Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pieces of the Past: High School

By Mister Curie

It was only after my disaffection that I was able to see a pattern in my life indicating that I was not strictly heterosexual. This is part of a series of posts as I try to account for all the pieces to the puzzle of my sexual orientation. By documenting the pieces of the puzzle, I hope to be able to put the picture together. Only by being as completely honest with myself as I can will I be able to understand who I am. This second post in the series will deal with high school.

Alright, lets dump more pieces out of the puzzle box. What do we have here?

Ninth grade.

I had a crush on the girl I had previously had a crush on in 2nd grade. Our group of friends had a "Secret Santa" group among ourselves and I was excited to draw her name. I went a bit overboard trying to make her feel special with all the "Secret Santa" gifts I got her.

Our family also got a personal computer (a fancy 386), which brought in the internet, and exposure to pornography for the curious teenager. One afternoon when my parents were gone, my curiosity got the better of me and I looked for some porn. The internet was pretty new back then and most of the pornography was in pay-to-view sites, so there were just "teaser" photos on the portals to the sites, and I wasn't willing to pay. The female images were somewhat arousing (probably due to the forbidden nature of pornography), but quickly became boring. I quickly clicked through several sites looking for something more exciting. I stumbled across some sites with heterosexual couples, but was always disappointed that the male anatomy was blurred out. My guilt quickly overcame my curiosity and I stopped looking. I didn't know about browser histories and my parents soon confronted me about it. I lied about visiting the sites. Either I was a successful liar or the cognitive-dissonance was too great for them to believe their "perfect" son had looked at porn, and they believed me. I think Grizz's friend was ultimately blamed for the browser history.

Occasionally my curiosity or my libido would be stronger than the guilt and I'd go back on the internet to look at what else was there. Somehow in my mind I convinced myself that the pornography we were told to avoid by church leaders only applied to naked women and it was okay as long as I wasn't really looking at the women and I just wanted to see the men. I remembered to delete the browser history. Sometimes when I would start to question my sexual orientation, I would look at the female porn to ensure that I could have a physical response to women, but I think that was usually an excuse to try and find more men to look at when my rationalization that it is "only pornography if it is women" failed.

We also had cable television, but none of the premium channels with late-night adult programming. However, I discovered that if I flipped the channels on the cable box quickly, the show on the premium channel would sometimes become visible (although somewhat distorted) for a few seconds. I occasionally would stay up late, flipping around these premium channels, in an attempt to glimpse a pornographic video (the pornography I had been exposed to online was only static images). Again I recognized that I wanted to see the men, but I convinced myself that the pornography we were told to avoid only applied to women. I was usually disappointed that they didn't show male genitalia (I guess the videos were geared toward heterosexual males).

After a several year abstinence from masturbation after my first traumatic experience, I broke my vow to never masturbate again. The urge for physical release was probably a combination of raging hormones, pornography, and stress (my mom gave birth to a disabled child and life dramatically changed with lots of responsibility falling to me). My favorite place to masturbate became standing in front of the bathroom mirror. I loved looking at my naked body (not that my body was all that great looking, but I had a clear view of my penis, unlike those blurred out images on the internet or the screen cropping and blocking on the late night videos). I felt guilty afterward, but couldn't seem to control myself at times. I read some books at the library about masturbation being perfectly normal behavior, but then I would look through all the church resources we had at home (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Guide For Parents, etc.) and only find condemnation. I prayed for forgiveness and promised to never look at my naked body in the mirror again. I was grateful then for my small penis and knew that God had given me a smaller-sized penis because He knew I would be unable to control my physical desires if He had given me a larger one.

Tenth Grade.

I was in the High School band and played the Tuba. We planned a band tour to go to Seattle. My best friend's parents were divorced and his father lived in Seattle. My friend confided in me that his father was gay and that his parents had gotten a divorce because of it (I am planning a future blog post about my friend's dad with some speculation as to his backstory). My friend invited me to stay with his father while we were visiting Seattle. Somehow, I convinced my mom to agree. In Seattle I met my friend's dad, his partner who was dying from AIDS, and several of their gay friends. They showed us around the gay area of Seattle, which was filled with counter-culture. When we got back to their house, we watched "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and they taught us all of the things you yell at the screen throughout the movie. My ears were a little burned by the obsenities and I was uncomfortable. There were two decorations in the house that caught my attention. The first, was a picture on the wall of my friend's dad's partner dressed in drag, which I thought was just weird. The second, was a small statue of a naked man that my friend covered with a hat when we came into the house, but which I was intensely curious to look at. The trip did two contradictory things for my perception of homosexuals. (1) By meeting homosexuals in real life, and knowing that my best friend's father was gay, I no longer feared homosexuals the way I felt the church taught me to. When I heard others spout homophobic statements, I could think of actual people I met on the band trip to Seattle, and be more reasonable in my approach to homosexual issues. (2) On the other hand, I did not identify with the counter-culture and the trip further convinced me that I was not gay.

