Its ironic, but the event that changed my life, forever, exists in a timeframe I can’t even remember. It happened sometime after dating Shaun but before I was kicked out. Shaun, for the record, lasted three months. At some point after first dating we must have gotten back together to move in with each other, but I don’t remember specifics. I do know he was my first. Those things you don’t forget. My second happened shortly after breaking up with Shaun. It was another hookup from gay com. His name was Armando. Definitely Hispanic. About my age, 16 at the time. Maybe 17. He was a good kid, a good student, dedicated, responsible. He lived with his “virtual” father, although I never learned what became of his real family. By “virtual,” which were his words, I mean that the father, Scott, was legally a stranger to him. He was never formally adopted, nor given any other rights or privileges of a family member, other than a roof over his head. But the accommodations weren’t bad, and he never complained. I recall, dimly, that there was a woman there, possibly Scott’s wife, and some children, maybe two total. I assume they all lived together. I didn’t frequently visit his house, not because I didn’t want to, but circumstances rarely necessitated it. In fact, Armando frequently house-sat for friends and neighbors, and most of our time was spent in clandestine moments in random houses. He did meet my parents who, unlike with Shaun, genuinely seemed to like him and, laughably, encouraged me to spend more time with “such a good kid.” I did.
I don’t know I first heard of Scott. I think it was when we were headed to his house for the first time, and he felt the need to explain the situation. Not that he explained much, I got the vague sense that there was something a little “off” about the whole scenario, beyond it just being an unusual arrangement, but I couldn’t begin to define the feeling. I let it pass. The house was nice, though modest by Bellevue standards. Two floors, kitchen, living and dining rooms downstairs, maybe one bedroom as well. Upstairs was the master bedroom and the other rooms. I remember getting a quick tour, but there were new people, new circumstances, new house – I couldn’t process it all at once. Besides, beyond the obligatory tour no one ever really see the rest of the house anyways. We all had dinner together, that first night. The woman cooked. Spaghetti or something, nothing special. After, Scott got up and Armando followed suit, so I excused myself from the dinner table and followed them upstairs. Well, first we stopped through the living room. Scott’s passion, it turned out, was photography, and he had a full setup in that room, lights, camera, action. Backdrops, mirrors, windows, props, multiple camera angles. It was impressive. Armando did a quick pose, and I tried, but I was horribly camera shy. He probably got a few shots, but I never saw them. It was actually very interesting. He had Armando in a very suggestive pose, oddly, and he wanted the same of me. Maybe even pants unzipped, or shirt off, or something. I don’t recall, but it was at least my first clue that this was no normal household. Anyways, we retreated up to the bedroom afterwards. I think there was a single tripod camera up in the master bedroom, aimed towards the bed. Now, I wish I could tell you the exact sequence of events, I wish I could draw it out so you understood the gravity of the situation, but, in truth, to my mind, at the time, nothing was flagrantly wrong, nothing particularly stood out. It just happened. Armando took his clothes off and went to the bed, where Scott was lying nude. They encouraged me to join. I did, I was just a guest, I had to be polite. Armando and I messed around for a minute, Scott got out of bed to take some pictures, then Scott got back into bed, pulled Armando away from me, and started fucking him. It seemed so normal, the way each acted, almost routine. Scott’s real joy was with me, the new kid, his new fuck toy. And he did. I remember pain. I remember looking at Armando to help me, but he was ready to join, no one noticed that I was not enjoying the situation. I was too polite to say anything. I jus endured it. I probably even acted like I enjoyed it. And, you know, some part of me may have. There was something erotic about the situation, and it was flattering to have Scott be attracted to me, somehow validating. So, as if I had a choice, I “let” him, them, actually, finish out what they had started. Then everyone got dressed and I left to drive home. Armando stayed behind.
That is what I remember. A short period in time, a quick sex act, nothing to write home about, as it were. I didn’t know that, ordinarily, you didn’t have to sleep with the father to get to the son. It just was that way. I instinctively knew that this was only the first of many times, that Scott would frequently place himself between us, and that was just part of the bargain if I wanted to date Armando. No one told it was wrong. No one told me sex wasn’t supposed to be gratuitous, given as an exchange, painful. I don’t know when I first noticed the pain. I’m sure I enjoyed the sex with Armando. I may even have enjoyed the sex with Scott. I didn’t realize, I still have trouble comprehending, that I was being raped. I was 16, Scott was in his 40s, Armando was around my age. Scott frequently took photos of us together. His collection of child porn must have been staggering, if this was as commonplace as it seemed for him. His relations with Armando were nothing less than incestuous, even if they were legal strangers. Scott was smart like that. He was willing to risk getting caught with a stranger, Armando, but not with an adopted son. So Armando was never adopted. It was risk management at its finest. Smart, savvy, deplorable.
