I am thirteen, going on fourteen, and for six months I've been coming--and coming--to this place, the only place I know where people like me may be found. For six months I have been terrified of actually acting upon the information I have found here, but today I am ready, I want to do these things, I need to do these things. I have noticed, from my peripheral vision that sometimes older men look at me from over the top of the barrier and I have always run away, scared. Today, I will look at the man, and I will smile at him and offer what I have to offer to see if he will take it. I will open the door and let him walk through it. Eventually, one does, and he's not my age, I don't know how old he is, but he wants what I have and I want what he has, he could be twenty or forty or sixty I don't care and he doesn't care, we take each other, and plunder each other, and give each other orgasm after orgasm after orgasm, and it is beautiful and lovely and right and now I know it's right. It's right, so right, right up until the point that we have no more orgasms to give or receive and it's done and over, and he begins to hit me, to beat me telling me I'm evil for tempting him. I am evil and I will burn in hell, and he hits and he hits and he hits, and later, several hours later, I wake up and I have to go home to my great-grandmother and pretend like I was mugged and she has heart palpitations from worry for me and they have to call the ambulance for her.
I am seventeen, going on eighteen, and I have the run of the high school because I'm the only computer geek there and my last two years of maths weren't learning calculus or trig, my talents were needed to write an attendance program for the counselor and to write a weightlifting training program for the football team. I had all the keys to all the buildings in the school, I could come and go as I pleased, and I did, I changed my grades and read the counselor's reports, but no one knew this so all the teachers loved me, and the jocks accepted me in their private places. And one jock liked computers so I let him tag along, even though he was a Christian, with me when I visited the schools to geek out on the computers.

One time, though, I am alone, and horny and I compose a story whereby I take on (or in) the entire football team, varsity and junior varsity, I type their names and what I'd do to each of them and what I want them to do to me and I'm hot and lonely and horny and the story, once it's been printed and out and it's used and done and served its purpose slips underneath the printer and I forget about it.

Six weeks later, I and the jock boy are at the school and I'm outside the computer lab and I've told the jock boy that I'm running across the street for a bite to eat, but I'm really going to duck outside to have a smoke. Jock boy must have found the story that I had forgotten because I look through the window into the lab and he is there and he is reading it and my blood runs cold because he will tell everyone. But before he tells everyone, he is excited by the story and one hand is down there moving up and down and the other is clutching the gold crucifix that is on a chain around his neck. One hand moves faster and faster and the other clutches tighter and tighter and when it finally happens he throws his head back and through the window I see his mouth open in a silent scream and his hand is clutching so hard the chain breaks and he is soaked with his own juices and he sees me and I run and never talk to him again.

The next Monday everybody knows and I am shunned, even my math teacher who called me the son he never had ignores me, and he gives the outstanding student award to the jock boy because they're both Christians and the only person who ever speaks up in my defense is the biology teacher, and so I start to do a lot of drugs and go from being second in my class to barely graduating. No one seems to notice, to mind, or to care, about this precipitous drop in my schoolwork and my grades. Least of all myself.

I am twenty two and I have gotten into a fight with my ex-lover and his current boyfriend tries to mediate between us because we're such terrific friends. Nothing helps, though, and my ex throws me out. So I get mad, I get wasted and my little brother has some hot football players from the college in El Paso over to his house and they're partying they're drunk, they want to kick some ass so I say I'm pissed at a couple of guys (but I don't tell them they're queer, and they don't know I'm queer) and I need some 'muscle' to help me go get my stuff. They agree, but I told them to stay in check unless I give them the sign.

But of course, it's 2 AM and my stupid ex answers the door naked and he's stiff because he's been interrupted fucking his boyfriend and the football players see this and they go insane and they trash the house, they trash my ex and they find his boyfriend, so small and slight, cowering in the bathroom, and one of the football players takes his head and SLAMS it into the bathroom wall and my ex-boyfriend's beautiful boyfriend's face is ruined and it slides down the wall leaving a thick gummy arcing trail of blood and hair and teeth and I scream, and I can hear sirens so we run, we run away and drive away and we're safe and then we jerk off together, and then they leave town and I leave town then and run away to California. And later, years later, they forgive me, but I cannot forgive myself.

