An ongoing journey...

I began writing from some of my earliest memories of thoughts and emotions, so each new entry builds upon the one before it. And each new entry represents an evolution at that
particular point in time.
Thank you for reading and hopefully sharing.

The game.

All the passionate music I loved.

All my books, poems, and stories.

Every image projected onto a screen,
or beamed inside my home.

All great men and women in history.
   Every President.
   Every soldier.
   Every doctor.
   Every scientist.
   Every policeman.
   Every man of the cloth.

All my role models.

Anyone successful.

Anyone admired and respected.

Anyone I looked to for guidance and support.

Anyone who was loved.

Each kiss.

Each caress.

Each embrace.

Each dance.

Each marriage ceremony.

Every waking moment in time,
and every dream.

As a child,
and as a rapidly maturing boy.

All my life...
every image,
every message,
each law, rule, and precept...

each subtle innuendo,
each shrewd allusion,
every well meaning
and loving word of advice...

reinforced what I believed myself to be.


And sick,

and abnormal,

and unworthy.

I didn't want to exist.

Without an authentic future.

Without truth.

Without love.

Without being like...
everyone else.

I thought,
"Even if I don't feel the same way other men do,
I can pretend I do. One day I'll change if I try hard enough...
and wait."

But, hearing the words hurt so much.
They echoed in my head,
and ate away at my heart.

"What's wrong with you?"

"Maybe it's me... don't you like me?"

"I am I doing something wrong?"

"Why are you mad, Chuck?"

"What can I do to make it work for us, Chuck?"

"I love you so much, Chuck.
I wish you felt the same for me."

This cruel game I played with myself

went on

and on...

Perfect chemistry - Poison denial

I studied him as he sat at his desk in my life science class.
His butt rested on the very front edge of his seat and his shoulders against the top edge of his chair. His long legs stuck out so they were underneath the desk in front of him. His eyes were a light sienna brown and he had a small scar on his full lower lip. He was letting his sparse facial hair grow in; soft and light. His long, shiny brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail with a rubber band. One arm lay across him down to where his hand lightly cupped the tight, rounded bulge in his jeans, his long fingers curling down between his crotch. The other hand was tucked behind his head, showing off the round bicep of his slim, muscular arm. He wore a tight baseball tee shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows, the hair on his arms was straight, smooth, and silky looking.

When he spoke, his gaze was sincere, and his voice was soft. He was also the type of guy who wasn't afraid to touch other people; on the arm, or the waist, and sometimes would put his arm over your shoulder to talk. A trace of a smile always appeared on his lips and his eyes. He wasn't aware of how attractive he was... he seemed empty of himself, and unconscious of his appearance. He seemed completely comfortable with who he was.

I fantasized about what it would be like to know him as a friend.
Just talking to him. Just spending time with him.
Doing simple things together.
And I imagined, that over time, we could share more than just friendship.

The romantic visions made me feel bad about myself.
Weak. Less of a man.


The full moon is callin'
The fever is high
and the wicked wind whispers and moans

You got your demons
You got desires
Well, I got a few of my own...

I sat under a tree eating a tuna fish sandwich on slightly stale bread from the cafeteria. It was a bright and cool January day. The air was freshly scrubbed from a recent rain.

Even in the chill weather, he lay sunning himself on the slightly damp grass. He was short and stocky, and had curly shoulder length hair the of color of wheat. His heavy brow, full bull nose, and wide strong jaw magnified his virile, almost caveman-like features. He had thick, rusty sideburns and a light mustache that curled in at the corners of his mouth. He lay on his back with his face tilted toward the sun, his hands tucked behind his head, his stomach slowly rising and falling...
asleep or no?

His tan bib overalls were unfastened and pulled down low on his hips. He was shirtless, exposing his thick upper body, a woolly light-colored fuzz covered his chest and belly. The thick thatches of his armpits almost blended completely together with the hair on his chest and down to his stomach. From where I sat, he was stretched out so I could almost see down his pants where the hair continued to grow to his pubes.

His normal speaking voice was slightly raspy; the vocal trait of a guy active in sports who spent a lot of time yelling to be heard on the field. Because of his height and build, he was on the wrestling team, but he loved all sports and interested in all of them. He came across as a very confident guy, and by his loud speaking voice and swagger, somewhat aggressive, but not threateningly so. When he spoke with you, his steely-blue eyes were full of attention and energy. He was known for being a nice guy, someone who cared about other people's feelings. He was the type of guy who was friendly with everyone, even if you weren't interested in sports as much as he was.

I wondered what it would be like to go to game with him. Even if I didn't like the particular sport we were watching, I thought he would make it interesting anyway, just by how excited he got about it. I would love to have a friend like him.

Again, I entertained fantasies about what it would be like to know someone like him.
I thought about the truly great times we could have together,
and what a good friend I could be.
I thought about what it would be like to be close to him. Emotionally connected.
I thought about what it would be like to have him share his feelings with me... to allow himself to be vulnerable.
To reveal his weaknesses.
To trust me.

The feelings crept back again.


Ooo, loneliness will blind you
In between the wrong and the right
Ooo, coming right behind you

Swear I'm gonna find you
One of these nights


Again I thought,
"I have to try not to think about guys that way.
I know it'll pass.
One day I'll wake up and I'll think differently."

And again, I tried to analyze my feelings,
"I want to be like them so badly, I'm attracted to the image they project, rather than to them personally. I want what they have... not them."

To me, their lives, and the way they appeared to be living,
seemed so much more simple and happy than the way I was living.

"If only I wasn't...   ...

if only I didn't... think the way I did."

Roger was intelligent and friendly, and he and I seemed to connect from the first time we met. We were on the same intellectual level, even though he was a strict honors student, while I was completely lazy when it came to subjects I wasn't really interested in, and only exerted myself when it was absolutely necessary.
Now was one of those times, and were working on group project, and as it turned out, he and I were our own group of just two.
It was lunchtime, but our English teacher almost always kept her room open (It always gave the geeks a place to hang out together.) There were only a couple of other students in the room with us while we pulled information from books and notes.

Roger was unpretentious and honest, and he was very easy for me to talk to. He had a self-depreciating sense of humor, which I thought might be his way of asking for approval when he was feeling insecure. He was also on the tall side for most Asians I knew, and spoke with no accent, which was surprising to me the first time I heard him. Even though he wasn't a rebel, his very long hair certainly made him standout, at least it did for an Asian living in the Suburbs in 1975. His hair was straight and jet black, and the thick glossy strands seemed to magically stay out of his face. His hair only dropped forward when he looked down at something, and a quick comb with his fingers set it back when he looked up. He had a slight mustache, thicker at the corners of his mouth and continuing downward; in time he'd have a mean Fu Manchu.

We had only been working for a few minutes, when he asked if Sheri (a girl I been on a date with) and I were still going out. I was surprised because of how fast word got around, and also of the emphasis he put on the "Still".

"We've only been out a couple of times. It's not like we're serious." I said.

Roger didn't look up from his notes, but I could see a little smile.

I asked, "Do you know Sheri?"

His hair shifted forward.
"No. My sister knows her sister, Debi." he said pulling his hair back.
"Debi thinks you're not really serious about her sister Sheri." he said.

"We haven't had time to get serious."
I don't know why, but I felt irritated Debi said something like that. But as a teenager, I was always thinking there was some deeper meaning behind everything everyone said.

"Debi told my sister you and Sheri had time to get a little serious."
he said with an emphasis on the word "little" this time.

I could feel myself blush.

He looked up at me with smiling eyes. "Did you get a little serious?"

No matter how hard you try, you can't control the color in your face. I was silent, while I tried to figure out something masculine to say. But seeing as Sheri and I hadn't really done anything other than just feel each other up, there was nothing masculine to say.

"We didn't do anything." I said with what I'm sure was a self conscious grin.

"Do you like Sheri?" he asked.

"I like her. She's sweet." What the fuck was I saying? "Sweet"? She was "sweet"?
I was glad no one was around to hear me say that but him. I just had to hope he would repeat it.

"Yeah, she really is sweet." he said seriously. "I wish I could find someone like her."

"Who do you like?" I asked.

He looked down flipping a page of his notes.
"Nobody my parents would like." he said.
"I don't have the looks to get anybody interested anyway."

