Sometimes (by Grant Bentley)

St. Catherine's Street in the Gay Village of Montreal © SeekUp78. Used in accordance with the Creative Commons licensing


By Grant Bentley

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

My name was Nolan Carlson and life was great. I was well liked by my classmates, captain of the swim team, held the provincial title for the backstroke and freestyle, had wonderful caring parents and the greatest little sister on the planet. High school really was the best time of my life—with one minor exception—or major exception, I’m not sure which. I’m gay. That realization came to me in my freshman year and it scared the hell out of me. I was in the middle of the most conservative part of the province—homophobia central. I heard nothing but negative comments and remarks about fags, homos and queers. Unfortunately, as often as not, those comments came from my father. As caring and gentle as he was, he held an intense dislike for homosexuals. That, of course, made being gay even less appealing.

I managed to remain closeted throughout high school. It wasn’t easy with so many gorgeous guys around, especially in the locker room, but I did it. A lot of staring at the floor and walls got me through. After graduation, I spent the summer working for a friend of my father’s at his lumber yard. During the first couple of weeks I hurt in places I hadn’t even known existed. I thought I was in good shape with swimming and Judo, but I guess I was wrong. By the end of the summer however, I was able to keep up with any of the other guys there. I also noticed that I had added a couple of inches to my biceps and my abs were rock hard. My father would laugh, give me a sharp tap to the abdomen and announce that I would have “no trouble wowing the ladies now.” Yeah right…a dream come true for sure.

In the fall, I entered university. That meant I was in the city now and two hundred miles from home. It was like a whole different world. Not just city versus country, but university versus high school. Home was typical rural Alberta. The only person I knew who was not white was native. He had been adopted by friends of my parents when he was three weeks old. No one—and I do mean no one—was openly gay. The first thing I noticed about university was the vast number of cultures represented. There were students of every nationality on the planet. I felt like an over-protected little white country boy suddenly thrown into this vast multicultural milieu. I was in a state of total awe for the first week.

That was just the beginning. I was also in awe of the difference in the attitudes compared to high school and home. I had stepped out of my ultraconservative little town of 250 into what seemed like an ultra-liberal sub-city of 24,000. Everyone seemed so much more open and accepting of each other’s ideas, opinions, lifestyles, politics and whatever. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t argue with you, but they wouldn’t ostracize you if you disagreed with them.

There was a GSA, which is something I had never heard of before, and even a gay fraternity. Few seemed to care if you were gay, straight, transgendered, lesbian or bi. It wasn’t an issue with most, any more than if you were British, Danish, Chinese or Sudanese. Of course, there were the few who made it clear they thought all gays were freaks and shouldn’t be allowed to live, but they also tended to have a problem if you were non Anglo-Saxon white as well. Fortunately, they were very much in the minority, and for that reason, tended to be overlooked. Kind of like looking across a crowded dance floor and not noticing a cockroach crawling along the floor next to the wall.

I suddenly felt a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. It almost gave me the strength and confidence to come out…but not quite. There was always the fear that if I did, then somehow it would get back to my parents. If that happened, all hell would have broken loose. They would have immediately disowned me, or at least, my father would have. My mother would have been devastated and would have cried for a week. I certainly wouldn’t have been welcome at home again.

But with all good secrets, sooner or later something happens and you are exposed to the world. That happened to me in my second year, not long after I met Trey Léglise. Trey was my height, about six feet tall. He had black hair, the darkest brown eyes I had ever seen, and the coolest French accent. He had transferred from Concordia University in Montreal and immediately joined the swim team. The coach of the swim team asked me to introduce him to all the guys and show him around campus.

There was an immediate chemistry between us. During our initial conversation, I discovered he also held a black belt, but his was in karate, and he would be joining the university’s karate club. We quickly discovered that we had a lot more than swimming and the martial arts in common. We had many of the same likes and dislikes and had pretty much the same sense of humour. We enjoyed a lot of the same music, authors and movies. It was uncanny how similar we were. Within a couple of hours, it was like we had been friends forever. We were even completing each other’s sentences. I had never felt so close to anyone so quickly in my life.

Then he spoke the three words I dreaded the most in the world: “Are you gay?”

I must have looked terrified because he immediately apologized for being such an ass and told me he had no business asking me something like that. Of course, it was too late at that point. My reaction made it very clear: I was gay. No one would have reacted the way I did if they weren’t.

Once I finally got myself under control again—well, sort of under control—I managed to stammer out, “Why?”

“It’s just a feeling I get from you,” he replied. “Some people call it gaydar.”

“You’re…” I stammered.

“Yeah,” he responded. “I was really hoping you were too.”

To make a long story short, in the next several minutes, after a lot of stuttering and stammering, I came out to him. Now one person, besides me, knew I was gay.

