Bobby's  Story (by Grant Bentley)

Bobby’s Story

By Grant Bentley


If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

The two months of doing nothing but have fun, ride my bike, swim, skateboard, and hang with my best friend Matty and the rest of the guys were quickly coming to an end. I can’t say I was totally disappointed though. I would be starting grade seven…I mean like junior high…wow. I thought it was going to be so cool.

Two weeks before the start of school, Ian, Jamie, and I got permission to go camping overnight at the Kinsmen campsite…alone. No parents, no big brothers, no one…just us. I was upset that Matty couldn’t come with us but he was going to Jasper with his family. Still though, I just knew it was going to be the best time ever. And I was right. We built a great big fire and roasted wieners and made hotdogs, tried to roast marshmallow but set fire to most of them, and told ghost stories all night. I don’t know why we took a tent because we never slept at all. Almost as soon as the sun came up, we headed straight for the creek and spent the rest of the morning swimming. That is, until we got hungry again.

Since it was already hot out, we decided to walk back to the campsite in just our swim shorts. On the walk back I started looking at Ian and Jamie. After a few minutes, I slowly began to realize it wasn’t ordinary looking. I was looking at their bodies and stuff and it was like I was thinking they were cute or hot or something…like the guys at school talked about some of the girls. It was like really weird. I wasn’t looking at them when we were swimming. Well I was but not like now. Why was I looking at them now? Why did I think they looked hot? Why did looking at them make me feel weird? Oh yeah, thirty two hours without sleep might do it. Obviously my brain wasn’t connecting the dots properly. Duh.

We got back to the campsite and got a fire going and like last night, cooked some wieners and made hotdogs. Since I didn’t want the guys to get any weird ideas, I kinda made sure I was looking at the fire or my wiener and stuff. Hmmm, that sounds kinda weird doesn’t it? I was looking at my hotdog and stuff. There that sounds better. When I did look at the guys, I tried to look at their faces. After we finished eating, we decided there wasn’t a whole lot else to do, so we to packed everything up and headed for home.

After I got home, I flopped onto my bed and in about ten seconds I was asleep. When Mom woke me up, it was dinnertime already. I had slept all day. After dinner, I was still tired so I went back up to my room and I flopped back onto my bed again. As I was laying there, I started to think about the guys again. Did I really think they were hot or cute? I had to laugh when I wondered that. Of course they weren’t. I was normal, right? Girls were hot and cute. Geez.

Then when school started, the worst possible thing happened. I discovered that in junior high for phys ed we had to change into our phys ed kit before class, and then change out of our phys ed kit, shower, and change back into our school clothes. Of course, I didn’t give it much thought until I found myself surrounded by twenty seven totally naked guys, showering and I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I almost got dizzy looking around the room. I got something else too, something I didn’t want, not in the shower room for sure. I turned to face the wall and stayed there until almost everyone had left the locker room. Then I wrapped my towel around myself and ran to my locker. In two minutes, I was dressed and out of there.

“What the fuck is happening to me?” I asked no one in particular. First seeing Ian and Jamie with their shirts off messed with my mind, now this. But this I couldn’t blame on lack of sleep. Maybe it was just curiosity, you know. I mean I had never seen other guys naked before and it was like comparing. Yeah, that’s what it was. Like a first time thing. Probably all the guys were doing the same thing, you know, comparing. But when I thought about it some more, not all the guys got…you know…just I did. The more I thought about it, the more questions I had and every question started with why. As much as I tried not to think about it, I couldn’t help but think about it.

I mean it’s not like I didn’t know that a guy who got excited looking at other guys was gay, and it’s not like I didn’t know what gay was, but I couldn’t be gay. I was normal, right? And all normal guys like girls, right? I liked girls, right? I just had to focus more on the girls. You know, like pay closer attention to their bodies, like boobs and asses and stuff. Yeah, that’s what I needed to do. Then this stupid gay thing would go away. I tried to think about some of the girls I knew. I even took out my brother’s stash of magazines and looked at the pictures. I tried to get excited…but it didn’t happen. The more I looked at the pictures, the more I became aware of, yeah I liked girls, but looking at them, even naked, was no more exciting than looking at two ton Walsh, our rather large principal. I often wondered how she wiped her ass because her arms seemed too short to reach around all that…well…around her. But two ton Walsh’s clean ass wasn’t my issue right now.

