I borrowed part of the opening of Charles Dickens' classic "A Tale Of Two Cities" as a title for this column since that's an accurate description of how my life has been since this past September 18th.
The day everything changed.
Seven weeks have since gone by, and so much is different in my life, for better and for worse. Granted, I no longer have to "hide" the fact that I'm a bisexual, or fear that I'll be discovered, which is a big relief in itself, but my coming out hasn't been the bed of roses that so many people make it out to be. At times it's been pure Hell, like listening to my Mom crying in my Dad's arms about the fact that she may never become a grandmother yet I have no regrets about what I did for my brother.
Love knows no boundries.
My parents have been very open with me about thier first sexual experiences, and they allow me to ask anything I want, which is basically how they've always been with my brother and I. From the e-mail I'm sent, my type of parents are few and far between. They've always been open with us about things like sex and alcohol, so maybe that's why I am so open about myself with this column?
My Mom confessed to me that although she lost her virginity to my Dad on thier wedding night, she almost had sex with a guy when she wasn't much older than me, but she stopped at the last minute. She spoke of some regrets about that, but also told me that when she finally had intercourse with my father on thier wedding night that it was well worth the wait. A magical experience. I had a golden opportunity to tell her then that I had already had sex with a girl, but I lost my nerve. Instead, I shared with her my feelings for Eric, how it feels to be intimate with him, the love we share. I'm not all that sure she was ready to hear that from me? She was also stunned by the amount of sex I've had. . . I almost regret telling her that. . . but she was glad that I haven't "slept with any boy that crossed my path". I wanted to crawl in a hole and die when she said that!
My Dad was a bit like me when he was my age, he experimented with other guys, but insisted that it was a common thing among his friends, that attitudes towards sexuality when he was growing up in the late '60's and early '70's were a total opposite of how they are today. The term free love was taken quite literally, and he said that probably is what led to the spead of AIDS. Unlike my Mom, he lost his virginity in the back seat of his parents car during a drive-in movie with a girl he had dated for three months, and they broke up not long after that.
He was in a serious relationship with another guy while he was in college, but he broke that up because he wanted the stability of a marriage, and as he put it "the acceptance of society". I asked him if he regretted not staying with that man, and he told me that sometimes he wonders how that would have turned out, but then he wouldn't have had the opportunity to be the father of "two wonderful sons". He always tells us things like that! He also told me that that man died from AIDS five years ago, and that's his biggest fear about me.
It's mine too, Dad.
My family recently attended a support group meeting for young gays and lesbians and thier parents in a city quite a distance from where we live -- my parents feel that it's a good idea for my brother and I to keep our sexuality a secret for now, so that's why we went far from where we live. By the way, this wasn't a P-FLAG meeting, but a similar group.
In all honesty, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. There was a decent sized crowd there, but very few lesbians. It started out okay but after a while I became annoyed with some of the gays and the way they acted, and my Mom especially didn't appreciate it when a much older guy handed me his phone number! Neither did I. We were also in the minority by not wearing pink triangle or rainbow pins.
We started out by introducing ourselves, and we used fictious names at my Dad's insistance, which I think was probably a good idea, especially after the phone number incident. There were alot of stories about how things are now for them and thier families since they came out, and I didn't hear too many speak of things in a positive light.
Probably the biggest shock was the boy younger than my brother that was there with his foster father. . . his parents literally kicked him out of his home when he told them that he was gay! He's with a gay foster father now, but he's angry at his parents for what they did to him, and he also has a hard time dealing with school. He regrets coming out, and wished he had waited.
Some gays talked about how free they felt since they came out, and one actually said that now "he can be the fag he always knew he was!". Others spoke of just wanting to fit in with others, and wanting to go through life without others pointing thier fingers at them.
When it came my turn to speak, I told the audience that I'm a bisexual, and some of the gays gave me a funny look for saying that, but I'm not going to lie to make them happy! I told about some of my experiences, but I left out my sex with Anna and that I'm an Oasis columnist. . . I'm going to tell my Mom that stuff in private, not in front of a crowd!
My brother chose not to speak, which was okay with us but seemed like a letdown for the group. That was his choice to make alone.