Needless to say, we became very close very fast. It didn’t hurt that we had a couple of classes together as well as swim practice. Soon, we were getting razzed about being twins since we were seldom seen apart. Other than the few classes we had separately, we were always together. By the end of the year, we were known to be a couple and were out to all of our friends. At the beginning of our third year, we even found an apartment together off-campus.

Of course, once a few people knew, it got around, and by the start of my third year several of my old high school classmates, who were at the university, had become aware of my relationship with Trey. Surprisingly, for most of them, it didn’t seem to matter. However, one of them, Howard Schulte, was horrified. Unfortunately, all it takes is one. Howard was and still is as conservative as they come. He was the president of the Young Alliance Party, a very right wing provincial political party. It took him no time at all to inform my parents.

I received a frantic email from my little sister, Kim, just before Thanksgiving. She let me know that Howard had stopped by that afternoon and informed my parents that, not only was I gay, but I was living with my boyfriend. Kim said my father had gone ballistic and stated categorically that no son of his would live in that kind of sin. She warned me emphatically that coming home would not be a good idea. Thank God for little sisters. Needless to say, I didn’t make it home for either Thanksgiving or Christmas that year, or any year since. Nor did I hear from either of my parents wondering why. In fact, I had had no contact with them at all for nearly seven years.

Kim, on the other hand, thought it was totally cool to have a gay brother and said she couldn’t wait to meet my boyfriend. Unfortunately, that took almost another three years. In fact, it was that long before I even saw Kim again, thanks to my parents. In the first few months, Kim kept me up to date on my father’s rants and my mother’s crying fits. I was no longer seen as their son. In their eyes, I was dead. It was devastating. I had lost my family—well, my parents—for something I had no control over…who I fell in love with. The one good thing in the whole situation was that I didn’t have to endure my parents’ reactions first hand, thanks to Kim. She and I stayed in touch of course, but after a while, our emails and chats went back to normal and covered topics of mutual interest, seldom including any discussion of my parents.

I also received a few threats from anonymous people. I was pretty sure I knew who they were, but I had no proof. Because of the threats, Trey and I were careful to never go anywhere alone, especially in the evenings. Getting caught alone in the dark was not going to be an option for either one of us. We could both obviously protect ourselves, even against a small group of guys, but why tempt fate?

At the end of our fourth year, we both graduated, me with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Trey with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. I guess I don’t have to tell you that I didn’t invite my parents to our Convocation. I did invite Kim, but, of course, she was forbidden to attend.

After receiving our degrees, Trey and I decided to move back east to Montreal, where his family lived. We had been out to visit them several times. They had known about Trey since he was fourteen and they knew about us from day one. They were the total opposite of my parents and were completely accepting. In fact, on our first trip to Montreal, his mother had invited most of their family and Trey’s friends over and had thrown a ‘Welcome to the Family’ party for me.

Upon moving to Montreal, things were great right from the start. Trey’s friends, most of whom I already knew, welcomed me with open arms. I was considered ‘one of them’ immediately. We stayed with Trey’s parents for a month until we found a condo within our price range. It was right in the middle of the gay village, just half a block east of St. Catherine’s Street on Wolfe. It was wonderful. You can say what you want about fitting in or blending into regular society, but there is a freedom you get in the gay village that you can’t get trying to ‘blend in’. I don’t care how accepting people supposedly are. Trey and I can walk down the street holding hands and its cool. We can display affection publicly with a kiss and its cool. Try that anywhere else and see what happens. So I don’t care what you think about blending in. Viva le village gai.

Trey’s father owned a business consulting and accounting firm in Montreal, so Trey, with his accounting degree, and me, with my business administration degree, fitted right in. We were both made junior partners in the business and we were set.

Shortly after moving to Montreal, we decided to get married. Trey’s Mom was thrilled. She had a wedding to plan and plan she did. It was absolutely amazing. Every relative and friend Trey had, and some he wasn’t too sure of, were there. Several of our friends from university even flew out for the event. It was awesome…the best day of my life, other than the day I first met Trey. My only regret was that Kim couldn’t be there and my parents wouldn’t be there.

Since I felt that my parents had disowned me and since Trey’s parents had made me part of their family right from the start, soon after the wedding, I decided to legally change my surname to his and become Nolan Léglise.

The only people I remained in contact with from home were our friends from university and Kim. Kim and I still emailed each other regularly and chatted online at least once a week. She was absolutely thrilled when I told her Trey and I were getting married. She was extremely disappointed that she couldn’t be there, but promised that the day after she turned eighteen, she would be on a plane to Montreal. In turn, I promised her the best eighteenth birthday party she had ever seen.

