Rock Island, December 1999
After my ex-boyfriend Fred broke up with Matt, his partner of ten years, in the spring of 1996, he almost immediately started dating Jester, a blind boy with a very buffed physique and a gigantic Kovbasa++++. They were together for about five years.
Not his usual type: Fred was drawn mainly to the slim femme boys with sallow chests. And he was constantly bragging about his extra-large package, so he wouldn't want anyone bigger.
What was the attraction?
I didn't find out until December 1999, when we both returned to Rock Island to spend Christmas with our families (Jester stayed in San Bernardino). We went out to dinner and to JR's to look for a guy to "share."
"There probably won't be any buffed blind guys with gigantic penises available," I joked. "You'll have to settle for less."
"Oh, please, buffed and hung guys are a dime a dozen," Fred said. "That's not what I saw in Jester. I'm attracted to the White Knight dynamic, charging in on a horse to save you from the dragons of doubt and despair. Like Matt, who was all kinds of crazy. Or Boomer, who was trying to overcome his fundamentalist childhood, scared to drink wine or dance, or do anal."
"I wasn't too scared to go down on you five times in one night!" I exclaimed. "Remember our first date?"
"Ok, let me tell you the story of Jester, and then you'll understand. But be warned -- it's not fun or sexy."
I gulped. "Go for it."
Redlands, California, October 1988
The boy was 15 years old, skinny, swishy, and miserable. He was living in Redlands, a small town near San Bernardino, with parents and older brothers who were sympathetic but didn't understand him -- at all. They spent all their time hunting, working on cars, and watching sports, especially Nascar races, and didn't see how you could like music and art and chasing butterflies and still be a boy. For Christmas and birthdays he got sports equipment. On holidays he was forced to go camping in the...ugh...wilderness.
School was worse. He had no friends. He was bullied and abused constantly. He was punched, tripped, called a "fag," shoved into oncoming traffic, while the teachers looked on and did nothing.
Church was much worse. The preacher hated homos, and took out some time in every sermon to describe their filthy lifestyle -- they would not only have sex with anybody anywhere, men, women, children, animals, they would kill you as soon as look at you. 90% of all murderers were fags, 80% of all kidnappers, 100% of terrorists. They were utterly unclean, despicable in every way, deserving of death, as God's Word commanded.
The boy didn't think he was capable of having sex with everybody and everything, or murdering or kidnapping people. But he knew that being a fag was like a cancer. It would fester inside him, grow and grow, until he became a monster.
One day at a Renaissance Faire the boy met a man dressed as a Medieval jester, who bowed deeply and said "Good morrow, sirrah."
He was fascinated. Jesters were free to do and say anything they wished; they weren't restricted by rules like "boys must work on cars" or "fags are despicable." When he went home, he started calling himself Jester.
It was a secret name, a bulwark against the pain of the world, against his future as a despicable fag.
But it wasn't enough. One day after a particularly vicious round of bullying, the boy came home from school, took off his coat and hung it in the closet. He saw the shoebox on the shelf where his father kept his gun, always loaded to defend the home against intruders. The boy took the gun to his room, aimed at his head, and fired.
Gunshot wounds to the head are fatal 90% of the time.
The boy lived, but was completely blind in one eye and could only detect light and shadow in the other.
After a few months of recovery, his parents sent him to the California School for the Blind in Fremont. It was a boarding school, far away from the bullying and rednecks of Redlands. He decided not to hide anymore: from his first day there, he was Jester, a gay boy, swishy, skinny, and out.
He soon discovered that every guy at the school was gay or bi, or at least willing to accept a late-night blow job. And his above-average bulge made him very popular. He began lifting weights and developed a buffed physique, which made him even more popular.
The School for the Blind taught not only Life Skills 101, how to read braille and find your way around with a cane, but a full range of high school courses. Jester excelled in French and history, joined the debate team, and was elected class treasurer. He graduated in 1993, and enrolled at Cal State San Bernardino as a history major.
He thought that all Christians were homophobic, that you could not both gay and religious at the same time, but in the spring of 1996, he heard about a gay-friendly Disciples of Christ Church right in San Bernardino. There were several gay couples in the congregation.
He and his friend Cody visited, and met Fred, an incredibly attractive and well-hung mental health counselor, who had just broken up his partner of 10 years. He was lonely in that big apartment all by himself, and looking for a roommate.
Cody offered to become the roommate. He moved in a week later. Soon Fred and Jester began dating.
"You weren't a White Knight!" I exclaimed. "Jester saved himself long before you even met. He was out and happy when he walked into that church!"
Fred looked at me. "I didn't say that I saved Jester. He saved me."
Suddenly I understood. Fred wanted to be a minister his whole life, but even after getting a doctorate in theology, he couldn't find a church. He lost his job as a youth pastor in Fresno, and had to go back to being a mental health counselor in San Bernardino. And his partner of ten years dumped him. Alone and miserable, despairing, he met Jester.
Spectacular physique, sure. Gigantic penis, sure. But what attracted Fred was his upbeat attitude, his optimism, his unshakeable belief that things will get better.
See also: Jester, the Blind Boy with the Footlong; Matt's First Night with Fred and His Brother