While also on this band tour, a flute player in the band (who I was aware liked me) and I paired off in a band tour romance, as is typical. We sat next to each other on the bus and talked a lot. My best friend kept pressuring me to hold her hand, but I was somewhat shy about doing so. Eventually near the end of the band trip I did hold her hand and I enjoyed it, however I did not want to hold hands in public (to her dismay). We stayed good friends after the band tour and began to talk on the phone every day after school for long hours, much to my family's horror, as they wanted to use the phone. However, we did not start to date until I turned 16.

Eleventh Grade.

My mother was quite protective of her son and did not want me pairing off so early in my dating, so she requested that I go on a date with a different girl between each date with the flute player. I soon found that the flute player had a very jealous streak, and I also found dating other girls to be quite enjoyable. These were purely platonic dates, no holding hands, goodnight kisses, or even usually hugs at the end of the date. They were not much more than planned group hang-outs with an even number of guys and girls. My best friend was a very prolific dater and was always happy to have someone to double with. He often pressured me to find a date so we could all do something together, as his parents preffered him to double date as well. Dating other boys didn't even cross my mind as a possibility, but I probably went on more dates doubling with my best friend than I went on dates with any other girl, and I also probably paid more attention to my best friend than I did to my dates when we were together.

Band tour this year was to San Francisco, although I did not see the homosexual counter-culture while we were there. I was still semi-officially "going out" with the flute player, just with required dates with another person in between each of our dates. We obviously paired off for another Band Tour Romance. My best friend was appalled that I had not yet kissed the flute player, as it had been an entire year since we held hands. He put on the pressure to kiss her. I eventually caved to the pressure and we kissed while on band tour. It was enjoyable and I had a physiologic response.

At some point in the relationship I decided that I no longer wanted to be the flute player's boyfriend (maybe it was my homosexuality asserting itself as our relationship got more physical, maybe it was just the typical intransience of an early romance, I don’t know). Although I didn’t want to be her boyfriend anymore, I did want to remain her friend. I still wanted to do stuff with her, I just didn’t want there to be the boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. I figured out in my mind that the only way to get her to remain my friend after breaking up was if she decided that she was the one who wanted to break up with me. Then it wouldn’t be my fault, I couldn’t be to blame, and she would have to accept my offer of friendship. I remember spending many Saturdays at the park, making out, but it was no longer enjoyable for me. We would kiss and in my head I would be plotting how to get her to break up with me, there was no physiologic response.

At the beginning of the summer after 11th grade, I was invited to attend Boys State, where we were housed in Army barracks with tons of other young men. The showers were group showers and I refused to shower in them the whole week, again convincing myself that I was afraid I would be made fun of for my small penis, but probably also afraid my erection would give away my attraction to men. I did enjoy going into the bathroom in the morning as others got ready so that I could look at all the naked men. I would take my time brushing my teeth and getting ready after I was fully dressed so that I could enjoy the sights. There were penises of all shapes and sizes!

While at Boys State I developed a nearly instant affinity for one of the guys in my barrack, I now recognize it as a crush, but didn't call it that back then. I think I recognized that he was very cute. We hung out a lot during the week and I often found myself staring at him and daydreaming about him. When the week was over, I was quite sad to have to part.

While also at Boys State, I heard a rumor that one of the neighboring barracks had a masturbation party one night. One one hand I was glad that it wasn't my barrack, but on the other hand I wanted to have been there to watch everyone masturbating. This rumor disconnected the thought in my mind of group masturbating being a homosexual activity (although I never actually participated in group masturbation, I would sometimes think about it).

