Authors: Alex Sanchez
Tags: #Social Issues, #Dating & Sex, #Social Science, #Gay, #Juvenile Fiction, #Homosexuality, #Fiction, #Gay Studies
After that, one day I gave him a ride home from school. I think he was as nervous as I was. He kept biting his nails. He said that in order
to stay on the basketball team he needed to get his algebra grade up, so I immediately offered to help. Math is my best subject—what I want
to major in.
A few weeks later he invited me to his house. He told me he’d broken up with Debra. I felt bad about it, but I also wanted to whoop and
Then, things really got moving fast. We went to the movies and held hands. My heartfelt like it would burst from my chest. A few weeks
later I somehow mustered the boldness to kiss him. And he kissed me back.
Then one evening when we were supposed to go out, his dad left home. We were alone in his house. I’d never seen Jason cry. Before I
knew it, we were making love.
Ever since, I’ve walked around singing and bumping into things. I can’t help it. My mom and dad look at me like I’m crazy.
This past fall I finally came out to them. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. My mom cried that she’d never have grandkids. My dad
argued all this stuff about it being a choice—the wrong choice. I told him it’s not like I asked to be gay. It’s just the way lam.
We’re getting through it—some days better than others. At least they like Jason. Sometimes it seems as if Dad likes him better than he
likes me. After all, Jason
the star athlete Dad always hoped I’d be.
Jason even got a basketball scholarship to Tech. That’s where I’d applied, too, even before all this happened. Every day I check the mail
for my acceptance, wishing it would hurry.
My dad also insisted I apply to his
Princeton. My grades are good, but I doubt I’ll get accepted there. It’s one of the top math
programs in the country—where Einstein lectured! Of course I’d love to go there, but.. .
My dream is for Jason and me to go to college together. Who knows? By the time we graduate, gay marriage might even be legal. Jason
and I could have a house in the ‘burbs. Maybe adopt kids. My mom could be a grandmom after all.
That’s my dream. And every time I’m with Jason, I feel like it’s coming true.
So far senior year has been the five
months of my life—and the worst.
It really began spring of junior year, when I saw an ad in our high school paper for the Rainbow Youth Group. It took me all summer to
build up my nerve to go. I was so confused—beyond confused.
On the one hand, I had a girlfriend who I loved. Debra and I had been dating for two-years. We had sex and everything. I enjoyed it,
except. . . at night I’d have dreams.. . about guys.
I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t gay—that what I was going through was just a phase. My image of being gay was someone like
Nelly—I mean, Nelson—someone kind of girlish. I definitely wasn’t like that. And I didn’t want to be.
Part of it also had to do with my dad and what happened with my friend Tommy when I was little, and how my dad beat me up for it
My dad’s a jerk—totally out of control. I don’t know what his problem is. It goes beyond his temper, beyond his drinking. It’s as if someone
did something to him when he was a kid and he thinks that gives him the right to take it out on the world—especially me.
But with everything going on, I couldn’t take his beating up on me anymore.
I finally stood up to him. And I came out. You should have seen the look on his face when he heard his son
was a maricón.
He moved out, telling me I was disgusting. But I think it was also a
thing—because I’d been able to deck him. I hate to admit it,
but I kind of feel sorry for him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s gone and hope he never comes back. But sometimes I wonder if he could
ever accept me. Not that I care if he does.
I’m going to live my life the way I want. I don’t care if anybody thinks I’m disgusting or worthless. I know myself that I’m worth something.
I do feel bad about how everything turned out with Debra, though. I didn’t mean to hurt her, but I know I did, and I couldn’t blame her for
hating me. I felt so happy later when she said that she still wanted to befriends. She means a lot to me.
Throughout all this, I’ve tried to keep focused on the one thing that’s always helped me get through life—basketball. So far this season
our team is 19 and 1. Coach Cameron says if we keep it up, we could be state champions again. It would be our secondyear in a row!
I want to come out to Coach, but I’m kind of scared. What would he say? And what if the team finds out? Coach and the team have been
among the most important people in my life. If it weren’t for them, I’m not sure I would’ve made it.
