I’m From West Palm Beach, FL.

by Matthew Ortiz

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

I attended the local arts middle-high school in West Palm (its abbreviated name to the locals), and it was cool to be gay! Well, maybe “cool” isn’t the best word, but being gay and expressing it didn’t cause wake. By fifteen, unable to drive (legally), I had asked my father to drive me to the local LGBT community center so I could attend their teen support group; however, I was incognito and going only to support my “friend” who thought that he might have feelings for guys, not girls. By the third week of chauffeuring me, my father asked, “Are you coming here for you, son?” And with a quick chirp of affirmation, he said that it’s okay. He was proud of me, and loved me still. He even offered to continue driving me there, but I said, “nah,” because nobody there tickled my fancy, which was the only reason why any of us were attending. We didn’t want support. We wanted action! The action that, for artists, is life’s greatest inspiration: love.

And so, like most artists and non-artists for that matter who were seeking love, I moved to New York City! Adult playground for gays, straights, blacks, whites, freaks, bores, you name it. Truly the center of the world. And it was here in at the center of it all where I discovered that I am an obsessive loon! I moved to NY to find love because it’s all around. You just reach out and… touch. It’s everywhere, and I fall in love everyday. A simple glance on the train, trying to extend a drunken one-night stand, a month-long stint too shortly lived, and I end up the psycho who’s calling and texting relentlessly! At least that’s what I’m told.

Friends say, “Cool down. Play the game.” But what is this game and where is the rule book? Or a referee at least. And just because I don’t want to play, I’m the “psycho”? Gays aren’t stereotypically athletic, so why such a shock that I’m not interested in playing? Or is it a board game, like Mystery Date? I think I could play that game.

But despite thinking that going against the rules, hell, not even playing, and instead expressing interest, either temperate or ecstatic, is a good thing, the better thing… alas, it’s not. The gays just don’t seem to appreciate honesty, tepid or fiery. Tables turned, I like to think that I would. Handsome, funny, witty, good kisser (among other things) and honest. Who wouldn’t like me and my courage! But to no avail, I either fall for those who can’t handle it, or I fall for an Aussie or a Frenchy who’s, of course, on holiday. “Bon voyage, mon amour,” as a solitary tear rolls down my cheek, the handkerchief in my extended hand flailing in the wind. Lucky for the foreigners the long-distance charges to my cell phone hamper my “psycho” faculty.

The woe that is me has learned that, from wherever you’ve come, Driftwood, West Palm, or Mars, if you’re gay, or straight, there’s a game to be played, and if you plan on scoring, you better master those rules, as ridiculous as they may be. But game or no game, a main rule on which we can all agree: Don’t exude desperation.

Lace up, boys!

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