A Lack of Sex Doesn’t Make Me (Or You) Better.

I’m not a very sexual person. I much prefer being by myself. In fact, I haven’t had sex in about two years, and I don’t really have a strong desire to partake in it any time soon. It’s not that I hate sex, I’m just not very interested in it.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, though, and how sex affects me. I’m not a sexual person, but I’m also open to it whenever it comes. So recently I read an article posted by a friend on a social media site that infuriated me to no end.

It’s OKAY to be frustrated that people are more interested in hooking up than having a serious relationship or being “more chivalrous” in their sexual endeavors. You, personally, can be agitated, confused, upset, or any other feeling that you have is completely valid. I know a few years ago I really wanted to date this guy but he was not interested. He only wanted sex. I made it clear that I didn’t want to have sex with him if he didn’t want to date me, and then we went our separate ways. THAT is valid.

It’s NOT OKAY to demean people for choosing to have promiscuous sex or casual encounters. Standing on a perceived moral high ground while berating members of a diverse community for not conforming to hetero-normative sexual and relationship standards is not only terribly misguided, but also parallel to heterosexuals demeaning the queer community for engaging in sodomy. Forcing that narrative onto non-consenting bodies is unforgivable, and an attack on the emotional and mental health of members of the queer community.

Further, there is not just one formulaic definition for individual members of the queer community. Not all members of the 1970’s queer community were as “open and accepting” as your revisionist view of the past might be. Racism and sexism was still alive and rampant. While your personal musings of the queer community are, at large, valid for you and your thought processes, they in no way, shape, or form stand as a definition for the entire queer community. When what you believed the queer community to be ran false and your picturesque dream of queer unity came crashing down in flames, instead of sharing your thoughts and your opinions with your peers you ran away and professed your desire to abandon the community which you just harshly criticized.

While you and others might equate sexual promiscuity with a lack of moral fiber, I connect abandonment with a lack of desired unity. A lack of good. A lack of selflessness. The queer community is not perfect, but isolating yourself by slut-shaming members is not the right path.

It Finally Begins

For a while, I was waiting to get a hold of my life. I was jobless, living at home, too depressed to even leave the house. However, I now have a job, went to a comedy club last night to perform stand-up (yay!), and am finally getting myself prepared to transition out of my house. I also am FINALLY taking my first sketch writing class at UCB.

I’m so excited for my journey to begin. I graduated university 6 months ago but now it feels like it’s really starting.

(TW: Rape) I’ve stopped hugging people

I noticed a couple weeks ago that I no longer hug people. I was trying to remember when it stopped being such a big part of my connection with other people, especially close friends. I used to hug people all the time. When I was in high school and the beginning years of university, I was known to give really great hugs. You know, the type of hugs that feel warm, inviting, the aura of friendship epitomized in that moment. I hugged a lot to just feel the positive energy, to express my relationship with them in a touchy-feely way, to let them know I love them through my physical expressions.

I stopped hugging people, though. Trying to pinpoint the moment I stopped hugging people, it was shortly after the second time I was raped, about two years ago. I was really, really high. Like, I maybe smoked weed twice in my life before that moment, and during the night I was raped, I smoked maybe 4x that amount. I was scared before it even happened. I said out loud “I can’t feel myself move, I can’t feel my limbs.” I was paralyzed by the weed. At that moment, and for a long time afterwards, I blamed myself for being raped. Eventually it was left with me and one other guy in the room. He moved closer to me, and I was practically incoherent. He was a close friend. He raped me.

The truth is, I did like him. I actually dated him after that, until we unceremoniously broke up because he was graduating. I never told him, or mustered up the ability to tell him that the first time he did anything was when I was way too high to give consent. When I wasn’t even ready. I felt taken advantage of by a close friend, and I haven’t been able to touch or hug or even be physically close to a friend ever since.

I feel myself growing colder. I don’t like my family touching me now. I think I am finally starting to warm up a little bit, which is why I acknowledged that the first time I hugged someone in about two years was a couple of weeks ago.

