September 08, 2016


Eric, age 11
Toronto, Ontario Canada (1962)

I'm here in the middle with my younger brother and sister. I was born on a farm in a family of seven, and we moved to the city at age 5. Before moving, I was invited to stay overnight at my neighbor Maryann's place. I assumed I would sleep with her, which made her parents laugh. They refused with no explanation, leaving me puzzled and offended.

I had no sense of sexuality till the bullying started in grade 7, and even my home room teacher encouraged it. It turns out he was getting it on with a girl in class. 
I volunteered at recess to clean his blackboards so I wouldn't face the bullies.  

Instinctively, I was sucking up to him (figuratively) to neutralize him as a homophobe - before I even knew I was gay! Even that lecherous teacher was better than recess that year.

Prior to that, I had friends. And a few guys that I liked especially and who remain in my mind as innocent loves. They let me play soccer (badly) and treated me like one of the guys. I thrived on the comraderie. 

I remember in grade 8 a loudmouth teaser tormenting me in the hall, and my friend Bob grabbing him and telling him to stop taunting me. My knight in shining armor was thoroughly a jock and very handsome. Why was he so willing to stand up for me?

Bob even took figure skating classes with me for a while 'To improve my skating skills' and let me play hockey (badly) in his backyard with his other friends. 

I wish I had learned team sports, but I lacked the jock spirit. 
Instead, I filled my plate full with studies, playing piano, and skating. 

Then came high school, which was great. No taunts! I was good at gymnastics, and the teacher made a point of praising my athletic ability in gym class. 

Those were idyllic years. 
My crushes remained fantasies, but they were still vivid. 

I remained in the closet with my family, where there was much upheaval and much heartbreak. I breathed a sigh of relief when I began university far from home and could starting dating etc.

I met a very effeminate, pushy guy from the US on a choir tour, and the sex we had was a nightmare! He eventually hitchhiked back to school - unannounced - and was camped out in my dorm room when I returned, much to the hilarity of my dorm mates. I was a victim, and that episode scarred me for life!

I finally had a few good encounters, but never found someone I really wanted to be with and who really wanted to be with me.

So my story has no 'happy ending' yet. 
Sadly, I keep looking but never seem to find a stable relationship. 

I suppose I might still be the problem?

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yarapa said...

Each story I read here gives me pride in how tough we are to have survived a world that had no place or love for us. Eric you are not the problem. If blame is to be assigned then put it on society or hate infected churches and institutions. Perhaps better than thinking about blame dwell on hope. Put yourself where other men can see you or maybe you'll see them. Remember we were little boys who grew up with no role models, nobody to teach us what it meant to be gay, no healthy hero's. We had to survive and find our own way. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck to you.


Simon Jones said...

thanks yarapa, but it's not so much the churches, at least in my experience. if i had confessed (i was raised presbyterian, so no need!) i'm sure the minister would have said the standard: we don't hate the sinner, just the sin, so just remain celebate (or 'don't ask, don't tell' if you're going to sin).
for me, the bad role model was the guy who latched on to me from the choir back in 1970. because he was so obviously gay, he had no consideration for me in the closet in a male dormitory. by returning uninvited and unannounced, in effect he outed me, against my will. this was a betrayal (or just stupid 'being in love' when you only think of your own feelings).
THAT was the 'role model', which scarred me for life, and made me realize how childish much of the budding gay movement was, how it needs to mature and be more sensible. AIDS would soon come along with the same message, but in a much more 'vengeful' way.
i wonder what happened to him, living a promiscuous life in the 1970s--80s? i forgive him now (no help to carry that chip on my shoulder), but i will always have that deep scar to remind me what NOT to do in life.

yarapa said...

Wow Simon...What a damning and miserable spot you were in. I have empathy for both of you boys because at times I found myself on opposite sides of that fence. I hid my little gaily shining light in Catholic School but ached for other boys. By the time I got drafted, a barracks full of other young men made it hard (cheap pun)for me to hide my attraction. One straight guy in particular fired my lust and I know it was obvious. Having to shower beside him outed me till I finally learned the value of cold water. Later on university life provided the start for my journey Out.

It seems that things are better today, at least for a lot of gay kids. I listen to kids talk casually about friends, some gay, some straight and it makes me happy for them. The straight kids cause they don't have to carry around hate and the gay kids who get to be themselves. As short as our stay in life is I've learned to enjoy the bit that I have and dream of what still might be. I wish you well.

JCF said...

Simon (Eric?),

Hang in there. SOMEDAY your princess (my princess) will come...

John Going Gently said...

Nicely written.
A brief hello from a middle aged gay bloke living in a small Welsh village with his hubby