Sophomore Year

Chapter One

By Grant Bentley

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

My name is Steven and I was what people referred to as a late bloomer. Starting high school looking like a five foot nothing twelve year old isn’t something I would wish on anyone. Fortunately, I had a tight group of friends who overlooked my hormonal deficiencies and stuck by me. Most importantly, I had a best friend, Jeff, who looked after me, protected me, and made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. He has been my best friend since before we could walk and he will still be my best friend when we both need walkers.

It wasn't until about the middle of my freshman year that, almost overnight, my hormones kicked in. In just a few months, I grew hair where I was supposed to and shot up more than eight inches in height. Although I was ecstatic about my new body, the sudden changes weren’t without consequences. I was able to trip over my own feet without trying, regularly miss my mouth trying to drink, and poke myself in the eye trying to scratch my ear with a pencil; hell I could even fall UP stairs. On the upside, I didn’t break any bones, lose an eye, or burst an eardrum. However, I do have one or two minor scars.

I did have one other issue that came with the late bloomer phenomenon. That was figuring out what turned me on. Most of my friends were flipping out about girls. It was all they talked about. Every lunch break was the same. She’s hot. God, get a load of her boobs, I wouldn’t mind burying my face in those. I agreed and laughed at all the appropriate times, but I had no idea what they were talking about. Burying your face in some girl’s boobs would only make it hard to breathe. I mean, like, that’s just gotta be fun, right?

Then, in my sophomore year, towards the end of my growth spurt, they built new showers and change rooms for the east gym. Changing and showering after gym class became mandatory and my life suddenly took on a whole new perspective. I began to understand what the guys were feeling. Only, it had nothing to do with girls. I decided within the first week that I wanted to spend the rest of my life looking at other guys naked. As far as I was concerned, I had just discovered the ultimate spectator sport…showering after gym class.

I didn’t figure out the true significance of it immediately. It’s not that I didn’t know what gay was, nor was it that I didn’t find myself looking at guys instead of girls, it’s just that I didn’t put two and two together and get four. When I finally did figure it out, I wasn’t the slightest bit upset either. In fact, I was quite pleased with myself. I always saw things differently than the other guys did, and now I knew why. I was homosexual, queer, gay, or whatever term you want to use. Now, you can call me naïve or stupid if you want, but it never occurred to me to be afraid or to hide it. My only thought was, ‘I’m gay!!’

Fortunately, or unfortunately, and all my friends will back me up on this, I tend to be just a little on the spontaneous side. Do it and the consequences will follow…later. This situation proved to be no exception, and the day I came to the full undeniable realization that I was gay was the day I decided to come out…to anyone and everyone. My first chance to do so was at breakfast the next morning when I proudly announced to my dad that I was gay. In hindsight, if I had it to do over again, I would have made sure he did not have a mouthful of coffee, I was not sitting beside him, and I was not wearing a white t-shirt. Unfortunately, he did, I was, and I was.

“You’re what?” he almost yelled, after a second or two to recover from the initial shock.

“I’m gay,” I replied, as I calmly wiped a few drops of coffee off my cheek and out of my right eye.

“No you’re not,” he responded, “you’re too young to know what the hell you are.”

“I am not too young,” I countered.

“What the hell makes you think you’re gay?” he questioned. “You haven’t had enough experience to know anything.”

“I don’t need experience to know what turns me on,” I replied.

“I’m going to be late for work,” he stated as he suddenly got up and started to walk towards the garage door. “We’ll talk about this when I get home,” and he was gone.

“O—kay, fine,” I said, basically to myself. “We’ll talk about this when you get home.”

If you noticed I didn't mention my mother and are wondering what she was doing that morning, I have no idea. You see, she left when I was six. When I was at school and Dad was at work one day, she packed all her stuff, flew to Toronto and never came back. I can’t say I miss her…hell, I can barely remember her.

So anyway, after washing my face and my right arm, and changing my shirt, I locked up the house and headed for Jeff’s place. As I said, he has been my best friend since forever and he and I always walk to school together. He lives two houses down from us with his mom. Actually, it’s been just him and his mom since his dad moved to Toronto when he was six. He can barely remember his dad and can’t say that he misses him either.

