Gone boy


Hello, are you there?
Cause I see in your eyes that you don’t care
All I’m asking is that you treat me fair
Do you dare?

Because,
I came to you in my hour of need
Looking, longing for a love between
I had to have you, don’t you see?
Abandoned, I threw myself at your mercy, made it your choice to take me or leave me
But I couldn’t just let myself be
There was no choice, no other way
I needed you that day

But – I see this now – there was something you needed too
There was something that you needed me to do
You needed a warm body by your side
You needed a person to put yourself inside
You needed to own me, even if I would die
Even better if you could make me cry
You knew I wasn’t strong enough to say goodbye

So when I asked for your love, you said yes
Let me guess
Was it because you knew all along? Did you need to make yourself feel strong?
What was it that you felt, in those days long gone?
What did you want from me, to sing you a fucking lullaby song?
Or just be a body that you could piss on

My beating heart I gave to you
My body I gave up for you
But you cursed it all
You saw me as nothing but a rag doll, while I was curled up into a ball, for you to give your all, please just let me fall, so I can heed the call, break down the wall, walk that long hall to heaven, or am I now doomed to hell?
My loving heart, you mangled
My virgin soul, you strangled
I felt betrayed, my innocence destroyed
Because while I lay there crying, lay there dying, you were with some other boy
To you I was nothing but a toy, molded by your hands into a puppet with which you could play
That was my bleeding heart you mangled that day
This toy is a real boy, but you’ll never care, you’ll never dare, to see me as a man, as an equal, oh that’s rich
You just see me as your bitch
You’d rather see me dead, hitched to a hearse that drags me into a ditch

I’ve cried all my tears
You’ve ruined so many years
Never to be lived again
Why did you beat me?
Why did you need me?
You needed a priest, to confess all your sins
All that evil you held within
Even an exorcism couldn’t rob you of the devil you possessed
You were a monster, to me and all the rest
So many souls wounded, scattered to the dark, far corners of the earth, not that it matters
No one left to show them mercy
No one left to show them love
Like me, the only solace can come from above
Where there is no God
The battle between good and evil is done, so it was said
It must have been, because you left me for dead
All those nights that I shared your bed
All for naught, just when I thought that we would be wed
Oh you played vicious games with my head

I was such a fool, late to come around
You let me down
In a high stakes game of risk
All you wanted was my dick
But I gave to you my all
My mind, my soul, my body, those things you treated like a doll
Barren, battered and abused
Because of you I was completely subdued

And I was dead inside
You lacked the decency to even bury me alive, wide eyed, watching the world pass me by
I was dying, didn’t you see?
You fucked with my head, kept me chained to that bed
Words of contempt were all I was fed
I loved you, but I couldn’t get through to you,
I was a stranger to you
You, who fucked around with so many men,
You, who beat me nightly, calling me the whore
Oh, no more
I gave you my all
I’ve paid my damn fee
Just let me be

I wasn’t the whore you said I was
No it was you who was the whore, renting me out like a pimp does
to the girls he sees as flesh, not human, just a name upon which he could claim his fame (and his fee)
As long as the clients came
As long as his girls came (oh honey, they could play that game)
He would mark his name
On each breast, sealing his ownership
Of those pieces of filth upon which he exists
Worse than him, though, you weren’t content until I was writhing in pain
Suffering the agony of the cross in silence, my body being maimed
Fuck you, oh so righteous
Putting me in my place
Throwing salt on my wounds and in my face
Cutting me open, just to see my blood
Just to enjoy that agony, just to release those black doves
To know that you made me, you saved me, you loved me, you cursed me
Oh couldn’t you see?
I just wanted to live a life that was ours
Carefree, having fun, making love under the moon and the light of the stars

I let you fuck me anytime
Because I thought you were mine
I didn’t know you had so many others
I didn’t know you’d whore me out, just like you did your mother
All the times that I felt pain
All the blood and tears shed in my name
All the times I cried out for help, just a little whelp
Suffering
Suffocating
You said I’d be fine
You used me like a whore at a five-and-dime
But, oh God, even if I could take back time, I’d still make you mine, I’d still like to dine, enjoy fine wine, pretend that our love still exists, just for a bit

But now I’m not fine, no, I’m not
But fuck it, I’m all that I’ve got
I know you don’t care whether I make it or not
But I survived without you, so go to hell
I clawed my way out from under your spell
My dignity had long ago died
But my spirit always survived
I knew I could, and I knew I would, escape you somehow, someday, some way
Your brutal fists, even in the light of day
Your cruel words, tossed out like you were pitching hay
What were you thinking,
All those times that we fought?
What were you doing with that flesh that you got?
But you couldn’t put out the fire on my heart, it burns red hot
Burning me, burning you, burning the mirage of an image that we’re not
We’re not a model couple, God help me if we are
You’re nothing but a drunk, stumbling home from the bar
This time, you’ve gone too far

How could love be so cruel?, I want to know
How come black ravens ravished the garden where red roses were supposed to grow?
You never wanted me, no, you needed me
Like a sock puppet you could play with at will
Like a whore you could abuse without regret, never paying the bill
You became a monster, not the man that I met
Back in the day, when our lives were gay, and I had my heart set

And so I gave myself
And now I’m running to save myself
Life goes on, they say, even when you’re gone
Oh I hope you’re gone
There’s room in that ditch for you too
Now you know what it’s like to kill yourself, don’t you
I hope you enjoy being six feet under, I’m not jealous of the view
See you in the life hereafter, my boo

So I will go on
And I will be strong
I don’t know if life is worth living
But I wasn’t going to die for you
I’ll find out for myself what life is all about, of that I have no doubt
I’ll think of you, but I won’t pray for you
In my heart, you’re already gone

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#mylifematters Part VI


It would seem that the last part of this story should be the last, that I woke up and realized what I was doing to myself and swore to never harm myself again, especially not in the name of love. That’s what a rational being would do. But I was far from rational. The incident had unglued, unstuck, something in my mind that was now coming out, gathering strength and speed like  snowball rolling downhill. At some point, you can’t stop the snowball anymore, no matter what you place in its’ path. It’s just too powerful and has too much momentum. I felt like that snowball, careening from cliff to cliff, sliding down icy patches, falling into every abyss, constantly go go going, with no end in sight. But as I rolled along, I was picking up new patches of snow, and shedding some of the old, and so the ball eventually became entirely disconnected from it’s beginning, much like the shedding of human skim cells. Constant regeneration continually reshapes our bodies, until we are composed of entirely new cells, and then the process starts again. I suppose my fate could have been foreseen, then, anticipated, if I had used that analogy earlier. Because what happened was a continual “reboot” of the process, independently of any other factors, just continuously growing and lurching forward and gathering fresh snow, until it was so big that it self-imploded, into a hundred separate balls, in a single horrifying second where the ball rolled over a cliff, but, being just a ball of snow, it carried in as if nothing had happened, started rolling again, not seeing another cliff up ahead, but this time there were dozens of hundreds of smaller balls all rolling downhill, some colliding with each other to make bigger balls, others branching out entirely and discovering new paths and, inevitably, new cliffs. With every death came a reinvention, a fresh start, but indelibly linked to the past, with a little bit of old snow left from the implosion, now surrounded by new snow, but continuing on in that same trajectory. Enough about snow, now. I’m really talking about me. Let me explain.