I wasn’t giving up though. For the next two days, I paid close attention the every girl I saw in school. I had to admit that Marsha Lowe’s boobs were something else. If they were any bigger and she leaned forward, she’d fall on her face. Well maybe not. I don’t think her face would’ve reached the floor. I did wonder if she’d just bounce back up onto her feet though. But that was it. I didn’t find them sexy or exciting or anything more than an oddity. I sure as hell didn’t want to touch them. It would have been like touching the hunchback of Notre Dame’s hump.

Then we had phys ed again. Changing before we hit the gym was okay. But then came showering and changing after. I tried to stay back in the gym so maybe the guys would be finished before I got to the showers, but coach saw me and told me to get my ass in gear and get showered. Marsha’s boobs may have done nothing for me, but what Kevin Hanson had made such a sudden change in the direction of my blood flow and I nearly passed out. Well not really, but you get the idea. I ran for the shower stall in the corner where I wedged myself until it was safe to move. I didn’t even dry off before I changed into my school clothes and, instead of going to last class, I ran for home.

There was no doubt now, none. There was no more making excuses or coming up with lame ideas to prove otherwise. Guys turned me on and Kevin Hanson really turned me on. That meant I was gay and for the first time since I was a little kid I cried. I cried like a baby. Why me? Everybody hated gays. I heard what the guys said about gays. They called them fags, faggots, queers, freaks, and a bunch of other things. They said gays were degenerates, abominations, sick, and perverted. They said gays were all going to hell. I was scared out of my mind. I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was I couldn’t let anyone find out…anyone…ever.

Thank God the next day was Friday. I went to school, went to classes, and avoided everyone. I didn’t even eat lunch with the guys. I hid in one of the classrooms instead. When the weekend finally arrived, I stayed in my room the whole time except to eat. Sunday afternoon, after I hadn’t been out with the guys all weekend, Matty came over to see me and find out what was wrong. He had come over a couple of times before, but I didn’t answer the door. This time Mom was home and she told him to go on up to my room and, since my door was open, he just walked in.

“Hi,” he said as he walked in, “Are you okay man? You haven’t been out all weekend.”

‘Act normal’ was the only thing I could think of as I replied, “Yeah, I haven’t been feeling good.”

He flopped down on my bed like he always does and started telling me about the weekend. Saturday he and the guys had been playing soccer. Later, they went skateboarding. Then today, they had gone to the wave pool. He said he had stopped by to get me but no one answered the door or the phone. As he was talking, I realized he didn’t excite me. I kinda wondered why not. I mean he was a guy, so why not? Then I realized he was just Matty, my best friend, my bro. Bros are safe with each other cause they’re bros. It was so cool. He even stayed for dinner and we talked and played video games until we were asked if our homework was done. Since it wasn’t, he had to go home and we both got to work on our homework for the rest of the evening..

Then Monday came around and back to school. The day went along fine. I ate with the guys again and life seemed to be back to normal. Matty and I worked on our homework together before dinner this time and he didn’t have to go home until 9:00. After dinner, we played some soccer with the guys, he beat my ass at Spelunky, and then we just sat around and talked till he had to go home.

Tuesday was a whole different day. We had phys ed again. I showered in the corner again, kept my eyes on the wall, wrapped my towel around myself and walked out of the shower to dry off and get dressed. Unfortunately, I guess I glanced in Kevin’s direction on my way out.

He yelled, “Faggot. What’re you starin’ at?”

Then Steve Johnson yanked my towel off and yelled, “Hey look he’s got a boner!”

“Looks like you got a fan Hanson,” someone else shouted as everyone looked at me and started to laugh.

“Fuck you!” Kevin yelled at him.

All I could do was burst into tears and run to my locker. Again, I didn’t even dry off before I got dressed. When I left the gym, I ran home, threw myself on my bed and cried my heart out. I wasn’t staring at anyone, least of all Kevin. I might have glanced his way once but I was doing my best to look at the floor. Needless to say, I didn’t go to my last class.

From that day on, I tried to sneak to my locker without showering until coach caught me and gave me shit. Then I was back to staring at the walls trying desperately not to look at anyone. It didn’t matter though. In the gym, the hallways, sometimes even in the classroom, I was now queer boy, boner boy, fag boy, or simply faggot. I can’t even begin to explain how ashamed and hurt I felt. When your schoolmates turn against you and go out of their way to humiliate you, how much worse can it get? These are the people you grew up with. These are the people who help shape who you are and who you become. These are the people you should feel at ease with. These are not the people you should fear the most.

