Until HE Showed Up

By Grant Bentley

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

My name is Chad Emerson. I am a seventeen-year-old senior at Central Memorial High School in Strathaven, Alberta. I came to the realization that I am gay four years ago, when I was thirteen. It terrified me. I had heard so many horror stories about kids losing their families, their friends—everything—because they were gay.

I read about Matthew Shepard and Larry King. I cried the whole time I was reading their stories and for a long time afterwards. I couldn’t comprehend how people could treat another person with such cruelty and hatred. How could they kill someone for something as insignificant as their sexual orientation? Unfortunately, their stories reinforced my fear and confirmed my belief that coming out would be far too dangerous. I decided then that under no circumstances would I come out—ever.

I was careful to never look at any guy for too long. In the locker room and showers, I kept my eyes focussed on the floor at all times. I might glance up at someone if they spoke to me, but it was only for a second or two at the most. I had it under control and everything was going to plan—until HE showed up. There were any number of guys at school that were the focus of my fantasies—at home, in my room, with the door locked. At school, I was able focus my attention away from them. But him…I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I tried…oh my God, I tried.

He had long, dark blond hair which cascaded down the side of his face and across his forehead, emerald green eyes set off by his perfectly-shaped dark eyebrows and a small, perfect nose. He was tall, at least six feet two inches, and very slim. That first day, he was wearing black fitted jeans and a plain white shirt with the top three buttons open. It wasn’t just his appearance that attracted me, though. There was something else. I don’t know what it was, but there was some quality about him—his confidence, his grin. Definitely his grin. It lit up his whole face and seeing it, you couldn’t help but grin back.

Mr. Ross asked him to introduce himself and all he gave us was his name: Josh Smith. When Mr. Ross asked him to tell us a little about himself, like where he was from and what his interests were, he simply said that if anyone felt they needed to know, they could to ask him, and if he felt they should know, he would tell them. Otherwise, it was none of their business. I don’t think Mr. Ross had had anyone respond quite like that before as he looked a little shocked for a second, but then he smiled and showed Josh where to sit.

When the class was dismissed, it seemed as though every girl in the room was all over him. As I walked past him, he looked over at me, shrugged his shoulders and grinned. I just shrugged and grinned back. All morning, every time I saw him in the halls, he would give me that big grin. At lunch, I was sitting by myself in the cafeteria when a voice behind me asked, “May I join you?”

I turned to see Josh standing there with his trademark grin.

“Absolutely,” I replied.

“Thanks,” he said as he pulled up a chair and sat down.

We sat, ate and chatted for the entire lunch period. I was careful not to appear to be prying into his past or trying to invade his privacy, so I kept to safe topics anyone could have discussed. Josh turned out to be one of the most intelligent and funny guys I had ever met. That lunch period was one of the most enjoyable hours I’d spent in a very long time. At the end of lunch, he headed for his English class while I headed for my Chemistry class. I didn’t see him again until after school. When I did, he was getting into Greg West’s truck and his grin was noticeably missing. Greg West is the loudest, most stupid, bigoted redneck drunk in the county—and that’s being generous. I couldn’t help but wonder why Josh was being picked up from school by him.

I didn’t have to wait very long to find out. Since I lived half a block away from Greg West, on my way home I usually walked down the alley behind his house. As I was walking by, I heard yelling coming from his house. It was Greg. What he was yelling blew me away.

“Listen, you useless little faggot. You’re here for one reason and one reason only: your mother won’t have a faggot for a son and it’s my job to see to it you become the man God intended you to be. Why the Hell you would choose to become a faggot, I don’t know. It disgusts me. So you listen and you listen good. We can do this the easy way or the hard way, but one way or another you are going to change your mind and choose the right path: God’s path,” he yelled.

“I didn’t choose to be gay,” Josh yelled back. “It’s just the way it is.”

“No it isn’t,” Greg yelled. “Satan is in you, boy. He has a hold on you and I’m going to deliver you from him if I have to beat him out of you.”

They were standing in the kitchen, next to the patio doors which were open. I glanced towards the house just as Josh glanced towards the alley. He saw me and our eyes locked for a few seconds before he turned and ran farther into the house. I ran as well, all the way home, into the house and into my room where I threw myself onto my bed and burst into tears. It was partly for Josh and what he was going through, but partly for me as well; Greg had just reinforced all my worst fears.

