I was only five years old at the time, but the fight was something that would haunt me all my life. I'd been in bed maybe an hour or two at the most when the shouting woke me up.
"HOW DARE YOU?" was the first thing I remembered hearing and it was shouted by my mom, or Mommy as I called her back then.
I think Dad said something but it was too soft for me to hear it and then Mom shouted, "YOU DECEIVED ME! All these years I thought you loved me, when the whole time you were living a LIE!"
Again, I think Dad said something, but the only word I made out was, 'deliberate'.
"I don't care if it was deliberate or not!" Mom shouted. You HURT me, Stephen. I thought you loved me."
"I did love you, Cindy!" Dad shouted. "I do love you, even now."
"You have a funny way of showing it!" Mom shouted back, and then she added, "I gave you my heart! I gave you children, when all along you were a faggot!"
At the time, I had no idea what she meant and it would not be for another few years that I would even hear the word again. Even when I finally learned what it meant, it didn't make sense to me. Why would a man want to love another man? Men were supposed to love women. That was just the way things worked. Didn't my dad and mom love each other?
The fight only escalated from there and the shouting got worse and worse. Then finally I heard Mom shout, "GET OUT! GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE. GET OUT NOW! And don't you DARE even think of seeing your children again. If you try, I'll tell the authorities you molested Stevie. You'll be lucky to ever see the light of day again!"
I had no idea what Mom meant about Dad molesting me - what did it mean. It was years before I found out and, when I did, I wondered why Mom told him that. Dad never, ever touched me that way. Why would he have? Why did she threaten to lie like that?
The sound of the door slamming shut echoed throughout the house and then it was quiet except for the sound of Dad's car starting up and driving off. That was ten years ago and I never saw my father again.
After that fated night, it was just my mom, my sister Connie, who's two years older than me, and my brother Lance, who's 21Ú2 years younger. We all kept asking Mom what happened to Dad but all she would ever tell us was that he 'left'. We moved to Southern California and started new lives. In time, my memories of Dad faded and I nearly forgot about him - nearly.
I'm not sure when it was I came to hate my father. Mom didn't train me to or anything like that but Dad had left us - he abandoned us - so he couldn't possibly have loved us. I resented him and grew angry with him and, in time, that resentment turned to hate.
Then things started to change when I was approaching my thirteenth birthday. I'd long since learned what a 'faggot' was and, although I still didn't really understand it, I came to understand that it wasn't something one chose to be. People were born gay but the one thing that was clear was that no one liked gay people. Everyone in school was always saying, "That's so gay!" as if that was the worst thing you could say. No, being gay was a bad thing and being gay made Dad hurt Mom. He hurt all of us and it was all because he was gay.
The problem was that as my hormones started to kick in, I wasn't feeling anything for girls. I knew that boys sometimes messed around with other boys - I couldn't bring myself to do it for fear of ending up like my dad - but I knew some of my friends did it. Hell, a few of them had even suggested doing it with me, but I turned them down. The thing was that, even as they messed around, they talked about girls. Girls were all they ever talked about. So why wasn't I interested in girls.
It was on my thirteenth birthday that the answer finally came to me. Rather than have a big party, I went out bowling and then to a movie with my two best friends, Derrick and Jamaal. The movie was rated PG-13 and now that we were all three thirteen, our parents let us see it on our own, which was a first for me.
It was a hot summer day and we were all dressed in shorts and wife beaters. Coming in from the hot outdoors, the cool air inside the movie theater felt really good on my bare shoulders, arms and legs, causing me to get goose bumps. We all got ourselves big buckets of popcorn and large cokes and sat together in the middle of, like, the fifth or sixth row - much closer to the front than any adult would want to sit.
Then the lights dimmed and the previews began. There were a million of them! Finally, the feature presentation began and we all watched eagerly as we munched away. The movie was an action flick laced liberally with sex - the two things most craved by any thirteen-year-old.
Both Derrick and Jamaal giggled during the sex scenes - I guess I did too - but I also noticed they got aroused. Since we were all only wearing thin shorts, their tents were quite obvious. The thing was, I got aroused too and, although the flesh I saw on the screen was a good part of the reason - it doesn't take much to excite a thirteen-year-old, after all - most of the reason for my becoming aroused was the mere thought of my friends being aroused.
But Derrick and Jamaal were both boys. Why would I get aroused thinking about boys getting hard? Suddenly it all came into focus and life came crashing down on me. The only reason I would react that way to seeing my friends hard was that I WAS GAY!
Time stood still for several moments and then thoughts swirled through my brain as I started to come to grips with my revelation. I now knew that being gay was something one was born with. It wasn't something I could change. It wasn't just a phase. CRAP! SHIT! FUCK!
But everyone hated gays. That was a fact. How would my friends react if they found out I was gay? I knew the answer all too well. I knew how I would have reacted to the news if it had been one of them. FUUUUUUUUCK! I sure as Hell couldn't let them find out - EVER.
Over the coming days, I sank into a deep depression. I might be able to keep my sexuality from my friends and my family but I couldn't keep it from me. Now that I realized I was gay, my life was thrown into turmoil.
I'd hated my dad because of what he did to our family - what he did because he was gay. Now I hated him because maybe he'd passed the 'gay gene' on to me but that was just an excuse to put the blame on him. Now that I knew I was gay, I could only hate myself with a vengeance - and I did.
I started to withdraw from life. I stopped going out with my friends. I barely interacted with my mom, my brother and my sister. I became a sullen teenager. Mom kept asking me what was wrong but in time I think she came to accept that I was just a moody, rebellious teenager. Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Several times I seriously contemplated suicide but my general cowardice kept me from acting on it. I considered running away but I'd read about what happens to runaway teens and how they sell themselves just to survive. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I hated life, I hated me, but I just didn't see a way out. The mental anguish went on for a couple of years and my grades suffered for it too.
Help came from a most unexpected source - my younger brother. Lance was only two when Dad left and, hence, he had no real memories of the fight that led up to Dad's walking out. He had no knowledge of Dad being gay.
He did, however, see the way I was acting around the house, and he didn't like it one bit. One early fall day after school, before Mom came home and while Connie was at cheerleader's practice, he walked into the bedroom we shared, shutting and locking the door behind him.
"All right, Steve," his voice was demanding, "you've been an absolute shit for the past two years. What the fuck's goin' on?"
"What's it matter to you?" came my retort. I meant it as a purely rhetorical question but he sure didn't take it that way.
"It matters to me because you're my brother. I care about you, and I'm sick and tired of your vile moods. When we were little, we got along great. You were my older brother and I looked up to you, but at thirteen, it was like pushing a button, you changed. You became a completely different person."
"So what?" I responded. "I'm a teenager now," I answered.
"So am I," he challenged, "well, almost, but you don't see me getting all depresso."
"I guess I'm not perfect the way you are," I countered.
Sitting down on his bed so he could face me at eye-level, Lance continued in a much softer voice. "You know my friend, John. He's one of my best friends but a few months ago he started acting a bit like you. Seeing it happen to someone else I cared about got me to thinking, so I forced him to talk. I had to . . . he's a good friend.
"At first he wouldn't tell me what was going on. He reacted like you did, and then he lashed out at me, calling me 'faggot' this and 'faggot' that. It wasn't like John at all and I guess even he was surprised by his reaction. He apologized and told me he had a lot of shit he was going through. I asked him to tell me what was going on . . . that I'd be there for him and help him through whatever it was, but he just told me I couldn't help.
"Then I got angry . . . more like furious with him. I told him that after being best buds for, like, ever, I wasn't about to turn my back on him. I told him there wasn't anything he could tell me that would change my feelings toward him, and I wanted to help. Then I asked him the first thing that came to my mind . . . I asked him if he'd been abused or molested or something like that."
After pausing for a bit, Lance continued. "John started to . . . well, cry a bit and told me it was nothing like that. He said it was something much worse. I asked what could possibly be worse than being abused or molested, and that's when he dropped the bomb on me. He told me he was gay."
"Are you accusing me of being GAY?" I practically screamed at my brother.
