August 1998

Brennan, 19, is a student at Dartmouth College.

Baby Steps First. . .

Isn't it amazing how absolutely fast time flies when you're having fun? My summer job at Borders Books and Music has been keeping me quite busy these days, and in my opinion, I couldn't possibly have picked a better job. For one, the people I work with are very open-minded and altogether cool with the gay stuff. After all, there are four openly gay employees working in my branch (including yours truly) and a whole slough of questionable others. For another, I've discovered how very "cruisy" bookstores actually are. I guess you could say it's a sort of academic, less testosterone-ish equivalent to the muscle-clad bar scene and a relatively non-threatening way of discreetly meeting other guys, too. But don't take my word for it. Go check out a bookstore nearest you and pay close attention to the eyes. You'll see! Hehe. . .

Onto newer and brighter aspects of my life, I thought I'd devote this article to my recent "firsts." Generally speaking, I've realized in the past few months since coming out of the closet how very much behind the times gay teenagers are as opposed to their heterosexual peers. Whereas someone who's heterosexual may have had their first kiss when they were, say, 12 or 13 (albeit a conservative estimate...perhaps even earlier if they were more progressive), someone who's gay may not have had their first kiss [and more perhaps] until they were 16 or 17...or even 19 like myself. Mind you all, I AM speaking in generalizations here, so if you had your first, passionate, deep-throated kiss with another guy/gal when you were six and a half, kudos for you! Whichever the case, I see it only natural for gay teens to start discovering the wonderful world -- dating-and-the-like at a much later age than the heterosexual norm (I'd say "straight," but I'm trying to be politically correct here). Social distress, anxiety over one's sexuality, and, of course, the almighty closeted sanctuary make for a fairly belated start. Was this ever more true for myself!

Brennan and His First Passionate, Not As Deep Throated Kiss

I've found the Internet to be by far the easiest means of meeting other guys. As impersonal an atmosphere as a chat room is, cyberspace gives one direct access to another person's mind and thoughts without having to deal with the usual humdrum protocols which come with establishing non-Internet friendships. If a guy comes across as a bit too sketchy online, you can drop him like a jar of Western Family Mayonnaise gone bad. Or, if all goes well and he doesn't strike you as the loony toon escapee from Sunny Acres Sanitarium , you can decide to meet in real life. Such was the case with me...

A short while ago, on one of my many real life rendezvous from the Internet, I came across George, a handsome, "swear-to-God" Paul Rudd look-alike from the movie Object of My Affection. For anonymity's sake, George isn't his real name, but in honor of that awesome movie and even more so, that awesome character whom Paul Rudd portrayed, let's call him George. So George and I met for the first time, established mutual sparks for one another, and eventually started dating. Mind you, prior to dating George, I had never dated anyone, much less kissed or gone to second, third, or home base with another guy. So George was pretty special.

On our third date, we decided to stay and watch TV at George's house. It took me a while to actually start cuddling with him, as I wasn't very accustomed to physical intimacy with another man, but later that night, I finally started to feel more at ease. To say the least, it was wonderful. The affectionate touch of another human being gave me a soft, warm glow in my heart. Laying there beside him on the couch watching The Golden Girls incited that instinctive, domesticated feeling I'd had since adolescence. I wanted a husband. I wanted a house with Rattan couches, lofty ceilings, and an interior decorator-designed motif fit for a Good Housekeeping matriarch. But more importantly, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with George.

So there I was cuddled beside him on the couch. As Rose Nylan started rambling on with one of her St. Olaaf tirades, George and I made eye contact for a few seconds, our faces inches -- no, centimeters -- apart. I closed my eyes, heart pounding like mad, and we kissed. . .for four life changing seconds. And so was my fantasy life with George-the-handsome-husband consummated. . .

Brennan's First Brush With Reality

So life was going great for me. The birds chirped happily in the trees...dogs playfully frolicked with Nerf Frisbees in the park...world peace was declared...and everything was just downright peachy! I hadn't quite done anything more with George aside from some innocent kissing and cuddling, though he certainly wanted more, but I did seriously consider going "all the way" with him. But, just as the proverbial adage goes, "All good things come to an end." Not long after our kiss with Rose Nylan, I start hearing those cliched "It only happens in sappy Harlequin Romance novels" lines. George has a boyfriend in Europe. He'll be back in July. They've decided to date other people while maintaining a distant relationship. George doesn't know if he still loves him. Blah blah blah. In one felt swoop, my life had ended.

George said he didn't want to sever ties with me in case things didn't work out with his significant other, nor did he want to sever ties with his European lover in case things didn't work out with me. Well, a child of the after-school talk show generation, I knew better! I had seen enough Jerry Springer and Ricky Lake to have developed a working knowledge of "Frequently Used Lines by Players." And so suddenly, it all made sense. George was, after all, rather aggressive and hinted towards how much he wanted more than just a kiss. Was he just using me? I didn't want to stick around to find that out, so, as much as it hurt me, I ended things with him. Believe you me, I was much more emotional with the whole ordeal than how I'm coming across with this article's somewhat apathetic tone. Thankfully, the worst is over, and I'm basically over and done with George. We're still friends, though I haven't spoken with him in weeks, and I assume he and his boyfriend are back together again after their 6 month separation. Sigh... But life goes on, eh?

Brennan's First Post-Heartbreak Resolutions

With the whole stint with George behind me, I've since had some time to reflect upon my life with respect to the ill-fated Romance Department. Was I really in love with George, or merely in love with the idea of my domesticated fantasy life coming full circle? Now that I look upon the situation, I'm more inclined to believe it was the latter. I guess I'll always be a hopeless romantic, though. Prior to meeting George, I had this whole ridiculous notion in my head of going out and finding my Mr. Right. I might as well have gone out, found a prospective husband, batted him over the head with a club, and dragged him back to my cave, so silly was my frame of mind. But these epiphanies are all a part of growing up, aren't they? While they may be issues my heterosexual peers dealt with years ago, I'm only now starting to understand the reality of things. For now, I'll just have to start taking small strides, small baby steps, towards understanding life's little quirks and the foreign land of relationships. . .

Well, this article has turned out much longer than I expected, and if you've miraculously read this far without pressing "back" on your browser, you're amazing! A mandatory thanks to all of you who sent me insightful feedback, and once again, you can reach me at kesslen@geocities.com . Until next time, Over and Out!

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