Author's notes: I have never received more messages from readers after posting a chapter than after Chapter 25 (Gay... and Married); and never any fewer than after the last chapter, Chapter 26 (Caught with Nick). As a writer, I know that for every person who bothers to write in, there are scads more who don't but who feel the same way.
Over two dozen readers write to me about "Gay...and Married" telling me that it was nearly the exact story of their lives too; explaining how they felt and that it mirrored the exact reasons they too had married. The overwhelming majority was from readers over 60, all of whom were still married or whose wives had died recently.
I do not doubt that if I had ended Chapter 26 about Nick and me, just before my moment of discovery, that I would have gotten more of a response. But in choosing to complete the chapter by telling exactly what happened, it was as if I had set off a evil smelling smoke bomb, immediately clearing the area of any bystanders. Perhaps it was my moralistic conclusion? One of the few reader comments was, "how can you say that you thought he was gay and tell about how happy both of you were, and how he came back more than once, and how you felt that nothing you did was coerced, and then a moment later condemn yourself for what you did?"
That's a good question, actually. Considering the nature of this forum, few stories here ever take the twist mine has. I will not get overly analytic here, but there are few issues in our world that are more emotional dynamite than those of relationships between adults and adolescents. It is an issue that raises strong emotions, mostly furiously angry ones, in societies all over the world. People may publicly debate politics, religion and sports, but this is a topic that all but the extreme fringe loudly, publicly, and righteously agree upon.
However, many of the over one hundred comments that have come to me since this series began have come from men who, as adolescents had relationships with older boys and men, and who do not regret them at all. I have wondered, too, if I had been schooled by a trusted companion, one older and accepting of his sexuality, if I could have avoided altogether being the boy "Growing up Denying I was Gay".
All I can tell you is that: such relationships make front page headlines when discovered, humiliating both perpetrators and victims, ripping apart families and polarizing neighborhoods, generating fear and loathing in communities and witch-hunts in youth-based organizations, condemned by every authority that exists, and even (in the USA at least) requires a therapist to report a patient's private confessions to the police even when he seeks counsel. I propose It is not fair to risk putting a youngster in the center of such a circus, regardless of what any of us might think.
But this is the true story of my life I am sharing with you, neither moralistic tale nor a happy fairy story. Stay with me for just a little while longer and I'll bring you up to date.
You may contact me at Bradhealey@rocketmail.com. Drop me a note and I will add you to the list, notifying you when future stories are posted.
Suddenly out of my house and stripped of my comfortable existence, I found myself living alone in a bare apartment in the suburbs of a big east coast city. Still married but now separated and just on the north side of 30, I had long told myself that I had just not found the right girl, when in fact I knew deep inside me that my craving for close companionship with other guys was not a yearning for simple friendship. Suddenly I was not so sure. My world had been rocked to its core. As much faith as I had always had in myself, to be able to "fix anything that is wrong", I was finally starting to believe that my sexual orientation was something that could not be changed with any amount of work.
Growing up, I had at least three things going against me. I had grown up in a very judgmental, strictly Catholic household where anyone who was not "like us" was viewed with scrutiny and disdain. Secondly, I was an up and coming manager with a large corporation that frowned on anyone who was even the slightest bit off center, and third, it was nearly twenty years ago, when we lived in a different universe, when being gay was just not accepted as it is today.
As I had done throughout my life, when things got tough and confusing, I threw myself into the comfort of my work, doing sixteen hour days much of the time. Looking back now I smile, realizing how the destructive practice of being a workaholic is applauded in our work-centric American culture, where working one's self into oblivion is OK, but being a drug addict, alcoholic, or dare I say, a sex addict is so deeply frowned upon.
Yes, I also went into some intensive therapy, at long last. I won't bore you with the details, except to say that I began to think about, and talk about all the evidence from my past that pointed to a person inside who was quite different than his public persona. It was here that I first began to accept the idea that I might be gay, and that it might be alright to be gay.
