Sunday, August 28, 2016

My Ex-Boyfriend Fred's Nine Lovers

We don't live just one life.  We may be "only dancing on this Earth for a short while," but during that short while, we are many different people.  We move to new cities, and take on new jobs. Friends and boyfriends come and go.

My first boyfriend Fred had many different jobs, cities, friends, and relationships.  In trying to make sense of his life, I decided to go with his lovers.

1. The Farmboy.  Fred was born on a farm in rural Western Illinois in November 1952.  Growing up, he milked cows and fed pigs, but he was not isolated from the social ferment of the 1960s. He watched The Smothers Brothers and listened to Jefferson Airplane.

In high school, Fred was a clean-cut all-American, lettering in football, taking girls to school dances, leading Sunday school classes at the United Methodist church, respected by his parents and the oldsters, who thought he was the exception to a generation full of "draft dodgers and hippies."

No one talked about gay people.  He was not aware that they existed, certainly not aware that he was himself gay.

He had no same-sex experiences except with the Farmboy, his girlfriend's brother, who lived about a mile down the road.  After his dates, he dropped off the girl with a chaste kiss on the cheek and then met the Farmboy behind the barn for moments of homoerotic joy.

2.  The Greek Professor.  After graduating from high school in 1971, Fred enrolled at Western Illinois University in Macomb, but transferred after a year to Knox College in Galesburg.

He majored in psychology, because he wanted to understand his desires better, and in Classics, because he was in love with his Greek professor: a Harvard Ph.D. in his fifties with a thick beard, a hairy chest, a little belly, and a Bratwurst beneath the belt.  The Greek Professor mentioned the gay loves of Zeus and Apollo -- the first time Fred ever heard gay people discussed in public.

Incidentally, he also initiated Fred into bottoming, which in those days was called "Greek passive."

3. The Episcopal Priest.  From 1976 to 1979, Fred was attending McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, studying for his Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in pastoral counseling.  None of his textbooks or classes mentioned gay people.   But somehow he found the gay neighborhood of Chicago, with its bars, bookstores, and bathhouses, and had several brief relationships and hookups.

Among his more memorable hookups was Ron Reagan, son of the future president, who he topped in his first Greek active experience.

His most memorable relationship was with Thomas, an Episcopal priest from Des Moines, who was certain that it was ok to be gay and Christian.  They remained friends for the rest of Fred's life.

See: The Priest with Three Boyfriends and Fred Hooks Up with the President's Son

4. Boomer.  In Rock Island for his internship year at the First United Methodist Church, Fred met Boomer, a 19-year old college student.  Fred fell hard and fast; within a week, he was thinking of Boomer as his soul mate, the one God or fate had predestined for him at the beginning of the time.

At the end of his internship, in the summer of 1980, Fred found a job as a youth minister at a United Methodist church in Gretna, Nebraska.  He convinced Boomer to drop out of college and follow him.

Neither was prepared for the daily routine of a live-in relationship.  Fred became controlling and argumentative, Boomer surly and jealous, certain that Fred was cheating with the teenager downstairs (and perhaps he was).   After five weeks, Boomer left, to return to college.

But, like the Episcopal priest, they remained friends.  Fred tried his best to keep his old loves in his life.

See: My First Date, with Fred the Ministerial Student and Fred and the Teenager Downstairs

5. The Nephew.  Fred rebounded, falling hard and fast into the arms of another 19-year old college student, a University of Nebraska sophomore who moved in with him after only two dates.  Closeted, Fred introduced him as his "nephew."  They stayed together for about two years.

I don't know why they broke up -- I suspect that the Nephew graduated and moved somewhere for a job.

In 1982, Fred left Gretna to become senior pastor of the United Methodist Church in Horrible Small-Town Kansas. He was pressured to date, and in fact had several lady friends, keeping his same-sex activity strictly on the downlow.

