I got to watching a documentary on Netflix called, “100 Men.” It about a man who decides to do a documentary of one hundred men he met throughout his life and he interviewed some of them to see how life had changed over the last thirty to forty years: A partner gay history if you will. It got me to thinking about my gay life (Although I am far from the 100 he names).
I first knew I was different around grade one or two. I didn’t know what it was called, but I knew boys interested me more than girls. While most boys started talking about girls, I was checking them out in the gym change room. I knew I was different, and that I had to keep that knowledge to myself.
It was while watching an episode of Archie Bunker (I am dating myself here I’m afraid) that I first learned of the words: “queer,” and “gay.” I remember asking my parents what they meant, and they told me it meant that the man was a “homosexual – a man who like men sexually.” I knew, at that time, that I might be gay. It was during my teens, that I realized I like boys in that way.
In my early teens, I tried asking girls out to dances, but it never felt right. I don’t think I ever asked the same girl out again. By the time I reached sixteen and seventeen, I tried everything to make myself straight. When asked, I often stated I crushes on girls who I knew were either: Not interested, or who were out of my league, or who were already taken; I tried to “pray away the gay.” I finally decided not to do, or act on anything one way or the other.
By my early twenties, I was depressed, and I hit rock bottom. I was disabled and gay, and I had no self-confidence. I tried killing myself (Obviously, not serious to finish myself off, but I think my older brother knew what I tried to do – although, this is merely speculation on my part). I would later run off and then I was confronted by my family to seek help, which I did. I went to counseling for the first time and I got on a vocational rehabilitation program.
It was here that I found a friend whom I later discovered was gay and who liked me. This realization scared me away. I wasn’t ready for it and we went our separate ways. This was my choice and not his (Many years later, I would meet another gay friend, but he wasn’t interested in me that way, so I didn’t feel threatened in any way).
After both my parents passed away, I felt very isolated, angry and hurt. I went to my family doctor who referred me to a psychologist. On my second visit, I revealed that I was gay. That was the very first time I spoke the word allowed. It felt good to be able to express my true self to someone for the first time, but this wasn’t the main issue that I had to deal with. I still felt a lot of anger because of the burden and responsibility of my mother palliative care placed upon my shoulders. After a few more sessions, I realized I had to let the past go and move onward, and so I did. In January 2000, I moved to Vancouver to start a new life (I knew I could never do gay in TO).
When I first moved to Vancouver, I stayed with my BFF. She lived on the West-side of Vancouver. I came out to her after a month of living with her. She commented, and I am paraphrasing here, “You’re such a nice man not to ogle when I leave the bathroom for the bedroom when all I am wearing is a towel around myself.” I chuckled, and I explained that I was gay. Our friendship only bloomed more from that time onward.
I lived with her until I sub-let from a friend of hers. It was the first time I lived in the “Gayhood.” It was a while before I saw Davie Street for the first time, before then I always took the other bus.
I remember the first time I entered my first gay bar. It was a sunny, spring Saturday afternoon. I never looked back. I was officially out, it was liberating. I was wholly myself: A gay, disabled, confident man.
I did the scene then for the next six or seven years. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Everything was new. I was told by some of the friends I met that it was a better scene once – bigger, more spectacular, and more variety; however, for me, what was available was good. I partied a lot back then and met a few men along the way. For the most part, life was good, and I was happy.
A few years ago, I met my partner. He was different from me in that he was more of a loner than I was. I was an extrovert. I enjoyed going out and meeting new people. I knew I found someone who would be a great friend, someone who would never hurt me, or use me. I was ready to settle down. By the time I met him, I had partied myself out. I was ready to try a love relationship. We moved into our own condominium and we were married last year. Life got better.
—Robert Confiant 22 April 2018