And another thing about coming out: What would happen with my scholarship to Tech? And if I lost that, what would happen to Kyle and
I’d known Kyle since freshman year as the shy kid with glasses. When we passed in the hall, I’d say “Wha’s up?” but that was about it. I
knew he hung out with Nelson, but I never suspected Kyle was gay. He looked too normal.
When I saw him at the Rainbow meeting, it totally blew me away. I thought,
If someone like him is okay with being gay, then maybe I could be, too.
I decided to get to know him. While he helped me with math I told him things I’d never dared tell anyone—not even Debra or my best
friend, Corey. And each time we got together, we became closer.
Man, so much has changed thisyear!
changed so much.
If you’d told me a year ago that I’d hold hands, or kiss, or actually do it with another guy, I would’ve said you were
But that was before I
got to know Kyle.
I like him a lot. He’s good-hearted, smart, plus he has a great swimmer’s bod. We’ve even told each other, “I love you,” if you can believe
But sometimes I get nervous. I wonder,
What does it mean to say that to a guy?
This is all so new to me. Every day I ask myself,
What’s going to happen next?
And I just hope I don’t screw it all up.
“Do you realize,” Nelson said, hopping into a pair of freshly washed jeans, “it’s my third date with Jeremy and we
haven’t had sex?”
“I’l cal the
Guinness Book of Records,”
Kyle mumbled as he searched Nelson’s jumbled sock drawer for a matching set. “You
going to wait til after your HIV test, right?”
Nelson groaned. Why did Kyle always have to bring up the serious crap? He’d invited him over to help him dye his hair, not lecture him.
“Yeah, yeah. Chil ax.” Nelson yanked up his zipper and gazed in the mirror at his flame-blue hair. “You think it’s too bright?”
“Nah.” Kyle grinned a crooked smile and tossed him the socks. “Not if he wears sunglasses.”
“Thanks! Like I’m not nervous enough already.” Nelson pul ed the socks on. “Hey, turn this song up!” While Kyle cranked the stereo, Nelson danced in front of the mirror, tugging a shirt on and tearing it off again. A knock thudded at the door.
“Yeah?” Nelson shouted.
His mom leaned into the room, and then reeled. “Oh, no! Honey, your hair!”
“You like it?” He took her hand and twirled her in his arms—first in one direction, then the other—until she patted her chest, out of breath.
“So when are you going to invite this boy over?” she asked, turning the stereo down, while Nelson buttoned his most recent shirt.
“Yeah, right. For what? To play Scrabble?”
“No! So I can meet him.” She began returning the shirts on the bed to hangers as Kyle handed them to her.
“Are you afraid I won’t like him?” she asked. “Or is there something you’re not tel ing me?”
“Jeez, Mom! Don’t you trust me?”
Granted, he hadn’t told her about Jeremy’s HIV yet. But what difference did it make since they weren’t having sex? Yet.
Kyle stared expectantly at Nelson, silently mouthing the words “Tel her.”
“Okay.” Nelson let out a deep sigh. “Mom, I need to tel you something. You should know. He’s . . . this is real y hard for me to say ...” His mom and Kyle stopped their shirt hanging as Nelson choked up.
“He’s . . . real y a girl named Francine. I think I’m straight.”
Kyle rol ed his eyes. Nelson’s mom shook her head with resignation.
“Gotta go!” Nelson grabbed his leather jacket, tossing his mom an air kiss. “Kyle, can you give me a ride to the metro? Please? I’m
late.” As Kyle pul ed into the station driveway he asked, “When are you going to tel her?”
“I’l tel her,” Nelson said. “Just not yet.” He reached over and squeezed Kyle’s shoulder. “Let me enjoy it a while, okay?” Kyle nodded. “But no more jokes, al right? Say hi to Jeremy for me.”
When Nelson’s subway reached his destination, he bounded off the train, wishing he’d brought Jeremy something to make up for being late. As he passed a convenience store he darted inside. On the counter stood a vase of cel ophane-wrapped individual roses.
but at least it’s something.
In front of the movie multiplex, Jeremy stood waiting, gazing from side to side. He’d grown a cute little brown goatee highlighting his eyes since Nelson last saw him. And his bomber jacket made his shoulders look even hunkier.
