As a child growing up in the college town of Pullman, WA. I didn't really have the concept of gay sexuality. Partially because I was in my own world and also it just wasn't talked about in the Pullman of the 1960s.
Naive ignorance, I guess.
I found myself attracted to the shape of the body of slim guys with long hair. The hippie culture was in the news. It was a turn on to see people showering at the campus pools.
Toward the end of high school and heading off to college, gay issues started surfacing. At first it was seen as a human rights topic. I was lucky to have enlightened parents who went to a liberal church; United Church of Christ. Today, that denomination has big contingents in gay parades.
I didn't hear the term faggot till I got to my freshman dorm at what's now Western Washington University, here in Bellingham. People in that dorm seemed shallow and prejudice. I would debate theology with some of the conservative Christians. Others, in the dorm just seemed like drunkards.
Eventually I went to a gay rap group on campus (back then discussion groups were often called "rap groups" I guess for rapport). This was partially to spite the "Christian" who lived across the hall from me in my dorm. I told him that Jesus hung out with oppressed peoples. It helped, at the time, to be taking a class on Mahatma Gandhi.
Folks in that dorm were at least kind of light hearted. I was the dorm eccentric.
This led me to start participating in the gay political group on campus; a world mostly made up of lesbian women.
My first time in a gay bar was a class field trip to the Hut Tavern which had just opened in Bellingham. This was during a class on the gay rights movement, taught by Fairhaven College Professor David Mason.
While I was getting politically involved, I really had no desire for sexual intercourse. The thought of anal or oral intercourse didn't appeal to me. This lack of interest in intercourse was reinforced by the AIDS epidemic. The idea of getting a blow job had no appeal to me. I wanted to get to know the person better. At least see the face.
Being part of a couple, tho, was not that appealing also. I'm probably the type of person that people would swipe past if I were on dating apps. I'm popular, in my own way; in a friendship way. Maybe, if I lived in a big metropolitan area there would be a lot more choices. Sometimes I wonder how my life would be different if I lived in a big metro area. At the same time, I don't seem to miss dating.
I've always been a bit awkward and unusual. Now I'm in the past 50 years of my life which, most likely, get swiped past a lot on dating apps in Bellingham.
Growing up, I thought masturbation was an involuntary wet dream. It took my campus counselor to explain that masturbation could be done while one is awake. Eventually I started enjoying masturbation, but it took a while to get used to the idea.
One sexual minority is asexual or celibate. To be unique, I thought I would describe myself as asexual; a part of the sexual minority spectrum. Attracted to guys, but not sexually active. Most of the other gay activists, around me, were women, at that time anyway.
Seeing long haired men in the gym shower was still a turn on. I wasn't obvious, in public, but it fed my masturbation fantasies after I got home well away from other people. For some reason, I didn't connect this fetish to my political life in the gay student group. I still thought I was asexual.
After graduating from college, I began to think, maybe I do have a legitimate sexual life. I'm turned on by getting to know people, seeing attractive folks in the nude and mingling. If others find me attractive, it's flattering. Still no interest in intercourse or being in the drama of a relationship, however. As time goes on, my attraction for men has widened to beyond just folks with long hair.
The bar never interested me much during my youth. Maybe I wasted my youth not going out dancing. The cigarette smoke and superficial conversation of the bars turned me off.
One time I remember having a discussion with the liberal minister of the church, I grew up in. It was about gay life and going to the bar. That minister was cautiously liberal and said he was probably the first pastor to breach the subject of gay rights from the pulpit at that church. We'd have some heart to heart talks in his office and I remember saying it was hard to discuss interesting topics, like economics, in a noisy bar. As I left to head back to Bellingham, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, "keep up the good work trying to discuss economics in the bar." It was an Lol moment.
By the mid 1980s, I started to discover the fun of dancing. Now, many years later, I still like to dance. I missed some of the normal play of youth, but I also missed a lot of the health hazards. It's taken me a while to "get" why people like to party and dance. Now that a lot of my friends, who liked to party during my youth, are in recovery; if still alive, I'm ready to party. Healthy partying, however. Free form ecstatic dance anyone?
Also I enjoy getting to know people and having intelligent conversation; especially in places of nudity. Seems like places of nudity are among the friendliest spots for conversation. Saunas and hot springs, for instance. Sometimes people are quiet. I'm not real outgoing, but folks often do start up conversation. For some reason, intelligent discussions come easier at those kinds of places than in a lot of other settings.
Bars can be too loud or too drunk, everyone is on their computers at coffee shops. Discussion groups can be good, but they are rare, most folks are in too big a hurry at the supermarket, but I do know lots of folks in town so serendipitous conversation can happen. Concerts, films or lectures; it's still better to go where people are interacting, rather than just watching the stage.
I'm pretty involved in a lot of community things and have friends from many orientations. It's hard to imagine not living alone. It's also hard to imagine not having lots of friends.
Since I'm not into being part of a couple, or intercourse, my sexuality must be kind of unusual. Maybe it's a fetish, but a very mild fetish, indeed.