Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What's On My Mind

It is time that I post a very important (and very long) entry, quite possibly the most significant I’ve ever written on this site. I knew several weeks ago that this was a topic I would have to devote time to, but the notion of airing it so publicly was one that made me very nervous.

When I first thought, at the beginning of the school year, of sharing something so intimate with the blogging community, it made my heart race with anxiety and, quite frankly, resistance. Two things, however, caused me to realize that eventually I would be able to open up: first, the fact that this site’s readers log on to hear an account of my life, of which this topic is an undeniably huge aspect; and second, the fact that the wonderful anonymity I enjoy here takes a great deal of the difficulty out of unloading this secret.

I realize it was several days ago that I first informed you all of “Something On My Mind,” and I apologize for keeping you in suspense for such a long period of time.

Unfortunately, I felt uncomfortable posting on the subject I’ve alluded to due to an unexpected and unwelcome visitor: Anne.

While visiting my birth-mother’s house for Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of visiting my own blog on her computer. She saw the website in her viewing history, realized it must be mine, and decided to do a bit of reading.

The result of this was an angry telephone call to my house at midnight in which my birth-mother angrily accused me of disparaging her character, cooking, hometown, and entire state. I doubt that a normal person would have read that much into it, but for her sanctimonious nature the unassuming remarks I’d typed up were enough to spark a run of indignity and theatrics (she dramatically declared “I’m going to bed,” before hanging up on me and turning her phone off).

When I finally got in touch with her the next morning, I asked her to please respect my privacy and stay off of the site, all the while having no faith that she would actually do this. With the shadow of her possible presence in the back of my mind, I didn’t feel I could write honestly and so posted nothing at all.

My suspicions of her eavesdropping were reinforced when I received a strange comment several days ago from an anonymous user. The user, with grammatical errors characteristic of my birth-mother, wrote that they “kind of understood why anne [sic] left the tv [sic] on” and that if they’d worked all day to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for late guests they might leave the television on, too.

The real dead giveaway was the use of the word “supper,” which no one else would say. I immediately deleted the comment, which was quickly replaced with one saying that the poster “guessed these blogs aren’t as open as you people say.”

All of this is completely childish, of course, adolescent and petty, and shows the less desirable side of Anne’s personality. It is what it is, though. I just wish I had a birth-mother who respected me enough and had a sufficient level of maturity to back off, but that is not who Anne is. I love her, but I’ve become unfortunately resigned to that fact.

When I confronted her about it, she denied leaving the comments and then became irritated and evasive when I pressed her. In particular, the threat of an IP search (which I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to initiate) greatly agitated her, but she still stuck to the story, which I would bet money was a lie.

So, I was faced with a dilemma. I could continue to post uninhibitedly, enabling comment moderation to prevent her from poking her nose in, all the while hoping she didn’t show the site to my parents; or I could cease posting at all, in effect letting her take away from me a greatly pleasurable part of my life.

Neither option was appealing, so I did the only thing, short of making the blog private, that I really could: I changed the URL.

By a happy coincidence, Anne’s computer, which seems to be infected with some kind of virus, had its entire viewing history wiped out, so I’ve now been able to change it back. I’m glad for this; this morning I received a worried e-mail from a reader who asked me if I was alright, and the prospect of informing every single follower of this blog of the new web address was daunting and unwelcome.

I’ve been writing here since April, and this address just feels like home now.

I’m glad I’ve been able to keep it.

As to the main topic of this post: I would ask all of you to bear in mind that this blog is a window onto my life, and that at twenty my sexuality is a central part of that. The following entry is not graphic, but it very honest, just so you are forewarned.

Now my breath is coming a bit heavier, my head is spinning a little, and I’m imagining the judgements and reactions of people as they read these words.

My first sexual thoughts came very early, years, in fact, before the onset of puberty.

I can remember as a young boy, aged about seven, lying in bed thinking about women’s breasts and feeling a physical response to the ideas. I lacked, at that age, the biological ability to act on these impulses, but they were there nonetheless.

When I was perhaps ten years old, maybe even younger than that, “Harriet the Spy,” a movie about a child sleuth determined to be a journalist, was released. There was a scene in that film in which a prematurely-developed girl, several years older than I, bent over to reveal a sizeable bosom, and as when I had been small this inspired fantasies of which I told no one.

The first time I ever achieved an orgasm was when I was eleven or twelve years old. I’d been at my grandparents’ house, watching a movie in which the character played by Christina Ricci was shown having to wrap up her chest in bandages to conceal ample breasts, and I engaged then by instinct in an activity I in no way understood but that gave me immense physical satisfaction.

So dim was my knowledge on the topic that before my father sat me down to have a special talk when I was twelve, I thought I had some sort of disease.