The parents told of thier denial and acceptance of thier children, one even told of how they grieved the reality of never being a grandparent and the end of thier family name. . . I then understood how my Mom feels. There were mentions of how they felt about thier children going against the teachings of thier church, and how they worried for thier souls.
My parents told the group that they accepted our sexuality, but that it wasn't easy at first, and my Mom told of how upset she was when she found out about us, how she had "overreacted" at the news, but now felt even closer to us. I loved hearing her say that, and so did my brother!
When the meeting was over we made a hasty departure and for the duration of the drive home, we didn't say too much, except that Chris and I both agreed that we didn't want to go back for another meeting. I'm not knocking support groups, but I just did not feel comfortable in that setting. Maybe I'd be better off in a group with just teens?
I wasn't really planning on telling Anna (my girlfriend) anything about Eric other than the fact that we're close friends, but I found myself in a sticky spot with her and felt like I had no choice. I took a huge risk that actually paid off!
I was over at her house in her bedroom and we were just sitting around talking and she came right out and asked me if I'd ever had sex with anyone before I had it with her? I really don't know why she asked me this, but I now think that it was something she was just curious about?
I really didn't want to tell her, so I asked what she meant? She told me that one of her friends (a sophomore in high school) went all the way with her boyfriend and she told Anna that "he was all thumbs" when it came to doing things. She was wondering how I knew what to do? Had I seen someone do it before? Did someone teach me how to do it? I'm not kidding!!! She actually asked me that!!!
I decided to tell her the truth, and her response was "You had sex with Eric (last name)!!! You have to be kidding! What did you two do?"
So I told her. Everything.
I thought that I had made a huge mistake, but actually she was pretty open about what I shared with her, and she even told me about a few encounters she had with another girl when she was 10, stuff like looking at each other naked and kissing, things like that. She thought that it was something only she had ever done and felt funny about it, and in fact had never told another person that.
She wanted to know what it was like to be with him, and I told her that it's probably the same as it is when we have sex, the same things just differences in bodies. The same emotion feelings as I have with her, only it's with another guy instead of a girl. I asked her if what she did to me was gross, and she said no, so I told her that there's nothing gross then about two guys having sex.
The only surprise was when she said that she had no idea I was interested in other guys, and I told her something that I've since learned about gays: Anybody can be gay. Anybody.
I've said before that she doesn't like Eric too much, but she seems to have a different opinion about him now. and she even said that she thinks he's cute! Am I lucky or what?
One night, about two weeks after I finished my November column, my Mom came into my room right as I was about to go to bed and asked me if I'd like my chest rubbed -- Don't get the wrong idea now, my parents show my brother and I alot of affection, and we get quite a few backrubs and stuff like that! I said yes and she started massaging my chest, which feels awesome! Then she came right out and told me that she had had lunch with Eric's Mom that afternoon, who told my Mom that she thinks Eric and I are "fooling around". . . I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of my head!!!
My Mom told me that she wasn't sure what to say, and she didn't want to tell Eric's Mom the truth about us without letting me know first, which is her way of suggesting that I tell Eric that his Mom thinks something's up. My Mom likes telling me stuff that way, I think it makes it easy on her if I'm relaxed when she has something important to say. My Dad's the same way, he'll put his arm around me when he wants me to know I've done something wrong and he'll tell me instead of screaming.
The next day when Eric came over I told him and he freaked out! I mean REALLY freaked out! So we talked things over with my Mom and she told us that the smartest thing to do was to just go and tell her the truth, because there was no point in hiding it anymore. I think he was as scared as I was when I told my Mom the truth!
We went over to his house later that evening and just sat in the living room and waited for his Mom to come home. . . I'm not the most patient person in the world, and neither is Eric!
When she finally came home she came into the living room and asked us what was going on, and he told her that he had something to tell her. I think she knew what was coming, because she just sat in the recliner opposite from the couch and looked at us. I asked him if he wanted me to stay and he said yes, so I did. He came right out and said, "Mom, Ty and I are going together" and his Mom just said "I know".
It turns out that she actually knew for a long time, and she told us that she had an idea something was going on because one day when she was checking his room for dirty laundry she found a container of petroleum jelly under his bed, and she told us us that no boy keeps that under his bed unless he's using it for sex! She also saw us in bed, covered up a few times and she figured something was going on, but she had her reasons for not saying anything to him.