I stayed in my room until my Mom called me down for dinner. As soon as she saw me, she knew something was wrong. When she tried to get me to tell her, I lost it and broke down in tears. I was in her arms instantly and she just held me until I calmed down. She asked me if something had happened at school and I shook my head.

“Well something has you more upset than I think I have ever seen you,” she said. “You can talk to me, son. I might understand more than you give me credit for.”

We sat for several more minutes. I was trying to decide if I should tell her what I had heard or not. Then I thought about Josh’s safety. Greg was a very big man and he wouldn’t hesitate to beat Josh to a pulp to ‘straighten him out’. When I thought about that, I decided to tell Mom everything I had heard. By the time I was finished, she had tears running down her face.

“We can’t leave him there,” she stated emphatically. “We have to find a way to get him out of there.”

“You don’t care that he’s gay?” I asked.

“Of course not,” Mom replied. “It’s just the way he is. What I care about is what Greg is liable to do to him. That man is pure evil.”

Just then, we heard sirens. Mom and I ran out into the front yard as a police car screeched to a stop in front of Greg’s house. I guessed that with all the yelling and noise, one of the neighbours had phoned the police. Mom ran back to our house and I ran down the street to Greg’s house, where there was more yelling. I heard Greg tell the police officer to get the hell out of his house and mind his own business. There was a loud crash, as though someone had thrown something big or knocked over a china cabinet or something. Then there was a single gun shot. Mom had just got to where I was standing and she and I immediately hid behind a truck parked on the street. A minute or so later, Greg was led out of the house. He was bleeding from his left arm, so it was obvious the officer had shot him in the arm. Just then, another police car pulled up with two officers in it. Then an ambulance pulled up. Greg was loaded into the ambulance and one of the police officers got into the ambulance with him.

There was still no sign of Josh. The first officer went back into the house. The second officer saw Mom and me and came over to talk to us. He asked us a few questions and I told him what I had heard. I also told him I was Josh’s friend and asked if there was anything I could do to help Josh. He asked us to wait for a few minutes to talk to the other officer and went into the house. A minute later, he came back out, told us the other officer would be out in a few minutes and began interviewing the other people standing around.

After about ten minutes, the other officer came out of the house and spoke to the officer who had talked to us, who pointed towards Mom and me. He came over and asked if we would follow him. He led us into the house. I could hardly believe what I saw. The place was trashed. Josh was sitting on the sofa, his knees pulled up, his arms wrapped around his legs and his head resting on his knees. When he looked up at us, I almost broke down. His face was a mess. He had a black eye and it was already swelling shut. As well as that, his other eye was puffy and red from crying, there were tear streaks down both cheeks and his lip was bleeding and swollen.

He just stared at us for a few seconds before breaking into tears again. Mom was all over him in a second. She sat down beside him and wrapped him in her arms; he immediately leaned into her and began sobbing. Mom just held him, rocked him a little and told him he was safe and everything would be okay. I just stood there for a several minutes and then walked over and sat down on the other side of him. After about five minutes, he calmed down, lifted his head and turned to me. He knew I knew about him and I wanted to show him I was okay with it, so I smiled, put my arm across his shoulders and gave him a squeeze. He gave me a very weak smile back, but it was a smile.

During this time, the officer just stood back and watched us. When everything seemed to be as calm as it was going to get, he told us he was going to take Josh to the hospital to be checked out. He asked my Mom if we would be willing to follow them and be with Josh at the hospital. My Mom replied that we would be more than willing. We spent the next two hours in the hospital. Josh seemed to have got himself together and was quite calm as the doctor checked him out. Mom and I were amazed at the number of bruises he had all over his upper body, not just his face. After the doctor was finished, a social worker came into the room. She spoke to the police officer for a few minutes, then quietly to Josh and then asked my Mom if she could talk to her. The two of them left, leaving Josh and me alone.

“So, you’re okay with me?” Josh asked nervously.

“Yeah, I’m okay with you,” I replied with a smile.

He just smiled at me and said, “Thanks.”

