By John Yager
The following story contains no overt sex, but is intended for readers who are comfortable with gay sexuality and issues surrounding such topics.
This story is copyrighted by the author. One copy is posted to the NIFTY Archives under the previsions of their submission agreement. This story my not be copied in any form or posted to any other site without the expressed written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction.
Comments and criticisms may be addressed to the author at the e-mail address below.
The photo shoot took over an hour. If anything, Jay was a perfectionist. He wanted every pose right, the light right, the angles right. At first I thought it was just his artistic standards which were making it slow. Then I realized he was enjoying it, making it last. The model was hot, a cute college guy with a nice body and no inhibitions. He'd stripped with out a single complaint and made no pretense of modesty. We were screening models for life drawing classes and this guy looked like a winner.
Jay was aroused by the heightened erotic environment we found ourselves in; behind locked doors with a great looking naked guy, the atmosphere was charged, sexually charged. And Jay was aroused, that much was very clear. His cock was hard in his slacks, outlined against the fabric. But it didn't stop there. A damp spot was slowly growing just at the place where his cock head had to be throbbing. He was hard and pulsing and oozing pre cum. And all the while, keeping his voice regular, even, low, he was giving the naked model directions, posing him, moving an arm, adjusting a leg.
What's going on? I knew Jay in the context of church, conservative, bible thumping church, at that. There was a disconnect here in my own mind and I had begun to suspect in Jay's mind as well.
How open could I be with him, now much could I tell him about my own sexual past? For now I wasn't saying anything. I'd ask a few questions, see what he was willing to share, and keep my own mouth shut.
When the secession ended we walked across the campus to my home. My wife was up stairs getting the kids to bed. Jay and I went through to the kitchen, made coffee and stood leaning against the counter, talking about safe, irrelevant stuff. I let the conversation drift, knowing at some point there would be a natural break. I didn't want to force it. I didn't want to scare him off by moving too quickly to the questions I really wanted to ask, the questions I really wanted him to answer.
The break came; he asked a question and I gave a one word answer. He didn't ask another question and I, too, remained silent. We leaned back against the counter and sipped coffee, listening to the sound of my wife's movements upstairs in the old house. This was as private as it was going to get. Any moment now she would finish up with the kids and join us.
I don't remember how I asked the question. I don't think it was as overt as "so you like guys," but whatever I said, however I said it, the dam broke. I realized later that he really had wanted to talk. He'd probably been wanting to talk for weeks. But what did his willingness to tell me that what I had suspected was true mean about his suspicions about me. I was in the closet so deep there was no light getting in. But had he guessed, had I somehow given myself away? Perhaps, he just needed to talk to someone whom he considered safe, someone from a different college than his own, someone who was not a part of the narrow, legalistic church where he was imprisoned. Maybe he'd not suspected anything about me after all. Maybe he saw me as a "Father Confessor," a safe and willing ear.
But now that Jay was talking, I had a new problem. How open could I dare be with him? Could I tell him that I had a history of sex with other guys that was probably longer and more complex than his own? Did I dare tell him that I had been looking him over, thinking about him, lusting after him for as long as I had known him? All that, on both his part and mine, was so alien to the facades we had both erected.
Jay and I, and his wife and mine, his kids and mine, had become friends in the context of church or church related organizations. In both his case and mine we had a lot riding on our images as upright, straight men, husbands and fathers, let along, teachers. It was the Seventies, after all, the Midwest, a small college town and not exactly what could be called an open and accepting society.
I worried about it at first. Jay was telling me so much about himself. He was so open, so willing to share his entire history, the sad and scary stuff as well as the touching events of his life, the realizations at an early age, his relationships with his father, his mother, his kid brother. All of it made my heart open up to him, love him, want him.
But as our conversations went on I realized that Jay was not asking me for any information about myself. He never asked me if I had ever been attracted to another guy. He certainly never asked if I had ever had sex with another guy.
"Yes," Jay, "I've been there, I know that, I understand that feeling you tell me about, that longing you relate." At times I wanted to scream at him, "Stop, listen to me, let me tell you my history, my wonderful and sad and awful moments. Let me tell you about the boys at the Scout camp when I was fourteen, the golden, beauty of them, the swimming pool, the river, wet and glistening in the hot Mississippi sun. Let me tell you about Phil, gentle, easy, willing to take time with me, the older hero of my dreams, willing to show me, care for me, hold me, initiate me into the wonders and the pain. Let me tell you about Eric, who, at seventeen I loved until I really thought my heart would burst, Eric, who made all the clichés I'd ever heard ring true in my own being; infatuation, puppy love, enamorment, lust, a deep abiding love that left a scar that I still bear.
But Jay's own story unfolded and I listened, said I could "sort of understand." I never told him I knew.
And, still, I continued to wonder, did he suspect? Did he guess that as a boy, I had loved boys, as a man, I had loved men? He didn't ask and I felt more and more isolated from the truth. I felt that Jay needed me to be the straight guy in more than one meaning of that word. He needed someone, maybe me, to be the representative of the straight world, saying "it's okay, Jay, you can be a part of this world, too, you can be accepted. You can talk to me and know I accept even if I don't understand, I can love you the way straight guys love one another, the jocks and the fraternity guys, the guys you wanted to be, the guys you wanted to be accepted by when you were twenty or eighteen or thirty."
I guess at some point I began to think, so wrongly, that Jay needed me to be straight. Maybe he didn't want gay friend. For as long as he also had to maintain his facade in an unaccetping world, he could not let himself be seen with a guy whom others knew, or even suspected might be gay, might be a lover.
So the kitchen conversations went on. The dialog continued. Jay's own walls came down, at least to me; mine remained as high and as rigid as ever. I had a dream once during those days in which Jay was taking down the bricks from a wall around himself and I was using the bricks he had discarded to build my own wall higher.
But the day came when Jay did approach me sexually. He did it with a hug that lasted a bit too long, to long for the hardy greetings straight guys use, the hardy slaps on the shoulder as you hug. A straight friend told me once, "It's fine for guys to hug, just not too tight, and you slap the other guy's shoulder three times when you hug him, three times, slap, slap, slap. Each slap is a word, a code, it means 'I'm not gay.' That way it's okay for guys to hug."
Jay didn't slap. And his hugs became tighter, longer. I could feel his body move against mine, mine against his. Then one day, in the privacy of my office, he kissed me, gently, softly, on the cheek. I wanted to kiss him back, to kiss his mouth, to ravage him.
But my wall was getting higher all the time, brick by brick. I had trapped myself into a persona, a role, and I didn't know how to get out.
So when we had sex, and it was inevitable that we would, I played the innocent. Jay had to take the lead.
"Show me, Jay." It was all I could say. I had built the walls too high, the facade to strong. I had to continue to pretend that this was all new to me. I pretended reticence, uncertainty, fear. There was no chance for us and I think we both knew it.
Over the years we've met many times. My own walls had, in part, come down. Me met on a more equal footing but with the weight of the past too heavy to bear. Friends, loving friends, caring, talking, always there when the other is in need, but lovers, only in some crippled way, too hampered by the walls, the walls still standing and the walls we have long since torn down.
Even walls torn down cast shadows.