The story below is a work of fiction. It is a love story and will involve sex between young gay males. All the usual rules apply. If it's illegal for you to read this or if you're under 18, don't! You might have read the story before as it used to be in the adult friends section. But after editing it, I thought it was more a youth-oriented story. The story here is exactly the same as the original, but it was a little improved and the characters are a couple of years older to make it more real and believable. I think they were a bit too young in the original.
Feedback is welcome and appreciated. This is my first story, so I'd really love to know what you think, firstname.lastname@example.org
Join my yahoo group to read more, see pictures of the characters and read the band's message board,
The interview had been given. It was 7.30 pm on the eve of the article's publication and we knew than in less than 12 hours, people would start reading our coming out.
We were all having dinner together in the living room after a day's rehearsal. David had tried to cook Chinese food, even though he had no idea what he was doing, but since he was half-Chinese, we had all pressured him into cooking something for us.
After making a mess in the kitchen, and having a good laugh with Rachel and Elaine who had tried to help, they had given up and had just decided to order.
Rachel seemed to really like him and he had been spending a lot of time with her, and consequently with us. He was a great guy and we had totally accepted him into the little family that we were.
We were all sitting cross-legged on cushions on the floor to respect the Chinese tradition I suppose, and the atmosphere around the large glass, guitar-shaped coffee table was not as relaxed and as it usually was. We were not our usual cheerful selves.
"Oh well," David said as he chewed his food, "this tastes a lot better than what I would have cooked," he joked.
"Sweetie, please, eat something," Rob's mother told him. She had flown to London to be with us for a few days. She was quite motherly and as much as we were trying to be strong and positive, I think we kind of needed that motherly love and support. It was comforting.
"I can't," he sighed, staring at his plate for a few seconds before getting up to slowly walk upstairs, dragging his feet.
We all looked at each other and I started getting up, but Jane stopped me.
"Wait, let me go talk to him," she told me.
I hesitated because I, too, couldn't eat anything and I kind of wanted to be alone with Rob, but I agreed.
"Alright," I said, sitting back down.
She walked upstairs and they all continued eating silently while I just stared at my sweet and sour chicken as if it was just a piece of uneatable plastic. For at least five minutes, not a word was spoken. Even Lucas was quiet, sitting calmly on the couch with a toy while we ate.
"It's gonna be a long night," Damon said with a sigh. We looked at him and they all laughed a little at the way he had said that, but I didn't.
Jordan was sitting down next to me and he gently rubbed the back of my neck as he said,
"I know you don't want to hear this right now, but I'm sure everything's gonna be fine. Our fans are gonna love this," he said with a laugh. "You'll feel much better in a few hours."
I stared into space, I didn't want to look at them. I didn't want to see the look in their eyes, because I knew that even though they were trying to be positive about this, even though they were trying to be strong for us, I knew they were just as worried as Rob and I were. But it felt good to know that we had their unconditional support. And I hoped we would soon have the support of the public as well. Because the thing was that, being around people who knew about us and accepted our homosexuality had kind of spoiled us and it was becoming increasingly difficult not to show affection when we were in public, since we were so used to being ourselves at home and around our friends.
From now on, we won't have to hold back anymore. That made it so worth it. Now, I'm not saying that we were going to make out constantly in front of everyone but I was looking forward to being able to simply hug Rob, give him a kiss on the cheek, a peck, or take his hand in mine without having to take a quick scan around us first.
"May I say something?" this girl said.
"Please," Damon told her, almost desperate for a conversation.
She smiled. I think she was called Lucy, but I wasn't sure. I hadn't really paid attention when Damon had introduced me to her. I didn't even know who she was with really. At first, I thought she was with Damon but then I saw Jordan kissing her so.... oh what did I know? maybe she was just with both of them. I wouldn't be that surprised if she was.
Those two, they were so sharing their girlfriends ...actually, the word 'conquests' would be more appropriate.
During the tour, I had seen on more than one occasion a girl or even two girls come in or come out of their hotel room, and I highly doubted that one of them would be a good boy and just sleep, while the other had sex with her, if you know what I mean. So I was pretty sure they had done some pretty wild shit. I'm not saying that they had done anything gay or had even touched each other, but I bet they would often have sex with the same girl... at the same time. I would swear to it! Rob and I had teased them about it and even though they hadn't openly admitted it, they hadn't denied it either, which made us think that we were probably right.