Later in the summer, after Boys State was over, we had several sleep overs of just guys at various friends houses. I would sometimes fantasize that we would have a group masturbation session at these sleepovers, but no one ever brought it up and I certainly wouldn't have. Also, in my mind, I knew masturbation was evil, and I was thoroughly convinced that I was probably the only person in my group of friends that had a difficult time avoiding masturbating, and I didn't want to reveal my sinful nature.

By the end of the summer, I was convinced that my girlfriend was not going to break up with me. I eventually decided that if I wanted out, I would have to call off the relationship, even if she didn’t want to remain friends afterwards. I eventually worked up the courage to do it. I called her up and told her that I no longer wanted to be her boyfriend. It was a great relief to be out of the relationship. BTW, she did still want to be friends.

Twelvth Grade.

I still dated a lot my senior year. Again, the dating was purely platonic, with the occasional good-night hug at the end of the date. The dates were probably as much an excuse to be able to hang out with my best friend as anything else.

There was one week that I spent the entire week at my best friend's house while his parents were away on a hunting trip and they didn't want him to be alone at home the entire time. I probably developed a bit of a crush on him at that point, just because of spending so much time with him. I do remember specifically thinking at one point during that week that if he asked me to masturbate with him, I would in a heart beat.

So those are all the high school puzzle pieces. The picture still isn't fully clear, but perhaps we're beginning to get a general inclination of things. . .


  1. [I thought] it was okay as long as I wasn't really looking at the women and I just wanted to see the men.


    Thanks for this post. Personal accounts like this are very helpful.

  2. My scout troop was like that Army barracks. We heard about the weird stuff in other troops (vaguely) but we never did anything. And you know what? I am really glad we didn't.

  3. @MoHoHawaii - I have also found peronal accounts to be helpful in my journey of self discovery, I'm glad this one brought you to your knees with laughter.

    @BB - yes, I'm glad my barracks didn't do anything too.

  4. Frank Lee Scarlet15 January, 2010

    So enjoy reading these pieces of the puzzle--I'm glad you're sharing them.
    I really related with your distaste of the counter-culture. For me, it's quite an intimidating and frequently unimpressive scene (from what little contact I've had with it, anyway). It seems like whether I'm with a Mormon or a gay crowd, I'm an outsider...

  5. @Frank Lee Scarlet,
    I think we all feel that way. We are always on the outside, neither here nor there. That is how all humanity feels though and so we form societies with people we can fit in with. we start small by building small communities of families that can work together. Then several communities get together and align their commonalities despite their differences.
    That is Human Nature, forming communities and "fitting in" takes more than just looking at the borders that divide us. It is about looking and the bonds that unite us.

  6. @BB - very deep thought, thanks for sharing

    @Frank Lee Scarlet - Yes, but you are an insider with the gay AND Mormon crowd, isn't that part of what the MoHo queerosphere is about, finding a place where we fit in when we haven't ever quite fit in before? That is one reason I like the posts about people's journey and self-discovery, because I see myself in their stories and I finally know that I am not alone.

  7. The statue that covered by my son's hat was a copy of "The Wrestlers." It is not gay themed just a beautiful piece of art to be enjoyed as such. My son was so embarrassed of me because of it. He should have seen what we took down before you boys came.
    As to my partner being in drag. It was a hobby and we enyoyed it. My son's older brother and wife would come to many of our drag shows bringing many of his friends from the University of Washington.
    If only I had known I was as normal when growing up. Though I was lucky, my dad told me it didn't matter what the chuch said, all boys masturbate and it was't evil.
    Once as a priest's quorum advisor I told my bishop that I would not teach the lesson on the evils of masterbation. The bishop agreed that it was a difficult subject to teach so we passed on it, I just chuckle now.
    Enjoying the read. Wish there had been something like this when I was younger. Perhaps I would not have made so many mistakes in my coming out and in my leaving the church.
    Keep up the good work.

  8. Anon - thanks for posting and filling in some of the gaps of my narrative. :) I googled "The Wrestlers" and it is a beautiful work of art. I think it is sad that your son felt he had to be ashamed of you. And I never thought of things from your perspective of what else you may have put away, or the preparations you may have made or anxieties you may have felt at hosting a bunch of boys to be sure that our stay wasn't viewed as a homosexual "recruitment". It's probably a good thing you put anything objectionable away, at least for me at the time as a sexually-repressed, closeted, homosexual Mormon boy. LOL!

    I hope you will comment in the future. I'm sure you have had lots of insightful experiences that you could share.