True to her word, the day after her birthday, Trey and I were at the airport at noon waiting for Kim to arrive. It had been almost three years since we had seen each other and I couldn’t believe it when I saw her. Gone was the little tomboy who followed in her big brother’s footsteps, earning a black belt in Judo and countless medals for swimming. Instead I was looking at a 5ft 10 in, very slim, absolutely gorgeous eighteen year old woman. I’m sure she could have walked into any modeling agency and she would have been signed immediately.

As soon as we saw each other, we were in each other’s arms. I’m sure we stood there in the middle of the airport hugging for five minutes. When we finally broke the hug, I introduced her to Trey, who had been standing there watching us with his hands in his pockets, grinning. She grinned at him for a second, grabbed him and pulled him into a huge hug. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to do that,” she exclaimed to him as she planted a kiss on his cheek. I had to laugh as it was obvious her natural confidence and ease with meeting new people certainly hadn’t diminished.

When her luggage arrived, I wasn’t sure we would be able to fit all of it the car. I laughed and asked her if she had left anything behind. Her response was no, she had brought everything she owned and valued. When I questioned why she needed everything, she announced that she was not here for a visit; she was, in fact, moving to Montreal. She said she hadn’t told me before because she wanted to surprise me. She had been accepted at McGill University in the fall and would be here for at least the next four years. I now had the two people who I loved most, and who loved me back, with me. Unfortunately, the other two people I loved most didn’t love me back anymore.

We spent the next several hours visiting and getting caught up with each other’s lives. There wasn’t a lot we didn’t already know from our emails and chats, but it was good to have her tell it in person and hear her voice. Thankfully, Trey and I had a two-bedroom condo, so we were able to set Kim up in the spare room. However, she insisted it would be temporary and she would be moving into one of the residences in August. She argued that she didn’t want to invade our privacy and end up being a burden. We both made it very clear that she was not going to be a burden and we didn’t think she should move into a residence. They were far too expensive and there were other things she could do with her money. After coming up with a cost-share agreement for groceries and utilities, we were finally able to convince her to stay with us while attending McGill.

Once we had her unpacked, it was time to go to Trey’s parents for dinner and the promised birthday party. Trey’s Mom met us at the door and gave Kim one of her patented hugs as she welcomed her to Montreal. She then led us into the kitchen where Trey’s brother and dad were busy working on whatever job his mom had given them. His dad stopped and wiped his hands before also giving Kim a big hug. His brother, Ryan, just stood there staring until his Mom gave him a jab. At that point, he came out of his daze, welcomed Kim and reached out to shake her hand. Of course, Kim pulled him into a hug and said, “Hi Ryan, it’s great to meet you.”

“It’s great…to meet you…too,” he stammered as his face turned very red and a silly grin appeared.

It was amusing to see him suddenly acting like a love-struck teenager. Trey nudged me and nodded towards them as he grinned. I glanced at them, turned to Trey and grinned back. Ryan was definitely a bit smitten with my sister. He was normally as casual and easy to talk to as Trey, and he had the same way of making people feel comfortable around him. However, all that seemed to have momentarily vanished as he stood grinning with his arms tentatively around Kim’s shoulders. This could become interesting.

He was also physically simply a younger version of Trey. If they had been the same age, they could have almost passed as identical twins. Thankfully, like Trey, Ryan was 6ft tall, which gave him a few inches on Kim’s rather tall 5ft 10in. He had the same black hair and gorgeous dark brown eyes. Unlike Trey, he was in his first year of Pre-med at McGill.

We had a great evening. Trey’s Mom had invited a number of our friends and Ryan’s friends to join us. The meal was amazing and as we were finishing up, she brought out a huge cake with “Happy Birthday Kim” on it. We all sang Happy Birthday and Kim cut the cake and passed it around to everyone. She looked absolutely thrilled that we had put such a great party together for her. After we were finally done eating, we all moved out to the deck to relax and visit. Both Trey and I noticed that Ryan managed to sit right next to Kim. It wasn’t long before the two of them became so involved in their conversation that they didn’t seem to notice that the rest of us were still there. When it was time for us to leave, Ryan and Kim seemed to disappear for a minute or two before they suddenly reappeared at the front door. Kim thanked everyone for such a great party, especially Trey’s mom and dad. Ryan then walked out to the car with us to say good night.

On the way back to our place I asked Kim, “So, do you think Ryan is as hot as Trey?”

“Nolan…” was the only reply I got, although she did blush a little and a big smile appeared on her face.

“Hey Trey, I think my little sister has the hots for your little brother,” I said, laughing.

“Shut up… You know, I’m starting to wonder why I ever liked you,” she responded, laughing. “You can be such an asshole, you know that?”

“What are big brothers for?” I asked, grinning, before stating, “You didn’t answer my first question yet.”

“Yes he is,” she replied. “Happy now?”

“Yeah, I think so,” I answered.