They weren’t stupid either, they made sure Matty wasn’t with me when they teased me and bullied me. I started to play sick as often as I could get away with it. Some days I simply skipped school. Of course I got in deep shit from my dad. He kept asking what was wrong with me or why the hell was I skipping school. In fact after the fourth time, I got grounded, and mom drove me to school and picked me up. Life was a bitch at school and at home. I was so miserable, I began to wish I didn’t exist anymore.

Then one day, they were at it again only this time Matty came out of Mrs. Shaw’s classroom and saw them. He stood up for me and nearly got into a fight with them. They threatened him and pushed him and asked him if he was my boyfriend. Before it turned into a fight though, two grade niners, Jason Long and his buddy, Tommy van something or other, stepped in and told them if they didn’t leave us alone they’d get their asses kicked big time. They looked scared shitless and quickly ran off.

The changes in me hadn’t gone unnoticed by Matty and, after seeing the bullying, he came over to see me the next evening when he didn’t have too much homework. I knew he was worried about me. We talked a little at school that day about all the shit I seemed to be neck deep in. But I was scared to death to tell him why. He seemed to be the only one who wasn’t pissed with me and still seemed to care about me. I couldn’t lose him too. This time he didn’t flop down on my bed as usual. He sat on the edge of my bed beside me and put his arm around my shoulders. I don’t know why, but I instantly began to cry. I must have sat there crying like a baby for five minutes. Matty just tightened his hold on me and held me until I finally slowed down a little. When he did move, it was to grab me some Kleenex. His arm was around me right away again as soon as he sat down.

Once I settled down a bit more, he said, “Come on bud. Tell me what’s going on. I want my best friend back. You’re not being you anymore and you’re scaring the crap out of me here.”

“It’s just the assholes hassling me at school,” I responded, “No big deal. I’ll get through it.”

“Bobby, I know you too well,” he said, “There’s more going on than a few guys hassling you.”

“I’m not really sure what’s going on. I just know I can’t tell you,” I said still sniffling.

“You and I have been best friends since we were little kids,” he responded, “You can tell me anything. You know that.”

“Not this,” I replied.

“Bobby, do you trust me?” he asked.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Then tell me,” he countered.

“I don’t know,” I said, “This has me so scared.”

“Then you need me more than ever” he said, “That’s what best friends are for. Nothing is too scary to tell your best friend.”

“I don’t know,” I repeated.

“Yes you do,” he said, “If you are ever going to be you again, you need me to help you get through whatever this is. It’s killing you.”

“Promise you won’t leave me?” I asked.

“Promise,” he replied.

“Matty…oh geez,” I said after a long pause, “Matty, I…I…I think I like boys. Matty…I’m…gay.”

“Oh Bobby,” he responded, “You were this scared to tell me that? Being gay isn’t going to change anything between us. Being gay is no big deal.”

“Yes it is,” I exclaimed, “It’s changed everything. I’m getting picked on, half the guys don’t even talk to me anymore. What about my parents? They’re gonna hate me.”

“You didn’t lose me,” he replied, “You won’t lose the guys either. The only reason they don’t talk to you much anymore is cause you don’t talk to them anymore, and you’re hardly ever around. As for your parents…they’re way cooler than that.”

“Yeah maybe,” I said with a little smile, “Thanks for being you. But what am I going to do? I’m so scared.”

“I know someone you need to talk to,” he said. “They’re the greatest and they’ll be able to help.”

I really wasn’t too sure about this, but we walked over to Matty’s and went straight to Zander’s room. Matty knocked on his door and when Zander said we could come in I was so nervous and scared I almost felt like puking. How could Zander and Luke help me. I knew Zander was a great guy but I hardly knew Luke.

“Hey guys,” he said as we came into his room, “we got Cokes and chips if you want.”

“Thanks,” Matty replied as we sat down beside them. Then after we sat quietly for a while, he poked me and said, “You can’t find two better people to talk to than Luke Skywalker and Yoda.”

As nervous as I was, I couldn’t help but smile.

“Matty told us what went down at school the other day and we think it’s total bullshit,” Zander said.

“Right, no one should have to take crap from anyone for any reason” Luke said, “And we’re here for you anytime you need help, or just someone to talk to, day or night. Okay?”

I just sat there for several seconds looking at them before my eyes began to tear up. In another few seconds, tears were running down my cheeks. Matty immediately moved closer to me and put his arm around him like before.

After a few minutes I wiped my eyes on my sleeve and without thinking, asked, “How do they know?”