Armando and I eventually broke up, after three months. I’m not sure why. It certainly wasn’t my idea. Maybe it was Scott’s. I never considered that possibility. All I know is that Armando called me to meet him at a local Starbucks near his house. I think he thought that I wouldn’t put up a fight if we were in public. Almost like he’d done this before and knew the drill. He broke up with me at Starbucks. Contrary to his belief, though, I had no shame, and I fought back with all the blood, sweat and tears I could muster. I don’t know what those suburban housewives thought, those other patrons. I didn’t care. But it didn’t matter. We were done. He had already moved on, I’m not sure he even bothered to fake sympathy for me, it just was what it was and I needed to accept it, right now.
That wasn’t the end of it, though. Well, that wasn’t the end of Scott, more precisely. See, this website that I’ve referred to, gay com, well it allowed you to post, send and receive photos with other chat room members. The anonymity of it, for me, meant that I was willing to reveal a lot of information, much more than I would in person. I have no idea, looking back, how much I placed myself in jeopardy, how much I placed my family in jeopardy, just seeking to find acceptance and love. I remember talking on the phone with some guy from Hawaii that, in retrospect, was asking a lot of questions about my schedule and location. Whatever. Hey, someone wanted to talk, talk to me! I was the shy kid, the quiet kid, the nerdy kid, the one picked last in games, the one sitting in the corner while everyone else carried on, as so often happened. And now, through this website, someone wanted to talk to me? I didn’t need a second to think, I just went for it. I felt wanted, loved, needed. These other boys needed me. They liked me. They enjoyed our conversations. They would ask where I had been if I didn’t log on one night. These boys cared. Not like my parents. Cold, distant, reproachful, judging. No love lost between us. But these boys, they said “I love you,” they said “let’s meet,” they said “you’re cute.” I was on cloud nine. But the point of all this, what I needed to say, was that I needed photos to trade. This was long before the day of selfies. Before webcams were popular. Before digital photography came to the masses. So I needed someone with a camera. I needed Scott.
And it was always the same. I would get pictures taken, in a manner of dress, undress and poses. Pictures that no one should ever see, yet I eagerly shared them online. But there was a catch. I couldn’t pay Scott, at least he never asked to be paid. No, it was a trade of services. I’d give him my ass, he’d give the photos. One time I wasn’t in the mood. He turned at me and said, it didn’t matter, I couldn’t just call him up and use him and take advantage of him without offering something in return. So I learned that sex was a tool, a valuable tool, something you could trade to get things, to get services, to get attention, to become desirable. The sex was increasingly painful. But I was necessary. I needed those pictures and he needed a young boy to fuck. So ultimately we were both satisfied, I suppose.
So much happened over the next few years. I moved in with Shaun, then out on my own, went to school, started a new job, moved to a new apartment, made friends. All important milestones. In fact, it was during this post-Scott period, for we had long ceased seeing each other, that I got back into contact with my parents. I was successful and, now that I no longer needed them to provide for me, I wanted to show them what had become of me while they were looking the other way. I found an old email address that belonged to my mom, and I reached out. They had, it turned out, never moved at all. Well, not to Russia anyways. They moved a few miles south, south of Seattle, not “the South.” So we met up and slowly thawed out our relationship. “Gay” was never mentioned and we all kept it that way through some unwritten contract. They were happy, I was happy, that’s what mattered.
I never dated after Armando. I took that breakup so hard that I felt scared to go through it all again. So I focused on school and work and making friends. The next event happened while I was living and working in Seattle, at Greenlake Bar & Grill as a busboy. I loved it. All the employees were my age, loved to socialize, and they saw me as one of them, not the awkward kid I felt like, but one of the cool kids. I’ve skipped a lot in between. I started going out to clubs, meeting guys, having sex. Trading sex for status. Those were heady times. But, truth told, I don’t remember much about them. They were relatively uneventful, just a teenager growing up and conquering life as teenagers often do, so they think. The next event had nothing to do with any of that. It had to do with Scott.
Why do I do this?
Why do I do this?
Make believe that sex is love
Make believe that sex is more than a temporary connection
Make believe that I like this person so much
Despite the abuse
It starts simply enough
Desire, passion, shared between us
I can see it in his eyes in my quickening pulse
Can you host?
30 seconds til we’ve gone from strangers to fuck buddies
But I see it as more
I see it as love, as validation, as encouragement,
As if being desired somehow transformed me and my life into a life worth living
We arrive at his place
I play my appointed role
Pretending to be ready for anything the night brings
But I’m not.
He wants to go all the way
Whatever he finds desirable
Otherwise, I’m not desirable any longer
I’m trash, thrown to the curb
I’m empty, gone with the wind
I must remain desirable
But I can’t say that
I play my appointed role
I run to the restroom
I need a moment
To numb the pain
To pretend it didn’t happen
It’s over and desire is gone
He got what he wanted
Did I get what I wanted?
I had it for a second
But the pain, the agony, the tears,
Yes, I got what I wanted for that one brief second,
And then I got what I deserved
-Why Do We Do This?, personal writings, 2012
I’m stopping here for the night. Next we see Scott, again, and a gun, and my last memory of Seattle. This chapter saw me go from innocent (relatively) to meeting a new boyfriend, experiencing rape, and finding myself desirable, if on terms not my own and in events not under my control. Take a break now, the next chapter is short, just a little story, then we dive in for good.