Ten minutes after we got back to the condo, the phone rang. Trey answered it and then, with a huge grin on his face, he handed the phone to Kim.

“Guess who,” he said to me, still grinning.

“What’s it been, fifteen minutes?” I asked him.

“Maybe twenty,” he replied, laughing.

We wished Kim good night, each gave her a kiss on the cheek, and left her to say good night to Ryan…again.

The next morning around 10:30, who should wander into our condo but Ryan. Since he often looked after the place when we were gone and spent half his time here anyway, we had given him a key, so it was no big surprise to have him just walk in the door.

Trey and I got a simple, “Hi.”

Kim, on the other hand got a hug and a, “So, you ready to go?”

“Where you going?” Trey asked with a grin.

“Oh, I just thought I would show Kim around the city, maybe have dinner and go to a club after,” Ryan responded with an equally big grin.

“Well have fun,” I told them.

“We will,” Kim replied as she gave us both a quick hug and they were gone.

“Well, that didn’t take long,” Trey said, laughing.

“No kidding,” I replied with a grin. “Your brother and my sister. I wasn’t quite expecting that.”

“Neither was I,” Trey answered, “but they do make a cute couple.”

“Yes they do,” I responded.

I felt totally comfortable with him dating my sister. Like Trey, Ryan was genuine, caring, and an all-round sweet guy. I would trust him without question, just as I did Trey. I knew Kim would hard-pressed find another guy like Ryan. I wouldn’t say Kim was naïve, but I think the wrong guy could easily cause her a lot of grief. That’s why I was so happy that she and Ryan had hit it off so well.

It wasn’t long before it got to the point where, if you saw Kim, you saw Ryan. They had been dating for almost six months when the two of them came into the living room and sat down opposite Trey and me. It was obvious they had something on their minds just from their expressions.

“What?” Trey finally asked.

“Well…” Ryan started, “Kim and I have been together for nearly six months now.”

“Okay?” I responded. “And?”

“We want to have a sleep-over,” Kim blurted out with a distinct look of apprehension.

“And we want to have your…I don’t know…not permission, but acceptance I guess,” Ryan stated.

“We don’t want you to feel uncomfortable and we don’t want to feel uncomfortable, I guess is what we’re saying,” Kim added. “I’m your little sister and I don’t want you freaking out on Ryan or anything.”

“You’ve been dating for six months and behaved yourselves all this time?” Trey asked.

“Yeah,” Ryan answered. “We promised each other that we wouldn’t do anything until we were sure we were forever.”

“You’re nearly nineteen and twenty. You don’t need your brothers’ okay,” Trey said.

“We know that,” Kim replied, “but we are in your home and we want things to be cool with everyone.”

“No, we are in OUR home,” I said to them, “and everything IS cool with us.”

“Just make sure I don’t get any nieces or nephews too soon. Okay?” Trey added with a grin.

“Not gonna happen,” Kim said, laughing.

A couple of hugs and kisses on the cheek and it was settled.

“We’re off to dinner and out to the club then, so we’ll see you later,” Ryan said, smiling.

“Later,” I said as they walked out the door. “Have fun.”

“Well that was interesting,” Trey said after they left.

“Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that,” I responded.

“Neither was I,” Trey said with a grin. “I assumed they were doing it months ago.”

“Yeah, me too,” I said, “but I have to admit, it’s good to know they have thought it through thoroughly instead of jumping into it recklessly.”

“That’s true,” Trey replied and then added, “Speaking of going out to dinner and then to the club…Ready, my dear?”

“Always,” I replied, giving him a quick kiss, and we were off for a night out.

Kim spent Thanksgiving with us that first year and flew home for Christmas. The next three years, however, Ryan flew home for Christmas with her. Apparently my parents fell in love with him almost immediately and he became a part of the family. Unfortunately, his brother didn’t.

Time seemed to fly by, and in no time Kim was graduating from McGill with a degree in nursing. Our parents were flying to Montreal for her Convocation Ceremonies. This was going to be interesting, since there was no way Trey and I were going to miss celebrating my favourite and only sister receiving her degree.

They arrived in Montreal on Thursday afternoon. Kim’s convocation ceremonies began on Friday at 2:00 pm. Kim and Ryan drove out to meet them at the airport and drove them to the hotel which she had booked for them. Since they wanted a hotel close to where Kim was living and she was living with us, she had booked them into a hotel in the middle of the gay village. As soon as they unloaded their bags in their room, my father began to complain that he was hungry, so Kim offered to take them to a nice restaurant for dinner. It was just a short three block walk from the hotel. Of course, the first thing my parents saw when they stepped out of the hotel were two young men walking down the street hand-in-hand. My father froze and just stared at them, then looked at Kim.

“Where have you taken us?” he asked.

“What do you mean?” Kim innocently asked.

