Friday, December 20, 2013

What I've Learned Along the Way - An Interim Observation

Thanks to all of you who have already commented on "What I've Learned Along the Way," Part One. I hope you will continue to comment and that those of you who haven't will do so. This is a subject in which no one's opinion is set in stone. Even the so called experts disagree vehemently. But in my mind those of us who have lived gay or bisexual lives are more likely to grasp bits and pieces of the truth than are the experts.

Those of us who can take the bits and pieces of truth we possess and apply them thoughtfully and realistically to the homosexual and bisexual communities at large can shed a great deal of light on the overall cultural characteristics of the still evolving homosexual and bisexual communities. And because we are all a part of these evolving communities in one way or the other, each of us has an obligation to share our thoughts and feelings.

Anyone who has read my blog for anytime at all knows I believe in destiny. I believe life has a purpose for all of us, and I believe to the extent we are on track to fulfill our purpose in life and our destiny to be a prime contributor to our overall sense of self-worth and happiness.

I gave up on believing in coincidence long ago. It was not something I chose to do. It became
something I was compelled to do, for if coincidence is real, my life has been an almost never ending string of fortuitous coincidences. That is just not possible. It would be the same as going to Vegas and winning every hand one played for years. It's not possible.

Behind everything we might want to see as coincidence, there has to be a guiding power. Otherwise, my life has defied impossible odds. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not some male version of Mother Theresa.  I'm no saint! I've had my share of adversities, wrong turns and doubts. But, along the way, I've had way more than my share of instances of seeming coincidence that simply had to be much more than mere serendipity.

Such a thing has taken place in just the last month. I made up my mind to write this article 6 to 8 weeks ago. My illness and subsequent confinement to an Intensive Care Unit gave me a great deal of time to think about the self-assigned task. I didn't tell anyone about it. I just thought about it. But the most amazing things began to happen. An old friend whom I had not heard from in a long while phoned me he other day. And what did he want to talk about? He wanted to talk about this article. He didn't even know I was writing about it, but he was facing issues in his own life that was leading him to some of the same conclusions I was planning to address in this article. It would have been unnerving had such a thing not long ago become ordinary in my life.

In addition to that call, my young friend here in Houston who had inspired this article over the last three years of our relationship, suddenly wanted to talk about the issue in detail as he was experiencing it in his own life. There were, out of the blue, several other seemingly coincidental incidents which contributed to this article. Every where I turned, I was finding thoughtful pieces of information that were valuable to the task at hand. Such an unrequested outpouring at just the right time cannot be mere coincidence or providence. There has to be a power of some kind behind it, especially when I consider that it happens over and over in my life.

The only down side of all this is that I have much more to consider now than I had planned. That along with my transition to a new therapy for my cancer will delay the planned publication date for the second part of this article for a few more days. During the wait, I hope many of you ( by many, I mean at least 100 of you ) will take the time to read or reread Part One and comment on it. It would make my day. I've never received 100 comments on any post.

Hang in there. Thanks for following my blog. I appreciate you all. Please tell your friends who like thought provoking reading about my blog.

Jack Scott

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What I've Learned Along the Way


Just before I got sick, I had finished the first part of this two part article. But before I published it, I wanted a good friend whom I trust implicitly for his intelligence, his thirst for knowledge and his ability to introspectively deal with his own bisexuality.

This article is meant to be challenging. I have written it with the hope that it will hit many readers hard enough to cause them to take an introspective and honest look into their own lives as a whole and their sexuality as a part of the whole.

In writing the article, please trust that I am mindful that each of us is different. Our sexuality is influenced by our personalities, our faith, our families and much more. Even identical twins do not always share the same identical sexuality.

In a very real sense, there is no right or wrong way to live ones homosexual or bisexual life so long as one is happy with it and not using or abusing others. That said, there are ways to live it that are likely to be more fulfilling than others. Some guys just never take the time to figure themselves out. Some, including one of my best friends, are just too undisciplined to carry out their own plans and desires for happiness. They are always willing to settle for a lifestyle they neither need or want.

i'd like very much to hear some of your comments about this blog. I know some of you will hate it. That's ok. I know many of you will like what you read as well. I challenge you to put what you've read into action.


