H. Wayne Schow
Entries from Brad’s Journals, 1975-86
[p. 21]At the age of fifteen, Brad began to keep a personal journal. Together with friends from school, he was encouraged by his high school LDS seminary teacher to do so. For an introspective youth, it was an activity congenial to his personality and soon became an established part of his routine. During the remainder of his life, he filled seven notebooks and bound journals. They constitute a vivid revelation of his character and temperament, a record of his evolving values and of his quest for self-understanding and personal acceptance. It is ironic that the life path his journals reveal moved dramatically away from the course charted in his seminary instruction.
As with many personal journals, there are lapses in Brad’s entries. That those silences seem so regrettable is a measure of the engaging quality of what he did write. The value derives in part from the candor. During his high school years, Brad wrestled as most diarists do with finding an acceptable persona. The desire to be approved in terms of family or religious or social values censors, consciously or unconsciously, what he records. It is not so much that he expects his entries to be read, at least not immediately; rather he is so conscious of external expectations that he reflects the persona he feels compelled to assume in his life.
[p. 22]Year by year, little by little, he moves toward more honest statements (at times startlingly candid) and a more insightful assessment of his feelings. He makes no effort to hide or disguise his faults, misbehaviors, desires. The writing is truly done for himself, a way of seeking to clarify what is confusing in his life. It is as if the stakes grow larger and he must drop any posturing. This together with his growing intellectual sophistication results in a record as complex as its subject.
Filled with contradictions, paradoxes, polar tensions, it reveals a young man with a mercurial temperament whose perplexing moodswings are unpredictable to himself as well as to others, and for whom as a result life’s joys and sorrows are extreme. It shows a gentle romantic whose sensitivities are encouraged by the sentimental side of his religious upbringing. At the same time, it reveals a rebel, an obedient son who nevertheless bristles against authority, whose dark side causes him to be irritated with those who are complacently comfortable, including family and friends. And because the environment in which he matures implicitly urges suppression of that dark side, his journal becomes a place where he can express it, an escape valve from sweetness and reason. His journal is, as he once wrote, “a place to trash things.”
These journals are remarkable for the degree to which they exclude the external world, or, more precisely, they reflect it only indirectly as externalities contribute to his feelings. If he refers to clean sheets or symphonies or friends or the weather, such references are couched in terms of his enjoyment or displeasure. The focus is primarily and consistently inward. He can be extraordinarily self-reflective, subjectively analytical. Repeatedly he dreams of becoming a significant artist, but he is so preoccupied with personal dilemmas that he cannot marshall the energy and discipline needed for artistic endeavor. His ability to act effortlessly and spontaneously is repeatedly undermined by his cerebral recognition of complexity, ambiguity, irony. Early on in the journals, one sees frequent contradictory assessments. [p. 23]Youthfully naive, he is probably not aware of a number of them. Yet they derive often from his unconscious ambivalence. As he grows older, he becomes more aware, but the ambiguities continue.
His self-criticism is severe and sometimes verges on morbidity. He tries almost desperately to love himself but finds it difficult to do. Why? The idealism of his upbringing, which so many of us take with a grain of salt, he takes seriously. He is intelligent enough to see the contradictions between the moral ideal and the real, but he requires that they be reconciled. His problem is a conscience too highly developed, too dominating, and when he tries to throw it out and live with abandon, he can only temporarily escape the guilt. All of which seems clearly apparent in the record he left. It is painful for me as his father to recognize these effects of moral training that was well intended. I find myself wishing somehow that we had instead trained him as a picaro. He could then doubtless have borne his life more lightly.
In nothing is the perplexity of his life so evident as in the matter of his sexuality. This subject dominates the journals. He does not begin to discuss overtly his homosexual orientation until he is nearly nineteen and entering college, but it is clear both from veiled comments in earlier entries and from what he subsequently has to say that he agonizes over this taboo not only throughout his teenage years but to the end of his life. The issue throws him off stride in virtually all aspects of his personal adjustment.
Repeatedly, he tries to persuade himself that he can fall in love with a woman. Marriage and children are so important to his programming for a happy life that anything else is virtually unthinkable. As he acknowledges his desire for gay relationships, he continues to try to work out scenarios in which such a lifestyle can be reconciled morally with fatherhood. He recognizes the virtual impossibility of this but clings to its remote possibility.
How sad it seems to see him struggling to accept his gay orientation but always stymied at a deeper level because of guilt [p. 24]and awareness of establishment disapproval. He wrestles the matter back and forth, belaboring the same points, believing his own arguments but then in moments of self-doubt denying them. Cursed—or blessed—with a powerful libido, he could not find a satisfactory and lasting outlet for it, and sex became indeed the unceasing thorn in his flesh.
Readers will doubtless interpret his dilemma and its causes in various ways, but two things are clear. For whatever reasons there is a pronounced and genuine homosexual element in his sexuality, and he suffers profoundly as a result of his inability to overcome conflicts occasioned by his church’s and society’s powerful disapproval.
