|Way back in high school, during one of those brief minutes between one class and the next, I was sitting at my desk thinking about nothing when some of my friends started laughing and passing around a piece of paper. Now, being a typical teenager, I wanted to know what was so funny, so they passed me the paper.
On it was a short paragraph, no more than four or five lines, about two men having sex with each other and the moment I read it, two things happened. One, I instantly became aroused and two, I instantly had to hide this fact from my friends who continued to laugh and say that the story was gross. I remember mumbling that I thought it was too before handing it back. But I also asked who wrote it, while simultaneously scanning the classroom to see who it might have been.
No one knew.
Now, I’m sure some of you are wondering why I did not simply flaunt my erection in front of my friends. The reason being that long before this day happened I had been taught three cardinal ‘rules’ at that vaunted institution of extracurricular learning otherwise known as…The Playground.
1. Stay away from all gay men because they’re all dirty kid touchers.
2. There are no such things as lesbians. Those are just women who’ve never had their ashes hauled properly.
3. There are no such things as bisexuals. Those are just folks trying to be greedy.
(I also learned a fourth rule to never flaunt your erection under any circumstances, but that is another story.)
It may surprise some of you to learn that I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to 8th grade and learned that we Catholics tend to be a heavy-handed people. We know guilt on a molecular level. It is written into every prayer we say and despite however distant we may feel from our faith, the fact remains that one cannot spend so many formative years swimming in the same waters without swallowing some of the lake.
However, as I have gotten older, and with the more that I have written, the more I have found that it is not just my characters who are unwilling to stay within the roles prescribed to them. In my most recent story “I’m Her,” which will be appearing in Cleis Press’ Coming Soon: Women’s Orgasm Erotica anthology on 7/13/21 (shameless plug), the main character is a woman with neither the time nor the inclination to explain her needs to anyone. As a divorced mother of two, all she wants, all she needs, is a round of impersonal, anonymous, wall-shaking sex. (If you wish to know whether or not she gets it…BUY THE DAMN BOOK.)
It was by writing this story, and many others like it, that I began to accept not just the fantasies, but the needs that I have lived with all my life. Erotica not only helped me cut my teeth as a writer, it helped me grow as a person. It even helped me come out as bisexual to both my wife and my mother, which was the most frightening thing I have ever done. Full stop. I did it because I knew that not talking about it was no way to go on living and because I wanted to be a good role model for my daughter.
There were tears, of course, I won’t lie. My wife feared she wasn’t enough for me. My mother was abjectly terrified I would leave my wife and daughter. It took time to calm them down. To reassure them that I loved my wife and daughter and that my feelings for them had not changed. Eventually this sunk in and several days later, my wife turned to me and said that I was a great father and a great husband and that was all that mattered.
In the end, coming out as bisexual did not break me, but it did leave me with more questions than answers. Why did opening up about my sexuality somehow also open up my integrity? How could they believe that I would tear apart my family? Why is there a part of me that is still angry about this? I don’t have answers to these questions but I do know where to go from here.
My mother, though also accepting of my sexuality, went on to advise that I should keep it to myself. That it isn’t anyone else’s business but my own, and to an extent, she’s right. I will never tell my father about this, nor my brother. Both have been making gay jokes for as long as I can remember and neither conversation will end well, I assure you. However, if there is one thing I know, it’s that my problems get better when I write them down. They become less numerous, more manageable. I can get a better grip on them when I put pen to paper.
Please don’t misunderstand. This is in no way a call to arms, nor is it a treatise on how life is better outside the closet than in. Do what is best for you. Let me say that again. DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU. Your sexuality is your sexuality. If you want to shout it from the rooftops, you be my guest. If you want to live with it quietly, your way, then more power to you.
But this post right here, isn’t for anyone else but me. It’s my way of saying (with a small apology to my mother) that I’m going to be writing this one down. It is not the scariest thing I have ever done, but it is up there. All I ask is that you please be gentle with me. After all…this is my first time.