Lance wasn't giving up. "Like I told John," he said, "I don't care if you're gay or straight. It doesn't mean anything to me at all. I know what some of the kids say at school, but mostly those are just words. Hating someone because they're gay makes about as much sense as hating them for having blue eyes.
"You're my brother, Steve. I love you and I'll always love you. If all this is because you're gay, or if it's for something else, I want to help you. Whatever it is, I'm still your bro."
"You couldn't possibly understand," I challenged.
"Try me," he countered.
I was at a crossroads and I knew it. I hated myself and I hated my life, but here was Lance telling me he'd love me, even if I were gay. Could I trust him with my secret? I didn't know what to do, but I knew I couldn't keep on as I had been. I was barely getting C's and D's in school and would never get into college, let alone a decent college at this rate. Perhaps sharing my burden would help, so I made a decision. I took a leap of faith.
"Lance, I know you were too young to remember what happened when Dad . . . left, but do you know why he left?"
"You know as well as I do that Mom refuses to talk about it," Lance answered.
"Yes, but I remember the argument they had when he left. I heard every word." Then looking into his eyes, I continued, "Dad's gay, Lance. When Mom found out, she threw him out of the house. She even threatened to go to the authorities and tell them he did things with me if he ever came back."
The look of shock on Lance's face was painful. I hated to tell him but I had to if he was to understand what I was going through.
"I don't believe it," were the first words to come out of his mouth but then he seemed to recover somewhat and added, "but it explains a lot. Geez, he really got a raw deal."
"HE got a raw deal?" I asked incredulously. "What about Mom?"
"Steve, Dad couldn't help being gay," Lance explained. "Think about it," he continued. "He was gay, but he couldn't accept it, so he tried to be straight. He dated women and eventually fell in love with and married Mom. He tried . . . he really tried to be straight, but I think you must realize how futile that must have been. You can pretend to be straight, but if you're gay, you're still gay underneath it all." How right I knew my brother was about that!
"When Mom figured it out," Lance went on, "she felt angry and betrayed, but she overreacted. Dad shouldn't have tried to be straight and he shouldn't have deceived her. He hurt her and she lashed out at him. Threatening him like that . . . that was beyond low. I'm sure Dad loved us as much as she did, but we were taken away from him. Mom didn't give him a choice . . . she ripped us from his life, and she ripped him from ours. She had no right to do that.
"They had to get a divorce . . . I understand that, but he should still have been a part of our lives. She stole the relationship we should have had with our dad all these years."
I couldn't believe what my brother was saying. I had trouble wrapping my mind around it - so conditioned was I to hate my father - but Lance's logic was impossible to ignore. Everything he said made sense. Dad made a mistake, but he wasn't evil. He loved us just as we loved him. Mom took his options away from him and we all suffered for it. It wasn't because he was gay, and it had nothing to do with my being gay.
As this revelation came to me, the tears started to flow. I couldn't help it. Fifteen-year-olds aren't supposed to cry but the tears came out of my eyes in a torrent.
Lance stood up, grabbed me off my bed and pulled me into a tight hug. He was crying too.
"Steve, are you gay?" he asked.
All I could do was nod my head.
"It's OK bro, you're still the same person who cares about me. You can't help being who you are any more than dad can.Ę You'll always be the brother I love.Ę That'll never change."
Life got much brighter after that and my brother and I became closer than ever. I even began to contemplate trying to get a boyfriend but I had no idea how to go about it. Mom and Connie noticed my change in demeanor right away and Mom even asked me if I had a girlfriend or something.
God, if she only knew! If she reacted so horribly to Dad being gay, how would she react to having a gay son? I resolved that she would never know, which meant my thoughts of joining the Gay-Straight Alliance at school went out the window. Obviously I wouldn't be able to even contemplate having a boyfriend 'til I was away at college.
But then something happened that changed the direction of my life. Grandma died. I didn't even know she was sick!
Along with Dad, Mom had managed to isolate us from Dad's entire family, including my grandparents on Dad's side. The last time I had seen them was when I was five years old, some ten years before. They were strangers to me, as was Dad.
When Mom gave us the news, I didn't exactly know how to react. Sure, it bothered me that a woman I'd known and who at one time was close to me had died but I didn't really feel anything. I just didn't remember her that well and any love I'd once felt was long-gone.
Mom really floored me, however, when she announced we were going to the funeral. What the fuck? Why the Hell were we all of a sudden going to my grandmother's funeral when we hadn't had any contact in a decade?
"Will Dad be there?" I asked.
"Children," Mom began, "ten years ago, I made a big mistake. I'm not going to bore you with the details, but your father and I had an argument and in the heat of the moment, I said some things that never should have been said."
Taking a deep breath, she continued, "I was horrible to him, and ended up throwing him out of the house and threatening what I'd do if he ever attempted to return. The reason you haven't seen him isn't because he didn't love you. It's because I made him stay away.
"I've barely had contact with him since then, and at that only to handle legal matters surrounding the divorce and child support payments. I've since come to realize how wrong I was. I know I can't make up for all the years, but I'd like you to get to know your father. I wasn't fair to him and I wasn't fair to you. I just hope you can forgive me."
Then noticing how we had all kept right on eating dinner while she dropped her bombshell on us, she asked, "You don't seem to be surprised?"
"We know what happened, Mom," I answered for all of us. "At least Lance and I do, but I bet Connie does too. I heard everything that night and I'm sure she did as well. I had a hard time dealing with it at first, but Lance and I spoke about the whole thing recently, and we've forgiven both of you."
"You heard everything?" she asked, seemingly astonished.
"We couldn't not hear, Mom," Connie answered. "The two of you were shouting so loudly. You threw Dad out because he was gay and threatened to report he'd molested Steve if he tried to see us." Mom's mouth fell open, but no words came out.
"Dad made a terrible mistake," Lance chimed in, "but it's not like he could help being gay or anything, and I think he still loves us. You overreacted, but what you did was understandable. It was wrong, but that was ten years ago."
"I just wish you'd have come to us a long time ago," I added. "Maybe then we could have gotten to know our dad again long before now but, as they say, better late than never. At least now we can make up for lost time."
"I'm sorry . . . I knew I'd made a mistake, but I just couldn't deal with it 'til now," Mom explained. "It took Grandma dying to put things in perspective. I would never have forgiven myself if I'd waited until Dad died to tell you the truth about what happened. I just never dreamt you already knew!"
It was a couple of days later that we made our way back to Indiana to attend our grandmother's funeral - a grandmother we barely knew - and to reconcile with my father. I could prolly count the times I'd been to Indiana on the fingers of one hand. Nearly a decade had passed since we left our home in New Jersey and my entire life now revolved around life in Southern California. The few memories I had of my early years all blurred together in my mind. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I was nervous as hell about seeing family members long forgotten.
Getting off the plane and walking down the jetway, it looked like we could be anywhere. Walking outdoors for even the brief time it took to get to the rental counters, I noticed immediately how different the atmosphere felt compared to back home. There was a cool crispness to the autumn air that was lacking in Southern California. Occasional gusts of wind caused brightly colored fall leaves to swirl all around. Memories of playing in piles of leaves as a small boy came back to me as the scent of fall registered in my brain.
As we walked away from the rental car counter with the keys to the Taurus we'd rented, I asked Mom, "Do you think maybe I could drive?" I had my learner's permit and was anxious to rack up driving experience in anticipation of my driving test next summer.
Laughing, Mom replied, "I don't think that would be a good idea. For one thing, you don't know your way around here and navigating your way around a strange city is hard enough on an experienced driver, let alone a novice. Secondly, teenagers aren't allowed to drive rental cars. There are rules and everyone who's going to drive has to be approved by the rental company in advance. That's why they ask to see drivers licenses . . . they want to be sure you have one, which you don't, and that you meet their minimum age requirement, which you don't. Most companies won't let you drive their cars 'til you're 25."
"25! Geez," I complained.
"Your birthday's not until next summer," she pointed out, "so you'll have plenty of time to practice until then."
"I know," I admitted with a laugh, "but it never hurts to ask."
