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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • December 03, 2006


    Gay-Blogging Community

    When I received Joshua's e-mail about what I enjoy about being part of a gay-blogging community, I was reflecting on, against my own experiences, a couple of books in which men come to terms with their sexuality and/or sexual fetish. We all know it's ridiculous, at usually futile to be at war with our desires. For so many years, Governor James McGreevey, not that he's been in denial with his own sexuality, has chosen a path that will ensure success in his political career, and being gay, or openly being gay is not part of the equation. He must have agonized over his decision to divulge his true self in national television. The fear, the pain, and the mind-wrestling of coming out must have surpassed the actual declaration--takes a great deal of courage and to accept the reality of one's true self and reality of desires. For some people it might take their entire life to be able to give in and get on with life.

    Why am I talking about this? What does this have to do with being part of a gay-blogging community? While many of us share similar coming-out stories, the process that prepares, prunes, and leads us to that point must be altogether different, let alone the walk of life when coming out takes place. A gay collaborative blog like this provides a friendly converging ground for us to share our thoughts. If such a blog existed when I came out more than 10 years ago, it would really boost my morale. Even though my parents embraced the truth with a surprisingly equanimity, I always felt a feeling of revulsion, of unease lurking in my mind. That inexplicable qualm was not so much about what others thought of me being gay, but my own refusal to come to terms with my gay desires.

    I remember walking into Merill's drugstore, or Bretano's Books (now Walden and Borders), furtively, and nervously, pretending to look for Scientific American or browse the Newsweek as a disguise for picking the hot, steamy Playgirl and Men Magazine. I would hide at the quiet corner with very thin shopper-traffic, carefully tugged the porn magazine into the Newsweek and suureptitiously flipped through page after page of hunky showcase. I was 16.

    I guess at that point I was past the guilt. Even the excitement--the aching indecision and wild anticipation of pictures of nude men--had pretty much run its course. But I also knew that it was beyond my power to stop, now that I had come that far. Experiences had taught me that in the end I've always lost the battle with desires. The trony, of course, was that I had so strenuously resisted my own inclinations to view those magazines. No sooner had I looked at Men than I started craving for more--wouldn't it be even better if these gorgeous men are engaging in some steamy actions? Sure. But my conscience kept whispering to me in a rebuking voice: You can't want this. You're not the kind of creep who wishes to see guys fucking each other.

    I got over the inner voice too. In fact, I could never get past the uncomfortable fact that these guys existed for me solely as just images on magazines. I've never heard their voice, their groan, and their moan. Sometimes I'd have to flip through pages of these images before finding one that brought me to the state of arousal that a single picture used to inspire. As the years went by I became regular audience of gay porn--the ones that are starring my "type" of men--the gruffy looking, the ruggedly good-looking, the moustached, the daddies, and the beefy jock without the all-American look. That was my second coming out: to come to terms with the specific type of men to whom I'm attracted. I was 24.

    Now that I'm out to everybody around me, at 32, I think I'm lucky to have a very supporting group of friends who accept me the way I am. It's been more than self-discovery and enlightenment--it's a liberation.

    I might have digressed so outrageously Joshua's original question. But i truly appreciate a gay-blogging community where we, as gay men, and also others come together and discuss issues, share thoughts and feelings. It should be the starting point where people can embrace difference and diversity.


    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    12/03/2006 9:59 PM  
    Blogger Jef said...

    When I realized I was gay, the realization was so matter of fact that I almost said, "I'd better make a note of that," as if it was something I might forget.

    I tried to tell my mother once, but she stopped the conversation before it began. They like my partner a lot, and it's a strange situation where everyone knows, but I haven't really told them. I've wondered if I should because everyone talks about how liberating being out, but I don't feel oppressed in any way, so I don't think it would make a difference.

    I've noticed that my decision to tell people about my sexuality is based upon how comfortable I feel telling people about my private life in general. In some ways I'm very open with thoughts, dreams, fears, politics, but in other ways, I believe that type of sharing has to be cultivated to a point because those things are a gift to share.

    12/04/2006 9:01 AM  
    Blogger Greg said...

    When I came out, a co-worker directed me to our Gay and Lesbian Center. The decision to be open about my sexuality wasn't an easy one. I don't know what I would have done without that kind of support. Now, with blogs and other groups online becoming more and more visible thanks to the internet, a collaborative blog sounds like a great thing.

    12/04/2006 12:37 PM  
    Anonymous Alan Bennett Ilagan said...

    Hi - Your post hit on some great points. First and foremost is the importance of feeling part of a community, and not isolated or alone. For my own experience, that was key to coming out. I remember reading one of the first issues of xy magazine (yeah, I know... believe me--- but then I was young and unafraid, and dreams were made and used and wasted...)
    It wasn't the poorly-written articles, but rather the letters-to-the-editor that made me feel less alone. What a feeling of affirmation - to know that there were others out there like me, that there were others searching and yearning and longing for something more than we had, than we could even fathom. Ever since then, I've felt it a bit of a duty to be "out" whenever asked. Not that I'm running around with a rainbow flag flying out of my ass... but I think back to the scared kid I used to be and wish that someone had been there to show him the way. I would have been happier so much sooner. Sorry for rambling, and apologies if this didn't make much sense - I only want to say that I understand completely what you're talking about. Thanks.

    12/05/2006 6:20 AM  
    Anonymous Ken said...

    How facinating and interesting to read these words from you...somewhat different than your
    "in person" persona.


    12/06/2006 11:52 AM  

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