My Mom and the social worker came back just at that moment. My Mom looked at Josh, smiled and asked, “How would you like to stay with us for a while?”

“You know about me, don’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, I know about you,” my Mom replied with a smile, “and it’s not an issue. We would love to have you stay with us.”

“So would I, thank you,” Josh stated, smiling.

The doctor came back a few minutes later and told us we were free to go. He gave Josh some pain killers in case he needed them and we left the hospital. When we got home, Dad was there. Mom had left him a note with a brief explanation of what was going on. We introduced him to Josh and when Josh reached out to shake my dad’s hand, I think he was more than a little shocked when my dad gave him a hug instead. When Dad stepped back, Josh looked at me and there was that trademark grin I had already grown to love. Mom and Dad got busy reheating everything Mom had prepared for dinner and soon we were all sitting at the table eating. We explained everything that had gone on that evening to Dad. When we got to the part about why Josh was sent to Greg’s, the fear Josh felt was obvious, but when my Dad assured him that it was a non-issue as far as he was concerned, the relief he felt was just as obvious. My parents’ reaction to Josh also gave me a sense of relief. Maybe they would be okay with me, too.

By the time we finished eating, it was already ten o’clock and I was feeling pretty tired. Josh must have felt exhausted after all he had been through, too. I told Mom and Dad I was tired and going to bed. Mom asked me if I would mind sharing with Josh tonight as the spare room was full of junk and wasn’t set up. I glanced at Josh and could see the apprehension in his eyes. I grinned at him and told Mom that I would like that. Josh gave me that grin again. On the way to my room, he thanked me and explained that he really didn’t want to be alone for the night.

When we got to my room, I flopped down on my bed and asked Josh if he wanted to shower before going to bed. He replied that he did as he still had some dried blood on him. I showed him to the bathroom, found a new toothbrush for him and left him to it. When he came back, he just had a towel around his waist.

“Do you want pyjamas or boxers?” I asked him.

“Boxers please,” he replied. “That is, if you don’t mind,” he quickly added.

“Not at all,” I responded. “That’s what I’m wearing.”

I showed him which drawer they were in and went to have a quick shower and brush my teeth. When I got back, Josh was sitting on the side of my bed.

“Why didn’t you just crawl into bed?” I asked.

“I didn’t know which side you preferred, so I waited for you,” he answered.

“I usually sleep on the left,” I told him.

He nodded and got into the right side. I dropped my towel, pulled on a pair of boxers, flicked off the light and climbed into the bed.

“Can I ask you something?” Josh whispered after about five minutes.

“Yeah, sure,” I answered.

“What do you think is going to happen when I get back to school?”

“What do you mean?”

“Everyone’s going to know about me after what happened at Uncle Greg’s. He wasn’t exactly being quiet about it,” he replied.

“Yeah, he pretty much told the whole neighbourhood. So are you scared the other kids are going to be on your case about it?” I asked.

“Yeah, real scared. I’m not exactly built for fighting,” he responded.

“I don’t know how the other kids will react. I haven’t really heard anyone say anything one way or the other about gays. But then, we’ve never had someone we knew was gay in the school before, or at least no one I knew about,” I told him.

“Whatever happens, I guess it couldn’t be worse than dealing with my mom or Uncle Greg,” he said.

“It was pretty bad with your mom, huh?” I asked.

“Oh yeah, she freaked on me. She yelled and screamed and told me I was going to Hell. She even said she would rather see me dead than gay. Then she phoned Uncle Greg and I was on my way here two hours later,” he said.

“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I was scared my parents would be like that, too,” I said, then quickly added, “When they found out about you, I mean,” when I realized what I had said.

“Right,” he responded with a smile.

“I’m so tired, I’m about to pass out here,” I said, hoping to get out of the hole I had started digging for myself. “Let’s get some sleep and see what tomorrow brings.”

“Yeah…good night, Chad,” he replied, “and thanks for being here for me. I really need a friend right now.”

“Good night, Josh,” I said, “and you’re welcome. I just hope I can help if anything goes wrong tomorrow. I’m not exactly built for fighting either.”

“Just knowing you’re going to be there for me really helps,” he said. “At least I know I won’t be alone.

