At long last I pulled into our garage, another workweek behind me. Traffic had been heavy on the way home and I was grateful to have finally arrived. Grabbing my laptop and my briefcase, which was overflowing with things I needed to work on over the weekend, I locked up my car and opened the door that connected the garage to our house.
The house was eerily silent and, for a brief moment, I hoped that our sixteen-year-old son, Jake, had gone out with friends. Sadly, I knew better. Jake was undoubtedly either busy with his homework or he was relaxing by playing a computer game—alone. I hated to see our son having such a rough time making friends but his life was typical of many teens today. More comfortable texting than talking, more comfortable playing multiplayer games on-line than socially interacting with his peers, he seldom had any physical contact with his friends outside of school.
I quietly made my way upstairs and stood just outside his open door, watching as he battled it out with countless enemies on his laptop in more graphic detail than I cared to see. He had his gaming headphones on, giving him what he liked to call an ‘immersive experience’. The world could have ended around him and he’d have been none the wiser—at least until the battery died.
As I watched him play with reckless abandon, I almost experienced a sense of awe that our only child was growing into a man. Clad only in his boxers, I was surprised at the amount of muscle definition he had for someone who wasn’t at all athletic. He had broad shoulders and a thin, but masculine physique that should have had the girls falling all over him, and yet, he’d never even dated. We’d bought him a car for his birthday with the hope that a set of wheels and the freedom they offered would be just the impetus he needed to go out and do things with his friends. Sadly, the car sat in the garage all weekend and was used only to go to and from school.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” Jake suddenly roared as he slammed his fist down hard on his desk. Throwing off his headphones in obvious disgust, he shook his head slightly from side to side and ran his fingers through his golden locks to set them back in place, then apparently noticed my reflection in his dresser mirror and turned to face me. Turning a bright crimson all over, he said, “Sorry, Mom. I didn’t realize you were there.”
Walking into the room, I gently squeezed his shoulder, smiled and said, “Not that I approve, but I grew up in a household of boys. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, many, many times.” Actually, it made me feel good inside that my son had used profanity. Sometimes he acted too much like an adult. It was normal for a teenage boy to swear.
Just then there was the sound of the door to the garage opening, followed by the sound of my husband’s voice calling out, “Is anybody home?”
“I’ll be right there,” I answered back before turning to my son and saying, “I guess I’d better get dinner going.”
“What are we having?” Jake asked as I started to walk away.
“I have chicken thawing in the fridge,” I answered. “With the addition of a package frozen stir-fry veggie mix, I could have dinner ready in about ten minutes. How’s that sound to you?”
“Sounds good,” he answered with his sweet smile.
I got to the bottom of the stairs, to find my husband going through the mail. I made a brief detour on my way to the kitchen to give him a quick peck on the lips. “How was your day?” I asked.
“Busy,” he answered. “We had four fresh strokes for TPA.”
“That’s a lot in one day,” I acknowledged. Troy was a neuroradiologist at the Medical Center and, when he wasn’t threading catheters through the arteries into the brain to unblock the blood clots that cause strokes or performing other invasive procedures, he spent nearly all his time side-by-side with radiology residents, looking at MRIs and CT scans of the brain. Troy liked doing procedures. He found ‘reading films’ as he referred to it, even though no actual film was used anymore, to be an endless exercise in tedium.
“With four procedures,” I added, “I’m surprised you were able to get home at a decent hour.”
“We were shy an MRI today,” Troy answered, which explained everything. With only one functioning MRI scanner in the Neuro section, all non-emergency scans had to be postponed, which meant that there would be a price to pay. There would undoubtedly be a few late evenings spent at the hospital, catching up with the delayed scans.
“Sorenson screwed up yet again,” Troy added with a sigh. “I fear we may have to let him go.” Sorenson was a third-year resident who’d been having problems lately. “He seemed so promising when we interviewed him.”
“Maybe he’s having personal problems at home,” I suggested.
“Now that you mention it,” Troy replied, “I saw him showing baby pictures to one of the other residents.”
“The sleep deprivation of being a new dad on top of that from being a resident could certainly do it,” I commented.
“Yeah,” Troy responded, “but a doctor has to be able to separate their personal and professional lives. If he can’t handle it now when he’s young and resilient, how will he handle it when he’s older?”
“And when was the last time you changed a diaper at three AM?” I countered, and then added, “Men! How quickly they forget!
“Maybe he just needs some time off and some counseling,” I suggested. “After all, you yourself have said that unless a resident literally kills a patient, the process of firing one is long and arduous . . .”
“A hearing, followed by six months of probation with counseling,” Troy acknowledged, “followed by another hearing, at which time the resident can appeal to the Grievance Committee, half of which is made up of fellow residents.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to try to salvage his career rather than end it?” I added.
“Leave it to a lawyer to look at the big picture,” Troy replied. Following me into the kitchen, he then asked, “Speaking of which, how was your day, honey?”
“We got a new client who’s particularly demanding,” I answered. “It wasn’t enough for them to go over the contract, but they insisted on making a lot of substantive changes. They want every contingency accounted for… even the ones that have zero chance of ever happening.” Sighing, I added, “I brought home a shitload of work with me.”
“Such is the life of a corporate attorney,” Troy responded, “and none are better than the eminent Jessica Greenly.”
Turning to my husband and placing my hands on his muscular chest, I stated, “Flattery will get you everywhere, Dr. Warner.” I then gave him a quick peck on the lips, but this time he kissed me back. What started out as a mere peck soon turned into a passionate, prolonged deep kiss.
“Eww, gross,” came the sound of our son’s voice from behind me. Talk about spoiling the mood! “I came down to see if dinner was ready yet, but I guess you haven’t even started.”
“You’re welcome to make it yourself,” I suggested, which earned me a ‘yeah right’ look from our son, “or we could just order out.” The truth was that, although it might be the twenty-first century and I might work just as many hours as my husband, if I didn’t make dinner, we’d all starve.
Getting a much more serious look on his face—one that spoke volumes—Jake said, “Maybe we’d better order pizza tonight. I have some… stuff I need to talk to you guys about.”
“What kind of ‘stuff’?” Troy asked.
Looking down, Jake answered, “Important stuff. Really important stuff. Stuff I’m scared to talk to you about, but I gotta. It took forever to get up the nerve and if I don’t do it now, I may never get up the nerve again. And if I don’t talk about it, things could really blow up and I can’t take a chance on you finding out from someone else.”
Getting really worried for my son now, I replied, “This does sounds serious.”
“Believe me, Mom, it is,” Jake answered, only fueling my concerns.
“Let me order a couple pizzas,” he added, “and then we can talk.”
As our son spoke on the phone, Troy approached me and asked quietly, “Any idea what this is about, Jess?”
“None whatsoever,” I answered, my worry evident in the tone of my voice.
