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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Do You Have Under the Hood?

Rock Island, August 1977

When I was growing up in Rock Island, most boys were obsessed with being "men," doing exactly what men were supposed to do and nothing else.  The slightest of shifts in your hips as you walked, the most subtle of wrist movements, the tiniest bit of animation in your voice was proof positive that you were not a man at all, but a sissy, a "fag," or a girl.

Even if you got your body gestures, walking, and talking perfected, you could still give away your inner girlishness by not being knowledgeable and enthusiastic about three things: girls, sports, and cars.

The only one I had any hope of accomplishing was cars.

There was no way I was going to kiss and hug girls, sports were too confusing, but I had just got my driver's license, and Mom let me borrow her car sometimes.  Knowing how to fix a car was an attainable goal.  Masculinity within my reach!

The only problem: I was an aesthete, an intellectual, into Renaissance poetry and statues of naked men.  I couldn't tell a hammer from a nail. I got a D- in shop class.  I got carpentry and building toys for Christmas, and left them untouched in their boxes.

But I perservered.  In August 1977, I went to my father and asked him to teach me how to "fix cars."

"You?"  he asked in surprise.  "You hate mechanical stuff."

"Well, most mechanical stuff.  You couldn't pay me to solder an iron onto a lathe, or whatever.  But a car is different."

"Ok, I can give you some pointers.  There are three things about cars that every guy should know: how to change a tire, how to change the oil, and how to repair a carburetor."

1. Change a Tire.  

Dad took me out to the garage, popped open the trunk, and showed me where the jack and spare tires were stored.

"You've seen the ladies with flat tires on the side of the road, waiting for someone to help.  If you can change a tire, you'll be sure to get their phone number!"

What about a guy on the side of the road?  I thought.  

  And of course, if you're on a date and the tire goes flat, you'd better be able to change it, or the girl will think you're a sissy."

He showed me how to jack up a car and "unscrew the lug nuts."

I couldn't get the wrench to work.  It just slid along the nuts.  Finally Dad grabbed the wrench and did it himself.

"Well, you get the idea, anyway."

2. Change the oil.

"A garage will do this for you, but imagine how impressed the girls will be when they find out you can change your own?"

"And the guys,"  I said.

This involved getting under the car and unscrewing a gross greasy thing.

I balked.  "I'll impress the girls with my wit and charm, thanks."

3.  Fix the carburetor.

Next Dad showed me how to open the front hood and prop it up.

"Knowing what's under here is the key to impressing girls."

It was an incomprehensible mass of wires and pipes.

"Here's your fan belt, your carburetor, your radiator, your angler, your glockenspiel."

I stared into oblivion, imagining a hot guy with his shirt off straining over the engine.

"Loosen the rod here, angle the pipe so the screw goes counter-clockwise, then re-up the uptake on the valve here.  This knob goes with this fuel injector.  Then you just sort of squeeze the triangulator down the revolver, and gently push the socket into the wrench."

I stared into oblivion, imagining a hot guy with his pants off straining over the engine.  Dad hadn't mentioned the benefits of not knowing how to fix cars.

"Now you try."

I turned and headed back to the house.  "Thanks, anyway.  I'll just pay someone to do it."

Preferably a guy with his pants off.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Jester, the Blind Boy with the 12" Penis

San Bernardino, June 1997

My friend David and I have driven down from San Francisco to visit West Hollywood, and now we're spending the weekend with Fred in San Bernardino.  He recently broke up with Matt, his partner of ten years, and lost his ministerial job in Fresno.  I want to make sure he's doing ok.

I asked Matt to come, but he refused.  Not just yet.  But they'll get together soon.  In gay communities, exes almost always stay friends.  Often they become your closest friends.  And, when you visit, they always invite you back into their bed.

I'm looking forward to it.  Fred was my first boyfriend, too, and there's always been something warm and comforting about sharing an ex-boyfriend's bed again.

When we arrive at Fred's apartment near Meadowbrook Park in San Bernardino, a Cute Young Thing answers the door.

