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Monday, April 9, 2012

Relationships - Part IV


          Last time I left off, I had just lost my virginity (see Part 3). I was now in the middle of high school, a 16-year-old sophomore with a car, a red Jeep Cherookee, and a group of friends that were united not on common goals and aspirations, but rather a desire to indulge every weekend in drinking and smoking pot. I was always friendly with those that I had honor classes with, but I never hung out with them on the weekend, mostly because while they were doing group projects and study sessions, I was hanging with more social-minded party people. Towards the end of high school, I became closer with my school friends, after having so many shared classes, but in my mind, they just weren’t at my level in terms of wanting to go out every weekend and have fun. My school friends were intellectual and cultured, but were socially immature and just getting around to the whole dating thing. I was not dating anyone, due to the fact that no one I was interested in was “out” in my small suburban high school, but I was still keen on the concepts of sex and dating. So for the most part, I stuck with my sex-drugs-and-alcohol-minded cohorts. There was some cross-over, but the two groups of friends still remain quite separate in my mind.

          The summer of my sophomore year, I finally came out to one of my best friends and long-time crush, Anthony. We were having a fire on the beach, drinking some beers, just me and him. I didn’t have any reason to think he was gay, but I hoped he was. And I had to ask him before anyone else to make sure the feelings were not mutual. As much as I hoped he would say, “I feel the same for you,” I was not disappointed when he didn’t reciprocate. It just reaffirmed that my feeling were not normal and that it was going to be a lot harder to find someone else in my situation; straight-acting yet so gay for some dudes.

          Anthony did, however, do me a huge favor of keeping my secret until I was ready to come out publically a year later. I will always respect him and the maturity he possessed at that age.

          A few months later, I finally got the chance to come out to my parents and older sister. All of them were sitting in the computer room of my house. My dad was at the computer showing us something when a porn ad popped up. It was gay porn. My dad tried to be cute, and said, “Oh, Kevin is this for you.”

          I had been waiting for a chance to shut him up for a while now and finally, here was my chance. So I responded, “Actually, Dad, I’ve been meaning to tell you guys this for a while and, I’m gay.”

          They all stopped dead in their laughter and stared at me. My dad was speechless, my sister’s eyes began to water, my mom asked, “Are you sure? It could just be a phase.”

          I told them, “Believe me, I’m sure, I’ve known since I was twelve and the feelings have not gone away.”

          My mom began to cry and just said, “And you’ve been dealing with this all on your own?” None of them were at all disappointed, my dad was a little confused but my parents were always very liberal and loving and knew that homosexuality was nothing to necessarily be ashamed of. None of them saw it coming, but they really should have; I was obsessed with rainbows and Lisa Frank as a child, I had not had a girlfriend since middle school, and I’m pretty sure that my dad had walked in on me looking at gay porn on more than one occasion. I later realized that, due to my mannerisms, they really just gave me the benefit of the doubt. 

Christmas breakfast at the Schwartz household

          My sister insisted on me telling my brother soon because she didn’t want to have to harbor that knowledge behind his back, and as much as I agreed, I really didn’t want to tell him. I think I was most afraid of what he would think as my older brother, as my childhood mentor. So when I was out to breakfast with him and his girl friend, I let them know. It was hard for him, I could tell. He was pretty silent and made little eye contact. His girlfriend had to ask most of the follow-up questions. I later found out from my mom that he was not as ashamed of it personally, but more concerned with what his friends would think. Luckily, his friends didn’t care, and more importantly, they didn’t blame him for my sexuality. It did kind of irk me that my brother made it about his friends and his situation rather than the struggle I was going through in coming out of the closet. He is an awesome person, even if a little self-centered at times.

At my brother's fraternity family night.

          My junior year, I also made the switch from the football team (running back mostly), to the musical where I had a lead role both my that year and my senior. I still remember the casting director’s reaction to my audition; “Where have you been for the past two years?”

          “Playing football.” I responded with a smirk.

On the right as Prez in "Pajama Game" my junior year.