The journal entries selected here constitute only a small part of the seven books. Regrettably, I have omitted much detail relating to friends, schooling, family relations, work, leisure activities, aesthetic interests, and the hedonistic life in Los Angeles. Even in representing the major themes of the journals, I have had to be selective. As a result, one loses part of the documentary power of these manuscripts. One loses also some of the pathos of frequent iteration. Nevertheless, readers should be aware that each entry is in some way broadly representative and can therefore be multiplied. Regrettably, the gaps in his account remain, those hiatuses when the writing stopped.
Traced in the pages of his journals, Brad’s life developed along a path that was, if not inevitable, then at least, given his temperament and cultural positioning, somewhat predictable. I have often asked myself what, if he had lived longer, the remainder of his life would have been. Perhaps it might have paralleled in some ways the development of his prose in the journals. It is pleasing to observe his growth as a writer over those years. The enthusiastic scribbler of the early notebooks was gradually replaced by both a more mature stylist and a shrewder, more insightful observer of himself and others. He did this substantially on his own, without the benefit of formal writing instruction and criticism beyond college composition. The development was a [p. 25]result of his reading, his life experience, and his passion for expression. I like to think that his life, like his writing, would have moved beyond its turbulent apprenticeship, that he would have gradually found self-assurance and a comfortable standing place. Perhaps his evolution can benefit others who travel somewhere along a similar path of development.
* * *
[Age 16—sophomore year, high school]
JUNE 21, 1975: Tom and I went over to Kimberly’s tonight. It was pretty fun. We sat around talking and laughing for quite a long time. I think that I could really like her. An awful lot. I don’t know. I am really relaxed around her, and I can be myself. Sometimes I think that maybe she might like me. I don’t know though. I probably just imagine it, but there are times I sure hope I don’t!! The thing about it is that I don’t really want to go with anyone. I just want to find that one special girl and just become terrific good friends—but still be more than that.
JULY 19, 1975: How empty my life seems at this time, for the spirit of the Lord has left me. It is gone for reasons that I know of but of which I shall not write. It makes me feel so awful. When I try to pray there is nothing but blank!! Nothing.
JULY 27, 1975 [Excerpt from letter to a friend]: I’m really getting excited about going on a [two-year full-time proselyting] mission [for the LDS church]. I can’t wait until I’m old enough to get my call. I don’t care where I go, but I wouldn’t mind leaving the country and going to Israel or Russia or China. Those would be my preferences, in that order.
I want to teach the gospel to people who don’t have it. I want to do that so much. It’s not so much that I want to convert them to Mormonism, but rather I would like to teach them the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that sounds strange, but it makes sense to me [p. 26]at least. I want to do that work for the Lord. I know he would help me. I also know that it would be very hard, but that it would help me grow.
AUGUST 3, 1975: Tom and I have decided to organize a street dance. We’ve been recording good songs on tapes with his new reel-to-reel, and we’ll have to see if everybody would like to help. It would be great. Tom is such a special person to me. We do everything together. But I’m so afraid that what happened to the friendship with George will happen again. And I don’t want this friendship ever to stop. I hate to start getting close to people because if you stop being friends, you can really get hurt. I really do love him an awful lot.
Friends and friendships are deluxe things when it comes down to it. Especially when you are real close. You learn to love your closest friends just like family. And that’s how I want it to stay. I don’t think I could give up my friendships with Tom and Wendy and Kimberly for all the world. They mean too much to me.
AUGUST 12, 1975: There are so many times lately that I become confused and disoriented. Times that I suddenly can’t think straight, as though someone has taken me and shaken me upside down for an hour and all my thoughts have slipped into a jumbled mess. It isn’t a sickness or anything of that sort, but there are times when it seems as if everything rushes to my head all at once and demands to be thought about right then. But that doesn’t exactly present the clearest picture possible … .
I want to take some art classes next year at school, and I would really like to be able to draw better. I wish I could find a teacher who would get in and work with me and help me develop at it. I think I have the potential to be a fairly good artist. This is also the way I feel about the piano. I would like to start taking lessons again, from someone who could really work with me. Also, I wish I could [p. 27]take some writing classes at school. I wish I could do that a little better too.
* * *
[Junior year, high school]
SEPTEMBER 10, 1975: Tonight Bishop Staheli called me and said he would like to talk to me for a while. So I went to see him and he asked me to be president of the mutual program in our ward [Mutual Improvement Association for youth]. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t been to mutual for about six months. But he said that the choice hadn’t been made quickly, that much thought had gone into it. I accepted.
I’m so excited. I can’t wait. I’m going to give it everything I’m worth. I will be in charge of everything. It is really going to be a challenge. I’m so thankful for this calling. Now I have a reason to go to mutual. Before it was so boring to me that I just quit going. I surely hope and pray the Lord will bless me and help me do this job well.
