III. What Is This Feeling?

Eighth grade boys. They experience a lot of feelings. For me, this was no different. That is, I experienced a lot of feelings, but those feelings were different from most.

About the time I was in eighth grade, maybe a little before, I started to become aware of feelings I had had my entire life. But now in the throes of puberty, these feelings were taking on significantly different dimensions. Unlike the other guys in my classes who were making your typical immature and inappropriate comments and jokes about girls and their changing anatomies, I was finding myself more attracted to them, the other guys.

I can’t say exactly when I first noticed this draw I had towards boys, but there were moments, at least as early as second grade,where I had idolized certain other boys in my classes that were more akin to crushes than some kind of “looking up to.” Of course those thoughts were not sexual as I was what, eight? But by the end of middle school, I found myself utterly confused. On the outside I would talk about girls girls girls. And on the inside I found them somewhat mysterious and attractive, but I found myself being way more fascinated, like I said, with my male peers.

Not being a religious family I had never been explicitly taught anything, one way or the other, about the morality of homosexuality. In fact, it wasn’t a topic I could even really recall my parents ever really discussing, other than the occasional comment about not understanding how such and such a gay actor could kiss such and such a voluptuous actress in such and such movie or television program and stay gay. There was ultimately no indication as to how my family would have reacted to such a revelation, but I had no solid reason to believe it would have wound up explosively negative. Despite that, I chose to keep it under wraps, fearing a negative outcome among my family and peers.

In high school, the feelings became stronger, as one might expect, with more hormones, and my peers developing more and more into fully grown men. I would say that by my sophomore year of high school I was actually exclusively attracted to guys, with any talk about girls being purely for show, I just didn’t find the ladies all that interesting.

I found that these feelings, coupled with my ebbing and flowing interest in Christianity throughout high school, started to cause a little bit of chaos in my soul. It did not help that through the majority of high school, my mother was extremely ill, and my father’s union was occasionally on strike. I became overwhelmed on the inside, not just with sexuality, but with all of these things, on top of which were thrown school, ACTs, work, college applications, and the like.

All of these things combined forces with my melancholic and introverted personality and turned me into an apparition from the bowels of hell at times. I cannot even count the “conversations” my mother and I had about my generally sulky and cranky attitude throughout high school. The tension only built throughout those four years, and I started escaping the tension through unsavory self…medication.

Anyway, by the end of high school, I was ready to leave home and be free from all of the stresses there. I had kind of given up on God because I felt that I was destined to be enslaved to homosexuality, that I would have no choice in living it out. When I left for college I believed in my heart of hearts that someday, somewhere I was going to be married to a man, and that someday I would have to open this part of my life up to my family and friends.

When I did get to college at NDSU, the plans I had of exploring who I “really was” kind of took a back seat. However, and I often forget this detail, I actually did “come out” to two people from back home in about September or October. Those conversations, as I remember them, didn’t go poorly, but also did not go as expected. There was no shock on their parts, because apparently they had already suspected it for awhile. “Damn” I thought. I guess it was likely that lots of kids thought I was probably gay. Aside from this and discovering in college that a thing such as gay pornography existed, my first semester was extremely uneventful when it came to exploring sex. And for the time being it was going to remain that way, for little did I know, my life was going to change a lot in January.