The first time I felt different from other kids happened in kindergarten. Mrs. Bue, the kindergarten teacher, and Miss Kroeger, the 1st grade teacher, pulled me aside before recess. They sat me down at a table, placed a piece of lined paper and a pencil in front of me, opened a tan and white SLA book in front of me, then asked me to read each line, then write what I read. “I am Tam the Ram,” then “Tam the Ram I Am,” then I read and wrote the next two lines on the page. When I finished reading and writing, I gave them the paper when they looked at each other with horror. Mrs. Bue thanked me, and then told me I could put on my jacket and go out for recess. The next day, I was told I would spend the first part of kindergarten with the first graders’ reading class. I was a grade ahead in reading class until 5th grade.
The first time I knew I was gay happened when I watched an episode of Soap. I kept wondering why Jodie Dallas was the gay one?…why couldn’t it be his brother, Danny? He’s way cuter…
The first time I had a crush on a male celebrity it was Robert Urich. When his character on Soap, Peter Campbell, was shot, he was wearing swim trunks in the shower. He leaned against the shower stall then slid down all the while water showered on him. “WOW!” and “DAMN!” went through my head. Months later, when he starred in Vegas, there was a scene where he stripped down to cotton boxers and dove into a hot tub. For those 60 seconds, the world stopped and I creamed my jeans.
The first time I fantasized about gay sex it was Starsky and Hutch. Since I didn’t really know what happened in gay sex, it involved a lot of kissing, groping and nudity.
The first time I had gym class in the sixth grade was strange. I had the Robert Urich moment over the summer, so I had something to hide. Between changing into gym clothes and taking showers, I was self-conscious of my body and how it looked. And I couldn’t look at any other guy in class. The separate boy/girl thing was weird, not to mention what we were really learning. Was it sports? Or male camaraderie? OR becoming socially acceptable men?
The first time I was sexually aroused by someone I went to school with happened my freshman year in high school. He was a senior who lifted weights…serious weights. His upper arms were built like someone’s thighs. I kept looking at his arms wondering what he’d look like in a sleeveless shirt.
The first time I didn’t conform to my classmates in high school was my junior year. I didn’t go to prom. When everyone was excited over who was going and with whom, everyone avoided asking me if I was going. I didn’t ask anyone, still feeling like the ugly fat fag I was branded since sixth grade. I stayed home. I went downstairs to the pool room, played pool, watched SNL and Solid Gold with a few bottles of beer my sister left in the fridge. I was more hurt and upset at the time, but I realized the non-conformity and the rebellion years later. I chose not to be some place where I didn’t feel welcome. I chose not to be around people who didn’t make me feel I was a part of the group. That made me feel I had the freedom to define myself and to find what that definition is.
The first time I was sexually aroused by a friend happened the summer between my junior and senior year. I saw Brian naked, noticed his large cock and wished I hadn’t. I was turned on; buy the reaction ended up as weirded out. Since I was in complete denial of whom and what I was, nothing made sense. I started distancing myself from him, and he started telling all our mutual friends how I bugged him. By the end of the school year, most of our mutual friends sided with me. Brian ended up not graduating, because he spent a lot of time drinking and partying.
The first time I said, “I’m gay” was my second year at UW-RF. A friend of mine (at the time) talked with me in his room about Tim, the lighting designer from summer theatre the previous summer, sent him this letter about how he was in love with him. That letter lead to a talk about being gay and I said it during that conversation. Unfortunately, this ‘friend’ was a needy, self-absorbed mind fuck who said or did anything to anyone to get what he wanted at any given point and time. I did eventually join the fledgling LGBT group on campus, who easily replaced the mind fuck I first came out to.
The first time I made real friends they were from that UW-RF LGBT group. We’re still all connected, at least through me on Facebook. It’s hard to believe its 26 years since then and we’ve all been through a lot. I never had real friends until this group, and I still feel lucky we’ve been there for each other.
The first time I fell for a guy, I swear I got a concussion. Grant started at the Gazette a week after I did. For the next year and a half, it was casual passing in the hallway or on the loading dock when he had a smoke. We then met for lunch one Sunday and had a nice time, although I felt like I gave off a bad impression. Apparently, I didn’t, because six weeks later, Grant invited me to his place. We talked about assorted goofy stuff and he kissed me. Maybe that kiss was the concussion? He confessed I was the first guy he was ever with. I told him I’m not the kind of guy who normally does this sort of thing. And our clandestine relationship started. It didn’t last. His need for a heterosexual appearance outweighed his heart’s desire and it was over. I really believe he struggled with it all, but his blaming me for leading him into the temptation of evil wasn’t my doing.