BY AARON STELLA Welcome back ya’ll to another bold and beautiful edition GAYDAR! OK, down to business. Last time I told you how my family settled into our Alabama homestead. Now, I was never one for the bucolic pleasantries of rural living. Luckily, I would reside in Birmingham at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA, which suspiciously sounds like “ass fuck” — appropriately so, as you shall soon see).
As I mentioned in the last edition, I had been accepted into ASFA. I applied as a vocalist and a pianist, but because I lack adequate sight-reading skills, they accepted me for voice. Later I discovered that there was only one other male voice student—so it could have been the fact that I had a pair that gave me the edge–but no matter. By the way, Birmingham is about a 45-minute drive from my family’s house in Hanceville. ASFA offered lodging in their dormitories as an alternative for students who had long commutes. Who would have ever guessed that what occurred there would dramatically change the course of my life.
Every homosexual has their apprehensive and sometimes traumatic coming out period. For me, it was closer to the former. I was just happy to put a name to my thorough sexual indifference for the female sex. Well, you know, I remember Frenching a couple of girls in middle school, but that was only when I was dared. You could say I technically had a girlfriend at one point. Her name was Seora (see-or-ra). We coupled on a completely verbal agreement, and obviously nothing ever came of it. Just for the record, I’ve only gotten as far as kissing a woman. I’ve had chances to do more but it just never struck my interests. And while this all this might seem redundant, you should know that plenty of now full-fledged homosexuals dabbled in all the unique pleasures a woman has to offer and it just was never my cup of tea thank you very much. Just thought I should touch on that.
In any event, before I get into the dirty details about my proverbial coming out party, let me tell ya’ll a little bit about ASFA. From what I can remember, the student population was around 300-400, each allocated to a department, be it music, theater, visual arts, creative writing or math and science, depending on their forte. Intermixed in the student’s standard class schedule were classes specific to their forte. The school, during my time there at least, was ranked 10th best in the nation on account of the student body’s superior SAT scores, despite Alabama’s education system being ranked 49th in the nation. Mississippi’s is 50th. By the way, there’s a saying in Alabama: “Thank God for Mississippi!”
OK, now for the scandal and chaos. As I said, I took residence in the dorms, which were on the third floor of the main school building. Boys had one dorm, and girls had another, both of which were separated by a pair of locked doors. Anyone caught on the premises of the dorm opposite to their gender would face punishment by the Dorm Directors.
Towards the end of my first semester, I started having nightmares. I would dream that I was bound to a wooden table with cast iron chains. Two dark figures loomed over me, tightening and loosening another iron chain between their hands, creating an ominous chink to a morbid rhythm. Obviously, it is almost impossible to pin down what exactly occurs in the course of a dream, being that the is the nature of a dream. But the nightmare’s kept coming back, and their relentless repetition soon forced me to seek counsel, bringing me to confide in one of the resident assistants in the dorms.
Emerging alongside these nightmares was my sexual curiosity, which was goaded all the more by the abundance of homosexual men (boys, whatever) populating the dorms. I had been spending a great deal of my free time with two openly gay boys in the dorms. In our conversations, I learned of the world above the Mason Dixon and across the pond; and of course, about the community of homosexuals that was gaining more and more recognition as time went on. And so be it, my great epiphany happened late at night: after many hours of gabbing, these two boys began feeling me up—somewhat innocently, at first. Then once their hands wandered beneath the southern border, I spoke aloud with great resolve, “You know what ? I think I might be gay.” At that, they smiled at each other. I Immediately set a course for the practice rooms (tiny rooms with pianos in them) where one guy who I had my eye on for quite some time was practicing Chopin concertos. I barged into the room unannounced, and without warning, clasped my hands to his face and laid one right on him. He struggled a bit to break away at first, but eventually he succumbed. And that was my first gay experience that I recognized as gay–and it felt so right. So being that this epiphany and the nightmares were both unexpected phenomena, I confided both with the same resident assistant. What I didn’t count on is that he would snitch to the Dorm Directors, or that they would hold no concern for my nightly torments, but rather for what they perceived to be a unbridled, licentious romp–as if I was nocturnally prowling the dorm halls–sodomizing everything with a pulse.
Needless to say I was expelled from the dorms. The resident director along with the quisling resident assistant called me out of class one day to deliver the news. I was mortified. I wept profusely–more than I ever had in my life– being that I was not able to comprehend what exactly I had done wrong. They told me that it didn’t matter that I was gay, but that they couldn’t have sex going on in the dorms. In my sobbing, I bordered on reviling the resident assistant, in whom I had placed my trust; and lamenting, I let flew a vengeful valediction, “You betrayed me, you bastard! How could you, you fucking piece of shit!” I was a mess. Once my sobbing subsided, the Dorm Director told me that my parents had been phoned and that my mother was currently in the process of cleaning out my dorm room. So I went to see her. I entered the dorm room–and there she was. Before I could say anything, she walked up to me and gave me a big hug and told me that she loved me and that everything was going to be fine. During the car ride home, my father interrogated me. At one point, he asked me, with that patronizing tenor of his, “Well, you don’t think you’re homosexual, do you?” And to that I said, “Uh, yeah, I think I do.” Which didn’t go over well.
The school settled on allowing me to attend so long that I never went into the dorms again and that I left school promptly when classes had concluded. So I started commuting with the husband of a friend of my mom’s who worked in Birmingham. Slowly but surely, I got more and more comfortable in my skin. I learned more about homosexuality and the gay movement from fellow gays at ASFA. At night, I would get on the Internet and go into gay chat rooms (so original, right?) and would purchase gay literature. I remember I once called someone out here in PA—I think it was Altoona. Regardless, since my family showed no interest in discussing the matter—my father, being the bigoted, closet case that he was and still is, and my mother, locked under his despotic yoke—I began to explore, however clandestinely, the world of same-sex attraction.
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PREVIOUSLY: My Life After Christ
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