"Hi, I'm Cody.  Fred is busy cooking, but he'll be out in a minute."

We stammer our introductions.  We didn't expect Fred to have a new boyfriend so soon after the breakup.  And especially a Cute Young Thing: about 20, short and slim with slicked-back blond hair, wearing a red muscle shirt, cut-off jeans with a decided bulge, and no shoes. A bit fragile and fey for my tastes, wearing three rings, one ostentatiously big.  Reeking of cologne.

Fred likes his guys pretty and girlish.  I don't.

We drop our bags in the foyer, say "hello" to Fred, puttering over some kind of pasta salad in the kitchen, and sit down in the living room.  Cody brings us sodas, and iced tea for himself.

Cody in the picture makes getting into Fred's bed a problem.  Fred and Cody couldn't invite both of us to "share": sharing is for three only.  Nor would they invite one and leave the other alone in the guest room, listening to the sounds of sex, lonely and upset.  The only solution is to not share at all.

David and I glance at each other with weak smiles, both thinking the same thing: I've been with this guy before.  He's hot and everything, but I came here planning to sleep with Fred.

We think of a solution at the same time: if one of us hooks up tonight, then the other will be free to be invited into Fred and Cody's bed.

When Fred comes out into the living room, David asks, "So, Fred, what do you have planned for us to do tonight?  A cruise bar, I hope.  Boomer and I are hot for some Inner Empire studmuffins."

"Maybe tomorrow night.  Tonight we have a dinner party planned.  The other guys will be here in a few minutes."

A party?  Even better.  West Hollywood Parties always end with guys pairing off and hitting the bedrooms.  I could share with Fred and Cody, and David could find someone else.

I've met two of the guys before -- Jerome and Mark, older, sagging, not very impressive.  I'd rather sleep alone.

But the third! Jester ("not my real name -- I got it when I came out").  In his 20s, tall, tanned, heavily muscled, with black hair, a round face, and a bright smile.  Blind -- he came in on Jerome's arm, but after that found his way around the apartment with no help.

I nudge David and whisper "How about if we share Jester tonight, and leave Fred and Cody to themselves?"


Over vegetarian Greek pasta salad, fresh bread, red beets, and cabbage, we have our usual conversations about movies, tv, homophobic coworkers, celebrity hookups, and dates from hell.  Cody tells his coming out story.  Then David  turns to Jester.

"And now the Jester.  I love that nickname!  How did you ever come up with it?"

"Let someone else tell their story," Jester says.  "Mine is really long and boring."

"Come on, don't be shy," David says.  "It can't be as long as Boomer's penis."

Everyone laughs.

"David should know," I say.  "He goes down on me as often as I can talk him into it.  His skill in that area is legendary."

Hardly proper dinner conversation, but we are trying to incite Jester's interest any way we can, without him being able to see or touch us.

Jester still refuses to tell his coming out story.

After dinner we retreat to the living room for dessert and party games.  David and I try to jostle for a position next to Jester, but he sits between Jerome and Cody.

Our main game is "guess the penis," which requires you to stand in a row behind a bench, your penis on display, while a guy who is blindfolded tries to decide who belongs to which just by fondling it (use your hands, not your mouth).

When it's my turn, I guess Fred and David well enough, but the gigantic Kovbasa++, six inches soft?  Your penis shrinks as you age -- it must belong to Cody or Jester.

"Jester!" I exclaim.

"Right!" he says.  "Hardly anybody gets that about me.  They think because you're blind, you must be small."

"Oh, I don't think you're small in any way" I say, stroking him a bit before moving on to the next guy.

Now I really want to spend the night with Jester.  I corner him in the kitchen, put my hand on his shoulder, and ask "Do you need a ride home?"

"No,  thanks.  I...."

Suddenly David is there, putting his arm around Jester.  "So you're the guy with the footlong, an inch or so bigger than Boomer.  Has he been giving you tips on how to fend off the size queens?  Like me, for example?"  He cups Jester's crotch.