OCTOBER 13, 1975: I have just finished the Book of Mormon. It was wonderful … . I put the promise to the test, and it worked (you know, Moroni 10:4). I prayed twice, and I still wanted to pray more. I was so happy … . I prayed for forgiveness also of the many terrible sins that I’ve committed. And this time I know he forgave me. I asked that his spirit would come to me and that from this time on it would never leave me, ever! It’s left before and there would only be a great empty gap inside of me. I asked that I would be able to resist the temptations put before me by Satan and that I would never do anything again that would give the spirit cause to leave.
OCTOBER 22, 1975: Today I am filled with a joy for life. A real, true, overflowing love of life. I don’t know when I’ve felt more contented. I’ll try to explain why. Today was Dad’s birthday. Well, it started to snow just slightly early this morning. Then later on in the [p. 28]afternoon it began to come hurrying down as if those snowflakes were late for an appointment. Really snowing hard in other words! The radio said that it was going to freeze, so Mom decided we’d better dig up all the carrots and beets out of the garden. So when Dad got home, guess what we did? We all went out in the mud and the cold and the blizzard, and the whole family dug up carrots and beets for quite a while. It was so cold. But we were doing it as a family. (Now here is a place I can’t describe.) It struck me as being neat.
Then because Mom didn’t have time to cook a big dinner, we just had some frozen pies. I remember when we came in from the garden all cold and wet how warm the house was and how good those pies smelled baking. It was great. So we didn’t have a fancy dinner to celebrate Dad’s birthday like we usually do. And then me and Roger and Mike had to hurry and go to road show [drama] practice and mutual, so we gave Dad his two small presents which weren’t very much and sang happy birthday to him and hurried on our way. I know that this birthday was special to Dad. It wasn’t big, but it was special.
At mutual Roger and Suzanne Staheli (the bishop’s daughter and Roger’s girlfriend) and I just ran around in the snow outside the church and rolled and laughed and played. We ate the snow and threw it at each other and all of us got wet. It was dark but light the way it always is when it snows. We knocked all the snow off the trees so they wouldn’t break and made tracks and ran around. It was so much fun and we were so happy. (Here is another place that I can’t describe!) It was just the time and the place and the snow and the cold and the dark night but light sky.
And then when we came home, I was struck again by the moment. The house was so warm and inviting. Mom and Dad sat in the living room watching the news, and outside the floodlights were on and I could see all the trees just loaded down with snow and so white and pretty. You’ve probably heard about winter fairylands, well this was one. I could see the snow coming down so heavy.
[p. 29]Everything was so wonderful and good. My parents, the lights on in the living room, the soft murmur of the TV, the snow outside, the heavy laden trees and the inviting warmth of the house. This all took place in just a second, but to me it was wonderful. We were all so content and happy. And then when everybody was going to bed, I turned off all the lights in the house and sat in the living room on the couch with the radio playing soft music and watched the snow fall. It was falling more gently now; it was so beautiful. And again I felt the security and peace.
And now I sit here alone in my room writing this messy scribble. I can feel God’s spirit with me and about this house and know that he is watching over us. I hope that my children will some day be able to experience this happiness in much the same way. And I hope that their home and family will be as special to them as mine are to me.
APRIL 14, 1976: At times I feel so unhappy and dissatisfied with what I am, what I stand for and believe in, the things that I do, etc. I feel that my character is lacking, but when I try to pinpoint the places where this is so I find that I don’t know how to change it. It seems to get up and run away from me. Sometimes I would like so very much to be able to lie down and go to sleep, and then wake up later and be able to start again … . There are things that I have done and things that I do now that seem to hang around my neck like a heavy stone, determined to pull me down till I drown.
I think a lot about forgiveness and about repentance. I wonder if there isn’t something different to it than what the church says. It doesn’t seem to agree with me the way they put it. I think that perhaps one has to forgive oneself instead of God doing the forgiving, for I think that we can be greater critics of ourselves than he will ever be. Heavenly Father loves us, but I think that many times we don’t. Isn’t that true? Sometimes I can’t seem to forgive myself for things done a long time ago. It’s not an easy thing, I guess it wasn’t meant to be. But it can be so hard on one … . I remember the great struggles that I would have with [Satan], how it always [p. 30]brought me down very low to the point where I could not withstand his temptations and I gave in to him. I then classified myself as far lower than a Hindu “untouchable.” I think that this has not been exactly healthy for my state of mind. But about Satan, I don’t think he is always there prompting me. I wonder if he doesn’t let us fight our own natural desires. I think that we attribute more to him than he deserves, make him a whipping boy. Perhaps he uses depression and fear as tools to accomplish what he wants. I do think that we can be “masters of our own fate.” I believe that Heavenly Father has gotten to a point where he has mastered the most difficult problem he ever faced–himself. He, like us, chose to come to earth and had the same kinds of problems to overcome. He had sexual desires that he had to learn to control, he had a temper that had to be mastered, and so forth.
