On Discovering Queerness in Later Life

I was 47 when I recognised that I wasn’t exactly as straight as I’d heretofore assumed. Now, I flatter myself that I’m about as liberal, open-minded and sex-positive a human as you could hope to meet in normal life, and given that I’ve been pretty open on the kink scene for about 4 years, my ‘normal’ casts a pretty wide net. But no, as far as I was concerned up to that point, I was comfortable counting a pretty wide variety of LGBTQ+ people within my friendship group, openly and on Facebook, but it really wasn’t my thing.

Except. Except … Except lots of things, as it turns out. My fiancée Helena knew. She’d always kind of known, and there were lots of bits of our play that had dropped some pretty broad hints. I was quite happy to slip into a little pleated tartan skirt and take photos to send her, entirely because she ‘needed a laugh and a bit of cheering up’; when I was in San Francisco, I went underwear shopping in the Castro and browsed Grindr (strictly for research); I thoroughly enjoyed anal play (although I found it a difficult thing to ask for). I still deny that my willingness and ability to run up a set of curtains for me and lacy underwear for her on her sewing machine is an indicator.

Continue reading On Discovering Queerness in Later Life

Time, and Why It’s Irrelevant. A True Love Story

Helena and I were 41 and 43 in 2014 when we met and, when we met, I honestly think we were a bit in love before we made eye contact. She’d seen something I’d written on Fetlife about Strong and Difficult Women that was inspired by a Royal Shakespeare Company mug I have, connecting Cleopatra, Desdemona, Kate, Lady Macbeth and Rosalind. She immediately pulled me up about the ‘difficult’ bit, and after much back-and-forth, with digressions on why Irish authors write better female characters, I changed it to ‘Strong and Challenging’, which sat much better with both of us.

Strong, Challenging Women, please joun the turquiose line.

We met at a munch a couple of weeks later, and I went to a (ostensibly vanilla) party at hers just after that, where things got excitable (involving fire poi, amongst other distractions), and then a couple of days later, we had our first night together in a hotel. She tries to deny how quickly I fell in love with her, but I can give you the gist of our Fetlife chat without ever having read it again. I can describe pretty much exactly what she wore when we met, how her hair looked, what we talked about, and how I (robust, confident, gregarious) could barely bring myself to look at her when we first met because she was so fucking …much. So beautiful and clever and funny.

We’ve been through so fucking much since then, blending families and tying together our lives, exploring and discovering things about ourselves and each other. I can honestly say I’m more in love with her today than I was yesterday, or any day before that. We know each other; we’re both ridiculously empathic, and that feeds the core of our relationship.

We’ve got a lot that we’ve brought into this relationship, including a not-insubstantial number of children, and we occasionally chat about opportunities missed. How it would have been to have our own, together. How we would have loved discovering ourselves together in our 20s. How it could have been if we’d been there to support, encourage, conspire and generally be a bad influence on each other. And we both miss those missed opportunities.

Except …

Except those missed opportunities weren’t really missed.

We were raised hundreds of miles and a sea apart. The closest we ever came to each other was about 50 miles when we were both doing our respective training. If we hadn’t travelled these separate paths; if we hadn’t had the respective spouses we had; if our previous relationships hadn’t failed when and how they did; if, if, if …

If we change one thing in our past, the whole bifurcating, Sliding Doors, Star Trek reboot, path not taken, chain of events that brought us together collapses, and we never meet. And although I’d have no way to know it, my life would have been immeasurably poorer for not having met her. The world would have had one fewer shining examples of ‘nauseatingly in love’. You know those doddery old couples you see in their 70s who are as clearly at least as in love as they were way back when? That’s our realistic and easily achievable relationship goal.

So. Do we wish we’d met 20 years earlier? Fuck yes. Do we begrudge it? Fuck yes. Would we change a single thought, deed, or decision that brought us to where we are now? No. Not a single fucking thing. I wish that we could have had another two decades of being in love, but we’re not concentrating on that. We’ve got today, and tomorrow and everything else, and we’re looking forward to being together in a nursing home, scandalising the staff by both of us flirting with the same cute ones, demanding Viagra, and Helena asking for assistance with her strap on cock.

