A Late Night Discovery

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The author in front of the house he was raised as a boy.

I grew up in a suburb of Brisbane, a mid-size city in Australia.  My father died when I was eight and left my mother with five children under the age of nine. Both my parents were deaf from birth.  We struggled emotionally after my father’s sudden death and we were destitute financially.  A few years later my mother became sexually active with other men.

What I didn’t realize or appreciate at the time was that my struggles at home, and especially around mum’s sexual adventures, were heightened by the confused feelings I had towards men.  By the time I was twelve I began to rebel against the continued trooping of strange men through our house each week, and yet they excited me. They were in our house to be with my mum and some other women, including my aunt. There was no money involved, but the men bought beer, booze, cigarettes and snacks. They were in uniform, very masculine, and were younger than my mother and the other women.  Although they came in all shapes and sizes, they all seemed really big to me.

I convinced myself that I was attracted to them because I missed my father, and my Uncle Don, who was very masculine and would wrestle with me and my four brothers. I wanted to be closer to these men, but I was scared, and I didn’t want to give my mum the satisfaction of being friendly with them. In any event, we rarely had an opportunity to interact. They would arrive late at night and leave by early morning. Occasionally they would stay later in the morning or stay for the day, which I hated. Sometimes they would buy my brothers and me ice cream, which I sometimes reluctantly accepted.

The men would congregate in the kitchen until it was time to bed the women, and when I could, I would sneak up to the kitchen door and spy. I wanted to see what the men looked like. On one occasion I spied one or two of the guys in the shower, and almost got caught.

One incident made clear to me that my interest in these men wasn’t just some childish fad. Late one night after the taxi-loads of men and women who descended on our house had all gone to bed, I woke, surprised I had dozed off despite my anger and the noise. It was quiet, but I could hear someone snoring in the living room next to my bedroom. I got out of bed and stepped over and around my brothers. From the hallway I could see a man sleeping on the sofa. The whole house stunk of beer and smoke. I moved through the doorway and could make out the man in the light through the windows from the street lamp. I moved and stood beside the man, who only had his underpants on with the blanket draped across his legs. He looked nice. He had a hairy chest and arms and looked younger than the woman and the other men. I stood there and looked down at him for a while, and was about to turn slowly and walk away when the man opened his eyes and looked straight up at me. I froze. My heart hammered.

“Gidday,” he whispered.

“Hello.”

“Do you live here?”

“Yeah. I woke up and saw you here and didn’t know who you were.”

“Sit down here on the sofa next to me.”

I sat down right next to the man. I didn’t know what to do or where to put my hands. He took one of my hands and put it on his hairy chest.

“Like that?”

“Yes. You’re hairy. Big too. You look strong.”

“I wont hurt you. Stand up and take your pajama pants off.”

I did as he asked and let the pants drop to the floor. I felt something in my penis and groin I’d never felt before. The man lifted his hips and pulled his underpants down. His penis was really big and hard.

“Wow’” I said.

“Lay down on top of me,” he said. 

Just as I bent over to lie on him I heard a noise from my mum’s bedroom.

“What’s that?” the man asked.

It’s my mum. She probably heard us.”

Your mum? Which one’s she?”

“The older one, “ I said.

“Isn’t she deaf? How could she hear us?”

“You’d be surprised. They feel stuff.”

I heard my mum walk down the hall towards the living room.

“What are we going to do now?” The man whispered.

“I’m going to jump out the window. Bye.”

“Shit,” the man said as he pulled up his pants and pulled the blanket over himself.

The following morning I stayed in bed as long as I could and hoped the man had left before I got up. Mum confronted me later and told me the man said I tried to “play” with him.  I shrugged it off and denied that anything had happened. I didn’t believe that the man had spoken about it, especially since he was complicit and certainly didn’t reject my approach. Mum knew I was in the living room that night and she wanted me to admit it.  She was as confused about it as I was. I was glad she knew. I was growing increasingly angry and I enjoyed the thought that I might have hurt or embarrassed her.

I’ve thought about this man a lot. Was there a reason he was in the lounge room by himself and not with one of the women? This was the late 50’s. He was in the military. Not a time or place to be a homosexual and like boys.

Less than a year later I climbed through the bedroom window of a married man with three kids. He was big, muscular and not usually very friendly, but he made me feel good. He took a huge risk as well. As dangerous as these encounters were, the men made me feel wanted and worthy.

I used to think I was gay because of my sordid, troubled life. I don’t believe that anymore. I was born gay, but it took me about fifteen years to figure that out and another ten years when I graduated from college to realize there was a positive lifestyle I could fit into. I’ve had three long-term relationships and have been happily married to a man since 2004.

 

Peter Wren is a long-time subscriber to The G&LR.

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