Joe Lupo Name: Joe Lupo Identifies: Male Where did you grow up and how did you begin to understand gender as a young person, and how did people express their gender? I mean, there’s a lot of general terms in which you have to follow out there, that exist everywhere else. Which is, like, staying up with the current male fashion trends, even though at a young age your mother or your father is the one who’s buying that, you have to demand that they buy you that shit or you’re called a fag, or whatever. That’s not just Staten Island, it’s everywhere, but it’s intense out there because its such a bizarre, isolated place. Well I mean, it’s separated by a small body of water from Manhattan and Brooklyn, and yet, it’s the general population is nothing like that, I mean they’re all super conservative for the most part, very clique-ish, growing up I didn’t have many friends, there weren’t a lot of people that I got along with, in school and it’s funny at the time I wasn’t into hip hop at all, and all these second and third grade white kids that grew up with a bunch of money were listening to like Biggie Smalls and I was just like I don’t understand, he’s not singing about anything that you know about, I don’t understand what he’s talking about, I’m going to go listen to Meatloaf. And you know, my mom was broke, and my dad wasn’t around, so I wore K-mart sweatpants to school and people didn’t like that, so I was called a lot of shit, I got into a lot of physical fights with other males, up until about 8th grade I would just get beat up a lot cause I was afraid to fight and my mother told me that’s not something that needs to be done and you should always walk away. Early in my life my mom was trying to portray
this pseudo-catholic ideology on me, that she didn’t really follow herself, and so, growing up on Staten Island sucked in a lot of ways.
Did not growing up with a father have any affect on where you got your ideals to be a man from? I don’t know what it’s like to grow up with a father, so I can’t compare. But I’m sure it does. You know I didn’t grow up interested in sports, I didn’t really hang around other kids, I played video games all the time, I was like, by myself. I had one or two friends up until the end of middle school, aside from one person I knew my whole life. It’s so funny to think about that because my life is so different now, but I was a really isolated kid. I didn’t really hang out with anybody, I was just super smart, I had insane grades, even though I didn’t really pay attention. I didn’t really socialize or whatever. I was really chubby. I was short and chubby. There were more popular kids that were chubby, but they had like, gold chains and so it was definitely more about what I was wearing. I was into cooking, video games, gardening, and playing board games with my grandmother who I lived with, that was like, my life up until 7th grade. Kinda weird. I feel like some people that grew up to be serial killers have upbringings like that. You know...
How did you start to develop relationships with girls? I was molested by a girl when I was four. That was technically my first experience with a girl. I was 4, and she was 8. What transpired is really hard to give a detailed, there were clothes removed, and straddling, and making out, and I can’t make sure of whether there was any penetration, but I definitely know
that that happened. I just don’t know to what extent it did. But about 10 years past from that was my next experience. I don’t know maybe that fucked me up, that like you know, associating with other people. I don’t recall giving a fuck about girls until I was about 14, and at like 8 or 9 I would see people outside of school making out and I was just like really weirded out by it, and I didn’t understand why it was happening. I remember thinking like, we are little, why are you doing this. My life was turned upside down in the summer between 7th and 8th grade because I grew up in the same house as my grandmother, and my grammar school was right down the block, my middle school was down the street from that, so everybody in that neighborhood went to those schools. And so my grandmother sold the house and moved to florida, so my mother, not having like you know the financial stability to get a house, we got an apartment further down staten island in a shittier neighborhood and I started at a school that, for the first time, was predominantly black and hispanic and I was not used to that, but at the same time I grew up with my sister’s family who is half black and I was always with them, I wasn’t uncomfortable about it, I was just like this is different and within two weeks I had so many problems there with so many kids that my mother took me out of school there. I stepped on a 13 year olds shoe, and he was 13 and called himself scarface cause he had a big scar down his face. I stepped on his shoe and he told me he was gonna kill me, and I didnt understand why any of it was happening, but I told my mom and she flipped shit and pulled me out. I transferred and it was the first time I had my first encounter with ‘rockers’ so i started listening to green day and
blink 182, and so my first day there I was in the auditorium and I was talking to these kids that liked the same music as me, and that was my first group of friends I ended up having, based upon two bands, but I feel like there’s friendships based on less. But I ended up dating one of those girls and I was too terrified to even kiss her, we dated, I mean thats such a loose term for a 12, 13-year-old person, we held hands a few times and I was terrified of her, and I can’t even explain why I was reacting this way. She was weirded out by it. She broke up with me. Up until that time, my social skills were severely lacking. It took about a year before I could get comfortable talking to girls that I was interested in. And its such a simple thing, talking to someone that you’re interested in, but I didn’t know that at the time. I thought I was supposed to be doing something, I thought I was supposed to be saying something a certain way, acting a certain way to be more appealing, not to seem as fucking alien and weird as I was.
