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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Slow Down, GMB!

Unfortunately, my life for the next two weeks will be that of a hermit for the most part. I'm having one of those too-much-on-my-plate, what-the-heck-have-I-done-to-myself? moments. My body and mind are in agreement that it's time to slow down for a bit, and I mean that mentally, psychologically, and socially.

As a result, most of my writing energies will go into other endeavors to which I've already committed myself (two national and regional research presentations, the creation of an exhibit in Salt Lake set to open in June, a full-time job, editing a friend's dissertation, etc.). This basically means that posts during this time will be shorter, funnier, and based on not-so-original content.

That said, Missionary Monday will continue and the next series will have a bit more planning put into it as I untangle the ambiguity of the last series finale. (Something I'm quite satisfied with, by the way. I only wish I'd hashed out the motif in the title a bit more in those last posts-- that's what revisions are for, though).

I wish you well, but promise a big revelation very soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Laugh of the Day #14

Our sassy gay friend is back to save more Shakespearean damsels from themselves.

I truly think Juliet would have benefitted most from a sassy gay friend the most. As I’ve said before West Side Story is so much better than Romeo and Juliet and that’s coming from someone who studies poetry.

I really wonder what he’d say to Lady Macbeth….

Monday, March 29, 2010

Up in the Air

The Wanderings and Delusions of a Gay Mormon Missionary

A perfect combination of anxiety and aspiration fill an airport. Only so many places inspire such a range of emotions and pull together people from so many different walks of life.

Living in Utah my entire life (and having traveled only to half of the bordering states), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Moments earlier, I said the last goodbyes to my parents. They seemed less concerned than I’d expected to see their middle son jetting off to some other continent.

I would soon become the first to leave the country and the first to speak another tongue—only the earliest of many.

The goodbyes were somewhat different from what I’d expected. We stood there for a few moments looking at each other. It had all run though our minds multiple times. Father was supposed to offer his patriarchal words of wisdom. Mother was supposed to be in tears by the time he concluded with a resounding “We love you and we’re so proud of you.” My brothers were supposed to say “We miss you.” and “We look up to you.” I was supposed courageously make my way to the plane and confidently disappear into the crowded terminal.

mom hug

We were never the cookie-cutter family. Mother and father had gone through this before a decade earlier, and my brothers were visibly ready for lunch at some nice restaurant on the way home from the airport. That said, it was tender in it’s own right.

“Are you ready?” my father asked.

“I’ve had 19 years to prepare, Dad. I’m ready.”

“Okay then. Have you got your ticket? Your passport? Instructions?”

“They’re all right here in the pouch, Mom.”

“Alright,” she said, “give everybody a hug and we’ll let you go.”

They lined up for their hugs.

“It’s not as hard as you think,” Allen assured me.

“You’ll have fun,” Darin, then 14, told me.

“We’ll miss ya,” Father said as doubt started to enter my heart as to whether this was really happening.

It was.

Mother’s direct “We love you” proved to be the seal on the envelope of reality.

“I love you, too”—words I’ve only uttered two other times in my life. Then, I shuffled my way off with a comic amount of luggage over my shoulders. Making my way through the labyrinthine security lines, I paused and thought just how crazy this all was.

labyrinth

Those goodbyes would last me two years. How could I compare that to half of high school or the time I’d spent my friendship with Bronson and Arthur. I thought of it in terms of loss rather than gain: I could have a nephew that talks by the time I get back. Everything will be so different.

It was done now. There was no turning back. What sense was there in wasting a ticket to Brazil. Intuitively, I knew I was strong enough for what lay ahead of me, but doubt always played in my thought. The best thing for me to do at that time was make my way to the gate and sit down.

Approaching the gate, I realized there was already another missionary there. Perhaps a future companion? Someone I’d spend my days reminiscing with years later? Maybe he’s going somewhere else?

Without hesitation, I introduced myself. He’s got to be feeling the same thing, I thought. “Hi there. I’m Elder GMB.”

“Hi, I’m Nate,” he said. He didn’t seem nearly as afraid as I did. It was as if he wasn’t feeling the pressure at all. He was along for the ride. I puzzled over that Did he seriously just say Nate? as I examined his nametag labeled “Elder Rockefeller.” I neurotically wondered, Is that even allowed?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Debt Free!

debt_free Yay for tax returns! No more of this for a while.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Adventure with Emily

I’m off today to Holi with Emily. It should be great. See you there around 4pm. For those of you who don’t know what Holi (The Festival of Colors) is like, here’s a video:

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I’m Not That Boy, Part 9

A conclusion is finally here.

Warning: This post contains some adult content.

Calando

drive

“I really wanted that one to work out!” Cole said, turning to me as he drove us home from an evening at the symphony.

It was months after the whole thing had played out with Ianto and Derek, and I was finally getting his take on the story. Although we share a lot, Cole made an effort to distance himself emotionally from the possibilities there. After things had played out, though, he felt more comfortable sharing his feelings about what had happened.

“I suppose it was nothing more than wanting to see two good friends happy and it seemed like a good fit to me,” he continued.

“I know what you mean. I really wanted it to work out.”

***

If there was one lesson I needed to learn at that moment, it’s very possible that lesson might have been letting someone off gently. In a sort of cosmic way, Ianto did for me that night what I couldn’t do for Anderson the month prior. Rather than avoiding the situation somehow hoping it would disappear, he was completely honest with me on that final date.

Following our last, awkward kiss, he cleared his throat and it was apparent something was up.

“Um… we’ve got to talk.”

Heart break

Every part of me knew what was coming, though I put on a brave face hoping to at least come off a little surprised.

“Guys like you don’t come along very often, but as you know, I’ve been seeing this other guy, and well…, I just feel like I need to see where things go with him right now.”

It was as if I’d cut my finger with a knife. I’d opened myself up for hurt, but when I thought about it, when I examined the supposed wound, I found no blood, no mark, no scar. “Just this once, everybody lives!” Nobody gets hurt! I thought.

Sure, I was disappointed, but I coped (in the lightest sense of the word) with the disappointment as I always had: by focusing on the positive. I didn’t really have to make a decision between Derek and Ianto because Ianto had done that for me.

***

In speaking about Ianto with Cole, the inevitable comparison returned to mind. They were so different from one another. Ianto was stable and intelligent while Derek was more adventurous and dramatic.

After a bit of silence, he finally brought it up after several months of wondering. “Derek?! Really, GMB? Why were you ever interested in Derek?”