I had very little free time, but I loved music, and played with a small orchestra that did shows and played occasional weddings. Throughout my life I had found my music and my theatrical friends as a welcome refuge from my daily stresses. They had no idea about my background, my troubles or what I did to earn a living, and they were decidedly more liberal and creative than the people with whom I spent the rest of my hours working. With hindsight, I later realized that many of these creative people had been a mix of gay and bi and straight, and I felt kindred among them. I didn't have to put on a show of masculine straightness when around them; I could be myself without fear of damage from inadvertently exposing my darkest secret.
It was there that I knew Wes, a handsome young violin player, not yet eighteen, cheerful and even sort of goofy. I had known him off and on since he was fourteen or so. Wes was tall and slim, had curly black hair and a very slightly olive complexion, and he still had all the features of his youth. I loved his pink smooth cheeks that reddened when he was embarrassed or excited. Wes would lock eyes with mine when we talked and in the heat of conversation he would get closer and closer till his face was nearer to mine than most any man would find comfortable. He was just sweet and playful, and sometimes I drove him home after practice, dropping him in front of his house where he still lived with his parents and sister. He'd babble in the car about all sorts of things that were important to him, and his banter reminded me how serious my life had become, as the things that concerned him were mostly just distant memories for me.
I stopped it his house to drop him off one night after rehearsal was done, and instead of getting out of the car, he stiffened, leaned his head back and exhaled. I looked over at him as he was suddenly silent. "What's the matter Westy?" I said noticing his sudden change of mood.
"Nothing Brad" he said, but I knew he wasn't telling me the truth.
"Cummon, Westy" I said. "What's wrong? You are my buddy and you can tell me."
He looked over at me, cheeks flushed and with liquid black eyes. In the dim light I could see that he hadn't shaved in a while, but even then he had only a few little patches of fuzz barely worth mentioning. His lips moved slightly like he was preparing to speak but no sound came out of his mouth. Finally he continued.
"Nothing Brad. My dad is just sorta mad at me, that's all."
"Mad?" I asked. "Why, what did you do?"
Wes looked away, and then looked down at his lap. "Nothing. But he found some books under my bed."
It was pulling teeth. But I knew he wanted to tell me more.
"What kind of books, Wes?" I asked. I knew that Wes's family was strict and religious, and I figured they were Playboys or something like that.
"Well," he said, breathing in through his teeth. "There were men's fitness magazines"
Another long silence. "Yeah?" I said, knowing there was more to come.
"And other... stuff... like that..." he trailed off.
It was my turn to finish the sentence... I knew he expected me to. And I could hardly believe what I was going to say. "Other stuff, with guys in it?" I continued for him, my own voice catching in my throat.
He nodded, nearly imperceptibly. "yeah," he whispered.
I wanted my next comment to be profound and appropriate, because I clearly realized the depth of what he had just admitted to me. Yet at the same time I was excited—no, aroused, that he chose to tell me, and I couldn't stop myself from wondering why. Did he trust me like a brother would? Did he know I would accept him? Was he testing me? I so wanted to say the right thing.
"You like boys, don't you Westy?" I asked, avoiding the horrible "G" word... one that in my generation was used almost exclusively as a profane slur; an indelibly pitched insult, a toxic, permanent label, a punch in the gut.
Without speaking, he almost imperceptibly shook his head yes, and though I was surprised, I was not shocked. Wes was nothing like the stereotypical gay male I thought. Physically he was a handsome, well muscled, athletic boy that any girl would be proud to call her own, and that no guy would suspect. I sensed his loneliness. I couldn't help wondering if he had suspected I was gay too, and that thought fleetingly worried me. I had always tried so hard to keep that side of me hidden, and even for another guy "like me" to suspect my secret scared me that I wasn't doing a good enough job.
"How did you know to ask that, Brad? I mean how did you know?" He looked at me sideways, his head still bowed.
I wondered about that too. How did I know to ask? Sometimes I was positive I possessed a special sixth sense that allowed me to know which guys were gay like me, and other times I reasoned that I thought—no, hoped that every other guy I met was gay, and my constant vigilance and willingness to purposefully test everyone I met was the secret to my ability.
"I don't know, Wes," I answered "maybe because I am gay too."
