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During the five months that this story ran in serialized form, I received well over 200 messages from people, all male, and nearly all men who were "boys who grew up denying they were gay", just like I was. Many were married, and all related to the feelings: the sadness, loneliness, self-hate, and confusion. Many others recounted to their own shameful fantasies of boys from the movies and television when they were alone with themselves, their confusion during sleepovers and gym class wrestling, being attracted to their friends in a way they found both exciting and disturbing. But the majority who wrote told me that they did not act on these fantasies until after they were 17 or older, possibly even enjoying them, but then rushing into marriage to save themselves from a terrible future just like I did. Certainly, the group of people who wrote to me does not represent a statistical sample, but their stories were often so similar to one another that sometimes I had to check the name of the sender because I thought I was errantly reading some messages twice.
Nearly every message was positive, but a few readers wrote to say that they found hard to believe the stories of all the groping in near-public situations, and the frequency of success of Brad's overtures to seduce other boys. To this, I can only say that if anything, I dulled the details and left a bunch of things out because while they were all true, I felt the quantity of Brad's exploits could strain credibility. I realize now for sure that as a child I was obsessed with sex from a very young age. I was not abused or sexualized in any way, and my memories are so vivid and complete back to the age of two or three that if anything odd had happened to make me this way I would surely have remembered it by now.
So, allow me to attempt an explanation of my sexual history with a short story.
Way back in grade school I knew a girl who nearly every day
unexplainably seemed to find coins on the ground. She'd gather them up and keep
them in a jar on her bureau, proudly announcing a regular tally of how much
money she'd found. I was amazed when
she'd report, "Just since the beginning of this school year I've found
$18.52, all in dimes and nickels and pennies!" While I might occasionally
find a coin on the ground, it vexed me how she went the same places as I, yet
found so much more loose change. At the
end of each school year she celebrated by spending her findings on food for us
in a mini-party for our cafeteria table.
I soon came to realize her "secret". In fact, every waking moment she was ALWAYS on the prowl for loose coins. When walking and talking with her she'd constantly be scanning the ground as she walked, stopping to look under pay phones and parking meters, when sitting with her, she'd stoop to scan the floor under chairs and tables. In the spring when the snow melted she would make it a priority to hurry to our little main street with its row of parking meters, because she excitedly explained that coins that fell into the snow all winter could always be found sitting in the mud as soon as the snow was gone. In short, she never rested. Attempting to socialize with her became an annoying chore, as she never seemed to be paying full attention to me, instead swiveling her neck and constantly peering around all over the ground ahead of and behind her. She would sometimes interrupt a conversation by yelping "There's one! That's the third one today!" as she dashed over to pick up a wayward nickel lying in a corner.
I came to see that very simply, the reason that she found so many coins and I found so few, even though we traveled the same streets at the same times was that she had an obsessive focus on looking for them, probably one-thousand times greater than I did. I must have stepped over pennies hundreds of times without even knowing it, and she'd be right behind me to pick them up. Her jar filled up with the coins invisible to me, ones I consistently and blindly passed by.
However, there was a price to her passion. I, for one, began to avoid
her company because her innocent but persistent hobby was an intrusion on her
ability to socialize normally with other human beings. Her focus on this meaningless, all-obsessive
task had a payoff for her that I didn't understand, and eventually shunning
her, I hoped she found the trade-off worthwhile.
So it is with many of us who seem to so easily find other people to make mischief with. I can only speak for myself, but I learned very young that if all the time, I watched others very carefully that they would give me clues to their willingness for adventure. Instead of just staring at other boys in the shower, I'd carefully also watch the eyes of other boys in the gym showers to see who liked to look at other boys. I rightly assumed that boys who were curious like I was would be the most likely to want to play, easily recruited as future casual sex partners. Further, in walking the halls at school I'd try to make eye contact with EVERY other boy I'd pass, whether I knew him or not. When I'd succeed, I'd go out of my way, sometimes ditching other plans to culture a prospective relationship where I perceived I had gotten a simple lingering eye contact in return to my stare.