We didn't have that many opportunities to find out whether we were or not since they had decided that they would not tell us anything and let us speculate. Plus, they almost never talked to us about their sex life, not seriously anyway. I mean, why would they? It's not like we were extremely interested to know what they were doing with their girlfriends. If they wanted to talk about girls, they had each other. Didn't need to talk to their gay friends... although, Jordan was often asking Rob before going out, "how do I look? would you snog me?" Because knowing how picky Rob was, he had decided that if Rob found him attractive, then the girls would too and so he was good to go!
And since we had all grown up together and now lived together, in hotel rooms or at home, we had all seen each other naked at one point or the other so you know, there was no big surprise there, no big inhibition. But yet, we had never really been in the habit of "I'll show you if you show me," and we had never even watched porn or jerked off together. Damon was more modest than Jordan so it surprised me a little that he would go for that, but I knew how open Jordan was about sex so if Damon was horny enough, I supposed it didn't bother him that much to screw some girl in front of Jordan. They probably thought it was a very Rock n Roll thing to do!
Anyway, so this girl, Lucy... I think, started saying,
"I'm a fan, right! And I'm not gonna lie to you, when I found out, I was a bit surprised, a lot actually, because it's not... I don't know, it's just not obvious. But I honestly believe that you guys are great, your music is great and it's much more important than your sexuality. And I can honestly say that what made me buy your albums are your songs, before I even knew anything about you. So I'm pretty sure most people are not gonna give a shit. They will just respect your honesty and let your live your life the way you want. As long as you keep writing the kind of songs you have written so far, trust me, you'll be fine."
"I totally agree with that too,” David said. “It was the same for me, I bought your albums because I saw you live and I totally loved the gig and the songs."
Jordan sighed, "you should tell Rob that."
I was resting my body against the couch, still staring at the same piece of plastic... I mean chicken and I suppose I looked very preoccupied.
"Mark, this is a good thing," Rachel said, "you'll feel so liberated tomorrow."
"Look, thanks guys, I know you want to help but whatever you say right now won't change the way Rob and I feel. And don't take this the wrong way, but you can't really understand what's going on in our heads right now."
"Look we gotta do something to keep our minds off this," Jordan said.
"Yeah, why don't we go out?" Elaine suggested. "Just party and laugh your worries away. Come on, it might be the very last time you can go out without being bullied," she laughed
Dylan gave her a dirty look and I just looked at her and said blankly, "it's not funny!"
"You're right, I'm sorry," she apologized
I took a deep breath and continued staring at my plate. They started talking about the tour and the rehearsals and I just listened absently. A few minutes later, my cell phone rang. I didn't know the number but I picked it up anyway.
"Hey Mark, c'est Damien," he said.
"Comment tu vas? he asked me. I told him I was okay, but a bit worried as I stood up and walked away, even though the guys couldn't really understand me when I spoke French. He told me he was in France and couldn't stay on the phone very long. He just wanted to know how I was doing and tell me that he was with me. I had told him about our decision to come out and he was a bit perplexed to hear that we were actually going to go public. I knew he was out to his friends but not to his parents, so obviously, coming out to the entire world was to him a pretty huge deal, and the fact that I was a year younger than him and already about to come out publicly still baffled him a little.
We often called or emailed each other, even though Rob didn't particularly loved it. But really, we were just friends. I had not seen him since the end of the recording and he had never made a pass at me since that day in the studio. He was probably still hoping something could happen between us but he was smart enough to realize that it really couldn't.
We talked for a few minutes. I liked our conversation, he was an interesting person to talk to, he would always find either fun or serious topics to discuss. Plus, he made me practice my French. He didn't let me talk to him in English anymore. And I think it annoyed Rob even more, because he could never understand what we talked about. It's not like I was trying to hide anything from Rob by speaking French, I was always honest with him about talking to Damien, and I even told him what we talked about, but hey, what could I do? He was jealous and I was not going to change him.
After hanging up the phone, I joined the guys in the living room again and sat back down.
"Was that Damien?" Rachel asked me and I nodded yes.
"Did he want to know if you were still with Rob?" Jordan asked with a laugh.
Damon chuckled and said, "yeah, maybe he hopes this whole coming-out will drive you mad and break you up."
I just looked at them with a slight smile on my face and shook my head.
Lucas was sitting on Jordan's laps but he got down and came over to me. I stood up, picked him up and walked away to spend some time alone with him. At least, he was not going to talk about it.
"Maaark," Jordan called, "you're not gonna sulk, are you?"
