Friday, July 14, 2017




EVERYBODY ELSE HAD A CHILDHOOD, for one thing—where they were coaxed and coached and taught all the shorthand. Or that's how it always seemed to me, eavesdropping my way through twenty-five years, filling in the stories of straight men's lives. First they had their shining boyhood, which made them strong and psyched them up for the leap across the chasm to adolescence, where the real rites of manhood began. I grilled them about it whenever I could, slipping the casual question in while I did their Latin homework for them, sprawled on the lawn at Andover under the reeling elms. 
And every year they leaped further ahead, leaving me in the dust with all my doors closed, and each with a new and better deadbolt. Until I was twenty-five, I was the only man I knew who had no story at all. I'd long since accepted the fact that nothing had ever happened to me and nothing ever would. That's how the closet feels, once you've made your nest in it and learned to call it home. Self-pity becomes your oxygen. 
I speak for no one else here, if only because I don't want to saddle the women and men of my tribe with the lead weight of my self-hatred, the particular doorless room of my internal exile. Yet I've come to learn that all our stories add up to the same imprisonment. The self-delusion of uniqueness. The festering pretense that we are the same as they are. The gutting of all our passions till we are a bunch of eunuchs, our zones of pleasure in enemy hands. Most of all, the ventriloquism, the learning how to pass for straight. Such obedient slaves we make, with such very tidy rooms. 
Forty-six now and dying by inches, I finally see how our lives align at the core, if not in the sorry details. I still shiver with a kind of astonished delight when a gay brother or sister tells of that narrow escape from the coffin world of the closet. Yes yes yes, goes a voice in my head. it was just like that for me. When we laugh together then and dance in the giddy circle of freedom, we are children for real at last, because we have finally grown up.
- Excerpted from Becoming a Man, Half a Life Story, Paul Monette, HJB, 1992



Paul Monette grew up all-American, Catholic, overachieving . . . and closeted. As a child of the 1950s, a time when a kid suspected of being a “homo” would routinely be beaten up, Monette kept his secret throughout his adolescence. He wrestled with his sexuality for the first thirty years of his life, priding himself on his ability to “pass” for straight. The book is the story of his journey to adulthood and to self-acceptance with grace and honesty. This intimate portrait of a young man’s struggle with his own desires is witty, humorous, and deeply felt.

3 comments:

JiEL said...

Hé oui, si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait...

Il n'y a seulement que le moment présent qui importe.

JiEL said...

Comme j'ai déjà vu quelque part: lors de notre naissance, on est déjà condamné à mort....

Esta Noche said...

Je suis en train de le lire et certaines pages me bouleversent en raison de leur proximité avec ma propre trajectoire.