At school on Monday, I tried to find Rebecca, knowing that I had dated her by sailing under false colors and that I owed her an apology as soon as possible. But I couldn’t find her that morning.
However, when I got to our table at lunch time, in addition to the usual people, there was Rebecca. Before I had a chance to say I needed to talk with her, TJ arrived, dressed outlandishly as usual, and asking, “Well, and How is everybody today!?”
Depending on how much food we had in our mouths, everyone either nodded or said, “Fine.”
“Oooooo! I see we have someone new with us today.” I introduced Rebecca to him, and we went on with eating.
When we finished eating, TJ rose and said to Rebecca as he departed, “I hope to see much more of you, Sweetie!” She nodded and giggled as she too prepared to leave. But I stopped her for a moment and said to her quietly, “I need to talk with you soon.” She suggested that we meet in the hall right after French and then gave me a peck on the cheek as she departed.
We saw each other at the beginning of the French class but just smiled and sat. I was very nervous. I was afraid that she would be angry with me, and I really didn’t know quite what I was going to say. I guess I didn’t pay much attention during the class. I simply watched the clock progress inexorably towards my doom.
As soon as the bell rang, I rose and went out the door to wait for Rebecca. When she came out, I took her gently by the arm, led her away from the door, and said, “I have a confession to make.”
She looked at me quizzically but said nothing.
I blurted out, “I really have to say that I can’t stay in this relationship. I hope we can be friends, but I will understand if you decide not to be.”
She looked crestfallen. “Don’t you like me? Did I say or do something that put you off? Was it the kisses?”
“No,” I said with tears in my eyes, “but it’s never possible for me to love you. I’m… I’m… I’m gay!” I said very quickly.
“And you didn’t know that when we went out on Friday?”
“I wasn’t sure,” I said, abashed.
“Are you saying that our date was a test and that I failed?” She was looking more and more angry.
I said very quietly, “Yeah, I guess you could call it a test.” But then I said more loudly, “but you didn’t fail. If anybody failed, I did, and I’m sorry you had to pay the price.”
“Don’t bother to apologize!” she said. “You’ve made yourself abundantly clear!” With that she stomped off to her next class.
I was really upset, but I knew I couldn’t blame her for her reaction. She was a very nice girl and I hoped that eventually maybe we could be friends.
After school, I went with TJ to the University campus and up to his apartment. He had invited me to stay that evening for dinner with his father, whom I hadn’t really met yet. I told him about Rebecca and he commiserated with me, saying that he thought she’d get over it in time. I certainly hoped so.
Sitting beside me on the sofa, he reached over and began to unbutton my shirt. When I said that I didn’t think I was up to doing anything that day, he simply continued until he had my two shirts off. Then he told me to lie face down on the sofa. He sat beside me and slowly began to stroke my back. The strokes became firmer and changed into a real massage. He massaged the back of my neck, then my shoulders, before moving down to my torso and my ribs.
I thought I might get hard, but I didn’t. I did tell him how good it felt. Slowly he removed my trousers but left my underwear. Then he began to massage my legs, first my thighs, then my calves, then finally my feet. He left my ass alone except when he finished and gently patted it, saying, “Feel any better?”
I rolled over and pulled up my trousers. “Yeah,” I breathed. “I could just feel the tension going out of me bit by bit as you work your way down. Thanks for not expecting any more from me today. But I have something else to say.”
He looked at me and inquiringly. “Oh?”
“I can’t continue to let you bring me out sexually unless you let me reciprocate.”
He laughed. “I can’t allow you to reciprocate,” he said, “for two reasons. First, though I really like you and I’m attracted to you, I don’t love you and I probably never would. Second, I already love somebody who’s back in Florida. We have loved each other for three years now, and I don’t think that’ll ever change.”
I thought about that for a minute and then asked, “But aren’t you being kinda unfaithful to him just doing things with me?”
“No,” he replied. “When I first began to know you, I told him all about you. I told him I was sure you were gay, but you weren’t sure yet, and I was going to try to educate you and help you make that decision. I wanted to show you what it felt like, both physically, and in your heart, but I would never let you actually touch me sexually. He told me that he understood, and he was okay with it. His name is Carl and I’ve spoken with him every night that you and I have been together just as I will tell him about this afternoon. I should let you know that he’s been pulling for you and hoping, whatever decision you made, it would be right for you.”
“Well, I’ve made my decision, as you know, but I still feel badly that I can’t really reciprocate. Won’t you even let me jerk you off when you’re doing the same for me?”
“That would be dishonest to Carl, and I won’t do that.”
“So, what do I do?”
“You let me do for you what I can, and I’m sure you’ll find someone who will go all the way with you. And I even have a couple of suggestions for that.”
As his father came in the door, he quickly said, “Yup. Later.”