We stayed in a part of town called College Park. After checking into our hotel, we drove to my grandparents' house - a house I'd last seen when I was five. It was located in an older, upscale subdivision called North Willow Farms. Although the houses were something like forty years old, they appeared to be well kept and a hell of a lot nicer than our three bedroom rambler in California.
To be fair, when we pulled up to Grandpa's house, it was one of the smaller ones on the street. The ones next to it and across from it were much nicer but it still beat the crap out of ours. For one thing, it had two stories and, as we soon found out, a fully finished basement.
It's funny but Grandpa didn't look any older than I'd remembered him. Maybe it was because sixty to a five-year-old looks as old as seventy does to a fifteen year old - I dunno. Anyway, Mom and Grandpa cried - they really cried and embraced tightly, and I didn't think it was just because of Grandma.
After they got done hugging, Grandpa released Mom and his eyes fell on us. "My God, you were all so little the last time I saw you." Then fixing his gaze on me, he said, "Stevie?" and I nodded my head.
"Actually he goes by 'Steve'," Mom corrected him, but I didn't mind.
"Steve," Grandpa continued, "you look so much like your father did at your age, I can't get over it. If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were him." Yeah, Gramps, I'm more like my dad than you know. I couldn't help but wonder if Grandpa knew his son was gay but I figured now was not the time to ask. Not that I'd likely ever ask, as that would raise issues I didn't want to raise.
Grandpa grabbed me in a tight hug, which felt wonderful, and then he released me and looked Connie in the eyes.
"Connie," he began, "I cannot get over what a lovely young woman you've become."
"Thanks, Grandpa," she replied with a smile and then she pulled him into a hug.
Finally looking at Lance, Grandpa said, "The last time I saw you, you were only a baby really. Not even a toddler yet. Now look at you! You're almost a teenager. You're not a little boy anymore." Lance actually blushed when Grandpa hugged him.
That's when I saw him. He might have been ten years older, but there was no mistaking the face of my father. Even though the house was crowded with people, I ran up to him and threw my arms around him. "I've missed you sooo much, Daddy," I said, sounding like I did when I was five years old. How embarrassing!
We both cried our eyes out as Connie and Lance came up to us. Connie joined in with us in our hug but Lance held back a little. I guess to him, Dad was a stranger.
"I love you too, Stevie," Dad said as our crying subsided and then he added, "I love all of you."
Laughing, I said, "Um, Dad? I go by Steve now."
"I guess that does sound a bit better for a teenager than 'Stevie', and Dad sounds more appropriate than Daddy at your age."
"Definitely," I agreed.
"Lance!" Dad exclaimed as he looked my brother in the eyes. "You were only a baby when I left. Now look at you! I know you probably don't remember me, but I'd really like to get to know you."
With a weak smile, Lance replied, "I'd like to get to know you too, Dad. Boy it sounds weird to say that. I thought I'd never get to see you, ever. But Steve and I talked about what happened. I understand why you couldn't see us. It wasn't really your fault . . . well, mostly it wasn't. Yeah, I definitely want to get to know you. It's pretty neat, getting a father at the age of twelve."
Then Lance threw his arms around Dad and the two of them embraced as they cried.
"You guys know the truth?" Dad asked.
"We all know it, Dad," Connie answered.
"We know you're gay," Lance elaborated, "and we think we understand why you married Mom, and why you kept it from her."
"It's more than that, guys," Dad added. "I really did love your mom and, in many ways, I still do. I was trying to be something I'm not, and she was right to divorce me."
"It wasn't right of her to threaten to report you for molesting me," I countered. "That was a low blow. We could have seen each other all the time during the last ten years, but she took that from us."
"So you really do know the whole story," Dad exclaimed, "but please don't blame your mother for it. She was just lashing out at me. She was angry and I was too much of a coward to call her on it."
"You're a lot of things, Dad," Connie challenged, "but I seriously doubt that being a coward is one of them. Anyway, we have a lot of catching up to do."
And that's what we did. We sat down in the living room and spent nearly two hours telling each other about our lives but we were constantly interrupted by people coming up to Dad to offer their condolences. We learned that Dad still taught Economics at NYU in New York City but that he moved to Greenwich Village some years ago. It's a lot closer to his job than New Jersey was and 'The Village', as it's called, is gay-friendly. We also learned that Dad has a partner! We all told Dad we'd like to meet his partner and Dad assured us that, some day, we would.
I nearly panicked when Dad asked me point-blank if I had a girlfriend, but then Lance saved the day by interrupting and saying, "I have a girlfriend."
"You do?" Dad asked. "At your age."
Shrugging his shoulders, Lance answered, "A lot of the guys at school have girlfriends . . . or even boyfriends."
"The world has certainly changed," Dad replied.
There was spread of food on the dining room table, so we weren't all that hungry, but Grandpa insisted in taking us all out to dinner. We went to a really nice cafeteria nearby called MCL. The food was delicious - more like what you'd find in a fancy sit-down restaurant than a cafeteria. Not only did I get to visit with my dad, but I got to reconnect with my Aunt Marcie and Uncle Frank, as well as to meet my cousins, Tom and Joel, whom I barely remembered from when I was little.
After dinner, we all went to the funeral home for Grandma's visitation. Dad pretty much lost it when he saw her, lying still in the casket.
The funeral was the next day and, although I felt sad during the service, it still felt like it was for a stranger. I hardly knew Grandma at all. Dad, however, cried the entire time. After the service and the burial, we all went back to Grandpa's house.
People kept coming up to us to offer their condolences, so there really wasn't much of a chance to talk with Grandpa or Dad. Finally, I went up to Dad and told him, "Dad, I really need to talk to you . . . in private . . . when you get a chance." He responded that he'd come get me as soon as he could.
Unfortunately, there never was a chance until after dinner. By then, Mom was insisting on heading back to the hotel. Our flight home left in the morning. If we left Grandpa's house now, I'd never have a chance to talk to Dad.
Dad, however, came through for me when he said, "I'd really like to get to know my kids better and I think Steve has a lot of questions he'd like answered. Would you mind if Steve spent a little time with me tonight? I'll bring him back to the hotel later."
"I'd like to spend a little time with you too, Dad," Lance chimed in, but then I gave him a 'look', and he added, "Perhaps I could spend time with Grandpa while Steve talks to Dad, and vice versa."
"Did you want to stay too, Connie?" Mom asked.
"Much as I'd like to get to know Dad and Grandpa better, I'm absolutely pooped," she replied.
Turning toward Dad, Mom said, "Be sure to bring them back by ten."
"I promise," Dad answered, "and regarding that apology you gave me earlier, I just wanted to say I forgive you."
"Thanks," Mom said with a sheepish expression on her face. "That means a lot to me." She and Connie then left.
Dad took me to what must have been his old bedroom and we sat down, me on the bed and Dad in a desk chair.
"So what did you want to talk to me about?" Dad asked.
Turning a bit red and suddenly finding the carpeting on the floor to be interesting, I replied, "God, this is sooo embarrassing."
"There's nothing to be embarrassed about, kiddo. I couldn't be there for you before, but I intend to be there for you now, every step of the way."
"That's good," I replied, "'cause I think I'm gonna need your help with this."
"It sounds pretty ominous," Dad added.
"It is," I answered. "The thing is . . . Dad . . . God, why can't I just say it?"
"Steve," Dad interrupted, "There's nothing you can tell me that will change how I feel about you."
"I know that," I countered, "but it doesn't make it any easier. But Geez, you're gay, so it should be a no-brainer. I don't know how I'm gonna tell Mom, but telling you should be a snap."
Chuckling, Dad said, "I think you just did," which caused me to color up, "and don't think I didn't notice the way Lance interrupted to talk about his having a girlfriend when the person I asked was you."
"Lance is the only one that knows, well, besides you now," I explained.
"Just to be sure we're talking about the same thing, Steve," Dad interjected, "Please tell me. I really need to hear the words from you."
Sighing, I blurted out, "Dad, I'm gay."
"Thank you," Dad replied. "I thought that's what you were trying to say, but I wanted to be sure. Believe me, I know how difficult it is to say it, but it does get easier each time."
"I'm scared, Dad," I said, finally getting down to what I really wanted to talk about.
