Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

by Patti Smith

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Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Aug 29, 2013 10:34 pm

Robert was still in San Francisco. He had written that he missed me, and that he had accomplished his mission, discovering new things about himself. Even as he spoke to me of his experiences with other men, he assured me he loved me.

My reaction to his admission was more emotional that I had anticipated. Nothing in my experience had prepared me for this....


Just Kids, pg. 77

It’s no longer unusual to know someone who has come out as gay. There are many layers within the process of accepting a friend's or loved one's sexual orientation – fear, rejection, consternation, even a sense of alienation, and additional layers before reaching total comfort.

So many questions. If you’d like to share your own experience please do. If you don't have any personal experience and just wish to share your own thoughts on what Patti may have been feeling, please do.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Aug 30, 2013 9:33 pm

So, I figure I'll start the conversation. Let's begin with Patti. I know I would have felt exactly as she did. It was the late 1960s. The last thing you would expect the love of your life to say to you was he had feelings for other men. And it was pretty normal for a young woman to question herself. I think her decision to stick with him and figure out what came next says a lot for both of them. True friendship, true willingness to without judgment and not make assumptions.

When I look back there were several young men that I dated briefly that eventually came out as gay. In hindsight I see their tentativeness -- I hope that is the right word. What I mean is that neither was completely relaxed in the relationship. It was hard to know them -- but you know, it can be hard to know lots of guys. Other than that I guess the other interesting thing is that both were just regular guys, nothing out of the ordinary. Guys. I had a very dear friend who struggled with his gayness. In high school he had fallen for a girl, but not physically, just as a wonderful close friend. Years later, after he came out, they were still close, the husband and wife who never were he used to joke. So from him I learned that there are no clear lines -- one's love can go in many directions.

I have several gay family members. It's taken me time to put aside expectations, and find true pleasure in the relationships they have. To see love up close is always beautiful, and two boys or two girls or a boy and a girl, love is love is love. You see it in their faces you know?

I guess I have come to believe that we are all on a continuum. We have different capacities to share ourselves with another person. Over time we may sometimes love a man and sometimes love a woman. It really depends on the two people involved.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby SnoopyDances » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:08 pm

Well said, Firefly.

I've known many gay men and women (theater major :bigwink: ), but also have some family members that are gay.

I've never had a problem with seeing my friends in relationships, whatever the "orientation" may be. If they're happy, I'm happy for them. If the relationship stinks, then I'm there to help them get out of it.

As for Patti and many others in her situation, I'm sure it came as a shock at first. But it's great that their relationship was strong enough to withstand the turmoil and confusion.

I don't know too many other couples that can remain close friends after the breakup. Even when married couples have children, there can be so much bitterness and hate after a divorce. It's so hard on those kids.

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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 31, 2013 12:33 am

When we agreed on this question, I didn't realize at the time that it was so much like the question that will come later - about the relationship between Patti and Robert.

So I hesitate to respond to what resonates with me here, or we'll go that direction. But if we do, then we do, I guess.

I think the focus here was more about an unexpected confession of a loved one's gay orientation.

It can be a son, daughter, friend, sister, or mate.

The response can vary depending on the relationship and one's tolerance.

I don't want to talk about my experiences. Let's just say I am well aware of these issues, and I have the utmost tolerance.

For me, it would be hard to deal with this, as the GF. It would be hard for me to look at it objectively because I was in love. How does someone do that? You question what you had. Was it real? And now what happens? Obviously, we aren't going to be BF and GF anymore. And if you're in love, it doesn't really matter what the reason is for the break up. You've been rejected.

However, I don't feel like he rejected her. I think he still wanted to be close with her. But, at the same time, he wanted to pursue his gay urges. How does one deal with that?

I know I wouldn't deal with it well.

And I think that the person who's straight is left wondering, well, he did it with me, so is he just confused? Will he change his mind and "come back to his senses" in a month, a year, a few years? Probably not. But as the GF or wife, there's all that hope.

It's got to be hard.

I guess what I'm saying is that it is different to hear this from your boyfriend or husband than it is to hear it from your kid or friend. The reason being that as the love interest, there is a level of loss that is not there when you hear this from your child or your friend. They will still be your child and friend (in fact, they are in desperate need of wanting to remain your child or friend). But the love interest most likely will move on. :sad:
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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:24 am

For me, it would be hard to deal with this, as the GF. It would be hard for me to look at it objectively because I was in love. How does someone do that? You question what you had. Was it real? And now what happens? Obviously, we aren't going to be BF and GF anymore. And if you're in love, it doesn't really matter what the reason is for the break up. You've been rejected


Although I agree with what you say also I think they were not in an exclusive relationship either, hadn't Patti already been with other guys I can't remember off hand the timeline for that. Although it seemed to come out of the left field I think she seemed to deal with it very well. Also they continued with their relationship so was Robert bisexual ? I think the fact that they continued to be together in that way probably surprised me more.