As I said, I met the Dean at the airport upon arrival. I knew he cared and was worried, but it suddenly struck me that there was a modicum of risk management in play. He confirmed my suspicions when I was driven back to school, to a meeting of the deans of student affairs and of academic affairs, along with an in-house counsel. This was an intervention. They did their best to explain to me, without judging me, that I was too large of a risk to the school as things stood right then. A suicidal law student looks bad in the rankings, and a successful suicide attempt would become the news, indelibly linked to the school. “USF student found dead,” “another student at USF bites the dust,” “USF failed in the care of its most vulnerable students,” etc. For a Jesuit school, founded on compassion, as well as academics, it was, ironically, too risky to have me in school, because there compassion would become their liability. They gave me one option: get a doctor to sign off on me returning to school. They provided a letter to be given to the doctor, outlining their concerns and restating their position, notifying the doctor that it was his decision, alone, whether I was medically cleared for school. Like a soldier suffering from PTSD, I was given a full battery of tests to ascertain my ability to return to the war front, or whether I was damaged goods and needed an honorable discharge. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how deep the damage went, I thought that the events of the past few days were somehow surreal, but not in a scary way, like how did I ever  do that?, but rather in a third-person type way, where those events were simply observed, not played out. I had front row seats to a morbid opera, but I was merely a patron of the arts, not an actor myself. Or so it seemed in my mind. What could otherwise possibly explain a literal costume change, from a high achieving, high functioning student, to becoming suicidal? An instantaneous change, one that any performer who has to change outfits in the middle of a play, or concert, would make them jealous. How did he do it?, the audience gasps and applauds with delight. I was the star of the show, playing every character, in quick succession, like Mrs. Doubtfire, only without the luxury of a place to change outfits. It was more like Houdini, where did I go? Sawed in half, yet walking fine. Turned into a dove, yet striding across the stage. Strapped into a straitjacket, yet carousing around the stage. Unlike Houdini, though, my transformations were not expected, no one foresaw the caterpillar becoming a butterfly in the blink of an eye, the audience wasn’t restless in anticipation of the final trick. No, no one even knew they were supposed to be watching, waiting, scanning a wary eye across the stage, sitting at the edge of their seats, anticipating what would happen next, what plot line would be revealed, what character was coming next. No one knew, because this opera was shooting without a script.

So it was that the Dean decided to place me on a medical leave of absence. I was distraught. First, that meant that I wouldn’t get my financial aid payout, how was I going to afford rent? Second, where could I find a doctor to sign the form? Third, was I really that incapacitated, or were they just avoiding the slightest whiff of liability, cutting me loose rather than risk the negative publicity. Now what? At the very least, how was I going to kill time? Pun intended. At this point, Chris and I had moved out of the flat and I was Irving alone in a studio apartment in Alamo Square, a beautiful neighborhood, sandwiched in between “the projects” on each side. But the vagrants never crossed the line, literally, the street, that divided the neighborhoods. So I was in a good spot. It was even on a direct bus line to school, not more than a 20 minute ride (to cover at most a 1.5 mile stretch, it was often faster to walk). I can’t believe I scored that apartment. I had (and still have) abysmal credit, and no corporate landlord would so much as loom in my direction. So I had to find someone that would trust what I said over a strong history pointing in a different direction. I found that person, I don’t know if I was just walking the streets, or responding to an ad, but he was perfect. He was an older man, Klaus, that owned a bed and breakfast in the neighborhood, and made some extra change by owning and managing a rental property just down the street. It was a rather dilapidated four unit building, with my apartment on the ground level, roughly 400 sq ft to call my own. And he only wanted $1100 for the unit. This was back when San Francisco was still affordable. Today, that same unit would cost at least $3000. How I wish I had been able to hang on the apartment, but events dictated otherwise.

Actually, it’s funny, the “event” happened on the bus one night, late in the evening, on my way home from a long day of studying. Actually, I was just going home to change, so I could go out for 80s night at one of the bars. I had to wear heavy black eyeshadow and liner, rouge, glossy lipstick, do up my hair in a series of spikes, all the steps necessary go transform into a punk kid, one of those New Wave kids, listening to Bowie and Depeche Mode and all the British bands making their way into America. I loved transformations. I don’t know how well I pulled it off, but it didn’t really matter, I enjoyed doing makeup so I had my fun even before going out. The black glitter eyeshadow was my favorite, with glitter lashes spilling down to the cheekbone, highlighting a defined, high cheek, dusted with bronzer, smoothed over with creamy foundation, set in place with a powder brush, and a few extra punches of glitter on my lips, enough to leave a mark on whoever I kissed. I’m not a cross dresser or anything like that, I just wanted to have a good time. Anyways, I looked up across the bus to the other wheelchair/disabled/senior seats at the front of the bus, I always sat there to piss off the Chinese women with their impossibly big carts and fat women who needed the exercise of standing up, Lord knows they sit around often enough as it was, and my eye caught, rested upon a boy, a boy my age, brown hair, casual clothing, but fitted, ice blue eyes that cut straight through me, perfectly manicured brow line, but in a masculine kind of way. I never knew what my “type” was, but surely he fit the bill. Stereotypically the Midwestern look, though he was from the East Coast, which was exotic to me, foreign, much like they must think of California. We were reaching Divisadero when he pulled the bell for the next stop, and he glanced up as he did. I was staring, awestruck, unable to tear my eyes away, when I saw his eyes meeting mine. In that second we telepathically communicated lust and desire and sexuality. I only had that moment, because, without a word, he stepped off the bus at his stop. I looked back as we pulled away, watching him watching me. My heart was pounding. Not since Jason had I had such a crush, though admittedly I was in love with with a straight friend, Justin. So in love that a mutual friend of ours, a gorgeous girl, asked me for my permission to ask Justin on a date. I sadly said yes, with my blessings, just take goodness of him. Her name was Abby. They were destined to end up together, and eventually, recently actually, chose to marry each other. I wish I had been there for that wedding. Anyways, I had a crush, this time on someone who could reciprocate love (or lust).

