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I’ve been putting this off, but it needs to be done. So much of what I think and feel these days is related to what’s going on in my life. And what’s going on in my life is most certainly a culmination of the events of this past year, during my silence.

Let me start by giving you a hint of where I am right now.  Do you remember 1of2, 2of2 and Tertiary Adjunct?  Whom I referred to collectively as…the Borg Collective? Well, in rereading the posts that I tagged them in, I see that I have not done justice to my connection to them. Before, I had quite a crush on 1of2 and a mild crush on 2of2. Tertiary was cute.

Well, now I can say without hesitation that all three beautiful, magnificent, wonderful children are my YFs!! First true YFs I’ve had since The Beloved, back when I was 17!

On Good Friday, 2009, I sang a church service at a different church than The Citadel. The Citadel wasn’t having music (budget reasons) so I had gone elsewhere to get some extra money. I got a lot more than that! I got a free trip to ENGLAND!!

The church I picked, I picked for much the same reason as when I first started at The Citadel. The church had a boy choir. So for three weeks I toured various cathedrals and churches all over England (and Wales) singing and living with a large group of children, including many boys age 10-14 (and older). Four in particular really worked their way into my heart.

Ruins near Canterbury Cathedral

I would love to show pictures of the kids, but for obvious reasons, I must abstain. This was taken right next to the cathedral. I never did figure out what it was originally...

A boy (who looked rather like The Beloved) of 10 who was often homesick and needing a lot of attention. He eventually started physically fighting with the other 10-year-olds. Early on, I adopted him as my sort of protégé. I helped him through losing one of his last baby teeth while on the trip. :)

A boy just shy of 13 with an amazing voice! (Shepherd) He also loved to play Frisbee and cards. I eventually learned that he once sang at The Citadel, shortly after I joined, but switched to sing closer to home.

An 11-year-old Belgian boy (Catboy) who was beautiful!! Stunning. He joined us half way through the tour. His English was not at all bad, but he didn’t have a lot of confidence with it. For his first few days, he would barely speak, but made animal sounds at people instead. (Usually, he would hiss like a cat.) At the very end, I had started to break through his shell and he would talk to me with his adorable French accent. I initially started to get his attention when I shocked him with the quality of my duck impression. ;) He was a fiend at Frisbee.

And lastly… CJ. It is hard to think about him. By the end of the trip I had really fallen in love with this boy. “Painful” does not begin to describe how I felt when the trip ended at the thought of never seeing him again… He’s really the subject of another post though, I suppose.

Well, the trip did end. And while I was depressed for a little while after, it wasn’t too long until this Intermezzo of my life ended, and the next Act began!

(I intended this to be all one big post, but it kinda feels to me like it should be two.  So, expect Part, the Second some time in the near future!)

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I have to get to bed soon. Hour drive to rehearsal tomorrow morning.

It amazes me every time I go to an English Cathedral Choir concert, that first note sung by the boys. Such an incredible, beautiful, surprising sound. I hope I never get used to it, no matter how often I hear it.

I hear the sound quite often in recording. I suppose I just am so used to the sound coming from a speaker that when i hear it live, seeing the beautiful creatures in front of me, hearing the whole pure unadulterated sound is so transporting.

Company seems to be a good tool to stave off the depression that these concerts can bring. Either that, or i’m just in an emotionally different place today that doesn’t lead to depression. But I met a woman who sat next to me at the concert today. She thought I looked familiar. Eventually we figured out that she played in the orchestra when I sang Jesus in a performace of St. John’s Passion a few years ago.

The concert was of one of the most major English Cathedral Choirs. Obviously, they’re very good. But it was plain they had quite a few subs in the men’s section that weakened them. The boys, however, were amazing. There were several soloists, but none that affected me quite like that one nameless boy from the last concert I went to. He still makes me shiver.

I don’t have time to write down all my thoughts. I have to go to bed.

I hope I can read this later. (note: It was hard work, but I was able to figure out everything I wrote without resorting to guessing.)

