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1997 - January to September

January
Jury duty during my month off, need I say more?

On the 31st, the "STAR WARS Special Edition" came out in theaters. I considered it a religious holiday ("Hope Day". Named for "A New Hope" the real title of Episode 4). We invited dad to go see the movie with us, and I was real nervous to hang out with dad, but things worked out fine. He even surprised me. When Grandma said something negative about me, he defended me by saying he was "kinda proud" of me, or something to that effect. I almost spit my food across the room in surprise. Was this "my" father? I guess it really was "Hope Day" after all.

February
Nothing out of the ordinary. Life was good. Saw STAR WARS as much as I could take, then on the 21st ("Empire Day", "The Empire Strikes Back" release date) and saw "Empire Strikes Back" as much as I could handle. Still no indication of the crap that was about to hit the fan, or was there? One night after seeing "Empire" I did meet my brothers soon to be girlfriend while in the toy section of WAL*MART. He introduced her and I said "Oh, not that *brothers girlfriends name here*?" Embarrassed he pushed me into the next isle, jokingly saying something about hearing enough out of you. I didn't consider it anything out of the usual. He did blush a little, and she had a hard time keeping her eyes above the equator, but nothing out of the ordinary there.
I've worked at the same restaurant for 10 years, and had never really met the bosses son until now. I had seen him a time or two, and when I quit for 3 months about 5 years ago, he was my replacement. I didn't think I would like him, he had to much going against him. He was friends with an annoying kid my brother used to play with, he's a surfer and he did some modeling as a kid. His family is kind of rich, and I figured he would be a snob. One night just after he began working there, I was eating dinner and he sat and talked with me while I ate. All my "walls" were up. But he did chip away at a few of them a little. And he was taking my shifts for the STAR WARS days, so I had to be nice to him a little. Besides he did clean his own dinner plates and made me Clam Puffs on occasion. I'm not crazy about Clam Puffs really, but they are starting to grow on me.

March - It Begins!
Started out okay despite "Jedi Day" ("Return Of The Jedi" release day, see the pattern yet?) got moved up a week. *Boss's son's name here* didn't get informed of the change and so while I was reading my book down by the beach he happened to drive by and climbed in my car and asked me why I was still in town.
March 14th ("Jedi Day"). Was a Good day. Saw the movie, didn't get the free action figure, but saw them getting delivered. *step cousin's name here* lost his ticket, but the ticket taker remembered us and let him in anyway. On the drive home, my brother talked about our plans to go to college in September. He seemed exited. Listing classes he wants to take, talking about fun things to do in town, etc, etc....
About a week later, he announced he was going on a date with *girlfriend's name here* to see "Return Of The Jedi". I was so excited. My baby brother was finally experiencing the adult world.

After the date.
I hurried home from work to hear all about it. An hour later he came home. First off he was real quiet. This from a guy who had been talking my leg off for almost 18 years! He didn't talk about anything unless asked about it and then only vague short answers, not volunteering any opinion or details. He went to bed about 10 to 20 minutes after he got home. This from a guy who holds the record for stalling the longest at bedtime. A guy who stays up till 3 or 4 A. M. when ever possible.
Several weeks went by and he seemed to be waiting by the phone for her to call way to much, especially since she would tell him she would call and then she wouldn't call but maybe once or twice a week. We couldn't go see movies, go to the beach, or even leave the house most of the time, because he had to wait for her calls that never came. He revealed to me she used to be anorexic and she smokes, and even did/does (not sure which one) drugs, and drinks. She even just got out of an abusive relationship with a guy who slept around on her and he is now in jail. I was in shock. He had a friend before who was a druggy, and another who smokes, but this was different. He was actually dating her. I told him to be careful, and told him I didn't want him to get hurt, and I didn't approve, but it wasn't any of my business. He would have to make his own choices.
His every action was beginning to hinge on her words. Every sentence was began with the word *girlfriend's name here*. Every night he would go to bed early, even weekends which is just unheard off for him. He had been my best friend for the last 10 years, we did everything together, and now we didn't do anything together. That really didn't bother me that much, I mean he had other friends over the years, but he always made time for us. Not now, but hey, it's a girlfriend. His first.

April
Then one night I came home after work, and she was there, no surprise. I had gotten ticked at work, and was ready to go to bed, I had to work the morning shift and wasn't looking forward to it. He had invited me to come down to his house and stay the night while mom was out sailing so I could get some rest. I went in and he seemed real nervous. Almost guarding her. She was sitting on the couch (in the middle) holding her blouse shut, and the news was on TV. Excuse me! It doesn't take a genius to come up with the same conclusion I did. I had obviously interrupted something I wasn't supposed to. Well, I didn't want to embarrass my brother, and she wasn't making any references to leaving anytime soon and I knew my brother wouldn't suggest she leave, so I went home to get some sleep. Not that I slept mind you. I mean, I just left him in that house with her. No one would even bother them until about noon the next day.
I did drive by the house on the was to work (about 7 A. M.) to make sure she had gone home, and she had. I felt real guilt checking up on him, but I needed to know for my piece of mind. After work I confronted him about it, and he assured me nothing had happened. In 17+ years I have learned to recognize when he is lying to someone, and he was telling me the truth, so I dropped it. That night, we had a talk about sex. We've always had a very open relationship, and I've always tried to make him feel comfortable talking to me about anything, lord knows he cant talk to mom or dad. So the talk went like usual. He put most of my fears to rest. I said that I'm glad we talked and there was something else I was going to bring up, but it could wait until another day. He looked at me in a kind of questioning way, and I reassured him it wasn't about him, it was about me. I figured that would be the end of it. I should know, he doesn't like to be kept in suspense. About a half hour later he asked me about it again and I told him to drop it. Then he said it. I couldn't believe the words had just come out of his mouth. I had promised myself years ago that if he asked me, I would tell him the truth as long as we were alone and had the time to talk about it. Well, we were alone and we had the time.
"You're not gay are you?" He had said. After a few seconds the shock at him coming up with that after so I considered no clues at all, he just blurted it out. I couldn't look him in the eyes, and started crying. 28 years I've kept it to myself. I'm not feminine, no lisp, no limp wrist. Just your average STAR WARS addicted nerd. I don't really care much for my looks, puberty wasn't kind, so I'm not prissy, I don't even shave on my days off. No piercings, they make me nauseous just seeing them. Even earrings make me queasy. None of the stereotypes fit me. Sure I'm creative, and artistic. To my parents credit, they encouraged that in me. I'm just average. Normal in a way. Any stereotype you can place on me, you could easily place on my brother, and so many other straight people. Being gay means one thing and one thing only. I have all the same feelings, and wants and needs and everyone else, they are just focused at people that are the same gender as me. Nothing else is different. Nothing!
The person in my life I least wanted to loose, had just asked me the question I feared most would end are relationship. But I couldn't lie to him. In his 17+ years he didn't have enough experience with me lying to know the difference between me telling the truth and me lying, so I could have lied to him and life would have continued as before. But I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I mean, come on, I practically raised him. I taught him not to judge people by skin color, race, age, and I thought sexual preference was on the list too.
He looked away from me and I asked if it bothered him, but he just shrugged "Not really. I kind of figured." A lie. I could see it in his emotionless, cold expression. I assured him that I wouldn't change, that he knew the real me. Earlier that night we had talked about public and private personas. How most people acted differently depending who they were around, and how he was acting like a complete stranger around me, and that was why I came to the wrong conclusion about him and his girlfriend, because I really didn't even recognize him anymore. I've worked hard for the last 28 years to abolish my public persona and be myself all the time. The final step of that journey would of course be me "Coming Out". Well, I'm out now. I had heard stories about people coming out and how good it felt to get it off there shoulders. But I also heard that that is when you learn who your real friends are, the people who really love you. My brother, whom I considered someone who would love me no matter what, just scratched his name off of that short list. I felt no relief, no weight off my shoulders, but there was something new, a pain. My heart breaking.

A Gay Letter to a Straight World - (From Troy's Journal December 17th 1997 2:15 A. M.)

You know, I never asked to be different. If anything, I asked to fit in. I never liked being the odd man out. I don't think anyone does. I played Little League and soccer. I watch football games and like cool cars. I got a job at 16 and have always worked to pay my way through school and life in general.

Yet something is different. You see, I'm gay.

Such a small word...seems kind of funny the consequences saying that word aloud brings. It seems to open up this big chasm between you and me. You can't relate to me you say...it just blows your mind. It makes you sick. It used to make me sick too you know. I used to call guys like me names and snicker at them behind their backs. I never knew I was just like them. It wasn't until I was about 17 that I finally figured out I was different. I finally discovered the reason that I didn't see the girls the same way my best friend did.

It wasn't easy, believe me. I didn't want to be gay. No one wants to be gay. No one chooses to be gay. That's the funniest thing I have ever heard in my life--that I would choose to live the way I have to. Like I like to be hated before I even say hello. Like I want to give up almost all chance of having a child that I can love and call my son or daughter. Do you think I chose to be this way? Do you think anyone chooses to be this way?