I felt my heart come to a dead stop. It had slipped out, and I had never intended to say it. While I had hinted to Nick, I had never said these words to anyone before, not even to myself. I didn't know Wes that well and had no confidence that he would treat my admission with candor. But perhaps I had told him in this moment of extreme weakness precisely because I didn't know him so well, and that whatever happened next probably wouldn't have lasting implications on the rest of my life. At any event, I was equally horrified and elated that I had let this missive slip out. This was a turning point for me.
Wes exhaled and slumped in the car seat, visually lightening as though a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He started to laugh and finally turned to me with an expression that had turned suddenly from doom to delight, punching me on the arm and said "That is so cool! I never guessed it! I never knew!"
I was intrigued by Wes, but had never been really attracted to him. He was a lot younger than me, and the issues he was dealing with were ones I had skirted years ago. But there were things about him that were very appealing to me. First was his body. He still looked very boyish, and his face still was smooth and devoid of any real evidence of facial hair. He seemed to be at the stage still where he could get away with shaving once a week or so, and his cheeks were still flushed and pink, not cast bluish gray like those of us enslaved to dragging a cold razor every morning. His voice and vocabulary gave him away too- his voice was high and youthful, and his diction was still slurred and casual like a schoolboy's, not clipped and professional like a man's. He usually wore faded t-shirts and cocked baseball caps. Even the way he walked and stood and sat gave away his youth, he had not gained the formality that he would probably attain in the next ten to fifteen years. I had always regarded Wes like a playful younger brother. He was incredibly clean scrubbed and always smelled like soap, and he had straight white teeth and sparkling eyes than he showed when he laughed, which was quite often. And suddenly I could imagine myself cuddling him.
"Well, I guess I should go!" he said, opening the car door. "This is so COOL!". After all, we had been sitting in front of his house for some time. He bounded up his front walk with his instrument case in his hand, looking back at me and waving once he reached his front door. I drove off feeling quite elated with myself. I had not envisioned the last five minutes happening, but now that they had, I was OK with the situation. My mind entertained thoughts of helping Wes learn to accept himself, and maybe of him helping me accept myself, a long overdue task.
I was in bed and nearly asleep when the phone ringing rudely awakened me. I answered it still half dazed, and I recognized the voice as Wes's, and he didn't sound so happy anymore. "Hey Brad, what's up?" he asked
"Not much" I said trying to will myself to become immediately awake and alert. "What happened?"
"Not much" he answered dully , but even half asleep I know he wasn't telling me the truth.
"No seriously, what happened?", I repeated. Wes never called me at home unless he needed a ride or something, and certainly wouldn't be calling me this late unless something serious was the matter.
When he stared talking, I could tell he had been crying. Pulling the story out of him bit by bit, I learned that, probably supercharged by the euphoria of our conversation, he had decided that tonight was the night to disclose everything to his parents; to tell them that he was gay and caution them there was nothing they could do about it. He hadn't counted on his father's reaction being so angry and violent. "Did he hit you Wes?" I asked, over and over.
"It's alright" he repeated each time, which to me meant that yes, his father had hit him, but that he accepted that this was OK. "But he is still really angry and he told me to get out." I was scared for Wes. His father was a big man, not terribly educated and someone whom I avoided whenever I saw him. We had little to talk about, and he regarded me with silent, glaring suspicion whenever our paths crossed. I suspected that he did not like Wes's involvement in music and theater, his friendship with me and other men of my creative ilk, and that he would have been far more comfortable if Wes had grown up to play football, hang in a pool hall, or ride a motorcycle and had friends from these worlds instead.
"Are you safe?" I asked, then realizing that this was the wrong question to ask if I wanted an honest answer, I quickly added "Do you need a place to stay?"
He tried to remain cheerful as he answered yes, he would like to stay with me, but he barely got the word out before he started crying. "Do you remember where I live?" I asked, and he said that he did. I told him I would leave the door unlocked and the light on, and that he could come as soon as he was ready. I hung up the phone and lay back, suddenly filled with guilt. I worried that this was my fault; that I had pushed his buttons, keyed him up so that he had made and bold but unwise choice to admit his sexual orientation to his parents that very night.
