I came out of the proverbial closet when I was 15, in high school, and in the student newspaper. A sophomore had decided to print an editorial about the moral degradations of homosexuality, stating that God created Adam and Eve, "not Adam and Steve." I was so enraged by this sophomoric (literally) editorial that I sent a letter to the editor responding on behalf of the gay community, which was published, and which publicly announced my sexual orientation for all the student body to read.
Luckily, no one in the entire student body wanted to mess with me since I was six feet tall, wore nothing but black clothing, had purple hair down to my ears, and my walkman permanently attached to my ears. This was before the days of Trenchcoat Mafia anything and Marilyn Whatshisname, I was listening mostly to The Pixies and The Cure. I obviously did not fit the stereotype of what a gay man was supposed to be: the limp-wristed, lisping faggot selling flowers or cutting hair. Hell, I wasn't even a part of the school choir -- although I did claim membership to the Thespian club, my alibi for late-night partying with friends and doing lots of drugs. Gay or straight was not so much an issue. I was considered psychotic. But I digress.
So there I am. I'm 15, I'm gay, and I'm in high school.
Neat. So, where are the boys?
Oh wait, I didn't think about that. Open organizations like gay-straight student alliances wouldn?t exist until I was well out of college, which meant I didn't really know anyone else who was gay. I had to learn what it meant to be gay through trial-and-error, which meant diving into the wide world of the gay community at large and finding my place within it.
I was 15, and I had naivete on my side.
I turned 16 and made friends with people outside of high school that were cool with me being gay. I would go to school during the day, and then go home to change and hang out with friends at night. I had a car and cool friends, and we would go places that were once inaccessible, and meeting people outside of my circle of experience.
I went with my friend Marianne to the local downtown alternative music club for all-ages night, a guaranteed good time with music I love to hear on a dancefloor -- and nary an adult in site to monitor my excessive smoking habit. I was dancing on the stage with some friends, and I noticed this guy not too far from my general vicinity. He danced like a fool and kept cracking jokes that I overheard, laughing along with his girlfriend. The DJ wasn't playing one of my favorite tunes, so I stopped and leaned against the wall for a breather and a cigarette. He walked to the bar for a drink -- we're teenagers, so think sodas and water -- and his girlfriend walked up to me. (I know, this just reeks of Beach Blanket Bingo, only, well, not.)
"Hi, I'm Margot."
"Hi, I'm James."
"My friend wanted me to let you know that you're cute."
I blush, and I look around to see who she is talking about. Again, naivete. Margot points to her friend at the bar getting a drink of water. His name, apparently, is Rob.
A boy. Eek. Oh no, wait, I'm gay. Right. Okay, this is a good thing. Holy cow this guy thinks I'm cute. Great, now I have to talk to him. Oh my God oh my God oh my God...
Rob approached me after Margot gave him the signal that all is well. He reached out his hand and introduced himself, and I shook his hand with a bright red face. I had never done this sort of thing before, the whole talk-to-a-gay-man thing, and I was beyond nervous. It also didn't help that the club was loud and making it hard for me to hear Rob's voice. My friend Marianne wanted to grab a cup of coffee at a nearby cafe, so I said good-night to Rob and Margot and started to leave. Rob asked where we were going, I gave him the location, and he said the two of them would join us shortly. Marianne asked me what was going on, and I told her that Rob liked me. We squealed, drove to the cafe, and grabbed a table for four. Rob and Margot arrived shortly thereafter, and the four of us had coffee and made conversation -- you know the kind, where two people (Rob and myself) do all the talking and two people (Margot & Marianne) grin and periodically insert jokes.
Rob lived ninety miles north of Denver and was 18. He had already traveled to Belgium, spoke French, smoked cigarettes, did the occasional drug for recreational purposes, and was living with his parents. Rob's hair was naturally brown and straight, parted in the middle and touching his ears. Each ear lobe held a sterling silver piercing, and he even had a matching nose piercing on his left side. There were silver rings on his fingers, and he wore a white dress shirt over a white undershirt, all neatly tucked into his jeans, with a braided leather belt. His choice of fragrance was Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men.
We weren't exactly a match made in Heaven, but who cares? Rob paid attention to me and thought I was cute.
Marianne was getting tired, and I had a curfew of 1 a.m. The four of us left the cafe and walked to the parking lot. Margot and Rob didn?t park far from Marianne's car, all the easier for him to ask for my number and give me a hug good-night. I was delirious with excitement during the ride home, and I dreamed of Rob while I slept.
Rob called me the next day and we talked briefly -- it was long-distance. Rob told me that he would be downtown in a couple of hours and asked for me to meet him and his girlfriends. I agreed to meet him in two hours and made myself look as good as a 15-year-old with purple hair to his ears and wearing black can possibly look. I drove downtown and met Rob, who was hanging out again with Margot and a woman of exceptional size and menacing looks. I met Teresa, the self-proclaimed fag hag.
Excuse me, a fag what?
Fag hag (n.), woman who loves gay men with such intensity that she feels the need to empower herself with a title that is anything but dignified and gracious. It is also said that a fag hag will do everything in her power to have sexual relations with the fag of her liking. This has always made about as much sense to me as a woman wanting to voluntarily call herself a fag hag in the first place.
Margot also admitted her fag hag pride, which threw me off because I wasn't expecting her to say this, and I was at a loss for words. I was new to this experience as an -- out -- homosexual, and here were three people that made me feel that I was fifty years behind them. I bought a fresh pack of Marlboro Lights, so I reached for my smokes in hopes of finding something new to discuss. Rob grabs the pack from my hands and packs my cigarettes for me, then opens it to kiss one cigarette and return it upside-down. I looked at him with a mixture of confusion and bewilderment, and he told me that it was my lucky cigarette. How something that causes cancer and emphysema can be lucky remains a mystery to me, but I rolled along with the punches.