I thought to myself, "That's untrue. Is he just fishing for a compliment?"

He said, "I'm not like you. All you have to do is just wait around for somebody to ask you out."

That shot me down. Or was that part of the game?
"What's the matter with the way you look?" I asked.

He shrugged slightly. "You're good looking. You don't have anything to worry about."

I said, "I think you're a good looking guy."
Immediately I thought, "Jesus! Why did I always have to say something without thinking first! I screw things up every time I do."

He looked at me, his eyes deep, black pools of sincerity.
"You think I'm good looking?" He said quietly.

An electric shiver ran through me, a sudden arc of recognition,
one that I felt on previous occasions with him.
Was I imagining the feeling, or did the connection really exist.
I could feel an emotional tide rise inside me, one that made me feel excited, but insecure.
I thought, "What do I say?" and adjusted myself to a more typical masculine posture.

"I've heard girls say stuff about you." I said with a shrug and a smile.

"I wanted to know if you thought I was." He asked, his eyes now locked to mine.

He seemed like he was another one of those people who could read my mind. "How did I keep running into them?" Every time it happened and I responded emotionally, it was a disaster.

"I guess. How would I know?" I said. My response killed me inside for some reason. It was a strange feeling; an odd combination of knowing that what I had said wasn't completely truthful, and also a feeling of 'disappointment' which I didn't understand right then.

He looked away into empty space for a couple seconds. 
"Forget it." He said.
Then shaking his head slightly said, "No matter what, my parents will never be happy. I know they wouldn't let me date anyway, but they're always bugging me about girls."

He pulled his hair back and rested his head on his hand. 
"They point out girls for me. 'This one's pretty.' 'This one has a good head on her shoulders.' 'Her parent's own their own business, and her husband will take over the business after they're married.' God, don't they know they can't choose everything for me?"

His eyes seemed to glitter, and I wasn't quite sure what he was feeling.

"It's easy for you Chuck. My life isn't ever going to be the way I want it to be."

My heart sank, and I was so moved. I wished I could be sure of what he was talking about. But I just didn't have the courage to ask him. I really felt deeply for him.

And I reached up to touch him.

His hand caught mine in midair before I could reach him.
And he pulled my hand down to the table gently,
withdrew, and began to leaf through his notes.

No more personal stuff anymore. 


I've been searching for the daughter of the devil himself
I've been searching for an angel in white
I've been waiting for a woman who's a little of both
And I can feel her but she's nowhere in sight.

                                 One of These Nights - Eagles - 1975

The rock bands of my generation produced some very passionate ballads - with sexual innuendos threaded throughout them. And though the words of the songs reached into my soul, and were able to stir my deepest desires, I believed I would never experience any passions as intense as those in my own life.


Roger and I remained friends throughout high school, but our relationship changed after that single, short exchange. Even though, at the time, I could never accept the fact he actually had feelings for me, I knew something important and unspoken was lingering between us. Sometimes when we spoke, he would hesitate as if he was on the verge of telling me something, but would always retreat and become quiet. I could tell that there was something he wanted to say, a feeling he wanted to express, but could never allow himself to disclose something that could possibly alter his life forever.

And he was not alone with those thoughts.

Roger and I didn't really have the same crowd of common friends. He was an over-achiever and hung out with all the other honor students, while I was involved in performing arts.
He and his friends were interested in music and art, and came to most of our productions, and he always asked about what was coming up. For the four years I was involved in the performing arts department, we actually produced some very high-quality work. Our school had a particularly good "batch" of artists at the time, and I was glad to be part of it.

My grades were marginal with all the hours I put into the productions, but I was always able to just scratch by in the subjects I didn't excel in. Sometimes rehearsals ran late (too late for the administrators), but as long as the department kept producing the high level of quality it did, they continued to look the other way and make exceptions for us.

I worked with all the technical aspects of the productions; lighting, sound, set construction and design, etc. I loved what I did, and since I was serious and committed, our director entrusted me with more responsibility and freedom. I was often given the keys to the drama department, which included the magical and powerful "master" key, that allowed me access to anywhere on the school. Our director had no reason to suspect that I would abuse the privilege of her trust, and I never gave her a reason to mistrust me. At the time, I valued her trust in me over my competence in anything I did. All for her attention and approval.

We were rehearsing particularly late one night; again pressing our luck with impatient parents and administrators. While the stage was being used by the actors, the multipurpose room floor was being used for some dancers practicing their routines. The stage with its wooden surface, offered more comfort than the linoleum veneer over the solid concrete slab, and some of the dancers were complaining. The director conceded to their busied knees and elbows, and asked me to get some mats from the gym. I took the ring of keys, grabbed a dolly and a couple of bungee cords, and set off to the gym.

The gym and locker rooms weren't far from the theater, and the area where I was walking was illuminated dimly by the stadium lights in the distance still lit from football practice that had ended over an hour earlier. Some of the players had stopped by the theater after practice to talk to their girlfriends, who were in the show, and wait for them to finish so they could drive or walk them home. When I got to the door of the gym, I remembered there were some smaller mats rolled up in the locker room. I thought while I was in the locker room, I could also grab my PE clothes out of my locker and take them home to wash them over the weekend.

I opened the door to the boy's locker room with the master key and pushed the dolly through, the steel door swinging shut behind me. I didn't have to find the light switch because there was a bank of lights still on near where my locker was located.

The locker room always smelled the same way, and it's pungent odor wasn't unpleasant to me. It was a combination of sweat, dirty socks, deodorant, cheap soap, and something else that was "moist", "potent", and "organic"; like cum. The smell was always slightly arousing for me.

The area was brighter nearing the aisle where my locker was located. I rounded the bank of lockers, had taken about two step onto my aisle, and was surprised to see a naked backside. Normally, seeing someone naked in the locker room isn't surprising, but I wasn't expecting anyone to be here at all. Football practice ended over an hour ago.

Obviously not aware of my presence, I admired the guy's beautifully sculpted back and ass. He was fully developed into a man, his muscular frame angular and wedged. His wide shoulders tapered down to narrow hips, his ass square, tight, and furry. Then I saw long dark fingers grip his round his hips, and his head tipped back as a grunt came from his throat. He moaned slightly, and the muscles in ass tightened, as two large, dark hands slid around either side to gasp his firm cheeks.

I was excited by the site, but embarrassed as well, and I took a couple small steps back.
A moving body creates a pressure-wave across space and creates a sensation which can almost be felt, nearly audible; and those sensations gave me away.
A face appeared from around the naked guy's hips, wide-eyed and surprised.
He stood up as fast as lightning, scrambling and barking, "Fuck! Fuck!"
The naked guy didn't look back long enough to actually see me, but cried out frantically, "Oh shit man... shit!" He reached past the black guy in front of him, almost knocking him down reaching for towel on the bench behind him.

I turned and went round the corner of the lockers,
hurrying in the direction of the door.
I had only taken a few steps when I heard a loud "Hey!" behind me.
I turned and recognized this face. He was in the life science class where I was working a teacher's assistant.

Bernard was a hulking, black senior football player, who weighed over two hundred pounds. His eyes were full of fear or anger.. or both. As he took a step forward, I felt like I was shrinking. I wasn't sure what he was going to do, but I wouldn't have been surprised if he decided to pummel me. He was wearing boxers. He either was already wearing them, or put them on somehow while he was coming after me. I could see him breathing hard, his shoulders rising as he inhaled, his cocoa-colored body sheened with light sweat.

His eyes were wide and wild. He panted short breaths, and his mouth opened and then closed, as if he was trying to think of something to say. And a tickle ran down from the beads of sweat collecting on his forehead. Slowly, the look in his eyes softened, and then turned almost pleading. His lips started to tremble slightly, and eyes were beginning to tear up.

I heard the slam of a steel door on the far side of the locker room. Bernard's frame remained still, while only his muscles jolted. The other guy obviously bolted, leaving Bernard behind.

Still looking like he was trying to think of what to say, his head shook almost imperceptibly. And I could see tears ready to spill out.

I looked into his beautiful, black eyes, and I said,
"What you guys do is none of my business."

He took it in, and he grew absolutely still. He seemed to be holding his breath.

I shook my head, and I said,
"I didn't see anything.
Nobody else did either."