"Whatever in the world for?" he asked.
"Well, when mom found out about you, she threw you out of the house. What if she does that with me? I'm scared shitless of what might happen. That's why I'm never gonna come out to her."
Then realizing what I'd said, I added, "Oops, sorry about saying 'shitless'."
Laughing, he said, "Actually, 'shitless' is the perfect word," and I laughed with him. "Seriously, however, your mother apologized to me profusely today. She's very sorry for what she did. Besides, my being gay had a much more direct effect on her than yours would. I don't think she'll have any trouble with it at all now"
"But what if me being gay reminds her of what happened with you?" I asked. "She might be able to forgive, but she'll never forget. What if she takes it out on me, even subconsciously? Even if she doesn't throw me out of the house, life could become miserable."
"If that happens, or if she throws you out of the house, which I seriously doubt will happen in either case, you'll come to live with my partner and me. In fact, I hope you'll come visit us . . . you and all the kids. Perhaps you could spend the summers with us in New York."
"I like the sound of that," I replied. "It sounds like fun!"
"I think you really should come out to your mom, though," Dad added, sending me nearly into panic. "It's never good to sneak around behind someone's back. Believe me, I know from experience. Give your mother a chance to be supportive. She can only do that if she knows, and then you can get a boyfriend without worrying about her finding out."
"Geez Dad," I countered. "Coming out is a big step. I'm just not ready for it. I don't know if I'll ever be."
"I think that once you come out, at least to your mother, you'll wonder why you were ever afraid to," Dad challenged. "At least promise me you'll think about it."
"OK, I promise I'll consider it, but only consider it," I replied, and then I countered with a general question to keep us from dwelling on the subject of coming out to Mom. "Sooo, what's it like bein' gay?" I asked.
That began quite an extensive discussion that lasted the rest of the evening. On the way home in the car with Dad and Lance, I started to feel sorry for Lance. I'd left him stuck with Grandpa the whole evening.
When I apologized, however, he said, "It's OK, Steve. Grandpa's a really cool guy. I had a great time with him."
In the weeks that followed, I settled back into the regular school routine. I wasn't about to come out to Mom, but I decided to take a calculated risk and told her I was joining the school's GSA. I told her that after talking to Dad about what he went through in his teens and how he almost offed himself, I wanted to help the gay teens at my school feel accepted. The great thing was, she bought it!
It kinda sucked that I couldn't come out, even to those guys who were openly gay. I really wanted a boyfriend but my concerns about my mom pretty much put any thoughts of that on hold.
That was until Greg Anders joined the GSA. Greg was a boy I'd known since the sixth grade. We were never more than acquaintances - we lived on opposite sides of the school district and getting together outside of school was just impractical. It was too far to ride our bikes to each other's house and even then, with my involvement in the Drama Club and his on the swim team and cross-country, our schedules never seemed to mesh.
The thing was that Greg was an incredibly nice guy. He didn't act at all like a jock. He was also very smart. We had a number of classes together. Most importantly, he was very, very cute. His dirty blond, curly hair, his dreamy blue eyes, his square jaw and his muscular physique were just incredible. Even before I realized I was gay, I think I had a crush on him, and he'd been the subject of many of my jerk-off fantasies.
I think I my jaw musta dropped to the floor the first time he came to one of the meetings. I think a lot of heads turned when he entered the room - in retrospect, it was prolly a great way to see who was gay - but I was too busy salivating over him to notice.
He stood in the doorway for a few minutes as he scanned the room, and then his whole face seemed to light up when he spotted me. Shit, he was coming my way! Fuck, I wasn't ready for this. What was I gonna do?
"Hey Steve," he said as he sat down in the seat next to me.
I think I said something back, but it prolly came out sounding like, "Hmmmph."
"So, have you been coming to these meetings very long?" he asked.
What should I say? I'd been attending for six months, but if I told him that, would he think I was gay? Maybe I could tell him I'd just started attending - not a lie if one figured 'just' meant within the last six months. On the other hand, what did it matter? Maybe he was gay and if he was, didn't I want him to know about me? I was so confused.
"It's not a difficult question, Steve," he went on. "All you have to say is, 'I've been coming for x weeks or x months'." Then, laughing his wonderful laugh, he added, "Maybe 'coming' wasn't the best word, but seriously. You always were one to over-think things. It really doesn't matter to me how long you've been coming to these meetings."
Unable to resist Greg's charm, I answered, "Actually, I've been cumming since I was twelve . . . and I joined the GSA about six months ago."
Laughing again, Greg replied, "Very funny, wise guy." Then getting a much more serious look, he asked, "So what brought you to join?"
Coloring up, I was just too self-conscious and scared to come out, so I answered, "I just think it's important to show support for everyone, regardless of their background or sexual orientation."
"Talk about a non-answer!" Greg challenged. "I know when I smell bullshit, and you're bullshitting me, big time, Steve. Guys come with their friends to these meetings to show their support, but they don't just join up because they think it's a good idea."
"So why are you here?" I asked, trying a different approach to focus Greg's attention elsewhere.
"I'll tell you in a minute, Steve . . . I promise," Greg answered, "but you still haven't answered my question. Why are you really here?"
Still scared shitless of word getting around, I answered with the first excuse that came to mind. "Actually, I found out my dad is gay."
"Really!" Greg exclaimed. "I didn't even know you had a father. Well of course you did at one time, but I didn't know he was still in the picture."
"He wasn't," I explained. "Mom threw him out of the house when she found out. That was more than ten years ago. I saw him for the first time since then last October. That's when Grandma died, and we saw each other at the funeral."
"Man, that's quite a story," Greg said. "So you and your dad cool now?"
"Yeah, we're cool. Better than cool," I explained. "Mom apologized for keeping us apart all these years, and now Dad and I e-mail each other all the time. I Skype with him every weekend, too. I'm gonna spend some time living with him and his partner this summer," I added.
"That sounds great," Greg related. "So I take it you're not freaked by the idea of living with two gay men."
Shrugging, I answered, "Why should I be?"
"I dunno," Greg answered. "A lot of kids would be."
"I'm here, aren't I?" I replied. I guess I was stating the obvious.
"Yes, but I think a lot of the straight boys attend these meetings 'cause they feel pressured, you know. I bet half the guys are here because their girlfriends are here . . . the straight ones anyway."
"So where's your girlfriend?" I asked.
"I said half the straight guys," Greg replied as it slowly dawned on me what Greg was saying. "I've known I'm gay for a few years now, but was scared shitless to come out, you know? Well maybe you don't know, but it's a big deal. So I finally decided to do it and I came out to my parents last night. They were surprised, but very supportive. They're great. Now I'm attending this meeting and I plan to come out to my teammates at the next practice. You're the first person I've told . . . besides my parents, that is."
My heart was thumping in my chest. I couldn't believe it. Greg Anders was gay. This incredible, sexy boy sitting next to me was gay. Why couldn't I just tell him about me? He seemed to really like me and God, I liked him. I liked him a lot.
"So what's going on inside that overly analytical head of yours, Steve?" Greg asked. "I just told you you're the first person I've told besides my parents, and you're giving me the silent treatment. Most people would say something like, 'I'm honored you told me first', but you haven't said anything yet. I was kinda hoping maybe you were gay too, but I'm really glad to have a friend who can accept me for what I am.
"You're not freaked out by it, are you?" he asked in conclusion.
What the fuck was I doing? He just told me he wished I were gay! He must like me. Maybe he wants to go out with me, or even become boyfriends. Finally, my brain kicked into gear and I said, "Actually, it's a bit complicated. Although my mom's forgiven Dad, I'm not sure how she'd react to having a gay son after what Dad did to her. I'm afraid that if I come out, word'll get back to her and then who knows what might happen. I don't think she'd throw me out of the house, but you hear these stories, you know?"
The most incredible grin spread across Greg's face and I could feel myself grinning too. "If she kicks you out," Greg replied, "you'll just have to come live with me and my 'rents." Course you'd instantly gain two brothers and three sisters in the deal, and you're welcome to have them."
"There are six of you?" I asked in astonishment.
