More Gayness

When I came out nigh on 11 years ago, I vowed to resist the temptations of the dark side and to use my powers only for the forces of good, but yesterday I inadvertently grossed out two little kids.

Sometimes when you’re gay, and you say good night to a gay friend, you give him a little kiss. Sometimes, after one too many at the bar, you give him a big one. Sometimes, less frequently, he might lay a good one on you — with some full-on tongue action if you’re lucky.

In my world this is normal.

In the world of the little boys who captured the moment in their Fujicolor memories, it is not.

I was vaguely aware that they were posed behind me at the corner, standing with their dirt bikes leaning against their thighs, having just crossed the street. They had seen us, stopped still and went silent.

Then one of them piped up, “Ew! Oh geez! Those boys just kissed.” His friend said nothing.

First, I thought, what are these two kids doing out on their bikes at this time of night?

Then I was transported back to my elementary school playground, the site of much juvenile character assassination, where the tombstones of egos are lined up along the edge of the blacktop.

He wasn’t even making fun of us, but for a half a second his reaction got to me.

Mustn’t … kiss … a boy. Going … to hell.

I’d been there so often before, and on both sides. I don’t remember ever being teased for being a homo in school. But I definitely was teased for other things, abundant athletic ineptitude being chief among them. But what is worse is that I — in fact I — did tease other kids about being homos.

Shame hung like the limp shadow of a memory, waiting for me to notice, draw it around my shoulders and wear it home with me.

But I left it hanging there. I turned and walked away, the kid calling out behind me, insistent that somebody hear him, “Ohmygod, gross! Those boys just kissed!”

I didn’t have to turn around. I didn’t have to look at him. Let him see what happens at the corner of 12th and A at 1 a.m., I thought. Let him remember it, and let his shock fade away to nothing.


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the untallied hours

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