“Right,” I said as I wondered what might happen, and if I had the nerve to stand by him if things got rough. I think for the first time since I was little, I actually prayed. I prayed and asked God for the strength and the courage to stand by Josh if he needed me tomorrow.

The next morning came way too early. It didn’t seem like I had slept at all when my alarm went off. I reached over and hit the snooze button, laid back and closed my eyes again. ‘Ten more minutes—please, that’s all I ask.’ There was a sudden bang on my door as my Dad shouted, “Let’s go, boys, up and at ‘em.”

“Thanks Dad,” I shouted back as I heard him laughing as he walked away.

The alarm didn’t wake Josh up, but the bang on the door did as he suddenly sat up in the bed and started to look around the room with terror in his eyes. I reached up and touched his back, saying, “It’s okay, you’re safe here.” He jerked away from my hand and turned to look at me. His expression changed from one of terror to that beautiful big grin in two seconds as he realised he was safe.

“Sorry,” he said, “I didn’t know where I was for a second there.”

“No problem,” I told him. “You’ve been through a lot these past few days, so I understand.”

“Thanks,” he said, still grinning at me.

“You want to shower first or should I?” I asked him.

“You go ahead,” he replied.

Just then, my Mom knocked on the door. After I told her to come in, she entered with all of Josh’s clothes from his Uncle’s.

“Thought you might need something clean to wear,” she said to him.

“Yeah, thanks,” he responded. “You didn’t have to go to all that trouble.”

“I didn’t,” Mom replied. “The social worker dropped them off last night, but you two were sleeping by then.”

“Thanks anyway,” he said with a big smile.

Half an hour later, we were sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast. It was obvious that Josh was feeling very nervous about going to school. In fact, he was actually shaking. Dad looked across the table at him and smiled. He told us to call him on his cell if anything happened at school and he would be there right away. Since my Dad’s office was across the street from the school, we knew he would be there within minutes.

Just as we were finishing breakfast, the doorbell rang. Dad got up to answer it and came into the kitchen with Dave Wilson and Ron Milbak right behind him. Dave was on the school football team and Ron was on the wrestling and rugby teams. As well, both of them played hockey and were definitely two of the most popular and respected guys in school. They weren’t dumb jocks either as they were both on the school’s honour roll.

“Hi,” I said, sounding puzzled.

“Hi,” Dave answered, before looking at Josh and saying, “We saw what went down last night and thought maybe you would like some company at school today.”

Josh just stared at them for a few seconds before replying, “Yeah, that would be great. I think I might need all the friends I can get right about now.”

“I don’t think you’re going to have any trouble, but there are a couple of guys who might need to know you aren’t alone,” Ron said. “Once they know you have friends, they’ll leave you alone.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Josh said as his eyes filled with tears. “Thanks.”

“By the way, I’m Dave Wilson and this is Ron Milbak,” Dave added.

“Hi, I’m really pleased to meet you,” Josh said, smiling. “I’m Josh Smith.”

“Yeah we know,” Ron said. “We’re in your math class. Loved the way you told Mr. Ross to mind his own business.”

“Thanks,” Josh responded. “I couldn’t exactly tell everyone why I’m here.”

“That’s true,” Dave said with a grin. “We’d better get going or we’re going to be late.”

Josh and I grabbed our backpacks and the four of us left for school. As we got to the front gates, it was obvious everyone knew what had gone on last night; that’s one of the benefits of living in a small town. As we walked up to the school, we could almost feel everyone’s eyes on us. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to have Dave and Ron walking with us. We had two of the school’s most elite students talking to us, laughing and joking. It was better than having bodyguards. I had kids who had spoken maybe all of ten words to me in the last six years saying ‘Hi’ to me. Josh had kids he couldn’t even remember seeing before talk to him.

After our entrance, the whole morning went without incident. At lunch, Josh and I sat at the same table we were at the day before. Just as we were about to start eating, Dave and Ron came over and asked if they could join us. Of course, we said yes. Within three minutes, we had four more rugby players and three football players sitting with us. I knew them all, but Josh didn’t, so Dave introduced him to all of the guys. I took a second to look up towards heaven and whisper, ‘Thank you’. Things couldn’t have worked out better for Josh. With nine of the most popular guys in the school sitting with us for lunch, I knew nobody would have the nerve to even say anything negative to Josh, let alone threaten him or rough him up.