“I’m late, aren’t I?” Nelson asked, rushing up. “I’m sorry.” He quickly handed Jeremy the rose. “For you. Hey, I like your goatee.” Jeremy gave a little pout. “Thanks.” He glanced at the top of Nelson’s head. “I like your hair.”
“Oh, thanks.” Nelson grinned back, ogling.
“Why are you staring?” Jeremy asked.
“Um, just glad to see you.”
Blushing, Jeremy glanced at his watch. “Wel , the movie sold out.”
“Oops. Sorry.” Nelson tried to think fast how to unwreck their date. “How about if we get tickets for the next show and have dinner first?”
“That won’t work.” Jeremy sighed. “I just took my meds. I have to wait before I can eat.”
“Oh.” Nelson remembered that Jeremy had to schedule his meals. Now he real y felt like a turd. “Wel . . . is there another movie here we can see?”
They checked the schedule board and found a different film. World crisis averted.
At their seats, Jeremy careful y laid aside the rose and dug into his pocket. “I have something for you, too. I remembered al the buttons on your backpack.” He handed Nelson a button that read: 2Q2BSTR8.
“I love it!” Nelson laughed. He pinned the button on to his jacket, wondering if Jeremy real y thought he was that cute.
The lights dimmed. It was the second time they’d been to a movie, and Nelson eagerly took hold of Jeremy’s hand.
Jeremy slid his fingers between Nelson’s and squeezed back. This was what Nelson had always wanted—a boyfriend to lean close to . . . if only the HIV issue didn’t keep coming up.
After the movie, as they walked out into the cool night, Jeremy asked, “What are you in the mood for?” Nelson responded with a suggestive grin.
Jeremy shook his head, smiling. “I mean to
“Oh.” Nelson gave a hugely disappointed sigh, then laughed.
Eventual y they decided on a pizza parlor.
“What kind of pizza do you like?” Nelson asked, looking over the menu. “Sausage makes me sick. One time, yuck, it was so gross!” Nelson stopped. Why was he jabbering?
Fortunately a waitress interrupted and took their order.
“By the way,” Nelson resumed after she left. “Kyle says hi. We’re both waiting to hear from Tech. I’m sure he got accepted. He’s such a brain.
I hope I did, so we can dorm together. Can you imagine if they put me in a room with some straight dude? How do you spel disaster? Do you real y like my hair? Some little rug rat on the metro asked if I was from
Nelson grinned. “It’s such a pain being a supermodel.” Jeremy laughed, but even so, Nelson reprimanded himself.
Queen it down.
He fidgeted with his earrings, continuing: “School sucks, as usual. I’ve got to do some dumb-ass paper on bicameral legislatures. Who gives a crap? Our GSA posters keep getting torn down, but we put more up. My dog has dry skin. I have to put stinky cream on him twice a day.
Thril s. That’s my life. Me, me, me, me, me! Enough about me. I want to hear about you. What do you think of me? Just kidding. I’l shut up.” He made a clamp with his fingers, pinning his lips together.
Jeremy smiled. “School’s fine. I’m taking a psychology class. I real y like it.” The waitress brought their pizza—black olive and mushroom.
“My brother?” Jeremy continued. “The one I live with? He’s traveling a lot for work. My mom and dad went to Florida for the winter. My job at the video store sucks, but at least I get benefits. That’s real important. I have this one friend who’s taking a year off, traveling through Asia. I wish I could do that, but I’l never be able to. . . .”
There it was again: The Issue.
“I heard they’re coming up with better meds,” Nelson said, trying to cheer things up again.
“Yeah,” Jeremy replied, “but I’d stil need to work for insurance to pay for them.”
“That sucks! It’s like slavery.”
“Yeah.” Jeremy shrugged, lifting a slice of pizza.
“I’m supposed to take my test Monday,” Nelson said. “The doctor says it’s been long enough for antibodies to show up.” Jeremy quietly chewed his pizza slice and then put it down. “I’ve been thinking. ...” His tone sounded uncertain. “What if you test negative?” Nelson had tried not to think about his result. Natural y he hoped he’d test negative. But then what would happen with his dating Jeremy?
“Wel , if I do test neg, it won’t change anything. I’d stil want to go out with you.” He looked over at the rose he’d given Jeremy, laying on the checkered tablecloth, wilting. “Are you afraid I’d get it?”