Friday, August 24, 2012

Excerpt from "For The ♥ Of David"–A Novel in Progress

Some of my long-time readers may have wondered why I haven't been as engaged in writing my blog this year as I was last year.  Well, the reason is because I've spent most of my writing time working on a novel, which I've titled For The ♥ Of David.

I've decided to share an excerpt of my novel with you, from Chapter 20. Please keep in mind this is still a work in progress and requires a good deal of ongoing rewriting and editing. But I couldn't be more excited to give you a peek into the story that's occupied my mind, life, and heart for almost three years.            

My hope is that, by the time you finish reading this excerpt, you'll want to know more about Brian and David, what brought them to this point in the story, and what happens to them next.

Be aware this excerpt contains some sexual content, which is critical in the telling of the story but which may make some readers uncomfortable.  Please use your discretion accordingly. 

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from For The ♥ Of David.  I welcome your constructive comments or feedback.

***

Afterward, David drove us home.

On the sixth floor, the elevator door opened, and David got out.  We talked for several minutes, about nothing really–as usual, he did most of the talking–and I held my finger on the button to keep the door from closing.

Then, David got back on.  "I'll ride up with you," he said.  "No use holding the elevator."

Moments later, the door opened on the sixteenth floor.  This time, David stayed on, and I got out.

Again, he kept talking.  It's not that he had much to say, he just went on about whatever came into his head.  

When it looked like we could be at this for some time–that is, when I realized he didn't want to be alone–I asked him, "Would you like to come in?"

"Oh, no, no, I have some things I need to do," he said, gesturing to downstairs.  He looked at me.  "Well, as long as you're offering."

In my bedroom, I changed into a T-shirt and sweatpants.

"Would you like something to drink?" I asked David.  He said no, he was still full from dinner.

When I walked into the living room, he was laying on the sofa, his head resting on a side cushion, his long legs folded beneath him.  I'd never seen him like that, at his place or mine.

"Do you want the TV on?" I asked, sitting down on the sofa at the end of his feet.

When he shrugged and didn't answer one way or the other, I turned it on and lowered the volume.

I picked up the latest issue of Architectural Digest from the seat cushion to my left and placed it on my lap.  David looked up.  "I saw that at the store today," he commented, but he added he hadn't bought it yet.

All I kept thinking was, who is this David?  In all the time I'd known him, he'd seldom settled down longer than a few minutes at a time, instead bouncing around, dropping snide, obscene, or sarcastic remarks like small bombs, calculated to get attention and laughter from those within earshot.  The David to my right was an impostor–low-key, serene, even vulnerable.  This version confused the hell out of me; I didn't know what to make of him.  

Idly, I paged through the magazine and glanced up at the TV.  From time to time, I turned to David, but he didn't look at me.  His gaze stayed on the TV, the audio low and muffled, and I watched as fatigue slowly overcame him, and his eyes began to close.

Several minutes later, he turned around on the sofa and faced the back cushion.  His legs still bent into him, he reminded me of a child, home sick from school.  

"Are you cold?" I asked quietly.  "Would you like a blanket?"

He shook his head.

For some time, we went on like this.

Then, unexpectedly, David stretched out his right leg and rested it across my lap.

I stiffened.  What the hell is he doing? I asked myself.  

Apart from pecking lightly on the lips and embracing quickly whenever we got together, we'd never touched each other.

Sometimes, when we'd been out for a walk on the seawall, the back of his hand had brushed against mine.  One recent, warm evening, I counted this happened five times.

"Don't read anything into it," David had cautioned me, when he sensed I thought something funny was going on.  "It's just an accident."

Five times?  

Holding the issue of AD above my lap with both hands, I looked down at his bare, hairy foot on me, then over at him, calmly and quietly resting at the opposite end of the sofa, his eyes closed, his body motionless.

Still, his foot freaked me out.  Should I say something, I wondered, ask him what the hell he thinks he's doing, tell him to move it?

Or should I say nothing and let him leave it where it was?  It wasn't hurting me.  In fact, I had to admit it felt kind of good, satisfying.  I was happy David felt at ease enough with me to make himself comfortable.  For a moment, it seemed as though we were a couple, settling down for a quiet evening at home together.  I hadn't felt that way in years.  Maybe I never had.    

I put the magazine down on the sofa and stared at the TV, seeing nothing, taking in the sensations of being so physically close to David, to another man.  I did not touch his foot.

Then it moved.  Its toes curled and began to press into my lap.

I looked over at David, wondering what was going on.  Perhaps he was adjusting his position, making himself more comfortable, nothing more.  He continued to face the back of the sofa–his eyes closed, his face expressionless, his body still–while his foot moved as though it were separate from the rest of him.

It became increasingly active, beginning to rub me through my sweatpants.  I felt my penis stir. The rubbing continued for several minutes, his foot applying increased pressure, becoming more purposeful in its task.

I looked down at what was going on in my lap, dumbstruck.  I did nothing.  I couldn't do anything, I felt paralyzed.  

To look at David laying so peacefully, you would have thought his foot had a will of its own.  Who knew what it's intention was, what it was so determined to do?

I learned soon enough.

In a few minutes, his insistent toes found their way not only under the loose waistband of my sweatpants but also of my shorts, and they were moving downward.  They made contact with the head of my partially erect shaft, and with that sweet spot just below. All the while, I stared at what was happening in my lap, wordlessly allowing it.  

Still laying down, his eyes closed, his face without expression, David shifted onto his back, as if moving in his sleep.  In that position, he was able to use his large and index toes to grasp me.

I was stunned and mute, waiting to see where this would end.  When it became clear, as I looked down at my bare, erect dick, and at David's toes, stroking me up and down, I found my voice.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

I'd awoken the old David.  All at once, he leapt from the sofa, bursting into laughter as though possessed, scaring the hell out of me.

"Pretty talented foot, huh?" he asked between whoops of laughter.  I watched as his hands began to unbutton his shirt.  "Looks like someone's up for fun tonight," he continued.  "Literally."  As he nodded at the bulge in my sweatpants, he tossed his shirt on the sofa, opened his belt, and unzipped his pressed jeans.

I watched in horror.  His getting undressed unnerved me.  I'd never seen his body naked, covered in all that revolting fur he'd laughingly compared to Grover, from Sesame Street, that first time we'd talked on the phone.

How had our evening together, starting off so peacefully, and with such promise, turned into this?  I felt as though the room around me was spiralling out of control.

"I don't know what you're talking about," I said.  I told him I'd been sitting on the sofa, relaxing, minding my own business, enjoying the evening together, when this foot began doing things I didn't understand.  "I had nothing to do with this," I said.

"But you didn't say anything, did you?" David asked.  "You didn't stop me.  You knew as well as I did what was going on, and you did nothing."

"I was too shocked to do anything."

"Oh, what a pile of shit," David said laughing.  "Just admit it–you want this as much as I do."

"No.  I don't," I objected, shaking my head.  Seeing David wearing only his boxers then felt foreign to me, inappropriate, even disgusting.  "Just because I have an erection doesn't mean I want to have sex with you."  I realized how contradictory that sounded. "You're the one with the 'talented' foot, rubbing my crotch, remember?  Not me."  

Still laughing, David bounded for my bedroom around the corner, his underwear now off, his erection bobbing in front of him.  I heard him crawl inside my bedding, all the while giggling like a little girl.  

"You have this all wrong, you know?" I called from the living room.  The laughter in the bedroom continued.  "You might as well get out of my bed," I added a few moments later.  "We're not having sex."

The idea of getting into bed with David, let alone being intimate with him, mortified me.  Seeing him naked for the first time turned me off, not on.  I couldn't imagine touching him without becoming physically sick to my stomach.

Besides, David was a friend, not someone I'd considered having sex with–at least not since the first time we'd met (and even only slightly then).  I'd heard about sex between friends, and how close friendships had been ruined that way.  Being intimate with David would change everything.  How could it not?  

As much as I'd begun, unconsciously, I see now, to put some distance between David and me, I didn't have so many friends that I could risk losing one, because we'd been stupid enough to cross that line, to treat each other like a one-night stand.

"Sure we are," David said, still giggling, although less enthusiastically now.  "Come here."

Reluctantly, I walked to the door of my bedroom and looked in.  There, in the darkness, I saw the mound of David's body under my sheets and quilt, his head on my pillow.  You would have thought he belonged there, that this was not the first time he and I had been here.  

I leaned against the doorframe, looking at the goofy smile on his face, the excitement in his eyes, and I shook my head.  I couldn't believe we'd been relaxing together on the sofa just a few minutes earlier, and now, he was naked in my bed, thinking the two of us were going to have sex.  

It wasn't going to happen, no way in hell.  I'd make sure of that.  

My thoughts turned to how I'd convince him to get out of my bed and into the living room, where he'd put his clothes back on.  Then, the boundaries of our friendship still in tact, he'd unceremoniously leave my apartment.  In the days to come, we'd be able to look at each other again without feeling embarrassed, and neither of us would ever mention what almost happened.  He'd thank me later for my level head and good sense.

