At work right now, been a longish day at the cigar shack. Last night was alright, Bill Maher with Bill and then he was off to bed. I stayed up a little while longer. I looked up an old friend, no longer a friend online.
He hasn’t aged well judging by the picture but he was the number one employee at a Jewish nursing home in Bergen County. I was happy to see he was doing alright. My brother Brian into him a few years ago and to my surprise he was asking about me. Brian relayed the message and I in turn told Brian all about the falling out between us.
Basically this guy was the first person I ever came out to regarding my sexuality. What prompted the coming out was his then girlfriend asking me if I thought this guy was gay. I didn’t know but decided to broach the subject one night in the 1980’s when driving around and smoking pot.
He wasn’t gay but I told him I was and since we were working together in that book warehouse in Saddle Brook NJ, and with my mother working in the office I asked this guy not to say anything about my sexuality. Well he told his dotty girlfriend who also worked in the warehouse and she told two friends and so on and so on.
The next day I went to work half the people I was friends with were no longer my friends. My secret was out and it was then I discovered who my real friends were. As far as I know my mother was kept from this truth until it fell to me to tell her and the rest of my family the truth.
My sister did ask once in the late 1970’s if I was gay, since I had no girlfriends and my first instinct was to lie lie lie. I was going to an all boy’s high school and a regional high school at that, so no friends from school male or female were in my vicinity.
There was Paul Slavin who lived in the next town a few blocks away but I never hung out with him since he was so snobby. There was also a gay cruising area between, my house and Paul’s house and whenever I said I was going to Paul’s house I would usually be waylaid and laid on the way.
A few years later, my father had time on his hands due to retirement and while wandering through his house and into my room, discovered some gay porn. I thought it was alright since my brothers had Playboy and Penthouse in their rooms but who was I kidding besides myself?
I neglected to mention the night of my first anxiety attack. I was going to see the Who with my brother Frank and while waiting for him to pick me up in 1979, I got into a fight with my constant nemesis Brian. Brian dropped the bomb on me, telling me he was going to tell our parents about the magazines under my bed and that I was a pervert.
Frank couldn’t arrive to pick me up fast enough (then again he never could) and the ride was mainly me sitting in the passenger seat as he smoked weed and I maintained my silent nervous breakdown. Brian never brought it up again.
So eventually my dad found the mags and he told my mom, who told Frank, who told Annemarie who told Brian and when it came to me I had no choice to own the truth. Yes I am gay, and I have to leave. I didn’t have to leave but I did if I was going to live my life the way I wanted to.
Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy 12 Inch Version