I am twenty five and I am at the beach, the nude beach and it is heavenly and the sex is so easy and free and these beautiful boys and men are cavorting and frolicking and having a wonderful time with each other. And then I see him and he is fucking without a condom and he has AIDS and I know it and he knows it but the guy who's screaming "I love your cock inside me" may not know it so I gather my things and return to him and scream "MURDERER" and run away crying. I never see him again, and for the next five years I become as celibate as a saint and as far removed from all things gay as Pat Robertson.
I am thirty and he loves me. He loves me. This beautiful boy loves me, and he tells me so. This influences all things before and since.

He loves me.

I am thirty one and he's telling me, for the first time, that he loves me. Even though I've known it forever, he's telling me, it's New Year's Eve and he's called me on the phone, it's midnight and he's drunk and all his old friends from his Christian youth group are drunk and he's telling me he loves me on the phone and they all can hear him. And I'm crying with joy, but crying with fear because I know that one of his friends, with whom he fooled around with between the ages of nine and fourteen, will hear him say these things and will tell his mother who will tell his mother and she will damn him to hell in her church. So he's kicked out, and I am called a pedophile, even though he is nineteen, and I have to move and he moves in with me for awhile. But things are different and he knows his love means shame to some people and so things are always different.

But he still does love me.

I am thirty five and life is good, I have accepted myself and my sins and been forgiven, both by myself and others. And then temptation wanders in and I sleep with a co-worker and I am in management, and even though I am not his boss, he is not my equal in power and I feel bad, so I treat him badly, and he treats me badly because he cannot believe that he slept with a man who is not a stranger and it takes a long time for this to heal itself, this misunderstanding and hatred and doubt.
I am thirty seven and my straight roommate's boss makes an illicit and secret arrangement to have sex with someone who is not his wife, someone who is a man, someone who is another roommate of mine, someone who is gay. The boss man chickens out, though, but my roommate, the one who works with him, accidentally calls him by his screen name when joking with him one day, and for ever after that my roommate gets the shit shifts and passed over for that promotion to bartender, and he's got the most tenure there and everyone loves him, but that doesn't matter, he still gets the shit shifts.
I am thirty nine and I am no longer there I am now back here and it is not the same world as it was when I was thirteen. Security guards patrol the secret places where I had and gave and hurt. My queer friend fears for me when I wear a pair of loud sweatpants in public, and doesn't associate with me anymore. I flirt with an obviously gay bartender in a straight bar and at first he responds, but then he takes off his nametag and switches places with another barkeep.

And towering overhead is a billboard with a beautiful man talking on the phone, promising adventure, beauty, freedom. This is the only way you are allowed to communicate with each other, it says.

I am forty and and I am back there just for a little while, and am running my hands through the soft, yet wiry, hairs on his chest and I realize that it has all come down to this singular moment in time. I realize that much of my life's journey has been to make me appreciate this small, simple comfort that only two men, just men, not gay or straight or bi or emo or goth or girly or boi or right or wrong or left or up or down or polar or anything else, are capable of sharing if they only let just let go and let themselves do these simple, affectionate loving things one with the other.

Before that I realized I wasted six years of my life on him; I self-destructed over him, I nearly died because of him.

I am not talking about the same people. I know the difference now.

I am 44, old enough to have arthritis, old enough to stop writing my age with words, only with numbers. Ever since the election I have been struck with cognitive dissonance, the juxtaposition of his election and the passage of every single piece of anti-gay legislation on every ballot is making me fulminate, making me dissident, making me alien to those few queer friends I've made at a local meetup coffee shop. They think it's the fault of straight black people, of ignorant and powerful Mormons, of old people. "Just wait til the Baby Boomers are dead, then we'll get our rights," one actually says out loud. I throw my iced mocha in his face and storm out of there, never to to return. I just wait here in my shell wondering when I'll finally decide to go off my meds and start the revolution.