I met handsome, studly, eligible Parker at a Young Professionals Mixer at the Summit Museum. He was cute, charming, funny and friends of the Davis triplets so we arranged to meet for dinner. He works in private equity, has a condominium near Columbus Circle and loves to bike in Central Park. Soon, Parker and I hit it off and punctuate the New York spring with endless dates, parties, hangouts. It has been really fun but kisses remain rare and are never more than a closed-mouth peck. He. Won’t. Touch. Me. Not even a hug. Never a hand or arm around my waist. I am starved for physical affection. I am baffled. This kind of awkward standoffishness hasn’t happened since freshman year of college at Amhurst. I’ve tried to initiate more touching and he stiffens and stares at me ’til I stop. I’ve tried having a chat but he insists that he is just old-fashioned about dating and “saving himself for his wife.” That’s quite a carrot to dangle, sir. Does that mean (*OMG*) that he’s considering whether I could be her? I feel like I could be onto something more worthwhile than throwaway gropings with throwaway paramores. But, in truth, I also suspect I’m being given the runaround. To our circle of friends and colleagues we seem like an item. It’s like I am dating a Ken doll — good-looking, bloodless, plastic, smooth “down there,” useless. When I emailed him pointedly about the issue, he mocked me. Sent me back multiple choice answers about why I am so frustrated by his lack of affection: a. angst, b. base desires, c. being common, d. degraded standards, or e. all of the above. I wanted so bad to tell him he forgot “f.” Can I drop a perfectly nice guy for being … well, let’s call him “frigid?”
Murray is a local newscaster. I went to a seminar hosted by Jane Pauley and she introduced him as an up & comer in broadcast journalism. We saw each other next at a ski club weekend in Snowmass, CO. Murray is a popular, good-looking guy with lots of friends and ladies. Somehow he honed in on me as the next lucky girlfriend and I was just thrilled about that. He’s been fun, a good conversationalist, very social, good dancer. He is widely discussed among the crew of buddies he grew up with as very promiscuous and public about his sexcapades — at parties, in automobiles, in hot tubs, at the club. Well, you can’t really hold a man’s youthful indiscretions against him, can you? He was a bit quick and eager to seduce me that first time and equally quick to secure me as very public girlfriend. But there’s trouble in paradise. He. Never. Touches. Me. Except to hold my hand in public or hug up on me in front of his low-class Jersey relatives. The first time we had sex was the only time we had sex. “Because he’s so tired/ busy and stressed about work” etc. I ‘ve met his whole family, his Mama and Daddy want us to have lots of grandbabies, and Murray is quite eager for kids. Yet I am on some enforced chastity B.S. I know his Daddy is a preacher who gave him Bible inscribed “This book will keep you from sin; and sin will keep you from this book.” And I know he’s been in long-term therapy for something. And I’m required to appear at work functions, red carpet events, even when he’s off to fete a dude friend’s birthday over dinner to which I am not invited. I am also forced to sit with him in virtual silence at Cipriani, Bungalow8, 1Oak and in his various pricey cars. I am a well-dressed prop. Suddenly we’re out at Spice Market with his kids-of-famous-comedian friends. 10 Black people but one non-Black person who is Latino but also (it pains me greatly to say this) transgender. Oh, this Transgender Person is fine-boned and petite, blond and cross-legged in heels. “She” has been reconstructed to look like the old-school model Vendela but with half-tennis ball sized fake boobies straining the green-veined pale skin of her scantily clad bird chest. Of course, everyone is drinking wine. And Murray is leaning into my ear, mocking this person for being “a weirdo, an abomination, disgusting, unwelcome, ugly, ridiculous.” Yet, it is unclear who has invited this Transgender Person to join our private gathering. Fast forward some months to Autumn. I just left Murray’s apartment; I am walking down Rector Street in Battery Park City. Lo and behold, here is this Transgender Person tipping along the street in capri pants and white heels. After Labor Day. And, though NYC has many LGBTQ inhabitants, I am almost certain it is the very same Transgender Person from wine night. I’m not sure so when we pass each other, I crane my head all the way around to look back at “her.” When I do look, “she” is staring right back at me. I gasp! I am awash in shame and surprise because I then realize what all is up.
Ladies, ladies, ladies. When you date a gay man, when you date an asexual man, he doesn’t come right out and explain he is homosexual or not interested in sex. Oh, no. He’s got to cultivate and position you as a “beard” to cover up his identity first. Once that priority business is handled, it’s not like he won’t behave publicly like your man. It’s not even like he won’t marry you and father your kids. It’s not even like he won’t eventually come right out and ask you to be his sexless mate. Hell, he might even give you the benefit of the doubt and explain he is “bisexual” to see how you respond. But trust me, once the cat is out of the bag, the whole crop circle pattern of signs will reveal itself to you like Stonehenge on a bright sunny day.
As unfashionable as this used to be, it has become quite fashionable. As surprising as this “gay man seeking straight woman” dynamic used to be, it has remained necessary. And rampant. Especially in conservative careers and communities of faith.
To each his & her own, but what I wanna speak to is the trickery element. Everybody should be who they are. We all should celebrate that right.
What ain’t right is a man manipulating and playing on your expectations to trick you into being his beard.
What is it that you want? Given this surprising set of revelations, you will have to take steps to get what you want.
Let me suggest someone to help you put on your thinking cap- Do you know who Kenny Rogers is? He is a fine gentleman, a country & western singer, a deep-fried bard if you will. And the words of his greatest hit ring appropriate to handling the reveal of your once-hidden gay lover:
\”The Gambler\” video
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
Now every gambler knows the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep”