We receive from our readers some great stories of personal triumph, loss, love, heartache, determination, faith, and hope. We see ourselves in many of the stories sent to us, touching us in a way that says, this needs to be shared.
Weston Ashley sent us a link to his posting on Homogarcon.com . We read it and said, yes, this needs to be shared. It deals with love found, lost, evaluating life, dealing with a bigger loss, dependency, and forgiveness. I think there's some thing(s) in there that we all can relate to in one way or another.
Thank you Weston.
I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. That alone speaks for itself considering I’m gay. And not just gay, but super gay. It’s a love-hate relationship.
Isolated and alone with my feelings, my only outlet to find other gay people was on television. This was the 90s though, the only gay role models I had were Ellen DeGeneres and cast members of MTV’s The Real World.
That wasn’t enough for me. I was in fourth grade when I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I can remember walking down the street to knock on Jase’s door, my best friend, to give him his homework that he had missed that day cause he was at home sick. When he answered the door finally, I told him that I needed to tell him something. He asked, “What?”
I told him that I thought I might be a “biosexual.” I didn’t quite have all the lingo down yet. He asked me what that meant. And I told him, “It means I like girls… and boys.”
I remember him just standing there looking at me in a way he had never looked at me before. Hesitant, skeptical, revulsion. Eventually he spoke up, “I don’t want to play today.” He then shut the door in my face.
Hurt, defeated, worried; I felt utterly alone. Our friendship took a turn for the worse after that. The following day, I went back over to his house and told him that I was just joking about the whole “biosexual.” He said he thought so and invited me in to play video games.
Soon enough though, he did turned on me. At school, he became aggressive often mocking me in front of my classmates. He never revealed to anyone that I was a “biosexual” or that I was gay, but he made fun of me relentlessly. It reached a crescendo one day when I was walking home with my neighborhood friends when I heard him call out my name from behind. When I turned around, he looked me straight in the face and with childish venom, spat in my face. Filled with rage, I rushed after him throwing my bicycle to the side and tearing my backpack off. I can remember my hands trying to grapple onto his backpack as he pedaled faster. He was too big for me to bring down, it was either I let go or hold on until he eventually dragged me behind in his wake. Surrendering into an emotional pain, I let go and crumpled to the ground beginning to cry. My friends who had my bicycle and backpack, caught up with me, acknowledging the act of aggression toward me. They told me not to worry. But I did. I internalized that pain, the hate that was directed towards me for being something different than the heteronormative status quo. Despite knowing who I was, I went back into the closet with a fierce vengeance to never let that happen to me again.
By the time I entered middle school, I had given up any type of hope that I was a “biosexual.” I even learned that it was in fact called bisexual. I was simply gay. This was the early aughts, and families began to buy computers for their home. This allowed me the opportunity to learn more about my personal affliction, my gayness. I would frequently visit gay teen support sites, the likes of the now defunct, Mogenic.com and slightly older, NSFW Gay.com.
I would go into the chat rooms creating alias’ about who I was and why I was there. Always a teenager who so desperately wanted to come out of the closet but didn’t know how without feeling the pain or suffering that I had already come to know. As a child of divorce, I would often stay up late into the night drinking Mom’s boxed white wine or pouring myself a vodka and Fresca at Dad’s, as I scoured the internet for some kind of help while numbing the pain of feeling different.
It wasn’t until I was in eighth grade that I began to see other teenagers from around my area in Arkansas pop up on these support sites. Individuals, unknown to me since we were all afraid to show our real picture. This could often incite excitement, solace, or fear in me. Fear that these unknown others were in fact bullies at my school trying to entrap me. I proceeded with caution.
I knew there were others at my middle school but I couldn’t figure out who. I had to narrow down the suspects. There was Jason who talked like one of my older sister’s friends who was always buzzing around the popular crowd. I found him to be a threat as he was a huge gossip. There were my friends in several of my gifted and talented classes who I thought could be gay. Not based on anything in particular except their open-mindedness. They were more like the straight kids who made it okay for the gay kids to come out in high school. Finally, I settled on Dexter who sat next to me in Keyboarding. He would often ask me questions about what kind of music I liked and tried to find ways to make me laugh. He would invite me to hang out with his two girl pals who I was friendly with, Hannah and Fuzzy (yes, her nickname was Fuzzy because of her big bushy, fuzzy hair).
Months of hanging out with Dexter in these social settings, chatting on AOL Instant Messenger late into the night, and laughing together in class came to the moment of us coming out to each other the night of the Valentine’s Dance. We had chatted before about who we thought might be gay in our class but had never come close revealing our own true nature; as if it were a game of cat and mouse. After the dance that night, Dexter messaged me and told me he wanted to tell me something. I let him know he could tell me anything; He told me he was gay. Filled with excitement to the moon and back, elated, I messaged him back to let him know I was gay too.
Dexter was the first other gay person I had told that I was gay. The feeling of finding someone who was like me in small-town Arkansas was exhilarating. It meant that I wasn’t alone. That I wasn’t defunct. That nothing was wrong with me. That someone else knew what I was going through and we had that camaraderie. We could confide in each other.
For the rest of the weekend, we chatted on the phone constantly. Something that I had always reserved for talking to potential beard girlfriends. I didn’t have to fake liking someone with him. I laid on the floor of my sisters now empty bedroom for hours talking on their cordless phone with Dexter, staring up at the ceiling connecting the dots of the plaster together as if it were cosmic that we had found each other. By the end of the weekend, Dexter had asked me if I would be his boyfriend. I said, “Yes.”
Three days later, I broke up with him. My reasoning was that I didn’t want to feel forced to date the only other gay person in town. I wanted to have a choice in who I could be with like straight people. This didn’t stop us from acting like boyfriends or dating for the following seven months.
Weston continues on to talk about his dating, stealing kisses, summer theater, and making the decision to move on, away from home and away from Dexter.
We tried to keep in touch in the best way we could. I would get Instant Messages from him but his family had discovered his sexuality and he was having a hard time with that. He moved to his grandmothers for awhile. When I came home to visit for Thanksgiving, we only got to spend a few hours together but things had changed and ultimately we had grown apart. I had grown in ways that were unforeseen and he was stuck in a standstill in our small town of Arkansas. What once was a romantic relationship was now something of a memory to remember fondly.
We lost touch soon after that. Going our separate ways, experiencing our own growing pains and self-discovery. It would be eight years until I saw him again.
The next time I saw Dexter was Christmas 2010 …
We're going to stop our sharing right there, but Dexter and Weston's story continues. Head over to Homogarcon.com for the rest of the entry. Does the love get rekindled? Was there too much time, space, and changes in the way?
What does happen is Weston must come to grips with loss, drug use, forgiveness, and recovery from it all. In talking with Weston this morning, he was happy that we were sharing his story of his first love.
We never forget our first love.
Thank you Weston for this powerful and personal piece.