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David Wallsteadt

Individual Destruction

After I break from the norms of society and start to set my own norms, I have to wonder if all my beliefs are my own. They have been my beliefs for so long, how could they not be mine? Family has a hand in shaping a child, but society has a large portion of the child, and the family's guiding ways. In reality, everyday things, like news, movies, TV shows and music, outline all our ideas, beliefs and goals for us. From an early age media, especially movies, sets perimeters on our minds causing us to drift further from ourselves and more into the ideas they force upon us. We adopt the "norms" as our own and let them guide us through our life, but whose life are we living then?

Movies have an interesting way of looking at love and they have definitely put traditional ideas of love into my head. After watching them for so long, I believe that people rarely ever truly fall in love. I do believe that everyone has experienced love in the many facets of it's meaning, family's love, friendship's love, love as in strong affection. But the love the media has placed upon me - upon my society is false. The prince charming, happily ever after love that is far too easy to portray in the movies is impossible to reproduce in real life.

I remember that from an early age I was taught about the hopes and ambitions of every damsel in distress. I was taught that there is a prince charming I am supposed to hook up with along my fated path and we are to fall hopelessly in love. The fairy tales I would read about or watch on television as a child were so amazing and so grand that I wanted to have their stories as my own. Being held captive by my overbearing, "evil" family until one day the perfect man would charge in, take one look at me and know everything. He would know all the horrors, and all the empty hopes. He would pick me up on his steed and whisk me away so he could love me and I him. At such a young age, I'm already warped, losing my ability to steal myself away, and have great faith in the fairy tale ending. I must admit, to this day I still wish that he would come along and save me. Part of me doesn't want to accept that he doesn't exist. As I get older, I learn fairy tales are fairy tales, cartoons are cartoons, and they are not real. They are simply a sort of entertainment. So as I get older I move on from fairy tales and cartoons to movies. And again, I think the love is still alive and strong.
Movies portray love as being holy. I watch movies like Say Anything and Jerry Maguire and see how love can overpower everything. And just because I am a gay man, doesn't mean that I should be left out from that happiness. I want my Lloyd Dobbler to come whisk me away with a boom box far above his head and the words, "In Your Eyes" pouring out of it. I want to be loved, too.

The magazines I read are about real people; the movies I watch have actual humans, not brightly colored, black outlined impostors. The love on the big screen in front of me shows me love at full force. And I don't want to stop at anything until I am complete - until I am happy with someone.

These hopes and ambitions drove me throughout adolescence and into my first and only year of college. One day in a photo class, I met a very nice guy. He was very witty, intelligent, and creative. We had all sorts of fun in class, and started to hang out after school going out to eat and movies. He was absolutely dreamy, and I was working my way up to asking him out, hoping he would be the one to whisk me away in his great big van. Well, one day he came into class and he had photos of this blond girl. When I asked who she was, his response was kind of funny, and my guard went up. So I did more questioning of my to-be life mate. His answers were vague, but the whole picture would fall into place over the next few classes. My perfect match, it turned out was not gay at all, but very heterosexual, though he didn't even elude to this in all our outings. I never did tell him how I felt about him, or the hurt I felt when I discovered his secret straight life style. We still hung out, only not as often, until finally he just disappeared from my life. I found out later that his girlfriend had broken his heart. I wanted to run to him and nurture him, and kill her. Finally, I decided that I had enough of this hunting of the countryside. I wouldn't meet the man of my dreams there. I needed to go where there was more of a gay community. I needed to move to the city.

Movies taught me there were more prospects for a gay man in the city. It seemed like couples would meet at a park in the city or on a train, and then fall in love and eventually marry. Movies showed me that young gay men would never be accepted in the norms of suburban society. Stories that I hear about gay men being beaten in the country, such as Matthew Shephard in Wyoming, scare me. I want to feel comfortable about my sexuality. And most of all, I want to feel that love, whether I meet that person in a park or on the train.

So finally I got to the city, where I fit in better. I'm a little freer in the midst of my culture. I see men walk hand in hand walking down the street without having people look at them, be scared of them, or call them "fags." And again, with this freedom, I feel that I am bound to fall into dismay and prince charming will be able to find me.

After being in the city for some time, I have to once again, question prince charming's existence. But hell, I've believed in him for 20 years, he has to! So maybe he just isn't as galvanized as I always thought, maybe he'll be disguised as a rickety old guy, or a toad. So I start to lower my standards. Now all the possibilities I have are endless. Will from Will and Grace finds love in the city. So love has to be around the corner. But again, I've been a fool, and love is nowhere to be found. At this point, I've started to lose interest in love; it is too much of a fantasy.