I stayed late on campus the next night, taking the same  bus home, hoping to accidentally-on-purpose run into h again but really it was several days, maybe several weeks, before I saw him again. This time we didn’t waste the few moments we had together. We exchanged names, his name was Joe, numbers, and, to hell with it, I’ll just ask if he wants to come back to my place right now. He did. We were electric in our connection, diving in with passion and lust, ravaging each other’s bodies, kissing like the world was about to end, I couldn’t let go of his mouth. It was wild, beautiful sex. Afterwards, he said he had to get back home, turning down my invite to stay the night, saying his partner would get suspicious if he came home late. Partner? That’s the type of thing you should disclose up front. But, you know, I didn’t care. In fact, I wanted him even more. He was obviously dissatisfied with his relationship. I could be the perfect opportunity for him to finally break it off with his boyfriend. I wish I could remember his name,  but I can’t. It’s not important. What was important was that, eventually, yes, in a matter of weeks rather than months, I successfully ruined their relationship, and Joe was all mine. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to be all mine. He wanted to be all for a lot of people. I could have foreseen that, I suppose. He had classic good looks and was a smooth talker, he always got what he wanted. When he focused on me, I was flattered. When he kissed another guy, I was heartbroken. I see sawed back and forth, ambivalent about what I should do, when he proposed an offer to me (not that kind of proposed). Did I want to move in together with him? He had a down payment from his ex, who essentially paid him to get out of their place, but kindly spared no expense, and there was plenty for apartment hunting. We didn’t have to look far. In Castro, at 17th and Sanchez, sat Casa Sanchez, an imaginatively named small complex, we found a two-bed, two-bath unit, with patio, dishwasher, laundry across the hall, private bathrooms, a sizable living room and dining area, combined, and bedrooms that were just barely smaller than my current studio. All for only $2200/mth. Split, that was exactly what I was paying now. True, paying less would have been ideal, but at least I wasn’t paying more. Plus now I had the companionship of a roommate, who was also an excellent cook, and, soon, two cats, yes, call me a cat lady,  but he brought his car with him, and I thought she looked bored, so I got her a playmate. They actually got along very well, I was a little jealous of their instant camaraderie since that meant some nights they curled up with each other instead of coming on my bed.

There’s a few other characters in this scene, they were important then but, no offense, didn’t have a lasting impact, at least not one that tangibly changed my course in life. There was Kimalah, a beautiful black girl from USF, who i spent many happy hours with, even, especially, after she left school to take up other interests. She had  tiny studio in the Tenderloin, and I wasn’t a accustomed to the streets yet, so I enjoyed meeting her and braving the neighborhood to go to a gay/drag bar down the street. For all their bark, most of the Tenderloin actually has a soft bite. Polk Street, running up the outer edge of the 42 sq blk neighborhood, used to be the  “Castro” of San Francisco, before Castro turned into the gay scene. Castro had all the twinks, the cute, young blonde boys who had never lived through the AIDS crisis and just thought being gay was all fun and games, and dancing and drinking. Then there were the Polk Street guys, now the Mission/SoMa guys, who were older, larger, more bear-ish, attractive only in the dark, “real” me overcompensating for their sexuality with over the top machismo. I didn’t care for them. Not that it mattered, as you’ll see, they would use me anyways, in fact, probably because I was a young, cute gay, not in spite of the fact. These were the guys who had lived through Stonewall, the gay rights movement, the AIDS crisis, guys who themselves were infected or knew someone who had died already from HIV complications. Being gay was no laughing matter, it was something they had literally fought for, and they banded together. Eventually, with the help of Harvey Milk, an enduring gay icon, San Francisco started to become the mecca for gay rights. Other civil liberties too; this was the period of the Beats, women’s rights, racial integration, all happening at once, and San Francisco, unlike many other cities, was progressive enough to embrace the differences, welcome the differences, become a place where different was safe.

Mariah was another friend, also from law school, who also took a permanent sabbatical. Ultimately, I think, San Francisco just wasn’t the same as the Deep South, and she never fully embraced the change. All of students didn’t, especially those from New York, who left at the end of the first semester so they would be able to transfer to an East Coast school. Mariah was my dancing partner, my going-out friend, someone I could always count on to be there when the party was ready. She wasn’t a party girl herself, but gay clubs bring out a side in people, like a freak in the sheets, that usually doesn’t show in general public. I did go to Mission bars with her, on occasion, it was on fair that she got to find a boy too, but we often ended back up in Castro, with or without a straight boy, when the dirtiness of the Mission became overwhelming. With her, I met a good friend, Keith, a middle aged man, who loved to dance and could always be counted on to come out with Mariah and I. He had a thing for young boys, me for a while, but it didn’t disturb me. He wasn’t your classic pedophile, just an ordinary  man reaching above his given potential to occasionally snag a boy who was either desperate enough or drunk enough to take home. Like I said, I was that boy for a while. I was waiting for the bus, late at night, around 3am, having finally left the club and some after party, it was dark and cold and I was alone on silent, dead streets. A car drove by, I saw the guys inside looking at me, my heart raced a little, then suddenly the car stopped, spinned it’s wheels into reverse, and stopped right in front of me. There were three guys in the car. Keith was the driver and Rob was a passenger, along with someone in the back seat whom I can’t remember. We all went back to Keith’ place, just up the street, in Castro, went inside, had some drinks (but of course), then Keith took us out back, and what would you know but he had a hot tub! There is something inherently sexual about hot tubs. We knew that, because we all immediately stripped, ran through the grass and bushes, and jumped into the tub. We had fun that night. The sex wore off after a month or two, and I became just a friend, not a fuck buddy, but he would still go out with us and sometimes even share a boy with me. I didn’t complain.

