It started during the summer of 1984. I was twelve years old – my 13th birthday would be in December. Puberty actually struck my friend Aiden first. He was a half a year older and lived with his mother and his younger brother. His father was not in his life – I don't think I can remember him ever being mentioned. Aiden was the first of any of us to hit puberty, and he wasted no opportunity to show it off. Literally. He would drop his pants to show off his hair down there with no prompting and no notice. He would also point out how big his "bulge" was. We thought it was ridiculously funny, of course, a bunch of preteen boys going through changes and laughing at each other. Still, for some reason, when he showed off his bulge or hair, something inside me compelled me to look. I didn't know what it was, but it was there, deep inside me. I didn't really think much about it at first, believing that these were normal things and that all young boys were like this.
Gradually, some of the other guys started going through changes. They weren't quite as eager to show off as Aiden was, but they let us know that they, too were growing up. I was always paying attention now, always looking at my friends with both awe and jealousy. Their voices were growing deeper, and their bodies were filling out. I was always noticing things about them, and was becoming both jealous and alarmed – why was I so interested in looking at their bulges, and more importantly, why was I not "growing" myself? What was wrong with me?
I would get my first clue one day while Aiden and I were walking behind the elementary school and we came across a fellow named Peter. We both knew him, and we both did not care for him. He was a year older than us, already in grade 8, and he was a show-off and bully to the smaller kids. He was there with a young girl we both knew, and it was quite obvious that we had just caught them doing something they didn't want to be caught doing. I say "obvious” because you could see quite clearly that he was sporting wood. The tight pants that were in style in the early 1980's left little to the imagination, and my imagination was running wild. I could not take my eyes off it.
Unfortunately, he noticed me noticing.
"What are you looking at?" he demanded.
I pried my eyes away from his crotch to look at his face and stammered "Nothing", but the act of doing this, having to move my focus from down there to his face, was all the verification that he needed that I was indeed looking at exactly what he thought I was looking at.
"You were looking at my crotch, weren't you, you fucking faggot!"
"No I wasn't! I wasn't looking at anything!"
"Bullshit! You were looking at my cock! You're a fucking faggot!"
He started walking toward me, and I took on a stance that I had hoped looked aggressive. I was not a fighter by nature, but I was a fairly big guy and could handle myself when needed. I was bigger than him, anyway, and was not afraid of him at all. I was more worried about myself, in my mind thinking "What the hell WAS I looking at?', but I was certainly not afraid of Peter. I balled my fists, gritted my teeth, and stared at Peter with what I hoped was a "Don't fuck with me" glare. It didn't work. He continued coming toward me. It looked for all the world like we were going to fight, and I was not going to let him get the first punch in. Just as I was about to tear into him I heard Aiden's voice.
"Fuck off, Peter."
Peter stopped his advance, and both he and I looked at Aiden. Both of us at the same time said, "What?"
Aiden looks over to me, then back to Peter, and said "I said 'Fuck off'. He wasn't looking at anything except the beer bottle on the ground behind you."
Beer bottle? I hadn't even seen a beer bottle, but sure enough there was a beer bottle lying in the gravel just behind Peter. There were a few, actually. Peter and his girl had been drinking and fooling around when we caught them. Inside I felt a wave of relief. The beer bottle! Of course!
"Yeah, I was looking at the bottles. We've been collecting them down at the lake. Every time I see one my eyes lock onto it."
A wave of doubt flickered across Peter's face. Aiden wasn't finished though.
"We heard there were some people drinking up here so we came up to see if there were any bottles. Believe me, if we'd known it was you we wouldn't have bothered."
The doubt remained in his eyes, but the anger was draining from his face. There was even a hint of embarrassment coming into it. Then we heard a voice behind him.
"Oh my God, Peter, will you just give them the bottles so they can go away?"
It was his lady friend, who was obviously still very much in the mood. At this point the anger was fully gone, but the embarrassment was fully present.
"Fine. Take your bottles and fuck off. Don't come back up around here."