“He was just fun. He was something different,” I rationalized with a bitter-sweetness in my voice.

Knowing exactly what was going through my head, Cole asserted, “He is something different alright….”

***

Following that last date with Ianto, all of those dreams for the future were simply displaced. Like water swelling up from the ground, they naturally had to flow somewhere.

I didn’t have a care in the world. Anxiety and fear were the last things on my mind as I met Derek for dinner that night. I didn’t really have any choices to make. Nothing to hide or be uncomfortable about.

We simply went out to dinner and then I showed him around campus. With everyone on break, the place was practically empty. We started in my office.

“Yes, this is where I work.”

Office

“And that’s your desk,” he said, walking towards the desk I’d gestured towards.

“Right. This one’s mine,” I said as I cut him off on his way.

“So…” he paused. “What if I were to do this?” He pushed a stack of papers on the floor. “Or this?” he asked, pushing me up against the desk and sitting me atop it.

My heart raced as he entertained my forbidden workplace fantasies. Minutes had slipped by and I realized it was really happening.

“No. I’d get fired. If my boss [a brilliantly liberal, open-minded woman] came in right now, she might cheer, but I’d also get canned.”

“Okay,” he said removing his hands from the back of my jeans and turning away to button the top half of his shirt

***

“You know exactly what was so appealing about Derek, Cole.”

He looked over and smirked in that I-could-have-told-you-so kind of way.

“He was nothing like anybody I’d ever dated before.”

“That’s right, GMB. We were always in the same page on that sense….And poor Anderson.”

“Everybody has to date a rebel of sorts. He was my James Dean, my Danny Zuko.”

“I don’t need to call you on how gay that reference was. Do I?”

“Alright, I do regret what happened, but I still learned something. There’s no sense in being bitter about the past when we can’t change it.”

As much as that was true, we knew that what had happened was significant because he didn’t find out from me.

***

That night with Derek quickly evolved into a series of subversively adventurous make out sessions. In the course of a few hours that warm January night, we moved from my office to the bushes outside.

The thrill that somebody might catch us heightened every sense. Each sound we made was carefully muffled as we paid attention to the world around us and each sound we heard was followed by a breathless pause.

We migrated our way between buildings, ducking into darkened bathrooms or classrooms whenever we heard the sound of footsteps.

“In here,” he said, holding the door of a tiny room open for me. “I hear someone.”

The faint smell of foreign chemicals thickened the air. He placed his forehead against mine then we paused for a moment to listen for the sound of footsteps, but there was silence. Our eyes adjusting to the darkness once again, I realized we were in a darkroom surrounded by hanging photos developing around us.

dark room kiss

He pushed me against the counter next to the sink. My heart raced as quickly as it ever had as he moved his 6’3” frame against me. He lifted me up with his firm hands without breaking the seal of our kiss and sat me upon the counter. His left arm moved farther around my waist as he pulled me towards him. Slowly, he pulled his right arm around in perfect symmetry, until suddenly the motion broke and his hand migrated down and rubbed. Then, in a singular motion, he unbuckled my belt and released the top button of my pants.

I exhaled.

For the first time, the impulse to say “Wait” or “No” or “Stop” did not win out. The rhythm was entrancing and gratifying—more so as he peeled through each layer until I felt the sensation of skin against skin. Guiding my hand, he invited me to do the same.

I was speechless and lost in the moment.

My left arm extended and on his shoulder, I sensed him motioning to stoop down when I finally said, “Okay. We need to stop.”

***

After Cole dropped me off at my car, I considered the situation a bit more. Derek was never right for me. He was shallow and wanted in my pants. After that victory, he quickly shared the story of his conquest with everyone he knew (including Cole and a very deceived Anderson) and found an excuse to move on.

Cole knew exactly why I would keep something like this from him. In my eight months of dating, I’d found the perfect balance. I could be gay and Mormon. I could date and be happy so long as it never went beyond kissing. So long as that moment in the darkroom never happened with Derek, that tenuous balance still existed, or, at the very least, I had time to re-conceive that balance in my existential crisis.

Cognitive Dissonance

Did I really want the celibate life I’d consigned myself to? Or was there something to those feelings I’d finally let myself experience? Was I never meant to experience the range of emotions and sensations I’d been bestowed with simply because those feelings could never be inspired in me by a woman?

I couldn’t bring myself to tell Cole mostly because, as my fears later confirmed, he was right. Despite my excellent planning skills, my ambition, and my emotional composure, I could not have everything I wanted from life. I began to understand why he was so angry following his broken engagement two years earlier—although the trauma of his situation was enhanced by the fact that in his situation he could not please himself or his fiancé in the manner he’d been taught his entire life.

Now that he’d found out about that one night, we connected on a much deeper level even though it we’ve never discussed that night or the spiritual repercussions in the detail presented here. As I considered these consequences and lessons Derek had taught me, I had an ally on my side who not only understood my feelings, but would support whatever decisions lay ahead for me.

End of Series.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Five Looks at Facebook

Since I’ve been a bit anti-Facebook lately and the finale to the latest post has been a bit consuming, I present to you some Facebook-related humor:

[FacebookStatus1.jpg]





Perhaps some foreshadowing for the final installment of "I'm Not That Boy?"



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sue Says: Stop Being Sneaky

Okay everyone—sorry for the cliffhanger. The final installment is coming soon. It’s difficult to write because it involves a big first and also involves tying together the stories I’ve been telling. Of any post that I started or completed to this point, I feel this one has the most at stake in every sense.

In other news, writing continues to be bogged down by emotions, and some time commitments for two huge academic and community projects (those of you in Utah: you’re welcome to participate in the latter of the two—just email me).

Instead of something substantive or personal today, I share something that you’ve probably run into on other blogs, but here is one of the best Glee-related videos to date:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I’m Not That Boy, Part 8

Volti Subito

Ianto was really everything you could hope for in a guy—caring, talented, intelligent—and I really appreciated it. In a matter of weeks of forging a pattern for ourselves—a dependable, stress-free approach to dating. We were both dating other people, but interested in finding something serious and this led to regular conversations regarding the development of our relationship.

A staggered series of nights over those weeks was spent eating and watching TV. The wonder of the situation was that it didn’t really matter what we were eating or watching. We could be sharing an order of Wendy’s French fries and watching a movie starring Paris Hilton and Sarah Brightman, but the quality of the night would not be discounted a single smile or witty comment.

