|An Extra Year In The Dorm, Part 7
by Greg Scott
All the usual stuff about you must be old enough in your jurisdiction, etc. In other words, if you are underage, don't read this unless you have a really cool teacher who assigned it. Otherwise, come back in a few years, when nobody will yell at you.
------------------------------If you have a roommate or a partner or a brother or anyone else with whom you've ever shared a small space, you probably know that you can always tell whether or not the other person is asleep or awake. That's the way it was the next morning in our dorm room.
"Hey Jim," Brad said from his bed a few feet away as I faced the opposite direction.
"Who was that guy last night?" he asked.
"Which one?" I replied with my own question, even though I was fairly sure what he was asking.
"The one who was pestering you because you didn't call him," Brad clarified, and I felt guilty for having made him play a little game before I gave him the response he sought. From the time he started talking, I knew what he wanted to know.
I was still a little groggy, a familiar feeling for nearly noon on a Sunday. Brad and I hadn't stayed up late after the party. We watched a DVD then went to bed, still continuing our almost silent state. Regardless college guys can sleep late on the only day of the week that allows such a luxury--at least the only day for guys who have to adhere to a strict training schedule that includes Saturday morning.
Despite the fact that I was still a little dopey from the slumber, I noticed that Brad had bypassed the far easier description of Antoinne. That couldn't have been an accident. Brad could have been clearer by saying he wanted to know who the guy was who had given me a full-on, passionate kiss.
"He's just some conceited guy I met freshman year," I said. "He's called 'Antoinne,' but that's not his real name."
Brad was silent for a while. He might have been reflecting on my answer, but I had the feeling that he was building up courage to ask his next question. I thought that I could save him some nervous consideration if I just told him a slightly edited version of my single escapade with Antoinne.
I decided that I needed to let Brad take the lead on this, though. I wondered if it was as all possible that my roommate still didn't know that I am gay. I realized that recently nobody really ever bothered to talk about my sexual orientation any more than anybody ever bothers to talk about the sexual interests of a straight guy. I was used to everybody knowing. That had been true during the last half of high school and my whole college experience.
I had forgotten something that I had learned over the next few months after I was first outed in high school. Coming out never really ends, because you always meet new people in new environments.
Since my friends never talked about me being gay any more, maybe Brad really didn't know. I had been careful during our time rooming together to let him set the standards of modesty and such, so there wouldn't be anything in my own guarded behavior that would have led him to the truth. I hadn't intended to be closeted, but maybe I was.
"Why did he refer to a date?" Brad had finally found the courage to continue his interrogation.
"We had a lunch date after we first met," I explained. "It was the only time we went out."
"Does 'date' mean 'date,' or does it mean something different in college?"
"Yeah, I mean a real date," I clarified for my apparently naive friend.
"Do you mean like a goodnight kiss and everything kind of date?" he pressed, almost as if he couldn't process what I was telling him.
"We didn't eat lunch at night, so it wasn't a goodnight kiss," I teased, "but--yeah--a kiss and everything."
His silence confirmed my suspicion. Brad needed to process a new concept. Either he would drop it here or he would be brave enough to carry it through until he had all the information that he wanted.
"So, is he, like, a homosexual?" he asked, as I fought back an involuntary giggle.
"Yes he is."
"Are you that way too?" he asked.
"Yes, I'm gay," I said. "Didn't you know that?"
I had turned over in bed to face him by this point. He didn't answer my question aloud. Instead, he shook his head.
I thought back to the time on that one road trip that we made for an away game when he told me that we were alike in more ways than I knew. I had wondered about that statement a lot in the intervening weeks. I thought about asking him about that now, but then I thought better of it.
"Everybody on the team knows. All of my friends, too. I just thought that they would have told you."
"No," he said very quietly.
"Nobody at all?" I asked.
"No. Well I mean, one of the guys on the football team asked me if you did stuff to me at night, but then one of his friends just said, 'Shut the fuck up' to him. I thought he was just joking around."
"Does it bother you?" I asked, recognizing that I was asking something that could have ramifications for my living situation for the rest of the year.