I felt weird hearing this stuff.
Eric has never really talked about his Dad, and that night I found out that his parents were not divorced at all, in fact they were never even married! His Mom and Dad had been dating for a while, and she became pregnant but kept if from her boyfriend because she wasn't sure about marrying him. She then found out that he was involved with another guy and she broke up with him, never letting him know about her pregnancy. She found out that he'd joined the military right before Eric was born and she lost contact with him. She found a job near here and tried her best to raise Eric on her on own, but things were always tight, even with help from her parents.
She tried to contact Eric's father, but never would hear anything back from him, so after a while she just gave up, although she knows where he lives and told Eric that he's free to contact him (so far he hasn't).
Eric didn't take this all too well, but one thing that helped was that she showed him some pictures that she had of his Dad while they were dating, and there's no doubt that he's Eric's Dad! They look so much alike!
His Mom went on to tell us that the reason she never said anything about what she knew we were doing is because she was afraid of losing him just like she lost his father, and that no matter what she would always love him! Probably the best part was that she's glad that he's with me because "I'm a good guy". . . that gave me a blush attack!
She said that she was a little bit dissapointed that Eric didn't tell her sooner that he's gay, but she also said that it was very brave of him to just come out and tell her, and she thanked me for staying beside him. She hugged both of us, which made us feel better about the whole thing. I just don't really know what to say to him about his Dad, it's something that I just can't relate to? I think that he wants to contact him and let him know he's gay too, that maybe then he'll at least want to visit his son? No matter what happens, I'm here for Eric. My relationship with Eric is still going strong, although recently he's changed a bit. He started puberty and he's starting to grow taller and also putting on some weight. His breasts are sticking out a little and he's freaking out about that, to the point where he doesn't want to take his shirt off around anyone, including me! I now have to stand on a couple of books to hug him comfortably, but I don't mind. Some things are weird for me, like he's getting pubic hair and here I am this skinny short guy without a single hair below my neck! It's embarassing sometimes, but I try not to let it bother me. . . hopefully I'll be starting puberty soon!
Some things bother me, like that Eric's starting to lift weights so that he can play on the Freshman football team next fall, and I'm not allowed to lift until I start puberty. My Dad explained to me why, but it still seems unfair that Eric can lift weights and make himself stronger but I can only do push-ups and pull-ups!
I have to say that things have improved for my brother Chris since I sent in my November column, and our Mom is treating him better than she has in a long time. . . well, maybe I'm giving the wrong impression here? Our Mom isn't mean to him or anything like that, it's just that she treats me alot better than him, maybe it's because I'm the firstborn or maybe there's more to it? Chris is a smart kid but my parents, especially my Mom, didn't seem to take him all that seriously sometimes. That's changed now, it seems like she treats him the same as me, and she's showing him more affection than before, which he loves! She's also doing more one-on-one stuff with him, like taking him to out to eat and going to his favorite places.
One thing that's also changed for both Chris and myself is that our parents seem to accept that we have boyfriends, and now we can be openly affectionate with them in front of our parents. . . with some discretion naturally. It's not like I'm going to have sex with Eric in front of my parents, but I feel comfortable cuddling with him on the couch while we watch a rental movie, and my brother is the same with his boyfriend Mike. Eric and I have a tradition of hugging and kissing right before he leaves, and while we used to do that in my bedroom with the door closed, now we do it in the living room. It was a funny feeling to be doing that the first time in front of my Mom, but my parents hug and kiss all the time in front of my brother and I, so what's the big deal if I do the same with Eric?
Recently Mike spent a few days with us because his Mom had to go on a business trip, and it was great having him here! He's a special guy, and I can see why Chris and him are so close. Mike's rather chubby and very self-conscious, so it was a major thing to get him to take his shirt off when we went into our hot tub. He has breasts the size of a girl's, and he kept his arms folded across his chest the whole time he was in the water. He does that out of habit because the other boys at school always grab them, but it was sad seeing him do that around us, his friends.
There have been other events that have tested me since I sent my November column in, and sometimes I wonder if things will always be like this?