I’ve already introduced Joe, my roommate, and Justin, my straight crush. There was also Billy, with whom I was best friends, always out at (straight) bars together, slamming back pitcher after pitcher of IPAs, holding down a table til everyone else could join. Our favorite bar was Pig & Whistle, an English pub. Apparently Whistle comes from Wassail, but I forget what that means, anyways, there was apparently a story behind the name. They had dart boards, pinball machines, pool tables, and, most importantly, trivia nights every Wednesday. That happened to be Kirk’s Bar Night as well, so the bar was generally stuffed to the gills when all of us arrived. I sucked at trivia, I think I successfully helped with maybe two questions over the course of a year,  but I was there for the camaraderie, not the prize. We did win a few times. The rest of the pub crowd hated us, another gaggle of USF students taking over their neighborhood bar, and when we would occasionally win at trivia the discontent was palpable. But we played fair, so no one could complain. The rest of that inner circle of friends, some of whom I’m sure I’m forgetting, we’re Justin, Michael, Mike, and  few others. On the girl’s side, I was close friends with Christy, Molly, Abby and Katie. Abby, Justin’ future wife, would often go to the clubs with me and we would dance til dawn. After they started dating, Abby managed to drag Justin along too on at least one occasion. Christy, Molly and I were serious students. We would study long into the night, sneaking Chinese take-out into the library so we didn’t have to take a dinner break. I think we all ended up in the same general GPA range, we were smart but not brilliant, but I didn’t like the brilliant ones, they had a way of rubbing in their superiority that just rubbed me the wrong way. If that’s how lawyers act, I was not prepared for the practice of Law. I could only hope that they were outliers. Oh, and Stefani. Another dancing partner. Often too busy to join, but when she did, she always brought cute boys and we rocked the town. Mystic was an odd friend. I managed to convince her, and myself, that I might be bisexual or bi-curious, and, to an extent, I was. She was gorgeous. Not in a classical sense, but classics aren’t ways what matter. She was thin and pale, a bit shorter than me, long flowing black hair, a smile that drew you in and just enough flirting to make you want more, gay or straight. The closest we ever got was a pants-off dance-off, a party at her place. She did take a few of us, all close friends, down to visit San Diego, a visit I’ll never forget. The town was beautiful, sunny, warm, beaches everywhere, hot, tanned, ripped shirtless surfer boys. It was like a slice of heaven. We stayed at her parents’ house overnight while they were gone, and she introduced us to real Mexican food. She also introduced us to a rooftop bar, with reflecting pool, in an unmarked bar on top of unmarked building. I was nervous to go in. Oh, and Donovan was there on that trip. He had a way of making you comfortable, making you feel like part of the inner circle, just by his gregarious mannerisms. He was cute, to boot, but so many of my straight friends were. You are who you surround yourself with, and I chose only attractive friends. There was also Shoshana, an SF native, painfully awkward at times, but always near me, hovering, trying to get into my circle. She succeeded, I couldn’t not be nice to someone, and she clearly needed to learn social skills, so I took her under my wing. I actually attended Thanksgiving at her place with her parents, so you could say we became close. There’s so many others, my section of class had 100 people, all of whom I knew well, plus most of section 2, another group of 100. The only ones I didn’t know we were night students, and I think they preferred it that way. School was just a side job for them, they didn’t want to get wrapped up in the politics.

i sit 
my legs pleasantly crossed, my tie tucked in, my briefcase at my side

i wait 
my mind focused on the tasks ahead

i wonder 
where is my ride?

i wonder 
did life pass me by?

i confess 
i’ve always wanted this to end

i pray 
take me from this earth

i pray 
let this time be the last time

i pray 
give me an ending, save me from my life

but

i discover 
i can’t die

i resurrect 
death refuses to take me yet

i return 
to where it all began

i wonder 
where is my ride?

i wonder 
did life pass me by?

-Wonder, personal writings, 2012

Well, I’ve rambled completely off course. You see, I was supposed to tell you about the snowball effect, me careening down cliffs, hitting every ledge along the way, what caused that and what, exactly, did happen. And you deserve to know. Like I said, you were there. You may have noticed something slightly amiss, but couldn’t place your finger on it, just something a little off. I was more than just a little off, though. I had gone off the deep end. What you saw was my body acting independently of me, something inside me doing damage control, trying to retain my humanity when there was no human left in me. You saw all this, but never pried, never questioned, never judged, and that’s how I wanted it to happen. I kept tight control of the things I could, while everything else in my life was falling, ripping apart, until finally, there was nothing of me left, the emperor had no clothes. And that’s what this next part is about. In this chapter we saw the joyous moments of my life, met some of my friends, saw the activities in which I engaged, and generally saw a good impression of me. Now, I’m going to go over that exact same time period, but this time from my inner perspective, from my vantage point, recalling, as much as possible, the events that transpired and how I kept myself together for so long. I’ll take a break now, the next chapter will be emotional for me to write, hopefully emotional to read, if I’m a decent writer, but necessary for me to explain and recover. Go ahead, look into the details. I’m not who you think I am.

#mylifematters Part IV


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Part IV

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I lied. I wasn’t quite done with Scott. I met him once more. I was back in town, possibly on break from school in San Francisco, which I’ll get to soon. I had made plans with Armando to see him and catch up on life. We met at his place, near a lovely tequila restaurant, over near the Ravenna district, if you’re familiar with Seattle. It was odd, seeing him again. I thought I was still interested, still attracted. I wasn’t. Not that I was disgusted, I just saw that I had moved in, grow up, changed styles, looked different, and he, well, he looked the same, and honestly, he was beneath my standards. I guess San Francisco did change me, this time in a positive way, learning and exploring my sexuality, discovering new things about myself, like my good looks and outgoing personality. I don’t know where those came from, they would have been useful earlier in life, but I suppose I had to grow into them,  like a good leather jacket, it takes some time. Anyways, I really had no interest when I saw him again. But I think, to him, I was now an exotic foreigner, from the land of San Francisco, which, by all rights, is a far away land, disconnected as it is from the nation physically and philosophically. So, he asked me to bed, instead of me begging, like previous times. He had a new boyfriend, someone that was with him in the Gay Men’s Choir. Armando always loved to sing, so I was happy he had met a like soul. But it made his sexual advances much more awkward. Do gay men always sleep with their exes after breaking up? After the hurt had passed? It seemed like that, like I obviously had intended for sex to happen, like the good old times, or maybe it was a duty owed. For what, I don’t know. Well, he stripped, I stripped, he waited, expectantly, I stared back at him, then I realized that he intended for me to suck him off. Resentfully, I did. No play time for me, apparently, all about him, like usual. This was actually the first time I realize that that was usual for him. He had an outsized ego, a persuasive personality and a commanding tone. It was only natural that I be subservient, because it wasn’t going to be him. His dick smelled, like he didn’t even bother to try and clean for me, or his boyfriend, for that matter. I gagged my way through the process. He came, shortly, to my relief. Didn’t even touch me, started putting on his clothes. I see. It really was a duty owed, not a sexual adventure together, not by my definition anyways. After reflecting on that for a moment, I got out of bed, hurriedly clothed myself, said my goodbyes, and oh how nice it was to see him, the place looks good, I love that statue in the corner, tell your boyfriend I said hi, actually, probably you shouldn’t do that, but take care now, best wishes, goodbye. I walked home, feeling too dirty to take the bus, wondering if I stank of dirty cock and low standards. You can smell that type of thing, like a dog sensing his prey.