“This may be weird to say, Ianto, but it’s going to be weird to have you out of town for the holidays… and my birthday,” I said holding him in my arms as the credits to 30 Rock trumpeted in the background one evening.

men talking bed

“It will be different and I assure you we’ll celebrate when I get back,” he said, turning around for a quick kiss. “You be thinking of where you want dinner and what you’d like to do. Make sure it’s something special.”

And so, as he went on his trip, I did some thinking. He was the best guy to come along in months. Without a doubt in contention with Mark (my ex-boyfriend) for a very special place in my heart. Ironically, as he’d left to serve a full-time mission, I’d locked my heart much in the way that he was directed in his preparation to leave.

I could feel a change within me. A greater capacity to trust and care was resurfacing and I was growing confident in myself. I am desirable. I am a good person. I don’t need to change. It was at this time that I had stopped seeing Anderson and Derek entered the picture.

It became inevitable to compare Ianto and Derek, to examine just how different they viewed me and how I viewed them. Ianto was cautious and stable while Derek was adventurous and provoking. I knew that I couldn’t start dating anyone else because they both seemingly presented opportunities at a relationship. I stopped checking on my Connexion (gay Facebook) profile and stepped up communication with both of them.

As I awaited Ianto’s return, I considered the adventures I’d had with Derek—the experiences at the club, going to geeky movies, and getting busted by mall security towards the end of an unplanned make-out session. Part of me felt as if I had to choose while I also cautioned myself about rushing things.

chinese food

After Ianto returned, we immediately celebrated my birthday before school could dominate our lives once again. We weren’t on anything as we planned the night, but all of the decisions were made on impulse. The night started out auspiciously enough at a great Chinese place with a karaoke bar.

“C’mon. The birthday boy’s got to sing,” he teased.

“No way. Never.”

“You’ve got to make this night memorable somehow. What are we going to do? It’s got to be the most random thing you’ve always wanted to try.”

“I do have an idea…” I said timidly.

“Spit it out. I’m probably going to laugh, but that’s a good thing.”

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to wax.”

“What? Your eyebrows?”

“Um… my shirt area.”

He did laugh for a few minutes. “This is going to be memorable alright!” He didn’t have much hair to his name to be self-conscious about, but he did have experience waxing his arms.

We made our way back to his place and it seemed like the kind of date I’d longed for since before I even thought about these things. Whatever we were to do at that moment would be somehow special and done with care for each other. I trusted him in that moment unlike I’d trusted anyone but my best friend Cole in months.

I didn’t care about the stretch marks and scars I bore to him. I knew that didn’t matter in his eyes. At every step of the process—pouring and spreading the hot wax across my back, placing the strips, tearing away the hair—he showed concern for my comfort. “Is this too hot?” “Was that too hard?” “Are you okay?”

It was obvious comparing him and Derek that he was the type of man I could only dream to end up with not just in this moment, but also in my life. We settled on his bed for a cuddle after he applied some lotion to my back and I put my shirt back on.

Sorry Girls

“That feels so nice,” I said, laying on top of him. “I know I won’t forget tonight.”

We grinned at the reference to our earlier concern. His hands on my shoulders and mine on his, we pulled each other for a kiss. Our heads and lips turning in synchrony, our embrace tightened and we turned to each other on our sides. Taking his right hand in my left, I instinctively guided it down my side. As I let go, it went up my shirt, blazing a trail across my waist.

I didn’t want him to stop, but in that moment, all the passion was diffused:

“What are you doing?” I asked. “I’ve never really done anything.”

He respected me and stopped, but we were both intimidated by the awkwardness born out of the moment and the certainty that I felt about him being the right guy at that moment in my life was thrown by the wayside. The same thing may have gone through his head.

Although we returned to our rhythm of dinners and movies, something was off. Our next kiss revealed it all:

Hesitantly, I turned and kissed him. Our eyes locked and closed, but the magnetic impulses were absent. I pulled away somewhat surprised.

“GMB, we need to talk,” he said.

End, Part 8.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Press Forward"

A Gay Mormon Missionary Story: August 2004

To think that in four months, I’d be in another country learning another language was mind boggling. That’s just how those months were spent after receiving a missionary call to spend two years as a Mormon missionary in Brazil.

It wasn’t exactly customary to wait four months to leave for missionary training, but I made the most of that wait. I continued to work full-time as one-by-one I watched my guy friends disappear around me as they went on missions around the world. It was somewhat difficult to watch Cole, Nate, Payton, and Bronson all go off to different corners of the globe and be left behind.

In that time, I spent a bit more time with Emily, Jacqueline, Glenda, and Jeannie. Those days were spent going to the movies, hanging out, playing board games, and living out life as we had in high school. As I look back, it’s apparent we were all bracing ourselves for that leap over that canyon of awkwardness into adult life.

Every interaction with them and with my family was asterisked with the thought I won’t see any of these people for two years. What will time bring to us?

When the day finally came for me to say my goodbyes and address my congregation. Family and friends gathered for this one final and ceremonious pre-mission event. As is customary, I spoke in church about the adventure ahead of me.

“The topic is service,” by Bishop told me over the phone weeks before the big day. “Do you think you’ll have any problem speaking about that?”

“Not at all.” How could you turn down such a benign, agreeable topic?

sacrament_meetingLooking out from the podium that morning was a survey of my life I’ll never relive. An audience populated with Sunday and elementary school teachers, relatives who have since passed away, and friends who are now thousands of miles away living out their dreams. Whether there out of friendship, love, or familial obligation, their faces all gleamed with support as I went through this rite of passage.

I hesitated for a moment, tapping the microphone and removing my thick glasses smeared and stained by my acned face. In those days (perhaps my shyest and most innocent), it was difficult to look even the people I most cared for in the eyes, so I elected to blur their faces to make the process easier.

“Brothers and Sisters—

“Thank you for your time today. I’ve been asked to speak about service today and I’d like to start with the words of prophet and King Benjamin who offered a sermon to his kingdom in Mosiah Chapter 2:

King Benjamin“ ‘16 Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.

“ ‘17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.’

“We’ve all heard these words and in some cases memorized them, but really, how do we show love and concern for each other? We must focus on what connects us all. We are all equals—brothers and sisters as I addressed you at the beginning of this talk. Does this not mean that we must treat others as we’d like to be treated?

“For this reason, we must focus on that connection and understand one another as we are all tied together by one creator much as Benjamin bound his people together.

“ ‘18 Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?

“ ‘19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!

