Erwin Jaeger

September 1997

Looking Back

Hi, my name's Erwin Jaeger. I'm twenty two years of age and a graduate of Algonquin College Theatre Arts Program. I've written for Oasis in the past under the names: Terrence & Terrance Wood. The reasons for that will become clear in the coming months. I've spent a lot of time in and out of the LGBT youth groups and I guess that's what I want to talk about in this fair ramble.

For many living in or near major cities the "Youth group" is the only real outlet for LGBT youth. We come to the meetings scared, frightened, intimidated but mostly whacked out of our minds with mind numbing excitement and shock. When I first went to the Ottawa meetings (at Pink Triangle Services. On Bank Street next to McDonalds) I felt all of these things and more. It was my first experience with the LGBT (or LG, as it was known then) community. I had questioned my feelings in high school and knew I wasn't completely straight or gay but never really knew what to call it. A few days previous I had been introduced to the term Bi(sexual) We hit it off great.. I found the youth group through my pitiful windows 3.1 Terminal program and The Nations Capital Free-net.(Telnet: NCF.carleton.ca).

So there I was at the meeting putting on my "troubled young man" facade (while feeling like a frightened scared ninny schoolboy on the inside). The meeting started, we played the name game (everyone introduces themselves), there was a break and afterwards I went to the new persons group. After the meeting ended, shit happened between myself and a group member (we fooled around more then I could handle) and I didn't return to the group for two months.

I hadn't fully dealt with my sexuality and was exposed to the world. It was like getting a full jolt of electricity to your system when you were only used to small voltages... I was shock-baked. It was like being in the dark for all my life when someone suddenly decides to turn on the spotlights three inches away from my retina. I didn't know what to do or say. Did they do this with all new people or was it just me? Did I deserve it? There are now clearly unwritten rules preventing what happened to me at that first meeting from happening. The LGBT community may be a meat market but the youth group has toned that aspect down considerably since I was first there. It's an unwritten rule that you don't get involved with new people until you know where they're coming from, until they've been to the group for a while, until you know how the person is dealing. Or for that matter if the person shows interest in you at all. I respect that and praise it.

In the past year and a half, I've been to other youth groups in Ontario. They didn't have the unwritten rule that Ottawa did , but I knew how to deal by that point (I was cool with who I was/am). To their benefit they did have other precautions (mandatory 3-5 weeks in the new persons group for all new arrivals). Looking back at times I still have mixed feelings about the entire experience. Mixed feeling in the sense that I should not have gone to the meeting so early in my coming out process or maybe I just should have said no. But at the same time it was a learning experience. It isn't everyday that you open your eyes to a world of possibilities you never had the courage to name and it also isn't ever day that you come to terms with the fact that predators don't live exclusively in the woods.

Its taken me two years to deal with my sexuality (come to terms with who I am) and I know I still haven't dealt with half the things that make me who I am . But it all started with one meeting in September. The rest as they say is history.

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