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I am listening to one of the first CDs I ever bought. When I was 13 my mother took me to the newly opened Borders in the town. I selected two CDs to buy with my allowance that remain among my favorites in my now considerable collection. Exultate is a Vienna Boychoir CD featuring soloist Max Emanuel Cencic.  Only one track does not have him as a soloist, and only two tracks actually involve the choir. The rest are purely Max solos (or duets). I didn’t know that when I bought it, but I was pretty happy about it when I realized it. When I initially brought them home, Exultate was my preferred CD. I didn’t much care for the other after giving it a thorough listen.

That other is The Music of Westminster Cathedral Choir. Many of the tracks are 20th century works, and my 13-year-old ears didn’t care for that music. A few years later, however, my preference switched. I guess I matured enough and learned how to listen enough to enjoy the more modern music.

As I listen to the music tonight, the Unknowable Longing is in full force. Listening to those sublime boys’ voices, sweet clear, gentle or forceful according to the demands of the song, that familiar, almost friendly melancholy overtakes me and I race and struggle to put a name to it. (The power of the name.) All the usual suspects are considered and, as usual, set aside but not dismissed.

I love the music. The glorious, perfect beauty of the Renaissance polyphony. The exciting, exhilarating power of the 20th century compositions. So many different types of songs from different eras. I want to sing them, yes. I want to hear them life. But that’s not quite it. Hearing kjese songs, or performing them with women’s voices would be wonderful, but wouldn’t fulfill that longing. The boys’ voices are very important. Singing the Mendelssohn “Ave Maria“, I would feel this longing even in the middle of the performance. Yet when I consider singing it with boys, I still can’t conceive being satisfied.

If I were to go to London and join the Westminster Cathedral Choir I’m sure I’d still feel this way.

One last possibility occurs to me. One I hope is not true. Maybe this longing isn’t to sing with boys, but as a boy. To be a cusping 13-year-old (alas, my voice changed at 11, so I never had that pleasure) whose voice would soar through those Palestrina motets and Britten and Martin masses. If that is the answer, then I can never fulfill this need no matter how long I live, how much I accomplish.

However, if the name has as much power as it is said (I suspect is does) I feel that simply speaking (or writing) that desire would give some modicum of satisfaction. It doesn’t. It should be a relief just to know what I want. So it doesn’t feel like the answer. So along with singing the music and singing with boys, wanting to sing as a boy goes in the category of “true, but not the answer.”

It also occurs to me that how I feel has nothing to do with boylove. I think I mentioned that before. That, too, doesn’t feel quite true, but it’s worth considering. Maybe this feeling which manifests so deeply, primally, is the nature of music. Maybe music is an expression of a feeling that has no name. Do non-boylover-music-lovers experience this Unknowable Longing when they hear the music they love best? What half-formed imagery flits through their minds, ungraspable?

Sometimes I wish I could speak to a psychologist. Someone who knows how to poke around in the subconscious to help me name my desires.

 


 

Sometimes, when I feel this way, it makes me think that I should never listen to this music again. Save myself the pain. But writing about it really helped today. The Longing is still there, but it has its pleasant bittersweet quality now. Pen and paper. Cheaper than a shrink.

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The Boys (once again, not actually children) are gay.  OK.  Established.  Their best friend, Grace, sometimes gets annoyed with them because quite frequently when they’re talking about someone, or they pass an attractive male stranger on the street, they’ll immediately say, “he’s gay.”  It angers Grace, so she usually responds, “not every man is gay.”

That’s true.  Not every man is gay.  Know what else is true?  Not every man is a boylover.  But some are.  Enough are that it’s very likely that most people know one personally.  But more than that, it’s almost guaranteed that some famous people are.  Especially when you think that, often people who are in some way different make the best artists.  They’re insane, or have some deep trauma or a substance addiction.  Or they’re socially repressed because of their sexuality.

The stereotype of homosexuals in the arts, especially music, theatre and dance, didn’t come out of nowhere.  There are more gay people in those arts than in most other professional fields.  Quite likely because it gives them a more socially acceptable way to be self-expressive.  It will be interesting to see if increased societal acceptance of homosexuality will result in fewer gay performers, or if there is something else about the sexual orientation that leads them to the arts anyway.