"Come lay with me, Brian," David said then, opening the sheets to me.  

And, just like that, his mood changed again.  As he spoke, he was different, subdued like he'd been at the restaurant earlier in the evening, where we'd enjoyed a peaceful meal together.  A calmness had overtaken him.  He was no longer laughing, not even a giggle.

"I'm not having sex with you," I said.

But the tone of my voice surprised me.  It didn't sound nearly as determined as before. Had David noticed?  I hoped not.

"What's the problem?" David asked, his voice low and soothing now.  "You're single. I'm single.  No one's going to get hurt."  He paused.  "It's just a little fun," he added, quieter still.  "Nothing more.  It doesn't have to change anything, if we don't let it."  

When I continued to object, with less conviction than I intended, he stopped me.

"We love each other, don't we?" he asked.

I suppose we did, in our own way.  I'd never thought of it like that.  I'd never considered two close friends could love each other, probably because I'd never had a friend as close as he was before.    
  
"Take your clothes off and come lay here with me," David continued.  His voice was so inviting now.  I felt my resistance breaking down.  "You know you can trust me.  I won't hurt you."

By then, I knew anything I said would betray me.  

I paused.  I watched him look at me from under the covers and slowly stepped into my bedroom, where I'd slept for over two years, where I hadn't brought even one man in that time.  In some strange way, the room, and everything in it, no longer felt like it was mine.  

Hesitantly, I began to undress.

David had never seen me naked before either, and I didn't want him to now.  What would he think of how I looked with my clothes off?  Would he be reminded of why he told me years before that I wasn't his type–because, I discovered later, I didn't have the looks or the body or whatever it was that made him look at one attractive man one minute, and another the next?    

With his calm, reassuring voice, David told me everything would be fine.  He repeated he wouldn't hurt me, promising we wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with.   

Naked, I got into bed, laying as close to the edge of the water-filled mattress as I could. My back to David, too frightened to face him, I held the covers close.  He moved toward me and wrapped himself around my body.  We were spooning, even though I didn't know what that was.  

At first, David and me naked in the same bed together was one of the most unusual experiences I'd ever had, and it took everything I had not to get up, not to flee into the living room and pretend none of this was happening.  

Still, there was something about being there with him, even in our vulnerable state, that felt oddly right, as though it were meant to be, on that particular night, at that particular time.  After all, it was just the two of us, wasn't it?  And no one would ever know what we did.    

"I'm so scared," I whispered, exhaling the words.  I couldn't stop myself from shaking.

"There's nothing to be scared of.  You're safe with me."

David held me firmly against his warm, hairy, and consoling body, saying little, focusing only on helping me feel secure.  It wasn't until some time later my teeth stopped chattering, and my body no longer shook.  

Eventually, after we'd laid quietly for a long time, and I knew I belonged where I was, I found myself willing, when David asked, to make love to him.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Invitation to Reach Out


You know what makes me sad?  A lot of things do, but especially this:    

There are people all over the world who have no one they can talk to about thinking they might be gay, or about being gay, or about what they're going through because of it.   

Often, they can't say anything to their parents or friends for fear of what might happen, how they might be judged, even how they could be disowned or unfriended. They can't say anything to people they work with for fear of losing their jobs.  And they can't say anything to their religious leaders for fear of being told there's something wrong with them, and they need to be cured.  So the only option is to keep whatever they need to say inside.       

Until I came out, there was no one I could talk to about how I felt, how scared I was that I was probably gay, how fearful I was of what my future might look like as a gay man.  And, even after I came out, there was so much I needed to say, to someone–anyone–about what I was going through.  But I didn't know who I could trust, who wouldn't use what I said against me, who wouldn't make me feel worse than I already did.   

I could never have known that, when I started this blog over three years ago, a door would open, and I'd hear from people around the world–mostly young people, needing to share their stories about being gay, to ask questions, but, most of all, to be heard.  Invariably, I was excited to hear from them, and I always took seriously what they wrote, responding in the sincerest and most helpful way I could.      

For some time, I've wanted take this blog to the next level in the service of others, but I didn't know how.  Well, I think I've figured it out, and, as a result, I want to extend this invitation to you:  

If you are one of the people I describe above (young or older); if you have something you need to share about thinking you're gay, knowing you are, or a challenge associated with it; and if you have no one you can talk to (or even if you do), write me. If you're anything like me, sometimes all you need is an opportunity to say what's going on inside; often, that's all it takes.  