“Those boys,” my father responded pointing. “My God, they’re holding hands.”

“Yeah?” Kim replied questioningly. “So?”

“Well, where are we?” he asked again.

“Look,” Kim responded. “You wanted a hotel near where I live right?”

“Well yes,” he replied.

“Okay, well I live with Nolan and Trey. You know that. And they live two blocks from here. This is ‘The Village.’”

“The Village?” he questioned.

“Yes,” Kim replied. “The Village. We are in the middle of Montreal’s Gay Village.”

“Oh, God…I’m sorry Kim, but we can’t stay here among THESE people,” he responded.

“Fine,” Kim answered before continuing…placing emphasis on just the right words. “But you’d better understand something, right now. I LIVE among THESE people, and a lot of THESE people are my friends. Your SON is one of THESE people. And for your information, several of THESE people will be at my convocation and at the banquet afterwards—sitting WITH us at OUR table. For crying out loud Dad, they’re no different than any one else. But if you can’t see that and don’t want to be here, then lets go back up and grab your bags. We’ll drive you back out to the airport and you can catch the next flight home.”

My father just stood there with his mouth open. It was the first time Kim had really challenged him and, considering the circumstances, all he could do was lose—lose and spend some time associating with THESE people or fly home and lose his daughter. Kim was not going to back down and he knew it.

Then, to everyone’s surprise, my mother spoke up and there was an edge to her voice that neither my father nor Kim had ever heard before.

“Okay,” she said, staring right at my father. “I’ve had enough of this. Because of you, I gave up my son. I am NOT going to give up my daughter too. If you don’t want to be here, then get a cab back to the airport and go home. Just be warned. If you do, don’t expect me home anytime soon. Now I’m going for dinner with Kim and Ryan. You do what you want.”

With that said, she grabbed Kim’s hand and started off down the street, dragging Kim and Ryan with her. They walked directly to the restaurant without looking back. Kim was still in shock when they entered and my mother asked for a table for four. She glanced at Ryan who gave her a little smile and squeezed her hand, which seemed to relax her a little bit. They were quickly seated, ordered their drinks and were pondering the menu when my father meekly approached the table. My mother glanced up at him and just patted the chair next her. He quietly sat down and when the waiter came over, ordered a drink, was handed a menu and began to read it over.

“You sure you want to eat here?” my mother asked him before adding sarcastically, “I think the waiter is one of THEM.”

“Okay,” Kim stated. “Look, you are not going to ruin this time for me. If you are going to be here, then you have to put all this foolishness aside. If you can’t be civil, then I don’t want either of you here. This is my time to celebrate what I have accomplished. It is not your time to solve your attitude problems. You can do that in the hotel room or when you get home. But not in front of me.”

“You’re right honey,” my mother responded. “I’m sorry. This is YOUR celebration.” Then she looked at my father, smiled and asked, “Isn’t that right dear?”

He looked at her for a few seconds before he finally gave her a weak smile and replied, “Yes dear.” Then he looked at Kim and said, “I’m sorry sweetie. I’m an old man, set in his ways, but I will do everything in my power to keep this a special time just for you. Your mom and I are so proud of you and I would never forgive myself if I spoiled it for you.”

“Thank you,” Kim replied. “Now, let’s order. I’m starving.”

The next hour was spent eating and chatting as if the previous half hour had never happened. There were even a few jokes and some laughter. My father became much more relaxed, but remained very conscious of the things going on around him. The restaurant wasn’t crowded, but there were several people there. Most of them were men, young and old, and obviously several were couples. My father watched them interact, laugh, joke, tease, and sometimes give a tender touch. As he watched, he slowly began to realize they weren’t behaving any differently than he and my mother did when they were dining out. He still felt uncomfortable, but he wasn’t repulsed, something which surprised him.

After they were finished dinner and left the restaurant, my mother announced that she wanted to accompany Kim and Ryan home.

“You know Nolan and Trey will be there, don’t you?” Kim asked.

“Of course,” my mother replied.

“I’ll see you back at the hotel then,” my father said. “You’re going to have to give me a little more time.”

“You have until tomorrow at 2:00,” Kim replied with a grin.

“Yes I know,” my father responded with a weak smile.

“Okay, see you back at the hotel,” my mother said to him as she gave him a peck on the cheek. That, of course, put a big smile on my father’s face as he turned and started back to the hotel.

“So you have no problem with Nolan being gay?” Kim asked my mother.

“I did at first, but over the years I began to realize it was foolish. I wanted my son back. Unfortunately, I was afraid and I didn’t know how go about it. Would he forgive me? Would he allow me back into his life? I didn’t know. So last year I joined PFLAG and started going to meetings. I learned a lot—probably nothing you didn’t already know, but for me, it was a lot,” my mother responded.

