Monday, April 27, 2015


Obsess (verb): preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent

I don’t like to think of my emotional growth as being stunted, but I freely admit to its having slowed to a crawl by the time I was six. All children want things they cannot have, but most learn, as they grow older, to accept reality and move on. I, too, have indeed moved on…but I have never fully accepted the fact that I cannot have what I want, and this has been the albatross around my neck all my life.

I knew I was gay before I ever really knew what the word meant. By the age of five, I knew I liked other boys, and consider myself truly blessed that never for one single moment of my life have I regretted or been ashamed of being who/what I was. When I was a boy, I was been obsessed with other boys—those who clearly had what I felt I lacked. When I became an adult the obsession changed from boys to men, and fixated on those who possess physical, social, and mental characteristics I so desperately wanted, but did not have. My chest quite literally aches with longing to be like them…to be them. Being a homosexual is not all I am, but every aspect of my life is sternly related to it. I am gay because I am so strongly attracted to those who are, to my mind, physically beautiful, who possess grace and poise and charm and intelligence and the ability to blend easily with others…none of which, I feel, I have ever done.

I have for several years now been obsessed with male ballet dancers, who epitomize and combine my concepts of beauty, grace, and talent. I spend hours…hours I should be spending on my writing…wandering around the internet seeking photos to place on my “Nothing More Beautiful” boards. So as not to overwhelm anyone who chooses to view them, I limit each “board” to 125 photos. I now have 12 of them…roughly 1,500 photos, with another 650 or so I’ve not yet posted. And I am constantly adding more.

Interestingly (to me, at any rate) this particular obsession stems directly from an earlier obsession, which in turn was resolved by the most significant epiphany of my life. When in 1999 my friend Gary told me to be sure to watch PBS one night because they were putting on a version of “Swan Lake” with males dancing the parts of the swans. It was of course Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake and from the moment I sat down at the TV I did not move until well after it had ended. It was the most beautiful and moving performance I had ever seen, and I was instantly obsessed. Immediately after the program ended I called to order a DVD of it and watched it at least a dozen times. When the stage production came to New York from London, I went to New York twice to see it…four times the first trip, five times the second. (And I’ve seen it subsequently in Chicago and in a movie theater “live” broadcast.)

The story is of a prince who falls in love with a beautiful male white swan who has an evil counterpart. The ending is both tragic and agonizingly beautiful. I could not understand why I was so obsessed with it…until I attended the last Broadway performance of one of the leads, and the epiphany hit me as I left the theatre: I was the prince and Ray, whom I still think of as the love of my life despite being an irredeemable alcoholic who had died of AIDS as a result of his  alcoholism, was both the white and the black swan. I had been so angry with Ray for dying that I never grieved for him. But I realized now that, with each performance I saw, I was reliving our relationship, and I was grieving. 

As I say, it was the most profound epiphany of my life.

Life is infinitely complex, and infinitely confusing to those, like me, who expect everything to be simple. Our obsessions…for those of us who have them…are signposts pointing to some often unrecognized thing within ourselves. We should follow them.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

That's a pretty personal one to share, D, and profound. I wonder what your reaction was after the epiphany hit you and what your process was for dealing with it.

I did two Independent Studies with my mentor in college, both of which were one-on-one with a book I was trying to write at the time. The project, in my mind, was a very visual, slightly sensual, mindf*** of story about a murder investigation at a college campus. It was a sci-fi/horror hybrid with a main character who was a sociopath hunting a creature.

Despite all the set-up, the character was quite obviously gay and allowing himself to be seduced by two men around him. I totally never saw it until, years later, my mentor brought it up to me in conversation.

Talk about one's psyche screaming out.

Dorien Grey said...

It never ceases to amaze me how our minds hide things from us until, one day, they jump out and say "BOO!"

My "Swan Lake" epiphany was simply a vast relief--to realize what I should have realized from the start.