I don't talk with a lisp--I have a deep voice. I don't talk with my hands and walk with my palms down. I don't call people "girlfriend" or "hon". My friends tell me my fashion sense is horrible--my favorite "outfit" is a pair of Silvertab jeans and a black t-shirt. I am not in the theatre and do not play the flute. I do not stare at guys in the locker room. I have a Cindy Crawford poster on my wall and a Kathy Ireland calender on my wall. I have never seen a Barbara Streisand movie or a Broadway play. I drive a sports car and like Heavy Metal music. I hate Brad Pitt and find Jennifer Love Hewitt sexy as can be. I don't write poetry or cry at sad movies. I have never had sex with another guy and I believe in monogamy. My mother and father are happily married and my family is Christian.

Yet you can not relate to me...because we are worlds apart.

Some of you say I am going to Hell. I am going to Hell because of something that God made me? Do I believe in God? I believe in something...I just can not believe in a God that you say can hate.

You hate me...I used to be just like you.

I hid my feelings from myself. I lied to myself. I deceived myself. All because I did not want to be different. I want people to like me. I want friends who care about me and a family that loves me. I want to grow old with a person who will lay awake with me and watch the late show--who stays home from work when I'm sick to watch over me. A person who smiles as a thought of me crosses their mind.

But you are nothing like me...we are completely different.

I do not have an earring in my right ear, or an earring at all for that matter. My hair is its natural color. I do not wear bright colors or have a pink triangle bumper sticker. I do not tell people about my sexuality unless they ask. I do not walk in parades or hold big signs proclaiming my pride in being who I am.

But you find my life disgusting...although you know nothing about it.

Some of you say you do not mind who I am...as long as I keep it to myself. You say that as if sex between two people that love each other is a nasty, dirty thing. I hope you are teaching your kids differently. Because, you know, maybe they will end up just like me. Not my child...no of course not...not your child. Your child would never choose to be this way.

But maybe your child is this way. Maybe your brother or sister is just like me.

No of course they aren't. They would never choose to be this way.

I used to be ashamed of who I am. I used to hate myself for who I am. Yet, all I can be is myself. I can not be the person you want me to be. I can not be someone else. I am who I am. I did not make myself this way--just as you did not make yourself tall or short.

I will not hide myself from the world. I will not hide who I am. I will just accept who I am and go on in the world...just like you do. Sexuality does not make me the person I am. It is but a small part of me. If you want to see nothing but that small part, then you go right ahead. But do not mind me when I think you are stupid because you are blonde or when I think you are a thief because you have dark skin. Do not mind me thinking you are a hick because you speak with a southern accent. They are just small parts of you, but they make you who you are.

Do not get mad when I make fun of your son because he has glasses. He chose to have bad eyesight.

Do not get mad when I laugh at your daughter for having braces. She chose to have crooked teeth.

Do not get mad when I hate your children because they are poor. You see...they chose to be that way.

Do not get mad.

Because, you see, I am just trying to be more like you.

TroyM

So much said in that letter by Troy was also in my letters that I wrote to my brother over the next couple of months. I don't like sports, and I don't have a Cindy Crawford poster on my wall or a Kathy Ireland calender on my wall, Science Fiction is my sport, so I have STAR WARS posters on my wall, and his music tastes are different, but I still see so much of me in him (even though he is attracted to women unlike me). I guess the truth can really only be said one way.

May 11th - Mothers Day
I now have no contact with my brother. He has announced that he is going to go into the military. His girlfriend is going Army, and his friend at school (the afore mentioned smoker) who is going in to the military too. Mom has been ready to "Clean house" since I was born, get all her kids out-of-her-hair, so she jumped on the military bandwagon too. Back in January (I think) mom was trying to talk him into the Coast Guard, she even went to get him brochures. They quickly got buried on the couch and never got looked at past the first couple of hours. Neither of us believe in the military. Or at least not until now. I still think he is doing it because he wants to prove he isn't gay too.