"'Fraid so," Greg acknowledged. "At least I have a room to myself," he added and I recalled then that his house was humongous.
Then, getting a more serious look on his face, he continued, "Seriously, Steve, I've got your back. My parents are great and I know that if anything happened, they'd help. They'd take you in if you had no place else to go. Believe me, I know you don't want to lose your mom and you prolly won't, but you're not alone in this. Not any more. And I'm glad you finally told me the whole story.
"Now how would you feel about maybe taking in a movie this weekend?"
"That would be cool," I replied, "but we don't live anywhere near each other."
"That's right . . . I forgot your birthday isn't 'til the summer," Greg countered, "and you obviously forgot that mine was back in January. I already have my license, and I have my own car. So what do you say? I could pick you up at maybe eleven, giving you plenty of time to sleep in, and then we could go to the mall, grab some lunch and then go to a movie or two."
I was gonna have to come up with an excuse for Mom, but nothing - not even the fear of being outed - was going to keep me from this date. "Eleven sounds fine," I answered.
As always, I was over-thinking things, but then I realized the simplest explanation was best. I told Mom I was going out with a friend from school to the mall and to see a movie. Not that I'd done this sort of thing before but I knew other kids did and, sure enough, Mom was glad to see me doing things with a friend.
On Saturday, Greg picked me up right on time. His car was a Ford Mustang. Sweet. He took me to the mall that was close to his house and our first stop was the food court. We ran into a lot of other kids who went to our school and, at first, I was a little nervous about what they'd think, but if anyone wondered if Greg and I were on a date, they didn't say anything. I was sure there must have been rumors about me ever since I joined the GSA, and cruising the mall with another boy prolly only added fuel to the fire, but I didn't care. I was in heaven.
We ended up eating Mexican for lunch as we talked about the music we liked. I couldn't get over how we liked a lot of the same groups. I found myself mesmerized by the sight of his lips - as he ate and as he talked - I couldn't help but want to taste them.
After finishing lunch, we spent some time browsing the various stores and chatting with some of the kids from school. Everyone seemed to know and like Greg and by extension, I found myself talking to kids who'd never paid attention to me before.
We checked out what was playing at the movies and chose a movie we both wanted to see. As soon as the lights dimmed, Greg grabbed my hand in his and rubbed his thumb in my palm. I did likewise. I was way too nervous to try anything more intimate for fear of being seen, and maybe Greg was too, but just the simple act of holding hands through the whole movie was like nothing I'd ever done before. I was hard the entire time.
After the movie, Greg asked if I wanted to go back with him to his house. Hell yeah, I did. Trouble was, with five brothers and sisters, privacy was in short supply. When we arrived, only his thirteen-year-old brother Trent and his Dad were home. They both seemed real nice.
Greg wasted no time in showing me his bedroom and I couldn't help but admire all his swimming and cross-country trophies. He closed and locked the door but cautioned we prolly wouldn't have much time before someone knocked, which pretty much limited the things we could do. Truthfully even making out was a big deal for me. I knew I wasn't really ready for sex but kinda hoped I would be soon.
My heart was pounding in my chest as Greg approached me and for the first time in my life I kissed a boy. It was a little awkward at first but then nature took over and the kiss deepened as our tongues became involved. Yes, I was beyond a doubt, gay.
The sound of pounding on the door caused us to fly apart like billiard balls after a fast break. My heart went from pounding with desire to racing with fright in mere microseconds.
"Sorry to bother you guys . . . I hope you still have your clothes on . . . but Alan's here," came Trent's voice through the door.
"Thanks Trent," Greg acknowledged, "and for the record, of course we still have our clothes on. We're not animals in heat."
"Trent knows?" I asked in surprise.
"All my brothers and sisters know . . . about me, that is. My parents sat down with them right after I came out to them."
"And he knows about me?" I asked.
"I guess he does now," Greg acknowledged, "but I didn't tell him if that's what you're wondering. I guess he kinda figured it out."
"Oh," I said and then added, "and if he figured it out so easily, how long before our friends . . ."
"Figure out we're a couple?" Greg completed my sentence.
"We are?" I asked as a grin took over my face.
Taking my hands in his, he said, "Steve, today has been the best day of my life. I really, really like you. Maybe even more, and I hope maybe you feel the same way. I'd really, really, really like to be your boyfriend."
Rendered speechless, I did the only thing I could, which was to pull him into a warm embrace and kiss him deeply. Unfortunately, we were again interrupted by the sound of pounding on the door.
Sighing, Greg said, "Alan. I should have been downstairs by now, so he took it upon himself to come up here. He's one of my very best friends and I'd already planned to come out to him. When I do, he'll know about you too."
Swallowing hard, I said, "You can tell him now if you want. If you're gonna be out and we're gonna be boyfriends, then I'll come out too."
"Steve, you don't have to . . . not for me. If you come out, you should do it for yourself."
"I am doing it for myself," I explained and then, as the pounding resumed, I added, "Maybe you'd better let him in."
Greg unlocked and opened his door and Alan Sutherland, a kid whom I knew from school, although not well, walked in, toed off his sneakers and plopped down on Greg's bed. Wearing only a flimsy pair of shorts and a smile, he nodded at me and said, "Hey Steve."
"Hey Alan," I replied.
Then looking at Greg, he stated more than asked, "So I take it the rumors are true?"
"Rumors?" I asked.
"What rumors?" Greg echoed.
"Well, word is you joined the GSA and were seen today making out with Steve at the mall," Alan explained.
"Yeah, I joined the GSA," Greg confirmed, "but there's no way anyone could have seen us making out at the mall, 'cause it didn't happen. The most that happened was when we held hands in the movie, and there's no way anyone saw that."
Laughing, Alan said, "I kinda had a feeling there was some exaggeration going on there but I figured you and Steve were at least an item. After all, everyone knows Steve's gay."
"Everyone knows I'm gay?" I practically squeaked.
"Well duh," Alan answered. "I mean, you've never been seen going out with a girl, let alone had a girlfriend, and you've joined the GSA and go to the meetings by yourself . . ."
"How do you know I go by myself?" I asked.
"You guys aren't the only gay guys I know," he explained, "but it's not like it isn't common knowledge anyway."
Stunned by what I was hearing, I let myself drop onto the floor and sat with my knees bent up to my chest and my arms around them.
"Steve, are you OK?" Greg asked.
"Yeah," I sighed, "I guess it was just being na•ve to think I could get away with attending GSA meetings posing as a straight boy." Then looking up at Greg, I continued, "It was one thing to say I'd come out with you but then to find out I'm already out was a shock. That's all."
Getting down on the floor with me, he pulled me into a hug and said, "There's a part of me that would like to stay safely hidden in the closet too, but with a boyfriend like you, I want the world to know. I want to be able to hold hands when we walk between classes. I want to be able to make out with you at the movies without worrying about who might see us. I want to be able to do this in front of my friends," and with that, he leaned forward and gave me a gentle kiss on the lips.
I knew I had a goofy grin on my face as Greg smiled back at me and then I leaned forward and kissed him back, this time with more passion and with tongue.
The sound of Alan clearing his throat caused us to end the kiss sooner than I would have liked but then Greg turned to his friend and said, "Like you and Lynn don't kiss in front of me . . . all the time?"
"True that," Alan replied.
"It doesn't bother you?" I asked Alan, "That we're gay?" I added.
"Why should it?" Alan answered and then he added, "And, speaking of Lynn, how would you guys like to go out on a double date next Friday? Maybe hit the mall, grab a bite to eat, catch a movie and maybe crash at my place afterward?"
"You wanna?" Greg asked.
"I'd love to," I replied.
The week couldn't go by fast enough as the thought of spending the night with Greg had me insanely aroused the whole time. I doubted we'd be able to do anything, since we'd be at Alan's house and his parents would be around, but just being able to wake up next to him would be wonderful.
Finally, Friday arrived and, when I got home from school, I raced to finish as much of my homework as I could at Mom's insistence. Of course I told her I was going out with friends and we were having a 'pajama party' afterward and, naturally, she had to call and speak to Alan's mom, but then everything was all set!