Yet I was careful. Most of the time it might turn out that that wink I thought I had received was just dust in his eye... and so when my next moves failed to produce results, I'd divert back to my original path of just walking and looking, waiting for the next opportunity with the next boy, which was sure to soon come.
So, travel with me back to school. If I figure that I'd made eye contact with 500 boys a month, and 50 looked back; 10 welcomed my friendly advances; three consented to engage in suggestive conversation, maybe one might allow me to advance to a casual sexual relationship with him. That's a lot of work, and a lot of energy, all spent in a pastime that most people would find as a frustrating waste of time.
But, that's the way it worked for me. And as I have told you, eventually as an adult it got me in quite a bit of trouble. I realize now that nearly all my pleasurable memories happened before I was 20, because after that, my compulsions DROVE ME instead of the other way around. I was no longer in control. I could always find the penny on the ground because I was always looking for one.
As evidence, I can relate a personal story that still haunts me after all these years. I was about ten years old, and the older boys on my street noticed a Playboy magazine lying at the bottom of our street's storm sewer, probably five feet down, separated from us beneath a heavy slotted metal grate. They found a stick long enough to poke at the soggy book, but after ten minutes of futile activity, they were unable to bring it up, and they gave up and went away. Everyone forgot about the book but me. Obsessed with it, I secretly went back after dark two nights in a row with a flashlight and various long handled implements to try to raise it. While I managed to get it a few inches off the ground a couple of times, I was never able to pull it all the way up.
I spent much energy all the third day thinking of how I could make a tool that would do the job, but that afternoon looking out the classroom window I noticed it had started raining heavily—and my heart filled with anguish because I knew my prize would be ruined. As soon as I got home, I ran to the sewer grate and peered down, and saw that the book was gone, washed away in the deluge of water that poured down the gutter. I was so distraught I remember hardly being able to sleep that night. That, my friends, is the definition of a budding obsession.
So, if you aren't finding willing sex partners at every turn like I seem to have, consider yourself lucky and keep your desires as a part of your fantasy life where they are safest. That's humble advice from one who has been there.
Readers who have contacted me have been overwhelmingly supportive and empathetic, but I suspect that this might be the only such forum where that fact would be true. Much of the subject matter I shared would have raised eyebrows and doubtlessly fear and anger if published in a more mainstream forum. Homosexuality- to use the clinical term- is far more acceptable today than ever in modern history. However some of the topics presented, like a discussion of a relationship between an adult and an adolescent are truly more off-limits than ever in the world of the 2010s. This seems odd to me, because through the late 1980s these topics were commonly the subject of erotic stories in Penthouse and other such mainstream adult publications, as well as in erotic books available from the big mall booksellers. I know because I read them there. It seems that while the world has grown more liberal overall, this particular topic has grown more scandalous, salacious and less acceptable to even mention in today's civilized company.
Without argument, the experience of growing up gay has become considerably easier in the past two decades. I'll easily admit, as difficult as it has sounded, my own experience growing up afraid to be gay in the 1960s and 1970s in suburban America was doubtlessly easier than the experiences of readers who are older than me or grew up in less enlightened times and places. Many men wrote to remind me of this, albeit in a very kind way.
I seriously considered completely omitting chapters 30 and 31 from my story, skipping right to the conclusion if only because these tales were so ominous; and not fun and lighthearted like most of the rest. The path I followed in my life (and maybe better to say, the hole I fell down) is also not probably representative of how other like-minded readers' lives turned out. But in the end, I decided to include them because they are in fact what happened to me. So while my specific actions and experience are not representative of most bisexual or gay adults who grew up with crushing shame, I want to make the point that growing up while loathing one's self, day-in and day-out, as many gay adolescents do, is a terribly hurtful and damaging burden to carry that hardly promotes mental health in a developing mind. Said more plainly, when you wake up and go to bed hating yourself every day, it can indeed make you go crazy.