“ ‘20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—’ ”

I weaved in accounts of service from my friends eagle scout projects, the patient guidance of my parents, and the examples of my ancestors before one last scripture and turning to the future in front of me:

“ ‘21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.’

“Essentially, if we are to serve others, we are to serve God and prepare ourselves,” I said in the most honest and humble, pressing through my insecurities. “I can think of no better way at this point in my life than to serve. There is plenty wrong in the world and I’m certain that I can make a difference in Brazil. That said, I think that I’ll have more to gain and learn from this experience than I could ever comprehend.”

I closed and put my glasses back on to examine those gleaming faces as they offered a reverent, resounding “Amen” in near unison. This was quickly followed by the hymn “Called to Serve”(#249):

Called to serve Him,
Heavenly King of glory,
Chosen e'er to witness for His name.
Far and wide, we tell the Father's story
Far and wide, His love proclaim.

Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name;
Onward, ever onward, as we glory in His name;
Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing.
God our strength will be; Press forward ever
Called to serve our King!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moments later, we gathered at my parents house. Every culture has its feasts and in Mormon culture mission farewells are one of those occasions. Everyone was there—from my grandparents to the newest of my cousins and my dearest female friends—enjoying a picnic in my backyard.

This is how I would leave them and remember them for the next two years—eating, laughing, and reminiscing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Constance McMillen

For those of you who haven’t been following this young woman in the news, she’s a high school senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School, who cancelled their prom rather than allowing her to bring her girlfriend. Here’s a rhyming version of the story for your amusement:

Constance—

Watching you recently on Ellen Degeneres’ talk show, you made quite an impression on me. There’s something to be said for the future of this country. At your age (nearly a decade ago), I wouldn’t have conceived such a simple right as taking someone of the same sex to a dance as something acceptable. I suppose it took some personal experience and growth to realize that I don’t know everyone’s situation.

It is really irritating to look around and see people convinced that they know what is right and wrong , especially because I once did. The reality of the matter is that I had tricked myself into believing that I knew what was best for everyone even when that was sacrificed for basic freedoms—a majority convincing itself that it knows what’s best for everyone.

What makes you so admirable, my friend, is not that you see through these fallacies to the simple kernels of truth, but rather that you make nothing of it. You’re not doing so to show off or seek attention in any way. Although others intervened in your behalf and your story grew into something much larger, I like to think that one day you and your simple request will be looked at in a similar way to great women like Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony who ended up showing a nation—through small and simple things—that certain rights (even those seemingly as trivial as going to prom with another woman) transcend tradition.

Sincerely,
GMB

Constance on Ellen (referred to above):

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I’m Not That Boy, Part 7

Ostinato

Underneath all of the busyness of my life—composing my thesis, a twenty hours of work a week, eighteen credits, church activities, and volunteer work as an English teacher—a steady and understated rhythm was beginning to surface in my life. As the drama of dating Derek and not dating Anderson panned out (more details in a future installment), my time with Ianto remained constant.

It seemed it was all I really wanted. But being new to dating, I wondered if it was really all that I wanted.

Two or three times a week, we had a standard date. Always dinner and a movie at his place. I found this in no way unimaginative because every time managed to be somehow different and special.

Latter Days “You’re telling me you’ve never seen Latter Days and you were once a gay Mormon missionary?! We are watching it tonight, then,” he announced over dinner.

“Okay. You’ll have to twist my arm, though.”

In conversation, I’d heard it spoken of in the same terms as God’s Army for pushing the line and seriously addressing questions of faith. This is why I was interested in seeing both films and also why I’d avoided them. Deep down, I didn’t want to be a ‘bad Mormon’ and challenge my faith like that. However, this time the yes side won out.

As we lay on his bed watching the movie in his tiny room, I would occasionally notice him glancing over at my reaction and thinking, That’s what I do. He really cares what I’m thinking and feeling.

Although both of us were almost silent the entire movie, I felt as if he understood exactly what was going on in my head. As the “greenie” missionary arrived in the field, my mind went back to my mission days to meeting my trainer and my other roommates and thinking What have I gotten myself into?

He seemed to show concern when we watched the scenes of anonymous sex. He understood my shock as those things I’d only heard about had suddenly become a visual reality. I was disgusted, but also curious and as the plot unfolded, I began to understand some of the reasons that was a reality.

It wasn’t long before Ianto and I were as close as we could be laying next to each other on his bed. He held me from behind watching the movie practically through my hair or perhaps not watching the movie at all, but feeling my heart beat with his arms wrapped around my chest.

embrace

I tend to think it was the latter. He wasn’t Mormon, but he seemed to understand just how I’d processed the movie without talking about it or simply by listening to my heart. In a romantic way, I liked to think that as a musician he could read and interpret rhythms and variations to a degree of intimacy I hadn’t imagined.

“You weren’t prepared for it to get all cosmic like that, were you? Or when his mother slapped him. You didn’t breath for like half a minute,” he posited as he turned me around to face him on his bed.

“All true. The movie’s definitely not perfect. I don’t think it’s totally fair to either side, but I definitely came out of that understanding a lot of what I’ve been through better.”

“What do you mean?”

“I share a lot of my worries about my family and the Church with… what’s the missionary’s name?”

“Aaron.”

“Yeah. I worry that my parents will react the same way. And the sex… they were evil. I don’t know what to think about it. They were really in love and to express that love is sinful? Ianto,” I paused. “I haven’t even discussed this with Cole, but that’s what seems wrong with the Church. Telling each other how or who to love and passing laws to that effect is the one thing that could make it all true or all false for me. It seems almost hypocritical when 150 years ago there were places it was illegal to be Mormon. Being gay is as much a reality as being Mormon.”

LatterDaysHotScene

“You’re not the only guy I’ve dated who’s been through this. I don’t think any of them have been quite so thoughtful or articulate about it, though, ” he said. In a way, he seemed to think of it as an elegy for the Church’s lost boys. Ianto was never Mormon, but as some of his best friends were, he made a sincere effort to understand and respect their beliefs.

“I don’t know if that makes things easier or harder for you, but I’m here. As much as I’d like to help you, I can’t. Watching the movie and thinking about it will only help you think through this, I think. That’s what art does.”

He looked me in the eyes communicating just how serious he was about what he’d just said before pulling me towards him for a tender kiss.

End, Part 7.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Countdowns Are On!

Two of the best shows on TV are coming back in less than a month.

Some previews:

Doctor Who is back April 17.