It was as I was sorting through my clothes and trying to decide what to wear for the evening and what to take with me for the next day that Lance asked me, "So who's the lucky guy?"
"I'm just going out with friends," I tried to explain.
"Yeah, right," Lance countered. "I've never seen you fuss this much before. You must really be head over heels for him."
The implications of what Lance was saying slowly made their way to my brain, even as I tried to ignore the obvious. "FUCK!" I practically shouted, "If you figured it out, that means Mom . . ."
"I wouldn't know," Lance answered with a laugh, "but I wouldn't worry about it tonight. She still loves you, you know . . . regardless."
"I wish I could be so sure," I replied.
"Just go and have a good time with your boyfriend," Lance admonished me. "Talk to Mom when you're ready."
"It's Greg Anders, by the way," I added in reply to Lance's earlier question.
"Oh yeah, he's hot," Lance responded.
"Lance?" I asked with the obvious implication.
Coloring up, Lance replied, "Don't worry, Bro. You're still the only gay boy in the family . . . besides Dad, that is. I definitely like girls, but you don't have to be gay to know hot guys when you see them."
As planned, Greg picked me up at six and we then headed to Alan's house, where Alan and Lynn were waiting for us. If I thought Greg had a big house . . . Alan lived in a fuckin' mansion. From there we headed straight to the mall and waited for nearly two hours to get into the Cheesecake Factory. They gave us a pager to let us know when our table was ready, so we spent the time browsing the stores nearby and talking about my conversation with Lance. The implication that I might already be out to my mom had me scared shitless but Greg again assured me that if I ever had trouble at home, I could stay at his house. In the end, I decided I would talk to Mom on Sunday.
A few weeks before, if someone had told me I'd voluntarily come out to my mom, I'd have told them they were crazy. Greg changed all that. Greg made all the difference. Was it love? We hadn't been boyfriends all that long but I was beginning to think that maybe it might be.
After dinner, which was awesome, we headed to the cinema and settled on a boring 'chick flick'. It was the perfect movie for what Greg and I had in mind. If there were rumors about the two of us making out at the mall, we might as well be seen making out, which we did, all through the movie.
After the movie, we all went back to Alan's house, which was dark. "The 'rents are already in bed if you can believe it," Alan explained as we entered through the kitchen. Opening the fridge, he grabbed four bottles of beer, handing one to each of us.
"You sure this is OK?" I asked Alan, who just laughed.
Grabbing a bottle opener and opening each of our beers, he explained, "My parents' attitude toward teenage drinking is like their attitude toward sex. They figure we're gonna do it no matter what, and they'd rather have me drink with my friends here, where they can keep an eye on things, than have me getting drunk at someone else's house and then driving home. I'd never do that, though," he added. "The last thing I want is a DUI on my record or worse, to kill some kid 'cause I can't stop in time."
"Alan may have a reputation as a bit of a wild boy," Greg added, "but he's one of the most level-headed teenagers I know."
"Just don't let that get around now, Steve, OK?"
"I certainly wouldn't dare mess up your reputation,' I assured him with a laugh. I was beginning to really like Alan and Lynn. I'd never known them as more than acquaintances at school but double dating with them made me appreciate them as so much more. More than anything, I really appreciated the way they treated Greg and me no differently than we treated them. The fact that we were both guys never once entered into the conversation.
Then remembering something Alan had said a moment before, I asked, "You mentioned something about your parents' attitude toward sex?"
"Yeah," Alan replied, "they figure we're gonna do it anyway, so they'd rather I did it here and be safe than try sneaking around and maybe not being so safe."
"So you and Lynn are gonna . . ."
"Steve, when I invited you to crash here tonight, I didn't have a slumber party in mind," he said with a smirk. "I'll be spending the night in my own bedroom with my girlfriend, and I expect you two to do the same in the guestroom across the hall. I even stocked the nightstands with condoms and lube if you guys decide you're ready for that," he added. I could feel my face burning up when he said that, and noticed that Greg's was as red as could be.
"The bottom line is that this is an opportunity to spend quality time together as couples, away from the prying eyes of your siblings."
A total of three beers apiece later and after a very necessary stop in the bathroom to empty our bladders, Greg and I found ourselves behind a closed and locked bedroom door and in each other's arms. At fifteen, my previous experience with alcohol was limited to say the least and so I was beyond tipsy, if not outright drunk. Once Greg and I were alone in the guestroom, however, I felt strangely sober.
Sensing my nervousness, Greg said, "Steve, we're both virgins and I think I speak for both of us when I say we're a bit terrified of sex."
"God, you got that right," I agreed.
"With that in mind, we don't have to do anything. I'd be content to make out and cuddle with you for the night, even though my hormones are telling me to rip your clothes off and go at it like a pair of animals in heat."
"I feel the same way," I responded, "about the ripping clothes off and all, that is."
"But we don't have to do that," Greg countered. "We can take it slow if you prefer."
"I don't want to take it slow," I replied and, with that, I started clawing at the hem of his shirt, pulling it out from the waistband of his shorts. Once I had it free, I started lifting it up and Greg complied by lifting his arms over his head so I could lift his shirt the rest of the way off his torso. Years of swimming had left him with a nicely muscled chest and I couldn't help but gasp when it came fully into view.
Greg grinned at the way I was staring at him and then he reached for the hem of my shirt and in mere moments we were embracing each other, skin-to-skin. Toeing off our sneakers, we lay down on the bed and continued our making out, keeping our shorts on for the time. As our passion increased, we allowed our lips, tongues and teeth to explore each other's lips, face, neck, nipples and more. Even Greg's armpits were exciting to me for some reason.
At one point, we'd somehow flipped around and were exploring each other's feet. I'd never thought of feet as erotic before but I'd always enjoyed going barefoot and watching barefoot boys. There was no doubt about it, Greg's feet and toes were very sexy and I found myself doing things I would have thought were pretty gross only moments before.
Slowly we worked our way up each other's legs and thighs until we were licking at the hems of our shorts. When Greg unbuckled and unzipped my shorts, I did likewise to him and we were soon up close and personal with each other's most private parts. Without going into a lot of detail, we learned how to give and receive head - it's a lot more difficult than I'd have thought - and 69 quickly became my absolute favorite number.
We didn't go much further than that, other than a little exploration with fingers and tongues, but we were both quite sated from getting off more than once or twice by the time we drifted off to sleep in each other's arms.
The next morning we learned how enjoyable taking a shower together could be, and this was in spite of the headache and nausea that were the obvious aftereffects of our drinking the night before. I resolved never to put myself in a position of having a hangover again but strongly suspected this was a resolution I wasn't likely to keep. Not that I had a real interest in alcohol but drinking beer with friends was a hell of a lot of fun.
We had coffee and toast with Alan's 'rents, who were extremely nice and didn't even mention the 'G' word when addressing Greg and me. We all watched a movie together on their Blu-Ray player and then we went for a swim in their swimming pool, with Alan providing the suits. After our stomachs had settled down, Alan's dad put some steaks on their outdoor gas grill. All in all, it was a fantastic day. I felt like I was floating on air by the time Greg dropped me off at my house later that afternoon.
My intention was to give myself another day to bask in the warmth of my time with Greg before approaching my mom but that was not to be. After dinner, Mom asked to talk to me in private. Swallowing hard, I followed her to her bedroom.
"Honey," she began, "I know you probably think I don't think much of gay people because your dad was gay, and he hurt me. The truth of the matter is that he couldn't help being gay . . . it's just the way he is. What I resent is that he tried to be something he wasn't and because he tried to hide his true nature from me. It was wrong of him, but so was what I did afterward, and now we've both gotten past it and forgiven each other.
"No one should ever try to be something they're not. A gay man trying to be straight makes about as much sense as a black man trying to be white.
"I think you probably know why I'm bringing this up, and I want you to know that my love for you is unconditional and is not contingent on your sexual orientation. I'm not suggesting you're gay or that I think you're gay, but I want you to know that I will love you no matter what. I won't press the matter any further unless and until you choose to tell me if there is anything you want to tell me, but I do have an obligation as a parent, regardless of your sexual orientation, to make sure you engage in safer sex practices if and when you become sexually active."
