Friday, May 7, 2010

The Otherside, Part 1

I was 22 and only knew three people when I moved to Atlanta. I began writing for a theatre company so I met quite a few people quickly. Most of the guys in the group were gay. I shied away from the obvious ones. I barely spoke to them because in my mind any association with them meant I too was gay. There was one guy in particular, Clinton, that always stared at me, and his gaze was accompanied by a half smile. Whenever our eyes met, I quickly looked in a different direction because he made me very uncomfortable. I’ve come to understand my behavior was similar to the insecurities of men I see now that live heterosexual lives, but enjoy the company of a man too. Usually, if a man is uncomfortable around a gay man, he’s unsure of himself or he’s hiding a secret that only a gay man can uncover.

One of the girls in the theater company introduced me to a guy that was openly gay, but not “clockable” per se so, it was easy for me to hang out with him. For several months, Khalid made every attempt to show me around Atlanta because I was new to the city; had no family or friends in the city; and instinctively he knew I was gay.

Khalid came to my apartment one night unannounced. I was living in Vinings. I was sleeping when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door, and he walked in before I could invite him in. I asked, “What are you doing here?” He replied, “We’re going out. Put some clothes on.” He went on to say he wanted to take me to a gay club because he knew I was gay. “You are gay, aren’t you?” he asked. There was a pregnant pause. Because I had never “acted” on the feelings I said, “No.” He followed with, “Well, I am. In fact, I’m bisexual.” There was a freedom in his voice that I admired. Before I knew it, I was dressed & we were seated on the patio of “The Otherside”.

A week later, on a Wednesday night I found myself back at that club. This time I was alone. I wasn’t ready to let Khalid know I enjoyed this gay club. That same night, I met the first dude I would go on a date with. He was 31, nine years my senior. I saw him from across the room long before he noticed me. Up to that point, I had only seen one guy, in college, that I thought I would make an attempt to date, and he was supposedly straight. So, to see someone else that I was drawn to was huge for me at the time. He had on a cut off shirt, blue jeans with a whole in the knee (it was 1998), and some Timbs. I remember thinking, “If he says something to me, I’m giving him my number.”

Before I had time to really enjoy the thought another character came over to me. We talked. About what, I don’t recall. While we were talking I noticed “the guy” sitting behind the dude I was speaking to, and he was trying to get my attention. He was mouthing, “Are you with him?” I smiled, and shook my head no…


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