And Glee April 13.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Life in Charts: Figure #7

Threat Level

From the archives:marriage scale

Since the publication of Fig. #7, other colors have been added, enhancing the marriage rainbow: Transgendered (more confusing), Polygamists (scary), and Polyamorists (scary-squared).

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I’m Not That Boy, Part 6

Accelerando

“What’s wrong?” Derek asked. 

I must have looked as if I were shattered into a thousand pieces.  I was caught in a lie—the kind of lie where you withhold some of the details rather than sharing the whole truth. 

“Anderson just texted me.  He’s on his way.” 

“This is hilarious,” he said.  “Don’t sweat it.  You were never exclusive or anything.  Why would he be here in the first place if he wasn’t looking for some action himself.”

“But I was—”

“You had a family thing after your date with him and he didn’t know you just didn’t mention you had a date afterward as well.  Don’t worry.  Anderson’s the forgiving type.  He may be shocked at first, but he’ll still be friends with both of us no matter what.”

Although I knew deep down that this was true, it wasn’t all that comforting.  I hadn’t been who I wanted to be and that’s what mattered in this situation. 

I didn’t know what to text back, so I didn’t. 

“I’m at the door, but I need two bucks to get back in,” he texted moments later. 

My anxiety was anything but relieved.   “I’m sorry” was all I could think to respond. 

The next half hour was spent intermittently receiving frantic text messages from Anderson and shrugging off Derek’s advances, until the final word came “Gave up on finding an ATM.  I’m going home.” 

After a simple “Good night,” I let loose. 

I danced and even made out with Derek who reminded me, “You’re here to have fun on your 24th, remember?”

gay club

The evening was entrancing.  The rumblings of music against the walls and the dancing lights were somehow welcoming.  Everything that became unquestionably forbidden only because it was gay suddenly took on that air of the exotic.  I could like things that were stereotypically gay or associated with pop culture for the sensation of liking them—fashion, art, hairstyles—and it didn’t really matter. 

In that moment, kissing Derek seemed to fit into that category.  He was definitely the most experienced guy I’d kissed, and as I paid attention to the way his lips moved.  I pondered the rhythm and the pressure of each movement and his arms around me helping me complement his every movement.  In one sense it was very gratifying and in another I wondered if that was going too far. 

As the drag show began and we debated staying or leaving to avoid the crowds and the people, I spotted Drake Hatch, who upon noticing my presence gave a friendly nod and smile.  This coincidence led me to wonder once again if that was the future nova starrme—at home in the club and enjoying anonymous, suggestive dancing.  Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing?

After a small taste of the drag show (there were a lot of big queens to handle in one night), we drove back to my car.  The discussion centered a lot around where I was in the senses of coming out, especially in regards to the church. 

“Why do you even go?”

“Sometimes I wonder, but I just feel like I need to make it work.”

“Like you owe it to someone?  You don’t owe anybody anything.  Especially if you are uncomfortable.  I know you’re not 100% comfortable.”

“I make it work.  I just have rules.”

“Like what?  I know you’re dying to try coffee.” 

swimsuit rule“I keep to the swimsuit rule.  I don’t touch anywhere a swimsuit would cover a guy and vice versa.”

“Wow.  I remember that one from Primary.  You’re really cute that way.”

“Well thanks.”

“I’ll do my best to respect that but no promises.”  He chuckled.

As we said our goodnights, he joined me on my side of his car for one last kiss… which turned into a very long kiss… which turned into something more physical.  He was on top of my.  His large frame was heavy but in a comforting way.  My hands starting in the small of his back ended up in his thick, dark hair—where they’d wanted to travel all night—as his travelled downwards caressing my face and neck, unbuttoning the top button of my shirt, and then coming to a rest above my waist. 

I could barely breath from the exhilaration.

“Come up for air before you pass out,” he teased.

After a brief pause, we continued where we’d left off and he unbuttoned the top button of my jeans. 

“Oops.”

“No.  Not tonight,” I said not nearly as firmly than I’d anticipated. 

He stopped after a playful grind and we sat smiling at each other.  I took a deep breath, said goodnight, and went on my way. 

End, Part 6.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I’m Not That Boy, Part 5

Now back to the series in progress.

Counterpoint

Stuck.

Stuck in this situation with Anderson.

Stuck in a series of go nowhere romances.

Stuck in this parking lot.

“Why won’t you start?!” I shouted at my car. Lights would go on and make a sputtering sound. The stereo would play. But no matter what I did the engine wouldn’t turn over.

There was no getting around it. I had a reception and another date lined up for the night. “Anderson!” I shouted, leaping out of the car and calling for help as he walked away, completely unaware that this would be the uncomfortable end of our final date.

“I can’t get it to start either,” he said.

“Go figure. Gay boys not being able to figure out a car….”

He laughed. I tried to be as light about the situation and moved on to Plan B.

Spotting a mall security guard patrolling the lot, I walked over to her SUV. “What are you doing in this cold?” she asked.

“I’m stuck and I don’t suppose you could give me a jump.”

“That’s actually not a possibility,” she said. “I can only do that if you buy jumper cables at the hardware store in the mall.”

“Seriously?” I asked as Anderson approached.

“Seriously.”

“My mom’s on her way with jumper cables,” Anderson cut in before I could get angry.

jumper_cables

He took my arm and we walked back to his car. Before long, his mother was there, asked no questions, and helped me out. I said thank you and went on my way, giving Anderson one final hug and saying my goodbye.

At the reception, I cooled off and de-stressed a bit. It was the first marriage in years and someone younger than me. The natural procession of thought at weddings goes to who’s next. It’s even built into the rights of bouquet-throwing and garter-tossing. A half-dozen times family members asked me about my status, receiving only a discreet “nobody special” or “the right one hasn’t come along” and truthfully he hadn’t.

At one point, the bride’s sister cornered me and asked if I’d be interested in three particular girls who had all asked about my status.

“They’re from here, right?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Well, long distance has never worked for me, so I don’t think so.”

Finally, as the night winded down, I went on to another date. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Two dates. Two guys. One night. One slight twang of guilt.

“Where are you?” Derek texted as I was leaving.

“I’m on my way. Hopefully, I’ll find it.”

We met just outside his security job.

“Come upstairs when you get here and bring your change of clothes.”

He was in every way Anderson’s opposite although they shared their enduring interest in theatre. Derek was strong, intelligent, experienced, and organized. He always had a plan and direction.

“This is going to be the best birthday ever,” he said from the other side of the door as I changed. “It’s not every day you can turn 24 in the club.”