What I've Leared Along the Way

It's almost impossible for me to believe, but next May, I'll have been posting this blog for seven years. During that seven years, I've posted 181 blog articles, read over 800 comments (not nearly as many as I'd like) from some of the 400,000 page readers and hosted 400 to 500 readers each day. I would never believed it possible when I posted my first blog piece on May 7, 2007.

Through this blog, it has been my privilege to interact with a great number of men, and help some of them to come to a better understanding of themselves and sometimes to help those who love them to understand them better as well. For some, the solution to their problem was to seek a divorce and begin a new life as a gay or bisexual man. For others, who, for what ever reason, did not consider divorce a possibility, solving their problems was usually much harder. For these men, solutions often revolve around mental and emotional adjustments rather than making a new start.

Helping people to better understand and accept their sexuality was the prime reason I began this blog. One of my greatest pleasures these days is to see the results of the combined efforts of me and another guy who is really willing to find peace of mind. It is truly an awesome thing when his efforts transform him into a new person prepared to live his life to the fullest as a bisexual or homosexual man in a way that works for him.

But this blog piece is not about me trying to help others. Instead, it is about how others have
helped me to fill in the gaps in my own understanding of my life as a bisexual man. It is also about what I have learned about bisexuality and homosexuality from those who are collectively closest to such a lifestyle. It has been a most interesting, informative and rewarding journey.

In a way, I think bisexuality is the new homosexuality. I don't mean that to be an offensive statement to homosexual men. It is, in fact, a compliment.

Gay men have fought the good fight. They have faced their antagonists and looked them in the eye without stepping back. They have persevered through decades of battles. They have, at last, for all intents, won the war. All that is left now is the mop up. That will take a while, but that's alright because the mop up will contribute to the new order that has begun. There will be time for thoughtful consideration about how the new order is to be structured. There will be time for consideration of new laws, based not on politics or religion, but on the best interests of America and all its citizens, both gay and straight.

That is a good thing. Progress is already taking place at an unbelievable pace. As the older generation begins their exit from the halls of leadership making way for a new generation of leaders more open mindedly dedicated to equal treatment and equal opportunity for all, regardless of their sexual orientation or religious beliefs, the final chapter in the battle for gay rights will be written and gays will become nothing more than Americans, workers, congressmen, teachers, preachers, and fathers. They will become just one of the many groups of Americans that are known collectively as the common man. That is a wonderful thing, a goal long sought.

And this is not just my vision. It is actually happening, even among those who have resisted the most. A recent newspaper article in the Houston Chronicle reported on problems currently bedeviling professional faculty, staff and students at Baylor University. Everyone in Texas knows Baylor as a conservative Baptist institution. In fact, it has been becoming less and less a Baptist University for years. This year there has been a strong push from students to amend the code of ethics to mitigate the University's long held view that homosexual conduct is sinful and contrary to the teachings of Christ.

As is so often the case when conscientious objectors try to defend what is indefensible, their line of thought blurs or even becomes nonsensical. So it is with the newly proposed code of conduct at Baylor. Wisely, however, the student body is, for the most part, accepting it as a real step forward toward their eventual goal of achieving equal rights and recognition for gay students.

It has been widely reported that college students are making it clear over and over again
they have no problem with homosexuality. In doing so, Baylor students have also made it clear the recalcitrant stance against homosexuality at Baylor lies within the faculty and the leadership, all of whom are thoroughly vetted by the Baptist Church's leadership. The current President of Baylor is Ken Star. Star has impeccable credentials and has done undeniably good things for Baylor. However, he is a very conservative member of the Baptist church. Had he not been, he would never have been asked to lead Baylor. Star does not intend to let Baylor become gay friendly or supportive on his watch. He is a staunch defender of the old guard. Students are just as determined to sustain the fight for as long as it takes. In the long run, my money is on the students.