“They don’t know Bobby,” Zander replied, “They’re just picking on you because you’re smaller than them. They’re calling you a faggot because they know it’ll bother you, and they think it’ll turn other kids against you so they’ll be on their side.”

“So they don’t know?” I asked.

“No they don’t,” Luke replied.

“It’s not a big deal anyway,” Zander said, “It’s just small-minded assholes, who like to bully people, they’re the ones that have a problem with it.”

“You wouldn’t care?” I asked. 

“No we really wouldn’t care,” Zander said giving me a big smile.

At that point, Matty gave them a funny look.

But, before either of them could say anything, I said, “I tried so hard to make it go away but it won’t. I don’t know what to do. I’m so scared Mom and Dad are gonna hate me and I’m gonna lose all my friends, well except for Matty and you guys. Nobody will understand.”

“Bobby,” Zander said quietly, “I know it seems really scary right now, but you do know someone who will understand…two someones.”

I looked at them for a few more seconds and when they both smiled at me, I suddenly clued in. “You guys?” I questioned.

“Yeah,” Luke said, “We’ve both been exactly where you are right now. Thinking we were the only one. Thinking we were all alone. Thinking we were gonna lose everyone around us. But it didn’t happen. We still have our families, we still have our friends, we’re still loved.”

“People know?” I asked.

“Everyone knows,” Zander said, “We’re both totally out, at home, at school, everywhere.”

“Oh wow,” was all I could say. Then after a short pause, I looked at Matty and said, “You knew didn’t you.”

“Yeah, the morning kisses kinda gave them away,” he said laughing.

After that remark, I felt safe, and finally looked up and realized Zander had a rainbow flag above his bed. Like duh, I felt a little silly for not noticing it before. I started to talk to them. I told them exactly how I felt and had tons of questions. Why are some people gay? How do you know for sure you’re gay? Can you be gay for a while and change back to normal? Can you fix being gay? Is being gay a sin? Does God hate gays? And on and on I went. One of my questions was, should I tell anyone. Matty was the only person I had felt I could trust but what about my other friends, and most importantly, what about mom and dad? They told me that because I was only thirteen, I didn’t need to be in a hurry to come out. I should come out when and only when I was sure I was ready. As for right now, I had the three of them to confide in and knew I wasn’t alone in this. I knew Matty, Jason and Tommy and their friends had my back at school too, so I was pretty sure the bullying would stop. We talked until Matty and Zander’s mom drove in and we realized it was 6:15 already. I jumped up, said I was going to be late for dinner, thanked them and gave them a hug, and ran for the door, said ‘hi’ to their mom and ran for home.

The next day at school, nobody said anything to me. I ate lunch with the guys and they treated me like they always did. None of them said anything about the teasing and stuff. Even in phys ed, I was left alone. I did do my usual corner routine and did wait until most of the guys were gone, but no hassles. It was cool.

In fact, to make a long story short, I did survive the next two years of showering and changing in the locker room. The dickheads knew Jason and Tommy meant what they said and left me alone. And, since our school was a junior-senior high school, they didn’t move on to another school. I was still very careful not to look at anyone anyway. In fact I know exactly how many paint chips there are in the walls of both the shower room and the locker room. In my grade nine or freshman year, when I had the choice, I opted for drama instead of phys ed. Maybe I should mention that I grew a little too and was now five-eleven, a rather skinny five-eleven, but it still made me feel more confidant.

I also can’t tell you how many times I thanked God for Matty, Zander, and Luke. They saved my sanity and my life many times. But, I remained very much in the closet until several months after I turned fifteen and entered grade ten, or my sophomore year. That’s when Maxx transferred in. Maxx with two x’s and two of the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. Of course the girls were all over him. The second day he was here, he was eating lunch at the table with me and the guys. I jokingly asked him if he needed a stick to beat the girls off with. He just looked at me and grinned before asking me if I would be willing to help him beat them off. I couldn’t help but grin back and reply in the affirmative. Matty kinda smirked, but there were grins from a few of the guys. That made me wonder how secret my secret really was.

Maxx and I hit it off instantly and that was the beginning of Bobby and Maxx and that was the beginning of my coming out. The first thing we did was go to Dairy Queen for ice cream after school that day. As we chatted, we discovered that we had a lot in common, except for one thing. He had been out since grade eight and I was still in the closet…I think. Even though he told me not to worry; to come out when I was ready, it left me feeling sort of empty. He was so open, free, and confidant in his sexuality. I couldn’t help but wonder why I couldn’t open that damn door, more than a crack and feel that same openness, freedom, and confidence.