I turned and walked away, wrestled the mat onto the dolly, secured it, and went out the door without looking back in his direction.

Bernard was an arm's-length best friend for the rest of the year. He went out his way to say 'Hi' and talk to me, even bringing me a can of soda a couple of times. I wanted to tell him he didn't need to treat me any differently, but he was sincere and I didn't want to run the risk of hurting his feelings... or insulting him. Bernard was in the process of tearing himself up inside, frightened of his feelings, frightened by exposure. Or maybe he was hating himself for who he was, or who he thought he was. He was the supreme, popular football jock with admirers and girls falling all over him.
And he had a secret.

I knew who he was blowing that night, or at least I had a pretty good idea. Every once in a while I would see him talking to Bernard, usually with no one else around. The look on their faces when they spoke was sober, and they were noticeably more serious with each other than they were with their other friends. The more I observed them over time, the more obvious it became their relationship was different. Maybe one was more serious than the other. Maybe one wanted to end it everything, and the other didn't.

I had a weird encounter with the guy who was being blown by Bernard that night in the locker room:
I was in the library with my friends (all geeks and nerds) sitting around a large round table, doing homework and minding our own business. Roger was sitting next to me, and we were all goofing around and acting stupid, when the guy who was receiving the blow job (I'll call him "Jake") walked up with a couple of his big jock friends. He slammed his hands down on the table, and said, pointing from person to person, "Everybody at this table is a fuckin' faggot!" His finger came round and stopped a me. "Except you." Without thinking I said, "Hey. I'm the only queer at this table."
He looked at his friends and they all bust up laughing, Jake slapped me on the back with more force than was necessary. I thought to myself, "What kind a fucked-up message was that? Did he know I was the one who caught them? And was that was his was of saying 'If I go down, you go down?' Or was he just in complete denial?" They walked away and all sat at another table where a couple of girls were already sitting. Jake sat next to a pretty Asian girl and slung his arm around her, pulling her toward him, jerking her body roughly. Just looking at the two of them together made me feel sorry for the Asian girl. I shook my head.
Roger sensed my disgust and said,
"Think of how I feel. The guy's an total asshole,
but my sister thinks he's the perfect man."

I blinked and asked, "That's your sister?"

He nodded, "Yeah. He's at my house almost everyday."

There was nothing I could really say.

The dance.

Every night I prayed that I'd wake up in the morning and just be normal.

I'd think and feel the same way other guys did,
and think about girls the way they did.

I would finally be able talk to them about things and not have to lie, or feel like I had to hold things back.
Putting on an act was exhausting.

I wished one day and all the sexual feelings I had about guys would be gone. I thought if that happened I could finally "really" begin to live.

But each morning I woke up, I was the same as the day before.
I thought the same way, and I had the same feelings.
I looked at the world just as I always had.

No matter how hard I prayed, and imagined, and wished, no matter how much with all my heart I truly wanted to be different, I always woke up the same as I had been the day before.

I was always just me.

It was my second year in high school and everyone was changing so fast... girls into women, boys into men. Some were becoming men and women with their physical features proceeding their minds, and some the other way around. I would recall how I knew my friends as children, and how different they seemed now, as high school students. Sometimes they seemed most different by their appearance, but what was most obvious to me was the changes in the way they were thinking. Their ideas were different; their interests; their beliefs. Sometimes it was refreshing because they had grown emotionally and spiritually into more interesting and complex individuals. Other times it was disappointing, because you could see them struggling to define themselves into a specific mold, so they would gain the approval of a certain group. The strugglers were not allowing themselves to be who they were, but were instead trying to become what they thought others wanted them to be, and I resented that. I could immediately sense when someone was being artificial and would distrusted them. But of course, I disliked those traits because I was guilty of having them as well, but I wasn’t completely aware that I carried them at the time.

Because I was so sensitive to facades and disliked them so much, I became adept at detecting them in others. But, that didn’t mean I wouldn’t befriend someone because of it. Sometimes it meant that it became my crusade to cut through the shield to find out what was underneath. Maybe I was hoping by finding out what they were hiding, I would somehow feel better about my own pretenses. As time went on, I became less interested in those who were being obviously artificial, and more fascinated with the ones whose deceptions were very subtle. And when I was able to break through, the moment was almost magical. In that moment, the flash of realization that you shared a deep symbiosis was incredibly intense, and almost sexually erotic in a way. Those sublimely intimate moments were treasured, and like finding an Easter egg, were surprising and delightful. As exciting as the encounters were, I was uncomfortable they seemed to happen most often with other young men my age.

As a teenager of my time, the pressure to remain straight was extreme. And, of course my parents just assumed I was straight anyway. After all, as I had been taught, homosexuals were very rare and bizarre. Adding to all the pressure, was the amount of positive reinforcement to guide me in that direction. And even if my parents knew deep down in their hearts that I was gay, they didn’t ever mention it. I remember when my cousin had come out at the time, and how my aunt and uncle had rejected her with such anger and bitterness. I also remember how my parents would mention that she was gay in a whisper. It was the same way they would mention the word "cancer" at the time. As if the disease was shameful somehow, or possibly they thought if you said the word too loudly, you might conjure it up and call it forward to afflict your loved ones. But the message was clear: If you were gay, or if you had a family member who was gay, it was a very bad thing.

In high school, having your first romantic relationship was an event to be celebrated (as long as it was chaste and pure). Parents would invite the prospective suitors to dinner and family gatherings. Usually the couple was fawned over by the patriarchs and matriarchs, and given advice for the success of a long happy relationship. The longer the couple dated, the more serious the relationship appeared to be, and the stronger the positive reinforcement became. If the relationships extended into the senior years of high school, parents would often begin to talk about wedding arrangements, and what their children might be like. “Have you given any ideas about what you might name the children?” The parents would say with a sly smile. “Could you imagine what beautiful children that handsome couple would have?” Then the couple would be given advice as to how to start a home, and stories from the established couples would be shared regarding enduring the trials and tribulations of the early years, and how to make them successful.

If you were gay…
you were on your own.
All alone.

So I dated girls, to the delight of my family, and was treated to all of the positive strokes, and happy stories, and kind invitations by family members. And I can’t say it was a bad experience because I learned many great lessons about relationships. I had girlfriends who continued to show interest in me even after they discovered I didn’t respond to sexual overtures the same way other guys did. And I made excuses to myself as to why I didn’t have strong sexual desires to be with girls who would have been aggressively perused by other guys. I told myself I was different; that I wanted more from a woman than just sexual pleasure. I wanted to know them, become part of them, to look beyond the surface, and consummate our relationship, with or without physical contact, with true intimacy. I believed (and still do) there was a more complete union I had to offer, more truthful and meaningful level of intimacy; one borne from authenticity and sincerity.

But of course, I could never genuinely provide them with this idealized relationship.
Because I was always holding back one important truth, from myself, as well as others.

So I continued the dance in solitude.

One night on a beach, I stood face-to-face with a girl who was evolving into a young woman. Her hair black and straight, her eyes dark and deep, her heart and mature mind open and honest.

The beach was flat and vast, the waves crested low,
while the light from the stars and the moon illuminated the white sand and the ocean foam ghostly blue. The cool breeze swept in gently over the water, carrying the strong scent of an ocean teeming with life.

We were alone on the beach, in the night, on the sand.
The two of us standing close with our arms wrapped low around each others waists, while pressing our warm torsos together, and gently breathing. The soothing white sound of the waves and the dim blue light carried me gently and slowly to that other dimension.
I felt so free and alive, and my mind drifted slowly.
And my mind wound round and round my deepest desires and my innermost yearnings.
What I wanted seemed so very close, but yet strangely out of reach. This was the right place and right time for something so deeply moving to happen, and I could have been falling towards a moment to treasure. And even though we both stood there together on the beach, I was alone in my thoughts for a moment.

I could feel her arms move upward and she pulled me close so her chin rested on my shoulder. I could feel her soft, round breasts against my chest, and she gently breathed in my ear.

“You’re not here, are you?” she whispered.

I pulled back, and when I opened my eyes a different face assembled in front of me than the one I had been thinking of only seconds ago.
I could feel my lips part while I thought of an answer to give.

“Who were you thinking of?” she asked, without any sign of distress.

I looked into her deep, dark eyes,
but before I could answer, she pulled me down on the sand.