When we got home from school that first day after the ‘Greg incident’, Mom and Dad were there to greet us. Of course, they wanted to know how our day went. When we told them how all the most popular jocks had come over and sat with us at lunch, I think we shocked them both. My dad, especially, seemed surprised. As he said to us, the jocks are often the ones most careful to distance themselves from anyone even thought to be gay. He said he was definitely impressed and was convinced that Dave and Ron were instrumental in getting the others to sit with us. We had to agree with him on that one.

Just as we finished dinner, my cell phone rang. When I answered it, it was Dave. He wondered what we were doing and asked if we wanted to come over to his place and play some pool. I told him of course, we would love to. I told Dad where we were going and he just said to be home by eleven as there was school tomorrow. We got to Dave’s about five minutes later. He invited us in and led us down to the basement. Jamie and Aaron were already there. We set up three against three. Josh was on Jamie and Aaron’s team and I was on Dave and Ron’s. We played about four games before we decided to take a break. It was a blast. I hadn’t had so much fun in years. Dave went to the bar which they had set up in the corner of the basement and grabbed six Pepsis and we all sat back to relax. The first thing I noticed was that when Jamie sat on the sofa, Aaron laid down with his head on Jamie’s lap. Not only that, but Jamie began playing with Aaron’s hair and tracing his fingers around his ear. They were also looking into each others eyes and smiling.

I must have stared too long or looked a little too shocked, because Dave smiled at me and asked, “Surprised?”

“Yeah,” I managed to choke out.

“You had no idea?” Ron asked, grinning.

“No,” I replied before asking, “Does anyone else know?”

“Yeah, all our team-mates and friends know,” Dave answered, “and our parents and families.”

All this time, Josh just sat there grinning. Finally he looked at me and said, “I think you need to get your gaydar checked out.”

“What?” I asked.

“You need to get you’re gaydar checked out,” he repeated.

“I’m not…” I managed to squeak before I broke down and started to cry.

Josh immediately slid over and wrapped his arm around me. I just leaned into him and continued to cry for several minutes. Finally, I was able to stop crying and look up. By this time, all five of them had me surrounded.

“You knew?” I croaked out.

“We had a pretty good idea,” Ron replied.

“How?” I asked as my voice started to return.

“It’s just a feeling,” he said, “like a sixth sense I guess. When you spend time with someone, you pick up on little things no one else would notice. I know with you, there were a few things. One of them was the way you look at Josh and the way your eyes kinda sparkle when he gives you that grin of his. Just little things like that.”

I just stared at him and I think I turned ghostly white.

“Oh God,” I sighed.

“Don’t worry,” Dave said. “You have to know what you’re looking for to notice. It’s not like the average person would have a clue. And nothing leaves this basement unless you say so. We won’t say anything to out you. We promise. Okay?”

“Yeah, thanks,” I said.

“So you are?” Josh asked.

I looked at him. “Yeah I are,” I said, smiling.

“There is a God,” he whispered and he gave me that grin.

“Ever since I figured it out, I’ve been so scared,” I said. “All the stories you read about kids being disowned by their parents, Matthew Shepard, and Larry King.”

“Those things do happen and they’ve scared the Hell out of all of us at one time or another,” Jamie said, “but sometimes being true to yourself is more important. There are all kinds of dangers: muggers, rapists, murderers who will attack you whether you’re gay or straight. We can’t spend our lives living in fear. We need to be who we are and live the lives we were meant to live. We’re gay. We were created that way. We shouldn’t be ashamed of it or live in fear of it.”

“Wow,” I said.

“Yeah, wow,” Aaron said as he grinned and gave Jamie a quick kiss.

Everyone moved back to where they had been sitting before. Dave and Ron were sitting a lot closer together. So were Josh and I, for that matter. We talked for almost an hour. We talked about a lot of things, but mostly about being gay, coming out, how others relate to you, how you might lose some ‘friends’ and gain new ones, and how they were convinced that my parents already knew and would be fine with it. The one big thing they did tell me was to come out at my own pace; not to feel pressured and not to do anything until I felt I was comfortable with it.