AUGUST 27, 1976: I find there is growing tension in myself about the church. I almost hate it. It’s too confining, yet I am of it. It’s too deeply set in me to be able to chuck it, though sometimes that’s what I’d like to do. But the funny thing is, sometimes I almost work to make myself not find any of it agreeable. I find myself trying to be negative about it. Silly! I suppose that would be Satan’s work. That’s another thing I’m tired of. Him! He’s always around. Why can’t I be a gentle, believing, conforming church-lover like so many of the others. Sometimes it sounds so inviting. But it goes against my whole grain. It turns my guts over.
I am disgusted with myself too, over my inability to cope with temptation, my weak will power, my selfishness, my obstinacy, etc. That’s not a very bright personal picture. I have so much self-confidence, ha ha! I wonder why I’ve turned out as I have. A mix-up.
* * *
[Senior year, high school]
AUGUST 30, 1976: Why am I so irritable? I can hardly stand to be [p. 31]around my family, they just get on my nerves something terrible. I want to get away from here, away from them. I know I’m acting immature. But I’m also getting tired of always worrying about that. I need to just straighten up! I need someone to shake me good and hard! I need to act my age. Snap to, Brad!
School started today. It’s going to be a great last year, I think. My classes are good. They’re all going to be interesting and fun. It sure is nice to be back home again and going to dear old Poky [Pocatello High School].
OCTOBER 25, 1976: My journal—sometimes I use it as my dumping ground, placing in it all the hateful, mean feelings inside me. I throw them away here. But other times it becomes my trusted friend. My one and only true listener. To it I bring my feelings of elation, of joy, emotions so full I am not able to carry them alone anymore.
APRIL 7, 1977 [after an extended description of the sights and sounds and smells of a spring evening]: I hear the breeze rustle far away, and then it comes nearer and nearer through the grass like a sleek animal, until I feel it pass across my face and tousle my hair. I can hear the cats playing in the grass above me. The bells around their necks tinkle as they cavort, as they carry out their mock attacks on each other. The evening star has just come out. I’ll have to make a wish. I wish that my children will be able sometime in their lives to enjoy and love an evening as pleasant as this one is for me.
* * *
[After high school graduation]
JULY 30, 1977: I am fascinated by my growing up experience. I can see myself mellowing; I can roll with the punches so much easier now than say two years ago. I have found that I can cope with the constant onset of arrows and bombs in forms of school pressure, family, church, and love—and of course the ever-present, never-[p. 32]ceasing sexual drive. Well, about that last one I’m not so sure, but anyway with the others it is not so bad.
Sex is such a puzzling, intriguing thing. I don’t quite know how to deal with it yet. The church says one thing, my drives say another. It’s certainly not an easy thing to figure out, and it certainly isn’t logical! I mean, I know all the physical aspects of it, technical names, etc., but it’s the emotional part that’s so hard to come to terms with.
Sex is always surrounding me, or rather my peers and me. On the one hand we are told that it is taboo, while on the other we hear “Go for it!” in our music, our dress, in our own bodies. I suppose I sound more lost and floundering than I really am. But one can become confused.
Sometimes I get so lonely. I feel so thirsty for love. I want so badly for someone to take me in their arms and hold me. I don’t mean parents’ love or brothers’ or friends’, but that deeper, more meaningful love that makes one more of a whole person. But it couldn’t be just anyone. It would have to be someone whom I love very much, and they would have to feel the same for me. I couldn’t compromise in a relationship like that. That’s why none of my short loves have been very long. I’d always realize they weren’t quite what I was looking for in a girl that got to have the privilege of being mine, ha ha. But—sometime I’ll find her.
Yea!! College starts in a month. I can’t wait! At last I think I’ll be in my element. High school wasn’t it! Not for me. I’m going to take lots of liberal arts—French, history, philosophy, writing, literature. Also swimming and fencing.
* * *
[At Idaho State University]
SEPTEMBER 11, 1977 [after writing about his first impressions of college life at Idaho State University, while still living at home]: The church has really been closing in on me lately. Sometimes I feel as though I’m drowning. I look at the Mormons around me; they seem [p. 33]content, prosperous, and happy people, but they frighten me. They’re sponges, soaking up whatever they’re told without giving thought to what’s been said. And I hear the Bishop telling me not to reason things out, that the church must be accepted on faith. I don’t know what faith is, at least in that sense. How funny. A thing that is supposed to bring joy (the church) has brought more turmoil and unhappiness into my life than anything I can think of … . The Mormon girls that I see at school are all the same. Granted there are the good looking ones and the sweet-spirited ones, but its the sponge part of them that gets me. And then there are the non-Mormon girls. I like Barbara. We have more in common in our likes and interests than any girl I’ve ever met before but—nope, I can’t really get serious with her, even though I’ve thought about it.
