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Jason Dilts

By Jason Dilts
Jason Dilts lives in Wichita, KS and is a graduate of Wichita State University, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He has been the Executive Director of the Sedgwick County Democratic Party since he was 19 years old. He is also the President of the Kansas Democratic Party LGBT Caucus. He is an ardent feminist activist, avid reader and writer, and plans to pursue a Master’s Degree in Gender Studies. He loves his life as a single gay man and enjoys spending quality time with his amazing friends.
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One of these dates was with a guy named Kevin, who I met in an internet chat room in 2005. Kevin was an accounting major and worked in the business administration department of a local meat processing company.  He was extremely attractive, and I was excited about the possible relationship that could develop between the two of us… That is, until he started talking. His job seemed extremely boring to me, and he had absolutely no passion for it.  Work was just something he did to make money..  He thought politics was frivolous. He also thought being an activist was futile. “I’ve  never understood people who thought they could change the world,” he once confessed to me. “You’re just one person. Accept your place, make the best of it, and stop worrying about things you can’t control.” 

As for his own hobbies and interests, he was pretty passionate about making money, he liked to party on the weekends, and he spent a lot of time at dance clubs.  He didn’t open up much about his personal life; his style was more surface. He wasn’t interested in having deep conversations about art, literature, or world affairs.  I had a hard time identifying with him. He didn’t “get” me at all, which was made perfectly clear when he referred to a women’s studies course I was taking at the time (and very passionately talking to him about) as a “lesbian class.” About the only thing we had in common was that we were both gay. Sharing the same sexual orientation is not exactly grounds for engaging in a life-long love affair. Needless to say, Kevin and I soon parted ways..

A few months later, there was Shaun, a tall, dark, and handsome nurse, whose body filled out a pair of scrubs in a way that made me want to instantly orgasm.  We had an immediate physical connection.  Unfortunately, everything else about him made me want to recoil. First, there were his politics. He was a member of the NRA, frequently complained about the “ugly, uncouth black kids” in his neighborhood, and didn’t understand why “gays were always complaining about not having any rights.”  Like Kevin, he though politics was a stupid, meaningless game and that feminism was just a crutch for people who couldn’t get laid. Then there were his interests. He was an avid sports fan, loved to go hunting, and had an affinity for action films and slasher flicks.  As someone who has to be reminded that the Super Bowl is a football game, loathes the thought of handling a gun or shooting anything, and has my Tivo permanently set to record every zany, envelope-pushing, obscure indie movie on the Independent Film Channel, it was hard to find common ground . Despite the fact that we didn’t relate to each other at all, my self-worth was so low that I continued to see him for an agonizing month. 

Obviously, a big part of dating is getting to know the other person, and there are lots of facets that make up who we are as individuals.  To that end, I invited him to my favorite restaurant on one of our first dates. I wanted to take him somewhere that was quintessentially “me.” We ate at the Green Mill, a bar and grill that had what I considered to be the best chicken wings in town and a place myself and my best friends had spent many nights in high school  talking, laughing, connecting, and enjoying each other’s company. More than the food, it was the memories that made this restaurant special. During dinner, I recounted stories about my friends, our nights out, and why this particular place was so special to me – but I could tell he was bored and uninterested.  He also complained about the food. After dinner, I took him for a walk downtown, along the river. This was also a special place for me, because I loved the scenery and had many good memories of times spent there with friends, as well as by myself reading or studying for classes in college. Despite my attempts to explain its significance, he remained underwhelmed. He was barely even listening.

Despite this, I wanted to give him a chance.  On our next date, I asked him to take me to some of his favorite places. For dinner, he took me to Denny’s. I’ll confess that I’m not the biggest fan, but I wanted to get to know him – and supposedly this place was going to tell me something about who he was. I tried to stay open minded. When our dinner conversation began to lag, I finally asked him what made him choose Denny’s. I was hoping for a nostalgic story about late night dinners here with friends or memories of times spent eating here with his family. But as it turned out, he just liked thier onion rings. While I could appreciate his taste for fried food, I couldn’t help but feel that relationships weren’t exactly built on shared side dishes. Our “romantic night out” continued with a baseball game, where he said we could “spend time together.” Instead, I spent most of the game listening to him cheer and holler, only briefly separated by his futile attempts to answer my ignorant questions about what was going on in the field.  After the game, he capped it all off with a “nice night at home,” watching a slasher flick and eating beef jerky. That was the last night we ever spent together.