I wasn’t sure what to think. I liked the adventure and the story. It had been six months since my last club experience and I thought it was time to give it a chance again, especially as he was different from any other guy I’d been out with who had all disappointed me in some way or another (with the exception of Ianto).

After a quick visit to a Mormon friend who seemed to approve of me and my innocence, we went directly to the club. Discussion consisted mostly of how I felt about the night and what I didn’t want to happen.

“I don’t drink or smoke and sex is out of the question.”

“And kissing? Is kissing out of the question? It is a first date, after all.”

I blushed a little. “ That’s not out of the question.”

Upon arrival in the subzero temperatures, we rushed to the door and made our way in. The bar itself the size of the entire club I’d been to in Canada. I wasn’t sure if I was prepared for what was on the other side.

“This. Is. Club. Sound!” Derek proclaimed. “Can I get you anything to drink? Just kidding.”

GayBar

As he grabbed a drink, I looked around. I saw guys dressed in nothing but their underwear parading around for compliments (and perhaps more). At the pool tables, there were guys playing the part of chic in their deliberate approach to dressing themselves with the latest styles. And finally there were guys who came off 100% normal—those guys you’d see at school or at a church activity in jeans and a T-shirt and never suspect of being gay. This was a place to leave all of that behind for a moment—the solitude of quietly fitting in—to fit in somewhere else and somehow acknowledge the wholeness of one’s identity.

On the balcony, Derek sipped on his drink as my eyes examined my surroundings and we superficially discussed the experience. The flashing lights and pounding music were not as intimidating as the last time and the guys seemed to share so much more with me. I was not the only Gay Mormon Boy there and could not have been the only one facing the issues that I was facing.

“Are you liking it?”

“It’s different and interesting.”

“Pretty soon you’ll be here every week like me.”

“We’ll see about that. I hope I don’t get a panic attack on the dance floor.”

“I’ll watch out for you. Everyone here will be watching out for you. They like the hot ones.”

Moments later we were on the dance floor. It had been years since I’d danced. Nearly five years to the day with Chastity, my date to the Junior Prom. I had no idea what to do. How to move or what to move to the rhythm.

“Loosen up,” Derek teased. “It’s much easier than you think. Just move to the rhythm.” And with that, he wrapped the arms of his 6’3” frame around me and forced me into the rhythm. I calmed down.

club lights

I stopped thinking and started feeling. Nothing was going to hurt me. Nothing could go wrong. I was beginning to enjoy the remixes of Britney and Beyonce as well as the lights and even the humid atmosphere of the crowd.

Derek went in for a kiss and I contently accepted as my heart pounded along to the music.

Suddenly, my phone buzzed in my pocket. My heart sank as I read a text from Anderson (unaware that I was on a date with Derek): “Save a dance for me. You didn’t mention you’d be clubbing tonight. I’ll be back in a bit. I had to drop some friends off.”

End, Part 5

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Wanderings and Delusions of a Gay Mormon Missionary

Gay missionaries

Welcome to “Missionary Monday” a new experiment to bring variety and structure to the blog. Each Monday will be devoted to a chronological retelling of my mission. Some of this feature will directly examine homosexuality and much of it will not.

It was never my nature to talk much about my mission because it generally irked me when that’s the only things some returned missionaries had done so.

The Call

The last semester of my Freshman year had ended. My future was entirely in question. I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do with my life by any means. I’d studied English, History, and Biology, but nothing quite seemed to fit. Dating was a mystery. I saw no value in asking a girl out other than to, perhaps, fulfill some cultural/religious obligation (and the idea of asking out a guy was not even a possibility).

I did know two things, however. In a matter of months, 1) I’d be somewhere outside of Utah and 2) I’d be a gospel-preaching, door-knocking, tie-wearing, nametag-bearing Mormon missionary. Months earlier, I’d met with my Bishop and prepared my ‘papers.’

Although it may sound an awful lot like the language used for pedigreed dogs, it’s more like an application. The process entailed a number of interviews, medical exams, the excision of my wisdom teeth, and a lengthy written application followed by a month of waiting for—my call—a response to my quandaries of where I’d be going and if I’d be learning another language in the form of a letter.

One day, sometime in the middle of May, my mother made a frantic, breathless phone call. “GMB, your call… it arrived in the mail this afternoon.”

I was at work and not quite sure what to feel. Part of it was the mystery of a life away from everything I knew for two years (save the gospel). Part of it was the challenge that surely awaited. And finally, part of it was the complete inadequacy I’d felt concerning religion. I didn’t feel the spirit when I was supposed to and logical doubts had loomed over my head for as long as I could remember. In the journal I’d kept at one point, I described myself as “spiritually retarded” for not being able to feel what my peers did.

man mirror tie

Still, the need to go on a mission pressed on me whether that be in a cultural or personal sense. For whatever reason, going on a mission seemed to fit and not just because if fit the expectations of my parents. I felt like I could help someone and make a difference in that person’s life even if I didn’t understand or believe, going out into the world, 100% in everything I would be teaching. Feeling right and the possibility that I might improve by the slightest degree a single person’s life was enough for me.

As was tradition in my family, everyone was notified that the call arrived and we all gathered at the family business. My brothers, my mother, my father, his mother, and my sister-in-law gathered around as I opened up the envelope. I thought to myself in an unsure way, Where will I be instead of here?

In all honesty, you’re not supposed care about such things, but I did. In a semi-selfish way, I wanted the experience of learning Spanish. It was useful and Latin America had its appeal. I could come back and communicate with immigrants and maybe even study it to some extent. Always thinking so practically.

“Go ahead and open it. What are you waiting for?” my father protested. The results were underwhelming, but not terribly so:

mission callElder Gay Mormon Boy,

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Brazil [excerpted] Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months.

“Brazil!? What do you think, GMB?”

I wasn’t sure what to say. Brazil? Two years in Brazil?, was all I could really think.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Another International GLEE Post

I stumbled upon these recently, and it brought to mind many memories of discussing and introducing GLEE to friends. They're clips of viral/flashmob campaigns in Italy and Spain for the show.


 

I anticipate a return to substantive blogging in the dear future. The past weeks have been complicated by a number of things including some grant applications, a visit to a dear friend, and principally a growing concern for friends in Chile.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Open Letter to Fast Food Femme Fatales

And now another disjointed post as my vacation begins to wind down. I admit to eating out a lot more than I should. My roommates love the smell in the house when I cook, but sometimes I'm a very lazy person. (As has been the case with my writing for the past few days). I am no fast food connoisseur, but I have my opinions.