In your adult life, you talk about how you don’t think that you’re a monogamous person, or supposed to have that idealized, ‘normal,’ life. Why those thoughts on monogamy? Initially, it was a response to how poorly I was functioning in monogamous relationships, in high school and post. I cheated on every girl that I dated. Most of the time, multiple times, with multiple people. It’s so weird to jump from what I was just speaking about to this. I grew a foot and just ended up getting better looking, I guess puberty does that, and became a lot more comfortable, and then a lot of girls were interested in me all the time. Mainly because I never told them the story that I just told you 5 minutes ago. Some people tried to attribute me fucking around with being a kid, I don’t think it was ‘being young’ because not ev-
erybody did it to the extent that I did. It was almost as if I wasn’t caring at all, it definitely wasn’t that I didn’t care. I spent years wracking my brain about how I could feel a deep caring for someone and yet repeatedly violate our relationship, I thought maybe I was a terrible person. But I was trying to work that out in my head that if I was a terrible person why would i even care to think about this, why would it bother me at all. why would i be trying to figure out what I do if I was just inherently a bad human being. I moved to Brooklyn and met some other people, some new people who were into polygamy and I didn’t really know what that was, I knew the concept of a swinger, a very, there is a social stigma, things that weirdos do... so that was my only experience with people who were in relationships but fuck around with other people. But I was rented a book called the ethical slut, I learned a lot from that and I read alot that reflected my life and things that I’ve gone through and I was realizing that regardless of caring for someone or not, there’s going to be sexual attraction towards other people and its possible to enter into an agreement where that’s ok to act on. There have been multiple times where I have just sat and been utterly depressed that I can’t just be in a monogamous relationship and you meet so many people, they meet this person and they’re so lost in that other human being, and they throw everything they have into it and nobody else fucking matters, and it’s so simple and so easy and my life would be so much more simple if I could just do that. but I’ve tried multiple times. I made the mistake of thinking of the possibility that I need polyamory as opposed to monogamy to go back into a monogamous relationship and I was doing the same thing as beforehand and it’s
just very frustrating because you grow to, it’s very hard not to grow some sort of resentment towards the person that you’re with involuntarily, it’s not rational, but because you’re in an agreement with them, you can’t do what you actually want to do, and you just grow unhappy, and your frustration and unhappiness gets directed towards the wrong person. It should have been directed at myself, for making that decision.
I’ve heard you use the term sex addiction, is it an addiction? Where are you with that, I’ll leave the floor open. It’s something that I’ve given thought to, I’m not thoroughly convinced... Other people that are involved in polyamorous relationships or what not, they sometimes are appalled and surprised about things that I tell them about my sex life. It seems like every ten to twenty seconds I’m thinking about the hypothetical sleeping with someone that I encounter on the street, or everywhere I am, even for just a moment, it crosses my mind, I don’t know if that’s normal. Some people tell me its related to my molestation, I don’t really know where that comes from but I, more so in the past than in the recent history, I’ve slept with a lot of people I’ve had no interest in at all, solely because it is possible to sleep with them, and it was never under false pretenses, I never lied to be something that I wasn’t towards a person, but it would take a lot for, there would have to be a lot of things going on for me to not sleep with them, it’s not so much that way now. It’s lessened but at the same time, there have been problematic situations. A couple months ago I went to a bar down the block and I don’t generally put blame on drinking because there’s a lot of times that I’ve made completely
rational decisions when drunk, but sexually is not one of them. I went home with a 40 year old woman to her place because she said I was cute and she said to walk her home. No idea who the fuck she was, I know it was her birthday I remember her telling me really uncomfortable things about her life on the walk to her place, and I was realizing that I probably would not want to hang out with this person at all, but at the same time, I was not leaving, I was still going to possibly have sex with her. So one thing led to another, we were naked in her bed, it took until that point to come to my senses and realize why am I here right now? What am I doing? I don’t want to be here at all. I literally just told her I need to go, she was like why, I just took my shit and left, I got dressed on the way out of her house. It freaked me out that that could happen and it has happened. There’s been alot of times where I didnt stop myself. I just didn’t understand the reasinging behind it at all. The definition of sexual addiction may coincide with that, but I don’t know.
How would you describe patriarchy? Patriarchy is the act of reinforcing, involuntarily or voluntarily, the notion of gender roles and gender stereotypes and the notion that women have a certain place and men have a certain place and I mean honestly, the culture that we grew up in, most of it is involuntary, because a lot of people don’t even realize that it’s anything, they think that’s just how it is. The problem is if you try to explain to that person their problematic behavior, then they don’t understand, then its fucked, but at one point I was in that same boat in Staten Island where womanizing and misogyny runs rampant but it takes a long active effort to get out of it, I looked at myself and the terminology that I used, calling my friend a bitch because he doesn’t want another drink, it’s all stemming from the same place, and you have to take an active role in
uprooting it from yourself. You can’t really just grasp a hold of every possible patriarchal, misogynistic thought and take it from yourself and its gone and you’re an enlightened human being, everything is a continuous process until the day you die. I’ve seen people that identify as gender queer mistreat their female partner and it’s so obviously patriarchal and I don’t even know that they notice it and this is somebody that talks about these types of things, it being a thing to combat, but its present in everyone. It’s something you always have to work on.