Dear Patrick: What do you do when all of your friends hate the man you love? I went to a tattoo parlor with a friend who was nervous about getting inked. Once he was getting worked on, there wasn’t much for me to do, so I started talking to the other artist there. I’d never seen a guy with so many body modifications. When he asked me if I wanted to have a drink later, I was shocked. I thought he was straight. And, in fact, we went to a hipster coffee house because he gets called a breeder and refused service at gay bars.
Unfortunately, my friends are exactly the kind of people who would say mean things to him. I don’t have any tattoos myself. I’m a pretty conventional, preppy guy apart from the gay thing. Normally I would never look at somebody twice if they were heavily tattooed, had big plugs in their ears, and had gotten their tongue pierced. But this man is quiet, respectful, sensitive, sweet, thoughtful, and intelligent—he is everything I have ever wanted. And he likes me every bit as much as I like him.
In bed he is a dirty-talking top, and there is something about the contrast between his decorated skin and my plain body that looks very sexy to me. I love falling asleep with my head on his shoulder and his muscular, tattooed arm across my chest. It is the safest feeling.
His friends apparently don’t understand why we are together either. So maybe this relationship has too many strikes against it. I wish everybody would just leave us alone. Why do people have to be so nasty?
Shakespeare’s famous comment about how the course of true love never did run smooth leads me to believe that there is something predetermined about this story. We feel the need to distinguish between mere affection and the incendiary uniqueness of true love. One way to do that is to see if love will persist when it is opposed. I also think that there is something disruptive or subversive about romantic passion that makes most people quite nervous. Desire is always leaping the fence between groups of people with visible differences. By ignoring taboos and separatism, love urges us to visualize a world of radical inclusivity and equality.
Many gay men feel that friendship is the real long-term relationship in their life. Lovers come and go, but friends are there before and after. If your friends are nasty about your boyfriend, give them fair warning. “I really care about him, and I am going to enjoy him for as long as I possibly can. If you attack him or ridicule me, you will see a whole lot less of me.” Then do exactly that. If the relationship has longevity, the two of you will gradually make friends who like both of you. If it breaks up, your friends will be thrilled to take you back because it feels great to say (over and over again), “I told you so.”
The last thing you should do is tell yourself, “Grow up. Be realistic. You are from two different worlds and this will never work. Drop him and look for a more suitable boyfriend.” Nobody wants a suitable lover. Nobody ever fell in love with a person who was not going to rock their world and rip their peace of mind apart. You don’t get to enjoy this baptism of fire if you aren’t willing to pile your reality onto the kindling and throw that first match out yourself.
If you only have a few weeks or months together, so what? This is a memory that will keep you warm during the cold, long nights of old age. You will never regret having this experience, but if you end it prematurely, you will kick yourself until the day you die. Go for it.