Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Helpmates


About seven years ago, I went to the Borders Book Store in Sterling, Virginia, to buy a book on gay history.  I had ordered the book through the store in those days before Amazon.  I got in line at the store, and, by the rules of chaos that rule the universe, I was waited on by a male college student.  The kid asked me whether the book was for me, or whether I was giving it as a gift.  I told him it was for me.  He made a show of turning the book every which way and examining it (it was wrapped in cellophane and in pristine condition).  “Oh,” he said, “it’s been damaged in transit.  I’ll have to take 20% off the sales price.”  Nice kid.

I took my book and went to the coffee bar to get coffee and a pastry.  As I was sitting there leafing through my new book, the guy who waited on me came to my table with his own coffee and asked if he could sit with me.  We had a great conversation, lasting about half an hour, in which we found out the basics of each other’s gay lives.  Will, as I found out he was called, was then a sophomore at George Mason University.  We exchanged e–mail addresses, and I’ve been in touch with him ever since.  He’s now almost 27 years old and lives and is social worker in Pennsylvania.

Will’s recently fallen in love.  Every week, I get a different photo of the object of his affections.  This is the first time that Will has felt the emotions that now overwhelm him.  He is as happy as he’s ever been, and I believe he has found a good guy in his boyfriend, Jeff.  He and I have been e–mailing back and forth all afternoon, discussing just what it is that’s happening to him.

I heard or saw, somewhere this past week, a guy say that the best sex is sex you have with the person you love.   Will enthusiastically affirmed that statement this afternoon, then asked me why that is.  Jeff, he reports, isn’t the most accomplished lover he’s ever had, but the sex the two of them have is the best either has ever experienced.  How come?  I am not Dan Savage.  I have no idea, most of the time, why people do what they do sexually.  But to this question I happen to have given a lot of thought, so I was able to share my thoughts with Will.

Once, when one of my daughters was in a romantic relationship, she and I talked about the nature of the good feelings that such a relationship engenders.  We talked for several hours, in the abstract, about why some relationships are so much more exciting than others.  We came to the conclusion that important romantic relationships cause people to feel so good because they represent reciprocated attraction.  How amazing it is to come to know that the person about whom you are so obsessed is equally obsessed with you!  How sexy it is to realize that the one person who so turns you on is equally attracted to you sexually!  That is one contributing factor, I believe, to the amazing sexual feelings that Will now enjoys.  He and Jeff are bound up in a mutual attraction that neither has ever felt before and that neither can really believe.  It’s amazing to read the notes that Will sends.  Half of a note is a declaration of fact, while the other half is a statement of disbelief that such a thing really could be happening to him.

There is more to it than this reciprocal attraction, though.  I’m not a believer in the divine authorship, or the inerrancy, of the Bible.  But I do believe in the truth of one of the lines in Genesis (Genesis 2/18): “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  Will and Jeff have found in one another possible life–time helpmates.  Both of them believe that their relationship is meant for the long term.  Part of the joy and wonder that comes from their sex, I believe, comes from the delight at possibly having found “the One.”  Not having to face life all on your own, and the prospect of facing it with someone you love, are powerful aphrodisiacs.

There is so much nastiness from the fundamentalists about gay marriage, and that’s especially true now after the great events in Albany.  After going back and forth all day with this 27–year–old gay man, I am more convinced than ever that there is nothing that gay marriage can do to diminish straight marriage.  There is nothing gay marriage can do to hurt our society.  There is nothing gay marriage can do in and of itself to harm children who might be raised by a gay couple.  What gay marriage will do is give Will and Jeff, and all the millions like them around the world, the right not to be alone in life, to have a legal helpmate, to have the dignity of being recognized as loving and responsible human beings.

I don’t know if Will and Jeff will marry, but today I did offer to play the organ for their wedding should they decide to do it (and I absolutely hate playing for weddings).  Regardless of what they decide to do, I am so happy that, if they want, they can get married either in Will’s hometown of Washington, D. C., or Jeff’s little hometown on the Hudson River in New York.  Mazel tov. . . maybe!

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