It was then that we noticed it was already ten to eleven. I thanked them and got a quick hug from each of them before Josh and I ran out the door and all the way home. I was one minute to eleven when we walked in the door, both of us panting like we had just run a marathon. Mom and Dad were still up and watching some sci-fi show on TV. Dad laughed and told us we didn’t have to sprint home to be on time. They knew where we were and a few minutes one way or the other wasn’t that big a deal. We both thanked him. After we each gave them a hug and said good night, we headed for my bedroom. Josh showered and got ready first, then I followed suit. When I got back to my room, he was already in bed. I quickly slipped on some clean boxers, turned off the light and crawled in beside him.

“Chad,” Josh whispered.

“Yeah,” I whispered back.

“Do you like me?” he asked.

“I just spent more than an hour cuddled up with you at Dave’s,” I replied. “Yeah I like you. In fact, I like you a lot.”

“I’ve liked you since the first time I saw you in math class,” he responded.

“I kinda figured that,” I said, smiling. “I’ve liked you since the first time you grinned at me.”

With that, he rolled over so he was half on top of me. “Can I kiss you?” he asked.

I answered him by placing my hand behind his head and pulling him down until our lips met. It was my first kiss—it was with another guy—and if there had been any doubt at all about being gay, it was gone now. I was definitely gay.

It was incredible. The emotions that enveloped me at that moment were so intense. If that was what love felt like—I was in love. If that was what lust felt like—it would soon become love. After we broke the kiss, Josh cuddled up to me, nibbled on my ear for a few seconds before whispering, ”I’m falling in love with you, Chad Emerson.”

“I’m falling in love with you too, Josh Smith,” I whispered back.

We woke up the next morning in the ame position. We got ready for school, ate our breakfast and met Dave and Ron out front to walk to school. This time there were no whispers, and nobody was staring. Instead, we were greeted with a wave, or a hi, or a smile. It was great. All of a sudden, I was a somebody—just because I was walking with Dave and Ron. So was Josh. The politics of high school aren’t much different from the politics of regular life, I thought—it’s not who you are, it’s who you know. I have to admit, though, I enjoyed the new attention and status. We ate lunch with the same guys and had a great time. Josh was on a roll with his stories and had everyone laughing for most of the lunch break.

Not only did they sit with us again that day, but for the rest of the semester we all ate together. To our credit, both Josh and I have a great sense of humour and Josh never seemed to run out of jokes or stories, so other than the fact that we were about as close to being jocks as the little red hen, we seemed to fit right in. We soon had to put two tables together, though, to make room for their girlfriends. As it turned out, they were just as friendly and just as much fun as the guys.

When we got home, we went straight to my room and got our homework done. We did manage to squeeze in a little cuddling and kissing, however. Mom called us for dinner so we washed up and headed for the kitchen. While we were sitting at the table eating dinner, Mom looked at Josh and announced that they had finally got his room ready for him.

“Aww, Mom,” I whined. “Josh doesn’t need his own room. I don’t mind sharing.”

“I’m sure you don’t,” Dad said, “but we wouldn’t let you share your room and your bed with your girlfriend, so what makes you think we would allow you to share your room and your bed with your boyfriend?”

After I finished choking on the piece of steak I inhaled and Josh recovered from finding a way to make milk come out of his nose, we both just sat there staring back and forth between them. They just sat there with a smug look on their faces, looking like they had just uncovered the secret of eternal life.

“So we’re right,” Dad said with a big grin.

When I could finally speak, all I could think of to say was, “You knew?”

“For a long time,” my Dad said, then grinning, he added, “Oh, you mean about you and Josh?”

“Is there anybody who hasn’t figured it out?” I asked, sounding frustrated.

“Don’t worry, only the people close to you would notice the signs,” Mom answered. “And even then, only if they were paying attention.”

“So, you don’t care that I’m gay?” I asked as my eyes began to tear up.

“The only thing we care about is you…and your happiness,” Mom responded as she got up, came over and gave he a hug.

