Tom Gaffney paints a picture of gay men and the picket fence lifestyle.
It’s sometime after three when I hear my front door squeak open and my roommate stumble in from the bars. I hold my breath and wonder if I am about to hear two pairs of feet traipse into his bedroom or one. Hell, there have been times when it’s three or four. I force myself to remember that this is part of college: uncomfortable closeness to others’ sexual encounters. I find a pair of earplugs (the “Oh yeah”s started quickly this evening) and roll towards my partner. Lucky for him, he can sleep through anything.
His body is warm and comforting as I wrap my arms around him. A year into our relationship, this simple act is still enough to calm me down and make me focus completely on him. I am sure that the majority of committed men out there feel the same way when they wrap themselves around their significant other. There is an intimacy in body contact that is universal and I can’t help but compare this moment of intimate bliss to the antics happening on the other side of a shared bedroom wall.
My roommate enjoys sex and he enjoys it with multiple partners. He has been my real life exposure to the open relationship phenomenon. There have been times when I’ve gotten up for a glass of water to find him about to sexually engage an, apparently committed, gay couple in our living room. When I asked him about it one day, he says he has been with married and committed men multiple times, often with the consent or participation of the wondering man’s partner. These men are generally all very committed to their relationships but often view sex more as a physical release than a crossroads of physical and emotional intimacy.
I’m not like that. Call it jealousy, call it insecurity, I simply couldn’t process being open. Both my partner and I come from stable, loving homes with heterosexual parents that have remained committed and monogamous. They, along with greater society, have taught us that this lifestyle brings the greatest deal of personal joy and emotional fulfillment. We have fully bought into the idea and don’t think ourselves narrow-minded for doing so. You could argue we are being blinded by societal norms rather than fully experiencing what we may carnally desire. That may even be true, but; we are happy. For us sex is still all of these things: a primal fit of passion of physical desire, an intense emotional intimacy, or just a way to release an unrelenting case of morning wood. I simply cannot imagine the man I love sharing himself in any of those ways and then returning to our bed after a shower.
We want what our parents have. Give us about thirty years and you might get an invite to our future son or daughter’s (most likely heterosexual) wedding. We’ll be in the front row: the proud Dads that still want only each other.