I promise I will read what you write (that is, someone will hear what you've said). And, depending on how many people I hear from, and if I think I can offer you something you might find helpful, I will respond back (if you want me to, of course; no sense giving advice or offering suggestions if they're not wanted).       

The bottom line is, I want you to know you are not alone with your difficult, confusing, or painful thoughts and feelings about being gay.  You have someone you can talk to, and that someone is me.  I'm just an email away.  Reach out.  I want to hear from you. 

(To email me, click "Send Mail" under the heading "Email Me" at the top righthand side of my blog. )   

Friday, August 10, 2012

No Limits


At the end of last June, the above four signs appeared on the street side of a building on a local high school property.  (Originally, the school was intended to be a vocational facility; however, because of the number of families that moved to the area–and other high schools in the community near capacity–it became a traditional academic facility as well.)

It's difficult to see some of the signs clearly (unless you click on the picture to enlarge it), but the four vocational fields identified are Metal Fabricator, Carpentry, Culinary Arts, and Hairstyle/Cosmetology (yes, I know, the first and last should be Metal Fabrication and Hairstyling/Cosmetology, to be consistent with the other two).  Each sign shows a picture of a young person one might expect to enrol in that program.  Obviously, the pictures are intended to help local young people see themselves take the apprenticeship training and eventually work in one of these areas.       

What concerned me about the pictures–and the point of my post–is that some of them perpetuate gender stereotypes.  In the Metal Fabricator picture, for example, is a handsome young man, while in the Hairstyle/Cosmetology picture is an pretty young lady. That's all well and good, as far as gender stereotypes go, but what if a local young lady wanted to enrol as a Metal Fabricator, and what if a local young man wanted to take the Hairstyling/Cosmetology program?  Would either be discouraged because he or she didn't see someone of his or her gender in the picture?  Even worse, would either think something was wrong with him or her because he or she was interested in a non-traditional program or career for someone of his or her gender?  

It feels to me that, when the signs were made, assumptions were also made: namely, that the Metal Fabricator program would never appeal to a young lady, or the Hairstyling/Cosmetology program would never appeal to a young man.  But, of course, we all know these assumptions could be wrong.  And no one should ever be discouraged from pursuing a field of study or a line of work because someone of his or her gender isn't traditionally found in them.

The sign for Culinary Arts has it right.  In it, a young lady is in the foreground, while a young man is in the background, obviously suggesting someone of either gender might be interested in this program or career.  If only the same consideration had been paid to the pictures on the Metal Fabricator and Hairstyle/Cosmetology signs (not to mention the Carpentry sign, as well).  Sure, on the Metal Fabricator sign, show the young man up front, but ensure a young lady is behind, too (or, even better, show the young woman up front and the young man behind, just to mix things up a bit).  And vice versa regarding the Hairstyle/Cosmetology sign.  

All I'm asking is, let's think broader than the obvious.  Let's not make assumptions based on gender or stereotype.  Open up the world of school programs and careers for both genders, in all areas, because no one should ever be pigeonholed or discouraged from doing what he or she really wants to.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thought for the Day, #47 (Pride)

Vancouver Sun columnist Shelley Fralic had the following to say–which I couldn't agree with more wholeheartedly–in "Get those dangling bits, boobs and bums under wraps," in the Tuesday, August 7, 2012 edition, about the display of nudity at the Vancouver Pride parade this past weekend:

We get the girls and boys just want to have fun, but it seems especially odd that a rights movement as serious as the LGBT one, which has seen lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people endure decades of physical and social discrimination in their fight to be recognized legally and socially–as they most certainly should be–would choose sexually explicit caricature as a business card for what is arguably their most high-profile public relations blitz.  (p. A4)

So, to my gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters, who showed their "bits, boobs and bums" in the parade, I ask the question, what the hell are you doing?

Maybe you don't think your actions matter, but they do.  Keep in mind you're not just representing yourself; you're representing all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.  And it's pretty damn difficult for the mainstream community–which we are still a part of–to accept and embrace us, let alone to fight along side us for our human rights, when we appear not to have respect for ourselves or for anyone else.

We can do better than this.  We must do better than this.  If you can't stop yourself from being naked in the annual Pride parade, stay home.

