KaleidoScot’s Dan Littauer shares his coming out story: “I knew I was gay from quite early on, at first it felt quite natural but soon enough I found out that people thought it wasn’t, and that took me years to recover from, let alone feel comfortable enough about my sexuality.
“When I was in kindergarten, as young as six, I remember feeling much more emotionally and physically connected to Jonathan, another youth, and I used to enjoy hugging him more than anyone, imagining that one day, we’d get married! I also took a real interest to Greco-Roman statues, and you guessed, those muscular marble male ones. And my parents’ art book featuring male sculptures by Michelangelo was one of my favourite ‘reading’ material.
“Oh, and unlike boys in my age who kind of worshipped the violence of wrestling, I instead enjoyed watching these shows because that was one of few sporting events where I could see nice chunky semi naked men and have the occasional glimpse, of… well you know what… Especially in Greco Roman wrestling and Mr Universe contests too (before the era that male contestants turned to look like muscled knob mutants).
“But the first real crush was on my PE teacher, Roberto, who looked like a young Tom Selleck, and yes I did have a glimpse of his hairy chest once when I bumped into him in the changing room (er… ok, I did kind of arrange for that, staying late after class) when he was changing his football gear.
“One day, Roberto asked me and several other kids if we wanted to play football (soccer in American), with him guiding us in Central Park. Like, ‘OH YEA’, despite me not having the slightest interest in football; But I did turn up fantasising he’d whisk me away from the other kids back home with him. Instead the ‘lesson’ cost 5$ to my parents who were delighted with my ‘apparent’ love of football. That’s because I was much more interested playing, at the age of 14, with my girl neighbour friend, than with the boys at school. It all seemed perfectly ordinary to me and perhaps I could have come out safely already then, until…
“But being a teen in the 80s wasn’t easy, especially when the hysteria about HIV and AIDS hit the headlines. I remember reading an article written by a dying gay New Yorker telling his story with shame, loathing, regret and guilt. He talked about how he had sex with hundreds of men, and prayed to God that he’d take that ‘awful perversion’ away, eventually contracting HIV, then AIDS related illness and writing the story from his dying bed.
“There was another testimony of a bodybuilder, whose name I don’t recall, who died from AIDS related illness and I remember the paper posting a picture of ‘before’ and ‘after’, with a psychologist commenting on how ‘homosexuality was caused by an unresolved oedipal complex.’
“That put me off my sexy wrestlers (well, for a while), installing in me a feeling of terror and horror – ‘I don’t want to end up like them!.’ I thought to myself – how horrible it must be to be inflicted with that illness of ‘perversion’ and then, on top of it, contract the ‘gay disease’ which the paper labelled. I resolved to remain totally silent and practice abstinence (ha! that didn’t last long, I did have hanky panky when I was 15 with a fellow high-school student). I also thought that I had better try and ‘be straight’ and had two girl-friends, but it just didn’t feel right, despite me loving them.
“And then I feel in love with Eli when I was 16.5, he was 17… I met him while working after high school as a computer programmer-nerd on the Unix computers in my hometown’s university. I even remember noticing how sexy he was and trying to work out the time when he was typing away in the terminal room, so I could ‘turn up’, as it were, doing my work next to him. His chat up line was: ‘my, you do type fast’… It took me six months (!) to let him near enough to me and then make love with him (first time was actually quite bad, as I was terrified). Gosh, he was so patient! I took him to my favourite spot in the middle of an orange tree planation, where there was a large clearing, and we engraved our names with a heart on one of the trees.
“Eli taught me how to respect and love myself when I was very conflicted about my sexuality and my relationship with my parents. Eli and I adopted a ‘don’t ask don’t tell policy’ which our parents were happy to collude with. Oh yes, they even met each other… Like a married couple but in denial…
“Unusually for gay guys I was quite more closer to my dad than mother, emotionally, and he was the first member of the family to whom I came out when I was 22. I was studying psychology then in London and armed myself with several ‘PFLAG’ books when I went back home and told him. But my dad (and mum) already of course knew: ‘I love you no matter what, son,’ he told me, and put the books next to his bed. ‘Just be careful son with safer sex and don’t get your heart broken too quickly by men,’ he added. ‘As for your mother,’ he said, ‘she knows but give her more time, since she wants grandchildren and its harder for her.’ A year later she was already trying to play matchmaker, finding me a nice Jewish boy who went to her creative writing class…”