I sat facing her and then I lay slowly backward and sunk slightly into the cool, damp sand.
Then she moved, sitting on top of me, she looked into my face.
And I could see a thought slowly cross over her.
And I thought I knew what it was, though I couldn’t be sure.
It was slightly sad, slightly eager, but very knowing.

She pulled her top off over her head, her glossy black hair fell smoothly over her shoulders glowing blue in the light. Her beautiful breasts, with her nipples erect from the chill of the night, her skin seemed to shimmer and glow blue in the night. She unbuttoned my shirt slowly, and pulled it off so my back was damp from the cold, gritty sand. She kissed my chest, and she laid down on top of me, with her soft breasts against me, her skin feeling icy against my hot skin.
She shivered slightly as she cuddled against me,
deeper and deeper, until we seemed to finally meld into one.

Waves of heat flowed over me, as she moved,
and our moans and whimpers of ecstasy,
or anguish, spilled through the cool night.

And my dance of deception had only begun.

Illusion and Desire.

I pursued what I desired with such conviction,
though it was impossible attain.

In the end;
I would never be able to touch it,
and truly comprehend the sensation.

Could not immerse myself in it,
and experience any degree of comfort.

Or consume it,
and ever quench the thirsts
of my soul.

It was only a tantalizing mirage on the horizon
of a vast, barren desert.

And it only appeared to be
what I desperately wanted it to be.


I had just finished my freshman year in high school and was relieved it was finally over.
I spent my first six months at a school I hated. I had lots of reasons to dislike it, but for starters, I resented being there because most of my friends from junior high were in a different district and ended up going to another high school. Disappointing still, my friends were going to a school that was modernized, clean, bright, well landscaped, and was also an open-campus (no gates or walls). Adding to my school's many negatives, it was just plain ugly. The design was a product of the mental state of America at the time. It was built at the end-half of the forties; a time when the possibility of a nuclear war was very, very real. The structures resembled above-ground bomb shelters, and looked as though they might be able to withstand anything other than a direct hit.
Inside and out, the whole place was painted institutional gray and green, while darkly tinted, and narrow windows were set high at the roof-line. And encircling the whole compound were high cinder-block walls punctuated every hundred feet or so with iron gates. The view on either side of the barrier was depressing: On the inside looking out, freedom was tantalizingly near, but impossible to reach. When outside the walls, you regarded the place with dread, because you knew you'd have to finish your sentence there before you would ever be set free. Adding to the poison atmosphere was the high gang population which just made matters even worse.

I hated it there so much, I started cutting classes and getting into fights just to show the faculty how much I deserved to thrown out (a plan which could have backfired badly). I pleaded with my parents to get me moved to another school, and they finally agreed to meet with the principal after months of my begging. I was still devastated from the incident with Jesse, and still blamed him for the way I felt about myself, rather than having any empathy for him, or remorse for what I had done to him. And the episode only added to my determination to run away. As it eventually turned out, my transfer was accepted and I finished off the last two months relieved about having a fresh new start.

Over the summer, my parent's good friend Carol, who owned a well established dance studio, asked me if would like to work for her at her office. I had performed with her group before, and while I wasn't much of a dancer, I could sing to some degree and enjoyed working on her semi-professional productions. I liked Carol because she was friendly and easy to talk to. She was incredibly intuitive when it came to relating with children, as well as kids in their early teens. She seemed to understand us better than other adults; almost as if she had some ability to read our minds.

Carol at twenty-six, was talented, smart, and beautiful. The dance studio was very successful, and she was dynamic, and talented, as well as a discriminating director and producer.
There was nothing really to dislike about Carol, and she was pursued by men, both single and married. She was intelligent, had a great sense of humor, and was ferociously optimistic. She was easy to trust... and to confide in.
She kept whatever you told her in strictest confidence.
And she kept her own secrets as well.

I was spending more and more time with Carol... at her studio... and eventually at her home.
I accepted her interest in me with innocence and puppy dog trust. She complimented me, which was embarrassing at first; how I looked in clothes, how I spoke, my mannerisms, my personality. Could she sense how insecure I was? How ashamed I was about myself? Did she know I liked thinking about guys? And as time went by, my trust in her grew, as well as my infatuation with her, and my emotional dependence on her.

As the weeks went by, I started staying overnight at her home, along with other students from the studio whose parents trusted her as well as my own parents did. Her home was large and beautiful, decorated with intricately detailed antiques, with many pieces from 1950's soda shops. Her home was like Disneyland, a pleasure and delight for anyone to visit, especially kids. Finally, the other students stayed overnight less frequently, and I started staying at her house alone with her. And over time, our conversations turned more intimate, and more emotionally revealing, and more sexually expressive.

I could see how men maneuvered to become close to her. I could hear the comments they would make; sometimes charming and complimentary, sometimes overtly sexual. They wanted her, but she didn't really seem to respond. Why did she take me under her wing so easily? What did she see in me that I didn't see in myself? She was obviously moving closer, as if some kind of contact was imminent. What would I do? If something sexual between us happened between us, would I be finally be normal? Would I not think of guys the same way anymore?

One warm summer evening, on a night I would be with her alone, we were laying on Carol's king-sized four poster bed talking. The hand-crank windows were open, allowing a soft, gardenia scented cross breeze to flow through the large, rose tinted room. The sheer curtains fluttered gently, the room warmly lit by the antique, pink shaded bed-side lamps. As I lay on my stomach in tee shirt and jeans, she asked me questions about how I pictured my future life in the years to come:

"Do you think you'll get married?"

"What would you name your children?"

"What do you want your first real girlfriend to be like?"

They were tough questions for a fifteen year-old boy to answer without just saying,
"I dunno."

Did she realize just how really complicated those simple questions were for me?

She laid her hand lightly on my back.
I jolted slightly, not expecting the touch.
And without commenting, she went on...

"Have you ever been in love?"

"Have you ever kissed a girl?"

"Who do you think is prettiest at the studio?"

Even at my age, I knew the last question was a loaded one.

"I think you're beautiful Carol. You know that."

I was telling the truth, she really was beautiful. But there was something "off" about what was happening at the moment. Something wasn't right on many, many different levels.
I felt myself slowly slipping into another dimension. Like gentle waves washing up on the beach, each successive one advancing slightly more than the last.

She wrote something on my back with her fingertip.

I knew this game. As a child my mother did this to me to comfort me after a nightmare, or when I was sick. It would usually lull me to sleep.

She wrote it again.

"Did you get get it?"
"No..." I said.

She wrote it slowly.
And I felt...


I fell backward into the dreamy dimension which opened wide to envelope me.

Carol's hand rested on my back,
and I laid still as stone.

I felt a rush of warmth flow all through my body,
and she drew her face slowly down to mine.
Her eyes were penetrating,
and she seemed to be searching
mine for acceptance.
I was accepting, but unsure.

And she tilted my face towards hers,
and then kissed my lips very lightly.
And then again.

I laid still and she moved closer to lay beside me,
keeping her face close to mine.
She rubbed my back gently with her fingertips,
up and down. Down and back up.

She asked,
"Would you like to sleep with me?"

A burst of adrenaline shot through my body,
a strange mixture of excitement and fear.
And I rolled over on my back and closed my eyes.
I could feel the warmth of her body,
and smell her gentle perfume.

She rubbed my chest the same way she had my back,
with her fingertips so lightly,
and I tingled with tiny electric charges.
She kissed me again,
and with my eyes still closed,
I reached up and touched her shoulder,
pulling her closer to me.
And kissed again,
and again.

We were laying naked together, now in the dark.
She was breathing deeply and I could tell she was asleep.
I felt so strange, as if it really hadn't happened at all. And I thought to myself, "I not a virgin anymore." I thought, "Maybe I already wasn't a virgin. Maybe I lost virginity when Michael (a teenage boy who molested me when I was six) made me suck him and stuck his dick in me, or maybe I lost it when I was with Jesse." In any case, I felt I was more of a "man" now that I had actually been with a woman. And while I enjoyed having sex with her, I didn't really feel completely satisfied for some reason. The experience with Jesse seemed so much more...
I didn't know.

I couldn't put a word to it at the time,
but the word was "passionate".