Girls had been the catalyst to first arouse my passions, but somewhere near my twelfth birthday boys began to enter my head as well. As with the first time I’d been physically awakened, this happened unconsciously, was slipped into without any reflection on my part. When I gave myself over to sensuality, during private moments in my bedroom, thoughts of young men were simply a part of that.

It never dawned on my thirteen-year-old self that this could possibly have any implication whatsoever. It was so intuitive that I didn’t even think of it as being “natural,” just did it.

The illuminating moment came while I was changing for gym class in seventh grade. I was horribly made fun of during my youth, mocked so viciously up until the time we left for Beautiful Town that at several points I fell into temporary depression. I think it safe to say that at Ghetto Middle and Dirty Town Middle (two of the three middle schools I attended), I was the single least-popular person in school, the one individual who everyone could focus their aggressions and hostilities against with impunity.

“Fag” and “queer” had been epithets hurled at me, but they were just a couple out of many, which included “dork,” “nerd,” and a score of others. They didn’t mean anything beyond conveying negative sentiments toward me, which I was fully used to.

This day in the locker room, however, clarified something for me.

My public berating went on everywhere, so there was no reason the pillorying wouldn’t follow me into gym.

That day, in the course of their taunts, someone called out jokingly, “You better be careful in front of BB! He thinks about boys when he masturbates.”

Amidst the general laughter that followed, a light bulb went off in my head.

“Wait a minute,” I thought silently. “I do.”

That’s when the wires started connecting, when I began to associate the insults and derogatory comments with my own actions.

“Oh,” my early adolescent mind wondered. “Is that what that means?”

It was a stunning and devastating realization, for to a thirteen-year-old boy there could be no doubt that attraction to members of the same sex was definitely wrong. This innate moral dilemma, combined with the fact that my father was homophobic, that my parents were at the time routinely engaged in outright child abuse, and that we lived in a conservative blue-collar neighborhood, made me determined to keep my secret closely-guarded.

Revealing the truth, which many teens today feel free to do, never once seemed to me a logical option. It wasn’t even a debate; the idea was just ludicrous.

The attractions only grew stronger and deeper as I got older. We moved to Beautiful Town on December 27, 2001, when I was thirteen years old and halfway through eighth grade. By fourteen I was a walking cauldron of hormones, capable of being intensely aroused by the simplest things. A pair of jeans, a toss of long hair, a laugh by a voice halfway through deepening, any of these could leave me in painful sexual suspense, hoisted onto the edge of erotic agitation.

Yet even in the more open environment that Beautiful Town provided (even though in that rural location in wasn’t much better), I wasn’t willing to reveal my innermost longings.

It was still something I was deeply ashamed of, something I hid from myself as much as possible. I refused to consciously admit the fact of my urges, because doing so meant that I was abnormal, freakish, and consigned to a life where true fulfillment could never be met.

My entire adolescence was spent strenuously masking the truth from the one person who could never be permitted to discover it: me.

I reached fifteen years old, and then sixteen, and then our time in Beautiful Town ended and we departed for an even briefer spell in Deep South State.

It is this period of my life that makes me deeply regret the all-too-successful efforts at concealment I engineered during my teen years. Deep South State, in particular the area of Central City, was a heavily-peopled, sun-soaked, rapidly-growing population center, its hundreds of diverse nationalities perfectly representative of America’s exploding polyglot empire.

My family and I were just one example of countless Northern clans who’d migrated from faraway industrial states, establishing their new homes a thousand miles south of Native State, Ugly State, Northern State, Revolutionary State, Rocky State, Midwestern State, and others.

Of all the places I’ve lived, I made friends most easily in this land of immigrants; because very few people had been born there, hailing either from the North or from foreign nations, none of the lifelong native connections that usually exclude newcomers existed. We came from everywhere, and we made something new.

Hispanics constituted a majority of my high school’s population, with Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly predominating among them. People had arrived in Deep South State from all over the world, though; among my neighborhood clique were two native Deep South Staters, a Sprawling Stater, a Midwest Stater, a Romanian, and a Vietnamese boy. At Central City High, Spanish was heard as often as English, while the black students, many of them of Haitian heritage, could often be heard running through the hallways, screaming at one another in French.

I’ll never forget one day in English class, when some friends of mine were discussing a private matter in Spanish (the class was mostly white).

“Wait a minute,” one of them, a Hispanic boy who’d lived in Canada said upon seeing me. “He can understand us.”

Then, without missing a beat, the two of them switched to French.

In short, this would have been the perfect environment in which to freely admit my feelings, but I was not yet at the stage where I could.

One night when I was sixteen years old, I was playing Hide-and-Go-Seek Tag in our neighborhood.

A boy named Keith and I wound up alone behind some houses, and, with a laugh, he took me around the waist and said, “Hey, BB.”