My adult behavior could certainly be categorized as an expression of developing mental illness. In writing this story to keep it accessible and believable, I actually softened the details of some of the crazy things I did. Frankly, the decisions I made and some of the things I did were self destructive, and the fact that I did them over and over again, each time expecting a different result, is the literal definition of insanity. Luckily mental health professionals today in the place I live are more educated and open minded than in the past, and my issues were eventually treated as an addictive disorder. Addicts (whether drugs, alcohol, or sex) follow a consistent destructive and repetitive pattern of self-medication to ease their pain, receiving a short term payoff with long term negative implications.
Today, addiction is treated properly like a disease: that is, it is progressive (gets worse) and untreated can end in death. To anyone who might scoff at my behavior as an addictive disease that could end with death, let me only say that during the period of my life detailed in Chapter 30, suicide was a daily option I considered. In prison, sex offenders are the lowest on the food chain, detested by everyone including murderers. Anyone in prison for sex crimes against minors faces the chance of being killed at any time by an "accident" or a lapse in security, and these cases are often left unreported or uninvestigated. The law of the street is that these people will get what they deserve.
In my recovery I met many people who were sex addicts, but who were addicted to alcohol or drugs as well. These addictions seem to go together like hand in glove; and I found that I was part of a minority who was addicted to sex but without also abusing either alcohol or drugs. I believe I had the awareness as a young teenager that I must stay away from these things, as I knew I would get hooked and never stop. I also was afraid that substances could further lower my inhibitions and cause me to betray my true feelings and ruin my life. I just never suspected that sex was addicting, though like many boys I worried that I masturbated too much. The self help books I read always said that "it is impossible to masturbate too much" and I believed them. Of course, these biology centered books were referring to the physical effects of masturbation, not the emotional dependency on it that eventually consumed me.
While some people debate the concept, I can relate to you that without question that sex addiction is a real thing in my life. Participating in the twelve-step recovery program offered in SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) has saved my life. I will not launch into a description in support of twelve step programs, based on Alcoholics Anonymous, but you can get more information at www.slaafws.org. There is a basic text available to read and meetings every day of the year in thousands of places around the world. When I have traveled internationally I have attended meetings in other countries that are filled with the same kind of wonderful people as who attend them right here in the United States. If you feel that sometimes your compulsions are driving you instead of the other way around, look them up.
So what happened to the real people in this story? Perhaps you are interested to know, as of 2010:
Chapter 1- Erick from "My Earliest Erotic Memories" is 39, is still single and works in video production for his father's company. He has had several long term relationships that have ended suddenly, for reasons I can only imagine.
Chapter 2- Jimmy is 50 and a stylish, quiet hairdresser at a small salon out at the edges of the countryside. He has shunned any school reunions, dropping from sight.
Chapter 3- Scott is 52, a forest ranger in Montana, married with two older teenage sons.
Chapter 4- and also mentioned in Chapter 13- Jake from Jake and the telescope is 47 and a music teacher in a large suburban high school, has been married twice and has no children. I ran into Jake at the funeral of a Mario's father two years ago. He was friendly and cordial when we met, and I began to feel very guilty about the way I had once treated him. Afterwards I wrote him a letter to apologize for my sexual aggressiveness towards him when we were kids. After that he has ignored any attempt I have made to contact him. I am not sorry I apologized, but I am saddened by his reaction. I wonder if he has always been angry with me, or if perhaps he has unresolved feelings towards me and maybe questions about his own sexuality. I suspect he is uncomfortable with my acknowledging what happened so long ago. I do not know, and I probably will never find out.
Chapter 6- Glenn from the baseball team was born on the very same day as me, and at 49 I see him sometimes walking to the train in a business suit, dull vacancy in his eyes. I have said hello to him now and again, and I am sure he has no inkling of who I am.
Chapter 7- Alex (who also appears in chapter 20) died after an accident in his home. He was gay and lived alone, and with no one to help him after a bad fall he slipped into a coma and sadly died before he was 30. I had the chance once to catch up with Alex in our early 20s, though neither of us were prepared to confess our sexual orientation to each other at that time.
