A short story by Ryan Petty
Terry stood outside the room thinking to himself. What the hell am I doing here?! Terry had seen the poster for the GLBT meeting on the bulletin board back at his dorm. I mean I don’t even know for sure if I’m…this way. He couldn’t even bring himself to say the words even in his mind. Finally he took one deep breath tuned the door knob and walked in.
This wasn’t my first meeting; I had come several times before, but only sat on the sidelines listening to other people talk about how they came to know they were gay, coming out to their family and friends, and just general things like how their lives are going.
“Well how about we start with a relatively new face tonight,” said Samantha. Samantha was a woman, probably about 28, who always started the meetings and seemed to be kind of the leader of the group. The guy sitting next to me nudged me and I looked up seeing Sam staring right up at me.
“Me?” I asked. “Umm…I don’t know what to start with.”
“A name is always a good way to start, only if your comfortable though.” Samantha had this kind of caring and soothing voice a mom would have when speaking to her newborn baby.
“Sure. I’m Jon. I’m 19. Uh…I’ve known that I’m gay for quite a few years,” I was suddenly cut off by someone opening the door. He was stunning. Tall, lean, short blonde hair, and broad shoulders; probably a swimmer. He looked pretty uneasy though. He sat down near the back and as close to the door as possible. I remember it well since that’s where I spent my first few meetings. I must have stopped for a while since Samantha started asking me another question.
“Have you come out at all to your parents, friends, somebody?”
I was snapped back into reality. “No actually…I haven’t.”
“Well it’s nothing to be ashamed…”
“I’m not ashamed of it,” I quickly cut in. “It’s just, back in high school people didn’t get labeled a lot. There weren’t a lot of ‘jocks,’ ‘dumb blondes’ or other things like that. But there was one label that was used a lot for only a few kids in our school, ‘fag.’ I wasn’t ashamed of being gay and I knew people wouldn’t hate me for it, most people. I just didn’t want to be ‘the gay kid,’ I wanted to be Jon. I preferred people didn’t know me at all, than just knowing me as the fag, you know”
“Of course Jon, and that’s a pretty mature way of looking at it. Are you sure your only 18?” she said with a chuckle.
“That’s what it says on my driver’s license. Of course it also says I’m 145 lbs. But what the DMV doesn’t know won’t hurt ‘em.” Everyone in the room laughed. Even the new guy chuckled a little. God he had such a great smile.
“Well I’m glad you shared that insight with us Jon,” said Samantha. “Now, is there anyone who would like volunteer to start off?”
“I would,” said a guy I had seen here every other time, his name was James and he lived with his parents who were lived in the suburbs. “I finally decided it was time I tell my parents about Joey and me.” Joey was his best friend throughout high school who soon became more than a friend once they started rooming together in college.
“How did you go about it?” asked Samantha.
“Well, I looked up that web page you gave me and printed off some of the online brochures. I called mom and dad, told them I needed to talk to them in person. So I went home and we all sat down, and I just came straight out with it.”
“How did they take it?”
“Well, my dad called me a ‘sick pervert’ and my mom told me that I’m no longer welcome in their home; with a few more swear words. I tried to calm them down, but my dad all but shoved me out the door. I dropped all the pamphlets on the floor as they pushed me out, so hopefully they’ll at least take a look at them.”
“This is a tough issue for your parents to deal with, and you might want to give them a little time to cool off. Even with their blunt reaction, they might have just been caught off guard. Sometimes people just lash out when they’re facing something their unfamiliar with. It’s hard to tell this early how it’ll turn out, but you did the right thing by talking to them about this. It took a lot of guts, and you have nothing to be ashamed of, and remember, no matter what, we’ll always be here for you.” Samantha always seemed to know exactly what to say. “And when I came out to my parents, they told me how disappointed they were and seemed angrier at themselves that I didn’t turn out ‘normal’ and that somehow it was their fault. I just told them that this was the way I was, it had nothing to do with them, and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. Thankfully my parents’ love outweighed their guilt and their finally started coming around a few years ago. Now they love and support me as much as they did before I came out and they even came to Jenny and my commitment ceremony last June. So even though they might not react they way you thought they would at first, there is still hope that they will look into their hearts and remember the love the have for you.”
“Thanks Sam,” said Joey
The rest of the conversations varied from dating trouble to STD prevention. As we were about to wrap it up, I noticed the new guy was the first to rush out the door. Frankly, he was pretty hot, so I was hoping I’d see him again.
The next meeting rolled around after another pretty uneventful week. As I had anticipated, and frankly looked forward to, the guy from last week came and sat in the back right before the meeting started.
“Well, it looks like we’ve got a relatively new face with us. Care to share anything with the group?” Samantha was looking right at the guy in the back.
He was completely shocked; I could see his expression quickly change to fear, though.
“Me?” He looked left and right to make sure she wasn’t talking to someone else.
“Yes, you dear. Would you like to talk about something, anything?”
“Umm…I’m Terry, and…I don’t belong here.” He quickly got up and rushed through the door and into the hallway.
Now I don’t know what in God’s name compelled me to do this, but I got up, excused myself, and ran out after him.
As I got out of the room, I heard a door slamming shut off to the right. I knew he must’ve gone for the nearest exit. I ran to the exit, flew open the door, and stepped outside scanning the campus to see which direction he ran off to. Surprisingly, after a few seconds, I heard a heavy breathing off to my left, turned, and saw Terry, leaning against the wall hyperventilating twenty feet away from me. Again, I don’t know what possessed me, but I had the courage to walk right up to him.
“What the fuck do you want?” he muttered between labored breaths.