I had briefly met TJ’s father a few times as I was leaving their apartment, but this was the first time we had actually sat down and talked. TJ had told me that his father had guessed early on that he was gay, and he was fine with that. He said that they didn’t talk about it much, and he never asked what TJ did with Carl. He had asked when he first learned about me whether TJ was being faithful to Carl, and TJ assured him that he was, and that Carl knew about everything that was going on. As we talked, it was an open and very friendly conversation. We went into the kitchen to talk, so TJ and his father could prepare dinner, as his father had to leave before 7 to get to a class.
We talked about New Hampshire and cold-weather since TJ’s father had never been this far north before. I agreed with him about the cold, but said, “I’ve gotten pretty used to the cold now that I’ve been skiing some with Cole.”
“I’m afraid I can’t wait to get back to Florida,” he said. “I get really cold just walking from here to the classrooms and back at night.”
We laughed, and he asked me about where I had come from, the school here, my friends, and especially about Cole. Of course, TJ knew about Cole, but he had never heard why Cole’s leg was the way it was. I explained it to them as well as I could and told them how well he did at activities like skiing, and swimming and how he could shoot baskets very well even if he wasn’t mobile enough to play the game.
Dinner consisted of deep-fat fried chicken, onions in a cream sauce, asparagus, and grits. I had never had grits. I took a mouthful and decided I wasn’t terribly fond of them, but I gritted my teeth and swallowed them down. Dessert was apple pan dowdy, another southern treat which I had not had. Although it had a crust, it was almost like pudding sweetened with molasses. I found it delicious and even consumed a second helping before TJ’s father rose and said he had to leave. I thanked him for the meal and for getting to know him and we shook hands while he gave me a sort of sideways hug and I hugged him back.
TJ and I returned to the kitchen and cleaned up the dinner, washed and dried the dishes, and put them away. After that it was time for me to go home, because I had homework to do. On the way I asked him about the suggestions of gay boys he had hinted at, but he wanted to wait until, as he said, I was “farther along.”
In the following weeks, I learned much at the ministration of TJ’s hands. There was no part of my body that didn’t get caressed and fondled by him. He even stuck fingers up my butt, but never, ever his cock. Nevertheless, I certainly enjoyed the lessons.
In the spring there was to be a school talent show, and TJ wanted desperately to perform. After all, it seemed like TJ was always performing in a way just not on stage. He talked to the advisors for the show and returned saddened. When I asked him why, he said that he had a great act which he performed in drag, and they wouldn’t let him do it. After much hemming and hawing, he finally came up with an act which they accepted, but he wouldn’t tell any of us what it was.
On the night of the show, we were all still figuratively in the dark; before his act came on, all the lights dimmed, and we were literally in the dark. I could just make out some sort of motion on stage. A spotlight came up and caught TJ, who was dressed in a black tuxedo, a white shirt, a black tie, and white gloves. He had a flowing black cape and a black top hat, which he removed and held chest-high in front of him. He opened his mouth and began to sing in a beautiful soprano voice.
“Somewhere over the rainbow…” he sang. When the spotlight first came on him, but before he began to sing, there were a few titters in the audience, but after those first seven notes there was absolute silence. I knew, although perhaps others did not, that this song was like the National Anthem for LGBT people of every persuasion and every age. TJ was singing the song as a tribute to Judy Garland.
When the last note faded from the hall, there was a roar from the audience as everybody stood and whistled and clapped and cheered. TJ didn’t move a muscle as the spotlight faded to black. The ovation continued for some time, and people called for an encore, but TJ did not reappear, and I’m glad that he didn’t, because what could have topped that?
I went backstage to try to find him, but I was told that he had departed immediately after leaving the stage. I tried to call him that night but there was no answer. I left him a voicemail telling him how wonderful I thought his music was.
On Saturday, I again tried to call him. I tried three times but never got an answer. On Sunday, I tried to call, and when he still didn’t answer, I asked Mom to drive me over to the campus. I knocked on their apartment door, and his father answered.
“Is TJ here?” I asked.
“Yes, but he hasn’t come out of his room since returning on Friday night. Why don’t you see if he’ll open the door to you?”
I went to his door and knocked.
“No, TJ, I’m not going away until we talk.” I knocked again but this time he didn’t say anything. I sat in the hallway outside his door, knocking from time to time.
Finally, he unlocked the door. I opened it and went in to find him lying on his bed. I closed the door and sat beside him. Slowly, I began to unbutton his white shirt, which I was sure he had not removed since Friday night. At first, he tried to move my hands away, but I was insistent, and he finally gave up. I removed his shirt and his undershirt and told him to lie face down on his bed. He refused, but again I was insistent, so at length he did.
I began the same way he had begun with me, very gently rubbing his back. I heard him begin to sob but I continued, massaging his neck, his shoulders, and his back. I rolled him onto his side far enough so I could unbuckle the belt on his black trousers which I gently pulled down. I began to massage his legs as he had done for me, beginning at the thighs moving down to the calves and finally to his feet. I did not touch his bum.
His sobs had stilled by then. Slowly he rolled onto his side and said, “Thank you, Sweetie.”