Chapter 8- Jack the teenaged Adonis (who also appears in Chapter 10) is a 47 year old heart surgeon and born again religious zealot who has lived in several states across the USA. He sent me a Christmas card one year, showing his beauty- queen wife and seven adorable blond children all sitting on the couch together. He no longer looks like a Superman to me. His twin sister and former Miss USA state winner is married to a prominent politician in the south.
And Adam is a professional musician with a famous orchestra, and the chancellor of a prestigious private music school in a mid-western city. He is married to his gay partner of 20 years, and they have adopted two sons who are now teenagers.
Chapter 11- Greg is married with three girls and still lives nearby.
Chapter 12- Vince was my roommate in college, and also turned out to be gay after fiercely denying he was until he was 32 just like me. We came out to each other together when we were about 32. He is a public school math teacher in Florida, and lives with his partner of 12 years. His younger brother, the naughty Kenny is a 42 year old, bald, divorced, chubby and very short philandering ladies man living on the west coast country with a succession of Asian airline stewardesses, for whom he always had a weakness.
Chapter 13- Mario disappeared from my life after my wedding, then suddenly reappeared living nearby a few years ago. He is a paunchy, balding Italian man with four children and the same snarky wife. I see him once a year or so, and we laugh and talk like we are still 13. He can still finish my sentences for me. My wife says we sound like a couple of girlfriends. I love him still and miss him terribly.
Chapter 14 – Little Roy is a successful consultant in the information technology industry who runs his own business. He is still short, but grown up and in his mid-40s with two daughters, he is unrecognizable as the small pre-pubescent teenager that I once knew. He still plays the drums in a band.
Chapter 15 and 17 – Ryan is 46 and is retired from a career in the Navy. He had always wanted to be a Navy pilot, but ended up instead working in the fire company at several navy bases. Twice married to women he met in different countries overseas, he now refuses to connect with me though I have attempted to be friendly. Of all the boys I lusted after and took advantage of when they were clearly not gay, Ryan bore the biggest brunt of my sexual confusion. I could not keep my hands off of him, I could not help myself and I knew even then that he hated it and probably never would forgive me.
Chapter 16-- When I wrote this story I did not know Paul's whereabouts, but diligent (alright, obsessive) searching caused me to find him living in a New England college town, happily gay and single and working as a waiter in a very fancy restaurant. He was delighted to hear from me, and even read the story I wrote about our exploits together. He said that it was correct in every way except that his dick was not smaller than mine and not curved as I described, and he was very anxious to prove that to me. He told me that me he read the story a dozen times and he jerked off every time he did.
In a surprising twist, Paul told me that Alex had seduced him too during a walk in the woods, and that Alex was always trying to get Paul to wrestle with him. Paul had turned out to be quite a bit more comfortable with his sexual orientation than both Alex and I were with ours, and he was annoyed that Alex wouldn't just come out and say he wanted to have sex instead of going through the charade of wrestling first.
Paul told me that he apologized to me way back then after he came in my rubbing hand during the movies in school because just the prior week he had had sex with Alex in Alex's bedroom, and had come in Alex's mouth without warning Alex to pull away. This made Alex furious, confusing the hell out of Paul, because he thought Alex would like it. So, because I reacted coldly, Paul was sure he had done the wrong thing again when he came on me. In fact, I was disgusted with myself and my unchecked animal lust, and not with Paul.
Finally, Paul admitted to having a long running sexual affair with one of our high school teachers at the same time we were fooling around, doing all sorts of hot things with the man in his house where the teacher lived together with his elderly deaf mother! Paul explained how, starting when he was about 15, the man used to enjoy Paul sucking his cock, then finish by sitting on Paul's chest and cumming in his face. This teacher is dead now, but he is revered in our community as though he had attained sainthood, and there is a major annual charity event held here with his name attached. If the community only knew... fascinating to me as well, Paul's mother knew about his affair with the teacher and did not put a stop to it. Paul was fatherless and perhaps his mother assumed that Paul wasn't being harmed by the experience so she allowed it to continue. (I live in small town, white picket fence USA—so let me tell you, don't underestimate what is going on behind closed doors where you live.)
