We all have our special and unique stories of realizing we are gay, discovering we weren’t crazy and weren’t the only ones who had same-sex attractions, doing something about it, living with our secret or coming out of the closet. I think my story is probably no more or less special than most others but it is my story.
I pretty much always knew that I was gay I just didn’t know what it meant. I just naturally knew that it was wrong and something to be ashamed of, it was not normal, I didn’t need to be told, all I had to do was look at society and I could see it was unnatural. Whatever was wrong with me I knew without being told it was something you just wouldn’t talk about. I, like every other child’s earliest thought of family, was determined that at some point in my life I would marry a woman and have children.
I was about 13 or 14 years old when gay people started marching on Washington for the first time, back then they called it the Gay Liberation Movement, I just knew that for me it was a wondrous revelation that I wasn’t the only person that had these crazy feelings. There are so many facets to my gay awakenings and coming out so it won’t all be posted here but this will be a start to my story… (See “I’m Coming Out“)
When I was about 10 years old my father stopped at the 7-11 and had me run into the store to buy him a pack of cigarettes, yes back then a child of 10 years old could buy cigarettes. There was a long line so I went to the comic book section until some of the people checked out when a magazine caught my eye: “Playgirl“. I had heard of “Playboy” but never “Playgirl” It was on the lower shelf at my height (it should also be know that back then magazines such as Playgirl, Playboy, Hustler, or Penthouse weren’t wrapped in plastic and didn’t have to be high up although most stores did put them higher to keep them away from us kids and they certainly didn’t hide the covers, they wanted men (or in Playgirl’s case, women) to see what they had to look forward to inside the pages of their publications. I was very familiar with “Playboy” as my older brother’s bedroom walls were covered with the obnoxious centerfolds, something my mother never objected to and his friends all thought was so cool. It was natural for me to walk into his bedroom and see 50 naked centerfolds of women spread-eagle so seeing a woman’s naked body was not a surprise to me nor was Playboy, but what was this “Playgirl”? So I opened the magazine and was I shocked; A naked man!! I kept going and another naked man and another and another, at 10 years old I was absolutely loving this. Of course I was too young to become aroused, or at least I don’t remember that as being part of the fascination so I don’t recall this discovery being so much sexual as natural curiosity. (Now for those of you Christians don’t think that my discovering this magazine is what “turned” me gay, I already sensed long before ever seeing that first beautiful man on those pages, I just hadn’t wrapped my head around it yet.)
The line had died down so I reluctantly closed the magazine (I really wanted to buy that magazine, but $1.95 was way too expensive) so I went to the counter and purchased my father’s cigarettes. which were probably .70¢ back then (I noticed this weekend that a carton in Maryland is now $67!!!). Cigarettes in hand I ran out the car where my mother and father sat waiting. I was so excited “Mom! Mom! You won’t believe it they have a magazine in there that’s like “Playboy” only it has naked men”. I wasn’t ashamed of what I had seen because I didn’t really understand what I had just seen was sexual rather to me at that point it was just amazing that men would expose themselves in such a manner since based on my brother’s bedroom walls only women did this type of thing. I had this kind of warm feeling seeing the pictures of the men, a revelation and feeling I still remember some 4 decades later.
I didn’t know that I was gay, nor did I understand at that point that I wanted to be with men I just knew I thought males were very fascinating, far more so than women. Years before when I was very very young we lived in Germany and I remember being small enough that I was riding in a grocery cart at the commisary (commisary is military speak for grocery store). I said to my mother that I loved shopping so much and that when I grew up I was going to take my wife shopping all the time, she thought this was cute but was this an indication that I was gay? Wanting to shop all the time, maybe, maybe not. The way I remember it was that I would be with the man, not so much me being with a woman, but it was just not something that I recognized then but when I think back now I remember even then the comfort or warmth that I felt with men around. Of course, I described my childish fantasy of always shopping with my spouse as with a woman because I was a boy, and boys married girls.
Before that that when my family lived in Italy I used to carry a doll. It was a black doll and I remember being so very attached to the thing, who knows how and where I got the thing but here I was a Caucasian male child carrying a black baby doll. As I remember it some of the kids would laugh at me but I was so young then it really didn’t matter to me but one day that beautiful black doll disappeared. I never knew what happened to her, who took her, but one day I found her head it the gutter. I remember being devastated. Sometimes I wonder if my parents disposed of the thing for the unnaturalness of the whole thing, where they embarrassed that their little boy played mother to a black child? Was my love for this doll an indication that I was gay? Maybe, maybe not. It amazes be today that some parents not only allow their children to be who they are, but encourage it (of course there are those that don’t and cause their children pain and torture for being unique (hello Mr. and Mrs. Christian) but my parents while probably ashamed (we are talking the 1960’s) never discouraged nor encouraged me and my baby doll, but I still wouldn’t put it past my mother to have tossed the thing.)