“Well it’s not likely to be that he got a girl pregnant,” Troy stated quietly. “You generally have to go out with a girl for that to happen.” Not that I wanted Jake to become a father yet—not by a long shot—but, sadly, I had to agree with my husband.
“I certainly doubt he’s gotten involved with drugs,” I added.
Smiling, Troy agreed, “No way. No how. He hasn’t even touched the beer I keep in the garage, and he’s certainly had ample opportunity to do so.
Do you think that maybe he’s having trouble with one of his classes, or perhaps with bullies at school?” Troy asked.
“I don’t think so,” I replied. “He’s always come to us when he’s needed help before, and bullying hasn’t been an issue since the seventh grade.”
Then suddenly my eyes opened wide as it struck me. Do you think that maybe he’s going to come out to us?” I asked.
“You mean you think he’s gay?” Troy said a little too loudly. I could only hope that Jake didn’t hear us.
“It would explain a lot,” I replied, “and it fits with everything he just told us.”
Troy seemed to become very nervous as he responded, “I’m not ready for him to be gay. I don’t think I can handle having a gay son.”
“Well you’d better learn to handle it real soon,” I countered, “because I think that’s exactly what we’re about to hear.”
Before my husband could respond, Jake hung up the phone and smiled weakly at us.
“I kinda think you may have figured out what I’m gonna tell you,” he began, “at least I think I heard a word that makes me think you have.”
“Why don’t we sit down in the family room?” I suggested. As with many contemporary homes, the family room was right off the kitchen, with a small table and chairs in-between. Jake sat nervously on the sofa while my husband and I sat separately in a pair of recliners on either side of him.
The look of worry that was evident on my son’s face made my heart go out to him as he sat before us in his black wife beater and gray soccer shorts. He sat upright, leaning slightly forward with both of his bare feet planted firmly on the floor. This was so atypical for him—usually he sat leaning back with his feet propped up on the coffee table, in spite of numerous warnings to him not to do so.
Looking down at the floor, Jake began to speak again. Finally, he managed to blurt out, “Mom, Dad, I hope you can accept this, I… I’m gay…”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Troy slump down in his chair with a look of defeat, but I couldn’t and wouldn’t let that affect our relationship with our son. Slowly, I nodded my head at Jake, showing what I hoped was a look of acceptance.
“Are you sure?” Troy asked. “I mean, you’re only sixteen. You’re just a sophomore in high school, for cripes sake.”
“I couldn’t be more sure,” Jake answered. “Actually, I’ve spent the last three years trying to convince myself I’m not gay, but no matter how much I tried to talk myself into it, I just couldn’t get interested in girls. I guess you may have noticed that I’ve never dated…”
“We’ve noticed,” Troy responded.
“And until recently I tried to pretend that I was just shy,” our son went on. “I figured that eventually I’d find a girl I liked and then I’d ask her out… but the only girls I like are the geeks and, even then, I like them more as friends than anything else. The thought of seeing them naked actually turns me off. I don’t want to see them naked. I don’t even want to see the popular girls naked.
“The boys, well… are another matter entirely,” he went on. “Subconsciously I guess I’ve been avoiding them since the seventh grade. After all, it’s hard to develop a crush on someone when you keep them at a distance. Unfortunately, the mere thought of a guy gives me a boner. Oops… did I really say that?”
“I think we get the picture, Jake,” Troy answered.
“Jake, you hinted that you were worried we’d find out about it from someone else,” I began to ask. Did something happen at school?”
Looking down and blushing, Jake got the sweetest smile on his face as he answered, “Yeah, it did.” It was the look I’d long expected to see on his face when he fell for a girl, but it wasn’t a girl he’d fallen for. It was obviously a boy. I was actually thrilled for our son—his sexual orientation meant nothing to me—I just wanted him to have friends and enjoy the kind of life that teenagers are supposed to have, but it was becoming increasingly obvious that my husband felt otherwise. His body posture and the dour, sad expression on his face were a give-away.
“There’s a boy at school, Gary, that I’ve known since the third grade,” Jake continued. “Gary and I were never close friends, ’cause he’s always been into sports and I’m anything but an athlete, but he’s not like most jocks. He’s really, really nice and even though I’d been avoiding getting close to boys for the most part ’cause I didn’t want anyone to get suspicious of my thoughts… my feelings… most of all me… there’s something about Gary that’s always put me at ease, you know? I guess I’ve always been attracted to him… well, since middle school anyway. He always talked to me with kindness and respect. He never let my shyness get in the way… he had a way of bringing me out.
“And maybe because we weren’t close friends, there never was any pressure. I’ve always liked Gary… really, really liked him and, thinking back, I’ve prolly had a crush on him for a while now.”
“So you decided you’re gay because you have a crush on a boy? Did he tell you he likes you?” Troy asked.
“No, it’s not that,” Jake responded. “Yeah, he did tell me he likes me, but that’s not why I decided I’m gay.
“Gary and I are in the same homeroom together,” Jake started to explain. “At the beginning of the school year, the teacher asked us all to tell a little about ourselves. She started with the end of the alphabet, so I was one of the first kids to speak. ’Course I spoke about my interest in science and in computer games and how I hoped to go into Medicine like my dad.”
Troy smiled at that, which gave me hope that no matter what, he still loved and was proud of his son—our son.
“When they got to Gary,” Jake continued, “he told everyone about his playing soccer and being on the swim team and all, but then he blew everyone away. He finished up by saying, ‘By the way, I’m gay… and I’m looking for a boyfriend.’ You coulda heard a pin drop when he finished and it was only the teacher calling on the next kid that got us all going again.
“Well the whole thing got me thinking. Gary Sanders was gay. Gary Sanders, who was popular and a major jock, was gay. I know the whole thing shoulda freaked me out and made me want to stay away from him, but it did just the opposite. Over the course of the school year we’ve gotten closer and closer together. I don’t know what it was that drew me to him… maybe it was my subconscious mind at work… but I found myself eating lunch with him, and spending break times with him… just the two of us.
“Eventually it dawned on me… we’d become best friends. Remember how I said I felt safe with Gary because we weren’t friends? Well when I realized he was my friend, I suddenly felt vulnerable and so, a few weeks ago, I started avoiding him. I totally freaked out. I shoulda known Gary would never let me get away with it, though.
“This morning before the start of homeroom, Gary confronted me. He said, ‘Jake, why are you avoiding me, man? I know it’s not ’cause I’m gay, or you wouldn’t have spent the last few months with me. You wouldn’t have become my best friend.’ But then the bell rang and he said, ‘We’re gonna discuss this at lunch. Don’t skip out on me.’ The way he put it, I knew I had to see him. I had to deal with my fear, you know?