I can't really comment on any other aspect of the question.

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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:43 pm

Gilbert's Girl wrote:
For me, it would be hard to deal with this, as the GF. It would be hard for me to look at it objectively because I was in love. How does someone do that? You question what you had. Was it real? And now what happens? Obviously, we aren't going to be BF and GF anymore. And if you're in love, it doesn't really matter what the reason is for the break up. You've been rejected


Although I agree with what you say also I think they were not in an exclusive relationship either, hadn't Patti already been with other guys I can't remember off hand the timeline for that. Although it seemed to come out of the left field I think she seemed to deal with it very well. Also they continued with their relationship so was Robert bisexual ? I think the fact that they continued to be together in that way probably surprised me more.

I can't really comment on any other aspect of the question.

I think she was pretty loyal to Robert until she discovered his tendencies. But I can't swear to that. It's been a while since I read the book. But that's the way I'm remembering it.

I don't like labels. I think that sexuality is on a continuum. I'm thinking that he might have been bi, but what does that mean when sexuality is on a continuum? I think that in the end, his preference was for men. So maybe his tastes changed/evolved as he grew older. I also think that some people (due to how they were raised) can ignore their gay tendencies, because it is not an option in their house or their religion tells them they are sinners. And I'm thinking he falls into that category.
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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Theresa » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:34 pm

I can understand why she would have been so emotional about Robert's admission. For one, he had never given Patti any clues that he was moving in that direction, so I'm sure it was quite a shock to her. For another, she loved him. Male or female, any admission of infidelity from someone you were in love with would be very emotional. Whether they considered themselves to be in an open relationship or not isn't the thing...she loved him.

A little further down in the passage, she wrote that she thought she failed him...that she hadn't been the right woman for him so he had turned homosexual. So her emotional reaction was also turned inward to herself, in believing that maybe she wasn't good enough.

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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:43 pm

With regard to the exclusivity question, Patti moved out in the summer of 1968 and moved in with another guy briefly. "I had not yet comprehended that Robert's conflicted behavior related to his sexuality.I knew he cared deeply for me, but it occurred to me that he had tired of me physically. In some ways I felt betrayed, but in reality it was I who betrayed him." This is before Robert went to San Francisco, and also before he explained his growing attraction to men.

I really think she distanced herself -- because of all those traditional assumptions about boyfriends -- but then she realized how important their relationship was to her and decided to accept him as he was. Sometimes it easier to be extremely self-revealing to a guy with whom you don't share a sexual relationship. Traditional roles sometimes stand in the way of true sharing.
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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:58 pm

Thanks for finding the answer to GG's and my question, Firefly.

So it seems she was beginning to sense a problem there.
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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 31, 2013 10:02 pm

Theresa wrote:
A little further down in the passage, she wrote that she thought she failed him...that she hadn't been the right woman for him so he had turned homosexual. So her emotional reaction was also turned inward to herself, in believing that maybe she wasn't good enough.


Unfortunately, that is a common reaction, I think. But I think that is based on confusion. They don't understand how someone could change so radically.

I think that anyone having to deal with a breakup or a change in a relationship begins to question reality......mostly though, if it comes out of left field.
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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:33 am

fireflydances wrote:With regard to the exclusivity question, Patti moved out in the summer of 1968 and moved in with another guy briefly. "I had not yet comprehended that Robert's conflicted behavior related to his sexuality.I knew he cared deeply for me, but it occurred to me that he had tired of me physically. In some ways I felt betrayed, but in reality it was I who betrayed him." This is before Robert went to San Francisco, and also before he explained his growing attraction to men.

I really think she distanced herself -- because of all those traditional assumptions about boyfriends -- but then she realized how important their relationship was to her and decided to accept him as he was. Sometimes it easier to be extremely self-revealing to a guy with whom you don't share a sexual relationship. Traditional roles sometimes stand in the way of true sharing.

:ok:

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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby shadowydog » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:36 am

I have known gays almost all of my life. There were quite a few where I worked for 27 years. It was anguishing to watch them die of AIDS back then. :sad:

I remember in my early 20s being approached by a female who said she wanted to have a relationship with me. I told her that I just wasn't into that type of relationship and gave her a smile. I have never forgotten how she was almost in tears as she thanked me for not reacting negatively and with disgust to her approach.
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Re: Just Kids Question #11: I'm Gay

Unread postby Liz » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:47 pm

I'm sure even now it must be difficult if you don't know whether one is gay or not, but probably nowhere near as anxiety producing as in years past.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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