As I walked down the sidewalk towards his house, he was walking down their driveway to meet me. As we bumped fists, I asked him, “Guess what?”

“You’re gay,” he replied, grinning.

“Yeah I am,” I said, grinning back.

“Yeah, right,” he said, laughing at this point.

“No, seriously,” I said.

Suddenly he stopped, turned and just stared at me. “Fuck off,” he responded as his grin faded.

“Serious…I am,” I repeated.

He stared at me for almost a minute. “Serious?” he finally asked.

“Yeah, I just kinda figured it out. I told Dad this morning,” I replied.

He stared at me for a few more seconds. “Fuck me,” he sort of whispered. “Wait, I didn’t mean that,” he stated, before sighing and repeating, “Fuck me. You’re gay?”

“Yeah,” I responded, feeling a little bit nervous at this point.

“Fuck me,” he repeated quietly again, as he looked up and stared at the sky.

If I hadn’t been so nervous, I might have found it amusing that he had just said, “Fuck me,” three times to a gay guy, but his reaction was really scaring me.

“You’re the first person I’ve told besides Dad,” I said. “He wasn’t too thrilled.”

He kept staring at the sky until finally, after a minute or so, he took a deep breath, looked down straight into my eyes, and his smile returned. I could feel the relief flood through my body as I returned his smile.

“So, who do you fancy?” he asked grinning…and that was it.

Since I hadn’t really thought about it, I really had no answer for him. I mean, all the guys in the shower room turned me on, but I really didn’t ‘fancy’ any one in particular… well, Craig, but I wasn’t about to say so, so I replied, “No one, yet.”

“I fancy Carol,” he responded, still grinning.

“Well better. You’ve only been going out with her for like three months. Besides, she’s really cute,” I replied.

“How would you know,” he asked as he jabbed me in the ribs.

“I don’t have to be straight to recognize when a girl is cute,” I stated. “I just don’t see her as ‘hot’ like you do.”

“I suppose,” he said. “Like I can see if a guy is good looking or well-built without thinking he’s hot.”

“Yeah,” I responded.

“When you do find someone you fancy, I better be the first to know though,” he said grinning.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know,” I promised.

By this time, we were walking through the school gates and had about two minutes to get to class, so we both broke into a run since neither of us wanted a detention. We reached homeroom just as the bell rang. We got a dirty look from Ms. Spencer as we burst through the door. Then, smiling, she said, “One of these days, your timing is going to be a little off and your lives will be mine.”

We both smiled back and replied, “Yes ma’am,” as we slid into our desks.

We suffered through homeroom, math, and history before it was finally lunchtime. We made our way to the cafeteria, were served something the menu board called beef dip, and were sitting at our table chatting with the guys, when some new kid walked into the cafeteria with a lunch box.

“That’s so gay,” Roger said, laughing.

“What do you mean, that’s so gay?” I asked.

“You know, stupid,” he replied. “Who the fuck carries a lunch box?”

“Do you think I’m stupid?” I asked him as Jeff nearly choked on his sandwich.

“Why would I think that?” he asked me.

“Because I’m gay, so I must be,” I replied.

Suddenly everyone at the table stopped talking and stared at me with their mouths open.

“Fuck me,” I heard Jeff whisper.

“You’re a fucking faggot?” Craig almost shouted.

“No, I’m fucking gay,” I replied.

“Get the fuck away from me then. I don’t need some sick faggot drooling all over me,” he exclaimed.

“Steven doesn’t have to go anywhere,” Randy responded.

“I ain’t sitting with no faggot,” Craig stated.

“Then don’t,” Jamie said, at which point Craig grabbed his stuff and stormed off. Everyone else just sat there looking at me while I stared at Craig as he disappeared from the cafeteria.

“You’re serious?” Jamie asked pulling my attention away from Craig.

“Yeah, I’m serious,” I replied.

“Holy fuck,” Martin said. “Like really? …Fuck.”

“I’m sorry guys,” I said. “Maybe I should sit somewhere else.”

“Why?” Jamie asked.

“Well, I don’t want to cause you guys any grief. Everyone here has been friends like forever, and it’s not fair if I split everyone up. I mean, Craig’s already left,” I said almost in tears.

“Don’t be daft,” Joey piped up. “We’ve been friends since grade one. That isn’t going to change just because we know you’re gay.”

“Yeah,” Randy said with a grin. “It’s not like you just turned gay, and besides, I haven’t seen you drool down the front of your shirt looking at any of us yet.”

“What about Craig?” I asked, feeling seriously hurt as I thought, 'It could have been any of the guys, but why did it have to be Craig?'

“Don’t worry about Craig,” Martin said. “He’ll come around. I think you just shocked him, is all.”

“So you guys are all okay with it?” I asked.

“Why shouldn’t we be?” Randy asked. “You’re the same guy now that you were five minutes ago. Nothing has changed. Besides, you know my cousin Ronnie, right? He’s gay.”

“My brother Scott is gay,” Jamie said. “He came out last year, remember?”

“My Uncle Cliff is gay,” Martin added. “He and his partner James come to our house all the time.”

“Wow,” was all I could think of to say as the warning bell sounded for classes to resume.

“I can’t believe you told everyone,” Jeff said as we walked down the hall towards our Biology class.

“Neither can I,” I said. “For a while there I was beginning to wish I hadn’t.”

“I was getting a little nervous there too,” he said. “Especially after Craig freaked out.”

“I know,” I replied. “I so hope he comes around. I’d really hate to lose him as a friend.”

“I think he will,” Jeff responded. “I just think he needs some time to think about it and cool off. Maybe talk to some of the other guys.”

“I hope so,” I said as we walked into Biology.

Three hours later, after another awe-inspiring afternoon of classes, Jeff and I were walking home. I told him about Dad’s reaction and how I hoped he would come around. Jeff assured me that he would.

“It’s not every day your kid tells you he’s gay. He just needs some time to adjust,” he reassured me., “Your dad’s the best. You have nothing to worry about.”

“I hope you’re right,” I replied. “He’s all I have.”

“If worse comes to worst, you have me and Mom,” he stated.

“I know that, thanks man,” I said, trying not to tear up.

A half hour later, I was sitting at the dinner table watching my dad. Neither one of us had said a word to each other since he got home from work. In fact, when he got home, he brushed past me into the kitchen and started cooking up a storm like his life depended on it.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any more and asked him, “How was your day?”

“I’ve had better,” he replied.

After another five minutes of silence, I got pissed off and finally asked, “Are we going to talk about this or am I going to be treated like I don’t exist for the next three years?”

He just looked at me for a minute before responding, “It’s all I’ve been able to think about all day. I’m sorry Steven. It’s just that I’d hoped for more from you than this.”

“More from me?” I asked. “What do you mean, more from me?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “A normal life, successful career, home in the suburbs, family…I don’t know.”

“Dad, I’m gay, not dying,” I responded. “The only thing different will be who I share that home in the suburbs with.”

He just looked at me for a few more seconds and a slight smile appeared on his face…a very slight smile. “Just give me some time,” he said. “This isn’t something I expected and I just need some time to adjust.”

“We gonna be cool?” I questioned.

“Yeah, we’re going to be cool,” he replied. “Just give me a little time.”

I got up, walked around the table, gave him a hug, and said, “Thanks Dad. I love you.”

“I love you too, son,” he responded as his arms closed around me. Nothing more was said. Nothing more had to be said at that point.

We finished dinner. I cleaned up and did the dishes as usual. Dad moved into the living room, sat back in his recliner, got halfway through the news and fell asleep as usual.

It was only day one. I had come out to my dad, my best friend, and my friends at school. The only hostile reaction had come from Craig. Well, I wasn’t thrilled with my dad’s reaction. But, hey, I am his only child and I’m pretty sure his son being gay was not on his list of things to worry about. I knew he still loved me and I knew he would be cool with it, given a little time. Things were going to be okay.