Despite my repeated attempts to find it, loved, it seemed, was rather illusive. I left these dead-end, haphazardly unromantic encounters feeling as though there was something wrong with me, and wondering why I couldn't find a guy with whom I could connect. While out on dates, I found myself fantasizing about being at home, alone, on my couch and watching whatever TV to DVD series I was obsessing over at the moment.   Even the few moments that I did enjoy, I still though to myself, albeit sheepishly, “I kind of like being alone better.” ... (continue reading)

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Gretchen said:

My lesbian daughter told me when I was divorced and single and feeling much as you describe here that I should "Don't look for attachment; just do what you love and you will be radiant and your radiance will in time bring opportunities for attachment." I thought that was amazingly wise and found it to be true. Celebrating life, friendship, meaningful work you believe in, intellectual activity, service to your community--all this I loved...and in doing what I loved, I also found the person of my dreams.

Posted at: May 22, 2008 5:26 PM

Brent Lank said:

It took me until I was twenty-eight to start realizing that everything that I wanted out of life I could do on my own. That includes traveling, owning a home, and even having a child. Having a partner to share those things with might be wonderful, but it's not a requirement.

Posted at: May 27, 2008 3:02 PM

Seth Macy said:

I think this is just the tip of an iceberg. Let's keep in mind that things fall apart at any moment. This feels like the beginning of an idea, more than the middle. But what Jason has said here is that we must be aware of our own identities, and he has made it very clear. I'd like to think that this would be enough, but I know that when we as human beings affirm a belief like Jason's, it often quickly becomes endangered by our own doubts. Forging on...identities get lost very easily in gay culture. I'd like to know what to do once we get to this point. I've grasped it too(affirming my own identity after accepting I'm gay) but I can still feel the pressure about me embracing it. Am I/are we that distorted?

Posted at: June 10, 2008 5:28 PM

Chris Coulson said:

What Jason said about how he felt was a perfect description of me. I enjoy the things that I do in the community and haveing my own home but I'm tired of being alone without the love of a mate. I've been with two people in the last 4yrs and they both told me that they loved me and cared about me yet they both walked out on me and the most recent was just last month. How can u truly love and care about someone and tell them this to their face and yet walk out on them and not even tell them why u are doing it. I'm gay and have known this for multiple years and I fully accept this fact and enjoy being gay but it feels like there is a part of me missing not haveing someone to come home to when I've been gone or spend time with in the evening doing whatever we decide together to do. I have alot of love to give someone and am a very tenderhearted person and I want to think Jason for writeing this story but I needed to write this comment and get this off my chest as I have nobody else that I can talke to about this kind of things especially my family as they don't approve of this kind of life style but I'm 46yrs old and I run my own life not my family so if they can't except me for me and that I'm a part of that family then they aren't even worth being called family in my books.

Posted at: July 8, 2008 9:26 PM

Earl Nissen said:

I read about Jason's essay in "Liberty Press" of July 2008. It reminds me of the latest episode of HBO's "Taxicab Confessions" where a transsexual lady gets into the cab and shares her stories of love and loss. She ends up her interview by saying (I'm paraphrasing) "it's taken me along time to learn that the most important thing is to love yourself."

I've lived alone for the past 10 months and it has opened up my eyes to what I like to do and who I am. I cut out the word "should" and have just done what I like to do because it's pleasing to me! I've turned off the TV and read and listen to Public Radio and that's what I like to do!

As long as I don't harm myself or others, I'm OK. I feel if this is my last day on earth, then I have made myself happy first. Hooray for me!

Don't get me wrong. I give of myself to others (in listening, writing, visting and sharing good times) because I like to share and am joyful and curious about others. But I have let go of the desire to "please others" and am happy to please myself.

Posted at: July 18, 2008 5:48 PM

boredwell said:

Well, you might have the opportunity yet to write a sequel entitled My Relationship Problem. People who are in a relationship often want out and those who are single want in. What's up with THAT?! Our society's approach to both being single and being married is paradoxical. Both states are supposed to make us happy. Both are fraught with trial and tribulation. Yet being single carries a certain stigma, one often self-inflicted. Many people, I've found, in their desperation to be connected approach relationships with a consumer mentality. Looks, career, future are all given dominance while humor, mutuality and communication are given shorter shrift. Understanding oneself is the best, indeed, only way to aspire to contentment. Sharing this with someone may or may not be the cause for celebration of more contentment.

Posted at: February 15, 2009 10:13 AM

Rachel Rutledge said:

Great essay. I don't know Jason at all, just seen him around town at a few events. His reputation proceeds him. I am really impressed with what he has been doing with the community and the Democratic party, and he just seems to be such a vibrant and vital individual. I really enjoyed reading the essay, and I'm struggling with some of the same issues with singlehood - being a 37 year old single woman is not so easy, either. However, I do love living alone and I have friends in my life and people who love me - I still hope to find someone but I have no idea when that will be, or what kind of man it will be when I find him. Anyway, a great article, really related to it, thanks for expressing yourself so powerfully.

Posted at: October 14, 2009 1:12 AM