Johnny’s World: Am I A Square?

October 17, 2013 8:22 AM11 comments

jworldA recent obsession of mine is a new television program on Showtime, called “Masters of Sex.” It chronicles the work of a doctor/scientist in the ’50s conducting a “smut”-ridden project to learn about human sexuality and its affects on the body. In addition to being a show filled with personal dramas and intrigue, it also leads viewers to think about their own feelings and strategies when it comes to sex and how they view sex when thinking of other people.

I believe in a scale of sexuality. There are femme men, handsome ladies, and all sorts of personalities in between. I consider myself a pretty open-minded person when it comes to sex and how people engage in it and seek it out. My own escapades have been vastly enjoyable, yet without a lot of wild liberation that seem to be portrayed on television (and comes to our attention when watching an episode of basically any talk show). The wild side is something so common that learning about sexual proclivities isn’t relegated to pornography or dirty magazines, like in the time period of my new favorite show. It’s out in the open, for us all to marvel at.

My husband, in addition to being a very manly man, is somewhat cagey when discussing sex. While we were catching up on a new episode the other night, I started to pry into his personal life from a time before we were married, a time when he was a gay man playing the part of a straight man.

While I may never in my life understand what it means to feel truly trapped in the closet with no way out aside from a “normal heterosexual life,” or the courage it takes to “come out,” I still have questions for the person with whom I share a home. I still am curious as to who came before me in terms of relationships and sex. Living the life of a straight man until he was 27, my husband naturally had heterosexual sexual experiences. As a very gay man, I can’t imagine ever being in a sexual situation with a woman – nor have I ever tried. It is something I knew from childhood wasn’t for me.

As I pressed my husband for details on how it’s possible, especially for a man, to fake attraction and perform sexually, he was unable to find the words. He explained that the only person he was lying to was himself while dating those few women. Meanwhile, I sat on my couch, ears flame red, uncomfortable with the idea that anyone had what I now own, trying to wrap my head around the fact that my wonderful husband could say only “when you feel like you have to do something for your personal survival, you trick yourself into doing it.”

This comment enraged me because it was almost as if my husband was asking to be reinstated as a virgin in my eyes because he didn’t count his heterosexual experiences as sexual experiences because he is gay. I am under firm belief that black is black, white is white, and sex is sex. I am blessed to have been so sure of my own sexuality from childhood, yet I am also blessed with naivety. When it comes to relationships, especially sexual ones, I am unable to do anything but call it like I see it, but what my husband was trying to show me were the blurred lines of mind, of matter and heart versus physics. He was giving me grey.

This conversation obviously led me to ask about these women and try to understand who they were. The word from the other couch hit me like a ton of bricks. They were known as “covers,” while in my world we call them “beards.” I asked if he still had contact with any of them – apparently one showed up to my birthday party, another was a Facebook friend, another broke his heart too badly for him to repair (the six-year “cover”).

Knowing that there was still contact with his sexual history, I immediately became crazy jealous and asked for them all to be cut off immediately, whether through Facebook or otherwise, because I found it inappropriate to have a relationship with any ex, male or female, a rule which my husband utilizes against me concerning my own exes. When I did play the “no exes” card, my husband was disappointed that I couldn’t tell that these women were no competition nor were they even dignified as real relationships because he was gay the whole time. But didn’t he just say he’d slept with them?

After this upsetting outburst, I decided that I was square, not socially acclimated for the time I live in, or just uptight with far too little life experience. Or, possibly, I am completely normal and my husband, from living in the closet, is insane. I also decided that my husband was wrong for not only brushing off these girlfriends and flings as covers, but also denying the fact that for a man to perform sexually, he must be interested and for lack of a better term, excited about it.

The remarkable courage that any closet-case shows when coming out of that closet is something I will never understand, the same as I’ll never understand what it feels like to live as a young girl in Pakistan, and I thank God every day that my husband found his way to me. But this column isn’t about that triumph; it’s about sex and how it operates in different spheres and realms.

I’m sure this story hasn’t seen its end, but I just figured I would air a little of my dirty laundry for you all to ponder over. Is sex and love so free that anyone can fake it, and later write it off as a cover, an experiment, or life necessity, when in essence it is, or should be, something very real from the heart or loins? While you can have love without sex and have sex without love, isn’t there some justifiable overlap that pertains to our place on life’s spectrum?

  • MeredithMiner

    Well, I’m completely anxiety-ridden, now, thank you! *Tema: “Daddy, daddy, don’t fight!” :( *

  • TJ

    Love this article:)! Fascinating stuff… I’m going to have to go ponder it all for a while before I really respond to it. One thing that’s always interested me about JW is the difference between his performance persona and what seems to be (from what I can tell) his private persona. I just find it so interesting that someone who is so colorful and cutting edge in his performances is, as I think he said in an interview one time “an old-fashioned type of girl”. I think it’s so cool and just so endearing. There is so much emphasis on being sexually ‘wild’ these days and it’s just so silly and superficial. I really respect people who don’t care about that and just act the way they want to. That said, without making myself sound too dodgy, I’d say I’m a bit more of a Patsy Stone type myself (oops failed at not being dodgy haha). Anyways, I was actually a sex ed counselor in college (of course) and I think the general opinion is that it *is* very possible for a man perform sexually without being at all interested or turned on by it. I don’t want to get too graphic but I’ll just say that there is a lot of academic literature out there that supports that idea. Is Victor gay or bisexual? He sounds cool enough that he’s probably a bisexual — you can always recognize us by our unparalleled charm and good looks, haha;) Jk. I like your so-called “naivete” (I’d call it ‘idealism’ though). Try to go easy on those of us who aren’t quite there yet;) Oops clearly I failed at thinking before I responded; typical. Anyways, thanks for the food for thought Johnny Weir!!! Great stuff!