Carol and I continued our relationship over the summer, and although I felt like I loved her more each day, there was a component missing... an important one. But I could not, and would not, accept what it was.

Eric, a friend of Carol's, was an aspiring singer and sometimes performed in her productions. He was a college student and frequently crashed at Carol's house and did minor home repairs for her. Eric was tall and thick, a broad shouldered guy, with curly brown hair, and a friendly, easy-going personality. I liked him, but sometimes he would irritate me by making it obvious he was saying secretive things about me to Carol. When I would ask Carol what he had said, she would just brush off the whole thing by saying, "Don't worry about it. Eric's full of it. You just have to get used to him". Eric would just wink and give me a big, broad smile.

By this time, I was back at school, but my parents would often drop me off at Carol's on the weekends. I would help Eric fix things around the house; patching stucco, painting, minor plumbing, tree trimming, etc. Once while Carol was visiting her relatives back east, she asked Eric if he would watch the house, take care of the dogs, and do some repairs for her. She gave him a key, and then suggested I should come by and help him over the weekend. He thought it was a good idea, and he told my parents to drop me off at her house on Saturday, and he would drive me back Sunday.
After I got there, he set me work mowing the lawn, which was huge because her house was set on two long, deep lots. When I was about half way through, Eric came out and brought me something to drink. It was hot, and I had taken my shirt off and tucked it down the back of my pants. He said we would break for lunch soon, and I downed my glass of tea. As he talked about where we should go for lunch, and what we needed to do next, I felt him staring at me, scanning; my chest, shoulders, and arms. It made me self-conscious, and my discomfort seemed to amuse him. He smiled that broad smile of his, and a strange feeling washed over me. It wasn't a bad feeling, I was actually a little excited.

After lunch, I finished the front yard and then the back. It wasn't easy doing the back yard because her dogs liked to play, and weren't afraid of the sound of the mower. I swept, washed down the patio and driveway, and after helping Eric replace a spring on the garage door, I was tired and sweaty. After I took a long shower, I sat wearing shorts, my body still damp from the steamy heat, on a large, "L" shaped window seat which faced the back yard. By this hour, it was getting dark and the old fashioned, streetlight-style lamp posts Carol had installed to light the back yard were illuminating the area where I sat. It was the type of night I had always liked - It was windy and clear, and the air seemed unusually fresh, slightly cool, and crisp. The light played through the leaves of the trees, now beginning to turn amber, and rustled in the breeze.

I turned to see Eric watching me enjoying the moment. He had taken a shower too and his button up shirt hung open, probably feeling damp like me after the hot shower.

"Carol's got a nice place, hasn't she?" He asked.
"I like all the homes around here." I said.

Carol lived in an area where most of the home had been built in the twenties, which I liked better than the cookie-cutter suburban home my parents lived in. My parent's home was very nice, but these homes had more detail and character.
Eric came over and sat at the other end of the window seat, so we were both facing each other with our backs against corners. We sat in the dark room, with the lamp posts outside illuminating our profiles. My legs were stretched out across the large seat, but gave Eric enough room to be comfortable. We both stared outside admiring the night.

Eric asked, "Carol's a babe isn't she?"
"Yeah, she is." I said smiling.

Eric was grinning at me. He had caught me off-guard.
I averted my eye contact with him, glancing back outside.

"You've been banging her how long?" He asked.

My head snapped back. He was still smiling.
I didn't say anything. I just looked back outside.

After a few seconds he said, "I'm not gonna get you guys in trouble." He swung one leg up to nudge mine. "Really."
I stayed quiet, but I was a relieved... a little.

"Do you like it?" he asked.

"Do I like it?" I asked myself. "What does he mean by that? Why would he ask that?"
I answered by shrugging.

He said, "I thought maybe she wasn't really your type. You know what I mean?"
Surprised, I thought, "Jesus Christ! Can everyone read my mind? What... do I look like a fag? Act like one?" And stayed quiet, heat rising in my face.

He said, "I told Carol I thought you might be different. You know?"
I looked at him sharply and he wasn't smiling anymore.
"I don't think there anything wrong with you. I think you're a nice guy. I think you're very good looking, Chuck."

Eric moved his leg up to the window seat so that it was now resting between my legs. The look on his face was the same look Jesse had on his that night. The look in his eyes... hungry. Eric moved his foot so it was almost touching my crotch, lightly brushing the inside of my thigh. "Oh Jesus." I thought, "I was getting hard already."

A flurry of conflicting thoughts and feelings suddenly crammed into my brain, boiling in excitement and doubt. What do I do? What does this make me? I know what I want to do, but if I do, what about Carol? What does this mean about Eric and I? Does this mean I'm really a fag?

I looked at him, and he moved so quickly I was stunned. He came at me hard and I was startled, but electrified, his mouth on my chest and belly, sucking and licking. His hands gripped my hips and pulled me down hard so I was prone on the window seat. The inside of my head blazed with sparks as I held his head as he moved lower and lower. He was feeling every inch of my body while his head remained down hungrily gorging himself. Suddenly, snorting with a quick angry move, he yanked off my shorts.

Afterward, Eric seemed nervous and distant. And after Carol came back from her trip, Eric all but disappeared completely. When I did meet him, his conversations were short and distant, and he wouldn't hold eye contact with me. I didn't quite understand what was wrong with him, but I noticed Carol stopped inviting him over. In fact, Carol was having me over less and less, and even though we had sex occasionally, she seemed to be pulling away from me as well. As the school year progressed, she suddenly decided she might move to Minnesota to be closer to family. When I heard this news, I was devastated, heartbroken, confused. I called her on the phone to talk to her, but she acted like nothing had ever happened between us. Hadn't what we shared between us meant anything to her? Later she sold her business, her house, moved to Minnesota, and married a man much older than she was. Once, years later, she came back for a visit, and the first question she asked me when I was alone with her was if I had told anyone what went on between us. After a single day's visit, I never saw or heard from her again.

I later realized the whole episode had left me completely unable to relate to girls who were my own age. Girls in high school were not anywhere near as sophisticated, or emotionally mature than Carol had been. Girls in high school were still, for the most part, innocent. Even if they had extensive sexual experience, they didn't have the worldliness of a twenty-six year old woman. And girls in high school, to me, just seemed like little girls. And high school boys just seemed like little boys... still attractive, but still.

I walked away from the experience with many scars. Some self-inflicted.
Ones that showed only when I opened my heart and revealed them to someone.

Many scars would follow.
Many scars would heal.

No love allowed.

When I was a freshman in high school, I had a growing sense of myself and how different I was. Which I guess is the way most teenagers feel anyway, but I was gay as well, so I think it compounded my feeling of self-consciousness. And by this time my interest and excitement in other males was reaching a peak. I romanticized, fantasized, and to some degree, resented them the same way girls did. I especially resented them when I felt they didn't accept me, or didn't like me when I liked them. I was usually attracted to guys who wouldn't be any good to hang around with even if they did show interest in having any contact with me; the tough ones, the mentally dense and overly developed ones, the ones who had a chip on their shoulder, the stoners, sometimes the gangbangers. It was mainly their physical features and machismo I found so arousing. It was also odd how attracted I was to the vulnerabilities I sensed in the super-masculine types who always tried just a little too hard to prove themselves as men. These were not the types that were safe to approach in any sexual way... or so I thought.
I really had no idea of just how much homosexual activity there was going on between some of them at the time.

The reason I've been using the word "homosexual" instead of "gay" is because it was the term used at the time. The word was used with pity or disgust, or sometimes used the same way you would describe someone when they had a disease:   "He acts that way because he's a homosexual."

From now on, I'll use the word "gay".

I became friends with a boy in one of my classes when we were assigned to work together on a history project. His name was Jesse and he was very tall and lanky, with a mop of yellow-blond hair and deep, soft voice. He was one of those gentle, sensitive types that most mothers wanted their daughters to have as a boyfriend. To me, Jesse seemed unusually sensitive - beyond the timidity and uncertainty of the typical insecure teenager. Over the weeks of working together on the project, we got to know each other better and I realized he was neither timid or insecure. He actually possessed empathetic qualities that you'd expect from someone more mature in age - someone with more worldly experience. The more we talked and worked together, the more I realized how much we had in common intellectually. Both of us were aware of the growing intimate communication between us. The communication became layered, as if there were two different conversations going on; one spoken and heard, and the other felt and absorbed.