6. Matt.  In 1985, Fred decided that he couldn't take the closeting anymore, so he left the ministry altogether for a job as a mental health counselor in Kansas City.  In May 1987 he met Matt, a recent Harvard graduate who was elitist, sarcastic, and all kinds of crazy, but had a good heart.  They were together for ten years.

In 1988 the moved to Claremont, California, where Fred studied for his D.Min degree.  Afterwards Fred got a job as a youth pastor in San Bernardino, then a family counselor in Fresno.  Matt, who had never had a job, stayed home to cook and clean, becoming a veritable "housewife."

Fred believed in monogamy, staying faithful to one guy forever.  He was never comfortable with the West Hollywood custom of sharing, or of going down on guys as entertainment at a party.   Yet there were so many Cute Young Things around, a kaleidoscope of biceps and bulges.  It was impossible to resist.  He began a pattern of hookups and even full-fledged affairs without telling Matt.

In 1996, Matt discovered that Fred had been cheating, and left him.  But they stayed friends, of course.

See: Matt's First Night with Fred and His Brother; and How Matt Began Renting Himself Out

7. Jester.  Fred did not handle breakups well.  He was so distraught when Matt left that he quit his job in Fresno and returned to San Bernardino.  There were no ministerial jobs available, so he returned to his old job as a mental health counselor.

He immediately began dating Jester, a college student, later history teacher, blind, with an upbeat attitude and a footlog beneath the belt.

They were together for five years, finally breaking up in 2002.  The breakup was rough, with accusations and rage on both sides.  They didn't stay friends afterwards.

See: The Blind Boy with the 12" Penis and The Blind Boy Finds His Way into Fred's Bed.

8. The Icelandic Photographer.  The next decade is a blur of cities -- Pocatello, Idaho; Sandusky, Ohio; Bemidji, Minnesota; Mesa, Arizona.  A blur of jobs -- homeless advocate, assistant pastor, manager of psychiatric services.  And a blur of boyfriends, Cute Young Things by the dozens finding their way into Fred's apartment for a month, for a week, for a single day.

Why didn't he commit to anyone in particular?  Maybe he was afraid of losing his heart -- and soul -- yet again.

Maybe it was difficult for a guy in his 50s to form permanent relationships with 20-year olds he found most attractive.

Or maybe, after so many years of monogamy, Fred wanted to sit back and enjoy the ride, enjoy all the fun of a relationship with none of the responsibilities.

The only relationship that stands out in the blur is the Icelandic Photographer, who I met in 2001, when they had just begun dating. An art student at Bemidji State University, with long hair, a moustache, a hard smooth chest, and a Kielbasa beneath the belt.  He had an Icelandic flag tattooed on his hand.

"This is it!" Fred told me.  "I've never met anyone like him before!  We're going to be together for the rest of our lives!"

Fred never mentioned him again.

9. Tyler. In 2011, Fred took a job as director of mental health services for the Disciples of Christ Church in Indianapolis.

After hooking up with a 26-year old chef named Tyler, Fred moved in with him, as a roommate.  He became close to Tyler's mother, Georgina, and a surrogate father to his brothers, Rusty and Max.  They even took family portraits together.

Fred and Tyler were Platonic friends, a stepfather and stepson.  After that first night, they never slept together, not even for "sharing," and each sought out other lovers. But it was Tyler who took care of him when he got sick in 2016, who helped him into and out of his wheelchair and drove him to his doctor appointments, and who was holding his hand that last day in the hospice.

Maybe, at the end of his life, Fred finally found his soulmate.

See: I Spend the Night with Fred's Son

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Converting the Fundamentalist Boy

Upstate, September 2010

The Freshman came into Sociology of Religion class ready for a fight.  I knew all the signs.

He was Hispanic, tall, broad-shouldered, with short dark hair, dark skin, and a round open face.  A muscular physique, but not a football player.

