he started to flirt with a male acquaintance, and they kissed. I then woke up, feeling distressed and jealous.
Did that dream mean I really did want to have sex with him, I wondered. Most dreams are forgotten almost instantly, but that one stayed with me. I eventually realized that what it really meant was NOT that I harbored hopes for sex, but rather that if he ever did have any interest in doing anything with another guy I’d be really disappointed if it wasn’t with me. I was still attracted, but I wasn’t covering up festering, unrequited desires I thought I had put away in the attic of my mind. That understanding was buttressed by the fact that I’ve never dreamed of sex with him. I really can be attracted to someone and yet keep even the subconscious barriers up.
That dream is not the subject of this piece, however. Last night I had a dream that related to my perception of the New Millennial Gay Experience. The primary credo of that outlook on gay life is that being gay in America and most of the developed world isn’t a big deal any more. It’s just one aspect of one’s life and identity. A corollary to that is that for millions of gay people the modern world is mostly accepting, and won’t, except in certain areas or in rare circumstances, cause significant distress. One can be out and open, and go about one’s life just like straight people.
A lot of gay people, and especially gay “leaders” and publications, don’t share that outlook. We are “surrounded by hate,” they say, their pronouncements partially based on the Orlando massacre and movements in many states for “religious freedom” laws. I think those people are badly misinterpreting our current social environment, and I’m hoping to write an entire piece addressing what I see as their misunderstandings.
I don’t have my head in the sand, however. We haven’t been able to pass the Equality Act, for example, and laws in many states don’t adequately protect gay people. Also, a recent survey of gay students showed high levels of distress of one sort or another in schools.
Sometimes I wonder if, even though I intellectually understand that problems remain, I don’t adequately recognize how far from perfect we are. Or, more personally, that I consider myself immune from any negativity or discrimination. I live in an accepting city, have not encountered significant problems at work or among friends and relatives, and have not been attacked or abused. Perhaps I have been lulled into a pollyanna perception of reality….
In my dream last night I was living with a husband (alas, not reflective of my real life, though it’s nice to know I’m married in my dreams!), and we needed remodeling of one of the rooms in our house. I requested a bid from a contracting company, and two guys - one younger and one older - came to look things over. At one point the younger guy went to his truck to get something, and I mentioned my husband to the older guy. I’m comfortable about revealing my gay identity to strangers, and have never had a negative experience. The older guy said, in a hushed voice, that he didn’t care about my being gay, but I should not mention it to the younger guy. His tone and the fearful look on his face told me we were dealing with a genuine and possibly dangerous homophobe.
I woke up before I had a chance to tell the contractors that I’d look elsewhere. As I came more and more awake I became more and more surprised that I had dreamed such a scenario. It reflected an experience I’ve never had and have never feared. But there it was, in my subconscious, waiting for a chance to come out and make me think.
Yes, when I stop and actually think about it I intellectually know there are hateful people out there, and I know I may encounter them one day. But life rushes on, things seemingly get better every day, and I don’t stop and think about those possibilities very often. Now I know that those possibilities are lurking in my subconscious mind, representative of something real, not just theoretical.
Part of me - the part that wants to reconcile the intellect and the emotions - is happy about that realization. But part of me wonders if it’s more a residue of fear that, despite the confident pronouncements I make on this site, I can’t quite shake.