But if the above theory is correct, and homosexuals go into the arts to escape a repressive society, then the arts would also attract boylovers.  It attracted me, anyway.  I am a musician because I am a boylover.  But I think I’ve expressed that before.  (Inspiration)  On the other hand, boylovers tend to like to stay out of sight, and on a stage doesn’t exactly fit that pattern.

But that’s not the point.  The point is, I just watched Unbreakable.  I’d seen it once before right when it came out, but I left it needed rewatching.

Just like The Boys, I can’t help guessing about others.  Are they like me?  There are certain things I do, interests I have, patterns I follow, that I do because of my sexuality and that give me away to those who know me.  It’s why The King and MFotF found me out.  I like boy performers, obviously.  Movies with them, choirs, dancers.  So when I see that pattern in others, I always wonder.

Consider this.  Wide Awake.  Stars Joseph Cross, 12 years old at time of release.  Sixth Sense.  Pivots around Haley Joel Osment (beloved boy of many boylovers), 11 years old at time of release.  Unbreakable.  Spencer Treat Clark, 13 years old at time of release, is a central character (and gives a very moving and endearing performance, I might add).  Signs.  Rory Culkin, 13 years old at time of release.  (A very young looking 13.)

Now as the King would tell me, this isn’t proof of anything, and I’m not trying to suggest anything.  It’s just a pattern.  One that strikes me.  It’s also a pattern that breaks down when you continue down the list of M. Night Shyamalan’s film credits.  On the other hand, something else breaks down with his most recent three movies.  Quality.  His newer movies have not been as well received as those with major boy characters.  And I don’t think that’s just because the movie going public started to learn his tricks.  The movies just aren’t as good.  Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Shyamalan has less emotionally invested in the newer movies.

So, the point is I don’t want to be like The Boys.  I don’t want to say every time I see someone pick up a Libera CD, “Oh, he must be a boylover.”  I want to believe that people can be interested, even passionately so, in boychoirs without being boylovers.  Same for boy actors, dancers, etc.  Because if it isn’t true, then:

  1. I truly am telegraphing my sexuality to the world, and all the world has to do is wise up and I’m outed.
  2. If the world wises up, these wonderful artists will lose their outlet, their audience, their venues.
  3. What a sad, pitiful species is man if the only thing that can get us to appreciate art is sex.

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Sometimes I find myself daydreaming that I can talk to someone.  I can be quite articulate and eloquent in my head.  But I’m not often that way face to face.

I’m feeling depressed today.  Last night I saw and English men and boys’ choir perform at a local church.  They were pretty good.  I had some criticisms, but the lasting impression was a good one.  So I spent two hours watching and listening to a large group of cute boys with lovely voices.  One soloist in particular.  He sang the greater solo in “I waited for the Lord” by Mendelssohn, and the last verse in their encore, “Drop, drop slow tears” by Gibbons.  He had a beautiful, even, polished sound, and he was beautiful himself.  Some of the boys were probably nearly six feet tall, but I’d guess this soloist to have been no taller than 5′ if that.  (Not that height is the primary factor is beauty.)  Yet one could see he was no younger than 11.  Probably 12.

I wanted to speak to him after, but there didn’t seem to be a reception of any kind.  So I don’t even know his name.

After the concert I drove up to The King’s house to spend time with him and My Friend on the Facebook.  I wanted to talk about the concert, to talk about this boy, but when I got there I couldn’t say anything.  Even when MFotF asked, “How was the concert?” all I could say was, “good.”

Often after concerts of this sort, that is to say concerts with prominant boy performers, I crash emotionally — sometimes as soon as I walk out of the venue — and fall into this depression.  And I wonder why.  It’s the Unknowable Longing rearing its head yet again.  It’s been a while.  These concerts, and similar situations, remind me of something.  Something I want but can’t have.  Hard to have it when you can’t name it.

Sometimes this feeling is bittersweet.  I sort of savor it; the closeness to the idea behind the Unknowable Longing.  But not today.  Today it just sucks.  Hurts.  Days like today I wonder if it is worth torturing myself like this.  Maybe…  Something about the boychoir, the combination of boys and music, calls to me.  Entices me.  But I’m no closer to figuring out what that is today than when I first felt it.  So I could keep persuing it, or I could walk away and save myself the anguish.