“If we’re concerned about anything, it’s the fact that you may face a few more hurdles in life than you would if you were straight, that’s all. Whether you are gay or straight is not an issue with you any more than it was with Josh,” Dad said.

“Thank you,” I said through my tears. “That’s why I love you guys so much.”

“We love you too,” Mom said as her eyes began to fill with tears too.

“Now that’s settled, let’s finish dinner,” Dad said with a grin.

As we were clearing up after dinner, Dad looked at me and said, “By the way, you can tell Dave and Ron that they can be themselves when they’re over here.”

“Okay, I’m not even going to ask about that one,” I said, grinning.

“That one was easy,” Dad said, laughing. “I’ve been working with Dave’s Dad for ten years. When Dave came out to him last year, he had a hard time with it and needed someone to talk to. He picked me. Then when Dave and Ron came over to walk you and Josh to school after Josh was outed, I just put one and one together and got a couple.”

“Wow, I must have inherited my brains from you, Dad,” I said, laughing. As a sopping wet dish cloth flew about a foot over my head, I added, “And my athletic ability from you, Mom.”

I saw her scoop up a cupful of water so I decided a quick retreat was in order in case Mom’s aim improved. I turned and ran for my room with Josh right behind me. As soon as my door closed, I was in Josh’s arms. I immediately wrapped my arms around him and we just stood there for a minute, staring into each other’s eyes before I leaned in for one of his mind-blowing kisses.

When we finally broke the kiss, he said, “God, I wish they hadn’t figured us out. Now we have to sleep in different rooms.”

“Yeah, me too,” I responded, “but it was only a matter of time. Look how quickly the guys figured us out. I guess when you’re in love it’s hard not to show it.”

“You’re right, but it still sucks,” he said. “Falling asleep in your arms has been so cool.”

“I know, it’s been awesome,” I said. “At least we’re together most of the time. I mean, living in the same house is pretty cool. The other guys don’t have that, so I think we’re luckier that most. Besides, in a few months we’ll be finished high school and when we get to college, we’ll make sure we’re roommates.”

“Yeah, I can’t wait,” Josh responded with a grin.

I backed up to the side of my bed and lay down across it, pulling Josh down with me. Our lips met again and our tongues battled back and forth for a while. Then Josh raised up and looked me in the eyes.

“I never thought I would ever feel like this,” he said. “The way my life was going, I didn’t think I would ever meet someone like you; someone who could make me feel special just by looking at me. You have no idea how much you mean to me. I love you so much it almost hurts.”

“I feel the same way,” I said. “Not that things were rough for me, just that I was so scared of being gay. I never dreamed a guy could simply grin at me and make me melt. You do that to me, you know. I love you so much, too.”

His lips met mine again and we spent the next hour just cuddled up, making out, and simply enjoying the fact that we could be together, that we were loved and accepted by our friends and at least by my parents.

Josh never did see or speak to his mother again. His uncle was sentenced to five years for assault, causing bodily harm and assaulting a police officer. Normally he would have received two years, but it was dealt with as a hate crime and, since he showed no remorse, the judge felt he was likely to re-offend and gave him the maximum sentence he could.

We did both go the same college and we were roommates—although we considered ourselves life-mates, not just roommates. Jamie and Aaron were also at the college with us. Dave won an athletic scholarship to another college so he and Ron were there. We still saw them quite regularly though, as both colleges were in Calgary.

Josh studied graphic arts and photography. I studied business and computer programming. We were both out from day one and became very active in the college’s Gay-Straight Alliance. In fact, I got talked into running for president, and, as unbelievable as it may seem, I won the election. I was interviewed by the college radio station and featured in a local television news story, explaining the function of the GSA in both cases. When a young man was threatened and called a fag by a college professor, I was on the radio and the news again, this time including a brief interview on network news. Needless to say, he lost his job, but not until the GSA threatened to take both the professor and the college to court and it hit the media.

Towards the end of the semester, Josh and I were lying down in our room one evening, cuddled up and reminiscing about high school and how we got together. When I mentioned how, in high school, I was convinced I would never have the courage to come out, he laughed and reminded me that, not only was I out, but I was out on local and network television.

I smiled before I leaned up and kissed him. Then, laughing, I reminded him how much simpler my life had been until HE showed up.

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