As a teenager, Paul loved to make himself available to have older men pick him up at the park and in the mall and in movie restrooms, and do whatever they wanted to do with him wherever they wanted to do it. He told me he lost his virginity to a stranger in the mall restroom when he was 14. (shades of Kevin from Chapter 29) One man used to bring a campervan to the park so that he and Paul could have sex in it. Paul picked up extra money this way, which for him was amazing, since he loved doing it and was shocked that men were willing to pay him. I had no idea when I wrote this chapter that little innocent Paul was so much more experienced than I was back then!
Chapter 18: Robby is still among the unfortunates, at 48 an alcoholic and compulsive gambler who moved some years ago to Las Vegas. He never admitted his homosexuality to his strict family, choosing to drop out and disappear rather than face the music. I last saw him twenty years ago working as a waiter in a Denny's
Chapter 19: in the "short stories" chapter, playful little Brian who smelled like peanut butter who was also in my kindergarten class is now enormously fat and a salesman at the local lumberyard who speaks with the same lisp he had when he was five;
Handsome blond Carl is beady-eyed, squinty witless accountant and I couldn't stand talking to for more than a minute at our last class reunion. His beautiful blond hair that had me so enraptured back then is no more.
Ronny and Donald, the boys with the trick pen now respectively work as a mechanic at the local GM dealer and in a warehouse moving boxes.
Very, very cool Trent is an unemployed beatnik musician who lives in the Midwest with a raft of graduate degrees who posts long sob stories about all his troubles on Facebook but has never answered a single message I send him.
Chapter 21: Brother Tad is 41 and is a very successful businessman, trim and fit, married with two daughters and a son. He is a very serious and responsible fellow who would never admit to the shenanigans that we perpetrated together 25 years ago.
Chapter 22: Childhood neighbors Petey and Billy are still alive and accounted for. Petey is a brilliant scientist, employed in Washington DC by the government, divorced and remarried. Billy is a computer consultant and a talented artist who married young and sadly lost his wife to cancer. He is raising his two small children alone.
Chapter 23: Teddy is a stockbroker in New York City who was in the next building a block away when the World Trade center was attacked in 2001. Handsome as a GQ model still, Teddy is trim and athletic, coaching his two young daughters' soccer teams. I have seen Teddy at weddings and funerals and while he still gazes at me the way he used to, he has no interest whatsoever in reminiscing about the past.
Chapter 24: Keith the Drum Major has apparently had a difficult life. A noted surgeon, he lost his license after abusing narcotics, and has ended up living alone and working in the periphery of medicine in a medical testing lab. Keith likely belongs to the same twelve step program as I do, and has asked me not to contact him because he senses we would still be a dangerous combination together. He may be right, and I respect that.
Also mentioned in this story were two other boys. One was Hunter, Keith's older brother whom I had idolized as a small child. I just saw his photo in the hometown newspaper, as he was receiving a lifetime achievement award for his work as a professional musician in the military. He is in his mid 50s with silver hair and a pencil thin moustache.
There was another boy was unnamed in the story yet who deserves special mention. I had told you about Keith's neighbor friend, the older boy who initiated Keith into sex from the time he was 11. I will admit that grabbing at threads of information I tracked him down and made up a reason to get in touch with him. I told him that I was mutual friend of Keith, and we agreed to meet for a beer, and it was rather odd. He was married with no children, but he was so glad to get tougher even though we did not know each other, showing no suspicion at all as to why a total stranger called him to ask to meet. I found him a rather dull fellow, not bad looking but not outstanding in any way, who worked as a safety inspector in a manufacturing facility. Sitting and talking with him, dropping one innuendo at a time, I stealthily tried to find out if he too was gay like me—and while I dropped hints, at first small and then bigger and still bigger, aimed as what I wanted to know. But he obviously missed all the clues. When I finally I asked him outright if, he too had "grown up denying he was gay"—and he was obviously shocked and startled by my motive. He had not been expecting this at all. I had no designs of having sex with him as I might have had this been ten years prior. Instead I just was looking for a kindred spirit, like the ones of you who have written to me after reading my stories. I allowed him the opportunity to gracefully escape, and have not heard from him since.