"You have no worries about that", Aiden said with a wink, which caused Peter to turn beet red with embarrassment. We walked past Peter, gathered up the bottles, and returned to the front of the school where the playground was.
As we were walking back to the playground there was a silence between us. Aiden finally said "So what were you looking at?"
"The bottles, like you said."
"So why didn't you just say that?"
The truth was, I was too flummoxed. Not just at having gotten caught looking at a guy's crotch, but at having actually looked at the guy's crotch. And Peter's word: "Faggot". Was I really a 'faggot'? I knew that I was certainly looking at his crotch, but why?
"I don't know. I guess he just startled me by getting so mad. I was more worried about fighting than thinking."
Aiden looked at me for a few seconds, then looked down. We continued toward the playground, where there were some younger kids playing on the jungle gym. Aiden put down the bottles and looked at me with a sly grin. "We're not quite finished with Peter yet. Watch this."
He looked over at the kids playing on the jungle gym and said to them "Hey, you kids wanna see something really gross? There's a guy and girl making out up there behind the school! I think they might be doing it!"
"EEEEEEWWWWWW!!!!!" came the reply from the kids, but as a one they abandoned the playground and ran toward the school. As we watched them disappear behind the building we listened. Suddenly we heard a high pitched shriek, a bunch of yelling, and then a bunch of kids running back to the playground laughing like lunatics. Aiden looked at me with a huge grin on his face. We picked up the bottles and headed to his place.
As the summer of '84 progressed, so did puberty. After that incident with Peter I began questioning who and what I was. "Faggot", he had called me. Before that day I had never really thought about whether I was gay or straight. Truthfully, I didn't even know what "gay" and "straight" were, except that gay was bad according to everyone I knew and everything I heard. I didn't really start hard into puberty yet, but my hormones were stirring. I started looking more and more at other guys and thinking. Mostly I was thinking "Why am I looking at other guys?", but I was also thinking about how good they looked. I was even starting to look at guys on TV. While my friends were drooling over Jennifer on WKRP, I couldn't take my eyes off Andy. Friends were drooling over Suzanne Somers on Three's Company, I was fantasizing about John Ritter. Was I a 'faggot'? I didn't know. I did know that I had no interest in the girls that started coming around us. But I didn't feel gay. I had seen gays a few times on TV, but those gays didn't look or talk like I did, so surely I couldn't be one of them. Could I?
Those girls. Girls I had known all my life, had gone to school with, and didn't really think anything of them. They hung around with each other and did girl things, while the guys hung around together and did guy things. That's just how it always was, except now it wasn't like that anymore. Suddenly, the girls were coming around us guys. And most of the guys were welcoming them into the fold. Usually we all hung around at my house, because my bedroom was in the basement and my parents seldom bothered us down there. We had a nice big rec-room downstairs as well, with a TV and stereo. Mostly we'd sit around talking, playing on my Atari, smoking, and listening to music. Having the girls over was really no different: They played the games, smoked the smokes, etc. But then things started to change. The games we played weren't on the Atari anymore, for one thing. Or, I should say, the games they played. I certainly had no interest in playing "2 minutes in the closet", Spin the Bottle, or the like.
I used every excuse I could think of to get out of those games. I told myself that I wasn't interested because puberty hadn't set in yet, but in reality I found myself wondering what two minutes in that closet would have been like with one of the guys. These thoughts confused and scared me even more, but of course I couldn't use them as an excuse, nor could I say that I wasn't "ready", so I used the lamest excuses, including pretending that such games were "immature" and "beneath me". Some of the girls tried to get me in the games, and some of the guys needled me about not joining in, but Aiden always defended me, saying "If he doesn't want to play, it's his loss".
Toward the end of the summer I had still avoided these games and still wasn't sure exactly what I was, when we went on a family vacation to see my mother's old friend Pembroke, Ontario. My oldest brothers didn't have to come as they were 15 and 18 years old, so it was just me, Mom, Dad, and my younger sister. We would travel through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and upstate New York, where we'd turn south and hit a town called Lake George that is basically one big amusement park, then head north again to Niagara Falls, spend a few days there, then north and back into Canada to Pembroke. A very significant thing happened on this trip.