When I put it down on paper like that the answer jumps out at me.  My idealist heart sees the choice between hard or easy and immediately chooses hard.  CAPrime would disagree, I’m sure.  Now if only I could get my Idealist Heart to do the dishes…

To change the topic, last week I was a little hot headded and over dramatic.  CAPrime and I are still speaking.  Our friendship will never be what it was at its peak, but it doesn’t need to end.  He just wanted assurances.  I thought I had given them to him, but it seems he needed more.  But he and I disagree on too many things, and CASecund believes whatever CAPrime tells him to believe.

Writing this down really does help, for some reason.  I don’t know why.

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Quite a bit has happened.  Let’s start with the mundane and move to the more interesting.

A short time ago, my parents came to the city to attend an exhibition.  They enjoyed it.  After that they went to see Sissy’s new apartment.  She lives near by now, in the next state over.  On Saturday we all went to see my 2nd cousin perform his senior recital.  It was alright.  I supposed he’s a good enough musician, but he’s not ready for a career right now.  Neither was I at that age.  Not sure I am now, either.

This weekend my parents came back again.  They came to hear a special performance at my church.  It was a mostly pro choir (staff plus ringers) plus a few teen girls and one choirboy (11yo).  The performance was pretty good.

After the evensong, my family (Sissy included) and My Friend on the Facebook (who was one of the ringers) went back to my house to hang out.  Noting particularly interesting happened, but it was fun.  Why am I even writing this down…

The next day my parents took me to get my birthday/belated graduation present.  A digital piano.  We ended up selecting the Yamaha Clavinova CLP 330.  It won’t arrive for another week or two.  Then we went to Sissy’s had cheesecake (my birthday cake this year) and watched Dan in Real Life.  The movie was so-so.  It had some great moments, but it didn’t quite finish well.  It either needed to do a better job of making everything come together perfectly, or it needed to end more messily.  Like…oh I don’t know.  I didn’t like it enough to try and fix it.

Now the more serious stuff.  One week ago today, I was doing my taxes.  About 12:15 I went to bed.  My heart felt like it was pounding, but I was very tired.  I tried to fall asleep, but when ever I got close, I would jerk awake again gasping for air.  It felt like a heart attack.

I considered calling lots of people, but was too embarrassed.  I finally called the doctor’s office near my house and got to speak to the Dr. on call.  I told him my symptoms, and he told me I should go to the hospital.  I didn’t want to so I scheduled an appointment in the morning.

But I couldn’t sleep.  I tried to stay up the rest of the night, but it kept getting worse.  At 3:30 I gave up and called 911.

Hospital visits aren’t that interesting.  I told them all my suspicions and answered their questions over and over (“No, I have not been taking any illegal drugs.”), got an EKG, and finally was told “Anxiety Attack.”  Got some drugs, walked home.  When I went in, my BP was high and pulse was 140 bpm.  When I left it was normal and 90.

Went to the Dr. a few more times and got an ECHO done, but all signs point to anxiety.  I think the diagnosis is the cure.  If I don’t have heart problems, then I have a lot less to be anxious about.  Except…

Last night I told My Friend on the Facebook.  Spend the afternoon and evening with her, and had been thinking about it the second half of the whole time.  Actually, I’d been thinking about it for weeks, and less seriously for well over a year.  She could tell yesterday that I had something on my mind and asked me a few times what was up, but I kept saying “nothing.”

My Friend on the Facebook has a friend who was obviously gay, but he wouldn’t admit it for the longest time.  Finally he did sometime in our junior or senior year.  He went to her apartment, turned off the lights to make himself more comfortable, and spent the next three hours stringing together the words to form the single sentence, “I’m gay.”  That’s more than one hour per word.

The past few times she and I had gotten together, that situation was recalled, followed by a comment by her along the lines of “if you ever sit me down and turn the lights off I’ll know to worry,” or, “please, if you ever tell me you’re gay, just come right out and say it.”  They were jokes.  That’s just her.  But there was some truth to it.  She truly would rather have it all out at once.