“So at lunchtime we went outside to eat at one of the tables, so we could be alone. As we sat down, Gary said, ‘Jake, in a pretty short time, we’ve become best friends. I think you sense it too, so it really hurt when you started avoiding me… and don’t you dare deny you’ve been doing it either.’ What could I say to that except that I was sorry, but he told me in no uncertain terms that sorry wasn’t good enough.
“Then he brought up his being gay again, and said he’d hoped I might be gay too, but that that wasn’t the reason he wanted to be my friend. Whether I was gay or straight, or just not sure yet, he wanted to be my friend first and foremost. Being my friend was far more important than being my boyfriend.”
“So you decided you’re gay because you didn’t want to let him down?” Troy asked. That really angered me and I glared in my anger at Troy.
“No, Dad. It’s not like that at all,” Jake replied. “Gary wants me as a friend and I want to be his friend. That has nothing to do with my being gay, but it doesn’t change the fact that I want to be Gary’s boyfriend. You see, when Gary spoke about not caring whether I was gay, straight or not sure, it dawned on me that that was exactly the question I’d been avoiding. I never asked the question because, deep down, I knew what the answer would be. It was in that instant it came to me… crystal clear.
“I reached across the table and grabbed Gary’s hands. You can’t begin to imagine the beautiful smile that lit up his face when I did that. ‘Gary,’ I said, ‘The reason I’ve been avoiding you is because I’m in love with you, man…’”
Troy gasped when he heard that, but Jake continued, “‘I’ve had a major crush on you for years,’ I told him, ‘but I’ve fallen totally, madly in love with you.’ Once I admitted it aloud, the rest became easy.
“‘I guess the problem is that I don’t want to be gay,’ I said, but Gary interrupted. He said, ‘No one wants to be gay, Jake. It’s not something you can choose. Everyone wants to be normal,’ he said as he made quote marks in the air with his fingers, ‘but we really don’t have a choice in the matter. If you’re gay, you’re gay and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.’
“‘I guess that’s what I’ve been avoiding,’ I told him. ‘It wasn’t you I was avoiding, but facing the truth about me.’ I knew that being gay isn’t a choice but, once I admitted it to myself, I knew I’d be turning my back on any hope of being straight, but today I realized something. Mom… Dad, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re with a boy or a girl. What really matters is that you’re with someone you love and so I told him, ‘I love you. I only hope that you love me too.’
“And you know what Gary said? He said he’s loved me ever since the seventh grade… that he fell in love with me three years ago!
“Oh, by the way, I have two more afternoons of detention to serve,” Jake added, which surprised me since he’d never been in trouble before. “I guess you’re not allowed to kiss in school,” he went on to explain, “and the kiss Gary and I shared in front of my locker was, to use the words of the vice-principal, ‘over the top’.”
“Shit!” Troy exclaimed, “Now it’s going to be just about impossible to deny it.” I was shocked. Troy never swears in front of Jake. Where the hell was his attitude coming from?
“Why would I want to deny it, Dad?” our son reacted with alarm. “I’m gay and I’m not the least bit ashamed of it. I’ve got an amazing boyfriend and he’s one of the most popular boys in the tenth grade. I want the whole school to know I’m in love with him.”
The look of defeat on my husband’s face was heartbreaking. There was no way Jake couldn’t have noticed it, but I had other concerns as well. My mind questioned his compassion at this moment—this moment when it was needed most.
“What about bullying, Jake?” I asked. “Is it safe for you to be out at school? I know kids are more accepting these days, but there are still plenty of people who like to pick on those they perceive as being different.”
“Our school has its share of jerks,” Jake admitted, “but being gay has little to do with it. They picked on me when they thought they could get away with it, even before the kiss. They liked to call me a fag and push me around,” he went on, “but they do that with all the geeks…”
“Honey, why didn’t you come to us?” I interrupted. “Why didn’t you tell us you’re still being bullied?”
“Our school is a safe place, Mom,” Jake continued. “I hardly get bullied at all and, when I do, it isn’t serious. Everyone knows there are boundaries and anyone stupid enough to cross them winds up getting expelled.
“For the most part everyone is accepting. There are a lot of ‘out’ gay kids and we have an active GSA, so being out for me isn’t that big a deal.”
Laughing, he continued, “All afternoon, the other kids made smooching noises and called me ‘Romeo’, but it was all in fun. They’d have done that if I’d kissed a girl, too.”
Just then, the doorbell rang and Jake said, “That’s prolly the pizza. I’ll get it.”
Our son literally leapt off the sofa with more energy than I’d seen him display since he was in elementary school. He ran to the door and opened it, where a teenage boy in a uniform waited on the other side. What happened next shocked the hell out of me—Jake leaned forward and kissed the pizza delivery boy on the lips!
“Hey, Babe,” Jake said, “come on in and meet my parents.”
Suddenly it all made sense. Jake wanted to order pizza, knowing it would be delivered by his boyfriend. This was his way of introducing us.
“I take it you told them,” the boy said as he walked into our house, carrying one of those soft insulated pouches used for transporting pizza. Following Jake into the kitchen, the boy opened the pouch and set a couple of large pizzas down on the counter.
Folding the pouch up and tucking it under his left arm, the boy followed Jake into the family room and Jake said, “Mom, Dad, this is Gary, my boyfriend.”
Even in their nervousness, it was evident that the two boys liked each other. There was an honest chemistry between them—a sparkle in their eyes. Gary was certainly a handsome young man with short, dark reddish-brown hair in contrast to our son’s longish blond hair, and it was evident that he was muscular. It was the sheepish look on his face, however, that was so endearing.
Rising to my feet, I grabbed Gary’s right hand in both of mine and said, “It’s so nice to meet you, Gary. Since we got home, Jake hasn’t talked about anything but you. I hope to see a lot more of you around here in the future.” The blush that Gary showed on his face when I said that made me fall in love with him, too. What a sweet boy! I couldn’t have been happier.
However, Troy didn’t even have the courtesy to stand, let alone greet Gary. What did it matter that our son is gay? Jake was happier than we’d seen him in years and that’s what truly mattered.
“I don’t suppose you have the time to eat with us?” Jake asked his boyfriend.
“The boss’ll have my hide if I don’t get right back…” Gary answered, “but I suppose I have time to scarf down a slice. I could always say I got stuck in traffic.”
“Pepperoni?” Jake asked his boyfriend as he got out four plates and began to set the kitchen table.
“That’d be perfect,” Gary answered as he threw his arm around our son and pulled him close, almost causing him to drop the plates he was carrying. Jake returned the favor by giving Gary a quick peck on the lips, then opened one of the pizza boxes and loaded a slice of pizza onto one of the plates, which he then handed to his boyfriend.
Taking hold of the plate, Gary responded, “I hate to have to eat and run… but I have to eat and run!” He then folded the slice in half, lengthwise, and proceeded to stuff it into his mouth. Seeing how we were all looking at him, he asked, “What are you guys staring at?”