On the last weekend before our project was due, Jesse spent the night and we wasted time watching television and ate body-temperature pizza delivered to the door, and we talked.
We talked and filled in the blanks about our families, and where we grew up. We talked about school, our classes and teachers, about other friends and students, we talked about gym class... and the locker room. Boys were changing into men and we talked about what we saw; broadening shoulders, muscle definition, the hair growing on their arms, stomachs, and chests. I was surprised how he noticed the same things I did. Like how some guys had thick armpit hair and how it would stick together forming rings from the sweat.
We talked about the pungent smell of the locker room; the heavy and potent smell of sweat fueled by adrenaline and testosterone. And about how on the hairier guys, the hair on their chests and bellies would stick flat to their skin when it was wet. We talked about the thickness and lengths of guy's dicks, and low hanging balls... snickering about it first - and then with admiration. Jesse talked about how he couldn't stop staring at the guys who were uncircumcised. He said he liked the way the foreskin would grip tight on guys with unusually big heads. We went on talking about what we smelled and what we saw, our descriptions becoming more and more erotic until finally we both seemed stoned with arousal.

We smelled the same smells, and we saw the same things.
And we felt the same way.

The arc of realization flashed back and forth between us, and it was unbelievably awesome. As we sat on the floor, Jesse moved toward me, laid his hand on my chest and pushed me slowly backward to the floor. He ran his hand down my belly, keeping it there, and then looked into my eyes for a second. With me laying back on the floor, he positioned himself so that he was straddled over me, suspended without touching each other. I reached up and ran my hands from his hips, up his lean sides, around his wide shoulders, and running down along his tightened arms. When I looked at his face, his eyes seemed so deep and dark, they were hungry somehow. I moved my hands up under his shirt, feeling his narrow waist and broad smooth back. With my fingertips, I could feel goosebumps forming as I moved my hands around his body. And I could feel the warmth of my own blood rushing into my legs and groin, the sexual hunger building within me.
He slowly lowered himself on top of me, moving up and forward so his groin pressed into my stomach. I could feel his hard bulge through his pants and I pulled his hips downward tighter against me. I was trembling with excitement, and when he looked down for a moment, I realized he was as well. I rolled both of us over, him on his back, and deeply smelled his chest through his clothes. He moved his hands up and pulled my shirt off up over my head, and gently rubbed my shoulders and back. I sat up and unbuttoned his shirt while he explored my bare chest and stomach. I moved my hands downward and unbuckled his belt and unbuttoned his jeans. I could see his long, hard dick through his pants before I tugged them down off him. When he was naked I took in the sight of his thickness and size, his light blond pubic hair, and the dusting of fuzz growing over the rest of his body. I lowered myself again so that my stomach was pressed against his hot, stiff dick.

We searched and explored ourselves and each other. Feelings rose from my gut I'd never felt before. Feelings of unbelievable passion and overwhelming excitement. All of the feelings overloaded my senses and the experience was surreal.

What was wrong with me?

The moment I opened my eyes in the morning I was angry. I was sick of what I did with Jesse the night before, I was sick of guys, of jacking off about them, and I was sick of myself. I wanted to be normal. Being gay was ruining my life. It was making me feel bad about myself. I took a hot shower and tried to make everything that happened the night before wash down the drain. I wrapped a towel around my waist, started down the hall, and just as I passed the spare room where Jesse had slept part of the night, the door popped open.
Jesse was smiling and asked "Are you through?"
Meaning if he could use the bathroom. I looked down, told him I was, and went into my room and closed the door. I wished he was gone. There was a tap at my door and then opened far enough for Jesse's face to show. I had just taken off my towel, which I snatched back up with embarrassment.
I said, "Hey!" covering myself quickly.
I could see the confusion in Jesse's face. Then he asked if he could come in. I didn't really say anything, so he came in and closed the door. I just wanted him gone.

He had such a calm look on his face, content and enlightened. I wasn't smiling, but he was.
He started quietly, and slowly. "I just want to tell you that I'm glad we're friends. I think I'm really lucky to have a friend like you. I mean... I feel different, you know? I just want you to know I'm glad I met you."
I could feel my face flush with a strange combination of disgust, embarrassment, and anger. Though I couldn't look at him, I said, "Just get out."
He was quiet for a couple seconds.
"What?" he said almost breathlessly.
I closed my eyes, my body beginning to vibrate with anxiety. "Just get your stuff and go." He suddenly seemed closer to me.
"What's wrong? I thought..." My eyes opened filled with watery rage.
"Get out of here you fucking faggot!"
His face went through a series of emotional changes; first shock, then confusion, to anguish, and finishing with something I couldn't read. He turned and quietly left my room, shutting the door behind him. He got dressed, collected his papers and books, walked out the front door, and rode his bike away. I felt no guilt. I was relieved he was gone. But I was left with a feeling that I had permanently changed somehow. I did not walk away from his pain clean.

We turned in our project as we had left it - incomplete. The teacher was very wise and had seen thousands of students interact with each other over her long career, and I'm sure she knew something about us, and that something had happened. She even asked why we stopped working, but didn't really press the issue. Seeing Jesse everyday was difficult, and I avoided eye contact with him. I think he was always on the verge of approaching me, but never did. A few months later, I transferred to another high school. I would become a brand new patient, in a brand new institution with hoards of new mental patients inflicted with the same old problems.

I often think of Jesse. His sweet, kind nature. His thick, wavy blond hair and low voice. His sincerity, his honesty, his gentle touch.
I think of the permanent damage I could have inflicted on him by own insecurities and denial. There was nothing ever wrong with him, but there was something deeply wrong with me. He approached me with truth and passion, and through my own hatred of myself, I stabbed him as he made the first attempt to open his heart.
I've often thought that if I could ever possibly find him, I would literally throw myself at his feet and beg him to forgive me. I would hold him tight and tell him that now I understand. I understand that he was offering an open door to a world I was too cowardly to enter. He was the "healthy" one, and I was the one who had the issues. I hope with all my heart that his life turned out well, and he's happy. And I pray that my ignorance and cruelty towards him didn't do anything to hinder his growth.

And I hope he saw me for what I was;
just another angry, gay teenager who couldn't come to terms with the truth.

But my turn in his position would soon come.


It was a placed filled with:
Paranoia, obsessions, loneliness, compulsions, ignorance, anger, indifference, bigotry, conceit, lust, faith, confusion, happiness, suspicion, bitterness, realizations, betrayals, enlightenment, hatred, and love.

I always thought of high school as a mental institution where the patients were given free-reign to psychologically and physically torture each other. Being committed to this place for four years scarred my soul and strengthened my body, and scarred my body and strengthened my soul. It truly was the very best and the very worst of times.

Manny was a sincere, good natured boy in his junior year at the institution. He was dark skinned and slightly chubby, had a toothy grin, and was as "out" as you could get away with in high school in 1977. He was outspoken and slightly effeminate, and he barely attempted to conceal his innermost self where others didn't have the courage. Manny was a glaring light of purity and truth that caused the rest of us to flush with self-consciousness, and revealed the darkest corners of dishonesty and secrecy we kept hidden.

Disaster was inevitable.

As any normal, red-blooded, American gay boy should be at the time, he was active in performing arts. That year's spring production was "South Pacific" - a play about love and prejudice, oddly enough. The setting is a military base on a beautiful, Polynesian Island during World War II, where the navy men and women work together in the steamy tropic heat. The production requires a large male cast, which is a complication because female actors usually outnumber males by at least six to one. Girlfriends were asking their boyfriends, some of them from the football and basketball teams, to be in the play. They didn't have to sing or dance, or even say anything. All they had to do was just pretend they were in the navy on a desert island... and possibly appear onstage shirtless.

Manny was of course delighted when the boys removed their shirts as the scenes called for it. For Manny, the stage offered a much more intimate setting than the pool, the beach, or even the locker room, because in public areas he may have felt compelled to keep from staring. But in this case, feeling at home and confident in his element, Manny was making comments openly. He complimented their muscles, their chest hair, their nipples... most of them just laughed and were good sports about it. Their acceptance was surprising, either because they didn't understand he was actually aroused or because they honestly didn't care. This was high school in 1977 and he was taking a risk.

