I’m not sure I like the way that question is phrased. It implies that at some point in time I wasn’t gay. I have vivid memories of watching TV shows as a young child and becoming aroused when a guy would take off his shirt. Dukes of Hazzard was a personal favorite. Sure, it was fun when Daisy Duke was in her bikini. Skin of any type is fun to see. But there was something different about male skin.
When I was 10 my mom, my siblings, and I were in the car when news of Rock Hudson’s death blasted on the radio. From the backseat of our station wagon I peppered mom with questions. “Who was Rock Hudson?” and “How’d he die?” My mother squirmed not knowing how to explain being gay. “Well, sometimes men don’t like to marry women. Instead they like to date other men. And these men are more likely to get sick and die.” In spite of all her euphemisms I thought, “Gay. That’s what it’s called.”
When I was in the sixth grade kids began pairing off. I realized that having a crush on girls was the thing to do. And I sort of had a crush on a couple of girls. But it was more, “Hey, she likes music and so do I!“ It was less “I really think she’s hot!” I was mostly oblivious to which girls were sexier than others, a favorite topic of all the other boys my age. (I’m still that way, much to my wife’s dismay. I’m getting better.) When I was 12 I remember having a crush on this one girl, probably because she was popular and lots of guys had a crush on her. But in the evenings as I was going to sleep, I had this fantasy that involved her boyfriend not her.
I don’t remember much of the academics I was supposed to be learning during middle school or early high school. I was so busy checking out which guys were good looking. I remember World History class was particularly challenging. I don’t remember the Rise and Fall of the Roman empire, but I do remember my dreams of certain studs in (and out of) togas. Looking back I mourn the time I didn’t spend learning. I would have enjoyed those classes immensely.
When I was 16 (I think, the years run together) we were visiting my grandmother and I don’t know what happened, but I refused to go to church. After a yelling session with my father, my mother stayed home to talk with me. I had a crying session in my grandmother’s dimly lit basement. I was laying on the couch with my head in my mom’s lap. I told her how lonely I felt, how I didn’t have any friends, how I hated my life. Near the end of the conversation, I threw out “And I think I might be gay.”
I wasn’t looking at her, so I can’t remember her facial reaction. I do remember her tensing up and then groping for what to say. She asked questions trying to understand from where this was coming. She expressed her love for me, though I doubted her a little. I had seen how nervously she had reacted In the past when discussing homosexuality. At the end of the conversation she asked if it was ok if she told my father. I said, “Sure,” mainly because I figured she was going to tell him anyway.
Love you mom, but even back then I didn’t trust you could keep a secret this big from dad. ;)
I never told my father personally. (Back then, he was something of a homophobe.) I don’t think I ever brought it up again directly with my mother or my father, though I did allude to it once.
I did tell my bishop. I was blessed with the perfect bishop to handle this topic. He had given up on the church when he was a young man, moved to New York City, and experienced the world or at least Greenwich Village. He had several gay friends that he was close with. So when I told him that I thought I was gay, he didn’t flinch. He shared with me some of his observations of the gay community and encouraged me to stay active.
My senior year I totally crushed on this one guy, who was totally hot, though a bit short for me. He was the subject of many pleasurable dreams. One night I was lying in bed, a typical fantasy running through my head. Perhaps it was the Spirit, I’m not sure I was particularly worthy of the Spirit at that point, but my vision sort of fast forwarded 10 years. I saw the life I could have with a man. We would be two men loving and caring for each other. It was not a bad life. Then I saw myself with an ideal family, a wife and kids. (I’ve always loved little kids.) I realized that I couldn’t have both, that the decisions that would lead to one would not lead to the other. I remember thinking, “I want a family.” It was a quick, but vivid thought.