Laughing, Jake answered, “It’s the way you eat your pizza, Babe.”
Shrugging his shoulders, Gary responded, “I was born in New York. This is the way you’re supposed to eat pizza.”
Jake then commented, “Well, I think it’s cute.” Our son then took his own slice of pizza and, rather than sit at the table, he joined Gary in leaning against the kitchen counter, folded his slice in half and proceeded to stuff his face the way only a teenage boy can.
In the meantime, Troy remained seated in the family room, staring off into space. It was as if he wasn’t even in the same room as the rest of us. Maybe the relationship between a father and his son is different and maybe Troy saw Jake’s homosexuality as a challenge to his own masculinity, but that still didn’t excuse his behavior. We had a guest and the least he could do was to be civil.
“Shall we?” I asked my husband, but he still didn’t respond and so I added, “Troy?”
Finally, he looked at me with a question in his eyes, and I repeated, “Shall we go eat some pizza with our son and his boyfriend?” The cringe Troy made when I said the word ‘boyfriend’ spoke volumes.
After just staring at me for what seemed like several minutes, he responded, “You go ahead, Honey. I’m not all that hungry. I’ll eat later.”
As far as I was concerned, that was not acceptable and so I stared at my husband with the glare that I often used when he wasn’t being reasonable. Rather than getting up and going with me to join the boys in the kitchen, Troy got up and simply left the room.
“Mom?” Jake asked, bringing me out of the state of bewildered anger I was feeling at the moment toward my husband. Turning to look at my son, I was heartbroken by the look of sadness and fear I saw on his face. Moments before he’d been so happy. I’d be damned if I was going to let Troy hurt our son. I’d waited so long to see Jake come out of his funk and Troy had single-handedly deflated Jake’s spirit, right before my eyes.
Striding into the kitchen and joining the boys, I attempted to soothe Jake by saying, don’t worry, sweetheart,” which earned a roll of the eyes from my son. “This is all new to us and Dad just needs time to get used to it. As parents, we all have expectations for our children and those expectations usually involve your getting married and having children. That is, after all, what we did and it’s the only point of reference most parents have.”
“But I’m still gonna do that, Mom,” Jake countered as his boyfriend nodded his head in agreement. I couldn’t exactly challenge that argument, although marrying a man and adopting children or using a surrogate isn’t exactly what most parents expect from their sons.
Changing tact, I continued, Dad’s reaction doesn’t mean he loves you any less, Jake. He just wasn’t prepared to have a gay son. Once he gets used to the idea, you know he’ll be fine. He’ll always love you… you know that, Jake.”
“You really believe that?” Jake asked.
“Yes, I do,” I answered, “and so do you. You’re our life, Jake. That will never change. Your being gay just came as a shock to your father but you know he’ll come around. He loves you more than anything.”
“I wish I could be so sure,” Jake responded and my heart went out to him.
Pulling him into a hug, I rubbed my hands up and down his back, speaking words of love as he cried his eyes out. As the tears finally started to subside, Gary interrupted with, “I'm really sorry Jake, but I gotta go. I’d really like to help you work this out, but my boss’ll crap his pants if I don’t get back right away.”
Turning from me to his boyfriend, Jake pulled Gary into a warm embrace and they hugged each other for dear life for a brief but poignant interval. As they released each other, they looked adoringly into each other’s eyes and then gave each other a short, but meaningful, kiss on the lips.
“You’ll call me tonight when you get home?” Jake asked.
“You can count on it, Babe.” Gary replied, and then added, “Love you… more than anything.”
After Gary left, I turned back to my son and said, “Jake, no matter what, you’ll always have me. I’m on your side, one hundred percent. Trust me, however; Dad still loves you and he will come around. It may take a little time, but I’m going to talk to him and, once he gets used to the idea of your being gay, he’ll consider it about as important as the color of your eyes.
“Are you going to be OK?” I asked as I gently squeezed Jake’s bare shoulder.
With the sweetest, wan smile, he answered, “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I knew it could be tough, but I just didn’t realize how much Dad’s rejection would hurt. You couldn’t have been better, though, and I do know you both still love me, even if Dad’s having trouble accepting it.”
“And… you have a sweet boyfriend,” I added. “I really like Gary.”
“He’s awesome, Mom,” Jake responded. “I still can’t get over that he loves me too. He’s always loved me. How could I be so lucky?”
“You deserve it, honey,” I replied. “You deserve to be happy.”
“Thanks, Mom,” he said with a broad beautiful smile, and then he asked, “So… are you gonna have some pizza with me?”
“I’d love to,” I agreed. We both sat down at the kitchen table and I grabbed a slice of veggie pizza, folded it in half as I’d seen Gary do, and proceeded to eat it.
Over the course of the next hour, my son and I spoke of everything and a lot of nothing. We talked about school, about his desire to join the GSA, about what it’s like to go out on a date and what it takes to make a relationship work. It was one of the most enjoyable talks I'd had with him that I could remember. Jake was growing up and, for the first time, I could truly see a glimpse of the man he would become.
By the time we finished, I'd eaten two slices of pizza and Jake had inhaled four—a full half a pie. Teenage boys!
After saying goodnight to each other, Jake headed upstairs to his bedroom while I headed to the study. The light coming from under the door told me Troy was most likely inside, and we were going to talk.
I opened the door and seethed the words through my teeth. “What the hell is the matter with you?” He didn’t respond as I closed the door behind me. My anger peaked and I started shouting. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” OK, so maybe my idea of talking involved more shouting and yelling on my part than anything, but I wasn’t about to let my husband get away with treating our son and his boyfriend like shit.
“This is our son we’re talking about, damn it! Do you have any idea how much you hurt Jake’s feelings? And the way you treated poor Gary was inexcusable! Would you accept such behavior from Jake? What the hell’s gotten into you?”
As Troy began to open his mouth, I went on, shouting, “And don’t you say you can’t accept a gay son. I’ve got news for you. You have a gay son. We have a gay son. It’s not like Jake had a choice in being gay, you know. Being gay or straight is no different than being right of left handed. You’re a physician, for crying out loud! You know this.”
Troy once again started to open his mouth to get a word in edgewise but I wasn’t nearly ready to let him have his word. He didn’t deserve to speak after what he’d done.
Don’t you dare talk back to me, Troy,” I continued, “I’m just getting started.
“Why the hell does it matter to you that our son’s gay anyway? He’s the same Jake we’ve always known and loved. He’s still our son. He’s still that sweet, kind, gentle boy who’s brought so much joy into our lives. But lately he’s been so sad… so withdrawn and so alone. Coming out changed all that! Now he’s happy… and he has someone special.