How can I explain this? None of them is deeply appealing to me. None of them! I feel little or no attraction to any of them, no matter how they’re built. Jake and the other guys fall all over themselves in their panting. I think that their bark is a lot fiercer than their bite, but at least they do feel something. Mom said something like, “Well, I would suppose that you’re normal and are attracted to girls?” Hmmmm—Well you see, Mom, ever since I can remember from the time I was little I’ve been attracted to guys. Hmmmm—Actually I fell all over myself to convince her of my “normality.” I don’t know … . How does one deal with that kind of touchy subject?
I remember around the fifth and sixth grade when Roger, Ken Martin, and I would sneak a look at the Playboy magazines at the super market. I knew that I was supposed to get excited and all turned on but—nothing. There was a naked woman with big boobs. So what. But I’d fake it. “Oh wow! Boy! Look at that!” I don’t despise girls or hate them or dislike to touch them. The ones I know well are like my sisters. I’ve never kissed one on the mouth—one doesn’t usually do that with sisters.
I’ve dated quite a lot. Some dates I enjoyed; others I could have done without. I’ve been attracted to some girls almost strongly, but never for long. Once in a while I feel a twinge in the loins as one walks by, but it quickly leaves. Am I gay? Perhaps. I’ve lived with [p. 34]this attraction to the masculine body, have wrestled with it, cried about it, and at times almost accepted it for so long that I’m not sure what to think. At one time when I found out what homosexuality was and that the church and “God” thought it was awful, I hoped it was only a passing phase. It’s taking a long time to pass. The guilt I have felt in not being able to suppress such desires has given me some conception of what hell is sure to be like. It’s not good for a twelve-year-old kid to have to carry that around on his shoulders. My parents have wondered what always made me so unhappy. How sad that I couldn’t tell them. I’ve had this all bottled up now for eight years or so. It’s not been a party.
OCTOBER 9, 1977: Since the last entry I’ve done a lot of thinking. Homosexuality is a subject that is difficult to say “okay” about and accept it flatly. It doesn’t seem natural! I mean the idea of two men living together or just spurning women because of it. I can’t believe that God intended that. There isn’t anything wrong with two men having a deep affection for each other and being able to have some physical closeness between them, but there is a definite limit. I don’t want homosexuality to be a part of my life. I have had urges of that kind for as long as I can remember, but it’s something that I’m dealing with as well as I can. I don’t understand where, at which point, it becomes evil, and how and where homosexual drives come into the plan, but still I don’t want it. It’s a sterile kind of relationship. One can’t have offspring. It depends on looks and good body, etc., and so when one is old and flabby, that’s it. Nobody wants you. How sad that kind of life would be. And most relationships of that kind don’t last as long as a marriage would—I guess those that want it can have it. I still find the masculine body appealing though and feel good about that. I think that is pretty natural.
My parents and I had a long talk about sex and homosexuality a few weeks ago. Mom noticed my tripping up that time when we were talking about my “normality.” She thought she had offended me, so she called me into their bedroom and we started to talk. I said I wasn’t offended, but I didn’t go into detail about what I wrote [p. 35]in my last entry either. Anyway, we had a long, open, good talk. I was surprised we could talk about such a touchy subject so easily.
Woody Allen said two things about sex that I remember: 1) “Masturbation is sex with a person I love.” 2) “Bisexuality automatically increases your chances for a date on Saturday night.” Maybe these are racy things to write in a journal, but I find them amusing and true. The things I write here are parts of me. I don’t like the business of only writing the acceptable parts and hiding the rest. I suppose this preoccupation with sex, this obsession I could say, will cool down eventually, but in the meantime it’s here.
OCTOBER 10, 1977 [after visiting a friend at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho]: I realized just how much Michelle means to me. I’m not in love with her. I had my times with that a few years ago, but that’s long past. I think it’s mutual. She’s the dearest friend I have had. We relate with each other wonderfully. She is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, devout and really good people I have met. If I could have had a sister I would have wanted her to be like Michelle. I hope my children will be able to meet her some time.
NOVEMBER 27, 1977 [remembering his recent birthday]: Also on that day I was ordained an elder [in the lay priesthood] by my father. At the time I couldn’t say that the occasion was special to me, only because I—it wasn’t very meaningful to me. It was a moment I had dreaded for a very long while. I feared I would be found unworthy, that the sky would fall. Also, I was not all that sure that I wanted the responsibility I felt the calling would bring. But it’s over now and that brought some peace. Later I did feel good about it and proud of what had occurred.
JULY 8, 1978: The other day it rained during the afternoon. It was marvelous. The smell after it rains mixed with wet grass and sagebrush must be the most fragrant perfume in the world. I wish that I could capture it and give it to someone I love. If only there were someone.
