Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Colonial Williamsburg Boy Finds Out What Gay Means

My friend Barry in New York, the short, blondish muscle guy who was exorcized from a homophobic demon, grew up in Colonial Williamsburg, the historical park in Virginia where people live full-time in 18th century houses, wear historic costumes, and pretend that they're living in the 18th century.

He went to a regular school, but had to sneak into his house through the back door afterwards.  The front of the house had to maintain the illusion in detail.  No modern appliances.  No window decals.  No air conditioners.

 And, whenever they went out onto Duke of Gloucester Street, he and his family had to put on wigs and tricorner hats and say "Aye" a lot while thousands of tourists gawked at them.

All heterosexual husbands and wives towing dozens of kids.

He never saw a same-sex couple.  This was his destiny.  No hope for the future.

To make matters worse, his parents were conservative Catholics who didn't want him to know that same-sex desire existed.  He was not permitted the minimal gay content on tv and in movies in the 1980s.  He never heard about gay people at school, at church, or among his friends, either.

"Wait -- you never heard about gay people, at the height of the AIDS crisis?  Not even in homophobic diatribes?"
"I heard that AIDS was God's punishment on 'bad people" for having sex outside of marriage.  I thought it meant heterosexuals."

No gay people existed.  Instead, he was told, over and over again, a hundred times a day,  "You will grow up, meet the Girl of Your Dreams, get married, and have kids.  Every boy does.  It is universal human experience."

His destiny.  No hope for the future.

Sounds like my childhood, only 14 years later.

I survived through the orchestra, running, and paradoxically, the church.

Barry played music, too, but he was too shy and awkward for sports (he bulked up later), and he hated church.  So he turned inside.

By the time he was 15, he was smoking cigarettes and getting drunk once or twice a week.  He was soon experimenting with marijuana and other drugs.  He got high while listening to Madonna and Duran Duran in the darkness of his room.

"Good choices -- Hungry Like a Wolf.,,"

But eventually he had to go downstairs again, to Prince George Street, where he wore a tricorner hat and got gawked at by the tourists, husbands, wives, and kids.

His destiny.  No hope for the future.

The story of how Barry got his life back on track begins with his first sexual experience.

One day in high school he was "on," marching down the Duke of Gloucester Street with the Fife and Drum Corps, when he noticed a tourist outside the Courthouse, watching him intently.

Older, probably in his 30s, dark haired, bearded, his yellow t-shirt revealing a muscular physique and a hairy chest.

Hot!  Barry smiled at him.

Why did he seem so out of place?  Suddenly Barry figured it out -- he was alone.  Tourists always came in groups of husbands, wives, and a bunch of kids.

Was his wife somewhere else, with the kids in tow?  Or was there a possibility that some men avoided the wife-and-kids trap, lived free?

They marched down three blocks, turned in formation, and marched back.  The older man was still there, watching him.  Barry smiled again.

When they finished their performance, the other guys scattered, to put on their street clothes and hit Rick's Diner, their hangout, but Barry walked back toward the Courthouse.  The tourist was walking east, toward the Raleigh Tavern.

Not really understanding why, Barry ran to catch up with him.

"Good morrow, sir," he said politely, tipping his hat.  "Did you enjoy our performance?"

The tourist turned and flashed a smile that made Barry melt inside.  "I liked it, but I'm not sure you did.  You looked kind of uncomfortable."

Stay in character!  "Perhaps I'm not accustomed to such a throng of spectators.  Although this is the capital of Virginia Colony, it has only about 1,000 residents."

"Do you want to study music in college?"

"Well, there are no music faculties in colonial universities, but indeed one day when I am married, I hope to play for my supper and thereby support my wife and children." 

The tourist frowned.  "You don't have to talk like that," he said, staring intently as if he could see into Barry's soul.  "You don't have to pretend."  

Surely he meant "You don't have to pretend to be a Colonial," but Barry heard "The adults are lying.  You can be who you are."

His whole world came crashing down around him.  His whole life was a lie, as empty as the Colonial facades, with nothing behind  it but darkness.

Horrified, Barry ran away -- not home, but to a secret place he knew, a little copse of trees behind the Public Gaol, where he went to hide from the world, from his heterosexual destiny.

He stopped, breathing heavily, overcome by sadness and rage.  He saw that the tourist had followed.

"What's wrong, kid?  You ok?"

Barry was most definitely not ok. 

"I'm...I'm..." he stammered.  Then he started to cry.

The tourist put his arms around him.  Barry had never been embraced by a man before, not even by his father.  He had never known that a chest could be so hard.

He clung to the tourist, running his hands over his chest and shoulders. Then they were kissing.

Men could kiss each other?

 They fell onto the soft summer ground, and the tourist undid the buttons of Barry's colonial breeches and went down on him.

He had never felt such an explosion of desire.

Afterwards they walked down Francis Street together.

"I didn't know there were other guys in the world know...wanted to kiss."

The tourist laughed.  "Oh, there are thousands of gay people.   Maybe millions."

He had never heard the word "gay" before.

"There are bars for us down in Norfolk.  And whole neighborhoods where we can hold hands and kiss in public."

"I don't believe it!" Barry exclaimed.  "Where?"

"New York.  There's the East Village, Chelsea, Fire Island...."

They said goodbye somewhere around the campus of William and Mary.

It would take years, and a lot of work, to overcome his childhood of silence and despair.

But now, at least, he had a name.  And he had a future.

See also: A Hookup with Barry and the Poz Boy; David's First Sexual Experience.


  1. Barry and the tourist were, of course, committing a crime. Oral sex was a felony in Virginia until the Supreme Court invalidated its sodomy law in 2003 (the state repealed the law in 2014). Barry didn't say how old he was, but probably 16-17, so the tourist was committing a misdemeanor offense.

    1. oral sex was covered under "sodomy"? o__0 was that for male-female as well as male-male or female-female?

    2. The Virginia sodomy law prohibited oral and anal sex between both same-sex and heterosexual couples.



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