"No," I just told him, and started walking up the stairs.
Lucas cuddled up to me as I walked up the stairs and I realized that all of this wasn't so important after all. So what if some people didn't accept us for who we were. As Bono had told us over 2 years ago now, it's the people you love who are really important, not fame and money. I knew Lucas would always love me unconditionally and it was so much more important than the opinion people I didn't even know could have of me. We were not gonna let our desire to succeed force us to live a lie. We had to be true to ourselves.
I couldn't help but worry, but deep down, I knew coming out would not be such a big problem. We would still have fans. Now, I gotta admit, I wanted the band to have a major influence on the music scene in the long run. I still wanted us to be around in 20 years, and I was a bit worried that coming out would jeopardize this, because I didn't want to be categorized, to touch only a minority. I wanted UNI to touch everyone, not just gay people you know.
We didn't want our homosexuality to be everything about us. It was part of the band's identity, but it was only a small part, not everything that we were. So I truly hoped that people would not categorize us.
I guess we would soon find out!
There were a few lies at the beginning of the article about the reasons why we had decided to come out. Because of course, they were not going to write that they had blackmailed us. So we decided to say that someone was planning to out us, and that we had decided to come out first.
The article was pretty good. We liked it all right. At least, it was the true story. I liked the way they had done it. They had started by focusing the article on Rob and then started talking about me, and it was pretty cool actually. I could just imagine our fans go... No fucking way!
The article was very decent. They had definitely highlighted the fact that rob and I were in a serious relationship. I guess they considered it a more acceptable gay lifestyle if our relationship could be a copy of a heterosexual one. It was certainly old-fashioned considering the reality of our lives and just the reality of today's youth. I suppose most straight people would cope with the fact that we were gay, but would probably not want to think too much about the reality. But now that we would be out, I gotta admit that we were a bit worried that a guy we had slept with would think about selling a story, even though we had always asked them to be discreet and they had always agreed.
It had taken the paper three weeks to publish the article. They didn't put pressure on us. They were actually pretty nice and they wanted to make sure we were happy with what they would publish. We were given a copy of the story they had written and we did ask them to make a few changes. They wanted to print a picture, because obviously it would sell the story better but we had refused. It's not that they would have printed the picture they had used to blackmail us, but we just didn't want them to use a picture. Our fans knew what we looked like and I suppose other people would just have to look for information somewhere else if they wanted to find out more about us. (maybe buy our album! There were pictures in there! I was still thinking straight, wasn't I?)
For our fans, who were familiar with our lyrics, I was pretty sure it wouldn't come as a surprise. It would just confirm their suspicions about Rob. (They would probably be much more surprised by my coming out than his. Because of Lucas and Rachel, our fans had just assumed I was straight)
I guess our coming out would be a bit like Boy George's, Neil Tennant's or George Michael's, you know. But I think we were different from them though. We were not tortured like George Michael or camp like Boy George. No, at the end of the day, we were just your average gay guys... the guys you would think are straight if you saw them walking down the street. We were just normal guys from an ordinary middle-class, not to mention catholic background, who just happened to like men. I might be wrong, but I had this feeling that our coming out was going to do more in terms of changing people's perceptions than what some activists had done in a lifetime.
The article was gonna cover the front page and be described as a "World exclusive" with the headline "Don't hide your love away. Robbie Howlett: I'm gay and I'm in love"
("Don't Hide your love away" was not a song title but words from one of our singles. Our fans would get the allusion)
I couldn't believe that it was going to be on the front page though. Weren't there more important things happening in the world than our sexuality??? Famines, wars, people dying... and the biggest tabloid in the UK (as well as the other newspapers that had taken up the story) decide to put us on the cover? Not to mention radios and television news broadcasts that were also going to feature our coming out. It was a bit scary!
Well, here's what people were going to read.....
[ In the most moving showbiz interview you will ever read, UNI star Robbie Howlett today tells the world he is gay.
With the full support of the rest of the band, Robbie, 23, has decided to talk freely about his love life for the first time.
For five years he has avoided questions about his sexuality. Now – after learning that someone was planning to sell a twisted version of his story - he has made the momentous decision to be honest to himself and his adoring fans.
Robbie says: "This is the most important day of my life. From today I will have the freedom to finally be myself."
Robbie slumps back on a sofa and utters three words that will change his life forever. "I am gay."
After five years in the phenomenally successful rock band - UNI - Robbie, a rock idol to young people around the world - has made the courageous decision to come out.