"No," he replied without giving it any time for thought at all.
"Are you sure it doesn't bother you?"
"No, really," he reaffirmed. "It's just that I've never know a gay guy before."
"Oh, you have," I said. "You just didn't know it."
"Yeah, I guess that could be true," he agreed.
I was thankful that I didn't need to explain further about that.
"When did you become gay?" he asked.
Maybe this question seems strange to some people, but I've been asked in those exact terms a lot of times.
"I've always been gay, I guess. I knew for sure when I was about twelve, although I didn't really call myself gay until I was a high school junior."
He was quiet for quite a while. I noticed his eyes were closed. I assumed that he was thinking and maybe he was. Within a few minutes, though, I heard the regular breathing pattern that I had learned over the past weeks--no months, actually instead of weeks--indicated that he was asleep.
Apparently my response didn't upset him too much. I thought of an earlier time when my identical answer to that question had caused a very different reaction from Juan's mother.
It was during our senior year, and I had arrived at Juan's house while my lover was out on some errands with his dad. Juan's mother invited me in with her usual, formal manners.
She asked if I would like a tea or a coke, the same two alternatives that she always presented. I opted for the coke as usual, because I knew that the tea, which I probably would have preferred, would require considerably more effort on her part.
Before I had become something of a part of Juan's extended family I routinely declined any sort of drink. After a few instances of that, Juan explained that it would be more polite to accept one of her choices. Otherwise, apparently, she would assume that I didn't consider either of her offerings as worthy.
I sat in the formal room. I called it a parlor because of its formality, although Juan teased me that I used a nineteenth century term because of spending too much time reading out of date literature. He claimed that it was just a basic, American living room, but it was quite different from my house.
The furniture required you to sit up completely straight. There was simply no choice. The furnishings looked very much like what I thought of as English furniture. Anything that looked like you were supposed to sit on had straight backs with very little padding anywhere--back or bottom. The other pieces, and there were far too many of them for even this large room, were made of wood. They were dark and looked as if each would weigh at least five hundred pounds.
There was one time about two months or so before this conversation with Juan's mother that Juan seemed determined to make me think of this room as being just like any other room in any other house. He said that if we made love in it, I wouldn't find it so intimidating and formal. I didn't ask how he had developed that theory.
Juan and I had a sort of unspoken agreement that we wouldn't ask about each other's past. I didn't really have one--or at least not one that he didn't already know about. Juan may have had a past, but I honestly didn't care about what had happened before me. Still, when he was so direct about how I would think differently about this room if we played around a little in it, I couldn't help but get excited over the prospect that he might have entertained here before.
For us the afternoon romp may have seemed mundane except for the unusual environment. We laughed together much more often than we shared our loving thoughts. Right before I launched my accumulated semen into the back of his throat, Juan asked me what I thought of the gold leaf on the lamp directly above my right shoulder. It was especially funny, because the lamp was actually a ceramic rendition of Queen Victoria, not the most attractive of her gender to begin with, which had absolutely no gold to be seen anywhere. I laughed with each glob that shot into his mouth.
I held my position as Juan entered me immediately after my own giggly climax. Neither of us joked as I found yet one more reason to consider us a perfect fit, a conclusion that I had long before reached. The ambience of what was for us a strange place seemed to be sufficient to make Juan race to what appeared to be an unusually satisfying conclusion. I felt his essence enter me, one explosive shot after another followed the one before it.
We shivered together on the floor, partly out of satisfaction and partly from the exertion of the natural events we had shared. The low setting of the thermostat may have had something to do with it as well.
Juan's mother came back into the room after having yelled something into the back yard to Juan's younger cousins who were staying there for a few days during a short break from their school in Mexico. I had met them before, and I was surprised to see that they were as courteous when meeting me as Juan's mother. However, as soon as they were released from their responsibilities by Juan's father, they ran screaming and giggling from the room. The contrast startled me but seemed to have no impact upon Juan's parents.
She placed my soft drink on a coaster on a stately table in front of my chair. She balanced a cup of tea on her knee, covered by an extremely stylish long floral dress.