Intense, one of those front-of-the-room hand-raisers.  The first to get to class, pull out his notebook, and sit with his pen ready to take notes. And frown with disgust at everything I said.

He rarely interacted with the girls in the class, always sitting next to boys and choosing boys for partnered work.  Probably gay.  Maybe he didn't know it yet.

There was a King James Bible atop all of his other books, even though the Bible was not one of the required texts for the class.

I knew where he was coming from.  I grew up fundamentalist, with three sermons per week that were mostly quoted Bible passages, Sunday school and NYPS classes that were mostly Bible studies, plus extra points for reading your Bible daily and extra extra points for carrying it around so you could witness to the world.

We were told that the Bible was literally dictated by God, word for word, to the human authors. We didn't even call it the Bible, usually.  We said God's Word.

Obviously if God wrote it, it had to be perfect, flawless, with no errors, no mistakes, no lies.

If the Bible said the world was created in six days, obviously that's what happened.  God would know, wouldn't he?

Methuselah lived for 969 years.  Check.
There were 2 or 7 of each animal on Noah's Ark.  Check.
Joshua caused the sun to stand still.  Check.

It took me years to acknowledge that Mark 13 didn't exist in the earliest manuscripts, that the book of Daniel contains words that didn't exist at the time of Daniel, that some of the Pauline Epistles were written in a polished, erudite Greek totally unlike that of the Apostle Paul.  That none of the writers of the Bible expected it to be taken literally.

This Freshman was just starting his journey.  He had stormed into the classroom ready to defend God's Word against attacks, probably planning to win the souls of the Professor and the entire class.

 I had to work carefully.  I didn't want the Freshman storming out of the class in anger and dropping.  If he was gay, he needed this class.  Most internalized homophobia is due to a mistaken belief that the Bible promotes anti-gay hatred.

My tactic: don't dispute the literal meaning of the Bible.  Turn it against him.

I started slowly, with an easy one: the story of Sodom.

"None of the Biblical writers thought that the sin of Sodom was same-sex activity,"  I said.  "It was a lack of hospitality to strangers."

The Freshman's hand shot up.  "What about Jude 7, which says that the Sodomites were punished with eternal damnation for going after 'strange flesh.'"

"Strange flesh, sarkos heteros in Greek, wouldn't mean same-sex acts -- hetero means 'different.'  It probably means an attempt to have sex with strangers."

On like that.  Leviticus.  Thou shalt not lie with man as with woman.  Abomination refers to ritual impurity in ancient Judaism, like eating pork or mixing cotton and linen fibers.

Romans: Men burned with lust toward one another.  The Apostle Paul was referring to a specific case in which heterosexual men engaged in same-sex acts.  He was not aware of the existence of gay men.

Colossians:  arsenokoitai and malakoi shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.  "Homosexuals" is a mistranslation.   Arsenokoitai is a vulgar slang term, similar to our assholes, meaning basically jerks.  Malakoi means "soft."

The Freshman looked like his head would explode.  He frowned, sighed, thumbed furiously through his King James Bible.

"But it says 'effeminate!'  That must mean gay!"

"We need to look at the original Greek manuscripts, not a translation."

"But God guides the hand of the translators, so it means exactly the same thing in English as in Greek!"

And on and on.  Sometimes it felt like the class was taking place between me and the Freshman, with the other students merely onlookers.

The breakthrough came when I mentioned the MCC, a gay Christian denomination.

"It must be weird going to church when God hates you," the Freshman said, "Singing praises the God who is going to send you to Hell.  How can they deal with it?"

I was getting annoyed by his pig-headedness.  "They don't think God is a bigot," I said.  "Their reasoning is, why would God be homophobic?  Or prejudiced against any minority group?  Actually, a large number of Protestant denominations agree: Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists..."

A few days later, the Freshman showed up during my office hours.

"Do you happen to have the address of that gay Christian church?" he asked.  "I want to go there to them."