“Did Dad know?” Kim asked.

“Oh no,” my mother replied. “I love him dearly, but there was no way I wanted to listen to his constant nattering every time I went to a meeting. I could never get him to have a reasonable conversation about it. With Nolan thousands of miles away, there didn’t seem to be much point either. My only hope was that when we got here and it was right in his face, he would be forced to come around.”

“I hope so,” Kim said, “because Nolan and Trey will be at my convocation ceremony and at the banquet.”

“Whether he comes around or not, he WILL be civil,” my mother stated. “He’ll do it for you dear. There’s no doubt about that. I’m just hoping he’ll do it for Nolan.”

At this point, they were just approaching the condo complex and Kim was ready to flash her electronic key across the pad to open the door. My mother grabbed Kim’s free hand and gave it a squeeze. Kim squeezed back and gave her a smile. My mother gave a very weak smile back as they approached the elevators.

“You realize it’s been seven years?” my mother stated more than asked, as a tear rolled down her cheek. “My God, he was twenty the last time I saw him. I don’t even know what I’m going to say. If he’ll even forgive me for what I’ve done to him.”

“He’s been so excited that you were coming here and he was going to see you,” Kim responded. “He’s been like a six-year-old waiting for Christmas, desperately hoping he’ll get what he wants and scared Santa won’t bring him anything because he’s been bad. So I don’t think you have to worry about whether or not he will forgive you.”

“I hope you’re right sweetie,” my mother responded. “I hope you’re right.”

“Well, here we are,” Kim announced as they got off the elevator.

My mother, Kim and Ryan walked slowly down the hall towards our condo. Kim almost had to drag my mother along. It was obvious she was extremely nervous about seeing me again. I had been just starting my third year of university when she had last seen me, and now, seven years later, she was at my door.

“We’re home,” Kim called out as she opened the door. “Got a surprise for you.”

I glanced at Trey. He immediately picked up on my fear and gave me a quick hug and whispered, “It’s going to be fine, trust me,” followed by a kiss on the cheek.

Of course that was the exact moment Kim and my mother chose to walk into the living room. I turned and looked at my mother. I didn’t say a word, I just looked at her. This was her moment…her move.

Suddenly, she rushed across the room and I was swept up into a smothering hug and I hugged her back…half to keep from falling over and half because it was my mother. Then the full realization of how much I had missed her flooded my mind.

All I heard was a muffled, “I’m sorry baby. I’m so sorry. I love you so much,” being mumbled over and over into my shirt. After a minute or so, I could also feel my shirt beginning to get wet. It was then I realized tears were flowing down my cheeks as well. When I glanced over to Kim, Ryan and Trey, who were, at this point, holding each other in a group hug, I noticed my mother and I weren’t the only ones in tears. Smiling huge smiles, but in tears.

I think we all stood there like that for three or four minutes. Finally, Kim announced that she and Ryan were going to make some coffee and a snack. At that point, my mother pulled back a bit and just stared into my eyes before repeating, “I’m sorry baby. I’m so sorry. I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Mom,” I finally got out. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“I’m sorry baby. I’m so sorry,” she said again before I stopped her by putting a finger to her lips.

“I know you are,” I said, “but lets move on. There’s someone here you need to meet.”

At that, she pulled away from me and turned to Trey, who suddenly appeared to be just a little nervous.

“Mom, this is my partner, Trey,” I said. “My reason for living…and your son-in-law.”

Mom just looked at him for a few seconds before opening her arms and stepping forward to envelop him in a hug.

“I’m so sorry for the way we treated you both,” she said. “I know this is a little late, but welcome to the family, Trey.”

“Thank you,” Trey responded as he looked over at me and smiled.

“Coffee’s ready,” we heard from the kitchen.

I put my left hand on my mother’s shoulder to guide her towards the kitchen. I laced the fingers of my right hand through Trey’s left and we proceeded into the kitchen to see what Kim had cooked up. The next hour was like old times. It wasn’t long before my mother was behaving like her old self and we were teasing, laughing, joking and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. Every once in a while, I would see her glance at me and her eyes would get a little glassy, but she would shake it off and quickly get back into the bantering.

At one point, she looked at Trey and said, “Thank God you and Ryan weren’t both gay.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, jumping in to defend Trey.

“Well, if they were both gay, I would be spending most my time worrying about Kim and wondering who or what she was dating this week,” she laughed. “I don’t have to do that with Ryan,” she added and reached over to squeeze Ryan’s hand.

It turned out to be a great evening. About 11:30, my mother announced she should be getting back to the hotel, so Trey and I said we would walk her back. She held my right hand and Trey held my left all the way back to the hotel. When we got to the elevators, she leaned up and gave me a kiss on the cheek, turned and did the same to Trey.