Speaking softly but with conviction, he says: "This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do and probably the biggest gamble of my life, but I owe it to our fans - as well as to myself - to be completely honest. I know this may come as a bombshell to some of our followers. I only hope they understand how important it is for me to reveal that I am gay. Some of them will be upset - but even though I've always tried to be discreet, I'm sure this will probably come as no surprise to many."
Robbie's words come at a time when UNI can claim the title of the biggest-selling rock band of the last two years in Britain.
He says: "I think the moment is now right to tell the world who I really am. UNI are about to start a sell-out European tour and we've sold millions of records but I can't begin to enjoy that success until I can be the real me."
Robbie's timing also owes a lot to the strength of his feeling for his partner - guitarist of the band, Mark Emery.
Robbie and Mark have known they were gay since they were teenagers. Robbie says: "At school I dated girls, but by the time I was 13, I already knew they weren't for me - simply because I knew I was in love with Mark."
The couple grew up together in the North side of Dublin and began their relationship over 6 years ago at the age of 16. Mark recalls: "Robbie and I have always been the best of friends. We were almost inseparable growing up - we were like brothers - but when puberty kicked in, we realised our feelings were stronger than friendship. We had always had a special connection so being together felt like the most natural thing in the world. It just felt right."
The strain of keeping their relationship a secret has been enormous. Robbie says: "There have always been rumours but more recently, I've heard that some people were planning to sell a story about our private life. I wanted our fans to hear the facts from Mark and me before anyone else got the chance to publish a twisted version of the truth. That would have been devastating. I hope the fans who have supported us from day one will respect our honesty. I want to reassure them that this will not affect UNI. We'll be around for years to come. Anyone who has seen us performing live knows I always give 100% and I will continue to do that. But the pressure to be something I am not and the fear of a hurtful story being printed has just become too intense."
Mark nods in agreement and says: "I will always be there for Robbie. With the support of our fans, I know life can be brilliant for us."
Until now, the couple has gone to remarkable lengths to keep their relationship secret. Robbie says: "We want to be with each other all the time - and we are, because we live and work together - but we still are under a lot of pressure when we are in public because we can never be totally ourselves - there is always this fear of being discovered, and at times, it can become unbearable - Until now, we have never been totally able to relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of just going out on a date together."
The other members of UNI - Jordan Wright, Damon Wallace and Dylan Smith - and the group's close-knit entourage have always been supportive of Robbie and Mark's relationship. Robbie says: "They have all been brilliant. We told Jordan, Damon and Dylan when we were 18, on the very same day when we received a response from a record company saying they were interested in us. Mark and I decided that we had to be completely honest with them before we could allow the band to move forward. We are like a family. Growing up, we spent so much more time with each other than we did with our siblings. There is a real brotherhood between us so we just could not keep this from them. They have been very accepting and supportive. It has never created any tension between us. We are the best of friends and that's what friends are for."
Robbie and Mark's problems only began when they and their band mates signed a record deal in 1995. Mark recalls: "We desperately wanted to be rock stars, but we decided right away that to admit to being gay could jeopardize our chances of being successful. So at first, Robbie and I told none in management. To be honest, I'm sure they suspected but they were good enough never to raise the subject. We were so keen to succeed that suppressing our real feelings was a small price to pay. I'm sure that anyone that age would have done the same thing. We didn't lie - We just weren't completely honest."
As the UNI story went from strength to strength, the pressure on Robbie to talk about his love life also grew stronger. Over the years, and particularly the past 12 months, he has become adept at dodging awkward questions.
Robbie reveals: "Our close entourage has always known about our relationship, and it was never a big deal but there was such a feverish speculation about my private life in the media that Mark and I just wanted to face the rumours head-on. We decided that we would rather out ourselves than wait fearfully to be outed. There has been a fair amount of innuendos about my sexuality and let's be honest, I was often the one to create them. I have never, ever denied being gay. I don't know how many times I've used the phrase "I would probably disappoint you if I told you about my love life" - "No wonder there were rumours," Mark laughs.
"But now, Mark and I need to be honest with our fans because we are at a stage in our relationship where we just don't want to hide anymore. Plus being gay has a major impact on what we do musically. People have been asking quite a lot of questions about the meaning of our lyrics, and no matter how universal we try to keep them, we still write about things that are very personal to us and it is becoming harder to explain."
