I had a really strong connection with one guy I met, Jamie. That was quick, right? Still, we took our time to become intimate because we knew that a solid foundation meant we had to be connected in every way, not just physically. He soon tried to forbid me from seeing my friends; he refused to meet them, even though they wanted to meet him. Over the next couple of years, I had two objectives: finish up grad school and play raw with reckless abandon with as many guys as possible.
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But soon, we were meeting regularly in the dorms, in the woods, underneath the railroad tracks. There was no way I was coming out to my parents like I had been planning before college started. I told him I felt the same way, but saying those three words made me feel uneasy. This had to be it! He was cute, 34 years old, and a lawyer.
I began the process of coming out, first to my good friends.
What I felt uncomfortable doing face to face in the bars and clubs, I could easily do behind the virtual barrier of a computer screen. Many a Saturday night I spent in the shadowy corridors and back rooms of sex clubs seeking validation to fill the void inside by countless meaningless encounters.
The summer after graduating high school, I had insinuated to my mom one night that I thought she was disappointed in the person I had become. Our bodies were so in sync, we made love five times the first night. Michael and I started dating a couple of weeks later, and within a few months, we got serious. After all, I had only been with one guy before and life was supposed to be a buffet where I could sample all those fine cuts of meat, right?
And when I least expected it, along came Michael.
But I was also branching out. I knew that the journey to find love was fraught with heartbreak and disappointment, so once I started graduate school that fall, I decided to split my efforts. As graduation approached, I started to tire of hooking up. Perhaps I kept refusing his offer to buy me a car because I would feel obligated to do just that. The process was scary, but they were overwhelmingly supportive.
But surprisingly, it was the eyes that did me, those kind eyes. He had a nice apartment and an awesome dog named Roger. If you sounded hot, I would drive to Philly or to Baltimore or even D. Driving all that way, I could overlook a little issue like that; I would just imagine I was having sex with Kevin Costner or Bruce Willis.
After all, this was the early s, a scary time before antiretroviral meds when AIDS was still running rampant and completely unchecked. No longer did I only have the chat rooms to talk about what it would be like to sample that smorgasbord.
Cruising the online bulletin boards, I discovered internet relay chat IRC. My initial intention was to connect with other gay men, become friends and perhaps find a boyfriend. A sexual act that I had been fantasizing about for years, but not knowing how to approach guys, it only lived in my mind… and in the pictures I downloaded to my computer from digital bulletin boards.
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He wanted to be the only one to validate me; his controlling nature had reared its ugly head. For my senior year, I convinced my parents I had to have a car to work with my lab partners, who lived off-campus. And I realized I wanted more for myself.
I guess you could call him my first boyfriend, but he was more like a sugar daddy. It started out like many I had gone on before: first I met with human resources, then the hiring manager, and then a few of my potential colleagues.
He drove a Mercedes. He always treated me to dinner and to shows; he even offered to buy me a car repeatedly, but I refused.
The summer between my sophomore and junior years, I stayed on campus for a research fellowship. Yet my first attempt at a relationship was dysfunctional at best. I felt torn in two: I loved sex and hooking up, but my trysts were leaving me emotionally and spiritually empty.
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I fell in love with the higher education I was receiving. I was a gay man. One promise I had made was if I ever was so lucky to find love, I would be completely honest with him. We were really attracted to one another, but we held off on having intercourse.
He even put out a booty call the day I was moving back for my sophomore year… with my parents still in the room! My only regret was I also had to leave Roger. The dorms had recently been upgraded with the latest tech—ethernet. I wanted to experience what it was like to go on a dinner date.
I got his … but not the job! I would decide on whether I wanted sex or a date before I went online. I enthusiastically ed the fray. No longer did I have to invite married guys on the down low during their lunch breaks to my cramped little dorm room to bend them over the creaky bed frame.
During this time, I started to feel more comfortable in my own skin.
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Then he decided to go back to his ex, and I was devastated. I told him about my sexual past and he accepted me unconditionally without judgment.
He was handsome, with tousled dark brown hair and sparkling blue-green eyes, and I definitely got a vibe. Michael was the last person I talked to. Being an awkward technogeek misfit, I could not have asked for a more perfect scenario. The interview quickly evolved into a discussion of my work with the organization along with flirting from both sides.
That year-old Camry opened a whole new world! He taught me what love was supposed to be—being there for each other through thick and thin, working through the rough patches to make us stronger, and sharing moments we would always hold onto.
That day in the dorm almost a year later, it seemed like the clouds had parted and a beacon of light was finally shining down on me.
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I had found my soulmate. This was the year that the first antiretroviral meds were approved, the miracle drugs known as protease inhibitors, and a whole crop of websites and chat rooms popped up where guys were interested in bareback sex. I had so much more life to experience.
We talked about how after graduation, I would find a job close by and move in with him. Press to Call - Helpline: 1- The voice at the other end then offered to perform oral sex on me. After coming out to everyone—including my parents—I found I could flirt with and come on to guys out at clubs.
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My fantasies could become my reality; I experienced the freedom of being able to hook up with whomever, whenever I wanted. Oh sure, I told the guy I was straight but just curious, because after all, I wanted that experience. My focus turned away from my haunts of Philadelphia and suburban Bucks County and toward the infinite possibilities of New York City. Seeing his true nature gave me the courage to break up with him.
After a few months, he told me he loved me. And I was. About two months before I finished grad school, I went on a job interview. Deciding love was hopelessly out of reach, I threw caution to the wind and stopped playing safe. I wanted to find love.