I smiled and said, “I had lessons from the very best. Now, can you tell me why you shut yourself up and wouldn’t talk to me?”
He nodded, was silent for a moment, and then said, “As soon as I left the stage, one of the guys backstage yelled at me, “FAGGOT! and I knew right away that everybody in the school knew what I was and were secretly hating me and laughing at me.”
Didn’t you hear the ovation they were giving you?”
“Yeah, but I knew that would pass as soon as they thought about it.”
“But it didn’t. The ovation went on and on, and after the show your singing was all they could talk about. Not you being gay but your singing. And there’s something else I need to say. If you think that there was any kid or teacher in the school that didn’t know you were gay, you’ve been deluding yourself. It’s something that you can’t hide, and I wouldn’t want you to, ever!”
He sat, tears running down his face. Finally, he asked, “Really? Everyone knows?”
“Of course,” I said. “It’s been obvious from the first day you came to school. If nobody said anything to you until now, and no one’s ever laughed at you, that means everyone here has accepted you. I have no idea who said that to you, but I’m certain it couldn’t have been a student or a teacher. I think they’re a credit to the town and the school, and I hope when I come out, they’ll be just as accepting of me, even if I don’t wear outlandish clothes.”
He giggled, dried his tears, and hugged me. “Sweetie, you are such a wonderful friend, and I love you for it.” Then he looked a little taken aback. “I didn’t mean it that way!” he said.
I burst out laughing and assured him that I understood what he meant. Then I said, “You told me, when I asked how I would ever find anybody, that you had a couple of suggestions, so what are they?”
You can’t guess?” I shook my head. “Well, it should be perfectly obvious that Bruce and Paul are both in love withyou.”
I gasped. “But they’re not even gay!” I said.
“They certainly are,” he said laughing. “They’re just too far in the closet for you to know. I’m certain about Paul, because almost every day he’s asked something about you. Bruce is too shy to even say anything.”
“But I don’t love them,” I said.
“No, of course not, Silly. You have to spend time with them until you do.”
“Okay. What if I never fall for either of them?”
“Then you have to keep looking until you find someone. I’m certain there are more gay guys in the school, but I’m not gonna give you a list of them. You have to find them for yourself. Certainly, if you come out as gay, others will find you.
I guess it didn’t make much difference whether I came out or not, because Rebecca finally decided to out me. She may have thought of it as revenge, but actually, she did me a favor, On Monday, as soon as I got on the bus, I knew the word had gotten around. Some guys high-fived me; others just smiled. Cole gave me a big pat on the back before we sat.
“You knew the word was out, didn’t you?”
“Yup,” smiled Cole, “but I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.”
Even before I got in the school door, Paul came up and asked if we could go for ice cream after school.
I said, “If you’re seen with me now, that will out you too.”
He looked surprised for a moment before asking, “How did you know?”
“I’ve heard of that, but I don’t think I have it. I didn’t figure you out until you started spending so much time with TJ.”
“And you started asking TJ questions.” I added. “To be honest, I don’t think I have gaydar either, but TJ sure does.”
We laughed as we went through the door
After school, Paul and I went for ice cream. As we talked, we began to hold hands without even thinking about it. The longer we talked, the more I realized how sweet he was. I hadn’t really ever known him. Most of the time he was involved with all his electronic projects. I had seen him at the pool, but he was pretty reserved even then. The more we talked, the more we laughed and shared our feeling and our ideas.
Paul said, “I’ve had a crush on you since the first day of school, but I was too scared to say anything. I was really afraid I was gonna lose you to TJ until TJ told me to wait, that my time would come. And here it is,” he said, smiling one of the most beautiful smiles I had ever seen.
“God, you have a gorgeous smile!” I said. “I would love to see you with longer hair.”
“Done. But you’ll have to wait for my crew cut to grow out.”
From there we discussed how and where we could get together. Fortunately, Paul had his driver’s license. (“Am I never gonna get mine?” I wondered.”) We agreed that he could come to my house on Saturday and we could swim at Cole’s for a while before retiring to my garret.
When I got home, I told my parents that I was gay. “No!” exclaimed Dad. “I never would have guessed.”
“You both knew?” I asked. “How?”
“Well, if we hadn’t guessed before, all that time you spent with TJ certainly confirmed our suspicions. What are you going to do when TJ leaves?”
I told them all about TJ and his agreement with his boyfriend in Florida. I even told them much of what TJ had been doing to educate me. And then I told them what had happened with Paul. I was amazed at how cool they were with the whole thing.
Paul did in fact let his hair grow longer and then I treated him to a stylist. He grew more and more confident, and with that, more outgoing. To me he was Andersen’s ugly duckling who grew into a swan.
I was very sorry to say goodbye to TJ when school ended. We hugged and hugged, TJ saying, “Now don’t be a stranger, Sweetie, keep in touch. He got in his car and he and his dad drove off. I thought how lucky I’d been to know him. We had become close friends, and, after he left, we called and emailed each other several times a week for years.