It was a day or two later, now. I was at the restaurant with a cute boy, Geraldo, one of the servers. We always casually flirted, but worked different shifts and neither of us could really host (my place was cramped, his had boyfriend attached), so it remained just under the surface, just under the radar of management, which was also important. But that day, Saturday I think, some other event was taking place nearby, and nobody was coming in to dine, so I got cut. I was fine with that, I hated  being bored at work, wiping down the same tables with the same bleach cloth, again and again, buffing silverware that was already shiny, chatting with the dish boy, anything, really, to look busy. I was preparing to leave when Geraldo stopped me. He had just gotten cut, too, and was just wondering, for no reason, what my plans were. Here was our chance! I had the rest of the day free and his partner didn’t expect him home for hours. We just had to find somewhere to go. He wanted to do it in the car, but I was nervous about that had actually gotten caught once before doing that, no charges were filed but my embarrassment under his stern, watchful eye was punishment enough. My roommate was home, and I lived in a small boat at the time (not terribly small, two cabins and a galley below deck, a wooden boat, a classic, not like the cheap plastic buckets they pass off now as quality boats) so going there would have been awkward. Then I remembered, by brother was at work for the next several hours, late into the night, we could go over there! He seemed fine with it, so I went to his work and borrowed his game and apartment keys. It was dark by now, a little chill in the air, I was impatient to get inside, maybe have some fun before my brother came home. I’m not sure he had actually given permission to do that while he was gone, but he wasn’t there, who’s the wiser? We parked a block away then got out and headed to the gate.

Only we weren’t alone. There was a small gathering at the gate. Two teenagers and a middle age man. The boys looked terrified. I realized why, once I got close enough (too close). The man was carrying on, loudly, about nothing in particular, it was all menacing but not in a specific way. That is, until I looked slightly downward. His left hand was gesticulating, wildly, punching toward the boys for occasional emphasis, when the spit flying out of his mouth wasn’t sufficient to terrify them. His right arm, I traced my eyes down, to the pocket of the trench coat, where, unmistakably, he was holding a pistol. It wasn’t just a hand in the pocket amateur joke, it was a silver gun, safety off, easily to access and use whenever he was done with his tirade. I don’t know what I was thinking, why I thought I could be the hero, but I stepped in, leaving Geraldo at the edge of the group. It was quite dark now, and I couldn’t quite make out his features, but something told me there was something amiss about this situation, aside from the obvious. This was a sketchy neighborhood by all accounts, so I wasn’t surprised that there was trouble, but this, this ws different, even if the gun hadn’t been a factor. Anyways, I engaged the man, distracting him long enough for the boys to escape inside, locking me out at the gate with the man an arms length away, within his zone of spittle. He was mad, both in the sense of angry, and crazy. He smelled like liquor, reeked actually. I hadn’t noticed earlier. There was a drunk tank around the block, my guess was that he had sobered up enough to leave, but just barely sober. As I started listening to his actual words, I realized there was a theme. He wasn’t randomly rambling on, like a schizophrenic might, but rather he was, and I swear this is true, directing his conversation towards me, accusing me of being a faggot, of being rude and dishonest, of spurious behavior, and, especially, of seeing his son. That’s it! It was Scott. I finally put the pieces together. Armando must have mentioned to his father, apparently they were still close, that he had seen me, maybe even that he had sex with me. If you want to call that brief encounter “sex.” Sure. But that was all Scott need to hear. I had dared, without permission, consent or knowledge, to sneak past him and see his son, without offering my usual sacrifice to him first. He was the gatekeeper, the Guardian, or, should I say, the Guard. No one met his son without the ritualistic sacrifice, without performing services for him. Did Armando know, or intend, that his father was here? Did he so fully accept his relationship with Scott that he would “tell on me,” as it were? That would be so wrong, but then, the entire relationship, the bondage between them, the power play that was taking place, the whole of it all was so wrong, so why should I be surprised? How did Scott know where to find me? I had casually mentioned to Armando where I was going and when, just making small talk, being polite, like always. Sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut. “Scott!” I yelled, “Scott, put the gun away!” I started talking fast, knowing I only had a few moments to convince this drunken, sallow, diseased man that he didn’t need to shoot, that everything was fine, that I was truly, deeply sorry I had met with Armando (and I was definitely sorry at this point) without consulting him, that I was even in town at all without notifying him. I didn’t realize had signed up for a lifetime of bondage when I had first started dating his son. That should have been in the contract up front. No matter now. Scott was getting louder, gesticulating more wildly, staggering forward, towards me. I instinctively reached out, no, punched out, with all my might, taking aim at his right arm. The next thing I heard was a loud thud followed by a loud clattering. I saw the gun slip put of his tightly clenched hand and fall on the sidewalk, much as he did, reeling from the punch. Well, I’m not that seeing, he was probably reeling from the alcohol, but the details don’t matter right now. All I knew was that I had temporarily subdued him, but that I had to act fast before he grabbed the gun again, more bellicose than before, and certainly not listening to or trusting me anymore. So I acted. I grabbed Geraldo, who looked obviously terrified and shocked, shoved the card key in the general vicinity of the reader, and ran through the gate as soon as it buzzed. It couldn’t come soon enough. Scott was just starting to get up, but the gate closed too fast. Thank God for small miracles, or for modern security. We, Geraldo and I, sprinted across the lawn separating the gate door from the front door, and showed ourselves inside before the buzzer stopped. The door slammed firmly shut behind us. The boys were sitting there, on the bench, looking at me like I was even crazier than the man they had just encountered. They just sat there, like they had the whole time, apparently. Now this didn’t occur all that long ago in my life. Cell phones were ubiquitous. The whole apartment could be accessed by stair or elevator, had they wanted to reach someone. The fucking fire alarm handle was right behind them. I went off, screaming obscenities, why, why, why hadn’t they called the police, or pulled the alarm, or ran for help? Did the situation look normal from their vantage point, the safety of bulletproof glass and locked doors? All they said was “that was cool,” and something about how stupid I was, and how did I do it anyways? I didn’t have the patience. Geraldo and I grabbed the elevator and went up to my brother’s room. I never called the police. It didn’t seem right. I, alone, had defeated Scott, for the first, and hopefully last, time, and I savored that feeling. Not that bringing him to justice wouldn’t have felt good.  But I think he finally had gotten all he could get from me, and he wouldn’t be bothering me again. My brother came home a few hours later, I didn’t bring it up, we had a few drinks and then headed to the clubs. Just another night.