I was still staring at the ceiling some time later when I heard the front door open, then just a few moments later the door to my bedroom cracked open. Wes's silhouette walked slowly towards me in the dim light, and I reached out to him and he reached back, suddenly sinking down beside me, holding me tight. Wes sobbed quietly as I held him, his face on my shoulder, and I felt so sorry for him, but strangely proud as well. For in telling his parents and forcing the showdown that night, he had done something that I still had never done with my own family, avoiding the stress and pain that he was going through now.
"Shhhhhhh, Westy", I whispered holding him tight and patting his back, feeling him shake silently with sobs, smelling his clean smell and touching his soft hair. Eventually he calmed and was quiet, and we just lay together, holding each other, breathing.
"I wish I could be like you," Wes admitted softly, his face inches from mine. I laughed sardonically to myself inside. Me, a dishonest coward. "You are so successful and happy." Wes said.
"No, not always" I answered. Wes didn't know all about my life, but my appearance had obviously fooled him the way I had tried to fool everyone, even myself.
But suddenly he was reaching for my face, pulling it close to his own, and kissing my lips with his open, upturned mouth. I was surprised but excited, his advance was unexpected but hardly unwelcome. He explored my mouth and lips with is tongue and my cock lurched into instinctive hardness. When the kiss ended I said "Westy, that was so good. But you don't have to do that..."
"I want to." He answered, kissing me again and holding me close to him, his arms wrapped around my back, mine around his. He was slightly smaller than me, but not by much, and he smelled and tasted so good. His smooth face on mine felt so exciting, and I realized that kissing him at that instant was far more exciting and satisfying than kissing any girl ever had been for me, and made me wonder for the hundredth time why I had been so oblivious to this when I had steered so hard towards being straight and married.
When the kiss ended, I tipped his head back and started nibbling his neck and worked my way down to unbutton his shirt and kiss his chest. His chest was smooth and nearly hairless and he surrendered to allow my advances. He moaned very softly and he was clearly not going to stop me, whatever I wanted to do. But the alarm bells were going off in my head and I stopped anyway.
"Westy, are you sure you want this?" I asked. I suspected that this might be his first time with another guy, and though he was barely of consenting age, I was nervous that this was not something we should be doing together. My thinking was muddled for sure, and I hoped beyond anything that he would insist that we continue. But thoughts nagged me that this could go terribly wrong, thinking of his own confusion, his burly father, and my own situation. "yes, please," Wes responded, almost begging. And that's all I needed to hear as I dropped the rest of my inhibitions and resumed unbuttoning his shirt, feeling his body heat escape from underneath.
I spread open his shirt, and using my lips, tongue and teeth, played with his nipples, his neck, and the tiny patch of fuzz that sprouted right in the middle of his breastbone. I reached up to feel his naked shoulders and as he raised his arms I felt his soft underarms and pulled on the fuzz that grew there. Wes moaned and squirmed and tipped his head back showing his long smooth throat with its hint of an Adam's apple. His neck had no adult whiskers on it, it was as smooth as a young boy's.
Wes sat up, and tossed the blanket back uncovering me, and leaning over started kissing my stomach in return. He swung his legs onto my bed, and we lay opposite each other, his belt buckle near my face. Dropping any remaining inhibitions, we started undressing each other simultaneously, pulling at shirt tails, belt ends and buttons. There was enough light coming in the window that I could see his beautiful body becoming exposed, and he was equally shameless in exposing my nakedness. I felt his warm soft hands on my erect cock and cupping my balls, and then his hot breath on my skin nearby. "Brad, let's make each other come" suggested Wes in a husky whisper "and have us do it at the exact same time". The thought was electric to me, as I tugged his white briefs aside exposing his quivering, arrow-pointed hard dick for the first time, poking right in my face. Mine was equally bare and next to him and I felt his warm wet tongue start to explore, as I kissed his beautiful cockhead in turn.
I wanted to see exactly what I was doing so I kept his dick in front of me as he lay on his side, allowing it to thrust its length in and out of my closed fist, watching as its tip grew more and more sticky and moist with his lust. Now, some fifteen years later I still mostly remember the warmth of his skin and his clean smell and the pale softness of his cockhead as it bumped against my face. I can't say here all what we did, but after about ten minutes he said in a hoarse whisper, "oh God, Brad, I am so close to cumming!"