Rob walked down the street with a very pronounced swish, and occasionally reached for my hand when not snapping in the air. Everyone was looking at us, and I was mortified. I snapped my hand away from Rob's reach and threw him a look that said "Are you out of your mind? People will know we are gay. ARE YOU INSANE?" Rob just laughed and said that it was our responsibility to shove homosexuality down the throats of breeders.
Breeders? You mean The Breeders? Tanya Donnelly and Kim Deal? I loved their album Pod! (In fact, I still own it today.)
Breeders (n. pl.), anyone not a homosexual, although naturally this designation does not apply to fag hags.
I quickly learned about Rob's theories, how everyone is really homosexual but not conscious of it. That breeders were repressing our ability to be openly homosexual, and we had to shove our sexuality down their throats. Why Erasure truly is the most amazing band in the world, and everyone should know their music forwards and back. There was more, and Rob didn't hesitate to use every ounce of his breath to vent whatever gay-related extremity he could think of. I just sat there with my cigarettes listening to him and his friends, not having anything to contribute since all of this was very new to me and completely foreign to my life.
Wow, so this is what being gay is all about.
Rob and I didn't date for very long, but we did have one night together at my parents' house when my dad was on a business trip. I drove ninety miles to Rob's house to pick him up for the evening, and we went back to my house in the suburbs where we two could be alone. I had only been with one other man before Rob, and my experience with homosexuality was very limited.
I sort of let Rob drive that evening, and I figured that I could stop at any time if I wasn't enjoying the view. Rob was also not very experienced, and we did nothing more than kiss, explore oral sex, and practice a little frottage. The kissing was alright, but Rob had his tongue all over my face like he was a Saint Bernard. I can't say the oral sex was memorable -- I can't remember it much at all, really -- and we experimented with frottage in my bedroom and in the shower. Personally, I find frottage about as exciting as watching my grandmother cut her toenails, but Rob really enjoyed himself with it. Standing in the shower, Rob rubbed himself against me, holding my body close and thrusted himself against my midsection until his body clinched and he collapsed into me. He told me it was my turn, and that he wanted me to do the same. Maybe it was the water, maybe it was the frottage, maybe it was what Rob said, but I lost all sexual tendency to go forward.
Thankfully, the water from the shower and my ability to fake an orgasm convinced Rob that I had not only reached the finish line, but that we had great sex.
Margot and I began to spend a lot of time together, getting to know one another and finding a lot of shared interests in art & music. I found myself talking more to Margot than I did Rob, and it wasn't long before she and I could talk for hours about absolutely nothing. I went with Margot to Rob's house where we watched some movie on Fox television that featured one of the first-ever gay male characters in a prime-time made-for-television movie. While Margot sat in a chair adjacent to the couch where Rob & I were snuggling, and while his parents slept in the other room, he fondled me through my shorts throughout the movie. You can't buy class like that, really.
Margot had to go home at the end of the movie, and she waited in the car as Rob kissed me good-night. I walked to my car and drove Margot toward home, feeling pretty darn good after a couple hours of groping and some sloppy kissing. Margot confessed that she had something to tell me and that she felt awful for keeping it from me for so long. I wasn't sure what Margot meant, and I wasn't exactly the most-experienced teenage homo. This secret could be anything, so I asked her without expecting the answer I was given.
Rob had been with countless guys, but the punchline was that he knew for a fact how many he had been with. Apparently I was number 63, and there were 3 other guys that I didn?t know about.
I was beyond words at that moment, although I knew one thing for certain: I would never talk to Rob again, to say nothing of forgiving him for what he did to me. I felt that he cheated on me, that we were monogamous, that we were boyfriends. Rob would call me, he bought me flowers, he would always tell me that I was cute, and I was never led to believe that we had something open - much less him sleeping with three other guys. I questioned myself a lot, wondering what was wrong with me or what I was lacking that would make Rob do this to me. My doubt quickly became rage, and I turned it all against Rob with the goal of making him suffer total humiliation. So I wrote Rob a letter, and made copies of it for all of his friends. I told him exactly what I thought of him and confessed that I faked it in the shower. That was after calling him every vindictive name I could recall from the English language. I even made a few words up. Margot told me that Rob did indeed receive the letter, as did the other recipients of the copies. Now everyone knew how I felt, especially Rob, and we never talked to one another after that.
Margot and I remained friends after the Rob fiasco, but we lost touch years later after I moved to New York. I still sometimes think of her and hope that she is doing well. Honestly, I hope that's true for Rob, too.
I have been a publicly out gay male for 13 years now, and I am proud that I have made it this far in life without having one friend I call a fag hag. And somewhere through this fantastic voyage of homosexuality, I've even had great sex -- no, better than great, BLINDING! Yes! BLINDING, earth-shattering sex! I never became a member of the mainstream gay community (that whole love thing for Madonna, house music, Liza, Barbra...), but I am content with my cadre of friends from all walks of life, my preferences and sensibilities, and being myself first before being homosexual.
To all blossoming homosexuals out there, I say this: be yourself, don?t worry about what the other fags are doing. Have friends, not hags. Don't call anyone a breeder unless they happen to be in a band of the same name. Go easy on the cologne. The funny thing about gay men is that if you wait long enough, they come to you.
And naivete? It?s downright sexy.