           I had come to a point where I hated football, I hated practice, I hated getting yelled at, stressing about it, fucking up because I was stressing, and then getting yelled at again. It was a vicious cycle I wasn’t able to break. The moment after practice ended would be the sweetest time of my day because it was the furthest I was from having to put on the pads again, and stress out some more. I use to sit in class and dread the moment where I would inevitably fuck up on the field and get yelled at again. Maybe the coaches thought their screaming criticisms were encouraging, but for me, I pride myself on what my coaches and mentors think, and that screaming only exacerbated the situation.

Moon Face Martin in "Anything Goes" my senior year.

          Anyway, during the musical, I met Calvin. He was a year ahead of me in school, and not obviously gay, but once you got to know him and all his feminism, then it was clear. He sang beautifully, with more vibrato than any straight man could muster, and he was rather soft spoken but enthusiastic at the same time. I went to his birthday party gathering when I made a silly comment to one of the girls about Calvin being cute. She conveyed that to him, and we started talking. It wasn’t long before we were having sex. One time, we couldn't go to either of our houses, so we drove around in that red Jeep until we came to the elementary school parking lot. It was the weekend so there was no cars or people around. This was a good enough spot, so we hopped in the back and started banging. I always associate his smell with his Greek and Irish background - smells are so enduring in memory.

          We had some good times, but as quickly as it started, it ended. I began to lose interest because I couldn’t see myself bringing Calvin around to hang out with my friends. He just wasn’t at our level maturity wise and I felt like it would have gotten awkward for me. I guess, he just wasn’t the best I could do and I wasn’t particularly proud to be with him. It was more a relationship out of convenience.

          One day, I came to get my backpack which I had left at his house. When I got out of the car, he was waiting out side for me. He said, “I can smell the pot on your breath.”

          “Sorry?” I responded in a sarcastic tone.

          “I just wish you spent half as much time with me as you do with your friends,” he said.

          “I guess that’s the problem,” I stated, “I don’t think this is going to work,” and then I left. At that point, it had only been a month, and I had already fallen out of love with him. Although, in my mind, there was nothing really there to begin with. We were two different types.

          Things did get a little weird because we were both in the same class and creative competition team (D.I. – Destination Imagination) together. We used to sit next to each other in class, now he sat away and I migrated towards some of the cooler kids. During D.I. there were times where I could feel him staring at me, longingly, and it just made me even more repulsed by his neediness.

          I’ll always feel a little guilty for chewing him up and spitting him out, but it was an important relationship and milestone for me in figuring out what I was looking for in a guy. Now I knew that if I was going to really date a guy, he would have to be masculine, and he would have to be low-maintenance, but more importantly he would have to be a good friend, someone that makes me laugh, and someone I could feel proud to introduce to my other friends.

          The summer before my senior year, I finally came out to my friends and classmates. I had held off until that point, partly because I was still coming to terms with it myself, but also because I always feared what the upperclassmen would think; I had always looked up to and respected them the most as my mentors and role models.

          But now that I was one of the top dogs, I figured it was my obligation to all the closeted underclassmen to come out and show them that “normal” acting kids like myself, captain of the wrestling team and student class president, could be gay, and it’s okay. No one did that for me, and it made me think being gay was not cool or unacceptable in our town. So I decided during my underclassmen years that I would come out before I graduated in order to be the change I wanted to see.

Me, dominating.

          That night, I was hosting a house party at my place (as usual) and I was sitting with some girls on my couch talking about relationships or something and I remember feeling like this was the time. So I finally told one of my best girl friends, one whom I had known since first grade, “I have to tell you something, I’m gay.” She obviously did not keep this quite and began asking more questions so that when ever anyone else came by and asked what we were talking about, I would simply respond, “I’m gay,” and continue on with explaining how I figured it out and how I had kept it a secret for all these years. I will always remember that night as my unintended, but self-initiated, coming out party. By the next day, everyone in my school knew. Funny how quickly gossip like that gets around...

          Apparently, I was just that kid that everyone needed to know was gay.