J.

Dec. 1st, 2010 10:35 pm
jawnbc: (mourn)
 I thought J. was hawt before I knew he was gay. Which was unusual because he was: 1.) my age, and 2.) had an awesome 70s pr0nstar 'stache. At our uni college there were a fair number of lumberjack types--mostly str8, mostly Tech Ed ("shop teachers of tomorrow") students.  My own look vacillated between yuppie scum and unkempt frat boy. Though I wasn't a frat member--or rugby player--but certainly drank like 'em. 

We had some mutual friends: a good friend of mine from high school , K., was best friends with his ex--as in ex-girlfriend. D.  was the sort of former flame young gay boys rely on, perhaps too heavily. The sort of women who align their love with action--support, listening, friendship--even as, on some level, they're letting go of their own romantic aspirations. K. had started at Oz right out of high school; I had transferred up a year later. So she had her own established circle of friends. Socializing wasn't difficult for me either. So we actually lived in the same residence 2 floors apart, but didn't spend a lot of time hanging out.

Until junior year, when I met Mark. Whom initially, like all the gay men in my life back then, was just a shag. Who took it upon himself to push me out of the closet a bit. Well...more than a bit...but he wasn't an asshole about it. Well, not about the outing bit: he turned out to be quite the asshole (ooh, asshole men in my 20s, a pattern!). But Mark got me to get honest with me and I fell in love. He hadn't. 

Which vaguely remember as fucking brutal...a first broken heart much magnified by the first romantic same-sex aspirations I'd allowed myself to acknowledge. "This isn't easy" I remember K. saying to me as she drove me to her house. Where she and D. let me blather and cry and probably eat mac-n-cheese. J. was also M.'s best friend: they were both from Rochester and explored the gay bars in Rochester (during holidays) and Syracuse (while at school) together on the weekends.

The three of them--J., D. and K.--had gone to Cape Cod for the summer a few months earlier. In addition to earning money for school, John leapt head first into the gay scene, though they weren't in Provincetown. So as K. and I spent more time together I saw more of J. Oh, was he beautiful! Lovely thick brown hair, beautiful warm, dark brown eyes, That lovely 'stache around that lovely smile. He was also rail-thin and worked copiously at being a smoker (ew x2), but I've always been a face man first and foremost.

And also a man of integrity, in my own twisted way. J. had a boyfriend from the Cape and he was my ex's best friend. M. encourage me to try and bed J.: I understand now that sex between queer men can be expressive of many things other than romantic aspiration. But I was a babe in the woods with a largely Catholic morality when it came to chivalry. "Don't shit where you eat," in other words. Besides, there wasn't a problem getting laid; my own homophobia was a greater barrier to getting to know other queers.

Senior year was a blur, but I was more out, less panicked, and saw less of D., K. and J. We all graduated together, but I don't recall even seeing them at the ceremony (about 1800 graduated en masse that day though). They all headed back to the Cape; K. had got engaged to her long-distance lover (also named M.). I *think* J. was at their wedding, but I'm not sure. I moved back to the City and came out in earnest. A young gay man in NYC in 1987 had more than enough to occupy himself in the pre-email era. Their stories and mine diverged; we moved on. Once the internet became part of my life I would, from time to time, search for their names: M, D. and J.. I also received our alumni magazine, which lists the achievements of previous grads. Nothing about any of them ever appeared though.

Until one day I saw J.'s name, in the obituaries. A bit more digging confirmed the cause of death.

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