From the time I was seven I was raised Mormon, which meant I wasn’t allowed to have a girlfriend until I was 16 or to have sex until I was married. Clearly, none of that mattered to me when I was seven, but by the time I started my freshman year of high school at a new school, things had changed.
I had crushes on several girls and even tried to get into a relationship with one in particular, but since Stacey was also Mormon there was a less-than-zero chance of us getting together our freshman year because I was 13 and she was 14 (apparently I’ve always had a thing for older women (and men)). Branching out to non-Mormon girls who didn’t have to wait until they were 16 to have a boyfriend was also not an option, as my fellow Mormon buddies were kind enough to remind me on several occasions.
I’d already started a relationship with my left hand a couple years earlier and it was no big deal to continue exploring that relationship, so eventually I resigned myself to my girlfriendless state and went about my high school life, which included an hour of seminary at church every morning before school.
I’d been a new face at the school at the beginning of the year, but by the end of the year I had several groups of friends and was spending a lot of time with one in particular, including a guy I found very attractive. Neither of us had ever done anything with a guy, but we were nevertheless attracted to each other. His name was Adam, which I guess would make me his Steve.
We started talking on the phone just about every night. We were both aware of our mutual attraction, but neither of us mentioned it. Still, at some point we started jacking off on the phone, my first foray into the world of phone sex. Luckily, my phone sex skills have come a long way from what they were back then (“I’m still jacking off, are you still jacking off?”), but that’s a story for another time.
At this point I had a revelation from my loins: if I pursued this thing with Adam, then I wouldn’t be breaking the no-sex-till-marriage rule because he was a guy and I would eventually marry a girl. Kinda like the girls who stay virgins but can suck the shit out of some cock. I had read the Old Testament that year and was thus fully aware of Leviticus 18:22 (Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination”), but somehow in my addled teenage brain it seemed logical to break the greater rule of no sex with men for the sake of keeping the lesser rule of no girlfriends and no sex (with girls) till marriage. Proof that I’m not Vulcan – unless I was experiencing pon farr.
Armed with this less-than-stellar self-deception, I made plans with Adam to spend one of the first days of our summer holidays together. I’d done a lot of acting, dancing and public speaking and knew what it meant to be nervous before going on stage, but that day I was plunged into a depth of nervousness that felt like scorpions crawling through my veins.
We sat around in my room talking about shit going on with our friends, about the books we had to read over the summer for Advanced English, about anything that didn’t have to do with our pubescent penises. But both of us were thinking about them, trying to figure out how things would start. The answer came in the form of the family cats.
One of them jumped up on my couch and into my lap, and I instinctively started petting him. Adam scooted over and started petting him, too, and slowly his fingers made their way from the cat’s head to my stomach and then my sides. And then the fucker started tickling me.
Pandemonium ensued as I leapt out of my skin and tried to get away from the tickle onslaught. Sensing impending danger, the cat bolted. With no cat in the way, Adam brought in his other hand as backup while I squirmed backwards on the couch, cursing my ticklishness. Adam struggled to hold on and keep tickling me as I continued to writhe in my vain attempts to free myself, and very quickly I was underneath him, his face hovering over mine. He stopped tickling me and I caught my breath. Just in the knick of time, it would turn out, because all of a sudden we were sloppily making out.
We didn’t have sex that day, but we did spend quite a lot of time snogging and wanking on the couch and on the floor, and by the time he left one thing was clear: playing with two dicks was more fun than playing with one.
But one thought wailed in my head ad nauseam: “…it is abomination.”
Suddenly, things were pretty complicated. I continued to explore guys, and continued to refrain from doing things with girls because I had to at least keep that rule. Still, I was obviously having problems reconciling the adventures I was having with the lessons I had learned at church. To further complicate the issue, I couldn’t be bisexual because according to everyone I dared ask, “bisexuals don’t really exist; you’re either gay or straight, people who say they like both sexes aren’t being honest with themselves.”
Which meant I had to make a decision: gay or straight.