One of the guys was the boyfriend of one of the girls in the play. Steve was a senior on the football team, and a big blond, good looking stud. He actually seemed more like a stoner-type than a football player with his shaggy hair and scruffy appearance. He was the type of guy the girls drooled over, and the other guys were jealous of. He was a "true" blond, and had a lean, muscular build. He almost always wore sandals, jeans, and a tank top which showed off his thick arms, broad shoulders, and fine blond chest hair. He was known for being moody and aggressive, which was bad considering he had a man's body and a child's brain. His girlfriend would complain to the other girls about their arguments and his jealousy. And he, unlike the others, didn’t like Manny or any of his comments.

One night between scenes, the guys were all changing in the greenroom. Steve was joking around with some of the guys from the football team who were also recruited for the play. Manny was changing with them and was making it very obvious he was leering at Steve. When Steve dropped his pants he was wearing a jockstrap, which for Manny was like hitting the beefcake jackpot. The other guys laughed and asked him why he was wearing it and making comments about its worn-out condition. Manny couldn’t hold back and told Steve that it looked like he was too big for it, and asked him if was wearing a cup underneath.
If someone else, anyone else, had have made the same comment, it would have been laughed off... but it wasn't. Steve's team-mates were laughing, but the comment made Steve self-conscious and embarrassed. Steve got right up in Manny’s face, pushed him hard enough to knock him down and told him he was going to “kick his queer-fucking ass”. The other guys told Steve to "leave the little faggot alone”, and then went back to changing. Steve seemed unusually upset by Manny’s remark, making gestures and glaring at him for the rest of the night. Manny was a nervous, but tried to make a joke of it.

No one saw the fight, but they did see the aftermath the next day. Unbelievably, Manny showed up for school wearing the same clothes he had been beaten up in the night before. He obviously hadn’t showered or made any attempt to clean himself up. The first thing you saw was that the collar of his shirt was torn so that it exposed his entire shoulder. The second thing was his face, which was scratched, bloody, and swollen. His eye was bruised and beginning to swell shut. There was dried blood on his face and clothes from where his nose had been bleeding profusely. Both of his lips were thickening and split, seeping fluid and blood. With his torn, dirty clothes, and his beaten face he was immediately being questioned by friends and teachers. But all he would say about the way he looked was that he had an accident on his way to school when he fell off his bike. This might have been somewhat believable if he said he was hit by a car on his way to school. Or that he rode his bike off a cliff. He was sent to the office, and his mom (who apparently hadn't seen him earlier) was called to pick him up. Everyone questioned him, trying to get the real story.

Steve couldn’t stop himself from bragging about how he had “messed up the little faggot”. Steve was truly one of the inspirations for the phrase; Young, dumb, and hung. He was like the spring break frat-boy smashing windows and tipping over cars, while smiling and fist-pumping for the television news cameramen. His girlfriend was furious when she found out, and let him know by reaming him in front of his friends. Some of his teammates were a little humiliated by him beating up on someone who was virtually defenseless against him. Steve was pulled into the office where both of his parents, and a police officer were waiting for him. His parents, to their credit, were not angry just because he was caught (or confessed), but because they were truly embarrassed and disgusted with him. Apparently Manny begged his parents not to press charges, and to my knowledge, they never did. Steve was suspended, but he had his supporters who said that Manny asked for whatever he got.

Why did Manny come to school without changing clothes, cleaning up, or telling anyone what really happened? Some said he was just looking for attention. But I think in some way, he was actually wearing his damage like a badge of honor. Like walking through fire and coming out alive on the other side. You have less to fear afterward. But he didn't ever talk to anyone about what happened.

A few years later while I was attending a local community college, I ran into a friend I had known from drama class in high school. We were talking about the old days and I asked her if she still saw anyone. She said she was still friends with Manny who had been taking acting classes at the college. She told me that the guy who beat him up actually tracked him down, which was easy because Manny still lived with his parents in the same neighborhood. I thought maybe Steve finally looked him up to finish the job he started. She said that Steve admitted to Manny he was gay, and actually pleaded for Manny to forgive him for what he had done. I could hardly believe it, but it did make sense. She said she couldn't believe it herself, because she said that Steve just didn't seem "that way". She said Steve was with girls all the time in high school, and she didn't know what could have happened to "turn him into one".

This was the first time I had ever witnessed this type of phenomena firsthand. You hate something about yourself so badly, you're willing to destroy someone else who shares the same characteristic. If you eliminate them, you might be able to snuff out the thing you hate in yourself.

I remembered.

I had done the same thing at an earlier time.

The boiling point...

Even though I was confused about certain aspects of my life at the time, I wouldn't consider my childhood to have been traumatic. I have many wonderful memories, and was fortunate enough to have had many experiences that most children were not able to have because of family issues, health problems, financial hardships, etc. So I guess you could say that I had a very "ordinary" childhood (whatever that is), even though there was no reasonable, sexual guidance whatsoever at the time regarding homosexuality which I would have benefited from. And I think unless a child had some very progressive parents willing to educate them without embarrassment, most just gave their kids a very abbreviated explanation of sex, or they just hoped their kids would never ask about anything. While my parents weren't embarrassed to talk to me about sex, they inadvertently gave me a distorted version - homogenized, distilled. It was oversimplified and incomplete to say the least, with the most complicated and important topics left out. They did the best they could at the time, and they did a wonderful job considering they didn't have the knowledge and resources available we take for granted today. And there was no way for them to know just how early my childhood sexual experiences would begin.

Beginning when I was nine, and continuing sporadically over the next few years, I had a several consensual experiences with boys my own age. What began with curiosity, and the simple pleasure of touching and being touched, boiled over into eroticism with the first early jolts of testosterone. When I was a child, parents would have referred to this early sexual behavior as "playing dirty" or "playing doctor". And either because parents simply expected this type of behavior to occur at some point, or because they suspected this only happened to someone else's children, it really wasn't discussed... until after it was discovered it was actually happening. In my case, my experiences were not discovered, or to my knowledge, even suspected. Without this supplementary education regarding sexual exploration, the contact continued without hindrance... or restraint.

Speaking as a father, the importance of protecting my child, or anyone's child, from sexual experiences they are neither emotionally nor physically prepared to experience, is absolutely imperative. Teaching children the truth about sex in an age-appropriate, but completely straightforward manner could influence their possible actions greatly and have a positive effect their health and psychological development. We are lucky these days to have an abundance of educational tools available to assist us in enlightening our children. More education will produce healthier, more emotionally stable children... whether they turn out to be gay or straight.

As for myself, I was eventually abused by a boy who was much older than I was, and later on, by a woman, who was also older. My experience with this older boy was abusive, and included penetration, with the contact lasting for weeks. While our contact didn't originally include penetration, when it happened, even though it wasn't pleasurable, or expected, it was erotic. When our contact was later discovered, the older boy was seen as a predator, and I was seen as the innocent victim. Although neither description of either of us was completely accurate, the older boy should not have been taking advantage of me - or anyone else.

The abuse which occurred with the woman who was twenty-six while I was fourteen, lasted for over a year, and when I've told trusted individuals the details of this story, a majority have a very interesting reaction. In fact, quite a few people don't consider the indecent as "abusive" at all for some reason. They commented on how lucky I was to have "made it" with a beautiful, worldly, married woman. By saying that I had only "made it" with this woman was a complete understatement. I actually consider it my very first adult relationship, such as it was, as I actually lived with her for short periods of time where we pretty much functioned as a romantic couple. As it often happens, this woman was a individual my parents trusted greatly, and always felt she had my best interests at heart.

During this time, I realized many things about myself. I realized I was falling in love with this woman, and that I enjoyed having sex with her. But I also realized that I was still very much attracted to males my own age, as well as men much older than me. It was confusing that I could have sex with a woman and enjoy it, but still be so drawn sexually to men.

I tried to analyze myself for months, trying to find out who and what I really was. I used information I had at hand, some of it good, some of it bullshit.

I was a young man who had no desire to ever be a woman. So I'm probably not a homosexual.

I actually liked having sex with a woman, although there did seem to be something missing. But I must be normal if I can have sex with a woman and enjoy it, so I must not be homosexual.

I found men very attractive, and longed to touch them, smell them, and have intimate contact with them - and when I was alone, I did masturbate about them.