Desperate for answers 
Looking for some guidance 
The future remains out of touch

How am I supposed to move on
When failure is the only game I’ve got. 
The demons if my past
Torment me
Make me repeat my mistakes
Only fail to learn again

Fuck that 
I’ve been through hell and I’m not going back 
The future is unknown 
One day at a time is all I can take 
I’d peer into my crystal ball
If I thought it contained any answers

But fortunes are won and lost only on the battlefield 
I can’t stay low forever 
I must get back into the game
Past be cursed and future unknown 
All I can do is make the present my own

Clawing out of my hole, 
Reaching up, towards the sun
I deserve the right to be happy, demons be damned
There’s still so far to go, 
But look how far I’ve come 
I never thought I would escape my low

Press on
The future is unknown
But the demons of my past can stay in my past
I’ll take my chances on a new life
I foresee pain, loss and suffering 
But also compassion, caring and joy
Learning to live in a fucked up world
Learning it’s ok not to hate everything 
Learning there are some moments actually joyous 
And learning joy can be felt more matter what the state of the world

Learning to live again 
One step at a time
But each step further from the past than the last
Until the future becomes known to me 
And I can break the bonds of my past

-Future Tripping, personal writings, 2012

So in his chapter we saw the death-grip that Scott held over Armando and, by extension, me, and the lengths he would go to to assert his power. For the first time, I stood up to him. In fact, that may have been the first time I ever stuck up for myself, period. Times were changing. Now it’s time to take a break. Some trivial matters follow, such as getting accepted into law school, moving to San Francisco, attending classes, throwing parties, learning the club scene, learning how to attend  class with a miserable hangover and pounding headache. It was all worth it. But that concludes the happy period of my life, whatever happiness I had previously gleamed, at least it concluded my happiness and satisfaction at school and in San Francisco. In fact, I felt so happy and confident that I finally, for the first since Armando, years prior, went out on a date, then two dates, then sleepovers, then kisses exchanged in public, then became boyfriends. His name was Jason. I’ll never forget.

#mylifematters Part III


———

Part III

———-

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? 
Sure baby
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
Of course 
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

I tense 
It hurts
But I can’t say that
I play my appointed role

It’s done
I run to the restroom
I need a moment
To cry
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?

Desirability
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.

#mylifematters Part II


———-

Part II

———-

I wish I remember the details of what follows, though, really, it’s better that I don’t. I remember enough and I’ll share that with you.

My family had, by now, moved from Spokane to Bellevue, WA. There I finished my last year of high school via Running Start, a state program designed to give high performing students the opportunity to take college courses at the local community college at no charge. Because of this program, I was able to complete high school simultaneously with my AA, no small feat since the schools provided no support in managing course requirements. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at community college. I was, by most measures, a highly motivated and successful student. By my senior year, I had completed math courses through Calculus III, which, had I taken two more math classes, would have led to a BA in Mathematics. I was smitten enough with math that I tutored students part time on the side. In Spokane, I officially worked at the math lab, helping remedial students, for the most part. In Bellevue I struck out on my own. I didn’t have a lot of clientele, but there was one of which I’m particularly proud. He was a student in Calc II, middle aged and blind. Calculus, if you’re unfamiliar, relies heavily on visuals to understand the equations, or vice versa. The school had promised to translate the textbook into braille, but lagged so far behind that I was tutoring him by voice alone. To understand diagrams I often traced his finger in the general pattern, explaining as I went along. I don’t know how either of us made it through. However, I’m very proud to report that this student was able to pass the class with a 3.8 GPA. That rivaled my own grades. I was grateful for the opportunity to help, and happy it worked out successfully.

While at community college, I picked up employment at a tech start-up, back when that was still unusual. I worked the reception desk, with an official title of purchasing agent, being under the tutelage of the facilities department. That meant I had the opportunity to take over ordering supplies and food for the building. With a practically unlimited, unaccountable budget, I had fun, probably abusing my power, but the techies certainly appreciated the dozens of doughnuts, free breakfast and lunch, and the occasional perk of getting some special equipment if they were nice, maybe a good pen or a printer or executive chair. I stayed at this job for two years, vacating the position when my coworker, older than I and with a family to support, was vying with me for the position after a merger. She needed the money more than I did, so I graciously acquiesced. Besides, I had picked up part time employment at Eddie Bauer, first at their corporate campus near Microsoft, then at the store level at Bellevue Square, a high end retail mall for well-to-do housewives whose husbands made enough to obviate the need for them to work as well, so they would stroll around, picking up Prada shoes, Coach bags and little Yves St Laurent outfits for their precious babies. Angels, as they inevitably called them, even while they were drooling all over my merchandise and wreaking havoc around the store. Angels. Sure. Never argue with a woman whose bank account rivals that of some smaller nations.

These jobs along with a full load at school kept me busy for upwards of 100 hours per week. I don’t know how I did it. I would sleep in the tech firm’s boardroom, racing off to the mall after an hour of shut-eye, working the overnight shift dressing windows and mannequins, then grabbing a quad espresso on the way back to a full day at school and work. I think I used up a lifetime’s worth of energy in those two years.

But somehow, don’t ask me how, despite this busy schedule, I managed to find my first boyfriend. This was back in the heyday of gay.com, an Internet chat room that offered group and private chat. This was also the heyday of the growing gay rights movement, in Seattle at least. I remember attending night meetings at a youth LGBT organization an hour south of the city, without my parents knowledge or consent, at least once or twice weekly. It was there that I attended my first dance. It was also there that I first saw Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video. I was shocked but immediately fell in love. Moulin Rouge came out around the same time, and Christina Aguilera was the buzz word of the week. I fall easily for musicals, and this was no exception. I finally felt like I was part of something, something cool, something that validated me and my lifestyle. It was there, I think, that I met my first boyfriend. Truth be told, I’m not sure how we met exactly. It may have been from online chat rooms. Either way, we ended up going to the youth club together on many occasions. His name was Shaun. He was not exactly white, but the exact ethnicity escapes me. Polynesian perhaps. Or Irish. I really don’t know. He was cute, not classically, but good enough for me. My standards were pretty loose at the time, I was happy just to meet someone who would talk to me. Anyways, we ended up dating. In between work and school, we went out to lunch together, dinner sometimes, the youth club others. He was head of the student LGBT group at his college campus, so there were always events to attend.