[p. 36]JULY 27, 1978: I think I am in love. Oh, brother! Talk about falling for the girl next door! Barbara is looking so good it makes me hurt. I’ve gotten so I love to watch her. She’s done her hair in a new permanent and is very attractive. There are many things about her (besides her body) that I like. We have so much in common and know each other so well. But I don’t want to be infatuated with her. The whole situation is impossible. She was hinting tonight that I should take her out, but I don’t know what kind of come-on that was: romantic or just another I’m-bored-so-let’s-go-out come-on? I do not understand girls or women at all. I’m so naive about such relationships. I guess I’m pretty shy. In some ways I like a girl to be rather (only slightly) forward, and then I have some idea of how she feels about me. I don’t trust myself to interpret subtle hints. I’m afraid I’ll read them the way I want to read instead of the way intended. I know—I’m a fool.
JULY 31, 1978: Marriage is something that thoroughly frightens me. The prospect of having to be so dedicated and faithful seems impossible when I enjoy my freedom so much. Yet at times the thought of marriage is appealing. I see [Uncle] Ron and [Aunt] Adonna with their children in their noisy house and my heart warms. Other times the idea of three or four or even one crying brat chills me through. I love babies with all my soul until they cry. But I think the possibilities of teaching a child about the beauty in nature and the incredible wealth in himself would be a wonderful thing. An immense responsibility, but something I would love to do.
Sometimes I wonder how fully I should deal with my feelings concerning sex in my journal. I question what effect it could have upon someone who might read it later. Sex isn’t something I’m ashamed of. I need to treat it objectively, but I do want to record how I am being affected by it.
Perhaps the main thing I’m thinking of is homosexuality. I have written only tersely on this subject in the past, and yet it has greatly influenced my life. It is something I have been dealing with in [p. 37]various ways for a number of years, truly for as long as I can recall. I have so many unanswered questions regarding it and heterosexual relationships.
I don’t know how to cope with a desire that cannot be purged just by an act of will or because society or especially the church declares it immoral and disgusting. How easy for them to say so. I remember even as a small child watching the college frat guys who lived across from us at Riverside Park. They were always sunbathing, and I remember often wanting to go and watch them. The thought suddenly hits me: “My gosh! What are you writing this down for. This mustn’t ever be known!!” But sometimes I feel as if I cannot hold it inside any longer. I must let it out.
The relationship which I long for eludes me. I don’t like the idea of promiscuity, of one-night stands. Sometimes I wonder if I really know what I do want. I can’t say for a surety that I am gay. I guess I fall into the bisexual category, for I find the female body very appealing and beautiful, but the other seems predominant. It must be very hard for anyone who is straight to relate to these thoughts. I can understand that. There are times when I really wonder what Christ would say about this whole matter.
I am looking for something in this elusive relationship. What? A father figure? The relationships I ought to have with my brothers? I doubt it is either of those. But I feel that without it I am not yet whole. It is not possible to explain fully.
I don’t like femmy guys. I myself am not femmy. I resent that stereotype and feel that it is gradually breaking down as this subject comes more into the open. I love my own masculinity. Masculinity encompasses so much more than just what is between my legs. I don’t mean being macho or jockish, those pathetic attempts of some guys to prove they are men.
I wish I could meet a girl who enjoyed her femininity and being a woman as much as I enjoy being a man. This is what I want from a girl. Perhaps that really seems out of context here, but to me it isn’t. Let me put it this way. Loving a guy who’s relaxed about himself as a male, and loving a girl who feels that way about herself [p. 38]as a woman would be somewhat alike. Or does that stretch it a bit too much? Perhaps I’ve lost my clear train of thought—or maybe I never had it.
I could never be a gay all my life, as I think I wrote earlier. I do want to marry and raise a family. No other way could be fulfilling to me in the long run. This is confusing to me because I say to myself, “What do you expect then? A casual or even intense relationship with another guy in the next few years? Do you realize the responsibilities that entails? Do you truly want that? What about the effect on your later life?” So many questions. So many doubts. I’m rambling now. I’m not coming to any solid conclusions.
AUGUST 11, 1978: I am confused and very concerned about my relationship to the church. It’s increasingly hard for me to continue to attend. It’s so boring. I tell myself that I should try to find the good in the talks and discussions, but I’m tired of the endless repetition of the same themes, the same ideas. It makes me sick inside.
I’m tired of worrying about how sinful the “natural man” in me is. I’m tired of feeling ashamed of my body and feeling dirty when the word sex is mentioned. I’m tired of associating with peers who feel the same way. I’m tired of worrying about heaven when I’m not through with living yet. It sometimes seems like they want us all dead with so much incessant talk of sin and death and heaven. I’m tired of fearing a wrathful God who is always angry or pitying or weeping over me … .
Sex is giving me so many problems. Sometimes I feel so horny I could scream! (I’ll get sued for the stuff I write in here.) Man, I don’t understand sex at all. But it’s stupid to say that, because I do understand it quite well. What I don’t understand is how much is morally wrong. I’m just not sure any more.
I want so much to hold somebody. I want some one to love. But isn’t this funny. I want physical contact so much, yet when Mom placed her hand on mine in a simple gesture the other day, I almost jerked mine away from force of habit. I had to smile. I’ve condi-[p. 39]tioned myself to reject such physical contact, no matter from whom and no matter how simple.