I know I colored up when she mentioned my sex life. It would have been hard as hell to deny being sexually active after a reaction like that.
"Mom," I began, "Now that I have a boyfriend, I was already planning to tell you tomorrow. I've known I was gay since long before Grandma died."
She smiled. It felt good to see that smile. "And it's been pretty obvious you're in love," Mom added, "and if I picked up on it, I'm sure the kids at school will too. It'll be pretty hard to stay in the closet the way you've been acting, and I worry about how you'll be treated if you come out."
Laughing, I explained, "It seems I'm already out. I guess there's been rumors ever since I joined the GSA and most everyone has assumed I'm gay . . . not that anyone's actually said it to my face. Ever since last week, there have been rumors about me and Greg making out at the mall, but those were simply not at all true . . . until last night. We double-dated with Greg's best friend and his girlfriend, and they were great about us. I really don't think the kids at our school give a sh . . . I mean, care about our being gay at all . . . at least most of them don't."
"Promise me that if you have any problems, you'll come to me," Mom asked.
Suddenly I felt like I belonged again. "You can count on it," I assured her.
"Oh, and I'd like to get to know your boyfriend a little better. I'd like to invite him to dinner next Saturday evening if it's OK with his parents. By the way, do they know about the two of you?" Mom asked.
"Yeah, they do," I acknowledged. "They're actually very nice."
"And I'm not?" she retorted with a surprised look.
"Hey!" I complained. "That's not what I meant!"
"Maybe I should invite them too," she mused aloud.
Thinking that having them here would take some of the pressure off Greg and me, I said, "I'm sure they'd like to meet you, too, so that might be nice." But then to be extra sure, I added, "You won't do anything to embarrass me, will you?"
"Of course I won't," she laughed. "On the other hand, you might see it a bit differently, particularly after I show all the home videos of you as a baby."
"Oh God . . ." I moaned.
Actually she wasn't kidding.
Saturday came and Mom and Greg's parents hit it off right away. When the subject of 'gay' came up, Connie and Lance were very supportive in their own way. Connie for the most part just shook her head gently and said that it was no skin off her nose if Greg and I were gay, so long as everyone else in my life accepted me. If others were abusive to me, they were going to find out that Greg and I had a sister with quite a mouth on her. Lance, in his own special way, made it known that Greg and I were his brothers - we were family - he was happy for us and no one was going to change that.
Mom did show a highly edited and condensed video of my siblings and me when we were little, including some very embarrassing shots of me skinny dipping in the wading pool in our back yard, with my boyhood exposed for all the world to see. Speaking of the back yard, Mom let us set up a tent in the back yard for Greg and me to spend the nightĘtogether - not that I figured we could do more than make out with my family within earshot but it would be nice snuggling up to each other.
"You were a really cute kid," Greg said as we got into our joined sleeping bags. The feeling of his bare skin against mine did wonders to take away the chill of the night air. Of course it had other effects on me too. "I especially liked the scene of you skinny dipping," he added.
"That was sooo embarrassing!" I complained.
"It was cute. You were cute. Not that I'm into little boys, but if I'd known you back then, I think I would have fallen in love with you on the spot."
I nearly choked up on hearing his use of the 'L' word. Did he really say that?
"You love me?" I barely got out.
"I know it hasn't been very long," he replied, "but you're the best thing that's happened to me . . . like, ever. Yes, Steve, I love you . . . I'm . . . in love with you. You mean everything to me."
"You can't imagine how much I love you," I said in return and I knew I meant it, and then we kissed. Our passion increased exponentially and in spite of the vow we'd made to ourselves to do nothing more than make out, our boxers were soon discarded as we took each other to new heights. It wasn't easy but we managed to keep from making a lot of noise. The bottom line was that we'd been extremely na•ve to have thought we could share joined sleeping bags and not have sex. Part of it was our teenage hormones and lust but there was also love. We loved each other and could no more hold back from making love than we could keep the earth from spinning.
The remaining weeks of the school year were an amazing whirlwind as we spent our weekends together. We studied together, we worked on our year-end projects together and we went to end-of-year parties together. Everyone knew we were a couple and, for the most part, almost no one gave us any trouble. Of course we also made love to each other, multiple times each and every weekend. That was the best.
School turned out pretty good. Ever since Lance made me come out to him, since my visit with Dad, after joining the GSA, and then my newfound love with Greg, my grades went from C's and D's to A's and B's. My world had truly improved.
Before we knew it, summer was upon us, but that created a dilemma. Before I met Greg, I'd made arrangements to spend a month with my dad and his partner in New York. I was still excited about it but the thought of being away from Greg for a month was almost too much to bear. Greg for his part was planning to work all summer, putting away money to spend on me, as he put it. This wasn't even a possibility for me, since I wouldn't be old enough until late in the summer.
Greg asked if he could visit me during part of my stay in the Big Apple, and so I asked my dad if I could have a 'close friend' visit for a couple of weeks during my stay. Dad agreed without a moment's hesitation. Hence Greg and I flew out to New York a couple of days after the school year ended, flying direct on a huge jumbo jet out of LAX to JFK and arriving just after midnight. Dad and his partner were there to greet us and, since they didn't have a car, we took a limo to their apartment in The Village. It turned out his partner, Pete, was his neighbor from across the street when he was in his senior year of high school. They'd gone their separate ways and then were reunited in New York. Small world!
It was really late by the time we got to their small apartment, or early depending on one's point of view, but there was something I needed to get out of the way before we went to bed. Dad needed to know the whole truth before Greg and I shared a bed together. It was only right, and I didn't want to chance him getting angry with us and not letting Greg stay if he found out after the fact that Greg was more than a friend.
"Dad," I began, "There's something I need to tell you before we call it a night. Greg and I . . ."
"Are boyfriends," Dad said smiling, completing my sentence. "I kinda wondered when you called in the first place but you confirmed my suspicions on the trip from the airport. Space in the limo was tight but a couple of good friends wouldn't have had their arms around each other, no matter how closely they were shoved together.
We both colored up as we realized how casually we'd outed ourselves, well, again in my case. We'd scarcely given it any thought - it was just so natural to sit pressed up against each other with our arms around each other. Dad was right, however, only lovers would sit so physically close.
"So I take it sharing a bed won't be a problem for the two of you, then?" Dad asked. "I was going to ask you guys regardless. We only have two bedrooms but there is a sleeper sofa in the living room."
"We really want to sleep together," I acknowledged, "but I'm surprised it's OK with you." I exclaimed.
"Son, you're almost sixteen," Dad answered. "It would be incredibly na•ve of me to expect the two of you to remain celibate, no matter what I wanted of you. Even if I tried keeping you in separate beds, I strongly suspect you'd find a way to get together when we're not looking. It's better to let the two of you spend your nights together than to force you to sneak around behind our backs, just so long as you act responsibly."
Rather than say anything, I threw my arms around my dad and pulled him into a hug. Releasing him, I said, "Thanks, Dad."
That night Greg and I were way too tired to do anything but we made love every night after that. Dad and Pete even took us to some specialty shops where he bought us some 'implements' to help us prepare for the next step when we were ready. Greg and I started making use of them the very night after we got them.
New York was fucking awesome! Although it was way bigger than LA, it didn't feel bigger. It was much more compact and easy to get around on foot, by bus and by subway. It really was the city that never sleeps - you could get just about anything at anytime, day or night. We ate out every night and there were so many different kinds of restaurant that were all excellent, and most of them weren't that expensive. The thing that surprised me the most was how friendly the people were in New York. In LA, people act friendly, but it's all superficial. In New York people would strike up a conversation with you on the bus and, before you knew it, you were telling each other your life history and making plans to stay in touch.
We had a blast during the two weeks Greg was with me in New York. We saw all the major sites - the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Ground Zero, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center and so much more. We went to all the major museums, went clubbing with my dad and his partner in The Village, saw three Broadway shows, toured Manhattan by water on-board the Circle Line, and stood with thousands of people on the waterfront to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. We had the time of our lives.
