Yesterday was release day for a book I wrote called Beacon, book one of the Nation of Five series. The book is about young men and an impossible task they set before themselves. Well, I know a lot about impossible tasks. I’m a DID survivor who suffers from hallucinations. I have bipolar and Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. Getting through a day where I make dinner, hang out with my kids, be a husband to my wife, and not end the day screaming, is the completion of an impossible task. Well, it may be an impossible task that’s undertaken in the book Beacon, but it’s only even considered because of the friendship between four boys. Four teenage boys attempt this daunting feat. Got me thinking about the boys and men in my life. And so this weekend to celebrate the release of Beacon, I will be dropping upon you chapters from Reality of the Unreal Mind. These chapters are from the unreleased third volume, titled The Keep. I start at 7:30 in the evening on Friday, and will end at 9 at night on Sunday. So follow me now into the story of the men who made me possible.
Teddy called it his fifteen minutes of fame.
In the drama room one day, he got up on a chair with a few pieces of paper and began to talk. He had a bit written down. He had a bit memorized. He had even more that he adlibbed, but he began to speak. He talked about the evils of capitalism. He talked about abuse, both drug and alcohol, and read lyrics from the first album of Rage Against the Machine. When he was done, he stepped down, and we all applauded. That was the last memory I have of him. I don’t know if he left right after that, but Teddy walked out of my life, just in the middle of school one day said goodbye.
He came back a year later. He had a friend who had come with him from Texas. I told him we needed to get everyone together and play a game, but he said he was not staying. He was in town to see me and Vonny and then he was gone again. And like that, one of my best friends in the world vanished.
I found him again over a decade later. He had changed quite a bit. He is a Christian now, a conservative and runs a business. He had made a completely different man of himself. And God bless. We rarely stay the same person we were in high school. I sent him a message talking about old times and telling him what he meant to me. He said he would write me back, answer my questions and we would reconnect, but that message never came.
He made a post about welfare and food stamps, and I got involved. It wasn’t that his points weren’t valid. It was that welfare and food stamps had at one point been the only thing that kept me alive. Everything was cordial. Almost political.
This next part comes from him. I don’t remember this. Yes, I’ve spoken to him recently. Don’t jump ahead. I’m trying to do a thing here. It used to be that I only got drunk on St. Paddy’s Day, the day Aunt committed suicide. Well, every St. Paddy’s Day I called someone. And though I don’t remember, he said I called him. He went into the bathroom so he wouldn’t disturb his sleeping wife, as I reached out a trembling hand to him in the dead of night. He said I barely made any sense. But I could have called anybody that night, and I chose to call him.
I say he said this because after he read Teardrop Road and Normal Street, Teddy bent Heaven and Earth. A powerful man can do that. It takes a man like Atlas. Can we call him a man? It takes a man like Hercules. And Teddy was after some golden apples. He bent Heaven and Earth to come and see me. The spot on the couch I’m looking at is still warm from where he sat. And we reconnected. I have Teddy back in my life. And thank God for it. Everything has changed and changed again. He’s warped and become a new person. At one point he threw himself into the fire, got himself red hot, took a hammer to the anvil, and crafted something better than it had been. I talk to Teddy every month. I never want him out of my life. But this chapter isn’t about Teddy. And you guys have gotten me way off topic. Shame on all of you. I’m trying to tell a story here. Back to Chalice.
Teddy was gone and when he left, he left a hole in my life. I filled it with the Degenerates. I filled it with girls, but a huge chunk of my life was gone. And when he left, Chalice moved in.
It was about a year before Chalice came out to me. We were at his house and he decided to tell me he was gay. I did not take it well.
I said something non-committal and was out the door. I walked to a payphone, called my mom. She came and picked me up and I sat on it. Chalice was out of my life. He was disgusting. He was a sinner. He was all the things I had been taught he was.
When I got home Chanel called. “You’re an asshole,” was all she said before she hung up and left me to think about it. I stood in the middle of my room for about twenty minutes, trying to make sense of it all, before I called for a ride. Who gave me that ride? I cannot remember. I was too tied up in my confusion. I walked back into Chalice’s house almost an hour and a half after I had left it, and when my ride left, which was very soon, I looked at him.
He stood away on one side of his living room, staring at me. I had just displayed hate to him, and he was scared of what I would do now. Was I about to commit a hate crime? Was I about to do something or say something terrible? He had no way of knowing, so he stared at me while I stood on the other side of the room, and I broke down.