Wendy's, you are the hip place because you are cheap and not McDonalds. As spring arrives, I will no longer need the warmth of your day-old baked potatoes and hamburger-meat chili. The fries have been a little salty as of late, but I forgive you because of the new spicy chicken nuggets.

Burger King, you were always so blaze. You never really caught my attention until you changed the spices on your fries. You're like the unnoticed middle child and maybe that's why we get along. I really shouldn't like your rodeo cheeseburger, so please stop selling them.

McDonalds, we are still not speaking. Sure, I may have my relapses since Supersize Me, but you told me those childhood lies and lured me in, but I'm done. What's this I hear about smoothies, though?...

Subway, I'm not sure what to believe (esp. with this Jerod character of yours). I'm happy to see vegetables and colors in my meal that are not coated in sugar. Thank you for multiple bread choices and offering to toast my bread. With 200 subway points from the last 3 years, you always seem to give me an odd look when I decline to use them. Even more so when I say I'm saving up for my own toaster. Also:

KFC, you're also on my naughty list. I left the day I found out you'd given up your baked beans and don't plan to forgive you anytime soon.

Arby's, inflation is ever so evident thanks to your commercials. 5 for $5 became 5 for $5.95 and now you've abandoned all of that for a pathetic excuse for a dollar menu. Times are hard, I know.

Taco Time, I know I can depend on you for one healthy thing, my bean and veggie whole wheat burrito. You remember how I like black and not refried beans and I thank you for that.

Sincerely yours,

GMB

Friday, March 12, 2010

Laugh of the Day #13

I'm still not feeling up to writing anything substantive. So here's one of my favorite web comics that fixes a fundamentally flawed classic comic strip...

I give you Garfield Minus Garfield, "a site dedicated to removing Garfield from the Garfield comic strips in order to reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb":


Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Favorite Things #1 and #2

So, I'm totally 'kifing' this idea from Grant Haws, but he stole it from Oprah.

I'd like to share with you some of my favorite things. I don't have any free goodies to offer, however, ... or do I?



#1: Mental Floss T-Shirts


I'm not really into graphic tees or shirts with phrases on them. (There's nothing more banal than a shirt that says something like "Come back when your hot!" (sic) ). These, however, are an exception to that rule and some of my favorite favorites:

  • I avoid cliches like the plague.
  • Forever Jung
  • Hokey Pokey Anonymous: A Place to Turn Yourself Around
  • Christians have the best sects.
  • Easy as 3.141592...
Some visuals:

If you'd like to buy one (*cough*...for me...) go here. (...I also wouldn't mind the guy in the Pluto shirt, but I think that would be a little expensive for most of you).



#2: TED: Ideas Worth Spreading


There's that old joke circa '05: "Food Network: Porn for Fat People." I'd say that TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) is porn for smart people. You sapio-sexuals out there will be pleased to find videos on everything from cancer research and bacterial quorum-sensing to poverty and this:



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Food for Thought #3

Sorry everyone. I need some downtime. (I haven’t heard from some dear friends affected by the earthquake a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been on edge for about a week).

Have some hugs instead of our regularly scheduled post today:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Embarrassing Things That Make Me Cry #3

Sorry for the cliffhanger, but I’m not really in a condition to write much with a trip coming up, general worries, concern for a dear friend, and everyday anxieties.

I present to you instead something subtly appropriate with the theme of forbidden love.

West Side Story is moving and provocative as it shows that the barriers that society teaches us do not (or at least should not) matter in terms of true emotion.

I wish you all well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I’m Not That Boy, Part 4

FYI—Missionary Monday looks like it will soon become a reality. Due to high demand for the current series (and the fact that I haven’t contributed to it in a couple of days), however, I see that happening next week.

Unresolved Cadence

I went home very unsure of what I should do. I enjoyed Anderson’s company a lot, but I couldn’t get past some of the details that limited the relationship. I tended to focus on the fact that he was always so busy pursuing his acting dreams because that was easier than focusing on the other limitations to a relationship with him. I puzzled over this for a while. Was it okay to just have fun when I felt like he wanted to go somewhere more serious or had the time come to stop whatever was going on between us?

I am not proud of what followed.

Two days later on Connexion (the gay Facebook), I received a message:

We met the other night at Gracie’s. I just thought I’d say hi and tell you you’re hot.

~Derek

I considered the possibilities. There’s nothing wrong with a polite response. Said polite response (something along the lines of: “Thanks. It was a fun night.”) quickly escalated into flirting and then some thought-provoking chats. He forced me to think even more about why I wasn’t satisfied with Anderson and vocalize what I wasn’t necessarily prepared to vocalize otherwise.

My birthday was approaching and I wasn’t happy. Everyone was demanding some time to celebrate and I was just not used to that much attention especially in a romantic sense. Friends and family wanted to throw parties. My co-workers surprised me with a card and a party. Anderson wanted to take me to a nice dinner. Ianto wanted a night in watching a movie of my choice. And Derek, too, had something planned—“You’ll never forget your 24th,” he said.

The eve of my birthday, Anderson and I went on what would be our final date. He had planned something simple because I told him it would be a hectic night. It would be, but it was also because I didn’t want it to complicate things as the end seemed near. Following this date, I had a reception and another date.

la ferrovia

We went to dinner at a little Italian place, La Ferrovia. It was the kind of place out of a romantic movie. Local and under the guidance of a matriarch who served us that night. However, the whole experience seemed like an ordeal. It was a conflict of being out of place as I put on my best face. We were surrounded by happy couples and families, but that’s not where I projected us in a few weeks or a few decades. He belonged there. He deserved that ideal. I couldn’t give that to him, though. The conversation blurred together that night—mostly small and superficial talk unrelated to what was going on in my head—and the only sensation that remains completely engraved in my memory is one of sinking. I was becoming too heavy for the situation welling up around me.

After dinner, we stopped by the mall for a moment. He introduced me to his sister and we continued our now-forgotten conversation. Finally, we ended up back at my car. He pulled a surprise out of his messenger bag.

“I got you something, too,” I said, “for Christmas.”

I knew exactly what it was. I’d seen it in his eyes on our last date. They were the shoes I refused to buy for myself. Cheap red leather, pointy-toed, shiny, perfect angles… it was the type of shoe unique enough to fit into my collection and be used regularly. My gift of two measly CDs (Ingrid Michaelson and Kristin Chenoweth) just didn’t seem to cut it and I felt worse. We sat in the car listening to his new CDs for a while, then I turned off the radio and took a deep breath.