At the age of 19, a year after the release of the band's first album, Robbie broke the news to his family that he was gay. He told his mother Jane first - or to be more precise, his mother made him tell. He reveals: "She sat me down one evening after dinner and she asked, 'What is happening between you and Mark?' I didn't know how to respond and she said 'you're different when he's not around, as if you were a little lost. But I think things are different now, since you've started this band. You seem to be closer than ever. There seems to be a closer bond between the two of you. But I'm starting to think that it's a lot more than a simple bond.' And then I knew that she knew. I looked away and she asked, 'Are you lovers?' so I just told her the truth - and her reaction surprised me. She was very accepting. She told me that she suspected and that the good thing about it was that she had had time to sort out her feelings. She said it could be hard to find love and that if Mark and I had it, then she was happy for us. But she was a bit worried - being gay does make things complicated."
It took the brave youngster only a few hours to pluck up the courage to tell the rest of his relatives. He recalls: "I broke the news to my father, George, on the next day. It had been preying on my mind to tell him and halfway through a conversation I just blurted out 'Dad. Look, I'm gay' I knew that if my mother accepted the way I was, my father would too."
"At first he just sat there and then he smiled and said, 'So your mother was right. Of course your mother was right - And what about Mark?' and I just said 'yes he is too and we're in love' - I guess he was hoping what my mother suspected wasn't true but he said 'Don't worry son, I love you. But I'm gonna need some time to get used to this,' and with time, he did. I couldn't have asked for more support."
Robbie's brother Justin, 19 was also completely accepting. Robbie says: "It's a great feeling to know that your family loves you unconditionally."
Unfortunately, Mark's family has not been as understanding. He explains, "I've always had a very adversarial relationship with my parents. We had a lot of communication problems and when they found out I was gay, it was the last straw that breaks the camel's back. They didn't want to have anything to do with me from that moment on. To be honest, I haven't talked a word to them since I told them over two years ago. I don't know if this interview will change anything but I'd be very surprised if it did."
Before Robbie and Mark took the brave decision to come out, they admit they were incredibly worried. Robbie says: "We had quite a few sleepless nights worrying about what would be in the next morning's papers. I remember one morning waking up and feeling so depressed that I thought about running away - giving it all up and trying to forget everything. We had to make a choice. We could either break down and cry or stand up and be positive. That's what we're doing now. This interview is the most positive thing we have ever done."
Mark adds: "We have thought long and hard about this moment, but it's the year 2000 and hopefully people are open-minded enough to accept us for what we are."
Following the release of UNI third album in March, the band shows every sign of continuing their success into the new Millennium - another reason why Robbie and Mark have decided to tell their story. Robbie says: "How could we plan a future and still be hiding this secret? Being honest about this is really a weight off our shoulders - I hope our story helps teenage kids to face up to whatever problems they have and encourages parents to be as understanding as mine have been."
Robbie and Mark realize this interview will change their lives forever. In an emotional appeal to their fans, Robbie says: "Today is one of the most important days of our lives. From now on, everything will be different. We know that and it's pretty scary. But I'm still the same Robbie, still singing the same songs - some of which might have a whole new meaning to you now - You have been with us through thick and thin. We've given you smiles and we will continue to do that. We've been strong for you, we've signed your autographs, answered your letters and given the performances you deserve on stage. Now we need you to be there for us. I know you won't let us down. See you on tour!" ]
Well, it was over and done! I decided to only mention my parents very briefly in the interview. we wanted it to be positive, and not to mention Lucas. I knew a lot of our fans knew about him and would probably wonder why I had a two year old son if I was gay and had been with Rob for 6 years, but I decided I'd probably explain this in future interviews, but not now, not in the Sun.
Now, we just had to wait and see.... it was still early and as Damon had said... it was going to be a long night...
Hope you enjoyed this chapter! Please drop me a note if you did! I love hearing from readers.
I'm no journalist, but I wanted to include the article in the story, so the interview has been modeled about Stephen Gately's coming out article published in the Sun in June 1999. He was a member of Boyzone, an Irish boy band. I kept a lot of things from the real interview as what was said matched my characters and my story pretty well. Please don't accuse me of plagiarism! lol
Join my Yahoo group to read more, see pictures of the characters and read the band's message board. I wrote a few threads and you can read the fans reactions to the boys' coming out, as well as discussions about other topics such as fans meeting the band, Mark chatting with the fans etc... it was fun for me to write that and helped me create a clearer picture of the band. I hope you'll like it!