I was over reading Carol's blog (Letters From A Broad) a few minutes ago and she has a wonderful, sunny and freshly minted story about her "rebellious" days at BYU. It made me grin to read about her naughty deeds as a fabulously sexy, fabulously pretty and fabulously smart atheist at a school where 99% of the students probably couldn't even say the word atheist let alone conceive of having one in their midst. I used to think I was so progressively, defiantly and preternaturally iconoclastic until I started reading about Carol's adventures at BYU. I'm running as fast as my feet will carry me and will likely never catch up to her. Bested by a mathematician; the ultimate indignity for a guy who got big fat Fs in every math class he ever took and still uses his fingers to add 7 + 8.
And still gets it wrong almost every time. (I have dyscalculia.)
It's OK - if I'm going to be bested by anyone at the iconoclast game I'm fine with it being Carol, known more commonly in the blogosphere as Chanson. She lives in Switzerland with her French husband and is raising a pair of bilingual boys who are cuter than anything Disney ever came up with. I'm guessing they're smart too since I'm convinced that Carol would likely be incapable of passing on dumb genes 'cause she really couldn't possibly have any. Carol's brother John is cut from the same cloth as she is only he lucked out in the family and got the gay gene along with the smart gene and the tall gene and the sexy gene and the "I've got the most fabulous husbands in the world" gene. Yep, John doesn't have just one gorgeous husband, he's got himself two. I think I'm afraid to meet the rest of their family considering what Carol and John have got going on. How much fabulosity can there be in one family???
I photographed John and Mike (Leandro was out of the country at the time) in Palm Springs a couple of years ago. What a treat that was. You can see the pix here in Gallery 8. They're nudes so you know what that means if you're browsing from a place where nudes aren't welcome. Yep, be defiant and look at them anyway!!
So OK, where was I heading with all of this? Uhm, yeh, so I have this story that I've been holding onto since my BYU days and beyond and reading Carol's story made me think of it. (Again, for the 7 trillionth time since the late '70s.) It's a great story about a guy that I fell in love with and eventually went on to have a brief but extraordinarily wonderful affair with. I have hinted obliquely over the years as to my friendship with him but have been completely dedicated to respecting his privacy and protecting his identity. It's hard to write as nakedly as I do without giving up a lot of information, that in this case would surely make this guy obvious to those who knew us back then. Why am I protecting him? Because he's not gay. And because he's happily and successfully married for a billion years now and because what would I accomplish by telling our story and leading people to believe something about him that's innacurate?
[This is me at the time this story was taking place. Geez that was a lot of hair.]
It's been tough to keep writing about my life as often as I do and have to keep editing out one of the most beautiful parts of it. But I do it because I guess at some level I'm still in love with this guy, (who from here on out I'm going to call Michael) and I don't want to embarass or hurt him. Well, if you're reading this Michael, it's OK - I'm still in love with a lot of the people I've been in love with over the years. That kind of depth of feeling doesn't easily go away with me. And you can stop breathing heavily because I'm not going to say anything here that's going to give you away. I respect you too much for that. But you know, at some point when we're really old men I'm going to have to write this story and let the chips fall where they may. Hey, at that point we might both welcome that kind of exposure. You know what they say in Hollywood, right? There's no such thing as bad publicity. (Unless of course you're Brittany Spears.)
After 30 years of never talking about it, Michael and I finally had a conversation here a couple of years ago wherein I finally got up the courage to talk about the pink elephant standing in the middle of the room. At some point way back when, we made the distinct move from being friends to being lovers. The lovers part of the thing only lasted a week but it was one of the most exhilirating and catalytic weeks of my life. And when it ended I experienced one of the most painful heartbreaks of my life as Michael abruptly brought the week and our relationship to an end. He finally told me in this conversation we had a couple of years ago what I had so very much needed to know; that our week together as lovers was simply a matter of curiosity and exploration for him. I kind of knew that but I really needed to hear it from him. I needed Michael's words to bring closure to the experience rather than me constantly trying to work it out in the aloneness of my thoughts.
For Michael it had been a matter of curiosity and exploration. And for me it had been something entirely different. I was gay and Michael was straight. I was in love and Michael wasn't. Sometimes we go places because we can; but the decision to stay has usually got to have something pretty compelling holding it up. By the time Michael and I got together for our week on the coast I'd already been in love with Gianni in Italy and gifted my virginity to him and had sex with a number of men after him. I knew full well what being intimate with another man was all about and the reasons were well beyond compelling. My world had been rocked and I knew exactly what was what when it came to sex and boys and girls. I had sex with women because I could and I had sex with men because that's where the most powerful stirrings of my soul were found.
I write a lot of my stories with the candor and honesty that I do because it's one of the ways I figure out who I am and what my adventures have been about. I couldn't do that with the story that was sitting in my heart about me and Michael. It just had to sit there because I was so committed to protecting his privacy. I once tried to write the story changing all of the facts and places and names and stuff and it was a fucked up mess. I don't do fiction well at all and it started feeling to me like my story with Michael was becoming fiction. So I hit delete and let go of it.
I understood what Michael was saying in our long-awaited conversation - he said it very simply and with a tremendous amount of respect for me. I understood because I have been in love with and intimate with women. It didn't make me straight to be with women and so it doesn't always go that because a man falls in love with and/or has sex with another man that he's automatically gay. (Otherwise most of the men in Italy would be gay and I can promise you, they're not.) We have painted ourselves into tiny little corners with all of these sexuality labels and distinctions and more often than not they don't serve us but just manage to muddy the waters and blur the vision.
Michael and I had been friends for a lot of years before we ventured into our week long affair. We'd been all over the map in terms of our friendship and when we did finally get to the sex part of things I had pretty much written that completely out of the equation. No one on earth could have been more shocked than I was when Michael expressed a sexual interest in me. What followed that amazing moment of revelation is one of the most astonishing stories I have in my stable of astonishingly crazy stories. It's romantic and adventuresome and funny and wild and crazy and sad and ultimately about what happens when you throw a straight guy and a gay guy into the blender together and turn it on high. Someday I will find a way to tell the story (while protecting Michael's privacy) because I think it deserves to be told. There are, at least for me, so many life lessons in it that it seems a waste to keep them all to myself.
I'm sitting here writing this and thinking how clean and platonic and simple my love for Michael is finally. Big thanks to Chanson who prompted these thoughts with her story about Steve, the guy she diddled in the library at BYU. [french accent pleaze] Vive la Chanson, my i-spi-rassion!
As an aside, I think that gifting my virginity to Gianni while I was a missionary in Italy certainly gives Chanson some serious competition when it comes to defying the Mormon gravitational pull downwards into the pit of conformity, n'est ce` pas? Oh yeh, and one more desperate attempt to pull out in front of her: I was so embarassed to tell the Joseph Smith story about the angels and goldeniferous plates and stuff that I never once on my mission did the first discussion. I made my companions do it and then I followed up with my diatribes on family togetherness and stuff. Does never once on one's mission telling the JS story qualify as defiant iconoclasm?
I swear, Chanson is tough competition. I was such a lily at BYU. A black orchid on my mission but a lily at BYU...