Eunuchs even among our own

Last week David and I were perusing the shelves at Ken Sanders, and I ended up taking home, among other titles, Paul Monette’s Becoming a Man. The book chronicles the author’s struggles in the closet while coming of age in the late 50s, and while laced with a numbing amount of naked self-loathing, the clarity of Monett’s observations are bracing. He manages to put such a fine point on my own adolescent experiences that I actually gasped when reading them. The following cuts particularly close to the bone:

[Francis and Gene] were both queer, of course. I suppose I knew that then as well as I know it now. But since none of us could say it aloud, especially to ourselves, we fell into infinite parody and silly in-jokes. We never spoke of sex, ever, not even in puns. The world in which we didn’t exist as sexual beings was so in control, it succeeded in making us eunuchs even among our own. And though Francis and Gene would rib me mercilessly about my Liz Taylor fetish, none of us seemed to understand how clearly it marked me as a budding queen. We invented a camp out of whole cloth — bizarre TV refernces, mixing up idiot advertising slogans as we riffed of the pedantries of our teachers. To send up the straight-arrow earnestness fed to us every day in morning chapel, we resorted to everything short of drag. We were definitely peculiar queer, but with the edge of desperation always. If the silliness ever stopped, somehow, we’d be left with the awful truth of being homo-queer. (Bold emphasis mine)

I keep coming back to this passage as I process the events of this weekend’s Pride celebration, but that’s a topic for another entry.