Since I started writing for Oasis, I've tried to make it clear that I simply cannot reveal my true identity, and most people seem to accept that. . . but there are still some that would love to find out who I am. Recently, someone e-mailed Oasis editor Jeff Walsh claiming that I'm actually an adult (this has happened before, look up my August '97 column for details), and as I was back then, I'm both angry and hurt. Actually, I'm more angry this time than anything.
Let me explain. Every month I get a fair amount of e-mail, which I don't mind, although most of it is from several people around my age that I've met since I started writing this column. Every now and then I receive one that reads something like this:
I read you column in Oasis and I have a few questions for you? Where do you live? What's your phone number? What school do you go to? What's your last name? What are your parents names?
Please write back soon!!!
This idiot must think that I'm the world's dumbest teenager! Right, I'm actually going to reply to a e-mail like this! Duh! How many times do I have to tell people that I can't answer any question that might reveal my identity??? If I could give out that information, don't you think my last name and a photo would be on my column header? Sure I could get somebody's picture and post it, but I'm not going to play that game. I'm a honest person and I take pride in that. I'm not going to go into details, but someone came a little bit too close in finding me recently, and that scares> me. The press couldn't leave Princess Diana alone and look at what happened to her!
This isn't the first time I've had to deal with people trying to get personal information from me either. My first encounter with that was during the summer of '95, when my parents subscribed to America Online for the first time. They gave my brother and I screen names, but we could access anything we wanted. I also knew the master screen name's password (sorry Dad!) so I could do anything I wanted. That was when I first discovered chat rooms, and eventually I came across the gay ones. Since I was only 11 at the time, I couldn't go into the teen chats without being harassed (the young kid rooms were <I>boring</I>!) so I made up a screen name that made me 13. . . real easy to do! Eventually I found my way into the gay chats, and at the time I thought it was pretty exciting! Here I could talk with other gay guys and maybe figure some things out? Wow was I mistaken!
The first time I went into a gay chat there was a age/sex check being done so I entered in "13m" and within a minute I had tons of Instant Messages coming in. . . and all anyone asked me was stuff like how big my penis is, if I ever had sex with anyone, things like that. I kept getting requests for cybersex! The thing that annoyed me the most was that there were guys in thier 20's asking me to phone them!!! I also had alot of requests from guys that wanted to meet me-I made the HUGE mistake of putting down where I live in my profile. . . I'll never do that again! This one person said he lived about a half hour from me and if we could meet the next day at the local mall? I told him maybe and said I'd ask my Mom if she could drop me off there, and I'd tell him the next day if we could meet. I asked my Mom about going to the mall the next day, and I e-mailed this person back saying I'd be alone and we could meet. I wasn't serious, but I had to find out if this guy was real or not? He told me what he'd be wearing and where to find him and I gave a fake description of myself. When I walked into the mall with my Mom I saw the guy standing exactly where he said he'd meet me, wearing what he said he would be wearing.
That scared me to death!
As soon as I got home I deleted that screen name and vowed to myself that I'd never do something that stupid again! I hate to think about what may have happened had I told him what I really looked like and actually met him? I learned a valuable lesson that day, and that is to never give out personal information on the Internet to ANYBODY!!! You never really know who's on the other computer. The people that are doubting my existance are probably like that guy that wanted to meet me, and are saying that just to find me. I'm not going to let that happen! End of discussion.
What Oasis Means To Me
As my 14th birthday nears, I've been reflecting on what changes have occured with me during the past year, and without a doubt Oasis has been one of the best things to happen to me! If you look at my columns you can see just how much I've changed since the summer started, and each column is a chronicle of the events that have changed me and my opinions. From my introductory column to last month's (and what I consider my best one to date) I've allowed my gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning peers to have a peek inside of my private life. I've tried to open minds to things in my life that I hold a special value to, such as my family's practice of nudism and my loss of virginity, with hopes that others will understand my feelings towards those topics.
Recently I've discovered just how powerful Oasis can be, as I've had several people write to me seeking advice about thier lives, and some of them are younger than me!!! That fact never ceases to amaze me, and it is with them in mind that I try to make each and every column something special and noteworthy, for they are the true benefactors of Oasis. By baring my soul each month, I am making a difference!
Isn't that all that really matters?
All my love,