Girls become more and more appealing as the days go by, and that’s frustrating. But I still keep an eye on the guys.
AUGUST 15, 1978: My parents are so good and caring. I must admit I don’t envy them their job of parenting me and the others. I wish so badly that they would read what I have written in here, that they would know what I long so badly to tell them about. I’m not positive that they haven’t. I don’t think it would anger me to have them invade my privacy under the circumstances.
Mom asked me tonight what was bothering me, said I’d reverted to my gloomy self the past four days, that I haven’t been like this since I came home from Michigan. Dad came along and expressed a similar concern. Mom made the comment that I might find them more understanding than I would have expected. We do talk so much together about so many things, and fairly candidly, but there are some things I just don’t know if they could accept, or if they did accept, if they could really understand. But her comment about that, or perhaps the way she said it, makes me wonder if they have read this and know about all the confusion I feel.
I don’t hide my journals. They sit out openly on my desk. I don’t invite anyone to read them and for the most part expect everyone to leave them alone—honor system. Whether that has been done is the question.
AUGUST 29, 1978: I often find myself feeling that one of these mornings I’ll wake up and know the secret of life, the key to my happiness. I have to laugh at myself. It’s funny how strong the feeling—or perhaps the “need” for that to happen—is. I wait in a state of great anticipation. Ha! Perhaps I’ll publish my findings.
SEPTEMBER 5, 1978: Dad and we older boys and [Uncle] Ron Schow went backpacking over the weekend in the Tetons. We hiked up to Alaska Basin and then down to Jenny’s Lake. It was beautiful. But I am so sore I can hardly walk. I move like an old man. We had [p. 40]some interesting discussions while there in the mountains. We talked about science and religion, art and morals, what is sin, what is repentance. We discussed which is more important—a scientific understanding of God’s works or simply a spiritual and emotional understanding. Needless to say, they were good topics and we had some interesting differing views.
SEPTEMBER 28, 1978: I go back occasionally and read over some of my earlier entries. I am surprised at how many of them relate to sex, to my feelings of frustration and many questions about it. But again tonight it is the pressing topic. For me, homosexuality has become less and less that horrible, frightening thing which it seems to so many straight people—like my father. For me it is no longer a question of evil versus good, Satan versus the plan of salvation, etc. but rather a question of a fulfilling life style. What is going to help me most to become the person and the child of God I believe I have the potential to become. For my father, the whole issue is cut and dried; there are no doubts. But people like him do not see the struggle and the variables … . I persist in the idea that some day I will marry a woman I love and will raise a family with her. It will be most important to me for her and my sons/daughters to understand all that I am, including that which helped to mold me. For them to know this will require that they know all aspects of my being, not just what they might prefer to know. I will never marry a woman who is incapable of understanding this part of my life and how it shaped me. But I swear that if I do marry, all thoughts of homosexuality will be put away, not hidden, not forgotten, but put away.
I have not yet met a guy who would be able to help me study and learn about this part of me. I don’t know that I ever will. If and when I do in the next few years find such a friend, I am unsure just what my response will be. I am not looking for a simple fling but rather for someone who truly cares for me and I for him—or her. I want and need someone to love, to hold, to share my world with. I feel that need so acutely now.
[p. 41]I’ve told no one about these feelings. It is only here in these pages I’ve placed this confidence. A few of my friends might have a hunch based on our talks: if so, they have neither turned against me nor offered support. But whether they know is uncertain.
For me, homosexuality has the potential to be immoral and sinful, but at the same time it has, like heterosexuality, the potential to be meaningful, righteous, healthy, and fruitful if one chooses to make it so. It all depends on how it is used.
OCTOBER 11, 1978: Last night there was a show on PBS about homosexuals. I wanted to watch but was concerned about what the rest of the family would say and think. I watched it regardless. Mom walked by and overheard some of the program dialogue. She stayed awhile and watched but said nothing. When the others were finished watching the world series downstairs, I took their place and watched the rest of the show. Whether anyone was watching it upstairs I couldn’t say.
I knew Mom would want to say something to me about the show today, but I knew there wouldn’t be many ways to do so. She managed by just asking me what I thought of it. Dad happened by, and we were off on a discussion of that taboo subject. I couldn’t believe we were saying openly the things we were saying. Dad and Mom both agreed to what they’ve said before about it: that it’s a sterile, nonproductive sort of relationship, one in which one has to give up too many satisfying rewards available to heterosexuals—family, social life, etc.
As the discussion progressed I really pushed for my side, that homosexuality is a good thing in most cases. I had what I considered strong arguments. At one point I asked Dad what he would do or say or feel if one of his sons were gay. He said he would feel sad for us, would weep for us because of all the things we would miss. Mom asked me (I knew it would be her) in so many words if I was or could be. I thought I would die. Time to think fast. Don’t say yes, don’t say no, say …? I don’t know what I am. I told them (in [p. 42]so many words) that I would not run from it if the right chance came along; I made them aware that the possibility was there.