I want to date people but that fear is still there. It’s embarrassing. I never thought something like that would happen to me.

Stay for the Feels

As a comedy writer, I voraciously watch any sort of comedy, dramedy, or cartoon to inform my comedic mind. Most of the time, I just notice basic trends in episodic sitcoms (i.e. Holiday Episodes, Weddings in May, Character caricatures). Most of the time I’m just focusing on what makes me laugh. Sometimes, like the other day, I come to important revelations about writing long-form comedy.

People will watch straight up, 6 jokes a minute, entendre-filled 22 minute episodes of television regardless. The lifespan of these series, however, tend to fall out without a strong, emotional response by the viewer. People will come for the laughs, but stay for the feels.

Besides the few memorable moments from the TV show FRIENDS, what I most remember is the Rachel-Ross storyline, babies being born, memories from Weddings, and the emotionally raw and serious moments in the show. I don’t mind sitting around watching a sitcom that relies on overused jokes and histrionic responses, but I do mind a show that can’t get you to root for the character. Even with villains, you can root for them if you understand the emotional journey they are going through.

I want to write characters that you fall in love with, regardless of morals. Yes, I want it to be funny. Yes, I want it to be intelligent. But I really want to write the Lemons, the Knopes, the Michael Scotts, the characters where you just want to root for them no matter what they are doing, no matter if they mess up. I want the flaws to make them real, their triumphs to feel just as good to the viewers, and their love and passions to translate into visceral viewer responses. They don’t have to be loved, I just want them to be understood

What’s in a good person?

I wish there was a formula for being a good person. I would love to be able to just read a book that would tell you how to be a good person. Okay, sure, there’s the bible, qur’an, new testament, old testament, and maybe a Dr. Phil self-help book, but I’m not that naive to believe any of those things. But wouldn’t it be great if I could just buy or receive a book on how to be a good person, follow it, and then just “be good”.

I think one of the few things that make me a good person is that I constantly question whether or not I have reached “good person” status. I constantly relive events of my past to determine if I made the best choices, said the best thing, done the best action in those situations. I try not to let these theoretical conversations overwhelm me, but I think the constant struggle to be better, makes me good.

With that, I know that some of my actions in the past have been really shitty. I have not always been the best person I could be, crippled with self-doubt, fear of rejection, arrogance, and austerity. But those situations in my past have made me better, because I would make better choices if they happened again, and I have.

I just want to know what it is to be a good person. Maybe I don’t have to be a good person. I just have to be a better me.

Disinterest

I haven’t had sex in over a year.

This concerns me in two very different ways:

1) I have no real desire to have sex. I’ve even told some of my friends this. I still have an online dating profile, the dating apps, etc., but I am wholly disinterested in any form of sex. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get “worked up” by myself, but just that I’m not interested in trying to find someone to do it with me.

2) I’m disinterested in everything. I’ve always wondered if I have had depression, but after being unemployed for 3 months (going on my 4th month in a few days), I feel like doing nothing. I wake up, check for new jobs, send some emails, and then feel disinterested in everything. I used to love playing video games, but I hardly have any interest in that, despite a brand new Wii U and a Steam library full of games. I can’t even focus enough to watch TV shows, as a combination of anxiety and complete disinterest come over me after a few minutes. The only thing that I am not disinterested in is writing. It feels therapeutic.

I’m wondering if my sexual disinterest stems from the possible increasing depression I have been in over the past year. I know the micro-aggressions I am dealing with by living in a homophobic household have started to take a real toll on my psyche.

I’m fighting to convince myself everything will work out, eventually. I feel like once I get a job, I will be able to move out and really start my life. The back of my brain, however, is riddled with thoughts of “If you wanted to start your life, why wait?” I don’t want to wait, I just feel incapacitated. I’m hoping I hear of another job opportunity or if I get that job this week. I really need a win.

The Mountains We Have Climbed

I just submitted my Late Night Writer’s packet for NBC Universal. I found out about the packet during the submission period, and was not fully prepared to create topical, witty, and complete jokes within less than a week.