When I was in my teen years cousins came from Germany. They, like me, had a German mother married to an American Army soldier. They, unlike me, had the opportunity to live most of their pre-teen and early teen years in Germany and as a result could speak and understand German so much better than I could understand. I was so jealous of them and their knowledge of the German language and everything “Germany”. I was always proud of being German and regret that I did not have the opportunity to be even more German that I am. I wrote some about my being German in “Losing My Identity“. (Perhaps I should blame American society for not embracing the German culture and encouraging the use of both English and German to function in the U.S the way other cultures blame America for their loss of culture for a country they had never seen nor visited….Nah… that’s too much to ask for. Could you imagine “Please press 1 for German, 2 for Spanish, 3 for Arabic… oh and if you happen to speak English… hang on at some point we’ll get to you”). These cousins weren’t total strangers to me as I met some of them when I was very young, my family visited them as some point so many years before my memories of the visit is terribley vague so essentially they were still strangers. So my family’s home was overrun by all these German speaking children. Who were all these people that had suddenly taken over my family’s house. A mother, a father and 5 children! 4 girls and a boy.
Many perverted preachers, ministers, priests or whatever use the pulpit; Republican politicians make laws to meddle into our lives, telling us what we can and can’t do in bed together while at the same time screaming “Government needs to keep out of our lives”; diverting attention from themselves and the whole while they are off screwing young men. These are generally the men who are the most vehemently opposed to gays. They think by SCREAMING their hatred and using their god then can make everyone think “There is no way that man is gay” (Ahem… Reverend Phelps… time for you to come out man, “Me thinks thou dost protest too much”). There’s a point to this digression. I was getting to know my newly arrived cousins and playing the shy little boy I ran to my room where would let them come to me… First came the oldest of the girls… she seemed so cool, she was older than me and very beautiful. We talked for a bit and after she left the boy came in, my beautiful male cousin, yes all the uncle and aunts children were beautiful (just one more thing that made me jealous) one thing I can say without a doubt is that my aunt (or in German “Tante”) and uncle made beautiful kids. So this was my first introduction to this fabulously beautiful German speaking family, these strangers who invaded my family home one summer evening.
So I’m laying on my bed when the boy comes in and sits on the edge… we talked and talked and talked. He too was a nice kid, I would like these questions, he was feeling comfortable and then came the question, a question I will never forget…he asked “Do you ever look at boys?” I asked “What?” and he said “I like girls but boys seem to have so much more to look at, do you know what I mean?” I said “NO!” And we changed the subject, this was hitting too close to home! But remember the perverts and Republicans I mentioned above? The ones that try to divert the attention off of themselves, well I needed to divert attention away from me, I couldn’t be thought of as whatever this boy was implying (I didn’t know what gay meant yet, I just knew it was wrong) so when next I spoke to one of the girls I said “Guess what your brother said to me”… I made sure to emphasize my disgust regarding my cousins question to me…. and then later after she had told their mother, in front of us all asked him if he was a queer! Actually used the word “queer”. I didn’t even know what that meant but I remember him glancing at me, I had betrayed him. He was only 12 or 13 years old and it was my fault that he was faced with this inquisition, only because he too was trying to discover who he was and apparently although we didn’t call it “gaydar” at that point for some reason he wanted to try to open up to me and I stabbed him in the back, I couldn’t have anyone else wondering if I were a pervert so I deflected the attention on him. He, of course, denied it and his mother was fine with that because I’m sure she did not want to dig any further for fear that it might be true. Years later when he would finally come out she never did accept him like my mother would eventually accept me.
So while my cousins visited, while my uncle was waiting for his military housing in Georgia we would go swimming at the military base pool. It was here that I saw my first “live” and “adult” penis. It was so big and looked much bigger than I had remembered seeing in that magazine. I was used to what I had which had not matured a child’s penis that had not yet matured a wee pinky of a thing. I was at the urinal when a handsome young GI came in and changed into his swimming trunks. What was this I saw? His cock, a bush of pubic hair (I didn’t have any hair yet), and it was huge. I had to see more. I was so truly fascinated so the 3 foot deep section of the pool right next to the locker/bathroom became my favorite place to hang. I would watch for clothed men carrying towels to go it and would jump out of the water, run and stand at the urinal in the hopes of seeing more. My efforts paid off many times and I spent many hours that summer in the 3 foot section. Oddly, I don’t believe that my “penis fascination” was sexual it as just that seeing these naked men somehow satisfied something that I just didn’t understand. (You know what’s ironic these many years later as I edit this post and think of what straight people and Christians are doing to transgendered people, fearing that some man would be trying to peak at their children and here I was a child trying to peak at a man.)
So the marches on Washington started, there were television documentaries and new reports on this strange and perverted lifestyle that was sweeping the nation…Anita Bryant started protesting, the Moral Majority started protesting and I was in love at the prospects of my future being a part of this fringe group of people. I totally immersed myself in my own private world of being gay… I would watch everything on the news that had anything to do with the homosexual liberation movement. I would go to the library and scour Time, Newsweek, and any other magazines that even mentioned something, anything gay. I would read books about “homosexuality” and pretty much was no longer trying to understand what was wrong with me but trying to embrace who I was, live secretly the life that I just knew would one day envelop me, I was accepting rather than denying my “depravity” this thing that made me so unlike everyone else, not normal, unnatural, I was drawn towards males…. towards anything gay… towards what would be me…
Continued in “I’m Coming Out“….
- So..um..coming out.. (blackeangel.wordpress.com)