“Gary seems like such a nice boy, too. You should have seen the two of them together… the way they touched and hugged each other and, yes, kissed.” Troy cringed at hearing the word ‘kiss’, but I wasn’t about to allow that to slow down my angry shouting. “More than that was the way they looked into each other’s eyes. It was so evident how much they love each other. Yes, they’re young, but there’s nothing like first love.
Don’t you remember your first love, Troy?” I asked. Don’t you remember what it’s like to feel on top of the world? Don’t you remember your first kiss? Don’t you remember how everything was new and exciting? Don’t you remember what it was like to feel your young sexuality awakening… to have someone to share that with, but being too scared to do anything? Don’t you remember what it was like, Troy?”
Finally I noticed a lone tear escape my husband’s left eye and start rolling down his cheek. Maybe I was getting through to him!
“Our son is in love!” I went on. “Isn’t that a wonderful thing? He’s so happy, and you had to go and wreck it for him! You had to introduce him to self-doubt and fear. How dare you!
“In a few years… less than that even, Jake will leave home for good. He’s sixteen and he’ll only be sixteen once in his life. Before you can turn around, he’ll be gone. How terrible it would be if you turned your back on him in his final years with us. We’ll never have these years again. How terrible it would be to realize too late that they’ve passed us by and they’re gone forever.”
By now Troy was openly crying. He was making a valiant effort to hold the tears back, but they streamed down his face in a torrent as he broke into a loud sob.
“Aren’t you going to answer me?” I yelled. Don’t just sit there and cry like a baby. Talk to me!”
“Fuck, I’m sorry,” he replied as he continued to cry. “I’m so, so sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone. I was so, so selfish.”
At that moment my rage was spent—I melted like a caring mother and sat down beside him. Pulling my husband up into a tight embrace, I whispered softly in his ear, “It’s going to be alright, Troy. Yes, you hurt Jake, but you know how easily he forgives… and he loves you very much. Jake will forgive you… Gary will forgive you… and I will forgive you.”
“No you won’t!” Troy shouted with a vehemence I’d never seen from him before as he jumped to stand in front of me. “How could you possibly forgive me? I know I wouldn’t if the situation were reversed.” He glared down at me.
“Of course I forgive you, Honey,” I countered as I stood up and placed my arms on his shoulders. “Why wouldn’t I? A lot of men have trouble accepting their gay sons, maybe because they see it as a threat to their masculinity, but none of that matters. All that matters is that you love Jake and accept him now…”
“But that’s not it, Jess!” Troy exclaimed. “Jake doesn’t threaten my masculinity… I’ve done a good enough job of that on my own! Don’t you see? I’m not upset because Jake’s gay. I’m bothered because he reminds me so much of me when I was his age. He always has, but his admission that he’s gay brought it all back to me. Too many unpleasant memories…” His voice drifted off as he turned away from me.
Still not seeing the connection, I responded to his back, “Did someone accuse you of being gay when you were a kid, Troy?”
Shaking his head, he replied, “That I could take, but it’s much more than that. I could hide from others, but I couldn’t hide from me.
“Just like Jake, I didn’t date in high school, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t interested. The trouble was, the girls I would have liked to date… the ones I should have dated… didn’t interest me.” He turned and stared at me. “But then someone who did interest me caught me staring. They could have easily blabbed it to the whole school but, instead, we kissed.
“Yes, I do remember my first kiss,” Troy went on, “and in that moment I knew I was at a crossroads. If I admitted to myself what I was feeling in my heart, my life would never be the same again…”
Still not comprehending what my husband was trying to tell me, I questioned Troy with my eyes and then added, “I don’t understand.”
With a loud sob, Troy answered, “Like Jake, I didn’t want to be gay, but I couldn’t deny what I felt when I kissed a boy… a boy I liked.”
My eyes flew open wide as I realized what my husband was telling me and on impulse I slapped him hard on the cheek and screamed at him, “YOU BASTARD! YOU FUCKING BASTARD!” My motherly instincts just flew out the window.
“I never meant to hurt you, Jess,” Troy responded quietly. “I never meant to hurt anyone. I loved you. I’m still in love you…”
“And letting me believe you were straight was a gesture of your love for me?” I asked sarcastically.
Shaking his head, Troy answered, “Of course not. I just couldn’t be gay. My parents would have never accepted it. My friends would have never accepted it.” Then he added more quietly, “I would have never accepted it.
“It was a secret that was never supposed to come out. I never expected to come out. I figured I’d carry this secret to my grave.”
“Which you still might get to do,” came my retort with a snap as my nerves came to a new edge. “Sooner rather than later.”
Rather than say anything, Troy merely hung his head. He looked so dejected… so defeated… so vulnerable… so… pathetic. I almost felt sorry for him, the key word being almost.
That didn’t matter, though. Troy had deceived me and I could never forgive him for that. All these years we’d been living a lie. Now at the age of 42, I was truly on my own… except for Jake. Jake was the one bright spot in the whole debacle of our marriage. Because of Jake, the past eighteen years had not been a waste—at least not totally. Jake was now my life.
“Jessica…” Troy began, interrupting my thoughts.
“NO,” I shouted. “There’s no excuse for what you did, you bastard!”
Still hanging his head, Troy replied quietly, “I know.”
Although feeling the fury still seething inside me, some common sense prevailed from the back of my mind. I realized that things could only go downhill from here. The longer we fought, the more likely we would say or do things we’d only regret later on. We needed space, and we needed it now.
Lowering my voice, I asked tersely, “Is there some place you can stay for a few days? We have a lot to discuss, but now is not the time.”
Looking at his watch, Troy responded, “It’s already after ten, believe it or not; I’ll just go to a hotel.”
Thinking about it for only a second, I replied, “OK… I think that would be best,” and then I added, “Call me to let me know where you are, OK?”
Looking up at me for just a second, he nodded rather than saying anything, but then added, “I’ll go pack some things.” Turning from me, he left me alone in the study— alone to contemplate—alone with my own thoughts.
Troy was gay. My husband—was gay. How could he have done that to me? How could he have lived a lie all these years? What was I going to do?
My mind spun continuously in circles—so much so that it barely registered the sound of the door to the garage opening and closing, or the sound of Troy’s car starting. It wasn’t until I heard the sound of my son’s voice that I even realized any time had passed at all.
“Mom?” I heard Jake ask, “Where’d Dad go?” He was standing at the entrance to the study, wearing only a pair of his boxer briefs.
Snapping out of my reverie, I answered my son without thinking, “I really don’t know, Jake. He’s going to spend the next few nights in a hotel, I think.”
Dad left?” Jake asked. “Are you guys… are you… are you getting a divorce?” There were tears flowing from my son’s eyes, but they barely registered on me. I was still very much in shock from what had happened.