“Good night boys,” she said. “See you tomorrow…love you both,” and she stepped into the elevator.

“Wow,” I said as I gave Trey a quick kiss.

“Yeah, wow,” Trey replied. “Tonight was so cool. I really like your mom. She’s sweet.”

“I know, that’s what made everything so hard,” I responded.

“Well, I think things are back to normal with your Mom,” Trey said, smiling. “And I have a good feeling about your Dad too.”

“I hope so,” I replied.

“Wanna grab a beer before we head back?” I asked.

“Sure, why not,” he replied.

Now, we need to go back a couple of hours or so. As my mother, Kim and Ryan were stepping off the elevator in my building, my father was stepping into a bar near the hotel. He was definitely feeling more than a little unsettled and figured a couple of drinks would help him relax—maybe even help him sleep through the night. He walked into the bar and sat at a table near the front windows. A young waiter quickly came over.

“Que peux-je vous obtenir monsieur?” he asked.

“Excuse me?” my father responded.

“I’m sorry sir,” the waiter replied, switching from French to English, “What can I get you sir?”

“Oh sorry,” my father said. “Scotch and soda please.”

“Right away sir,” the waiter replied.

Within two minutes, my father had his drink. He sat gazing out the window and glancing around the room. It was obviously a gay bar, of course. Nearly all of the patrons were men, most of them in their thirties and forties. Trying not to be obvious, my father watched them talk and interact. Again, as in the restaurant, they seemed to be just normal guys out for a drink, talking, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. There was no wild rampant sex breaking out in the middle of the bar. He did notice one couple exchange a quick kiss. Nothing he hadn’t done many times when out with my mother.

“You seem to be deep in thought,” a voice said.

My father quickly looked up and found himself staring into the smiling face of young man.

“May I join you? I hate drinking alone,” the young man said.

“Yes, of course,” my father replied nervously.

“Philippe,” the young man said as he reached out to shake hands.

“Ray,” my father replied as he shook Philippe’s hand.

“Don’t worry. I’m not going to attack you,” Philippe said, grinning. “You just looked like you might need to talk and I love talking.”

“This,” my father said waving his hand to include the whole room. “I want to understand, but I can’t. Why would anyone choose this?”

“You mean being gay?” Philippe asked.

“Yes,” my father answered.

“My dear man,” Philippe replied. “Whatever makes you think we chose this?”

“You didn’t?” my father questioned.

“No, not any more than we chose our eye colour, our height or our race,” replied Philippe.

“I still don’t understand,” my father repeated.

“I’m not sure anyone really understands it,” Philippe continued. “What we do know is, it is NOT a choice. We are born gay. Do you really think most of us would choose to gay…to be scorned…even hated and killed? Do you have any idea of the trauma many young men feel when they first realize they are gay? I lived in fear of being found out for five years. There were several times that I thought of suicide because I was so afraid of my family and friends finding out and disowning me. Thank God I didn’t.”

“I didn’t realize,” my father said in amazement. “I’m so sorry you went through that, but I was raised to believe it’s wrong and a sin…an abomination before God, like it says in…what is that…Leviticus.”

“So was I,” Philippe said. “But do you know what? Jesus himself never once condemned homosexuality. However, He did often condemn the Pharisees for trying to force people to abide by Old Testament laws. Laws that were outdated, even then.”

“I didn’t know that,” my father said.

“Have you ever read Leviticus?” Philippe asked.

“No,” my father said.

“You should,” Philippe responded, “and make a list of all the things that are condemned in Leviticus that you, or people you know, consider perfectly acceptable and do without thinking. I think you will be very surprised.”

“You said you thought about suicide,” my father stated. “When did you finally come to terms with being homosexual and decide you were okay that way?”

“I’m twenty seven right now, so about eight years ago,” Philippe answered. “Why?”

“My son is twenty seven,” my father responded with a slightly glazed look in his eyes.

“And he’s gay?” Philippe asked.

“Yes,” my father answered.

“And you couldn’t accept him ‘that way’?” Philippe asked.

“No,” my father answered. “But today, several things have happened, and now, talking to you, I’m not sure. However, I am beginning to realize what I must have put him through.”

“When did you see him last?” Philippe asked. “He is still with us, is he not? Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked you that.”

“Yes, he’s fine. He’s living here in Montreal with his spouse or whatever you call it,” my father responded. “I last saw him about seven years ago when he left for his third year of university.”

“Are you here to see him?” Philippe asked.

“My wife and I are here for my daughter’s graduation from McGill. He’ll be at her Convocation ceremony, so I will be seeing him, yes,” my father said.

“How do you feel about that?” Philippe asked.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” my father said. “But, you know, I think it’s going to be okay.”

“Well, you talked to me and didn’t turn to stone,” Philippe said, laughing. “So I think you’re right…you’re going to do fine.”