When I came out to The King…two and a half years ago, I pulled something similar myself.  We had just started a movie (The Maltese Falcon) so the lights were off, and it did take me a painfully long time to get from “I’m not attracted to women” to “I’m a boylover.”  We didn’t get to bed until around 2 am.  Half the time was him asking questions after the fact, but it was still a long time.

I took all of My Friend on the Facebook’s little comments as a suggestion that she was waiting for me to tell her.  So finally, as she was getting ready to leave, she asked one more time if I had something on my mind.

“I do,” I said.

“Do you want to tell me?”

I thought for a second.  I could see that this was it.  The last chance.  Speak now or for ever…  Not that there would never be another chance, but it was certainly the last chance of the night.  And who knows.  Maybe it was the last chance ever.

“I’m thinking about it.”  I continued to look at the floor, trying to gather courage, to buy time, to not set off another anxiety attack.

“I think you should tell me,” My Friend on the Facebook said after a few more seconds.  I nodded.

“Would it help to turn off the light?” she asked with a grin.

I smirked back at that.  “No, but you’re remarkably on target.”

She looked puzzled by that.  “What do you mean?”

Now I was confused.  She made the friggin’ reference.  How could she not understand what I meant?  “You know, with your…  You’re…  Never mind, that’s not important.”

I took a deep breath and said words that were easier than what I wanted to say, but committed me to saying it.

“I’m not straight, but you probably already knew that.”

She had a knowing smile on her face and nodded.

“But I’m not gay either.”

Now she looked confused.  She might have said something here, but I can’t remember it.

“I’m a boylover, which is sort of a nice way of saying pedophile.”

She now had a serious look on her face.  “How long have you known?”

“Since I was 13 or 15.”

“Have you talked to anyone about this?”

At that comment I got a little angry.  What does that mean?  Do you mean, ‘am I getting professional help?’  But I calmed down quickly.  She is going to see things differently than I do.  She is going to have feelings more in line with society’s than with my community.  So I tried to answer several questions that she might have asked at once.

“I’ve told The King, so I’ve talked about it with him, and now with you, but I don’t believe there is anything wrong with me.  I believe this is a sexuality that can’t be changed, just like being gay or straight, so no, I’ve never talked to a psychiatrist.”

Then she laughed.  Hard.  “Now I understand what you meant by my being right about the lights.”

That laugh told me a lot.  She was alright.  We were alright.  The tension, the fear was all gone.  Maybe we wouldn’t agree on everything, but our friendship wasn’t about to end.

We talked for another hour about how The King had told me of her suspicions a while ago, about all the signs from here I had been reading, signs she actually hadn’t been purposefully sending.  We talked about why I waited to tell her, why that was good.  We asked each other questions and I opened up to her in the truest way she’s ever seen from me.  Yesterday she was fine with it.  Today she’s still fine with it.  She said it doesn’t change anything for her.  I’m still the same person she’s known for years.

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I had high hopes and low expectations for that concert.  My expectations won.  In honesty, the boys have potential.  Comparing them against other American boy choirs, they are not too far below acceptable.  (I find it sad, the difference in skill between the average American and English boy choir.)  However the men sang no better than the boys, and often not as well.

This group has ideas to raise money to open a choir school.  I don’t think so.  Long before opening a school I would want to be able to show that the choir has something worth teaching.  First step, ditch all the men.  Hire professionals.  With a solid ATB section to support them, the boys would automatically improve greatly.  Second, start the men performing on their own so that some subset of the organization can give a nuanced and polished performance.  Then start raising money to start a choir school  You may even already have a few teachers among the gentlemen.  I also think a way is needed to inspire passion for music and singing in the boys, as American boy singers are woefully low energy.  If one selected forces in numbers like King’s College, Cambridge (16 boys, 14 men, 1 director, 1 organist) there would be a 1:1 man to boy ratio.  A mentoring/apprenticeship program could conceivably help to inspire the boys to actually start putting themselves into the music rather than just letting it happen around them.

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