On the one hand, my flames for Stacey had cooled and we were now just close friends, but I had a serious crush on a girl named Christina that was causing me problems with a guy friend who also liked her as well as with her mom, who did everything in her power to keep Christina and me from hanging out alone and constantly reminded us that we weren’t yet 16. On the other hand, I was chatting with guys on AOL “M4M” chat rooms and sneaking out at night to fuck them.
Bisexuality was apparently off the table, and I knew I wasn’t going to stop screwing dudes, so gay it was.
Of course, none of my church friends were allowed to know; out of necessity I started to live a double life. In retrospect, that double life was a blessing in disguise. I had already been questioning what I’d been taught at church, but the double life forced me to think even more critically about those lessons and what was truly at the heart of them. It bestowed on me the power of skepticism, the ability to analyze and assess rather than blindly believing, which in my mind is an asset to believers and nonbelievers alike.
But like I said, that is all in retrospect. At the time it was the source of much consternation, to put it mildly. In one life, I was blessing the Sacrament every Sunday, was the president of my Sunday school quorum and the senior patrol leader of my Boy Scout troop, which was sponsored by the Mormon Church. In the other, I was on the student council for my class, was the commissioner of philanthropy for ASB – the student government body for the entire school – and was writing, directing, and acting in plays with the school theatre department. In short, I was all over the place. Inevitably, these two worlds collided.
All of the students in the drama class were working in pairs on a scene in which a doctor was examining a patient. Really, it was an innocuous scene where the doctor probed around the patient’s body in a professional way while carrying on a comedic conversation, but I mentioned to someone at church that I was doing the scene with a guy and the wrong ears got wind of it.
One of the science teachers at the school was Mormon, and she had had it in for the gay drama teacher for a while. Within a few days of her finding out about the scene I was summoned to a gathering of Mormon parents and asked to recount the scene. After that, the parents called for the teacher to be sacked for “having students do gay scenes”. I even had to speak at the school board meeting when the issue came up for debate. Out of cowardice I went along with it, but I couldn’t understand what all the hullaballoo for such a meaningless doctor scene was about. I mean, it’s not like we were pulling out each other’s sacks and asking the patients to cough.
Fortunately, the teacher retained his position, but that experience marked a turning point for me: I was sure that the Mormon Church was not the place for me. Eventually I came to know the teacher well, and even worked closely with him and other students the following fall semester when the school board tried to censor our production of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. And yet I persisted in attending church because I didn’t want to disappoint my mom.
I’m an Army brat, so I was constantly moving around as a child. When I was 12, my mom and my step dad divorced, so throughout my childhood the only real constant was my mom and my younger brothers. Which is why I didn’t have the heart to confront her about my sexuality and the Mormon Church, because deep down I knew what would happen. And in the end, the shit most certainly hit the fan.
It was my senior year and I was applying to universities. I was particularly looking forward to university because it would allow me to be free of the church, and that expectation only made the double life I was living more unbearable. It starting making my relationship with my mom extremely difficult, and after skirting the issue for so long, I just couldn’t take it anymore. One night, we got into a fight about something trivial, and at some point I blurted out, “Mom, I’m gay.”
She couldn’t say anything, but she didn’t need to; the look on her face was a slap across my own. After we fought over that extensively, I had to talk to the bishop at church. I denied having ever had sex with men, confessing only to desires and kissing one boy one time. That saved my ass, but that meant I would continue to perform my duties as a priest, such as blessing the sacrament. The lie rankled me, and I felt like a douche every Sunday when I prepared the sacrament to be passed out to the congregation. I may have no longer shared their beliefs, but I still respected them, and loathed myself for being disrespectful.
Sure didn’t keep me from going out and fucking guys, though.
I continued going to church until I graduated from seminary and high school. Then summer hit, and I told my mom I wouldn’t be going to church anymore.