In fact, in the three days between when I found out about the opportunity and the submission deadline, the first two consisted of mostly panicked resignation. I didn’t feel like I could get it done in time. I wanted to submit something that I thought was powerful, political, and purposeful yet could still entertain. The pressure I inflicted upon myself incapacitated me.

Conciliatory thoughts filled my head, attempting to rationalize myself out of trying. Things like; “You can always do this next year,” “You want to submit your best work,” and “Maybe you’re just not meant to be a comedy writer.” They felt reassuring and validated my feelings at the time.

However, on the third day, after already resigning to not finish my packet, I decided to spend the day reading one of my favorite books, Hero by Perry Moore. I won’t spoil the book for you, but I had a major personal catharsis about this moment in my life. I believe there are small moments in your life that can define your character. Sometimes you might make choices that you don’t like or regret, but you live with them. I wanted this choice, today, to finish this packet, to be a moment where I prevailed and pulled through.

So I did. I spent the entire day creating a respectable late night packet, finishing two SNL-style sketches, late night monologue jokes, and late night desk bits. It was long and exhausting, but I wanted and NEEDED to do this to prove to myself this is what I wanted to do. Maybe if my work wasn’t that good, I would have a different response (that I tried, and maybe don’t see myself getting better). But I thought my jokes could be seen on any of the late night shows, especially since they were infused with a twist of me.

Maybe I won’t get a call to interview with the NBC Universal Late Night program, maybe I will next year or the year after that, or maybe never. Regardless, yesterday was a personal victory for me. I overcame my doubts and worries to write really promising material. I could not be more proud of myself for that.

The Problem with Professionalism

My sister bought me an amazing new shirt for Christmas, a bright teal shirt with matching argyle socks. I told her I was going to wear it to my upcoming job interview as a good luck charm.

socks

Fast forward to the day of my interview. I am feeling really good, my hair is not being temperamental, my face is not breaking out, and I think I look pretty darn good. I’ve been unemployed for three long, exhausting months, and each new job opportunity is like an oasis in a desert of unemployment. My dad catches me five minutes before I am about to leave for my job interview.

“Hey Isaac! Nice suit… nice jacket… nice tie… don’t you think that shirt is a little too bright though?”

“What do you mean? I like the shirt, and plus I can say that I wore it cause my sister wanted me to for good luck,” I said.

“Well don’t you think its not professional enough? You don’t want to make the wrong impression.”

At that point, I knew exactly what type of impression my dad was referring to. You know, the whole “queer” thing. While I empathize with my dad on being afraid I won’t get a job because a bright shirt is a sure sign of queerness (not!), I know he was just trying to look out for me. Though my dad has been out of the workforce for over ten years now, and hasn’t had to look for a job in over twenty years, he was trying to give me fatherly advice. The problem is, it’s problematic.

(To preface, I’m not saying the problem with professionalism here is not being able to complete assignments, show up late to work, etc., although I do assert that some differently abled individuals have harder times completing assignments, and should have accommodations, it is not the main facet of professionalism I am raging against here.)

For one, I don’t want to work in a workplace that won’t let me wear a bright shirt and be myself. I was bullied, teased, and ostracized from kindergarten to high school based on how I acted. That entire time period, I had to keep everything in and put up a front that I was “okay”. College gave me the strength and understanding to not only accept who I am, but not to hide myself or allow intolerance to exist around me. This is one of the main problems of Professionalism. Professionalism exists in a hetero-normative sphere of influence where those who can adapt and exist under a certain set of arbitrary, problematic guidelines can exist. This hegemonic structure specifically outcasts those who do not maintain this “professionality”, and is often used to disproportionately disadvantage gender, sexual, racial, and ability-oriented minority folk. Specifically in my case, I like to use my body as a canvas to represent varying facets of my identity. My bright, teal shirt highlights my positive personality and sense of humor. My matching socks represent my penchant for coordination. Professionalism can urge an absence of artistic wardrobe expression in favor of one that only exists under certain rules that largely favors heterosexuals.