With scarcely a thought of how Jake might take it, I answered him honestly, “I don’t know, Jake. I suppose we will. Your dad and I have a lot to talk about, but I thought it best we cool down first. Dad’s going to spend a few nights away, and then we’ll talk.”
Jake was sobbing openly now as he threw his arms around me and hugged me for all he was worth. “I don’t want you to get divorced!” he cried. “I want things to go back to the way they were.”
“Some things just can’t be taken back, Jake,” I answered my son, thinking only of the revelation that Troy was gay. That it was Jake’s coming out that had touched off the chain of events in the first place hardly entered my mind at all.
As Jake continued to cry on my shoulder, I noticed from the clock on the wall that it was already nearly two AM!
“I know it’s the weekend, but shouldn’t you be in bed?” I asked.
“I was,” Jake answered. “After talking on the phone with Gary for more than two hours, I tried to go to sleep but, with all that happened, I couldn’t. I heard the sound of Dad’s car starting up, so I came down to see what was going on.
“God, I can’t believe he left,” Jake continued. “I can’t believe you guys might even get a divorce. I thought you said Dad would love me no matter what!”
“Of course Dad still loves you,” I answered my son. “Your sexual orientation changes nothing…”
“But you might end up getting a divorce!” Jake wailed, “and it’s all my fault!”
“It’s not your fault, Jake,” I responded. “If your dad and I get a divorce, it will be cause he made a terrible mistake. Your dad should have never done what he did,” I explained, failing to realize that Jake had no idea what I was talking about.
Rubbing his back and kissing him on the shoulder, since he was so much taller than I, I looked up into his sad, green eyes and said, “If you can’t get to sleep, why don’t you download a new book you’ve been wanting to read. Perhaps starting a good book will help you take your mind off things… and help you get to sleep.”
“You buying?” Jake asked.
“I offered, didn’t I?” I responded.
“Even if it has a gay theme?” he asked.
“As long as it’s suitable for kids your age,” I answered. “I know you’ve probably spent as much time as any teenager looking at Internet porn…” which caused Jake to color up furiously, “and I know there are a lot of pornographic stories out there, particularly gay themed stories…” which made him color up even more. “Please make it something you wouldn’t mind me reading,” I added with a laugh.
“Well that certainly limits my choices,” Jake replied with his own, sweet laugh. It felt good to hear him laugh after the way he’d been crying. “Josh Aterovis has a new book out in the Killian Kendall Mystery Series,” he went on. “Perhaps I’ll read that, or maybe I’ll download the latest book from Mark Roeder in the Gay Youth Chronicles series. Or there’s an anthology out from some of the best authors on the Net at AwesomeDude.”
“Why not download all three?” I suggested. “Like I said, my treat.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Jake responded, and then he kissed me on the forehead.
After Jake left the study and feeling the strain of the day’s events catching up with me, I decided it was time for me to go to bed. I straightened up the kitchen, putting what was left of the pizza in the fridge, turned out the lights and headed upstairs.
Moments later, I finished washing up and was in bed. At first I merely tossed and turned as sleep seemed elusive. The next thing I knew, the sun was streaming in the windows. A quick check of the bedside clock told me it was already 12:37 in the afternoon! It wasn’t unusual for Jake to sleep that late on a Saturday, but Troy and I never slept that late - ever.
Getting out of bed, I threw on a robe and went to check on Jake. The scene that greeted me when I reached his door came as a complete shock. So atypical was it for Jake that at first it didn’t seem real - his bed was made, his floor was completely clear of clothes and everything was neatly put away. The room looked more like a guest room than one occupied by a teenage boy.
It was then that I noticed a note sitting on his desk. With trepidation, I approached it and picked it up. The words brought tears to my eyes:
When you talk to Dad, tell him he can come home now. I never meant to cause you and Dad problems. I just wanted to be myself and to share my happiness with you at having a boyfriend. I didn’t stop to think of the ramifications. I didn’t realize how Dad would take it and never in a million years did I think it would come between the two of you.
One of the things you said last night, or rather this morning, is true. Some things cannot be taken back. I can’t take back telling you guys I’m gay. To say otherwise now would be a lie and I think you know that. Just know that I’m happy - and I’m comfortable with who I am. I have a wonderful boyfriend and, in spite of what happened last night, I know I still have wonderful parents. I’m just not willing to let my sexuality come between the two of you.
I’ve decided the best thing is for me to go away, at least for a while. Without me around as a constant reminder that his son is gay, maybe Dad will get back to normal and the two of you can stay together. I’ll have my cell phone with me, but don’t try to call me. I’ll keep it turned off. I’ll call you when I’m ready - and when I think Dad’s ready. In the meantime know that I’m going somewhere where I’ll be safe… and know that I love you.
Tears flooded my eyes as I realized the tragic mistake I’d made. Jake didn’t know about his father being gay, nor was it really my place to have told him. Now, Jake thought his dad had left because he had trouble dealing with having a gay son—rather than because he himself was gay. What a mess!
Jake was missing and I’d yet to hear from Troy and had no idea where he was. Who knew where in the world he was staying? Never had I felt so alone.
Then I had a thought—perhaps Jake was staying with Gary! Of course! That had to be it! The trouble was, I didn't know Gary’s last name. Fuck!
Then I thought, perhaps I could track him down from the pizza place. Looking in the refrigerator, I noted that the pizza box was a generic one that didn’t even have the name of the pizza place on it, which meant it had to be from a small, local independent pizza parlor nearby.
Looking on-line, I narrowed my search down to four potential pizzerias and called the first one. When I asked the person who answered if they’d made a delivery to our address last night, the man laughed and asked, “You don’t remember who you ordered your pizza from?”
“It was my son who placed the order,” I explained.
“How do I know you’re legit?” the guy asked, causing me to roll my eyes.
“Look, you’ve got my phone number from the caller ID,” I answered. “My son is missing,” I went on, “and the pizza was delivered by his boyfriend. I’m desperate. Could you at least tell me if you have a delivery boy named ‘Gary’ working for you?”
“We don’t have no faggots working here,” the man answered rudely, and then he hung up on me. I broke down and cried—what was I going to do? Gradually, it dawned on me that I might have inadvertently outed Gary, but then I remembered that Gary wasn’t at all shy about the fact that he’s gay. Like my son now, he was out and proud—at least he was at school. Might he be keeping it from his employer? I would have to be more discrete in talking to the other places on my list.
The second place I tried was considerably friendlier than the first, and the woman I spoke to not only confirmed that they’d delivered a pizza to our address, but that Gary would be working from three PM to midnight. She wasn’t willing to give me Gary’s home phone number, nor his mobile number, but she did promise to have him call as soon as he showed up for work. Now it was just a matter of waiting…
In the interim, I decided to try to locate Troy rather than waiting for him to call. Again looking on-line, I was surprised to discover that there were no less than twenty-eight hotels and motels within a five-mile radius of our home. Knowing that Troy would never stoop so low as to stay at a Motel 6 or a Red Roof Inn, I started with the local Holiday Inn Express and then the Fairfield Inn and worked my way up the chain. I began to lose hope as I reached the likes of Hyatt and Hilton—Troy would never splurge on something that expensive unless it was all that was available.
