C. Brian Smith
was in the seventh grade when I began realizing that there was a
decent chance I might be gay.
What a fucking bummer.
you are a potentially homosexual twelve-year-old living in Fairfield,
Connecticut -- built like a middle linebacker, son of devout Irish
Catholic parents -- concepts like "just going through a phase"
and "normal adolescent experimentation" become remarkably
comforting. Unfortunately, other concepts are even more comforting,
It didn't help my confusion that, as a child, my only interaction
with a gay man came once a month when my mother would take me to
get my haircut at her beauty salon in Westport called "Richards."
Richard, the owner, was what you'd expect from a "Richard"
who owned a beauty salon in Westport, CT called "Richard's."
A steady stream of Andrew Lloyd Webber flooded the lavender room
and Richard's chest hair would often "tickle" the back
of my neck while he trimmed my bangs. One night, after his boyfriend
left him and opened a competing salon across the street called "Bobby's",
Richard, sobbing uncontrollably on my mother's shoulder, turned
to me and said, "You're so lucky you're not a fag, Brian. Everything
about a gay man is sticky and messy."
On the way home that night, I remember asking Mom how Richard knew
I wasn't gay.
"Honey, it's just obvious. And besides, if you were gay, you
wouldn't have that stack of magazines under your bed. Now get inside
have to hem your Technicolor Dreamcoat for opening night."
What Mom didn't realize was that I had actually won the collection
of glossy porn mags in a circle jerk contest with some kids from
the country club the previous summer. "Dude, you are quick,"
Justin said, as he relinquished ownership to his father's assortment
of Ebony Lips.
And there those Lips remained, under my bed, gathering dust,
like batteries and duct tape in a post-9/11-red-state-ranch-house
bomb shelter. I couldn't break my mother's heart and explain
"used". I'm pretty sure
she still checks under my bed when I come home for the holidays,
desperately seeking a sign that this dreaded phase has come
to an end. Eagerly awaiting the cable bill for years, on
the off chance that a $3.00 Playboy Channel charge might appear.
Longingly yearning for a normal, horny, adolescent son who
beats off to her Victoria's Secret catalog.
world so she could sleep at night.
But she had a right to be confused, because my sexuality didn't
really make a whole lot of sense. And for some, it still doesn't.
I tell people I'm gay, the most common response is one that, for
a long time, I took as a compliment.
"You're gay? No fucking way!"
you don't understand... I really am a homosexual."
"Well at least you're not all queeny like
Which is reassuring at first. But after a while it begins to sound
a lot like:
least you're a light-skinned nigger!"
My Uncle Bob, upon hearing the news, said: "I'm fine with it,
just don't go turning into some sort of flight attendant on me...okay,
Okay, Uncle Bob, I'll try not to turn into some sort of flight attendant
on you. And don't call me Shirley.
I pardon these fools, since, for many years I took solace in the
same logic. I psychologically marked an asterisk next to my sexuality,
preserving the opportunity to appeal the verdict at a later date.
course I'm not the only gay man in the world with straight man
it just really seemed that way when I was thirteen.
I mean, I didn't see all the fuss about rainbows. I was Alex P.
Keaton for Halloween. I washed my face with Dial Antibacterial soap
and only recently began waxing my back
and on, and on and
on, ridiculously masking the unmaskable reality that I, Brian Smith,
longed for a phallic presence in my
life. You don't need a
weatherman to know which way the wind blows. (But it might be fun
to know who is blowing the weatherman
Regardless, I wasn't ready to pick out curtains just yet. As I neared
my seventeenth birthday, I concocted one last-ditch Hail Mary to
try and ditch the gay.
a virgin. If I could somehow manage to bed a woman, the sheer magnificence
(and normalcy) of her vagina might heal my sinful, loathsome ways.
Jesus would stop hating me. Uncle Bob would stop calling me Shirley.
And I'd stop getting boners at urinals.
I found myself a lady.
Quinn was smart, much smarter than I. She was tough, much tougher
than I. And she was horny. Much, much, hornier than I. We'd sneak
out of study hall (I went to one of those fancy boarding schools
with a lake and a golf course and a black student). We'd go outside
and grope at each other's privates for a bit. She'd say really scary
things like, "I could do this all night." But luckily
for me the bell would ring, and call us all back into the dorms.
my friends would return blue-balled and frustrated, I was thrilled
to have survived another rehabilitation session. Sure it was unpleasant.
Sure it made me a little nauseous. But so does wheatgrass.
you're an alcoholic, a six-pack will just piss you off. The same
could be said for how Kelly was finding our twenty minutes of light
petting each night. So, at the end of the year she invited a group
of us down to her parents' beach house in Old Lyme, CT, where she
promised we'd be able to make "all sorts of noise".
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