I did meet this guy. He was perfect, funny, smart, and attractive. We clicked right from the beginning, and we had very similar interests. We spent as much time as we could together. We were constantly on the move, out on our bikes along the beach on our way to lunch. We'd go out to the movies and dinner, or just walking to the video store to get movie. After the first month or so, I was very comfortable with him. I mean, very comfortable! I could talk to him as if he were a friend that I had for years. I could share things with him that I hadn't even shared with my friends. I had never been this way with a guy before; I could feel my heart opening so he could hold a piece of it. And for the first time, I was fine with that. I felt that my movie dreams were coming true! In a way, I was almost relieved that I was able to find someone to trust after all this time. We hiked our relationship up a notch and started having sex. I was so comfortable that I thought that would be the natural next step. I knew that he must feel the same way about me. We talked a little about our emotions, but I didn't want to scare him off with telling him how I felt. I watched from movies how young, hip, attractive guys were sometimes scared off by their significant others for being too forward. So I just kept enjoying our days out, and our nights in. But one day, when my chest was open to him, his hands gently caressing my heart, holding it so tenderly, I started to tell him how I felt by saying almost everything but the love word. And then I look down at my heart in his hands and see that he isn't gently caressing it, but he's looking for weak spots! He found one, stuck his finger in and proceeded to rip my heart out by telling me what he does on the days when we aren't together, and the men that are in his bed when I'm not. Now I've been the fool! I've been giving my all to him, even my heart, my hopes and dreams seemed to be attached to him. But to him, I'm just a fuck, no emotional attachment at all. How I wanted to break down and cry right there. I wanted to disappear; I wanted to shrivel up and die. I wanted to have never been touched; I wanted to never have had a heart. So what could I have done that was wrong? It must be me, because every lame person in fairy tales, books, and movies gets their prince charming and barley with the bat of an eye. So yes, it must be me. Now I'm filled with confusion and doubt, which makes me feel isolated. I'm already feeling solitary because all of the world but me is happily paired off.

After stealing my heart back from his cursed hands, I locked it up in an airtight case and threw it back in my chest, never to be touched again. Well, I have floated through boys since then. I have no expectations of prince charming, for he doesn't exist. I will meet guys that are great, and very interested in me, and I start to get a little attached even just as friends, but then poof they disappear.

Just a few weeks ago, I met this one very nice guy on my way to a club. I told him about the talent show that was happening there, and asked him if he wanted to come with he said he would love to. He was very interested in me, physically and intellectually. We talked through the night. I was having quite a fun time and he said he would love to see me again. Then I asked about dinner the next night. He said that would be great. He bought me a couple drinks and we danced after the show. When the night came to a close, he gave me his number, and I gave him mine. Everything went very well, I thought. I was about to go to the el when he told me that he had a car, so we went to it and he gave me a ride home. The next day came along and when I called, I got the machine. I left a message and gave my number again. But never heard from him. A couple days later, I called again, and got the machine. I didn't leave a message this time, and I haven't heard from him since. I've decided that perhaps there is a vortex that pops out of me whenever someone is interested in me, and the vortex sucks them up. It seems plausible, because why else wouldn't they call me back? What's worse about this vortex is that it doesn't eat up the people I'm interested in, but aren't interested in me.

I have to stop allow the media's upbringing to shape my life. The way media has affected me most in this love issue, is that it has turned me against love. And I have let it turn me into the bitter individual I am. I have let the media outcast me from society for being "alone." I am outcast from myself for feeling incomplete. I've gone through the past year alone, and I'm fine with that or at least I try and convince myself of that, because I have good close friends. I have decided that love is not a cure. It is a torture - a social disease spread by the media and accepted by mass population. Love isn't curing anything, but instead, it destroys the individual. Here I am, striving to be complete with another person, like I am only one half. But I am a whole person, I am complete. When hunting for love, I would dress up, or do things that weren't all that fun for me, just because there were hopes of a guy. But why would I do that? I want to have fun; I don't want love at my life's expense. I'm much happier with friendship love, where you are already comfortable with the individual. I don't think that we need to confuse ourselves with this idea of false grandeur that we get from fairy tales, books and movies. I feel that we have to reclaim ourselves. We have to love ourselves, and banish this horrid mutation of the idea of love that the media feeds us. As easy as it is for me to say this, 21 years of brain washing is hard to undo.

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