8—HOW I CAME OUT
5—HOW I MET MY FIRST BOYFRIEND. I WAS WALKING A FINE LINE, BEING DEVOUT AND READY TO SERVE A MISSION, BUT WANTING TO KNOW WHAT LOVE WAS.
Salt Lake City, Utah, Sunday, August 16, ’98—I am sitting in an LDS meeting house. Last Sunday I was attending church too, but in France. ¹ Last Sunday I was determined to be a good member and I had no idea that a week later I would sitting here, excited to go on a date—with a man!—in less than two hours.
I came to Utah to see Logan, ² the gay cop I met last summer. When I got disfellowshipped from the Church for lightly exploring with another man, Logan was the only person in the world who offered me support. Church members knew I was disfellowshipped because I was not allowed to partake of the Sacrament (the communion) nor to officiate nor participate. Just to attend. And no one in my family cared. And my friends did not get it.
The reason why I was disfellowshipped was not made known to the members, but it did not matter. In my state of probation, I was ostracised. I guess I could have left and lived my life. But I had decided to repent and to remain in the Church I believed in. I had chosen this religion. I joined the LDS Church three years ago (when I was 19 and did not want to accept my homosexuality) and I still wanted to be a member (despite my new and fragile self-acceptance).
I am back in the fold of God now. And I am going on my mission next month. I will be serving in France for two years. I wanted to see Logan again. He was the only gay man that I know, and I had a crush on him.
The cop and I both stand at a crossroad: I am slowly and painfully coming out; he is learning how to live again after the passing of his partner. “You’re making me cry!” he said before hugging me after I tried to comfort him a few days ago. “Thank you for your words”. I like to think that I am good for him too. He felt “like a father walking his son to school” when he showed me to the local LDS meeting house today. And he liked that. He wanted to feel needed and matter to someone. His strength and vulnerability have been a lesson to me.
I know (now) that a relationship with Logan was the fantasy of a young and inexperienced closeted gay Mormon. He made it clear—and it became quite evident. But he is the best mentor! He could have so easily taken advantage of me. But he is honest, respectful, kind but firm.
I have become more relaxed around Logan, and more at ease with myself too. Like on Friday night when we were getting ready to go out. He was brushing his shoes and asked me to hand him mine. And I don’t know what it was. Maybe me realising that I am actually happy that he and I are now two good friends (who sometimes did stuff). I was enjoying our male bonding. I do not have that back home. There is no pretence with another gay man, and no hiding. It was so liberating!
It is a bit dark in this meeting house. I am falling asleep. I am still jet-lagged, and I have not been sleeping well. I regret not staying for brunch in Logan’s garden. This LDS chapel is dark, No one greeted me. No one talked to me. I did not care. I had a date!
Is that weird to come to church before a gay date? I can see why it may seem so. But I have dealt with enough guilt. I am done feeling bad for just being different! It’s been that way since I was a child! Last summer, at 21, I finally took steps to come out. I figured that no straight guy would get in trouble with the Church for drinking Seven Up and for kissing girls (even though I did more than kissing). This summer I am learning about the gay community, self-acceptance and opening up to love. Missionaries have girlfriends waiting for them. So why couldn’t have I a boyfriend?
This morning I was helping Logan tidy the garage when I heard the phone ring. I rushed to the kitchen: my date’s number on the Caller ID. I picked up the phone with my heart beating faster. He would pick me up “at 2:30 this afternoon. We’re going to a pool party.” It is 2:00 and my date is picking me up soon! It is the third talk (as boring as the last one) and I slip out and come out in the bright burning sun.
Today is going to be my first real gay date. I met him on Friday night at the Trapp (a private club for members). You could feel the buzz from outside. People coming and going. Inside, the bar was busy and noisy. It was exhilarating. I felt so comfortable. We met Logan’s friend with his two sisters. We were all talking, laughing. I was having a great time drinking Seven Up, when that guy showed up. I liked his manly demeanour in that sleeveless flannel shirt that revealed a tan and lean body. He introduced himself to me as Terrence. I liked his mischievous smile. I also liked his his light brown facial hair and his burning green eyes. But the music was loud, the place was too crowded—I could not hear him asking the girls if I was with Logan—and I wanted to go watch the guys in Stetson hats line dancing to Shania’s Any Man of Mine.
First he loved my accent. How his knees could bend. I thought we’d be OK, me and my molasses—Tori Amos, Northern Lad
One of the girls told me he liked me as she said goodbye. I could not find Logan but Terrence found me. The place was getting quieter. “What’s a pretty thing like ya doin’ here on his own?” I found that line comical. But he was so handsome (in that redneck/’white trash’ kind of way that does it for me these days), so I let him buy me another Seven Up.
He is 28. He works in construction, and on the new LDS Tabernacle right now. I told him I liked his shirt. He was drunk on Budweiser and took it off. “It’s for you. You can keep it.” I put it on. He said he found me “sexy” and wanted “to spend the night” with me. “That’s not what I’m used to… I had a boyfriend for five years, and been single for two.” But I was his type. I should have just smiled and walked away, but I believed most of what he said. I enjoyed the attention he gave me. I felt good in his company. Still, “I’m going home with my friend”.