It was as I was on hold with the nearby Marriott that the call-waiting tone sounded. Hitting the flash button, my ‘Hello’ was greeted by the frantic sound of Gary’s voice. “What’s happened to Jake?” he practically screamed at me.
“It appears he’s run away…” I answered, but before I could say anything else, Gary interrupted with, “Shit!” and then added, “Oops, sorry.”
“I was hoping that maybe he was staying with you,” I interjected, “or that he’d at least contacted you, but I take it you haven’t heard from him either.”
“I had no idea,” Gary answered. “We spoke for more than two hours last night… I even drained my battery… but he never gave me a hint he was thinking of running away. I mean, he was freaked out with the way his dad reacted, but we spent a lot of time talking about it and he seemed to be OK with things when we finally hung up. I thought the love we shared would be enough…”
“I have no doubt that Jake loves you, Gary,” I responded. “This has nothing to do with the way Jake feels about you or even the way his father reacted to his coming out. It’s… complicated, and I made a terrible mistake.
“My husband and I separated last night…” I continued, but Gary interrupted with, “Fuck,” and then quickly added, “Oops, sorry again.” I was quickly becoming endeared to this boy!
“Jake thinks we separated because of my husband’s reaction to Jake’s coming out, but that was only the catalyst for… other things that happened last night. Jake feels responsible but, the truth is, he had nothing to do with it. Not directly, anyway, but Jake doesn’t know that. He doesn’t know the real reason my husband left.
“Jake thinks we’re going to get a divorce, and he feels responsible, and I did nothing to dispel that notion. I was just so wrapped up in my own self-pity that I failed to realize that Jake had no idea what was going on.”
With a loud sigh, Gary replied, “Let me guess… Jake wasn’t the only one who came out last night.”
Shocked, I responded, “How the hell did you know? I thought that gaydar was nothing more than a myth.”
“You wouldn’t believe how many stories there are on the Internet dealing with just this scenario,” Gary replied. “But we’ve gotta find Jake!” Gary continued, and then asked, “he didn’t say anything about where he was going?”
“He only said that he was going somewhere safe,” I answered. Do you have any idea where he might have gone?”
“None whatsoever,” Gary replied. “Have you tried calling him?”
“He said he’d be keeping his cell phone turned off and that he’d call us when he’s ready.” I replied, and then added, “Gary, there’s a very good chance Jake will try to call you before he calls home. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t call you tonight.”
“I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to call me already,” Gary responded. “It just isn’t like him to leave so suddenly without talking to me. It doesn’t make sense.
“Maybe I can find someone else to cover for me at work tonight,” Gary then suggested, “and I could go looking for him.”
“Gary, what good would that do?” I asked my son’s boyfriend. “You yourself said you had no idea where he might have gone. You’d be going on a wild goose chase and, for all you know, Jake will contact you by placing an order for pizza, knowing you’ll be the one to deliver it.”
“Shit, you’re right… oops, sorry,” Gary answered. “That’s just the sort of thing Jake would do.” Some might have found Gary’s occasional lapses in language unnerving, but I found his apologies for them endearing. He was such a sweet young man.
Gary and I spoke for several more minutes, until he had to get to work. It was then that I realized that I had yet to take my shower and get dressed, or make the bed. Hell, I hadn’t even eaten yet—not that I was all that hungry.
Once I’d washed up and had eaten a light snack, and with a cup of coffee in my hand, I went back to trying to track down my husband and my son. Unfortunately, other than Gary, Jake had no real friends. Even Gary had acknowledged as much during our conversation. Hopefully, Jake would contact us or contact Gary tonight.
In the meantime, I tried contacting the police but, other than filing a missing persons report, there wasn’t anything they could do until Jake had been missing for 48 hours. Without evidence of foul play, to them Jake was just another teenage runaway.
Focusing again on Troy, I hoped that he might have some idea of where Jake might be, if only I could find him. In the end, I even resorted to checking with the local Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn, but Troy wasn’t registered at any of the twenty-eight nearby hotels. In desperation I repeated the Internet search using a ten-mile radius, but that resulted in an additional eighty plus establishments. There was no way I could call that many places in a reasonable amount of time.
Still, with nothing better to do, I started on the list, working my way from the nearest outward. After more than three hours of fruitless phone calls, it was approaching nine o’clock and I was no closer to finding my husband or my son than I had been when I first woke up several hours earlier. I was emotionally drained. Putting my head down on the desk in the study, I did the only thing I could in my emotional depression—I cried. My life was falling apart and the people I loved had disappeared from my life overnight—quite literally.
I wasn’t sure how long I sat there with my head on the desk. Time just seemed so irrelevant as the minutes and hours ticked by. It could have been only a few minutes later, or all night for all I knew, when the phone rang, startling me out of my self-imposed reverie.
Yanking the receiver for the landline out of the cradle so fast that I nearly caused the base to fall to the floor, I answered, “Hello?”
“Hello, Mom?” Jake responded. It was Jake, thank God!
“Jake! Honey, where are you? Are you OK?” I asked.
“I’m fine, Mom. Really, I’m fine,” he tried to reassure me, but that wasn’t good enough for me.
“Are you sure, Jake?” I asked. “I can come and get you,” and then I added, “There’s a lot we need to discuss. There are things you don’t know about what happened last night. Trust me, Jake. You aren’t the reason Dad and I separated. You had nothing to do with it.”
Laughing, Jake replied, “Yeah, I know. I’m with Dad right now and he filled me in on the details. It’s kinda cool having a gay dad, but I can imagine the fireworks last night. It was hard enough coming out to you guys. Hearing your son’s gay has gotta be quite a shock, but hearing your husband’s gay musta really thrown you for a loop!”
Dad’s with you?” I asked incredulously. “But how…?”
After a short delay, the next voice to come on the line was Troy’s. “Jess, I’m really sorry we didn’t call sooner. It’s just that, seeing Jake here was such a surprise, and then we decided to order pizza from Jake’s favorite delivery boy. Gary ended up deciding to stay and we’ve been talking ever since and… well, here we are.”
What the hell was he talking about? Men! Exasperated, I exclaimed, “Troy, you’re not making any sense!"
“No, I suppose I’m not,” he acknowledged. “Just give me a minute and I’ll explain.
“Last night when I left home,” he began, “my initial thought was that I’d find a hotel room for the night but, I thought to myself, ‘then what?’ The last thing I wanted to do was to spend the weekend brooding in a hotel room, and I certainly couldn’t spend it with friends.