But I think I'm falling in love with this woman. Have I ever fallen in love with a man? No. Not yet anyway. I fell in love with a woman and had great sex with her, so I must not be homosexual. Maybe I'm finally turning normal.

And I don't want to be a homosexual. It's wrong. It's unnatural.

I can do this.

I could do it...
and did.

But not forever.


A closet door with my name on it...

Even at nine years old I could tell something was wrong (note the word "wrong"). My reactions to situations and my emotional responses were different from other boys, and the older I became the more obvious the difference was. While I was certainly no angel, and could be just as aggressive as the rest of the boys, I was able to see things with a more compassionate eye than most of my peers. I could almost sense a heartbreaking “backstory” in certain situations, and probably injected too much sensitivity at inappropriate times by typical "boy-type" standards. And as misguided as it might have been, I also had an empathy for the weak and defenseless, and I would often become the friend of the friendless (even if those kids were friendless for a good reason). I suppose I felt like I should be their friend because I was starting to see myself as an outsider... even if that wasn't really the case. My perception of myself was that there was something wrong with me.

I assessed myself as a non-aggressive, sensitive, artistic boy who didn't really like sports, but liked to play with girls instead. Hmmm... What did the kids call a boy like that? A momma’s boy, a pansy, pussy, sissy, wuss, etc? (Mild explicatives? Yes, but we were only nine or ten... and lived in the suburbs. The bad stuff comes a little later.)

I think I was saved from an abundance of teasing at the time because I was tolerated by the other kids, physically active, and had an outgoing personality. But still, knew I was different from the rest so I saw myself as an outsider, which in the years to come, would make me feel like I had to withdraw emotionally from others, especially other males.

Then there was the sports thing separating me from the herd... I wasn’t as competitive, or as aggressive as the rest of the boys when it came to sports, and I really didn’t like watching games on TV either. I didn’t actually hate sports, but I didn’t have the same interest they had. And when I was a boy, if you didn’t like sports you were regarded with suspicion and were in for some sort of ridicule. (I imagine their reaction was a leftover Darwinian mechanism cavemen used to weed out the wimpy Neanderthal who couldn’t hunt of fish as well as the rest.) So without an interest in sports to act as a bonding agent, I had to seek out other avenues to connect with them.

Around nine or ten was also a time when sexual stirrings began for me. All the boys were starting to see themselves in a sexual way, and they were starting to talk about girls (even if they hadn't a clue what it all meant yet). While their comments were crude and immature, talking about feelings they shared served to bring the other boys even closer together. It seemed like this was initiation time into the Jr. Man Club and I didn't want to miss it. But while some of the boys were beginning to become aroused, or at least stimulated, about the idea of touching or being touched by girls, I was more interested in the possibility of being touched by other boys. Of course my sexual thoughts and ideas were still very nebulous at this point, but the attraction to having contact with other boys was growing.

This time in my life was significant because it was at this point, I started to lie about my true feelings. There was an outlet for the other boys to start talking about their feelings, but I couldn't talk to them about how I really felt. So I put on my heterosexual disguise and followed their lead through a world I'd never fully relate to.

"Blame" and "Shame"...

It's really just a matter of how uncomfortable the truth makes someone feel.

When I was a child, homosexuality was a secret... a deep, dark, dirty secret that was so incredibly shameful (and misunderstood), that friendships could dissolve, family members could be cast away, and careers could be destroyed. Worse, because homosexuality was seen as being deviant, it could land you in jail... or dead. For those who didn't believe it was actually the fault of the individual, it was seen as a psychological disorder. The last assumption of course, and the most common belief for many, homosexuality was simply a choice. In any case, being gay was wrong... very wrong. Someone, either the individual themselves or their environment, was to blame for the shameful behavior.

So what did I learn to do?

Hide. Lie. Deceive.

There was no one to guide me in any other direction,
so this would be my pattern growing up.

Time capsule...

My father was a hard-working, conservative man born and raised in Texas. His German parents were stoic, no nonsense working-class people with a depression-era mentality. Together with his sister, my father and his parents remained living in the same town they were born, went to school in, and worked. My father worked on a farm, as most young men who lived in the area did, which served to shape his unpretentious country-boy personality. He later would graduate from Texas A&M and then serve in the army and fight in Korea. He was respected and successful in his business life, and was a friendly, sincere, and open-minded individual who is still one of my heroes today.

My mother's personality was literally the polar opposite of my father's. She was outspoken and fiery tempered, a volatile blending of German and Irish blood. She was raised in a gritty, blue-collar neighborhood in Des Moines, where the cultures and races blended... and clashed. Her parent's lives were made very difficult due to the depression of the 30's, and their standard of living would remain low well after my mother and her three brothers were born. My mother left school early to start working and bring in extra money for the family, but since she was never really interested in school, she was not aware of the loss. She was however, extremely intelligent and a fervent reader, and was fascinated with science, history, and art. My mother was married four times (the last being my father) and had one boy from each marriage. She was incredibly talented and would have done well in business had she the true drive and interest to do so. She passed away in 2007 and there is not a single day that goes by that I wish I could talk to her at least one more time.

I am blessed to have had such loving parents, and grateful I was provided with a stable and secure childhood. But of course, my home-life and parent's marriage was far from perfect. My parents often argued, and my mother threatened to leave my father on several occasions. My mother suffered from depression at a time when therapy was viewed with skepticism and the drug options were crude. It was also a time when you would have said that a clinically depressed person was just "moody" or "had the blues" frequently. In any case, we all made sure to do our best not to upset her and keep her happy, which was emotionally exhausting. But she could be incredibly patient, very funny, and there was never a question she loved us all.

When I was a child growing up in the 60's and 70's, social attitudes were changing quickly. America seemed stuck between a no-nonsense, post-war mentality and the idea that people were supposed to feel safe questioning authority. All sorts of barriers were being broken through, or crashed down completely. An increasing number of women and minorities were getting college degrees, holding higher management positions, being elected to government offices, and generally being taken more seriously. Women had more of a choice over their sexuality by taking a contraceptive simply (and ominously) known as "The Pill". One of my brothers, who lived nearby, and his wife were known as being liberal (the word seemed to be used more as a noun, than a adjective). They would get into heated discussions with my family about “the establishment”, “feminism”, the use of “grass”, and how police were corrupt, brutal, and racists, and were known as "pigs" by those who were suspicious of them. It was actually a very interesting time to be an adolescent, but it was a time full of conflicting ideas and upsetting for many people. Things were changing fast and not everyone was very happy about it.

When I was a boy growing up in the 70's, stereotypes were constantly being used. My parents, kids at school, and television shows at the time seemed to rely on stereotypes to make sense of cultures they didn't understand. While the stereotypes weren't always cruel, they were almost always a distortion with a negative connotation. Looking back at the way things were, I think one of the reasons people used them was so they could feel more comfortable in a world they couldn't completely control. In my own mind, I know that all of the categorizing did irreparable harm to the way I looked at the world and other people. And since I was already confused about my sexuality, it made something that was already traumatic even worse.

My parents had an idea of what a homosexual was. Unfortunately it was a very narrow-minded idea, but you couldn’t really blame them because many people thought the same thing. Homosexuals were rare… unusual… sometimes bizarre… most of them lived in San Francisco… or Hollywood. And they were easy to pick out in a crowd by the way they spoke and dressed.

Homosexual men were feminine, spoke with a lisp, and wore flamboyant clothing… like women.

Because, after all, they wanted to be women.

Lesbians were angry, masculine, spoke with a deep voice, and dressed in denim and wore blue-jeans… like men.

Because they wanted to be men.

I was told that homosexuals got the way were because their fathers were too passive and
weren’t aggressive enough, and their mothers were overbearing and "wore the pants" in their family. The common story at the time was that any mother who took the dominant role in the marriage confused the children and skewed their perception of typical male/female roles, and, under the right conditions, could alter the child's gender development. So the idea was; you could minimize the incidence of homosexuality by making sure the children had strong male and female role models. (Many men were already threatened by women advancing in every area of society, so I really think this was just a way of keeping women “in their place” by telling them if they weren’t submissive, then their sons might turn out to be afraid of girls and hate contact sports.) If not mom, someone was to blame.