Yes, damn it, I know that to most everyone in authority it’s an evil weed and should be avoided. But marijuana has had its admirers. In 2737 b.c., Chinese Emperor Shennong named it as one of the “superior elixirs of immortality.” And (as Carl Sagan once said about himself), marijuana was a positive influence in my life, and this post tells you why.
I have already written about how I happened to roll the first joint I ever smoked (see “I Married a Hippy,” April 14th, 2010), and while Charleyne and I indulged off and on thereafter, our major foray into a life where the evil weed was used more or less every free evening came in 1984 when we returned to Indianapolis from a year in North Carolina (where I had been a Visiting Professor at U. of N.C. for a school year), and we moved into a new condo on the south side of the city. Our next door neighbors were a vibrant young couple we shall call John and Mary, and even though we were older and should have been stronger, they seduced us deep into the marijuana jungle (okay, it was mutual all around, but I prefer thinking I was seduced, so live with it). They were and are great people, both having a tremendous sense of humor and fun. “Mary” is a frequent reader of this blog, and, alas, that leads to some censorship here. Often joining us was another sinner and neighbor named Roy Gabriel (see “Masa Comes For Xmas,” June 19, 2010), and a wonderful time was had by all (there are pictures, but once again I don’t have the courage to post them).
How was this good for me in any way other than being fun? Because marijuana has one incredible attribute that is very useful. It forces you to concentrate on one thing at a time in great detail. It might be the hairs on the back of your hand, or, as in this case, it might be whether or not you have been lying to yourself all your life about your sexual orientation.
I had always been strongly attracted to men, but was horrified by that urge, and repressed it. There is a character in a play who late in life is asked what she thought about her son’s homosexuality when she first knew of it, and she replies, “I tried not to think about it, so I don’t know what I thought.” My reaction exactly. Growing up as I did in a homophobic society, I was as homophobic as anyone else. All the current evidence was that homos were sick, sinners, and criminals. That was certainly not the life I had planned for Douglas Whaley, who, being able to leap tall buildings in a couple of bounds or so, could surely lick this minor problem.
It also helped that I thought women were sexy, and while I had no homosexual experiences until I was 25 (and then only one), I went to bed with a number of women. So—don’t you see—that meant I was straight. I remember walking across the campus at the University of Maryland when I was 21 and thinking, “I’ve never had a sexual experience with a man, so, ergo, I’m a heterosexual.” If that sounds stupid, it was. But the issue was so fuzzy in my mind it was just this side of blank.
In reality I have the same attitude about having sex with women that I have about bowling. It’s something that I’ve done, that I enjoyed (I once was in two leagues), that I was even good at; but if I never did it again, that would be okay. Somehow I seemed to be making “bowling” into a major part of my life.
Marijuana solved the problem. If I smoked it alone, with no one around to distract me, I could focus on the truth of my desires. What I found terrified me. I remember having a number of such sessions, each an hour or more in length, sitting in a completely dark room with no music, just rethinking my life. Things were never the same thereafter (see “The Aging Gay Activist,” March 24, 2010).
July 15th is marked on my calendar as “Pot Day” because it was that day in 2004 when I was told in stern tones by my cardiologist that my marijuana days were over (it makes the heart beat faster, the last thing I needed). So I quit, and I never thought much about it again.
But—wow—it was a great run while it lasted.
“How I Lost a Gay Marriage Debate,” April 29, 2010
“Straight Talk,” May 10, 2010
"Choose To Be Gay, Choose To Be Straight," January 25, 2011
"The Homosexual Agenda To Conquer the World," February 8, 2011
"Seducing Straight Men," March 3, 2011
"Coming Out: How To Tell People You're Gay," March 27, 2011
"Jumping the Broom: How 'Married' are Married Gay Couples?" July 17, 2011
"The Legacy of Homophobia," August 2, 2011
"The History of Gay Rights in Columbus, Ohio," June 4, 2012
“Gay Marriage, DOMA, Proposition 8 and the Mysterious Supreme Court,” January 15, 2013
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013