Red Shoes

ingrid_michaelson_be_ok

Then and there I knew I wouldn’t have the courage to say it would probably be our last date. I just thanked him and gave him a quick, unimpassioned kiss, and said goodbye as he left for his own car.

I took another deep breath, deeply unsatisfied with what had happened and turned the key in my car. Nothing happened. I tried again, but to no avail.

The battery was dead.

End, Part 4.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Laugh of the Day #12

My plan to write a regular post was foiled as the SLC Public Library is filled with people who irritate me. Averting the possibility of coming off as judgmental, I’ll only describe them as “loud” although on a less reserved day, I’d certainly not be this kind.

Instead, I present to you a cat food commercial. The tag line (used on a number of other blog posts):

“Friskies: Now with More LSD”

This reminds me a bit of the new Alice in Wonderland, which was 10 times better and more original than I’d expected. It’s my new “Woman Power” movie. The costumes, imagery, plot, and music are all discussion-worthy. Go out and see it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Good Underrated Movies?

A local video store is going out of business. Are there any totally under-rated non-mainstream films I should look for as they’re going for $4 a piece on DVD? Foreign and independent films or forgotten older films are what I’d like to add to my collection. I picked up Persepolis, The Band’s Visit, and Curse of the Golden Flower. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Everyone.

I’m Not That Boy, Part 3

Fateful Dissonance

Anderson and I picked up right where we’d left off after he finished up another show. At this point, I was making efforts to branch out and be more social, although (for the most part) outside of my hometown. I was also in the midst of my first great date rush—as many as seven dates a week for the three weeks of Winter Break.

Anderson was a really sweet guy who completely trusted and respected me. He was incredibly attractive in a physical sense. We also had a lot of fun together. All of this worried me because looming on the horizon were two barriers to things working out between us. First, the give and take of shows upon his schedule diffused any progress we seemed to make in getting close to one another. And second, although we connected on an emotional and physical level, I just wasn’t sure it would go any deeper than that even were he to have unlimited time for me.

My heart said to enjoy myself while my head told me it was time to let go, especially as Ianto had recently come into the picture.

Light in the Piazza

Our penultimate date was spent in Salt Lake away from the cares of home and school. I’d bought tickets to The Light in the Piazza at the Pioneer Theater a month earlier, working out all of the possible kinks in our schedules. As the day approached, I was excited and dreading it all at the same time. Am I leading him on or are we just having fun?

We turned the day into something care free. An adventure in a town I knew relatively little about. I completely relied upon Cole to drive or guide me through Salt Lake because there was no reason for me to be in the big city. That day, Anderson showed me some of my first slices of Salt Lake’s gay culture. He pointed out Babylon and Gossip (two of the bigger names in gay clubs at the time) and the homes of a few of his friends. He saved what he thought of as the best for last.

“Okay. Turn left here,” he told me on State Street. Then a few seconds later, “Left again.”

“The D.I.?” I asked. “You know how much I like my thrift stores, but that doesn’t make for much of a surprise.”

“Just wait,” he said over the top of the car as we got out. “Follow me.”

He put his arm around me for a second and flashed his bright blue eyes before leading the way. PDAs weren’t his thing, but he was always tempted.

“There,” he said, pointing to a large black and red sign. “Spark.”

spark

As we went in, I realized that we were in a specialty store of sorts. It was a clothing store, but with a different vibe. Everything seemed to call out a bit more than usual, especially the wall of shoes.

“This is what I wanted to show you,” he said, picking up a pair of checked faux snakeskin shoes. “These are just what you need. They go perfectly with your purple shirt.”

“Only forty dollars!?” I exclaimed. “I can’t. I can’t”

“You know you want to….”

I procrastinated another twenty minutes, weighing out options. “I can’t. I can’t I can’t,” I told him, picking up some burgundy shoes. “They’re so nice and even reasonably priced!”

His puppy-dog eyes pushed me over the edge. “I’m doing it.” I set down the red shoes and picked up the snakeskin ones on the way to the register.

“Wait,” he said, “I have to show you the back of the store.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of the sexually-charged tone in his voice, but it took my breath away. As we entered the back of the store (“Cockers” as it’s known to some), I felt a certain spark, a blatantly-sexual connection. It wasn’t so much the sex paraphernalia (toys, lotions, and literature I will leave to the imagination), but rather the underwear. Some of it was modest and some of it downright skanky, but it all seemed to glorify and emphasize the contours of the male body—something that seemed forbidden on so many levels, but also beautiful.

Cockers Underwear Mens “Wow.”

That was all I could think or say at that point, and the experience stayed with me.

After buying the shoes, the night turned into a collage of memorable moments: a chatty dinner at a local pizza parlor; stealing a kiss in the parking lot; hiding our back-row hand-holding under my suit jacket; stealing another kiss behind the coat rack during intermission.

I couldn’t really escape the feeling that he might be falling for me more than I could ever fall for him. As we left the theater making our way through the chaotic surge of people, I spotted Drake Hatch pushed towards me by the current of the crowd. Just weeks after his disappearance, he pretended not to notice until conversation was unavoidable. We passed our pleasantries of “Hi, how are you?” and went on our ways. I felt good for putting on a strong face and having a handsome man at my side, but wondered if it was an omen of what I would become dating so much and lacking a necessary connection with Anderson.

“Well, that was a great night,” I said.

“I have a surprise for you, GMB. If you’re not too tired, the night doesn’t have to be over.”

Not one to turn down a surprise, I said, “Sure. What is it?”

He then took me to a friend’s house. My theatre friends are having a party and I say we stop by for a few minutes. It’ll be nice for them to put a name with your face. I felt a bit guilty as he introduced me to Grace, a budding director; Alec, a very flamboyant tenor; RJ, the lone straight seducer in the department; Tara, the brilliant character actress/alto; and Derek, a tall curly-haired bass who remained quiet the rest of the night as he sipped his drink.

RJ Grace Derek

With his friends (clearly all aware of his sexuality), Anderson was more of a showman and distant. Was he presenting me as a friend or a love interest or maybe even an object? We enjoyed the night of improve games and desserts as I made some new friends. That said, I wasn’t sure what to make of my feelings for Anderson. Or the way he acted around his friends. Or Derek staring and smiling at me from across the room the rest of the night through his black thick-rimmed glasses.

End, Part 3.

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