Well, actually, the first few times I conveniently couldn’t make it back from my dad’s place in time for church, and then when that wasn’t going to work anymore I stopped pussying out and had the conversation with her. Details, details…
And then came the day when I drove off to the University of Texas in Austin, a university I had chosen in part for its proximity to San Francisco. I drove across the country with all my shit in the car… Actually, I started to drive across the country, but then my car broke down near Bakersfield and my dad had to drive down and take me the rest of the way. Still, I made it to university, and was free to explore my sexuality in the open (sometimes quite literally).
I decided to check out a few GLBT meetings, but quickly revised that decision and stopped going because I couldn’t stand hearing the guys whine like bitches about everything and couldn’t stand being told that activities like hiking and camping were things I shouldn’t do because they were too “straight”.
I did make one good friend while I was there though. His name was Rudy and he was the flatmate of the guy who had invited me to the GLBT meeting after I fucked him in the back seat of his car my second weekend at university.
Actually, I already knew the flatmate because I had chatted with him online prior to moving to Austin. I’d been a busy little bee before arriving, and had even made plans to attend my first orgy before I was even living in the city. The orgy happened on my third weekend, but I’m not sure when I would have actually met up with Rudy if he hadn’t coincidentally also been living with my first backseat fuck (in Austin).
With Rudy I explored the gay scene, and I’ve got to admit, while I was enthralled by the sex that practically landed in my lap, the scene itself didn’t appeal to me from the very get go. The problem was that for whatever reason I was under the impression that being gay meant I had to be a part of the scene. As usual, I had several groups of friends, but Rudy became my best friend and I spent a significant amount of time with him and the gay friends I met by hanging out with him.
All too often I would grudgingly go out to 4th Street—where the majority of the gay bars were—with them and get shwasted to cope. That’s not to say that I didn’t have fun, but I just never really felt fully comfortable in the scene. It was just, well, too gay.
I started to doubt myself. Maybe I had made a mistake? If being gay meant being in the scene, then maybe I wasn’t really gay, as I thought in high school. Wouldn’t mom just be pleased. Except whoops, I just fucked another guy and came all over his chest, which was fucking hot…
I found myself once again living in a world that didn’t seem right, conflicted with my own sexuality in that world. I really didn’t care much for a lot of the people that surrounded me in the gay world, but rather than simply stop hanging out I did the opposite because of Rudy.
Did I mention that in addition to being my best friend, he was also the first man I fell in love with? If spending time with him meant spending time with the rest of them, then so be it. The tangled webs we weave for ourselves for love, eh?
And for a while everything went smoothly. I managed to find some sort of odd balance with this world that didn’t seem like mine. Rudy and I even got together for some time, but it didn’t last long at all. After years of friendship, we only managed to stay boyfriends for a month before the glasses lost their rosy shade. After that, we drifted apart, and, with the exception of a few people I had become close to (one of whom is still one of my dearest friends) I stopped hanging out with that group of friends. On rare occasions I would still go out to 4th Street with a couple other friends, but I can probably count on two hands the number of times I was there in the year after I excused myself from that circle and the year I was back in Austin after spending time in Europe.
And for the year-and-a-half I was in Europe, I all but abstained from the gay scene. I still hooked up with guys, usually over the internet or through friends, but when it came to going out with friends, I seldom ventured into a strictly gay club. I still partied, I still drank and I still did (probably more than) my fair share of drugs, I just did them other places that weren’t as flamboyant. I did still go to gay saunas to fuck, though. And to enjoy the sauna, of course.
It was in Europe where I was able to separate the lifestyle from the sexuality, to see that the one does not define the other. Now it seems so obvious that the two do not define each other, but still many of us perceive it that way, for a variety of reasons. I’m not knocking the lifestyle, I think it’s great that it’s there for those who feel at home in it. Hell, I’m even thankful for my experiences with the lifestyle, it helped shape who I am and opened my eyes to many things. In the words of Edith Piaf, je ne regrette rien.
But I’m also glad that I’ve found myself outside of that lifestyle. Once I understood that the lifestyle and the sexuality were not mutually inclusive, I finally felt comfortable with my own sexuality. From that point on, everything was copacetic; there were no more pressing questions that needed to be answered.
At least until I realized I was bisexual, that is.