Guilt


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“Ira” hit me up on Craigslist months ago before Craiglist yanked the personals ads.

From the start I should have known he was wrestling with deep issues. Like starting with his name. What parents give their son a name more commonly given to girls? That had to fuck him up as a kid.

Ira is married and lives in one of those mini-mansion, tract homes in the Baltimore suburbs of Owings Mills. He is tall and light-skinned, in his late 50s, still has a decent body, and runs a successful media business.

Through a series of texts Ira explained that although he is married and a father and grandfather he has played with men since his days in college at Morgan State University.

“I’ve never been very good with women,” he said.

Since Ira claims to be religious he would go through periods of extreme guilt after playing with men. But of course the desire would build again and a few weeks or months later Ira would again find a man to rub dicks with.

Personally I thought we would never meet — he seemed so conflicted and more interested in talking about male-to-male sex than doing it. But last weekend I got a surprise text from him. He was doing some business nearby and wanted to drop by. We had been texting back and forth for a year, so why not?

But the sex was weird. I knew he wasn’t into penetrative sex so it would all be foreplay. But he insisted I put on a condom just to frottage because he was afraid of catching a disease and taking it back to his wife.

Then he averted any eye contact with me at all, his eyes darting away when I looked at him like some nervous animal.

“If I don’t look at you I  still get the feeling of sex but I can kinda psyche myself out that I’m not really here,” he explained.

Yup, told you brother man had issues.

To be honest he insulted me. He was the one seeking me out but then treated me like a walking germ just waiting to give him an STD. And the sex was trash.

Then, not long after he departed Ira texted saying he was again suffering from a severe case of religious guilt. It was like he was blaming me.

“I have reservations and I’m trying to be sincere to my wife.”

“I have God on my side. That’s why I feel uncomfortable with it.”

I urged Ira to not walk but run to get therapy from a psychologist or social worker who was an expert in dealing with men grappling with same-sex attraction. And I assured him that he could still have an active faith based life and still be a same gender loving man. He just had to work it out.

That backfired.

“Messing around is not my cup of tea any longer. I’m distancing myself from sin,” he responded.

The next day I called two buddies to talk about Ira. One is a gay man who was formerly married to a woman but is now married to a man and is a minister and gospel singer in southern Maryland. Let’s call him “Daniel.”

And the second friend lives in San Francisco and is very active in the Congregational Church in California. Let’s call him “Roger.”

“That man is just ignorant about the Bible,” Roger said.

Roger went on to explain how some so-called Christians pick and choose parts of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy that seem to condemn homosexuality. But they conveniently ignore other parts of the book that say practices such as eating shellfish and wearing garments of mixed fabric will send you to hell, too.

The Apostle Paul, who wrote against homosexuality, was a product of the patriarchal Jewish society of his times, Roger explained. The most important thing is Jesus never condemned homosexuality in the Gospels and in fact if Jesus was on Earth today he would probably be supporting oppressed groups such as immigrants, the homeless and LGBT people, he said.

“I think Ira’s main problem is not that he is gay but why is he cheating on his wife,” Roger said. “When he figures out why he is married to her and cheating everything else will work out. It goes beyond the fact he is gay.”

Daniel was more blunt, which surprised me because he is a minister so I thought he would have a more conciliatory, helpful tone. Daniel said he was just tired of arguing with ignorant people such as Ira about whether being gay was a sin.

The medical and mental health profession had long ago proved that homosexuality is merely a part of the human continuum. And many denominations now accept LGBTQ people, Daniel said.

“Why are you wasting time with that brother,” Daniel said. “He is not worth arguing with. And please don’t have sex with him again.”