Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Priest with Three Boyfriends

Des Moines, March 1980

In the spring of 1980, my sophomore year at Augustana College, Fred the ministerial student took me to Des Moines, where he had friends among the closeted gay religious community. Like Oscar, who had a romance with future President Ronald Reagan back in the 1930s.  And Malcolm Boyd, the Episcopal priest who wrote the counterculture classic Are You Running with Me, Jesus? (he actually came out in 1977, but I didn't know until we had lunch together).

We stayed with Thomas, a Episcopal priest whose congregation didn't know: "They assume that because I'm a priest, I'm celibate."  He lived alone, except for two dogs, with a huge collection of pornographic magazines and photos, both gay and straight, neatly classified by author, magazine, and type.  I spent the afternoon rummaging through it while Fred and Thomas were out talking about religion or something -- Fred didn't approve of porn -- and got my first glimpse of some of the great gay erotic artists, like Tom of Finland, Sean, and the Hun.

I thought Thomas lived alone, but the first night of our stay, I woke up in the middle of the night, walked down the hall to the bathroom, and found the door to Thomas's bedroom wide open.  The lights were dim, but inside I saw two guys asleep, wrapped in each other's arms.

The next day at breakfast I met Boyfriend #1, a tall, slim redhead who worked at one of Des Moines' straight bars. He lived with his girlfriend, but sometimes came over when his shift ended.

Later that day, we had lunch with Oscar, Malcolm Boyd, Thomas, and Boyfriend #2.  I don't remember much about him.

I drove back to the house later that evening -- Fred was off with Oscar -- and yelled "Is anybody home?"  No answer.

Thomas was in the study, with porn magazines scattered all about, naked.  Kissing a very muscular teenager.  Also naked.

Boyfriend #3!

He disentangled himself long enough to say "Jason, Boomer.  Boomer, Jason."  In the midst of a kiss, the boy held out his hand for me to shake!

Freaking out, I retreated to my bedroom and sat down in a swivel chair.  Jason followed. He stood at my bedroom door, naked.  "Hey, I hope we didn't scare you," he said, panting.  "It's no big deal -- we were just playing around."

"No, it's fine.  I'm sorry I disturbed you."

"You didn't disturb us."  He walked over to me and caressed my chest.  "You're hot.  Maybe we could get together later."

Was he asking me for a date, with his boyfriend in the next room? " have a lover," I stammered.  That was our word for same-sex relationships.

"He can come, too -- the more the merrier."

Now Thomas stood in the doorway, naked, huge. "Can't leave you alone for a minute, can I?" he said, feigning anger, but with his eyes twinkling. "Get back in the playroom, pronto!"

He paused.  "You too, Boomer!"

I was unaware of the gay community custom of "sharing."  I wasn't even aware of hookups.  Sex with someone you weren't in love with?  Gross!  Besides, I had to stay faithful to Fred.

  But I was single 1 1/2  years later, when I saw Thomas again.

See also: The Boy in the Mesh T-Shirt; and Fred's Nine Lovers

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