SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2002        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Mystery Man

Queens, Homos and Fags

 Growing up as a child I always knew I was a little different from most other boys my age.  When I was in elementary school all the boys were into rough housing, sports and getting dirty.  I was always more quiet and reserved.  I preferred to spend my time indoors playing with my older sister, Susan, who is 2 years older than me.  After finishing elementary school and going into junior high and even high school most of my male friends spent all of their time talking about what girl they liked and which girls they thought were the hottest in school.  I would just nod my head and agree with them most of the time, even though inside I did not feel the same way.  As far back as elementary school I knew I was different, but I never knew or understood what was different about me.

As I got older I began to slowly understand what was so different about me.  In junior high I started noticing guys in a more physical sense and felt an attraction to them.  At this time I had heard the term gay before, but I really didnt know what it meant or what it was all about.  At school my friends would always tease each other by saying, that is so gay and other remarks like, dont be a homo and you faggot.  Going into high school my feelings for other men got stronger and stronger.  I tried to make myself believe that I was attracted to girls.  I would go on dates with girls, but I never felt any physical attraction for them.  I always ended up being good friends with the girls I dated, but nothing romantic ever happened.

In my junior year of high school during one of my classes the teacher passed out a paper that had different hotline numbers for various teen help lines.  Some of the numbers were for suicide, pregnancy, drinking, drugs and the last one was a gay and lesbian hotline.  It took me a couple of months before I had the nerve to call the gay and lesbian hotline number.  I finally put aside my fears and called the number.  I had to talk to someone about what I was feeling.  I could not tell my parents, my sister, or my friends that I was gay.  All of the people in my life would literally freak out.  My only choice at that time was to call the gay and lesbian hotline number.

When I called the hotline number the volunteer that I spoke to was very friendly.  The volunteer told me about an organization, called VOIT, which stands for Valley One in Ten, the group was for young gay men between 13-21 years old.  The group met every Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Gay and Lesbian Center near downtown.  On this particular Wednesday that was coming up the group was going to meet at a bookstore called Unique on Central.  After much internal debate I finally decided to attend the meetings.  As I drove to the meeting for the first time I was so nervous.  I thought about turning back and going home a few times, but I knew this was something that I had to do for my own welfare.

I remember arriving at the meeting about 15 minutes early to check out the surroundings.  I was so nervous walking into the meeting because I had never been to a gay establishment or interacted with other gay people.  When I walked in the store I was immediately greeted by a guy named George, he looked about the same age as I was.  The only difference was that George was that he was extremely feminine, he had the mannerisms of a girl.  George would just talk and wave his hands uncontrollably.  Within minutes of knowing George he lived up to almost every stereotype I had heard growing up about gay guys.  My biggest fear at that moment was that I thought it was my destiny to be a flaming queer.  George showed me around the bookstore and introduced me to some other VOIT members.  I feared that all of the other group members would be as flamboyant as George was, but to my surprise most of the guys acted just like normal guys like me.  This was a huge sigh of relief for me.  I could not believe there were actually straight-acting gay guys in the world.  I had nothing against the more feminine guys, they were all very nice to me, but at that time it was just way to much culture shock for me to handle.  After attending VOIT for several months I built a lot of friendships with both the straight-acting guys and the more feminine guys.  All of their friendships helped me to deal with my own sexuality in a positive manner that suited who I was.

I met a lot of good friends while attending VOIT that I still keep in contact with to this day.  One of my best friends that I met was Brian.  Brian was just a year older than I was.  We hung out constantly and became very close friends.  After spending a lot of time with a new group of friends I think my dad started to see a change in me.

 My Dad always knew there was something different about me from most other boys my age.  I think my Dad had his suspicions of what he thought it was, but I knew he could never bring himself to fully believe his worst fear.  When I was seventeen I think my Dad started to notice that I was going through some life changes.  I started going out more often at night and during the weekends with a new group of friends that he did not know.  It just so happened that most of my new friends that I was going out with were males.  I was going out a lot with my best friend Brian.  My dad asked me about Brian a few times, but I said that Brian was just a new friend that I met at school.  My dad had no reason not to believe me, since I was always truthful to him in the past, but I had to tell him a little white lie in this case.

One night a few months later my Dads worst fear came true.  The night started off just like any other night, I left home a little before 7:00pm to meet some friends.  A few minutes after I left the house the phone rang.  My dad was the only one home at that time.  He looked over at the caller ID to see who it was.  When he looked at the name on the caller ID his heart fell to the floor.  The name that appeared was, Gay and Lesbian Center.  A million thoughts must have run through my Dads mind.  He didnt know what to think.  Why would someone be calling from the Gay and Lesbian Center?  My dad picked up the phone to see who it was and why would somebody be calling from that number.  On the other end of the line was a voice that he recognized, it was Brian.  Brian asked if I was home.  My dad told Brian that I had just left about 10 minutes ago.  Brian said that he was meeting up with me and just wanted to make sure that I was on his way.   My dad hung up the phone and dropped to his knees.  My dad did not know what to think or how to feel.  All he could think of at that moment was that his son was a fucking faggot.  How could he have brought up his son to be that way?

All that night my Dad was thinking of what to say to me when I came home.  His mind was a total blank, he did not know what to say.  All my Dad could feel was just anger inside.  When I finally came home that night I said my goodnights to my Dad and I went to my room.  A few moments later I heard a knock on my door.  I answered my door and my dad was standing there.  My dad told me that he knew where I had been tonight and that he knew what I was.  My dad said that Brian had called earlier and he saw where he called from.  I did not deny what I was or come up with some explanation of what happened.  There was simply no explanation.  I said, Dad, Im gay.  There it was, the word my Dad was dreading to hear all night hit him right in the face.  My dad asked me if I thought I was going through a phase.  I told him that I was definitely not going through a phase and that this was who I am.  The next thing he said was, I hope you know your going to Hell, but I still love you.  After that comment I became furious and went back to my room and closed the door.  That night when I closed my door it symbolized the closing of our relationship.  Our father and son relationship has never been the same since.

Since that fateful night my Dad and I have never talked about me being gay.  My dad knows I am gay and living a homosexual lifestyle.  He does not ask me what I do in my free time and I never volunteer the information and tell him about it.  I know my dad still love me, but at times its hard for me to believe that.  I love my dad, but I know he is saddened by the thought of who his son is.  My Dad still hopes that one day I will wake-up and realize that what I am doing is wrong and start living a Christian life and marry a woman and have children.

I am now 25 years old and finishing my last semester at ASU West.  Much to my dads disappointment I am still gay.  Sometimes I think that it would have been a lot easier for me if I was straight.  Life just seems so much easier when you are part of the majority.  Even today when I am at work or at school people make gay jokes right in front of me.  They do not know that I am gay and I do not feel that I have to disclose who I am.  I try to keep my business life and personal life separate.  I am comfortable with who I am and I enjoy going out with my other gay friends and sharing my life with them.  I think my life would be easier if I was straight, but if I had the chance to change who I was, I would not.  I would continue to be my gay merry self.

 Return to Personal Memory Ethnographies homepage