That significant thing was puberty hitting me like a freight train when I realized, very clearly, who and what I was.
It happened at my mother's friend's house in Pembroke. Her name was Donna, and she was a friend from my mother's nursing school days. She had a huge in-ground swimming pool, so of course my younger sister and I spent the whole time in it. On the last day there (we would be leaving in the morning) Donna had a few people from work over. I didn't pay much attention to any of them, except for this one guy. His name was Charles but insisted on being called Chaz, and he was very, very gay. He was also incredibly attractive. He was in his mid 20's, fit, blonde hair, blue eyes, and a perfect face. I was intrigued. Here was this guy who was obviously and proudly gay, and he was strutting around like a peacock.
As I was floating around the pool, he was floating around the yard as though he owned the place, socializing and having a ball. This seemed very strange to me, because I had always thought that being gay was something you hid; something you were ashamed of. I floated in the pool watching him and admiring him, not only for his looks but for his confidence as well. Everyone here was treating him as if he was perfectly "normal". Nobody was calling him names. It made me think.
Eventually, as the day dragged on and the weather got hotter most of the guests left. Suppertime came and went, and afterwards Donna invited everyone into the pool. I didn't need to be asked twice - I ran into the house, changed into my still-wet trunks, and flew back out into the pool. My sister had no interest, and apparently neither did any of the other guests, except for Chaz. He went into the house, then came out wearing nothing but a bright yellow thong. I'm sure that my jaw must have made a splashing sound as it hit the water. I know it sounds silly, but to me it looked like rays of light from heaven were shining down on Chaz. He had a perfect body, lightly tanned with chiseled abs, a hairless chest, and he filled his speedo out quite nicely too. I flushed and stared. If you'd have put a thermometer in that pool I'm sure the temperature would have risen by a few degrees. And the temperature wasn't the only thing that had risen!
Now then, of course I had had erections before. Morning wood, involuntary stiffies, stuff like that. This time was very different. For the first time in my life I was getting a hard on for a reason, and I was fully aware of that reason. That reason was none other than Chaz. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Thank God I was in the water and it was getting dark, or else I'd have embarrassed the hell out of myself. As it was, I was glad when he got into the water so I could stop staring. He swam a few laps back and forth across the pool while I splashed about like an idiot, then he surfaced at the other end of the pool.
If anything, the water made his curly blond hair look even better. He made a bit of small talk, asked me about school, friends, stuff like that. I don't even remember most of it, because all I could think of was how he looked coming out of that house. After he swam a few more laps and I imitated a buoy, bobbing around doing nothing, he smiled, got out of the pool, and went inside to change. I stared at him as he climbed out, toweled himself off, and walked away.
I was smitten. I knew I could never have what I wanted, but I also was 100% sure that I wanted it. There was no longer any doubt in my mind, and for the first time in my life I came to the realization that I liked guys. It was then that I knew I then that I was gay.
I waited in the pool until the coast was clear, ran to get a towel to wrap around myself and hide my still very persistent erection, and went inside. By the time I went inside Chaz and the other guests had left. I was almost relieved to not have to look at him again. I was blue from the cold water, and shivering, so my mother admonished me to bed, which was fine by me – I wanted to be alone. I had some thinking to do. Some very vivid, naughty thinking. Almost as soon as I hit the mattress I started thinking about Chaz again, and as I did so, the erection, which had never fully gone away, came back with a vengeance. I started rubbing it, and it felt good. No, it felt GREAT. In my entire life, I'd never had the urge to pay unwanted erections any attention, I'd just wished they'd go away. Not this time. I attacked that thing with enthusiasm. The more I played with it the better it felt. After a short time the feeling got so good that I scared the hell out of myself. I had my very first orgasm. I didn't know what had happened, but I knew it sure felt good! After I could move again I got up and sneaked into the bathroom to clean myself up. Puberty, it seemed, had arrived.