Their conversation turned to more mundane, everyday stuff. My father ordered another drink and he and Philippe visited for another hour before a couple of guys, maybe in their mid-twenties, asked if they could join them. It was then that my father realized the bar was now packed.

“I was just going to leave,” he said. “So go ahead, if that’s okay with Philippe.”

“No problem,” Philippe said. “Chris and Jean are friends of mine.”

“Stay and have one more drink,” Chris asked my father. “On me.”

“Well I’ve never turned down a free drink, so why start now?” my father said, smiling.

Chris waived to the waiter and signaled drinks all around. He smiled and started to get their order together.

“I take it you’re regulars here?” my father questioned.

“Why do you ask that?” Chris asked.

“He didn’t have to ask what you were drinking,” my father replied.

Jean laughed. “Yes, we are regulars. Rene knows us well.”

“Since you obviously don’t speak French, I’m guessing you’re not from Montreal, so what brings you to our fair city?” Chris asked.

“My daughter is graduating from McGill,” my father answered proudly.

“Congratulations,” Chris said. “You must be proud.”

“Yes, very,” my father replied.

“He’s also here to visit his son,” Philippe announced.

“Oh,” Chris responded, smiling.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume, even thought you’re in a gay bar, you have a son and a daughter so you’re not gay,” Jean said, jumping into the conversation.

“No, definitely not,” my father answered.

“But you are staying in the Village,” Chris responded. “So…either your daughter is or your son is or you had no idea the hotel you chose was in the Village.”

There was a slight pause before my father answered, “My son is and my daughter has been living with him. Not far from here actually.”

“Maybe we know him,” Jean said with a little excitement in his voice. “What’s his name?”

“Nolan, Nolan Carlson…I mean Nolan Léglise,” my father replied.

“Nolan!” Jean exclaimed. “Oh my god, we’ve known him for years…Nolan and Trey, right?”

“Yes,” my father replied.

“You must be so proud of him,” Jean stated. “Nolan is one of the most caring, generous and genuine people I know. Did you know that last year he and Trey donated twenty thousand dollars to the Step Foundation?”

“No I didn’t,” my father said, before asking, “What does the foundation do?”

“It works to help gay kids who have been disowned by their families, often to help them to get off the street, find a home, and get back in school. They also have a suicide crisis line for kids,” Chris replied.

“I don’t know how parents can do that to their kids,” Jean added. “It’s not like they choose to be gay. So you fall in love with a man instead of a woman. What’s the big deal?”

“It shouldn’t matter, unfortunately too often it does,” Philippe said as he looked over at my father and smiled.

My father smiled back and shrugged. Then, as he finished his drink, he glanced at his watch, and noticing it was almost midnight, he bid them a good night and got up to leave for the hotel, but not before thanking Philippe for his help and insight.

As Trey and I were crossing the street to the bar, I saw him walk out. We were no more than fifteen feet away from him. He didn’t notice us, as he immediately turned and started to walk towards the hotel.

“That’s my father,” I said.

“Seriously?” Trey asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“You want to talk to him?” Trey asked.

“No, not right now. I’ve had enough excitement for one night.” I replied, laughing.

“Well he knows how to pick a good bar,” Trey said with a chuckle.

As soon as we walked in the door, we were met by Jean’s frantic waving from a table near the front. We walked over to join them, but before we could even say hi, Jean asked, “Guess who we just had a drink with.”

“Who?” I asked.

“Your father,” he announced with more enthusiasm than I think was necessary…but that was just Jean.

“Actually, he and I visited for a couple of hours,” Philippe said.

“Oh really,” I said. “That must have been interesting.”

“Actually it was,” Philippe replied. “We had a very revealing and meaningful discussion…although I didn’t know he was your father at the time. It took Chris and Jean to find that out.”

“So, he opened up to you?” I asked.

“Yeah, he did. He had a lot of questions and a lot of regrets,” Philippe responded, then smiling, he added, “I think you’ll find a lot has changed and tomorrow is going to be a very good day for you.”

“If my father would walk into a gay bar, sit, visit, and have drinks with you three, something has to have changed,” I said, smiling.

Before we even sat down, Rene was there with our beers and another round for the boys at the table. We spent about forty-five minutes visiting before we decided to call it a night. It had been a stressful afternoon and evening, but a good one, and both Trey and I were getting tired. We said good-night to the boys and headed home. I was feeling noticeably more at ease and relaxed.

“Not so worried about tomorrow?” Trey asked as he took my hand.

“No,” I replied, giving his hand a squeeze. “I’m actually looking forward to it now.”

“That’s good,” he said, squeezing back. Then he smiled, leaned over, kissed my cheek and whispered, “You see, things do work out…sometimes.”

A very special thanks to Azy for his time and hard work editing this story for me.