The other dishwasher at work quit about a month ago, and so we needed to get a new guy, and the only other person interested in dishwashing needs 4 days to even consider taking the job, and since my brother, (who was my best helper for the last 3 years) only works 1 night a week putting away dishes, and was going to quite before summer anyway, they decided to give the new guy 2 nights doing dishes, and 2 nights cooking, including my brothers night. It was kind of an emergency, summer coming, no one to work the next day (Sunday), and quite frankly I didn't see anything wrong, my brother really didn't want to spend his last free summer working there, and only ever did it to help me out anyway.
Well, mom jumped down my throat, saying I complained about him, and I got him fired. "I'm going to sue that damn restaurant for everything they're worth!" And on and on... The boss even offered my brother the 4 days, but he didn't want them, probably because he didn't want to have anything to do with me by that point, thanks to mom and me being gay.
I couldn't handle things anymore. One day I drove by the cliff I've had dreams about since I was little, The one I accidentally drive off of into the ocean to my death, and it suddenly dawn on me that maybe it wasn't an accident. Maybe I drive off of it on purpose. All of a sudden suicide was on my mind. With all I've lived through, I never even considered it before. But now, with the loss of my brother, it was all I could think about, and that scared me. My boss even asked me if I wanted to talk to her new boyfriend, an ex-psychiatrist, she was so worried, she could see how troubled I was just by the way I acted, and she didn't even know the whole story. Grandma could sense something was in the air too, she started baking, a lot. In one week She made her world famous Danish Pastries, her world famous Cinnamon Roles, and lasagna. In one week! She must have been really worried.
Mothers day came. I worked, and didn't see my mom. Hadn't seen her for a while. As I drove home from work that night, it was all I could do to stop from turning the car around and heading for the cliff. The only thing stopping me was the fact that a friend at work was away and I was feeding her cat for her. I got to the turn-off that turns to my moms house, and decided to take here her mail, even though I knew she would be asleep. Just turning off the road to go there made me sick. But I was desperate. I just needed someone to say "don't do it", or even better "I care".
She opened the door and I was already in tears so bad I couldn't even talk. Immediately she asked if Grandma was okay. I could only nod. I don't remember the other things she asked, but she finally figured out I needed to talk. A couple of hour later, I had told her I was suicidal, and that is scared me to death, she remained dispassionate threatening to call the cops if I left. I danced around the "gay" thing as long as I could. She kept telling me I needed to get back together with my girlfriend from highschool (who I ran into in WALMART on "Jedi Day" after not seeing her for 8 years), mom always held a torch for her. I said that wouldn't work, so she kept asking why, finally in desperation I said it. "Cause I'm gay."
Silence. More silence. Then she said the stupidest thing, "Of course you are, your so feminine". All I could think is "ya, and that's exactly why *my brothers name here* is gay too". NOT. So then I had to tell her not to believe any of the stereotypes cause they were stupid. Then she did the equivalent of my brothers shrug, she started planning. She is a welfare worker and she helps people get there lives in order so they can get off welfare, so immediately she distanced herself and I became just another "client". Despite the fact I knew what she was doing, it still helped. Maybe because I was so desperate. At some level I even bought into it. Now I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. Within weeks, the weight had returned. She started avoiding me too. I was still writing letters to my brother trying to make him see the light before he joined the military and caused permanent damage. I only had less than a month to try to talk him out of joining.

June 7th and Summer
I have any contact with my mother. I wasn't invited to my brothers graduation. Do you know what that feels like, to practically raise a kid and have him hate you for something you always were?
All people can talk about is how my brother is, and when he is shipping-off to the air force. They tell me to be proud of him and support him, but I can't. He's going to work for the devil himself. I just can't lie to myself. I spend to much time with myself, now that my brother is out of my life.
While everyone is at graduation I write the last note to my brother. Although I leave it open- ended, stating that if he ever changes his mind I'll give him another chance. I know he will never take it, unless he thinks he can exploit me in some way. To his credit, he hasn't "outed" me as far as I know. My mom had to stay home from work after I told her on mothers day and even got a hold of her friend at work who has a gay son. I think it has stopped there. But I don't really know.

Summer is starting. The restaurant will be busy from here until late September. This year we broke the 15 year old record of 198 dinners, practically every Saturday night. The new record is 230. My new helper is a flake, more interested in when his next cigarette break is than anything. He is the only Busser that ever used to tick me off so of course they make him my helper.
I went to my first movie by myself. "Event Horizon" Interesting title. The Event Horizon: The point at which nothing can escape the gravitational pull of a singularity (black hole), not even light. So in other words, the point at which nothing can suck any more than it already does! How appropriate.
Going to the movie alone felt strange. I felt like everyone was staring at the looser "ticket for one". Felt like the world was rubbing it in.
The movie got over. I left. No one even knew I was there. It felt like the whole experience never happened. No one shared it with me. No one cared to. No one cared period.

The bosses son and I found common ground. I got him hooked on the Internet and he got me hooked on the Paranormal. We even go to a few movies together. He kept me from dwelling on my situation, and pushed the depression back a little. Most of my preconceived notions of him were wrong. My walls came down, except for one. He's homophobic so I didn't tell him.

September
For the first time since I was 6, the school year starts and it doesn't mean a thing to me. It wasn't until I saw a bus that I even realized it. My brother has been sworn into the military. He ships off in October. Mom is thinking of retiring (lord knows how, she is only 45) and buying a sailboat and living aboard it full time.

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