May 1997

Hi Everyone!!!! My name is Joshua (I insist on being called by my full first name) and I am a predominantly gay bisexual. I'm 5'-10", about 165 pounds, and have reddish-brown hair and brown eyes. For privacy reasons, and since I'm not out, I'll only say that I am in my mid twenties, and that I live in a midwestern suburb.

My Awakening

I didn't suddenly wake up one day and realize that I was gay, it's something that I think gradually evolved during my early teens, as I feel is a case with many gays.

I never really had much exposure to sex of any kind until the summer between fourth and fifth grades, when a same age boy I'll call Paul moved to my neighborhood and gave me a crash course in sexuality during the experimentation that we engaged in on a daily basis! From the first time we messed around I felt something click inside of me that made what we were doing so natural, but I didn't really understand it then. (More on this later). Over that summer we began to experiment with other boys, and it seemed like that was going on with quite a few of them already. . . I've since learned that this is a rather common thing among pre-adolescents.

Around the time seventh grade started, the other boys stopped fooling around with us when they became pre-occupied with girl, but Paul and I stayed together, and we just went along with the other boys whenever girls came up, but I think we sensed that we were different from them. When my body developed, all I thought about was other guys and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get those thoughts out of my mind. I was relatively popular in school and dated a cheerleader for several months, and on the last day of seventh grade I lost my virginity to her in her bedroom. It was a pretty good experience physically, but I knew then for sure that I was gay. We broke up right after that, but we still remained friends throughout high school. To this day I wonder if she knew the truth about me?

That whole summer was a nightmare for me. I went through a very difficult period of self-hatred and denial that lasted until I made a nearly successful suicide attempt two weeks before eighth grade began, and I think that shocked me into accepting myself. I couldn't tell my parents why I had tried to kill myself then, all I could say was that I was nervous about school starting again. I still haven't told them the truth(more about this later).

I eighth grade I began to live my double life, on the outside the bright and cheerful and popular Joshua and on the inside the questioning Joshua-Why am I gay? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? This was during the early 80's, so there really wasn't an openness about homosexuality that exists today. Instead there was the same fear and loathing and misunderstanding that we have today, but magnified. In my school a surefire way to start a fist fight was to call someone a "fag", and there were always rumors going around about certain-usually unpopular-students that were gay. And here I was, Mr. Popular, buried deep in the closet!!!

I remember not caring too much about the first news reports about AIDS until there was mention of how it seemed to be striking homosexual men. Paul and I dated throughout high school, and even back then we always wore condoms during anal but not oral sex-we just couldn't get into doing that. And in a small town like the one I grew up in, you had to go outside of town to buy condoms because people would talk, and eventually your parents would find out! I ended up having a cousin buy them for me in large quantities, he never asked any questions, which was great because I don't know how I'd answer them!

I followed the story of Ryan White from the beginning, and because he was about my age he was a real hero to me. . . even though he was heterosexual, I think he really inspired me to keep a positive outlook on things. He also gave me a ugly preview of how being different can change how others feel about you. I miss you Ryan!!!

About My Life Today

I graduated from high school in the upper ten percent of my class, and I went to a fairly decent college, but after a semester there I dropped out. . . I just couldn't see myself in school for 3 1/2 more years. That really upset my parents because my Dad's a medical specialist, and my Mom's a Realtor, so the basically had pretty big plans for me. Plus, I'm the only child, so that made things even harder for me. I had discussed dropping out with them a few weeks before actually doing it, and there were a lot of heated arguments between us, but luckily nothing was said that would be later regretted. I remember how a guy at my college was practically disowned for wanting to drop out!!!

I moved back home and basically hung out around the house for a while, trying to decide what to do with my life. Not a easy thing when you've already closed the door to college, let me tell you! One morning at breakfast, my Dad told me about a company that was having open interviews that afternoon, and maybe I should go see what it was about. I went down for the interview, and I swear as soon as I mentioned my name it was like I had the job. The interviews were for a new factory that was opening, and my starting wage would be $10/hour, if I was interested? How could I say no?!?!?

I work on an assembly like during the night shift, which really was a huge adjustment for me! It's not the most exciting work in the world, but it's really easy although very boring:(( I work eight 10 hour shifts, and then I have six straight days off, unless I'm asked to come in for overtime (double pay!). With the trust fund that my parents set up for me, and an inheritance from my late grandparents, I bought a duplex in a very nice area and live in the upper unit while renting out the lower one. The place pays for itself, and my tenants have never caused any trouble for me!

My Boyfriend

I've been dating a 21-year-old guy for six months now, although we didn't start out as boyfriends. I'll call him "Mike". One muggy summer evening I came home and saw him sitting on my porch, looking totally exhausted. It turned out that he was filling in for his little brother's paper route, and the heat really got to him. I invited him into my kitchen for a cold drink, and I felt a connection between us. He was just wearing a pair of shorts and shoes, and he excited me sexually like no other guy has in years! We just sat down and talked and talked and talked, and over the course of the summer we hung out together quite a bit. Sometimes I could sense that he was interested in me sexually, but I could never find a way to bring up the subject with him. And I didn't want to risk being wrong about him either!!!

When I met his family I could see what was missing in my life! As a only child, my life basically revolved around my parents, and I never got to experience having a sibling. Mike has four brothers: a 13-year old, a 10-year-old, and twin 2-year-olds. There's always so much activity going on with them!!!!

Last October Mike was over at my place and out of the blue we just started making out, and then we ended up having sex. Afterwards we stayed up the rest of the night talking about our sexuality, and there were so many things in common, the same feelings I have he also has. One big difference between us is sexual experience-while I've had a shameful number of promiscuous encounters, Mike's only had two: A one-time dose of sex play with a male cousin when he was 10, and intercourse with a prostitute in Nevada when he was 21(a "gift" from his uncle).

He told me that he knew for certain that he was gay after that first sexual experience, and, getting back to a earlier point, I can't help believing that human sexuality is already set for us, and certain experiences push us down either the hetero or gay path. I know a lot of gay men have said that they were molested as boys. . . is this a trigger for their sexuality? I welcome comments on this topic!

So far Mike and I haven't come out to anyone, but I think his parents have an idea about us. Whenever I sleep over at his house, they never make any comments about us sleeping in the same bed, and they never ever ask me about having a girlfriend-something they ask his other friends!-so I'm sure they have at least a inkling that we're somehow involved with each other, but they're not ready to approach us yet. I'm not sure how I'll feel when that day comes??????

Closing Remarks

I'd just like to say a big Thank You to everyone who's read my debut column, and I assure you all that next month's installment will be a bit longer!

[About the Author]

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