“My friends would have wanted to know what happened and I couldn’t exactly tell them. I’m not at all ready to be ‘out’, you know? I can just imagine my friends’ reactions and, by Monday morning, the whole damn university would have known…”
“You’ll never find a boyfriend by hiding in the closet,” I replied with a hint of sarcasm in my voice.
In a more somber tone, Troy said, “Jess, I don’t want a boyfriend. I’m still in love with you and I think you still love me too, and there’s Jake to think about.”
“Are you suggesting we stay together?” I asked in surprise.
“I’m suggesting we at least talk about it. It’s not like we exactly have the time to be intimate with each other that often anyway…”
Dad! I don’t want to hear this!” Jake interrupted. I hadn’t realized he was still on the line.
“It’s your fault for not hanging up,” Troy pointed out, and then he continued, “Jess, isn’t it love that matters? Many people spend a lifetime searching for love and never find it. We have something special. Why throw it all away?”
“I don’t know, Troy,” I responded honestly. “Yes, I still love you…”
“YES!” Jake again interrupted.
“But love isn’t always enough to maintain a relationship. We definitely need to talk and we should probably do it face-to-face.” I suggested.
“I’d love nothing more,” Troy replied, “but am I welcome?”
At first I wondered what he was talking about, but then I remembered that I had, for all intents and purposes, thrown him out of the house the night before.
“I’m sorry, Troy,” I responded, “but talking last night just wasn’t working…”
“That’s because you were doing all the talking, or rather all the yelling,” Troy interrupted, “but I agree… we really weren’t ready to discuss it rationally last night. Now I think we can… at least I hope we can.”
“Speaking of which, where are you, and what is Jake doing there? And Gary too?” I asked.
Laughing, Troy answered, “When I decided I didn’t want to spend the weekend brooding in some anonymous hotel, or spend it with friends, I decided I might as well spend it at the hospital getting some work done. There’s a very nice hotel and conference center on campus but, when I arrived, I discovered there’s a conference going on and it’s booked solid. Still wishing to stay on campus, I decided to stay at the Student Union.”
No wonder I couldn’t find Troy! I never once thought of him staying there.
“In my case,” Jake chimed in, “there are flyers up at school advertising services for LGBT and ‘questioning’ youth. There’s a help line… and they offer temporary lodging with no questions asked. I guess I’ve been wondering about myself for a while, ’cause I programmed the help line number into my cell phone last year.
“So I called the number and spoke to a college kid… they’re all volunteers… and he advised me to try going home. I told him I couldn’t, so he asked if I’d like to talk one-on-one with another volunteer who could give me a place to crash for the weekend. We agreed to meet in the food court at the Student Union on campus.”
“Anyway,” Troy resumed his part of the story, “I slept in this morning and then decided to grab a quick bite at the food court before heading to my office at the hospital. You can imagine my shock at seeing Jake sitting there, talking to an older kid I didn’t even know. I had no idea he’d run away or I might have been even more concerned.”
“So Dad surprised the hell out of me when he showed up at our table and asked what I was doing there,” Jake went on. “I kinda broke down and told him I didn’t want to come between the two of you.”
“Coming out to Jake was even harder than coming out to you, Jess… how do you tell your son you’re gay…?”
“But I’m gay,” Jake pointed out. “It was no big deal.”
“Maybe to you it wasn’t,” Troy countered, “but I was petrified by the prospect. Still, there was no way I was going to let you think that you were the reason I left. I had to tell you.
“So anyway, Jess,” he continued, “Jake and I went back to my room and we talked. We talked for hours.”
“Yeah, it was really cool,” Jake added. “When we got hungry, we ordered pizza and when Gary got here, he called a friend to take over his deliveries so he could spend the evening with us. Eventually he got around to telling us about how you were searching for me, so we decided we’d better call.”
“You can’t imagine what it’s been like for me today, wondering what happened to the both of you,” I commented.
“Actually, I think I can,” Jake countered. “After all, this morning I thought I’d lost both of you. I felt so alone… I was scared shitless…”
“Jake?” I interrupted, but with a smile on my face. ‘Shitless’ was exactly the way I’d felt all day. It was the perfect word and so I added, “I’ll let it slide this time, especially since I felt exactly the same way.”
“So can I come home?” Troy interjected.
“Of course you can, Troy…” I replied, but Jake interrupted once again with, “YES!” and I added, “but that doesn’t mean things can go back to the way they were. We still have a lot to talk about.”
“Indeed we do,” Troy agreed, “and we should probably do so after a good night’s sleep.”
Definitely,” I responded.
“We’ll be there in twenty,” Troy replied, but then Jake interrupted with, “Since it’s so late, could Gary spend the night?”
Laughing, I asked, “You’d like to have a sleepover with your boyfriend?”
“Well when you put it that way,” Jake answered, “Well, I could always hope. I had to ask.”
“I have no doubt the two of you will find a way to be together, regardless,” I replied, “but let’s plan on Gary sleeping in the guest room tonight, OK? I think we all need to talk about relationships and, well, sex, and we need to discuss it with Gary’s parents before we agree to any sleepover arrangements.”
“Your mother and I are on the same page with this, Jake,” Troy chimed in. “Rushing into sex can really screw up a good relationship, especially if you’re both not really ready for it. Sex is the icing on the cake of a good relationship… not the cake itself. Oh, and Gary… you need to call your parents to let them know where you’ll be tonight.”
After exchanging a few more pleasantries, I hung up the phone and thought about what Troy told the boys about sex being the icing on the cake and nothing more. Was I putting too much emphasis on the sexual aspect of our marriage and on Troy’s sexuality? Was the love we shared enough to hold a new relationship together? I truly had a lot to think about.
In many ways I thought it might be better to make a clean start. I deserved to have a man who loved all of me and, in a way, perhaps Troy would be better off if he were forced to seek a relationship with another gay man. In divorcing him, I’d be giving him his freedom. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel trapped in our relationship.
On the other hand, we had a history that spanned two decades. We shared a son that we both adored and we were in love with each other, even now. Could I really turn my back on all that? Should I when the two men in my life didn’t want me to? They both wanted me in their lives. Should I ask why or should I raise the flag of freedom and let each of us go our own way? Should I be the catalyst in all of this? Would it be a flag of freedom or a rejection of the only real love I might ever find?
Perhaps I should consider it a love at a different level. Had Troy been unfaithful to me during our years together? I didn’t think so, but would he continue being faithful to me now that we had shared the truth? Was I up for this challenge? Was Troy? Was Jake?
As the door between the house and the garage opened, I sighed to myself and realized that these questions would not be answered tonight or even tomorrow. Getting up from the desk in the study, I went to greet the two men who meant the world to me and the young man who meant everything to my son, confident that things would be clearer by the light of another day and many days to come.