The most appropriate word that I can think of for her appearance on this day or at any time that I saw her was magnificent. I would credit her for Juan's astonishing beauty, except that Juan's dad was equally striking. Sometimes I had to concentrate to keep from staring at either of them. Unfortunately, as I was soon to learn, I didn't focus as much on not staring at Juan.
By this time everyone at school seemed to assume that Juan and I were a couple. We had not openly displayed any evidence of affection for each other, but neither had we tried to hide our affection. I realized how unusual our school must be, even though everything seemed natural to us.
I was most struck by the feeling of acceptance when the principal invited us into his office one day at the end of school. We just happened to be walking down the hall when he casually motioned us in.
Neither Juan nor I had ever been in any sort of trouble, so we weren't worried when he told us to go on into the office while he took a phone call that the receptionist handed him. We helped ourselves to the seats facing his desk. I admit wondering how many other guys had awaited their doom in this very spot.
Juan and I didn't say anything, maybe because the door to the principal's inner office was still open and we knew the secretary could hear anything even if we whispered. She had the nickname, "eagle ears," although I am not even sure that the name made sense. I mean I know that an eagle is supposed to have good vision, but I don't actually know whether they can hear anything at all. Maybe they have very acute hearing, but I just don't know.
"Look, I'm going to be very direct here," the principal said after he had closed the door and taken his seat on the power side of the desk.
"Okay," I said.
"Yes, sir," said Juan.
"We've never had a same sex couple attend the prom together," said the principal.
"Okay," said I.
"Yes, sir," Juan said as I felt his tension explode even though our chairs were probably at least eight inches apart.
"I just want you to know that eventually any decision about that sort of thing is going to end up with the school board, even though I don't think it should."
"Yeah," I said, although I think it came out as more of a question.
The principal looked toward Juan, who said nothing this time.
The principal took an uncomfortably long pause waiting for some sign of recognition from Juan. He finally spoke, after a period of silence that was probably not as long as I thought.
"I just want you two boys to know that if two students wanted to go to their senior prom together, as long as they are really good people, good students like, say, you two are... I just want you to know that I would fight for their rights against the school board or anyone else whether they were the same sex or not."
I waited for Juan to respond first, but he didn't.
"Thank you," I said. "That means a lot to me."
Again, the principal waited for Juan to say something. He waited longer this time.
Finally, Juan said, "My parents can't know."
"I see," said the principal. "Well, I just wanted you to know."
"Thank you, sir," I said, meaning it as much as I've ever meant anything.
"Juan, if there's anything you need, I'll be glad to help."
This time Juan responded.
"Thanks. I'll be fine."
I had time to think about that conversation after Juan's mom set the cola before me and as she took her first leisurely sip of tea.
"Jim," Juan's mother finally spoke, "The mother of another friend of Juan's said that you are a homosexual."
The last word that she spoke consumed a full five syllables. I knew that silence would not satisfy her.
"Yes," I said softly, although I did not want to respond quietly, because I honestly had absolutely no shame.
"Have you made my son a homosexual, too?" she asked.
I thought of my alternative answers, but I knew what she wanted to know, and I also knew that there was no point in playing semantic games with her.
"You need to talk to your son, not me," I said, hoping for some reason that I didn't sound too dismissive.
"Thank you for coming," she said as she rose from her seat. "I'll tell my son that you stopped by."
"May I wait for him?" I asked, desperately hoping that I hadn't caused problems for the boy for whom I would have given my life.
"Did you just become that way?" she asked.
"I'm sorry, what do you mean?" I asked, genuinely confused by her response.
"When did you become gay?" she clarified.
"I've always been gay," I said what I believed then to be the truth and what I now know is the truth.
"So you knew even before you became friends with my son?"
"Yes, I guess that I did," I answered hesitantly.
"You will go now," she said, as I left that house for the last time.
Now, a couple years later, I looked across the small gap between our beds and wondered whether Brad and I would be separated in a way similar to the way that Juan and I had been forced apart two years previously.
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