When I found Logan, Terrence had put his shirt back on (but it was still mine) and he was calling a cab from the phone box in the bar. “Do you want to spend the night with him?” I could not. “Yes, you can!” I thought about it. I told Terrence I was going with him (and fled outside and leaned against the door to breathe). Terrence appeared at the same time as the cab. Logan came out too. He talked to Terrence privately. Then he came to me to remind me that I had his number and pager.
I felt small and nervous in the leather seat of the big Utah Cab taxi. Terrence gave me one of his redneck winks and he took my hand when the meter stopped to let a train go by. It felt magical. But I looked to the driver. “He does not care,” Terrence whispered.
He shares a house in Rose Park. We talked. We had our first kiss. He was not as good a kisser as Logan (but I found him so handsome). Then he took me by the hand and led me downstairs to his messy bedroom with a big US flag pinned on the wall. We lay on his bed and kissed and touched. We stopped and cuddled. We started again. For about two hours. And he was kind, attentive and he respected my boundaries.
We went upstairs to get some water (and pee) before going back to his bed to sleep. He brought the covers over me to keep me warm and turned off the light. And I lay there awake. Again. It was 3:00 a.m. I heard a night freight train, somewhere in the distance. Was I west or east of the tracks? I did not even know where I was. In a stranger’s bed. Welcome to the gay world, I suppose! Terrence sensed something was going on. He gave me some water. He talked to me. He held me. It was as if he truly cared. I fell asleep in his arms until we woke up at around 10 in the morning.
Terrence had to go to work. “I’m busy tonight but I’ll call you tomorrow”, he said as he dropped me off at Logan’s. There was nobody home. I put the sleeveless flannel shirt on a hanger and lay in Logan’s bed. I could smell Terrence’s perfume and his own scent. I missed him already.
I am back from church. The brunch is going great. I should have stayed. Logan shouts out from the kitchen: “Somebody’s here for you!” His friends cheer. I have just got changed from my church clothes. I rush out of the bedroom and see Terrence standing in the doorway, smiling at me.
We are driving up to Cottonwood in his big white rusty Cadillac. I know I am only visiting. I know I am going on a mission for the Church next month. But when he looks at me and when touches my hand, I am the happiest guy in the world, and I just believe it can work. I am on my first date with a man! I remember the double date my LDS friend had organised with these two girls last summer. How awful I had felt! ³ How amazing I feel now!
The house is gigantic, with bright rooms and beautiful furniture. Outside, many guests in their swimming costumes walk about a huge swimming pool with or are sat with drinks, while some are moving to the sound of the music. We get changed to our trunks in the cabins equipped with huge mirrors and ceiling loudspeakers playing a modern cover of Time After Time.
Everyone thinks I am from Paris. A girl wants to hear me speak French and says she would be OK with a marriage of convenience. I glance at Terrence. He never stops holding my hand. He is always asking if I need anything. Always refilling my glass. We jump in the refreshing swimming pool and kiss. When I come out of the water to lie on a sun lounger, he follows me and rests his tanned back on my stomach. It feels amazing to be against his body like this, lying in the sun. Little things that straight people take for granted.
Terrence says he wants to know everything about me. He talks about his Jack Mormon parents who do not accept him. He feels emotional now and goes for another beer. I realise that drinking is his coping mechanism. Someone shouts to me from the pool to get back in. So I do.
It is evening now. “Do you need a room?” some guy shouts half-jokingly as we are all over each other on a sun lounger. A select few are staying for dinner. The owner of the house is his best friends, so we are staying. But Terrence has “to wait before standing up”. As much as I loved being so close to Terrence all day, I felt a bit embarrassed with PDA (and other body reactions).
After dinner Terrence goes back in the pool and from the sun lounger I watch the lightening electrify the navy blue sky, feeling so content. Saturday evening I showed Logan where I was from on a map and where I was going on my mission. We talked about the purpose of life. He let me talk about the Bible. He went back inside to put on a CD. “This song reminds me of you”. Louder the second time around. He had tears in his eyes. I had seen him cry before, when spotting flowers his late partner had planted in the garden. I thought he was lucky to have loved and have been loved by someone so much. I wanted that too. Logan’s tears had opened my heart, and Calling All Angels was like sage smoke in a smudging that dispelled my hesitation. I wanted to date Terrence.
He looks so handsome when he comes out of the water one last time. “Let’s jump into the hot tub!” Then the host turns the music off. Time to go to bed. We do need a room, and there are plenty to choose from. This house is like a five-star hotel. Terrence says he is serious about us. It is a first date! But I believe him.
I am tired now. The end of a long first date. Maybe not exactly a proper date. My first gay date anyway. And I loved it. And I feel so serene, so happy and for the first time since I got to Utah, I know I am going to sleep like a baby.
We’re tryin’ and we’re hopin’ but we’re not sure how…—Jane Siberry and K.D. Lang, Calling All Angels
Today—It is embarrassing to see how naïve I was. But I also feel very lucky to have met Terrence. That was a dream come true, even if the question of how I was going to handle dating him while going on my mission would need to be addressed.
This was new territory for me. And this balancing act, trying to enjoy the dating life while keeping myself worthy to be an active member of the Church was something I genuinely wanted to do, convinced that I could have both.
Like I said, it is embarrassing to see how naïve I was.
² Some names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the subjects