  • Jen

    If Victor came out when he was 27, it’s only been 3 years and he needs your love, support and patience while he works out for himself what his life as a “straight man” meant to him, and how he wants to label it. Your concerns about his other life and his previous sexual encounters with women are due to your own insecurity, and ultimately, no answer he can give you will be the RIGHT answer, until you figure out what experiences in your OWN life caused it. I don’t think you are square, and he isn’t insane, it’s just never easy to understand something you haven’t experienced. While you may not fully comprehend what he went through, you clearly cherish the man he is right now, so you both need to accept each others’ pasts because they made you the people you are today.

  • gabi

    Sex, love, sexuality – is mostly comprised of GRAY. Seeing it takes self-knowledge, insight, experience, honesty… and the courage required for the acceptance of the gray within each of us – within ourselves.

  • gabi

    This is strange coming from a person (JGW) who, on several occasions, has made statements in public like, “Who knows, I might marry a woman” and “I could see myself marrying a woman” both before and after coming out.

    • AB

      I think he was talking about a platonic relationship, in which he and a woman would share everything except sex. I think he understands that you can love someone without wanting to sleep with them. But I think he is confused about how Victor was able to sleep with women if he’s gay. But throughout history (and even today), gay men were socially pressured into marrying women, and many of these marriages produced children. So…I think it’s very realistic to think that a closeted man could have sex with a woman, even if technically he wasn’t attracted to her in that way.

      • Jen

        Agreed. I also see no contradiction, either. He always made it clear that any hypothetical marriage with a woman would be platonic. And I agree with the second part of your comment, there is sadly nothing unique about Victor’s situation. I am glad times are changing, or at least moving in the right direction…

        • Ali dM

          Agreed as well. “Romantic friendship” isn’t a topic that receives a lot of attention in the west anymore but it’s a fascinating subject and imo as long as everyone’s on the same page it’s a completely legit grounds for marriage.

  • gabi

    Johnny also made one or two of these statements (regarding marrying a woman) in direct relation to having children, which would indicate a non-platonic relationship. DEEP LOVE is not a “fixed” thing within the human emotional/sexual psyche. It CAN transcend even sexual orientation even if/though it’s within that “one in a million.”

    Johnny has always been one who insisted on “pushing the envelope,” to quote his phrase. Since he came out, he has been desperately trying to “seal” the envelope and put it in the “dead file.” My reason for pointing these things out is because I, too, want him to be happy and to be himself, not what he fears he “should not be,” thinks he “should be” or what others expect him to be. I want him to have his inner freedom, whether it’s the freedom from the enslavement of seeking ultimate “approval/self-verification” through endless human and tangible “status” symbols (i.e., the “birkin,” “balenciaga,” “starstruckedness,” et al.), the need to “look perfect” at every moment in time, obsessive/compulsive chores, or the finite delineations of “love” and “sexuality – all enslavement driven by insecurity and fear.

    Johnny does not need these things to BE the intrinsically valuable human that he already is. (No, the Birkin or Balenciaga will not make him “wonderful, important, valuable;” those things HE IS.)

    Victor CHOSE JOHNNY. So, Johnny can “relax,” I hope, and feel secure in this knowledge.

  • JFallsChurch

    a wet bird does not fly at night

  • JaneS

    Your exes are people you had sex with before you were with your husband.

    Your husband’s exes are people he had sex with before he was with you.

    Some exes are people we’re really much better off having them completely out of our lives. Some exes are people with whom things didn’t work out in a sexual and or romantic setup, but are otherwise perfectly good people to have as friends once both sides are over the romantic feelings.

    A rule banning all exes from our lives is not very evolved, is it? A rule banning one of the partners from having contact with any and all exes and the other doing as he (or she) sees it… that’s hypocrisy!

    I understand it must have been hard for your husband going from so deep in the closet that he was living in Narnia to suddenly in one jump being married to you and completely out. It sounds like freaking out material! There’s a lot of heavy stuff he needs to deal with about himself and everything in his life. I think your reaction is both absolutely understandable and also very healthy! He can’t just move on like all those years didn’t happen.

    But having the ex at your birthday party? Low! Come on!

    Keep on bringing up the issues that bother you, all the doubts and uncomfortable feelings you keep inside can hurt you and your relationship.

    I don’t know you personally, but I think you deserve better than that, and the love you and your husband have for each other and your commitment to make it something lasting deserve better than silly rules that apply to one and not the other, and better than answers that aren’t well thought out, given without the soul searching they might need.

    A successful, loving, lasting relationship that makes both partners happy is one were both are equals and both are honest to each other. Then there’s all the sex and the romance, the fun part!

    By the way, covers are people with feelings too, aren’t they?

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