Seriously? Is this really a good idea?

Hi! I’m Raoul, and I’ve been queer for about 4 weeks.

No, but that’s not really true, though, is it?

Hi, I’m Raoul, and I’ve been on a journey into queerness for about 4 months.

Nope. If I’m going to share with you from behind a veil of anonymity, I might as well be honest, otherwise there’s no real point.

Hi. I’m Raoul*. I’m kinky and queer, which kind of tells you everything and nothing about me in 4 little words. My tastes have always veered to the dark, interesting and weird, generally with a soundtrack in a slightly tingly minor chord, but I’d packed the vast majority of that off in a ‘forget about it, it’s a path not taken’ kind of way a very long time ago. And that was all reasonably fine, and reasonably manageable until about 4 years ago when I separated from my wife, and a female friend I hadn’t seen in 20 years or more messaged me to say “go investigate Fetlife.”

I’m sorry, what? What is it? Why? WTF? (At this point I was surfing and chatting at the same time…). So it seems that the teenage me that she hung out with was a bit of a wrong ‘un, in a kinky way. This is, she reckoned, was bred in the bone.

This is, I reckon now, absolutely true.

And so, I made new friends, tied them up, beat them, and fucked them.

Actually, no. I made new friends, and then I went to a non-kinky party with some kinky people, and fell head over heels in love with an utterly beautiful, insanely sharp, painfully self-deprecating woman who held my hand for my baby steps and now kisses my cheek, slaps my arse and tells me to do the fucking thing.

Then I tied up and beat my new friends.

And so it went for the next couple of years; kink life ebbs and flows in the opposite direction to real life as one waxes, the other wanes.

And then …

And then … I’m not entirely sure how to get to the next bit. It all has kind of gone whoosh a little bit.

We had a couple of child-free 5-day weekends over the summer. We wanted to experiment with a party drug that every other fucking person in our generation seemed to have tried whilst in a field somewhere in 1992. Just a half each. Another half 4 hours later.

Jesus fuck. Even now, looking back at the photos from that weekend, my mind is blown by the difference between how I perceived myself on Thursday evening, and how I saw myself on Saturday morning. From a straight Dom (with 5% switch) to a made-up, camped up, spanker/spankee, dildo sucking, ass-playing, subby/slutty freak, and loving it, and wanting to know MORE.

This wasn’t just a ‘shall we try …?’ ‘Fuck yeah’ grab it all and do it all thing; there was serious talking and serious opening up; and seriously taking all those boxes that I’d buried stuff in since I was about 11, giving them a good shake and seeing what spilled out. It was a lot, and they’re not even half empty yet.

And none of this stuff had been as hidden from her as it had been from me, not really. I remember watching Stardust with her years before and her gently teasing me for being like Captain Shakespeare. And the time I put on a little tartan skirt to serve her breakfast in bed. And when I painted my toenails and sent her a photo ‘just to amuse her’.

Oh. Yeah. I can kind of see that now.

So it grows.

Now? Now, I’m self-defining as queer, because that’s a lot less of a mouthful than ‘Occasionally cross-dressing, pansexual, polyamorous hedonist kinkster 70/30 Dom/sub’. It’s also less likely to be constantly under flipping review.

So this? This is supposed to be a short introduction to my blog, which is going to be my way of working out a lot of this stuff by writing it down. I hope there’ll be some interaction with you along the way, but it might just be *crickets* all the way down. I hope there’ll be reflection, understanding, filthy tales, anecdotes and shared experiences. If anyone else benefits from my experience, even if it’s only to realise that they’re not the only not-quite-50 year old discovering that they’ve had a mask on for most of their lives, it’ll definitely be worth it.

 

*I said honest, not foolhardy! I’m sticking with my nom de plume…

 

If you want a lover
I’ll do anything you ask me to
And if you want another kind of love
I’ll wear a mask for you — Leonard Cohen