Chapter 25: Paul, my suave, debonair and very handsome gay friend from college is nearly 50 and an international banking executive living in South America with his partner of 15 years. While we have conversed on Facebook, he refuses to share even one photo of himself saying only "I am old. You don't want to see me now."
Chapter 26: I am afraid to look for Nick because frankly I am afraid I will find him. I believe he lives in the next town, and he would be about 30 now. There would be nothing good that could come out of reconnecting with him for me, if he was mad at me I would be devastated, if he had no regrets I suspect would follow a path I would regret.
One fact I left out of the story that I was asked about was, "why didn't you see Nick again when you got back together with your wife?" The answer is that my wife had sold our house while we were separated in anticipation of what would surely be our divorce, buying a new house in her name alone in another town. It was there that the fire occurred and where I returned to my family with a fresh start.
I will admit to following up with Nick several years after our affair, when he would have been about 18. I asked him if he had been hurt by our experience and he seemed surprised, and to my great relief said "no". I forced myself to say goodbye before I asked him more things I wanted to know, including asking him to meet again.
Chapter 27: Westy is also about 30, is my friend on Facebook, and we chat now and again. He seems very confused, is unmarried and lists himself as "single" when we talk makes many references to his Catholic faith, sings in a Catholic choir and refuses to talk about his personal life. I have decided it is best to leave him alone.
Chapter 28: Gabe is also 30, just recently moved to Louisiana and works doing something technical in the oil drilling industry. He is apparently openly gay, but though he and I are friends on Facebook he has never replied to my occasional notes to him. I enjoy looking at the photos he posts of his carefree life. He is still handsome, though in a scruffy, unshaven Kurt Cobain kind of way.
Chapter 29: I have no idea what happened to Kevin/David- and I honestly can say that I do not even remember his real name. He called me once, probably ten years ago when he would have been about 20, and wanted to get together again. I decided that I didn't want to open that can of worms and deferred his request. He never contacted me again. He would be about 30 now. I have forgiven him entirely. It was me who was should have known better. He was just doing what his heart told him to do, demonstrating the short-sightedness that is typical of teenagers.
Chapter 30: As I said in that chapter, Henry Thomas died in 1988, most likely of AIDS. This was the height of the AIDS epidemic, and was in that terrifying time where the pathology of the disease wasn't completely known. He died just prior to his 30th birthday, and all record of his short existence on this earth appears to have faded into dust. Readers asked how I found out, and I can tell you that for the uninitiated, Internet people-search engines are incredibly powerful. As this is written in 2010, unless someone is deliberately trying to hide and has changed their name, and obliterated their credit history, you can track down practically anybody by knowing an approximate age, the name of a relative or two, one address the person has lived, a school they attended or a place they worked.
There's a final twist almost incredible twist to this all that I want to share with you before I close. My young son Brandon has grown into a strapping, handsome and totally masculine young man and told his mother and me six weeks before his eighteenth birthday that he too, prefers boys and not girls. After his mother got up off the floor and ranted privately to me for two hours about "my defective goddamn genes" and other such stuff, she has come around quite well. As for me, I've mentioned my sixth sense for these things several times, and I'll admit that Brandon's revelation didn't surprise me at all. Starting around his being five or so, I had always strongly suspected, through small things in his demeanor and character, though there was nothing overtly sexual at all that tipped me off. I can even go so far to say that when he told us, I already knew, though I had no proof till then. I am hopeful (but also fairly confident) that his life from his late teens forward will not mirror mine in any way.
Brandon's sixteen-year old younger brother Charlie is as straight as they come and a real ladies man. However, raised in our house, he accepts gay people without a second thought as being normal. After all, at our house he is in the minority, being the only heterosexual male there.
I'll admit a somewhat self-centered regret for me is that now finished, my story will slip quietly into the archives of this site, and will only be found by people who are casually browsing though the cobwebs. If you would like a copy of the story from beginning to end in one nicely formatted PDF file, to print or to keep on your own PC, please send me a note and I will send the file to you in a return E-mail, without charge. email@example.com