He was my first. It was unforgettable, the absurdity of the events, but the actual sex was apparently forgettable, as I don’t remember much about it. A lot of fumbling around, I’m sure. I’d seen some porn by then but real life people and events so rarely follow a porn script, despite best efforts, that I was pretty much shooting in the dark, pun intended. My coworker at the tech company just happened to be, outside of work hours (and sometimes caught during work hours) a professional dominatrix. She was a large woman, busty, good with a whip. I don’t know why I took to her so well. Probably because my home life was so sterile and disapproving of any sort of security that I naturally gravitated towards the forbidden. A note to parents: the best way to ensure your child does something against your values is to mark it as “forbidden.” No one can withstand that kind of temptation. Anyways, Jackie, my coworker, took me under her wing. She was determined that I get laid. I was too young to attend her wild and raucous sex parties, and didn’t have the time to go to her nudist retreats, so I guess she had no choice but to bring the sex to me rather than the other way around. I should stop here for a moment and note that it was during this same time period that even found out, or discovered, or decided, that I was gay. Actually, it wasn’t me that decided it. I was told that I was gay. My coworker from my job back in Spokane (I worked two – my first as mailroom clerk at  jewelry manufacturing wholesaler, the second as human resources assistant for Spokane School District 81) kept in contact when I left the District and moved to Bellevue. In fact, as I’ll tell later, I continued to go back to Spokane for some time for doctor visits, with the earlier-mentioned psychiatrist, and she would always pick me up from the airport and take me, occasionally letting me stay at her house overnight if I didn’t have  same-day return flight. I was attending school at Bellevue Community College at the time (the time of learning I was gay), and taking a French class. I chose French because people were cuter in that class than the German class, plus it was such a classier language than German or Spanish. I fancied it was the language of aristocrats. There was a boy in the class that I was instantly drawn towards. I’d never experienced a romantic desire in my life, definitely not towards a boy. There was a girl at church that I did, then and still now, had a crush on,  but I was nerdy, awkward and painfully shy, so it was more of a fantasy than a reality. Bethany, if you’re reading this, you probably already know I’m talking about you. Anyways, I didn’t even know what “gay” meant, literally. I first encountered the word when I was outside the grocery store with my dad, and there was a signature-gatherer for some gay rights cause. Actually, he may have been anti-gay for all I know. Point was, I’d never heard the term before. My dad quickly shuffled us past, saying very little about the event  I don’t remember what he did say. It was derogatory, but not in a clearly defined way, not with any four-letter words, but generally giving the sense that there was something wrong with it. I still didn’t know what it meant, though, just that, whatever it was, it was Bad.

Sidenote: somewhere in this time period, I was “experimental” with a friend around my age. We didn’t do much more than exchange titillating innuendos, but there was one time we attempted to touch each other. His mom caught us, after my friend confessed to her, apparently feeling Bad about the incident. I then had am incredibly awkward conversation with my parents about how Wrong that was, expressing genuine concern that I had done a Bad thing, that I couldn’t become one of Them, that was Sinful. I’m not sure the word “gay” ever came up directly. I was just made to feel shame about my curiosity.

Now, fast forward to Bellevue, French class. I was emailing Pam, my prior coworker at the District, and going back and forth about life and school and any other thoughts on my mind. I had no one to really talk to other than her. I was sitting in the computer lab (laptops were still horrid, heavy monsters), when I got The Email. I know I mentioned the French class boy, but I don’t recall saying anything particular about him, especially nothing of a sexual nature. My mind wasn’t there yet. But, as middle aged women, mothers, sometimes do, no, scratch, always do, she told me, not asked, not suggested, not beat-around-the-bush about it, no, flat out told me I was gay. I reeled. I gasped. My mind flashed a million thoughts in the seconds that followed. But the predominant thought, the theme that kept cycling back into my consciousness, was the cute boy from French class. Now I knew why I was drawn to him. Now I understood that he was gay too. Now a lot of things made sense. I never bothered to question her, there was no need. I knew she was right. I don’t know, without her, if I ever would have known, or just stayed repressed my entire life. It was funny, her knowing me better than I knew me. Or, knowing what I already knew but didn’t have the words to use or even the ideas to form. I didn’t stop, at that exalting moment, to think what my parents or others might think. I just remember, maybe for the first time, that I was Happy. I was serene. I was peaceful. I was finally at rest with myself. Nothing else mattered.

The French boy and I drove my teacher crazy, whispering in the corner, passing notes, laughing at inside jokes, the occasional glance or touch to reassure each other we were thinking the same thoughts. My teacher never once said “gay” nor did she reference the matter, nor, even, did she appear discomforted by the matter, beyond the fact that we were frequently disruptive. What an experience! I was heady with delight and happiness and joy. I never even had to “come out,” it was like everyone already knew, and no one cared! I could be blatant about it and still there were no repercussions. The world had come a long way, or, rather, the move of a few hundred miles across state to Seattle had landed me in a whole new world. Gay was the new normal. Gay was the new me.

There was, of course, the delicate matter of my parents. There was no initial confrontation; I didn’t deem it a dinner table conversation, and they, for their part, chose to ignore the ever-blonder hair, the ever-growing collection of jewelry, the ever-increasing use of makeup. I wasn’t subtle, though I may have thought I was. I’m not sure what I thought. I remember sneaking boys into the house late at night, my bedroom literally across the hall from my parents, without ever getting caught. I’m sure at some point they knew, it was just easier to not bring up such sin, to look the other way while I was fucking in the next room, to pretend not to see the rouge on my cheeks, to ignore my efforts to lose weight (I was 6’3 and wanted to be 165 lbs, I came pretty close at times), generally just to ignore me altogether. I was busy anyways, I had dinner in a rush or reheated it late at night, dashed off early in the morning, had lunch at school, etc. There wasn’t a lot of face time with my parents, and everyone kept it that way.

So did I ever tell them? In fact, no. My mother told me. Just like Pam told me, only this time with a tone of reproachment and judgment. I suppose, technically, she “asked” me, but it was one of those rhetorical questions where the answer is already presumed within the question. We were on a car ride, and the event to which I was going, I’m not sure what it was, was canceled, so we were headed back home. And then she asked. I suppose maybe we worked our way up to the topic, in a way, but the question, to me, came flying at me from left field. I could only agree, not only to be truthful, but because the question itself obviated the need for an answer. The next few weeks were nearly comical, as she passive-agressively forced scripture passages on me, and I fired back with quotes and pamphlets from PFLAG. We were at an impasse, which was actually quite common between us. We were both stubborn to the core, no matter how obviously wrong we might be, so especially on this issue there was no backing down.