*

To read in more detail why I've skipped the past four Pride parades since moving back to Vancouver in 2009, please click the following post titles:

"Pride," July 30, 2009
"Living Pride," July 30, 2010
"Views and Reviews of Vancouver's Recent Pride Parade," August 10, 2011

Friday, August 3, 2012

It Is What It Is (Make It Better or Worse, Depending on Your Attitude)

Long before I retired from my job with one of Canada's major financial institutions in mid-2007, I was unhappy.  Actually, I was miserable.  Ownership of the company had changed, a new Vice President had been appointed, and expectations reached an all-time high.

So many on the leadership team felt as I did.  We'd mutter amongst ourselves about how difficult our jobs had become, how we never had enough time in the course of a day, how unrelenting pressure sucked the little remaining pleasure and fulfillment we derived from what we did.  And any time one of us talked to our VP about our grievances, the message was always the same:  It is what is it.

I can't tell you how hearing that, either from the VP or from one of my colleagues–who'd also heard it from the VP–used to frustrate me.  If I'd heard it one more time, well, I may have lost it.

I used to wonder, how does telling us that address our problems?  He was the VP, for goodness sake.  If he knew his leadership team was unhappy, all he had to do was push back on the expectations of the higher-ups and ease our burden.  The solution was obvious to me.  How could it not be to him?          

But the truth is, I didn't get it.  It is what it is.  What the hell does that mean?  I was so caught up in my day-to-day anxieties, frustrations, and anger that I failed to see the simplicity of the message.  In the five years since I've left that company, its meaning has become so much clearer.    

So what does it mean?  It means, whatever happens, happens.  End of story.  And it will continue to happen, regardless of whether we want it to, because it's out of our control to change it.  So we might as well get used to it.  It's reality.  It's really going on.  And all the negative emotions it generates within us won't change it one speck.  

If you think about it, it is what it is applies to every area of our lives.  Here's a good example:  We're stuck in traffic on the freeway.  Nothing we can do about that, right?  It is what it is.  About our only option is to be patient and wait.  Or to exit the freeway at the next off-ramp.  All the negative energy we feel toward being stuck in a car going nowhere won't do us a bit of good.  In fact, it could make matters worse.  Much worse  So, take a deep breath.  You may be there for a while.  Sooner or later, traffic will move again, and you'll get to where you're going.

That's how I look at what's going on now in the United States with Chick-fil-A, the Southern Baptists, and the anti-gay movement.  It is what it is.

Yesterday, I watched a video recorded outside a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Hollywood, California.  For approximately six minutes, I listened to misguided and misinformed people make outrageous and insulting statements about gay and lesbian people.  (I have no intention of repeating what they said here, because my blog is an anti-gay-free zone.  The last thing the anti-gay people deserve is another platform, especially on a that's intended to improve the experience of being gay.)  

When the video was over, I was furious.  My blood pressure pounded in my head.  How could they say things like that?  They didn't know me.  They didn't know anything about the life I live with Chris in a suburb of Metro Vancouver, the number of years we've been together, or the committed and monogamous nature of our relationship.  Where did they get off thinking what they said applied to all gay people?

I hadn't written a post for my blog in some time, but I was determined to write one yesterday, spewing off about what I'd heard, how ignorant some people are, and asking how they had the gall to call themselves Christians when they were so filled with judgment and hate.

It would not have been the first post I've written to rebut some insult directed at gay people in general and me in particular.  In fact, all of those posts are still here if you care to look for them.  I haven't removed even one, because they're a part of who I was at a time when I let things like that get to me, when I was motivated by the negative energy of other people, and not by what I know in my heart to be true about me and so many other gay people.

So my reaction toward what's happening at the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain is probably atypical.  As far as I'm concerned, let the Southern Baptists say whatever they want about gay and lesbian people.  They will anyway.  It is what it is.  The fact is, they may be loud, and awful and unfortunate words may leave their mouths, but they're only embarrassing themselves by being on the wrong side of the argument.  They're a dying breed.  They no longer speak for the majority of people today, who know gays and lesbians are no less deserving of civil rights than any other minority.

Why do we let these people anger us?  Why do we think we would ever change their opinions?  Why would we want to?  It's not converting the opinions of a conservative Southern Baptist in California that will make my life any easier or better (or the life of a gay person in the U.S., for that matter).  Incrementally, in so many little ways each and every day, the tide is turning in our favor, and it's only a matter of time before those against us are rendered irrelevant.

We can speed that along by not giving them the time of day.  Stop being angry.  Stop wasting your time and energy trying to counter them.  Let them sound off with their hate and their ignorance and their bigotry, and, instead, devote your precious time on earth to setting the example of what it really means to be filled with acceptance and love.

It is what is it.