"Do it," I urged. "Just let it go"
"No," he repeated. "I want us to come at exactly the same time." I admit I was a little stressed by the thought, but I decided to focus on my own orgasm and give it a try. I closed my eyes and rubbed him the best I could, and marveled at the expert way he rubbed me, top to bottom, applying pressure at just the right spots and loosening up just as he reached the end, rubbing me firmly but not roughly. It occurred to me that no woman could ever do this as well as one man could handle another, because guys had so much practice doing this since they were boys, and knew just how it felt to rub it right; hard, fast, in perfect rhythm, up and down, up and down.
And suddenly the pressure welled up inside and I could no longer control myself, and then instantly it was shooting, one squirt after another, his grip changing perfectly as I came so that he wasn't so rough but was still somehow rubbing just as hard, but he was suddenly cumming too, all over my hands and wrists and chin, sperm pouring through my fingers squishing and bubbling white all hot and sticky, both of us rubbing, moaning, rubbing till the spasms began to subside and we were spent. I held his slightly softened wet dick an inch in front of my face and marveled at its emission, the slightly bleachy smell, white and pure and bubbly clean, and I reached my tongue out to taste what was so close and found it delicious and forbidden, especially realizing that this was probably his first time cumming with another guy.
I felt him move as he struggled and seemed to try to get up., and I pushed him back. "Wait, Westy" I said softly. "There's no place you need to go. Just lay still." I realized that this was the moment guys felt the most guilty and uncomfortable, just after cumming, and I wanted him to get through it without shame. I used my tongue and lips to clean him all over, enjoying the tangy, sweet taste of his sperm, allowing it to linger in my lips and tongue before I swallowed it.
"You don't mind if I—um-- don't do that too," he asked from where he lay. And I told him I didn't mind at all. It was up completely up to him. Turning so that we faced each other again, I held him tight in my arms, his cheek on my chest. And I admit I felt a little guilty then, though he continually assured me that I should not feel that way. That he wanted this to happen and that he really wanted it to be with me.
"So, you never did this before, then?" I asked.
"Well, some. But not this much" he admitted. With some prodding, he told me about his only other experience, one with another same-aged boy at High School a few months prior, where they had hidden in the backstage area of the auditorium and kissed each other in the dark, the other boy groping Wes then jerking himself off while the kissed, Westy's first kiss with another boy. The other boy had been embarrassed afterwards and they had hardly talked again. But this happening was enough to convince Wes that he liked boys better than girls after all. And that it could only be a matter of time before he needed to tell his parents and go his own way. "I trust you." Wes told me.
I held him all that night, but I convinced him to go back home after that day and to try to talk to his parents, insisting that he tell them he slept alone on my sofa when they asked, as they were sure to do. While I was concerned for him, I admit to you now that I was also afraid that I would become romantically involved with him, and I rightly feared his father if this happened. While what had happened between us had not been planned by me at all, I knew that I clearly had enabled it. Just like my explanation of my involvement with Teddy from years ago, I had initiated a sexual conversation, encouraged his admissions, and allowed him to come to my apartment when I was sure to be defenseless. Our age difference and my long relationship with him from the time he was just a boy would likely not be accepted by the society we live in, let alone embraced by his angry father who would be sure to blame me with seducing him.
Wes visited occasionally after this, though we never repeated our physical encounter. But by the time summer had ended, his father had enrolled him in a strict military school in another county, ostensibly to straighten him out. Wes called me late at night from there several times the next year crying, and I felt helpless to do anything for him. He eventually ran away from the school and walked nearly fifty miles back home alone. Any sane person might ask why he walked home, after the way he had been treated there, but I felt his pain. After all, I never told my parents about myself at that age for fear this same scenario would happen to me, banished when instead I had wanted so badly to be loved and accepted by them.
All this is very hard to explain to people who are not gay and whom this situation seems distant and unbelievable. But I knew from being one, being a gay kid could be a very lonely thing.