The day the next event happened was just another day, to start. I was driving around Kirkland with Shaun, walking down the waterfront, playing on the playground, things boys do on dates. When we go back to the car, it refused to start. Well, I’m no mechanic, and he wasn’t either. I learned later that you always should have a lesbian in your life to cover these situations. So I called my mom to come pick us up. There was something odd about that phone call. She refused, citing irresponsibility, neglect of maintenance, failure to be prepared for emergencies, and why, oh why, was I with Shaun in the first place? She knew were dating, though I never told, and he was a constant source of tension between us. There was something more in her voice, though, the tone was different, bleak, almost, desperate but fatalistic, as if she had resigned herself to whatever she was thinking about. Anyways, I called my sister, and she came with a gallon of gas, enough to get home and no further. I was upset because we were on a dare, and why did it have to come to an end, couldn’t she buy a bit more gas, I didn’t have any money, but no, no, no was the answer. My mother had found out I called my sister, and placed severe restrictions on what help she could offer. So I had gas to go home, so I did. It was growing dark, wind blustering, raindrops starting to fall. The kind of night that looks pretty from the comfort of a warm home, in front of a fire, but not something for which you’d like to be outside. My sister had left after giving us gas, so we drove home, me growing ever more uneasy, sensing something in the air, without being able to place it. I got out of the car, went to open the apartment door, but discovered it was locked. I was already in a bad mood, it was a cold night, I just wanted to get Shaun’s belongings from inside the apartment and let him go home. Instead he was just as stuck as I was.

I called my mom, seeing where she was at. She was at, it turned out, at a church prayer meeting at a congregation member’s house down the street, and was not to be interrupted. No matter that I had no key and it was cold out and really she was only five minutes away by car. No matter. It was a bitter phone call. I called the apartment manager next, who knew us well, but she couldn’t break the lock since I wasn’t the name on the lease. She suggested calling the police, sensing my growing panic. The police arrived quickly, but, since I was the age of majority, couldn’t rule it child abuse and, in fact, could do nothing because I had no lease on the place. They left me with a sympathetic look and a pamphlet on domestic abuse. By now I was mad, no, angry, no, furious, boiling, cursing up a storm. Not that it helped the situation. So I reverted back to the passive-aggressive me that always gets results. Not good results, but one can’t be picky. I just wanted inside. I started calling my mom again and again and again, determined to annoy her enough that she would have no choice but to come. Instead, she turned her phone off. Fuck. I knew what to do, though. I convinced myself, and to this day it’s the version of events I believe, despite strong assertions and suggestions to the contrary, that the prayer meeting was about me and what to do with me. I knew whose house it was at, and I’d held long simmering suspicions about what he thought of me, and it just made sense that they would be discussing me. Well, I wouldn’t let them do that in peace. So I called the house, got voicemail, called again; after several times, I was angry and scared and cold and still hadn’t gotten Shaun’s belongings, and was determined to make someone suffer. So I called back, knowing the house phone was in the kitchen adjacent to the living room, and left a series of loud, angry, threatening messages in language that would make a sailor blush. I just knew they were discussing me, and I was determined to upset their meeting. After waiting several minutes from my last call, there was a screech of tires in the paring lot, and my mom emerged from a vehicle I had never seen before. If I thought I was upset, it didn’t hold a candle to the expression on her face. But she remained silent. She opened the door, let Shaun gather what he needed and leave then, in a fateful moment of self-restraint, she whispered, through clenched teeth, loud enough for everyone to hear, with not a trace of sadness in her voice, that I had ten minutes to pack and leave, forever.

It’s a blur beyond that. Some may even dispute the accuracy of the events I just described. What I said, though, was true and real to me at the time, and it’s accuracy, to an extent, is unnecessary, because it was my belief in events that mattered at the time. I remember calling my friend, a young gay couple from the social group I attended, and who I knew well because of weekly Queer as Folk viewing at their house, and asking to be picked up, immediately, and stay with them for a while. I packed everything into two bags and went outside to wait. My dad came out after me and I started running. Just then, my friend, Justin, arrived, and with horns honking, my dad screaming, me running, I leaped into the moving car and we sped off, kicking up dirt behind us, as my dad was yelling, begging me to come back, it could all be talked out. Fuck that. They wanted me gone, so I would go. Forever. Estrangement works both ways.

Well, the rest of this particular story isn’t very dramatic. I lived with Justin for a few months, then Shaun and I got back together and we moved into a two bedroom apartment in West Seattle. I started attendance full time at the University of Washington, took a new job, and was very successful, as these things go. I didn’t talk to my parents for two years, at least. I honestly thought, based on some rumours, that he had moved to the South, or maybe even Russia. Their phone number no longer worked and I had no forwarding address for them, so I was as good as disowned from what I used to think was my family. Anyways, Shaun started acting up around the same time, using drugs (in retrospect, probably just weed, but drugs were drugs as far as I was concerned at the time). I vividly remember the day we had a fight, and he threw my cat over the railing, watching her plunge to the concrete below, breaking her back, spewing blood and guts, a look of sheer horror on her face, and mine. Shortly after, I caught Shaun on the rooftop doing drugs in the hot tub. I called the police. Management kicked us out, but let me move into a new unit since I was an innocent party. So I ended up living on my own in my own one bedroom apartment. Who needed family? I had my own place, my own job, was getting a great education, making friends and having fun. I was doing fine. Or so I thought.

I walk forth, my world crashing and falling all around me
If you listen just right, it’s like a gentle rain
Whispering to me in soft tones of hope and inspiration
The rain picks up
All the Opera seats are full
The patrons lean in, frowning, what will he do with his life now? 
Will he recover, and get a job and find his life again? 
Or will be listen to the torrential rain, the gentle rain long gone, 
And give up hope, as should have been done long ago, 
Surrender to the sweet mercy of drug induced happiness 
Where the rain never comes and the music never stops

But I can’t decide today
I don’t want to ever decide

The rain will never stop pouring until I’ve made up my mind 
Until then, the rain falls, 
Just life restoring death

-Rain Falls, personal, 2012

This concludes Part II in which we see me go from school to work to being kicked out and disowned, back to school and work. I purposely left out the critical, life changing moment, however, when I learned the extent of and limits to sexuality, and bondage, and love and trust. These moments deserve their own section. So take a break, this ride is about to get ugly.