“Hello to you to. Don’t worry, there’s no reason to panic. I was as scared as you my first couple meetings.”
“Look man, I’m fine.”
“In what way? In the sense that you’re not having a panic attack, or the fact that you’re not having problems with being yourself.”
“Very funny man,” he muttered sarcastically.
“I appreciate that you’re observant enough to know my gender, but you can use my name and call me Jon.”
“Okay Jon, but I don’t need any help right now, got it.”
“I beg to differ, let’s go for a walk.” I offered my hand to help him up. I could see he was going through a deep thought process, but he finally grudgingly accepted my hand and I helped him to his feet.
“Come on,” I indicated over to one of the cement paths that went all around the campus, “and don’t worry, it’s late so I doubt anyone will hear us.”
He quickly shot me a questioning look.
“Talking,” I added.
We set off and walked around for a few minutes without either of us saying anything. Finally I decided to break the ice.
“So Terry, why did you come to the meeting, if I may ask.”
He stuck his hands in his pockets and muttered, “I dunno, maybe hoping for some answers.”
“To what questions?”
“Like, how do you guys know for sure?”
“Well Terry,” I used his name as often as I could so he would feel more comfortable and open around me (a little trick I picked up from my dad who’s a psychiatrist). “I can tell you how I know for sure. For most of my life, I knew that I just didn’t fit in. I wasn’t antisocial, mind you, I just knew that something wasn’t quite right, or normal, rather,” I corrected my self. “Then, back in 9th grade, I had a crush on another kid in my class. His name was Justin and he was so beautiful. Slender, yet toned for a fourteen year old. He was in my gym class. That’s when I finally knew why I was different.”
“Did anything happen between you and Justin?” He was sounding a little more at-ease.
“No, I was too much of a wuss to confront him about it. To be completely honest, you’re the first person I’ve ever told that to.”
“Really?” he sounded touched, but I wasn’t going to get all sappy about it. Not now at least.
“Yup, now I suppose it’s my turn to ask you a question.”
“Okay, go ahead.”
“What made you question yourself?”
“I don’t know, it’s complicated.”
“I’ve got all the time in the world.” I looked him right in the eyes as I said this. I could tell he was still a little nervous, since he quickly broke our stare, looked ahead, and we continued walking.
“Well, I’ve known girls were pretty, and God knows I’ve fucked a few. But it just never seemed…perfect.”
“It never is unless it’s with the right person.”
“I know, still I just felt…uncomfortable. Then there was last year. I was at a party with some friends, and I noticed a guy from our swim team, Corey. He was pretty hot, any straight guy would tell you that, but everyone knew he was a flamer. So when the party was winding down, a few of my friends left and I was getting ready to leave, when Corey walks up to me and whispers in me ear, ‘I was wondering when those friends of your would head out. Come on, lets go out back and ‘talk a little.’ I don’t know what possessed me to follow him, but I did and soon we were out back behind the house. No one else was out there, since the party had pretty much wound up.”
“So then what happened?”
“Well after he looked around first, he put his hand on the back of my head and gently pulled me into a kiss. I was afraid of what to do, but for the first time I can ever remember, it just felt right. Our tongues started battling and…sorry Jon, I’m not grossing you out am I?”
“Not at all, go on.”
“Well after a while of a bunch of kissing and groping, he knelt down, undid my pants, and gave me the best head I can ever remember. After that, he said he had to go pick up some more beer. I was pretty confused and fucked up, so I decided not to stay and headed back for my dorm.”
“What happened to Corey?”
”Well, he graduated, and I never saw him again.”
“Oh Terry, I’m so sorry.”
“Nah, that’s all right. What hurt me the most was that I like it, not just the blow job, but the kissing; it was just so fucking passionate. After that though, it took me a while to really get up the courage to come to one of these meetings to see if this was really what I was.”
“To me, Terry, being gay isn’t just about the sex, it’s about the love. Sex is supposed to be a physical expression of an emotional bond that transcends comprehension. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but it really is all about who you fall in love with.”
“Thanks Jon, thanks for helping, but I gotta go home now.”
“It’s nothing. I’m just glad I can help.” I turned around to head back to my own dorm.
“Oh Terry!” he shouted after me and came running up.
“Just one more thing.” He planted a soft kiss on my lips before turning around and running back to the direction he was headed.
I really hoped to see Terry at our next meeting, and just as I had predicted, he showed up right before we started. What surprised me though, was that instead of sitting in the back near the door, Terry pulled up a chair right next to me.
“Hey Jon,” he said with a smile as he sat down.
“Well,” announced Samantha, “It looks like on of our lost sheep came back the flock. Are you ready to talk tonight?”
“Yeah, I’m Terry and I just wanna say that I’m very thankful for a friend of mine who helped convince me to come back and be more open with other people, but more importantly, myself.”
“Well Terry, we are all sure glad that you decided to come back. Lets start tonight’s meeting…” I didn’t pay attention to what Samantha said after that. All I remember was seeing Terry’s face so much more attentive and confident that night. He even added a little to some of the discussions.
After the meeting, Terry asked me if he could take me out or dinner as a way of saying thanks for helping him. I enthusiastically agreed.
“And that son is how you father and I met. We graduated and moved in together shortly after,” I said looking into the eyes of our thirteen year old adopted son Alex. I never got tired of telling him the story
“What made you run after him that night at the meeting, dad?” Alex asked.
“Well son, to be completely honest, I don’t know, but it’s the best decision I ever made. Now hurry up and get ready for supper, dad should be home from work in a few minutes.”
By Ryan Petty December 2005
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