At seventy, I discovered a letter Mom wrote to Dad. Postmarked 1939, it bore a three cent stamp. While Dad completed his final studies at Columbia, in New York City, she had returned to Vermont to give birth to their first child.....me. Fortunately, I was a boy "on account of the family name has to go on". After reporting how tickled their parents were that it was a boy, she went on to describe her baby's fingers and toes, "just like yours", his appetite, how much she missed Dad and her determination to do the right thing for their child and give him every advantage.
The right thing would prove hard to come by. Available wisdom provided little insight for raising a child whose effeminacy was evident, perhaps as he reached for his first toy. Unprepared for an aberration, they had to wing it. After reading the letter I decided to write about my life as a homosexual, from 1939 to 2009.
Childhood in the forties was horrible. Peers teased me and I disappointed my parents at every turn. Preferences in toys and clothes and my love for flowers didn't match pursuits of other boys, yet I got crushes on them. Mom and Dad's distress at these omens was expressed, openly and subliminally, through messages that I wasn't measuring up while powerful, inner commands told me to find and declare my own identity.
In the fifties, adolescence provided more of the same and was confounded by the advent of puberty. Nice people don't have fantasies about things that are nasty. As others tried to help me through my "phase", grades plummeted and I cried more than anyone should. A psychiatrist suggested that military prep school would provide the antidote that would help me outgrow it.
In military school, I managed to miss the bus transfer in New York regularly, delaying arrival home for holidays or long weekends by twenty-four hours. Sixteen and with no one watching, I used the time to play out every fantasy I'd ever had. At arrival home, exhausted and with dark circles under my eyes, my family were probably aware of my promiscuity. Feeling helpless, they tried to ignore it.
After failing Naval Science on purpose, I returned home in disgrace, clashed with Dad and fled to New York City. There, I spent an important year, not one I was proud of. That I survived at all was a miracle.
I got rescued by Mom and Dad who probably realized, by now, that the usual methods weren't working, I was enrolled in a small, progressive college, known for controversial beliefs about education and human variety. Being different was often seen as a badge of honor and a source of pride. It was a pivotal experience.
Upon graduating I went to Canada, where I taught French in a tiny Quaker boarding school in rural British Columbia. As I lived happily in a rustic cabin, the non-judgemental Quakers offered friendship and confirmed my worth. Sadly, they couldn't provide the insight and opportunities I needed so reluctantly, I moved on.
For two years I taught French in a Jamestown, New York junior high school and dated women. During this time I realized that I was irreversibly homosexual. I also learned that by posing as a heterosexual, people get hurt.
At twenty five, I moved to New York City. A long career in an agency for people with disabilities proved therapeutic and after ten more years of running the roads I met my life's companion. Before my parents died, I discovered the respect and mutual understanding that had eluded us for so long. Love prevailed.
Paco and I bought a home on Long Island and raised two boys from toddlerhood. They have become confident, healthy, sweet-spirited adults. They're both straight, by the way, but either way would have been okay.