The same is true for the Baptist church. Young Baptists do not understand the church's disdain for gays. When they read their Bibles, it is clear to them, were Christ on earth today, he would often be found hanging out with gay and lesbian people. They recognize the traditional stance of the Baptist church is clearly outside the teachings of Christ. When the younger generation of Baptists begins to replace the old guard as more and more of the elders are laid to rest, even the Baptist Church will change direction or be laid to rest itself.

With gays becoming accepted members of the group often referred to as the common man, some of the more flamboyant displays of homosexuality' meant to make Americans realize gays are present in everyday life, will begin to disappear. They will no longer fill a need. Gay men already see themselves more and more as husbands or spouses, and in some cases fathers, in legal and/or religious unions. They are ready to become just part of the group of married Americans in a life where their sexuality is one of the least of things important to others, and in a life where they are judged by their character rather than by whom they love.

I've learned bisexuality, and most of those who see themselves as bisexuals are not yet fully ready to take their proper place in society's group known as the common man. Unlike homosexual men who have fought the long fight, mostly united in a common understanding of who they are and what they must win, bisexual men, in large part, have no common understanding of themselves and no realistic goals they wish to achieve. Until that changes, their fight to become a part of the group known as the common man can't even really begin. This is not meant to be an "I'm better than you" statement by any means. It is just a recognition of current reality, my reality included. As a bisexual man in his late 60's who is happily married and happily a part of straight society, I see nothing to gain by my coming out to my family and friends. One might correctly say I could help pave the way for others. It's true, but I feel I'm doing my part in this blog and in other ways that avoid conflict I just don't need at this stage of my life. If that's a cop out, and it may very well be, then I'm guilty."

Another reason I started this blog was because I wanted a vehicle through which I could better understand myself as a bisexual man. In other words, I wanted to be part of a dialogue with other men which would help all of us to better understand ourselves.

It's hard for me to imagine now, but I didn't even know there was such a thing as  bisexual men until I was 30 years old. The fact was, most of my emotional torment and pain arose from my understanding I was not a homosexual man, but neither was I a straight man. Because neither of these two categories fits me and my desires, I came to think of myself as some kind of monster.

But in 1977, the world was on the cusp of a technological revolution. Personal computers were just around the corner. Few realized how quickly they would change our lives. For the first time in history, the combined knowledge of mankind would be at the fingertips of a great number of the world's people. Even more astounding, much of it would be free.

It was the world wide web which really began to open my understanding of bisexuality and thus my understanding of myself. Over the next several years I read everything I could find on bisexuality on the web, as well as, much of what was recommended on the web. But just reading was not enough. I wanted to talk with bisexual men and find out how their lives were unfolding. That led me to the chat rooms that had began to appear on line in the late 1980's and by the 1990's were ubiquitous. For the first time I could talk with real live men who, like me, were struggling to understand themselves. It was a new world. Never before had I had a place where I could talk openly about topics which could not be discussed at all in the real world.

In the 35 or so years following my first steps into the world of chat rooms and open discussions about sex between men, a whole new world has overtaken all of us. Some of us, mostly the young, have enthusiastically embraced this new world. Some of us have been less enthusiastic, but recognize that we must adjust or be left behind in our own society and even in our own network of friends. Those who adamantly refuse to give an inch now often find themselves the outcasts.

This was illustrated recently in a situation which my good friends (a gay couple here in Houston) became members of a group of Houston Texans fans which rotated amongst each other's homes on game day to eat, drink and watch the game. From the first time they were invited after moving into the community, my friends had been surprised at the welcome they received from their older straight neighbors. But the bonds of friendship continued to grow.

As the second season opened this September, a crack suddenly appeared in the group. My friends were absent at a restaurant date where the neighbors gathered to eat and have some fun. One family took advantage of their absence to announce to the group they did not appreciate the acceptance of two gay men into the group. He stated that he and his wife would no longer participate if the gay couple were participating. The conversation quickly became very heated. One member told the complaining couple that he'd rather be associated with a gay couple than a couple of narrow minded homophobes. He ended his  comments by saying if the gay couple was asked to leave, he and his wife would leave also. One by one the other couples sided with him, saying they wished the couple who wanted to leave would reconsider, but they were not going to bar the gay couple from the group. I'm sure the couple who opposed associating with gays were shocked to find they had become the outcasts in the blink of an eye. It is a good example of how  quickly cosmopolitan society has changed.

