Paul reflects on "Paul's NOT gay"

Judith Brotman

Judith Brotman

Gay has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period of time. Normal and common. Even boring. But gay images haven’t changed as much. We are not entirely certain of what we mean when we identify. We are so comfortable with our monikers that we don’t feel compelled anymore to question what it means or what it is. It is still slippery, especially when it matters.

I don’t think I was born that way. 

I don’t think there is an immutable identity that I AM. 

I don’t think I chose. 

Perhaps there was intention for me to be born Paul, but I was born Puddin’. Grew into Paul years later. Stopped at Pumpkin and ‘Wog somewhere along the way. Melvin, Elder. Puddin’ was not gay. He was wildly affectionate, delightfully chubby, and had no sexual identity at all.

If there is a real me, he is not separate from what I do. I am my body, my decisions, my words, my thoughts, my actions, and my associations. But all of that shifts and grows, and is nothing like it was twenty years ago.

I made choices. Hundreds of people around me made thousands of choices. We decided early and often. Just like with voting and boxes of chocolates, we never really know what we’re getting. The choices were not made because of my real desire. My desire was for strawberry bubble yum. 

What part of me colors outside of gay borders? My shades of grey don’t sparkle as they should. I have always been a bad gay. I don’t really expect that to change. Gay is still a mystery to me. Gay is not central to how I think about who I am. Sexual freedom is. Freedom freedom is. Rebellion is. Moral is. Smart is. Visionary is. Paul is.

What is left?