"There are several hundred in the United States.  The closest is in Albany.  But be careful -- you'll be outnumbered.  The congregation numbers around five hundred."

"Five hundred!  Come on -- you're exaggerating.  There aren't that many gays in the world!"

We moved on to other topics for the rest of the semester, so I didn't know if the class helped the Freshman overcome his homophobia or not (the quiz questions were all neutral).  He got a B+, and vanished, like students usually do.

Late in the spring semester, the Freshman came into my office again.  "Thanks for telling me about the MCC," he said.

"Did you find your visit enlightening?"

He grinned.  "You could say that.  I'm dating the pastor."

Hey, these stories can't all be about me hooking up.  I do have other interests, you know.

Ok, ok.  here's a naked guy to tide you over.

See also: The Bible, Christianity, and Homosexuality at

Friday, August 26, 2016

I Spend the Night with Fred's Son

Indianapolis, July 2012 

During my last year in Upstate New York, I got an email from my ex-boyfriend Fred: "Guess what -- I just got a job offer in Indianapolis, near your parents!"

"Indianapolis, great!" I shot back.  "What sort of job is it?  Ministerial?"

"I'm the Sub-Secretary of the Social Action Committee for the Disciples of Christ,"

A pro-gay Protestant denomination.

"Handling LGBT issues?"

"No -- I'm not even out at work.  I handle issues regarding the mentally ill and homeless,  But you should see my office -- it looks right out onto Meridian Street!  Will you be coming out for Christmas?  We can celebrate our 32nd anniversary!"

Fred and I met at Christmastime 1979, when I was a sophomore at Augustana College, and he was a ministerial intern at a Methodist church in Rock Island.  We dated for about six months, and then became friends through years of changing jobs, cities, and relationships.

He was with Matt, a Cute Young Thing with a sarcastic wit and a nice butt, and then Jester, a college student with a buffed physique and a gigantic Kovbasa+++, then a series of Cute Young Things.  He worked as a youth pastor, mental health counselor, and homeless advocate in cities all over the map, from Omaha to San Bernadino to Sandusky.  I never knew where the next postcard or email would be coming from.

Time passes.  We hadn't seen each other for about ten years!

I didn't make it to Indianapolis for Christmas, but I did that summer.

Fred was 60 years old, bald, with a white beard and wrinkles around his eyes.  But he still had a winning smile, and was still buffed, his massive pecs obvious even in a business suit.

As he showed me around the Disciples of Christ headquarters in the modern glass and steel Landmark Center, Fred introduced me as his "friend from California," not "ex-boyfriend."

Ok, we dated for only six months, nearly 30 years ago, but still I felt like he was hiding something, moving us into the closet.

On his desk there was a "family portrait": Fred with his hand on a woman's leg, a hugging heterosexual couple, and two boys in their teens or 20s.

"When did you have time to get married and have three sons?" I asked.  "Or did the picture come with the frame?"

"That's Georgina and her sons.  We live together."

Live together????  "You...have a girlfriend?"

Fred smiled.  "That's Max, the oldest, 32 years old, and his wife June.  They live in Lafayette.  And Tyler -- he's 28.  He teaches culinary arts -- he'll be doing the cooking tonight.  Rusty is the youngest, a junior at Indiana University.  He lives on campus, but he's home for the summer."

"You have a girlfriend?" I repeated, weakly.  I always thought Fred was bisexual.  He just didn't want to admit it.

"No, we're just friends and roommates."

So he was living with Georgina so he could perv on her three hot sons?

Fred left work early, and I followed him up Keystone Avenue to the Broad Ripple neighborhood.  Upscale, conservative, heterosexual.  We parked in the driveway of a very nice Georgian-style house.

Two teenagers were playing basketball in the front yard.  Rusty, a cute blond with a respectable physique for a 20-year old, and his friend, Hispanic, a year or two older.

Fred introduced me as "Boomer from California."

