Thursday, May 13, 2021

Raul and my Bed-Hopping Roommate

West Hollywood, September 1986

In the fall of 1986,  shortly after I returned from Japan, I was living with Alan, who dragged me to the gay Asian bar Mugi twice a week.  Our other roommate, Chaiyo, was from Thailand.  I was taking a class in Chinese literature at USC (as part of my doctoral study in comparative literature).  Three days a week, I drove downtown to my job at the Community Redevelopment Agency, which was in the midst of revitalizing Little Tokyo.

With all of that Asian influence, you might expect me to meet a lot of Asian guys.  But I didn't.  The problem was, they found Alan so infinitely attractive that I couldn't compete.  Even if he didn't do anything.

One day in September 1986, I brought an Asian guy home.  Alan was watching tv in the living room, so I introduced them casually as we passed through.

 "Wow, your roommate is hot!" my date exclaimed. Sometime during the night, he got up to use the bathroom and "accidentally" stumbled into the wrong room, and into Alan's bed!

Alan didn't mind, but I wasn't yet comfortable with the West Hollywood custom of "sharing" with one's roommates.

Besides, "sharing," was only for committed partners, not casual dates!

Besides, "sharing" meant both of you participating!

Not to worry, there were lots of non-Asians around. L.A. was ethnically diverse.  In fact, it was 50% Hispanic.

50%!  I liked those odds!  On October 4th, 1986,  I went to the Plaza or the Silver Platter (I forget which) and met Raul from East L.A., a cook in a Filipino restaurant, short and slim with small hard muscles.

Was it safe to bring him home, or was Alan infinitely attractive to Hispanic guys, too? (This was before we started going to Tijuana.)

I decided to take the bull by the horns:  I invited Raul over for dinner Friday night "with my roommates."

He insisted on cooking -- "I'm a professional chef, I do all the work" -- chicken adobo, broccoli, and a Filipino rice cake called puta (no connection to the homophobic slur).

Raised in Iglesia Pentecostal Jesucristo, Raul was fascinated by Alan's plan to start a gay Pentecostal church in Thailand.  " can you be cristiano, if you are gay? The Bible says that God hates gays."

After dinner, Alan grabbed his Bible and his Greek New Testament and started explaining how they didn't condemn gay people at all, starting with the story of Sodom -- it's about lack of hospitality, not gay people.

I already knew all about it, so I quickly got bored.

Famous gay couples, Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan.  Chaiyo fled to his room to watch The Golden Girls.  Raul jumped up and took the place he vacated next to Alan on the couch.

Ephesians and Romans: incorrect translation from the original Greek.  Arsenokoitai means "male prostitute," not "gay man." Alan's arm was wrapped around Raul's shoulders.

In the Book of Acts, Philip meets an Ethiopian eunuch, and invites him to spend the night.  Eunuchs were usually gay.  Adam whispered something in Raul's ear and tried to fondle his leg; Raul laughed and pushed his hand away.

I knew where this was headed.  "Hey, sounds like you guys have a lot to talk about," I said. "It's late.  I'm going to bed."

"Ok," Raul said, barely noticing me as he looked down at a passage in the Greek New Testament -- or was he looking at Alan's bulge?  "We will be done soon."

Yeah, right!  I thought.  I'll see you at breakfast!  

I went to my room, got undressed, and lay in bed with a book, fuming with jealousy.  I heard muffled conversation from the living room, then a burst of laughter.  Then an ominous silence...were they kissing?  And footsteps heading down the hall to Alan's room.  Someone used the bathroom.

Then my door opened.  It was Raul!

"Man, that, talk, talk," he said, stripping off his shirt.  "I mean, it was interesting, but come on, man! I'm on a date!"

He slid out of his pants and climbed in bed next to me.  "And he's so grabby!  If I didn't know better, I would think he was cruising me!  You weren't waiting too long, were you?"

"Not at all."  I turned off the light.

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