A few days after we met, he came with Matty and me to meet Zander. Luke was there as he and Zander were working together on a chemistry project from college. We spent almost an hour just talking and reminiscing about our lives before we had to go home for dinner. Maxx, Zander, and Luke told us their coming out stories. Matty complained about being left out cause he would never have a coming out story. I won’t repeat some of the comments he got, but they were quite memorable.

The next day was Friday so after school Maxx and I went to dinner and a movie. Maxx followed that up with a kiss goodnight that I will never forget. We spent Saturday with Matty rollerblading along every bike path we could find, stopping at the odd street vendor for something to eat or drink along the way. Sunday it was raining, so we just played pool in his folks’ basement, watched a movie on TV, and cuddled and made out for a bit.

As far as school was concerned, except for the guys, who I knew knew, even though they never said anything, if anyone had been paying the slightest bit of attention, they would have known something was going on with Maxx and me. The looks, the touches, the obvious closeness couldn’t have been mistaken for casual friendship. But everyone seemed so wrapped up in their own lives it appeared no one else noticed. Well except Kevin Hanson, but then he had no life.

“I knew you were a faggot,” he said one day during lunch, “I shoulda kicked your ass four years ago. Course it’s never too late, so watch your back faggot.”

I just looked at him, smiled and said, “Bring it on any time you want. I’ve been working on my black belt in karate for those four years. I’ll give you the first swing and then you’re dead. Self defence they’ll call it.” 

That was the last time he spoke to me and the last time he came within twenty feet of me. It appreciated that, since the only thing I knew about karate was that it was some kind of self-defence thing and having a black belt meant you were good at it. Even so, it was also the last bit of stimulus I needed to open that closet door.

On the way to drama class that afternoon, I slipped my hand in Maxx’s and interlocked my fingers with his. We walked the full length of the hallway listening to the normal interclass chatter stop as we walked by. Instead of feeling nervous and scared, I felt liberated and empowered. I wasn’t sneaking out of the closet. I was ripping the door off and throwing it across the room.

It was a couple of weeks after that, that Matty introduced me to Janet. Well he didn’t actually introduce us, since we already knew each other since kindergarten, but he introduced her as his girlfriend. I knew something was up because for the last few weeks at school, I didn’t see Matty without Janet by his side. Not to mention he hadn’t been over to my place as often as usual. Maxx, of course, was a regular at home. In fact he was there as much or more than Matty had been. Of course Matty and Janet were over quite often, but they were a little preoccupied these days.

Now everyone knew, including Maxx’s folks and even Matty’s folks. Everyone that is, but my folks. I ran Matty’s comment about how cool my folks were over and over in my mind. I knew they were cool and I knew they would be too cool to care, but there was always that little ‘what if’. A little ‘what if’ that I managed to turn into a big ‘what if’ every time I thought of bringing it up with them. Then on my sixteenth birthday, Maxx, Matty, Janet, Zander, Luke, Ian, and Jamie, were invited to our place for a birthday bar-b-que.

After everyone had finally recovered from eating way too much, Mom came out with a huge cake with sixteen candles burning brightly. When she set the cake down in front of me I nearly fainted. On the top of the cake, besides the sixteen candles, were the words ‘Happy Birthday Bobby We Love You’. No big deal there right? The big deal was the rainbow flag in the top left corner. I looked up at Mom and Dad and saw two huge smiles and I immediately jumped up and gave them both a big hug. Of course Matty was right. My parents were and still are the coolest.

Later, as we were eating cake and talking, I had to ask how they knew. Well, after telling me they got tired of waiting for me to get around to telling them, Mom started in about the time I was four and wanted a Ken doll and the conversation went on from there. Everyone found many of their explanations of my ‘gay giveaways’ more than a little amusing. Even though I couldn’t remember most of them, I have to admit I found them somewhat amusing too. Of course the clincher was Maxx. Neither Mom nor Dad had ever seen me so happy and contented until Maxx came along. And, of course, they were paying attention to the looks we exchanged, the touches, and the closeness. Besides knowing I had their unconditional love, I was also made very conscious of never underestimating my parents’ powers of observation.

I also discovered that discovering you like guys at twelve or thirteen can, and usually is, very scary. Usually too scary to deal with alone. I realize now, I needed to confide in someone I trusted, like my best friend Matty. When I did, I found the Force was with me. Especially since his brother Yoda was dating Luke Skywalker.


Thanks to Colin for editing and posting this story for me.