"Down, boys," Jester says with a grin, moving his hand away.  "You'll have to ask my boyfriend before squeezing the merchandise."

His boyfriend?  Who...he arrived on Jerome's arm -- he must be dating Jerome!

Surprised and embarrassed, we return to the living room.  Jerome and Mark are just putting their raincoats on to say goodnight.  No doubt Jester will be following them.

But he doesn't.

What's going on?  Maybe Jester is Fred and Cody's roommate?  Then where's his boyfriend?

"Well, I guess we'll go to bed, too," David says.  "It was a long drive down here."

"We still have to discuss the sleeping arrangements," Fred says.  "If you guys want to be in the same bed, you can have Cody's room.  Otherwise one of you can sleep with Cody, and the other with Jester and me."

I stare, open mouthed.  Jester is the boyfriend, and Cody the roommate!

Questions flood my mind. Why does Fred have a roommate, when he never did in 10 years of living with Matt?  Why didn't he let on that Jester was his boyfriend, and Cody his roommate?

"Dibs on Fred and Jester!" David calls.  He nudges me.  "You snooze, you lose, buddy."

Cody smiles at me.  "Which side of the bed do you want?"

On the bright side, Cody was a great kisser, and had a constantly-aroused Bratwurst.  I went down on him twice.

Jester's story continues in The White Knight and the Jester

See also: The Substitute for Sharing; My Sausage List ; and 12 Disabled Dates

12 Disabled Dates and Handicapped Hookups

20% of the population has a disability.  10% has a severe disability, requiring special aids to engage in everyday activities.

10% is a lot.   If you hookup once a week, you'll be going down on five disabled guys in a year.  If you have 10 boyfriends during the course of your life, one of them will probably be disabled.

Most disabled guys don't want to be fetishized, felt sorry for, or complimented on how bravely they have overcome adversity.  They just want to have the things everybody else has: a job, an apartment, friends, boyfriends, and erotic exploration.

Here are 12 disabled dates and handicapped hookups, plus a couple of sausage sightings.

1. Danny from third grade, who I pushed my way into a friendship with in third grade, wore a leg brace.  I ran into him in high school, and was invited to a sleepover at his house.  Nice sausage sighting.

2. Mark, a paraplegic due to a diving accident, was in some of my classes at Augustana.  Nice upper body.

3. Jimmy, the Bodybuilder on Crutches.  When I was in grad school in Bloomington, I started dating Jimmy, a grad student in social work who had cerebral palsy: he had to use crutches to get around, giving him an amazing bodybuilder's physique with 0% body fat.

4. Mario, a very cute deaf leatherman used to be a regular at the Faultline in West Hollywood.  Lane and I had him over for a three-way.

5. Jester, The Blind Guy with the Kovbasa+, who Fred dated after he broke up with Matt.  As a teenager, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself, but ended up blind instead.

6. Ramon, who had a missing right arm, asked me to go ice skating with him in New York.  I had never been ice skating before.

7. Raphael, Gay Psychic Angel.  In Florida in 2002, an angel showed up at my door to discuss New Age religions.  He did a psychic reading, we kissed, and he gave me his telephone number, but I chickened out.  His arms didn't work; they hung loosely at his side.

8. Ethan, the Boy in the Wheelchair, who I met in Dayton in 2005.  He wanted an S&M scene, which involved tying his hands behind his back and his non-working legs together.

9. Tommy in Dayton.  Another blind guy I dated, who said he could tell someone's penis size by listening to them urinate.  Or you could just feel your way.

10. Andy, who I met at a comic book store on the Plains in 2015, had more severe cerebral palsy than Jimmy: slurred speech, spastic movements.  He had a Daddy fetish, and wanted to rip my clothes off -- not very easy when your hands don't work well.

11. Robert, who I met on the Plains in 2015.  He was deaf but could lip-read, and wanted a S&M scene.  No blindfold, of course.

12. My Mentally Disabled Neighbor, who took me on a date to see Kansas, and then back to his apartment for the "underwear" stuff.


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