I dropped my head and wept. It took him about a minute to cross the distance and set his hand on my shoulder. I did not apologize. I did not hug him. I looked up at him and, with fear in my heart and confusion buzzing in my head, I said, “I don’t know how to be your friend now. I wish you hadn’t told me.” I was shaking, near the point of collapsing to the ground and ready to walk out again, but I looked my friend in the eye and said, “I don’t know how to make peace with this, but I want to try. Can we talk about it? I have so many questions, and I need to face this or embrace bigotry for the rest of my life. I need to be taught. I need a conversation.”
“What are you asking for?” He wanted it spelled out exactly. At this point he didn’t know if I was facing my own sexuality or his. He did not know if I had unexpressed urges or I was just curious.
I knew, but he didn’t.
“I just want to understand. All my life I was told that homosexuals were disgusting. That is, until I started going to church, when I was told they were sinners and going to burn in hell. But you are not disgusting to me, and I can’t imagine you being thrown in hell after knowing you like I do. I just have so many questions.”
“Interview with a Homo?”
Anne Rice was huge back then. Interview with a Vampire had just come out and busted the entire world open in vampire obsession. The moment he said the words I cracked open with laughter. I wiped my eyes and nodded.
“Interview with a Homo it is then.”
We descended to his bedroom in the basement, and he sat on his bed. Directly across from it hung a hammock, and I sat there.
“When did you turn gay?” I asked. “What happened that made you gay?”
“I was born.”
My mind kind of skipped. I shook my head, thinking about God and His Bible, thinking about the things I had been taught, and I looked at him confused.
“Before your head explodes, let me assure you that I have always known I was gay. When I was a boy, I started staring at boys. As long as I can remember I wanted to kiss a boy. Hold his hand. Do other things,” he said with a sly smile.
“This is not a disease that you catch. It is just a way that you are born. It is just me. Just a part of me that has always been there.”
Hell. Sickness. Sin. All of this was up for grabs now.
“You don’t think you look back on it and just think you are this way because you are remembering wrong?”
“Let’s change the way you are talking about this,” he said calmly. “Stop saying ‘this way.’ It does not serve you. Go ahead and say gay. Call me gay. Tell me I am gay. I’ll wait.” He crossed his arms and smiled.
“Yeah, I am. Always have been. And nothing can change that. I can fake it. I can lie to everyone and myself about it. I can shove it down and swallow all my feelings about it and every need I have. I can embrace a girl, and even marry one, but the simple fact is that I will never know true love unless it is with a guy. Can never find sexual satisfaction, real satisfaction, unless it involves a dick.” He rolled his eyes. “Not mine, someone else’s.”
“Do you want to fuck me?” This was of course the big one. Every gay guy wants to fuck every straight guy, right? No matter what they look like. Or how filthy they are. This was what I was told. Every gay guy will hold you down and ‘get you’ even if you are straight. It had been told to me so many times it had to be right.
“Are you gay?” he asked.
“No.” Defensive. Why was I so defensive? “No. I am not gay.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.”
“Then why would I want to fuck you?” he asked. “Why would I want to fuck someone who doesn’t want to fuck me? Will I hold you down?” He shook his head. “What fun is that? If you have sex with a girl, do you want to think you are killing her, just making her love everything about it?” he grinned. “Well, not you. You are an instant man.”
“You love me and you know it.”
And I did. I loved this person. I had no sexual feelings for him, but I did love him. He was a brother to me. And I started to ask myself how I could not want him in my life.
“Why does this matter so much?” he asked. “Really think about it.”
“Because,” and I couldn’t think of a reason. Did I expect him to start having sex with guys in front of me? Was I going to be made to watch him and a guy go at it? Or was this just something he did when other people were not around? Why did this matter?
“Do you like guys that wear girl’s clothes?” Another myth. All gay guys got dressed up like girls. All gay guys wanted their lovers to dress like women. Makeup, high heels, dress and underwear of a woman.
“No.” He screwed up his face. “I don’t like girls.” He shook his head. “Well, I don’t want to fuck them anyway. I have nothing against girls, as long as they keep their hands to themselves. I like guys, men. I want a man who looks like a man. Otherwise what is the point?