In the kitchen, Tyler the chef was busy stuffing Cornish game hens.  He was very tall, with a tight physique, curly black hair, a hairy chest visible through his white t-shirt.

This time Fred introduced me as "Boomer the Ex-Boyfriend."

Tyler's hands were messy, so he hugged me instead of shaking hands.  His body was warm against mine.  I started to get aroused, and quickly backed away.

"Hey, I've heard tons of stories about you!," he said, returning to the game hens.  "Is it true that when you were living in Omaha, you went down on the teenager downstairs while Fred was in the apartment watching tv?"

"What?  No!" I exclaimed.  "Fred brought the kid from his youth group home, and..."

Before I had a chance to say anything else, Max and his wife June came in with a bottle of wine and a six-pack of Diet Coke.  Max was also cute, with the same black curly hair as his brother, a little shorter and more stocky.

"Fred told us that you were a teetotler," June said, "So we came prepared.  I hope six cans is enough."

Then Georgina the Roommate arrived.  In her fifties, plump, walking with a cane. "Fred has told us so much about you," she said, "It's like you're already part of the family."

Dinner was served on a picnic table in the back yard.  Fred and Georgina sat together. Rusty sat at the head, and I had Tyler and Max on either side.  I felt a little vibe from Tyler, and sitting so close to him was nice, but I had no intention of cruising him in front of his brothers, mother, stepfather?

"Fred's other ex-boyfriend, Matt, flew out for a visit at Christmas," Max said.  "He and June hit it off, and went to all the gay bars.

"He brought back a Cute Young Thing," Fred added.

"He brought a hookup back here to your house?" I asked, shocked.

"Sure.  Where else?  Matt is turning into quite a bear -- and a twink magnet.  I'm surprised Rusty didn't ask him out."

Rusty laughed.  "Come on, Fred, you know I'm not gay."

"Everybody's a little gay," Max said.  "So, Boomer, I hear you had a date with Brad Pitt."

This was almost like a West Hollywood party.  We just needed to play party games involving nudity, and split up to "share."

Gulp.  Would Fred be sharing Georgina's bed tonight?

After dinner, we sat in the living room, Fred and Georgina on easy chairs, Tyler and me on the couch, close but not touching.  Rusty left to visit a friend, and Max and June loaded the dishwasher and then headed back to Lafayette.

"Would you like to watch something on Netflix?" Georgina asked.  "Or maybe some porn?"

What kind of porn?  "Netflix will be fine!"

We sat watching Breaking Bad, Tyler sitting very close to me and occasionally brushing my thigh.  It was hot, but with his mother and step-father grinning at us, I felt very uncomfortable.

After one episode, he shifted position and put his arm around me.


Fred laughed.  "The look on your face is priceless!  Let me get you up to speed.  Rusty is straight, but completely pro-gay. and Max is bisexual. He and June have an open relationship.  And Tyler, of course, is gay."

"And my late husband and I had the honor of raising three wonderful sons," Georgina added, "Who are not afraid to be who they are."

 I let Tyler hold my hand, while Fred and Georgina watched.  After a second episode, Fred said "I guess it's time for us old folks to go to bed."

"You're only 8 years older than me!"

He grinned.  "You'll understand when you hit 60.  Old bones get tired."

Tyler turned to me.  "Would you like to go check out the bars?  Or would you rather go to bed, too?"

 "Bed, please," I said weakly.

Tyler took me by the hand and led me, not to my bedroom, but to his.  He shut the door and kissed me.

A nice kiss, warm, passionate, not demanding.

"It doesn't bother you to do this with your Mom and Fred downstairs?" I asked.

He pushed me to my knees.  I unzipped him and went down on his very stiff  Bratwurst+.

"Why should it?" he continued.  "I've had guys over before.  Yeah...  Like do you, do do you think he and Mom met?"

See also: Jester, the Blind Boy with the 12 Inch Penis; Alan Picks Up a Father and Son.