Secondly, it’s (probably unintentionally) hurtful of my father to try and limit what I wear, dress, and how I express myself. It’s not even that this outfit is really “radical” or “queer”. It is still abiding by pervasive gender roles, but it’s also just how I like to present myself. Even if I identify as a genderqueer individual, this is how I wanted to dress and present myself to potential employers, for better or for worse. I don’t need my father to tell me I need to fit into a certain mold to get a job; I should just be me.

That’s where the karmic influences of the world came to fruition. I was about to change my shirt, slightly crying, when I had one of those DGAF moments and decided to wear this outfit. I was holding an old, plain white button-down shirt in one hand, thinking, “Well, I might benefit more for wearing this,” but I realized I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that part of me in a job, and they should know what they are getting.

I get to the interview, and they LOVED my shirt! I even had the chance to show off my matching socks and say that they were a great present for my sister. They appreciated the confidence that I had to show off myself, and felt I was not only answering answers authentically, but they had a great idea of what they were getting and sounded really enthused about getting it.

It scares me how close I was to giving myself up to maintain the illusion of heteronormativity and limited expression. Prefacing that the “cheese” factor is going to eleven on this one, but the problem with professionalism is it limits the self. Fortunately for me, being myself made me an even better candidate for this job. So yes, the moral of this story is “be yourself”, but more importantly, “let others be themselves.”

Oh, and fuck professionalism.

Unapologetically Me.

My brother called me a faggot, in the heat of a blistering argument about race. Completely ignoring the satirical subtext in South Park, my brother, inspired by the comedic voice of Cartman from South Park, started referring to people as “stupid jews”.

One thing led to another, and my brother called me a faggot. Further, he insisted that our parents treated me better because I was gay (which I scoff at because my mother tried to send me to gender realignment therapy) and he is sick of having to be careful of what he says. I tried to go outside to calm myself, only to be stopped by my hysterical mom and frighteningly violent brother who ran towards me.

Sitting on our front porch, I hear the whispers inside of my mother trying to calm my brother down. My brother is one year older than me, and I have never felt badly for him than as moments in these. Here I am, trying to collect myself outside, leaving a sticky confrontation maintaining my dignity, and here is my older brother who is unable to stop yelling for thirty minutes after I leave, a campfire that rages on without being stoked.

My mother is not consoling me. I wonder if this is because she knows I can handle myself and the abuse I have just taken, or if she truly believes I should have held my tongue. She desperately wants to be our friend and to keep the peace. I remember she used to always tell me to “let people be.” I don’t believe in that. No zebra is too old to change their stripes. Still I listen outside sitting on an oak bench while my mother consoles the wrong person.

I went inside and straight to bed after everything calmed down. I did not speak to my brother for two weeks.

Although I love him, silence was his punishment. He knew this was his punishment. I have forgiven my brother in the past for his homophobic outbursts of anger. In a different argument, he said he was “afraid to bend over near me”. Another time, he kept calling me a gay faggot. But I forgave him every single time, because I love my brother and you are supposed to love your family.

So, inevitability I forgave him. He said to me, “I didn’t need your forgiveness, you need to stop being so sensitive.”

There was no apology, no sense of remorse, nor any repentance from him whatsoever. I forgave him because I wanted him to think more about his actions, but instead I feel like I have always done in the past, which is giving him another free pass to screw up.

No more. From now on, there are no free passes to screw up. I’m not going to apologize to people for hurting me. You either get better at life, or get out of my mine.

Not In Your House

My brother and sister both brought their respective, heterosexual partners to dinner the other night. My sister, who has jumped from boyfriend to boyfriend for as long as I can remember, never had a problem bringing her men to our house. My brother, although more shy, has brought his partner to the house a few times.

So comes the fateful question from my mother, “Why do you never bring any of your partners over for dinner?”

I’m not going to answer that question because it hurts too much to answer. I just can’t handle it. My mother loves me, but only me, and not parts of my life that she doesn’t agree with. I will not feel comfortable bringing a person home to my family when they make queer and racist jokes. All the love that my mom possesses is not enough to repair the damaged emotional scars her actions have caused.