“Guys just say that all gays want their lovers to dress up like girls to make sense of it in their heads. How could a guy want a guy that looked like a guy? And if they did, then maybe, just maybe they would want them, too.” Chalice shook his head and screwed up his face. “No, I do not want anything to do with a guy dressed up like a girl. I want a man.”
“Do you think I am hot?” I asked. Now I felt really uncomfortable.
“Darling. Sweetie. Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not my type.”
But I would find out that I was his type. I was very his type. And that is why it all falls apart between me and this man.
I felt strangely insulted. And I realized I did want him to think I was sexy. Why, I could not tell anyone. I could not explain to myself. But I wanted him to want me.
“Not at all?” Why was I asking this question?
He leaned forward on his bed and stabbed out a finger at me. “That right there is the problem. Straight guys don’t want gay guys to want to fuck them, but they want to be hot to every gay guy they know. Why is that?”
I sat and tried to think about it. I could not meet his eyes. I could not see him watch me try to think this through. Part of me wanted to just shrug and say I didn’t know but the reality is, he deserved better than that. And this conversation was about learning. This conversation was about him teaching me, and I felt like it would be an affront to do anything short of digging deep into my mind for an answer.
“All guys want to be attractive,” I said. “I guess I just wanted you to think I am hot, even though I don’t want you to do anything about it.”
“Well, you are hot. Of course you’re hot. Look at you kid, you’re delicious. But I don’t want to eat you. I don’t want you unless you are ready to flirt with me a little and romance me a bit. I want to feel wanted, too. I don’t just want to be grabbed and told I am having sex with you. And no matter how hot you are, you are not ever going to do that.”
“Do I look gay?” I said.
“That is hilarious,” Chalice said. “Did you hear yourself?”
“What?” And I didn’t know why that question had come out of my mouth. I wanted to know if I was giving off some sort of gay vibe, scent, signal. Was I in some way being confused for gay, because if I was, how do I turn it off? Why was this bothering me?
“Gaydar, ever heard of it?” he said.
“Gaydar?” It was my turn to screw up my face in confusion.
“Do you know about Gaydar?”
“No, of course I don’t. I don’t know anything. That is kind of why we are here.”
“Don’t get testy with me, darling. I’m just asking questions. I’m trying to teach you. That is what we are doing, right?”
“Yeah. Of course, sorry.”
“Gaydar is this sense that you get after you realize you are gay. It is a kind of sixth sense that lets you know if the guys around you are gay.”
“Yes, Gaydar. It is not a signal or anything like that. It is just a way of looking at a man and seeing just little things, like the way their eyes move, or the way that they talk. Maybe the way they look at other men or the way they talk to women. It is not perfect. But it is there.”
Here is where it all began to fall apart.
“I think everyone is a little gay. Not always gay enough to do anything about it, but gay enough to do some things. Gaydar helps other gay guys if they are with a person that wants them.”
“How is your Gaydar reading now?” I said. I can’t tell you if I was Shadow, Guardian, Servant. I can’t tell you if this was Artist or Ronin talking. All I know is that I was shifting, often asking the same question a few times. He took it as me needing to solidify things in my head. Again no alarms went off saying something of my mind was wrong.
When I asked how his Gaydar was reading me, he squinted and smiled. “So far nothing. We will see.”
We talked for a while longer. That is deceptive, because in fact we talked for about five hours in all. I asked about his sex life. He told me he had been active. He told me a few names. Told me who hated themselves for it and who had accepted it. We talked about how he looked at other girls, and he told me that at times he was attracted to other girls, but never ready to make a move on them.
I asked him about Draconic. He shook his head.
“Well, she is just so…” he sighed, “Entrancing. I just loved being around her. I would never have actually fucked her, but I was flattered that a girl like that would be into me. Truth though, when I was with her, I was terrified you would rip my head off.”
“If I did, she never would have talked to me again,” I said.
We laughed. And by the end of the night, I had accepted him for who he was. I understood homosexuality for what it was and I never had trouble being around a gay person or a lesbian. All that hate and misinformation was gone. All that remained was acceptance and respect.
But Chalice found that acceptance as an invitation. He began to hit on me. And in the end, he fell in lust with me. It got to the point where we were not comfortable hanging out with each other.
But I had been changed for life. I had learned to love people of all sexual orientations.
But in his flirting and his advances, he left me with one burning question. After insisting to me he was born gay, he relentlessly beat into my mind one question. It was a question I would not get an answer to for years.
“How do you know if you haven’t tried?”
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 3: The Keep.