“No, Keith, get off,” I said, pushing him away.

He laughed again, pulled me into another hug, and said, “Come on.”

I think now, as I did then, that he was feeling me out, seeing how I would react. He was a fairly-ordinary looking young man, with an average figure, short brown hair, and a modest demeanor that did not draw undue attention to himself.

In short, he was the last person anyone would have suspected of harboring attractions for the same sex, but then there we were.

At the time, this absolutely terrified me, and I broke loose from him and ran off, rebuffing beyond a doubt anything he may have been trying to initiate.

Today, I probably would have turned around and kissed him.

Then, though, it was the last thing I wanted.

This self-imposed denial continued after our move to Wealthy Town. In the summer of 2005, at which point I was seventeen years old, I was sufficiently upset by the attentions of an older man at the grocery store where I worked that I went home that afternoon, cried, and prayed.

At seventeen I was still a child, and praying was the only appropriate response to such things.

On April 10, 2006, I turned eighteen years old, but this brought no significant change to my attitudes. The onset of my disastrous Freshman Year of college four months later, though, would forever alter the way I looked at the world.

Throughout that year, my descent into isolation and severe depression forced me to confront a number of issues, including childhood abuse, that I had avoided facing for years. Surrounded by young people in a sexually-charged environment, were attractions and hook-ups loomed very large, it was only a matter of time before the matter of my own sexuality came to the forefront.

During a visit home one April night in 2007, just weeks after my nineteenth birthday, I broke down hysterically crying in my bedroom, the weight of the last school year and the burden of a decade-long lie at last bowing me over.

Clinging to the side of my bed, tears coursing down my face, I admitted to myself for the first time that I did, in fact, have feelings for other young men.

This confession led to a frenzied string of thoughts, a slew of horrible scenarios and worries. What was I to do? How was this to be covered? How could I ever bring myself to make love to a woman? How would I fake that energy, if it turned out I needed to? How could I do that to someone, deceive them so horribly in order to meet my own need to be “normal?” And if my efforts were met with failure, what then? Would I just be alone my entire life? Would I have no one, remain a lifelong virgin, a bitter, sad man?

Would it be better, in light of these shortcomings and other circumstances, to just take my life and thereby avoid prolonging my suffering?

Then, a voice in my head asked, “What if you just told the truth?”

For an instant, for several wonderful minutes, all of the weights lifted, and the worry just went away. It was gone.

That evening, April 29, 2007, I wrote in my journal, “Today, a Sunday, a blessed breakthrough. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with it…Through a terrible trial and an awful day, something potentially wonderful has emerged.”

It wasn’t until over a year later, though, in August of 2008, that in a fit of grief I at last sat down and confided everything to my mother, a conversation that I detailed in a post around the same time.

Over Thanksgiving, I told Anne as well.

So, that’s it. Other than Anne, my mother, and a priest to whom I turned in desperation, no one knows. I will tell my father, one day, but not yet.

You can’t imagine the significance of voicing it online, making it public in the blogging community. For someone who spent a large part of his life tirelessly shielding one aspect of his personality, saying this is incredibly significant.

This leaves several questions unanswered, though, chief among them: What do I do now?

It only seems natural that some other step must be taken, some move toward connecting with others in my situation, but I worry about how this might be accomplished. I could go to a LGBT meeting at school, but the public nature of this intimidates me.

And, then, of course, I can’t really call myself gay; as noted earlier, I have had sexual thoughts of women as well.

I don’t know quite why this transition took place when I hit about thirteen, but it was beyond my control.

What greatly frustrates me now is the number of opportunities for exploration and experimentation that I turned down out of fear.

I’m not an unattractive person and wasn’t one then, either. At fourteen I was 5’8” and weighed 118lbs, a stick-thin white boy with pale skin, full lips, and long blonde hair, a young man sometimes derogatively referred to by other guys my age as “pretty.”

Not much has changed since then. My height has gone from 5’8” to 5’10”, my weight from 118lbs to 131lbs. Those two things and the presence of some facial hair are the only substantive differences in my appearance, and the first two of those had been fully achieved by 2004.

My point is that I’m not hideous, could in fact be considered attractive, but failed to exploit this quality.

Of course, impartial analysis of one’s own physical attributes is nearly impossible. I tell myself that I’m desirable and good-looking because I’m insecure, because in my mind’s sanctuary I don’t believe that someone else will ever say it.

This is a bit difficult.

I’m scared when I think of where to go from here.

1 comment:

Jason, as himself said...

Wow, BB. Thank you so much for sending me this link. I know you wrote this a year ago, and I am eager to go read how the last year has been for you. Yes, you are correct, we have shared many, many of the same experiences. The conversations we could have!