Before we knew it, it was the night before Greg was to head back home. Because I'd be staying on in New York another couple of weeks after Greg left, we decided we'd lose the last vestiges of our virginity on his final night in the city. Slowly and gently, we made love to each other in the truest sense of the word. It was the first time in our young lives and although there was some pain, the pleasure was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. Greg was so damn sexy and he was loving and just wonderful in every way. He took the time to make sure I got as much out of it as he did, much as I did in return when it was my turn to be on top. We didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night. It was a night neither of us would ever forget.
Although I missed Greg terribly, the remaining two weeks I spent with my 'dads' in New York flew by. I reconnected with my dad and got close to my other dad, too. Dad showed me all around the NYU campus and I decided to talk to Greg about maybe going there for college when I got back to California. With Dad's tuition benefit, the cost of my attending would be much less than it would be otherwise, and Greg's parents could afford to send him anywhere.
Later in the summer, Alan threw a humongous pool party at his house for my sixteenth birthday. We invited all Greg's, Alan's and my friends and their girlfriends or boyfriends, as well as a number of kids and couples Greg and I had befriended together through the GSA. The big surprise was that Greg, his parents, my mom and my dads banded together and got me a car! It was an older Honda Civic, but it was mine.
In September, Greg and I started our junior year of high school. A couple of weeks later, my grandfather came to visit us along with a friend of his, Larry, who turned out to be Pete's dad. I figured that it was as good a time as any to come out to my grandpa, but was still a bit nervous about doing so. He was in his seventies and from the Midwest, so I was worried he might not approve much of gays. On the other hand, they came to us after visiting my dads in New York, so perhaps it wouldn't be so bad.
After Grandpa and Larry got settled into their hotel nearby, 'cause our house was way too small for them to stay with us, we all went out to dinner at a nice restaurant. I made it a point to sit next to Grandpa and after we ordered, I told him quietly, "When you have a chance, there's something I need to discuss with you in private."
"Sounds pretty serious," he replied.
"Believe me, it is," I confirmed.
After chatting some more for a little bit, Grandpa raised his voice and announced to the table, "Cindy, Connie, Steve and Lance, Larry and I have something important to tell you. I want to assure you that I loved Grandma very much and that she was the light of my life. In all our years, never was I unfaithful to her. However just like with my son, your husband and father," he continued, "I married out of a sense of obligation. I thought it was what I was supposed to do." Taking a deep breath, he went on to say, "There's no easy way to break this to you, so I'm just going to say it. I'm gay and I'm in love with Larry. I've decided to move in with him as soon as I return to Indiana."
There was stunned silence around the table and it was thirteen-year-old Lance of all people who broke the silence by saying, "That's great, Grandpa! Congratulations on finding someone." Lance was a great kid and a wonderful brother. I almost didn't mind sharing a room with him.
Adding my own two cents worth, I chimed in by saying, "Yeah, congrats Grandpa. I think it's great, too."
Finally, Mom's brain kicked back into gear and she said, "That is great news, Dad," and then she added, "This is amazing. I wonder what are the odds of three generations all being gay?"
"Three generations?" Grandpa said as he looked with curiosity between Lance and me and Mom suddenly looked horrified as she realized she'd outed me. I didn't mind, though, as I'd already planned to come out to Grandpa anyway.
Turning to him, I said, "That's what I wanted to talk to you about Grandpa. I wasn't sure how well you'd take it, but now I guess you won't have a problem with me. I can't wait for you to meet my boyfriend, Greg."
"Wow!" Grandpa said. "Like father, like son, like grandson."
Grandpa and Larry took Greg and me out to dinner the next night - just the two of us - and I could tell they were really impressed by my boyfriend. Why wouldn't they be? Greg was someone special.
Later that fall, the whole family headed to New York to celebrate Thanksgiving together with my dads. Grandpa, Larry and my Aunt Marcie and her family all came in from Indiana. Pete's brother, Mark, his sister, Wendy, and their families came in from Texas and Ohio. Even Greg, his parents and his five brothers and sisters were invited and flew in with us from California. As far as I was concerned, they were my family too.
Dad and Pete had recently bought a building in the Village so Pete could expand his restaurant, which he'd named 'Glass' 'cause his last name is Sandler and sand is the principle ingredient in glass. I guess Glass was doing so well for him and Dad, they decided to buy a whole building. Pete was rated by New York Magazine as one of the top 200 chefs in New York.
Anyway, the restaurant took up the whole first floor and they used the second floor for a party room and several private dining rooms. They turned the third floor into a humongous loft-style apartment for themselves with exposed brick walls, an open kitchen and bedroom and bathroom areas that were separated off by partitions rather than walls. It was really, really cool. It was sick.
They turned the attic into another loft-style apartment that, although half the size of their apartment, was still a pretty good size. As dad put it, it was perfect for a couple of college students, and then he gave me a wink. Thinking that maybe Greg and I could live there someday and attend NYU nearby gave me a warm feeling inside.
After attending the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, we all returned to Glass, where we had the whole party room to ourselves. Like most restaurants, Glass was open for Thanksgiving, and it was packed! Pete had a whole staff of chefs and apprentices to prepare the meals he served at Glass, so he was able to spend the time with us as we were served course after course of traditional Thanksgiving favorites, made as I'd never tasted them before.
At first I kinda felt bad for all the help at the restaurant that had to work on Thanksgiving instead of being with their families but then Pete explained that everyone actually volunteered to work that day. As an incentive, he paid the chefs triple what they ordinarily made and the servers would make several times what they normally did from tips. He said the only day in the whole year that was more profitable for the restaurant was Mother's Day. Wow!
As we finished off our dessert of pumpkin mousse cheesecake and apple crumb pie and sipped our cappuccinos, we went around the room taking turns telling everyone what we were thankful for. With nearly thirty of us in the room it seemed to take forever but it was fascinating nonetheless as we learned a little more about the family members with whom we'd recently reconnected and those we'd just met.
Greg and I ended up being among the last to speak. When Greg got up, he had tears in his eyes. "This . . . this is wonderful," he began. A year ago I was kind of a lonely teenager. I had plenty of friends but I was hiding a big secret . . . a secret I'd been struggling with for nearly three years.
"Then last spring I decided that enough was enough. What good was having lots of friends if I couldn't be myself? From the moment I told my parents to my telling the rest of the family and my closest friends, I received nothing but total and complete acceptance. I felt nothing but joy. You can't imagine what it's like to stand here today in front of all of you and be myself . . . and feel your love.
"More than anything, however, I'm thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, Steve. From the moment I met him way back in sixth grade, I was captivated by him. However, we lived so far from each other and besides, there was no way he could like me the way I liked him. But then I met him at a GSA meeting and my whole life changed. I know it sounds trite but Steve's my soul mate. I know that we were meant for each other and Steve, I want to spend my life with you."
As Greg sat down, I threw my arms around him. There were tears in my eyes, too, as I croaked out, "Greg, I feel the same way . . . I love you so much."
After bringing myself back under control, I stood to take my turn. "My boyfriend . . . or maybe after what we said to each other I should call him my fiancŽ, 'cause I sure as heck want to marry him someday. Anyway, he put it so well that I'm not sure what else I can add. Of course I'm thankful for Greg and I'm thankful for my family but, more than even that, I'm so damned happy that we're all together. Just over a year ago, my Dad and my Grandpa were dead to me. I've long forgiven Mom for keeping me from them and she's apologized a thousand times over, but that's all in the past.
"Now, Dad and Pete, you guys are more like my best friends than my parents. I love you guys so much and think it's great we share so much in common, including our taste in men. Grandpa and Larry, I love you guys too. I hope that Greg and I will be like you two when we're old." I had to stop momentarily as everyone laughed and then I continued, "Connie, you've always been a wonderful big sister. Lance, a lot of guys say their best friends are like brothers to them, but I'm truly blessed to be able to say that you, brother, are my very best friend."
It was our best Thanksgiving ever - the year that three generations joined together in celebration. It was an expression of three generations of love.
The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David of Hope in editing this story and Alastair in proofreading it, as well as the support of Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty for hosting it.