I certainly was glad my friends had been so open heartedly accepted by the group and how the group had supported them in a very difficult situation. I can't help but think that had my friends been openly bisexual, the outcome might have been different.

I think the reasons behind the possibly different outcomes are pretty clear. The United States citizenry has reached the level of over all sophistication and information need for it to  accept those who are  gay. More and more we accept people for the quality of their character than for any other reason. After all, stripped to its core, prejudice is nothing but fear and/or misunderstanding of the unknown.

On the other hand, one of the reasons gays who have come out of their closets are
respected is because they have had the courage to openly present themselves to the world as who they are. They have largely dropped the circus atmosphere that surrounded the first generation of gays who came out. Instead, The group of gay men coming out are more apt to be doctors, teachers, pastors, business leaders or one of thousands of other professions for which they are already judged to be members of the upper levels of the common man than any thing else including their being gay.  They don't ask to be given anything. They ask only to be judged by the quality of their character and just importantly by what they can contribute to our society. Only the most truculent homophobes even try to deny the recognized contributions to society by homosexuals over the centuries as well as those now coming out who are already more often than not professionally successful, affluent and ready to contribute.

In contrast, bisexuals are perceived as dishonest, self-centered, shallow, untrustworthy and incapable of acting in the interest of anyone except themselves. How did this view of bisexuals develop so quickly since it has only been a few years that the general public thought homosexuals and bisexuals were just the same thing; or, at most bisexuals were homosexuals who had not yet had the courage to see themselves as homosexual, I know I did for years. I simply did not understand why I had these seemingly irresistible desires that were mutually destructive of all I loved. Either way I went, my life was going to be adversely impacted, perhaps destroyed.

And such destruction was not an abstract idea. The web was and is still, alive with men who  have destroyed everything they ever loved. Some of these men have fallen from the ranks of very successful providers for their families and from positions of responsibility and community respect to men who have nothing in an inconceivably short time. Some sought help through counselors or organizations who promised to "fix them." Some embraced the desire that had cost them all they had, and began to have male/male sex anytime, anywhere and with anyone who was available. Some were in such shock they simply existed from day to day. Some, reaching the utter bottom of their lives, took the only out they could see and ended their own lives.

The lack of will to climb one's way out of ignorance can indeed be disastrous. Strangely enough, the failure to gather one's will to entertain new ideas often can be traced to a lack of will to confront one's parents or challenge religious beliefs of one's parents. The centre of the Wheel of Life. In the image above: ignorance is represented by a pig; attachment/desire is represented by an Indian bird known for its attachment to its mate; aversion/anger is represented by a snake, since it is quick to strike. I think the ancients showed great wisdom in placing all these conflicting elements of our lives at the very center of the Wheel of Life. How we each deal with these conflicting elements determines whether our lives will be happy and successful or miserable and hopeless.

There are, cf course those who have been much luckier. Those who found they could manage the duality of both their own sense of guilt over their male/male sexual explorations and their obligations to their wives and families while continuing to pass as straight guys, did relatively well. I am one of these.  Others turned to formal or informal counseling. Those who found the right counselor and worked tirelessly to come to a new understanding of themselves also, more often than not, found in themselves something they could live with. They began to form new paradigms that supported and defined their non-straight sexuality.

For some, the new paradigms allowed them to be bisexual but not act on it if they were already married to a woman. Others found they could handle occasional male/male liaisons so long as they limited the activity.

In my younger days before the world wide web, I thought I was the only man on earth who both loved his wife, had a great sex life with her; yet could not shake the thoughts or desires for sex with other men.

The truth, I later found, is far different. There are hundreds of thousands of such men around the world. Just finding that out helped, but it left much yet for me to understand.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott