A SERIOUS CHANGE OF HEART

When I interviewed Tony Alberti several years ago I was impressed with how hard he had worked to reconcile conflicting emotions and life issues. Recently I got back in touch. I wanted to know if I could use our interview in Queer Crips, an anthology of writing by disabled gay men. Tony replied that his outlook had changed so much he felt the interview no longer represented his thinking. What resulted from our conversation is a rare opportunity to follow the course of change in the life of one disabled gay man. We agreed to publish our original interview, "Damaged Goods," followed by "What I Know Now," Tony's reflections on where he finds himself today. You may be surprised by the juxtaposition. I was -Bob Guter

INTERVIEW
Damaged Goods

When we first discussed doing this interview you were reluctant. Can you tell me why?

I wondered if I'd have anything worthwhile to say, but the more I thought about it the more I realized how much my own attitudes about being gay and disabled have changed in the last few years, and I figured there was stuff I've been through that I want to share with other men.

Have you talked much about these things?

I tried to do that last year by starting a gay amputee support group, but only two people responded. I know there must be quite a few of us in the Bay Area, but where are we? After living here for eight years, I've seen so few of us in the Castro. I wonder why. Are we all married off, or are we home at night feeling sorry for ourselves? One of my neighbors, who is visually impaired, started a support group for gays and lesbians with disabilities, but they only met a few times before dissolving. I remember his remark: Nobody can bear to talk about disability issues and gay issues in the same breath. My own frustration finally prompted me to run personals ads in a couple of mainstream papers—gay ones, of course—with negative results.

Tell me about the negative results.

I made a couple of friendships, but nothing that was relationship material. Nothing that promised love. Basically, I felt as if I'd struck out. Then I decided to run an ad in a magazine that promised to connect disabled and nondisabled men.

Was that a tough decision?

Yes and no. It was a question of getting ready emotionally. I went into psychotherapy a couple of years ago to address a lot of self-image problems, and I thought it was time to get out there and see if I could make some things happen.

Your mention of psychotherapy interests me because so many of us have had to deal with the same issue—a kind of head-on grappling with self-image—and not all of us have done it successfully. Can you talk more about that?

Once I became an amputee I felt really . . . out-of-sorts. [Laughter] OK, worse than that! I thought that I'd immediately become ugly. Later on, whenever somebody rejected my advances, I blamed it on being disabled. In my mind, that was always the reason. I was so hung-up on my poor self-image that I thought it was going to exile me from intimacy forever. It seemed like people didn't expect me to be sexual, and that made it easy for me to stay in the closet.

What made you conclude that people thought you were asexual?

Simple: no one ever asked the standard questions, like, Why aren't you dating? or Are you planning to get married? It was a non-issue. If you're stuck in the closet, disability is a great camouflage.

You told me you lost your leg in a car accident when you were sixteen. Had you had any sexual experience before that?

No, no . . . I was a late-bloomer.

What was it like as you grew out of your teens and into your twenties? Did you make any efforts to connect with men during those years? And what about coming out?

I had been out to a few friends, but to me, coming out is when you tell your parents, and I didn't do that until I was thirty-seven years old! Their reactions turned out to be the opposite of what I expected. I thought my dad would have a tough time with it and my mom would be OK. It was just the reverse. You have to understand there's a heavy bent of Catholicism in my family, a tough streak. So the issue was really, Are you damned to Hell now? My mother was concerned about my salvation.

Has that been resolved?

It's one of those things where, OK, now we know, but we don't want to talk about it. It's simply not discussed. I continued to go through terrible guilt because of my Catholicism. I was constantly trying to repress the gay thing. In my mind it was simply not acceptable, so I didn't act on it for a long time. I did have one experience—I must have been twenty-one—and that was it. Then, at twenty-five I discovered the baths, but that was a painful experience, because there the rejections were more direct.

Where was this?

In St. Louis.

St. Louis had baths? I'm shocked and amazed!

Still does! [Mutual laughter]

It must have been tough for you, wandering around the baths with . . .

With my prosthesis off, hopping around on crutches with everything visible. It reinforced my feeling that I was damaged goods, because hardly anything ever happened at the baths.

Looking back on it now, do you wonder if men might have been interested, but maybe something about your inexperience or the way you presented yourself discouraged them?

It seems possible, because I know now that when I walk down Castro Street, there are men who cruise me. The self-image thing is greatly improved, although I expect I'll always have doubts. I moonlight as a massage therapist, and that's really reinforced my positive self-image, because I'm in better shape than most of the people I work on. [Laughter]

All of that seems like a welcome shift in your experience. I'm curious about how it happened, but I want to make sure we don't lose any of the threads of your story. You mentioned having a fling at the age of twenty-one. How did that happen?

Can we just scratch that whole incident? It's nothing I'm pleased about, because it was not a reciprocal thing. I was desperate to have a sexual experience, any sexual experience, so I got it. But it was just a one-way thing. I sucked cock, end of story. It still bothers me that that's how it was the first time.

Let's move on to when you were twenty-five, when you discovered the baths. Another unsatisfactory experience.

Right, because when you're a relationship-oriented person, and you're in a tricking environment, well, there I was, hoping to meet the love of my life. The crazy thinking we go through in our younger years. We just don't see clearly, do we?

It sounds like your twenties were a very stuck place. How did your feelings about yourself and your relationship to men begin to change?

Let me flesh things out a bit with some career information and other things that might provide context. First of all, I came from a small-town atmosphere. I grew up in a Midwestern town of 150 people.

That's more like a large family than a town!

The largest town in the entire county was 2,500 people. We're talking rural America, real farm country. I'd say the county was 98% Catholic, so there was lots of rigidity in the social structure. It felt so oppressive I went to away college in Minnesota just to escape. Then I went to St. Louis, to law school. I had political aspirations at the time. I'll tell you how that came about. Right after my senior year in high school I applied for a job, and I'll never forget it, the man who was interviewing me looked me straight in the eye and said, We don't hire handicapped people here. That was before the ADA, of course, when you could get away with something like that. It made me furious. I thought, I've got to do something about this, so I got politically motivated and decided to go to law school. Watergate blew up not long afterwards and, frankly, it soured me on the political process.

At the same time I was beginning to suspect that my gayness was not going away, that I was not going to be able to repress it forever. And when I thought "gay politician" I thought "blackmail." Ultimately I went back home to that rural county and practiced law for a few years, a really stupid decision, because what I needed was to live in an urban environment.

You know, it almost makes sense to me as I listen to you: handicapped is not hired and gay is blackmailed—why wouldn't you conclude it's safer to isolate yourself as much as possible?

But the Catholic factor started bothering me again. I kept thinking about becoming a priest. Finally I said. OK, you either have to explore this or give it up. So after practicing law for about six years I entered a Benedictine monastery. And that, ironically enough, is where I really started coming out. I spent my first six months reading everything available in English on homosexuality and Catholic theology, trying to work through the whole issue for myself. After three years I was able to conclude that God loves me for who I am and that I'm entitled to a relationship. When I decided I wanted that option, my only choice was to leave the monastery.

I'm impressed by the effort you made, by the soul-searching combined with the intellectual exercise. There you were, researching your own character and life options, while subjecting your inner turmoil to the discipline of monastic life. Was there anyone you could confide in?

Oh, yes. My community was unique in the Catholic Church. It's an openly gay monastery. I'm sure 90% of the monks there are gay, and that's a conservative estimate. There was no problem talking to anyone. But in any other monastery—I found this out by visiting—you so much as utter the word gay and it's like dropping a match in dry grass.

That whole experience must have been a genuine epiphany for you—deciding that you were OK after all.

You're right. That's a good word, too, and it reminds me of an epiphany of a different kind. Can I go off on a brief tangent? I'm thinking of the first time I went to Key West. I'd been touring Florida with my only gay friend. We had never heard it was a gay resort! We were in a restaurant for breakfast after we'd watched the sun rise over the keys. After about thirty seconds, I looked over at my friend and whispered, Jerry, everyone in here is . . . gay! [Delighted Laughter] It was the most liberating feeling I'd ever had

What a great story. How old were you then?

About twenty-six. Long before the monastery, still in the looking-for-love-in-the-baths period. The other point I wanted to make was that my years in the monastery derailed my legal career. I was thirty-three when I left the monastery, the age when Christ was crucified! But seriously, that's probably a big transition age for a lot of people. It had been a major decision to leave the practice of law, and then later it was just as difficult to leave the monastery, because I had invested so much in it. Most lawyers couldn't understand why you would ever leave the law, but to leave it for the monastery! That made you a very strange bird. It was a period of great turmoil for me, devastating to my ego, too, because with such an odd work history I had a terrible time finding anyone willing to employ me. I was struggling with money, with self-esteem. At that point, gayness was on the back burner. Listen, I was just trying to survive. It took nine months to find a job, and I was scraping the bottom of the barrel. I ended up parlaying my law degree into a job in human resources management.

What kind of work was it?

I ended up working for an international food service company—and, no, I was not washing dishes. I was assistant to the executive vice president. And guess what? I was fired for being gay. I'd worked there for about a year and a half when my boss came up to me one day and with no preliminaries asked, Have you ever been known to have gone out with persons of the opposite sex? I can remember I just felt the blood rushing to my face. I must have turned beet red. Of course I lied. I thought, if I admit I'm gay I'll get fired right now. But I was gone within a week anyway. "Restructuring" was the reason they gave. Yeah, right!

Do you make any sense of the incident now? Why after more than a year, suddenly, bam!? You didn't start doing something . . . outrageous?

No, no. no. I was deeply closeted. Afterwards. I thought, my God, you can't win for losing. You try to play the game and you still get zapped. There were two things that could have caused the incident. Around that time there was a lot of homophobic talk about screening out gay franchisees and managers. Maybe the tip-off was the fact that I wouldn't participate in the put-downs. Also, a woman employee was putting the moves on me, and I kept declining.

Aha! A sexual harassment case. You know, we sit here joking about it now, but it must have been horrible at the time.

Oh, it was. Horrible.

Your career evolution is important, but can I pull us back to a critical issue? Can I ask you about love?

I haven't had any! [Self-deprecating laughter] What I mean is I haven't had a relationship.

When you left the monastery you decided it was OK, in God's eyes, to be gay, but I haven't heard you say how you felt about men's eyes, your assumption that you were "damaged goods."

That hadn't changed. There I was at about age thirty-five with very limited experience. Most of the experience I had was casual and non-reciprocal. I'd get so horny that I just wanted something, anything. So I'd basically be a cocksucker, OK? Don't put that in the transcript. [Laughter].

You have editing privileges, Tony, but I think it belongs in the interview.

I thought I was so ugly for being an amputee that nobody would want anything to do with me, so I'd just have to take sex on whatever terms I could get it. The few experiences I had, well, I went back to the baths.

Did you have some success as the aggressor?

Very limited. You see, I believe there are two kinds of gay men, men that thrive on tricking and men that aren't happy with sex unless its part of a relationship. I'm one of the latter. I've made a kind of peace with myself lately, though, figuring well, if you can't get it in a relationship and you don't like tricking, then just let it go and see what happens. My ventures now are mostly personals ads, an attempt to reach out for something lasting.

Has psychotherapy helped?

I wish I had done it ten years ago. My psychotherapist helped me see that my disability is not necessarily the reason for rejection—there can be lots of reasons. People have their own agendas, their likes and dislikes, what they want both physically and emotionally. That's made it easier for me. And my therapist also helped me to realize that some men do look at me with admiration.

Here you are, in the center of the world's premier gay neighborhood, where you say you can, at last, walk down the street and appreciate that men sometimes cruise you. Do you cruise back?

So far it's been guys cruising me whom I'm not interested in. [Appreciative laughter from both sides of the table] Isn't that always the way? I've visited a few bars now and then, but I'm always looking for that something more. The problem is that here in the Castro it's a tricking environment. For years, because of the "You're not one of the pretty things in here" attitude I despaired and gave up. I've given it a try again just in the last year.

Does it seem like a different experience these days?

I've been cruised in bars, and I've had several sexual encounters. I tell people I trick once every six months, whether I need it or not! Just having the self-confidence to try it at all is due entirely to the work I did with a marvelous psychotherapist, Dr. Alan Sable. I want you to print his name, because he deserves my public thanks. He helped me realize I'd been throwing self-pity parties for myself for twenty-six years, ever since my car accident. It took that long for me to get myself into therapy, to decide I could not go on living with daily bouts of depression and tears.

Daily bouts of depression and tears: that sounds a lot bigger than I'd realized. How, exactly, did therapy help?

Here's part of the answer, an example that relates to your question about bars and self-image, something Dr. Sable called a "rejection exercise." I was to go into a bar, pick the ten men I thought were "hottest," and approach each one for sex. The idea was to get used to rejection so that I could go on to the next man without feeling bad.

Sounds like the scenario for a porn flick! You were actually able to do that? It strikes me as the most difficult environment for positive image-building.

That's the point. I don't want you to think I walked out of Dr. Sable's office and headed straight for a bar the first time he suggested it. It took several months to get up the courage. The one thing I had trouble taking seriously was his "warning." He predicted I'd rarely get through all ten men without someone taking me up on my proposition. You know what? He was right.

Did the successes make you feel better about the rejections?

I guess you never feel good about rejection. I mean, even getting turned down for a job is pretty bad.

But with a job you can convince yourself it's not really you that's being rejected.

I think you can learn to take dating rejection less personally, too. Sure, somebody may turn you down, but you're doing the same thing all the time. Every time you walk into a bar you probably reject 90% of the men there. They're not your "type." So that's where I'm coming from these days. I'm not saying rejection is easy, but it doesn't tear me up as much. I figure the guy who's given me the brush-off, he's looking for something else. And then, I've got my spec sheet, too.

That's a useful realization, but don't you think that people like you and me have this overlay, this overlay that says to us, It's not because he likes blue eyes and mine are brown, it's not because he likes 'em six feet and over and I'm 5'7", it's because there's something missing.

I used to think that, but now I see there's more on the plate. It's OK to have less than two legs. Relationships are about how you make each other feel, heart-to-heart. That's the zone where disability can fade so far into the background that you get whole chunks of time when you can both lose sight of it completely. I couldn't have believed that earlier, but it's how I see things now.

That kind of brings us full-circle. What about that last personals ad of yours? What happened?

I got about eight letters, but only one was what I'd call relationship material. The others, pretty clearly, just wanted to mess around. With one guy it was like phone sex—except he didn't talk about sex. He kept asking me about my prosthesis, my amputation. I could tell he was getting off on it. And I thought, No, I don't want to put up with this bullshit!

He wasn't interested in you.

Right. I don't want someone making love to my stump. I have never let anyone do that. I want someone to make love to me, in my entirety. Otherwise the nature of the interest makes me feel like an object, not a whole person. It's like I become a sex object, which is pretty funny when you stop to think about it. No. It's not even that: it's like my disability becomes the sex object.

That is ironic. When we were younger,we blamed the fact that we weren't sex objects on our disability. Now it's like we're still trying to reclaim our sexuality from our disability.

I think the objectification comes from an inability to see the heart, to feel the heart. I don't want to criticize gay men exclusively because I think it's a cultural inability—disability if you will—in a culture that assaults us with superficial images. Disability aside, not many of us look like a Calvin Klein underwear hunk, but thanks to the media blitz that's directed more and more at gay men, most of us would like to make it with the underwear hunk.

Did any of the responses to your ad lead to a meeting?

Only one, as it turned out, because the letters were from all over the country. One man came down for a weekend, and he was a whole-person man. He was clearly very keen to meet me—after all, he hopped on airplane—and no doubt his keenness can only be explained by his attraction to my disability. Nevertheless, it was not only my disability. I felt very comfortable with him.

Your feeling of comfort with yourself has seemed evident throughout this interview. You've laughed a lot, for one thing. Maybe some of it was defensive laughter, but most of it seems to reflect genuine satisfaction at where you find yourself—as if you've reached a point of equilibrium that's new in your life.

It's something that nearly everybody who knew me before I started psychotherapy has noticed. After struggling with the body image thing for so many years, I'm finally beginning to discard some of the false belief systems that convinced me I was a troll. I got hung up on my appearance because I believed everybody around me was, too, but I've proved to myself that's just not the case. Being able to look at myself as a promising lover instead of a failed porn star has been an enormous turnaround. Let me tell you a story. Last month I was eating in a Castro restaurant with a friend. We were sitting right at the window. A guy passed by and flashed a smile and I said, Hey, that was some smile I got! And my friend said, He wasn't 't cruising you, he was cruising me. There we sat, arguing. Can you believe it? Hilarious! The point is not which one of us was right, but that a year or two ago there would have been no argument, because I would have assumed, automatically, without thinking about it, that it was my friend who was getting the smile. Oh, and, by the way, the guy was looking at me!

What does your newfound confidence say about how and where you "market" yourself? Will the bar scene become more important in your life?

I don't think so. I'm no more enthusiastic about bar-scene tricking than I am about body-part tricking. My last word is: Love me, love my stump—but love me first! And bars don't seem like the place to find true love. But maybe I've learned something from those men who were more turned on by my disability than they were by me. What so many people see as ugly, they see as beautiful, and they see it in a very forceful way, so I guess that it was that forcefulness that helped me to expand the limits of what I believe can be desirable.

Well, where do you find true love? Where do you go from here? You, personally.

I don't know. All I know is that I'm never going back to that miserable prison where I did time for so many years. Nobody belongs there.

© 2001 Tony Alberti and BENT

 

What I Know Now
by Tony Alberti

Whether or not you have a disability, if you are a gay man looking for love, the last place you should move to is San Francisco!

Each of us is a reflection of his individual experiences. This account is based on mine and written solely from my perspective as a gay man and about gay men. I do not attempt to convey universal truths. Each of us has different values. Whether or not you agree with me, you will soon understand that one of my top priorities has been a monogamous relationship.

Because so much of what I have to say here focuses on negative experiences and impressions, I want to acknowledge that my life has been overwhelmingly blessed: with a supportive family and friends, and with financial, career and healthcare advantages that most people in the rest of the world are deprived of.

I am gay and disabled. My physical attraction to men has always been unquestionable and it is part of the basic programming of my personality. However, as a "good Catholic boy" I was raised to believe that the physical expression of such love was wrong. I became disabled when I was sixteen years old. A car accident resulted in the above-knee amputation of my left leg (two surgeries). I became more disabled when, at twenty-nine, I fell and fractured my hip and required a total joint replacement (three surgeries). I was clueless at the time about how much these disabilities would eventually shape my self-image as a gay man. They would also have a bearing on my attempts to find love.

By the age of thirty, recognizing that I would be unhappy continuing to live alone, I decided to join a religious community, where I could find support. For three years, I was fortunate to find myself in an environment where I could be openly gay, respected and befriended. I was halfway through my priesthood studies and close to taking the requisite vow of celibacy. Ironically, during a research project for my Moral Theology class, the professor helped me to realize that it was possible to pursue a gay relationship and still be loved by God (quite contrary to my church's official position). That realization empowered me to leave my community. My new goal became the pursuit of a lifelong, monogamous relationship.

Seventeen years have passed (the last thirteen in San Francisco) and my search for love has been thwarted. It is never a problem to find sex here; it has been impossible for me to find monogamous love. Based on what I have observed and participated in, here is my unscientific demographic report on the gay male population of San Francisco:

80% of gay men here lead lives characterized by casual, anonymous sex;
18% are engaged in serial relationships (living with someone for a few months to a couple years, breaking up, and repeating that cycle);
1% are either in "open" relationships (which have always seemed pointless to me) or are former lovers who have become just friends who share a mortgage or apartment; and
1% of the population have found successful, monogamous relationships.

This kind of profile may make gay activists defensive, but again, I am speaking solely from my observations. With odds like these, and with what I have learned from my last four years of experience in the mental health field (unusually high incidences among gay men of substance abuse and codependency, and behaviors like power tripping), I've come to perceive the gay "community" as mostly an illusion, a deception that has been sapping my energy.

Do BENT's readers perceive, as I do, that most able-bodied gay men are interested only in the external, physical "package?" For all the talk of intimacy in this town, it stays just that (talk) and hardly anyone connects. With the high turnover in population, the majority of friendships lack depth and don't seem to endure. Few gay men are cruising hearts or personalities (and we disabled men are generally superior in both respects, because of our struggles and the challenges we've had to overcome). Many local gay men find "vanilla sex" by itself insufficient and supplement it with behaviors I find repulsive (fisting, golden showers, cock-and-ball torture, scat, etc.). Many of the specs in local personals ads impress me as degrading and unhealthy. I can't help thinking that you wouldn't find them in the Midwest.

My outlook, reflected in the interview that precedes this account, was once optimistic, but that was nearly five years ago, and since then the culture has shifted. My last four years in San Francisco coincided with the rise and fall of Internet companies. Now more than ever, people seem self-centered, arrogant, greedy and rude. Anyone who launches a project in the gay "community" and takes a leadership role is apt to become a target in the Letters to the Editor section of the Bay Area Reporter (a weekly gay newspaper), where legitimate criticism is layered with vicious, personal attacks. On the streets, gay men who appear insecure about their masculinity out-vie each other to look the meanest (an observation confirmed by visitors who tell me that hardly anybody here smiles). Walk down Castro Street and you'll find that people look away, or act like they don't know you, or—what drives me wildest—you say "Hello" to someone you recognize, they look at you and continue on their way without a word of acknowledgment. I can't bear these attitudes anymore!

Still, many gay men realize something is lacking in their lives. They claim they want spirituality, but they want it at their convenience and on their own terms. They overlook the fact that all Western and Eastern spiritualities require discipline. Few consider the possibility that life is a gift, or that we are called on to share with others and to stretch beyond our own comfort levels. Instead, the majority believe their lives are their own to do with as they please, and anybody who thinks otherwise is ignorant or a sex Nazi.

Four months ago, I found myself in the crucible. My wonderful mom died on the morning of my fiftieth birthday. As I prepared to leave with my family for the funeral home, I fell and fractured my shoulder in two places (mostly because of sleep deprivation from staying with my mom during her six-day coma). The combination of events hurled me into a mid-life crisis that generated a profound reassessment of my life and its purpose.

For thirty years, I have nurtured a love that has wanted to burst into an expression of intimacy with another man—a real communion with a soul mate. I didn't move to San Francisco for one-night stands or short-term relationships. I've attempted to find a mate every way I can conceive of. I cannot bring myself to compromise my values and settle for less, as most others here have, though I'm probably guilty of over-romanticizing the possibilities of what I haven't found (psychologists warn us about looking for the perfect lover who will solve all our problems and bring us total fulfillment). In the absence of a relationship, I've allowed pornography and masturbation to be my consolation prizes.

In retrospect, I am now convinced that remaining single is not just an accident of fate. I have concluded that my life experiences as a gay and disabled man are being called to a larger purpose than I could accomplish by living with one person or continuing to live alone.

The past seventeen years have been a long and winding road. I have experienced good things and more than my fair share of physical and emotional pain. Realizing that we generally grow only through sorrows and disappointments, not triumphs, I've come to see that my own pain (struggling to make a living, grief from loss of friends and family, additional physical injuries that left me temporarily bedridden and totally dependent on others) has developed my capacity to be a great support and resource for others.

I know that many of BENT's readers live with more serious mobility impairments than I do, but when I finally realized that the cumulative effect of my disabilities and injuries could be career-ending, I was terrified. I recognized it was time to take action so I could make some contribution to this world—not to business, not to working with things, but directly with our brothers and sisters who are difficult to care for or about. For example, the thought of visiting hospitals and helping patients and families deal with life-altering trauma and death, visiting nursing homes, even dealing with the personal problems of heterosexuals no longer bothers me. These are opportunities to show love. Seventeen years ago, I felt inadequate to meet those challenges. I thought I had to have the magic words that would make people forget their problems and give them instant happiness. Now I know it's really about being there and sharing with people in their adversity, providing whatever support they need and being a good listener. These are all skills I have.

After seventeen years, and at age fifty, I have reached what I am convinced is my life's crossroads. Do I continue to cling to the increasingly remote 1% hope that I will succeed in love with one man, or do I turn full circle and return to a ministry where I know I will be exceptionally effective and will be reasonably happy? I'm tired of chasing the dream and am now ready to embrace celibacy: not just for the peace of mind and heart I will enjoy by letting go of the quest for a lover, but because it will finally give me an outlet to share my love with others—just not sexually. I am convinced it would be wrong for me to continue living in the Castro, where my love is ignored and unappreciated. I will not be true to my own best self if I continue struggling in a neighborhood and "community" I feel so alienated from, one that has overwhelmingly rejected "our kind," the disabled. So next year I intend to resume my priesthood studies and work toward ordination.

Reactions to my decision have been mixed. I have found firm support from my family and from those in religious life. My gay friends, on the contrary, overwhelmingly say, "Don't do it!" They seem to feel sorry for me and think it's a shame nobody has discovered me. But their expressions of dismay are unnecessary. Sure, I'm disappointed I didn't achieve my goal, but my spirit is not broken: I am resilient and have rediscovered a way to share my love. Knock me down, I get back up, and like the Energizer Bunny, I keep going and going and going. While some may think that I'm running away from my issues, I'm fully cognizant that I'm choosing what I consider my second-best option. However, I'm certain the companionship and fulfillment I will find in the priesthood will more than compensate for the absence of sexual satisfaction. Besides, it's not all about me. What I now think is my second-best choice is probably, in fact, the very best choice from the perspective of my Higher Power.

To those of you who are blessed with the kind of loving, monogamous relationship I could not find, I wish you continued growth in your love. To those of you who have settled for less, I hope you will search your hearts again and determine what is important for you. To those of you who, like me, find yourselves in a state of celibacy you never really wanted, I hope you too will realize that, as the old saying goes, "we never get the cross we want" and that you will find opportunities for expressing your love in other intimate and satisfying ways.

© 2001 Tony Alberti

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Tony Alberti received his Juris Doctor from St. Louis University. After six years of practicing law, he entered the field of human resources management where he accumulated sixteen years of experience. Tony has worked in the high-tech and healthcare industries and is now the marketing director for a national employee assistance program in Silicon Valley, California.

 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/November 2001