I can’t believe we did it. I can’t believe that I told them what I did. I can’t believe that it happened. They didn’t scream, yell, rant, cry, nothing. We just went on talking about it.
This is a very sketchy outline of a two-hour conversation. It was all calm and interesting to each of us, I think. I don’t believe it happened. I feel only very quiet now.
It’s quite ironic that later this evening we (Mom, Dad, and I) went to see Francois Truffaut’s “The Man Who Loved Women.” It is the story of a man obsessed with women of all kinds. He is in love with them all. It was a good movie.
OCTOBER 12, 1978: I feel so weary. I’m tired of always worrying about morals, God, salvation, myself, girls, guys, gays, family, school, etc. Not so much worrying but so much contemplation. I need a vacation from myself.
OCTOBER 13, 1978: Every once in a while I come down to my room, close the door, and then stand in the middle and just look around—slowly. I soak in all the things that are here. They are vital parts of me: the posters on the walls, the books which are everywhere, the antiques, the fern and other plants, the cartoons and pictures and sayings that clutter my bulletin board, the mobile of bi-planes, the spider hanging from the ceiling, the witch Mom made for me last Christmas. They all blend into what I am. They tell all about me. Someone who had never seen or heard of me before could come down here and know so much of what there is to learn about me. I find myself wanting to preserve it all, to keep it for my children to see and understand. I guess I come to look at it because it helps reassure me that I am somebody, that I am different from everyone else, that I am me. It fills me with a good feeling, with peace to come here, to be with just these things, myself, and the quiet.
NOVEMBER 5, 1978: I feel so rebellious lately. I just want out of here. Now! Nothing’s stopping me but myself, but I’ve got to make the [p. 43]break soon or I will go crazy! Mom says that ever since I was small I’ve never been satisfied with the present. I always tend to live in the past or, more so, the future. I always want to be somewhere else, and then I get there and want to be somewhere else again. Maybe she’s right.
NOVEMBER 12, 1978: I do find girls attractive and sexually exciting. However, it seems to be in a different way, for different reasons. (That stands to reason, doesn’t it. Ha!) But for other than obvious reasons, I mean. I watch women, girls, even very young ones as an artist would, or a photographer; I am fascinated, held by their grace and diverse beauty. I study them; I dream about them sometimes (but more often about guys). I have paintings, watercolors, photographs, drawings of them hanging in my room. But always my relationship and feelings toward them are distant, characteristic of an observer.
I find when on dates with them, I am afraid and feel somewhat intimidated. Not because they are necessarily overbearing but because I feel expected to fulfill a macho role that I have no inclination to fulfill, at least not with them. I don’t think I’ve ever gone out with a girl I felt strongly attracted to, even though many have been good looking. Something was always missing. Women creep into my fantasies more and more lately. The other night I lay in bed “daydreaming” away, and suddenly the thought occurred to me, “My gosh, what am I becoming, some kind of heterosexual?”
Something I’ve begun to realize more and more is that it would be very difficult to suddenly drop a gay relationship to become a married heterosexual. I have expressed my desire before for raising a family, sharing my life with a woman I love as my wife. But up to this point I thought that it would be possible (if fate has it in store) to live with another guy in much the same way until I’m older, say late twenties, early thirties and then get married. But it wouldn’t be so easy. Say I found a guy, like the one I saw last night at the movie, and we did get something going, and just say we did stay together for five or even ten years. You don’t just say, “Well, goodbye, [p. 44]Charlie, I’m going to start dating women now.” You’ve grown accustomed to a lifestyle, to living with and loving a guy, and then automatically you decide to change over to women? No sir, that won’t work. And like any divorce, it would be very traumatic. That is essentially what it would be: a divorce after five or ten years of marriage. One can’t do that, let alone go into a relationship with the idea of certain termination in the future. That won’t work, son.
I have read some fiction in which there is a relationship between two men and a woman. The men are lovers, and the woman is well aware of the fact. She is married to one of them for the social aspects but is in love with both of them and has children by both of them. They all live in a large house on the coast of the Mediterranean. Sounds bizarre, I know. There is also a scene that I did find touching for some reason. The two men are in bed one morning having just awakened, and the children (there are three) come bounding into the room and romp with them. The children see nothing wrong with the two men in bed together or the fact that they have two daddies. Their mother comes in and the “family” talks together in the same way I remember doing with my parents when I was small.
But even as I write that, in the back of my mind I think, no Brad, it wouldn’t work that way. Perhaps in books but not for real, however much you’d like it to. And then also there are concerns such as what effect such an arrangement would have on the children in their later lives and their own sexuality. It might mold them in a way that would be unfair to them. It might not do that, but the chance would always be there and couldn’t be taken.
NOVEMBER 28, 1978: Homosexuality. It’s such a loaded word. No–the word itself means nothing. It only takes on meaning after our minds add associations, taboos, attractions, religion, etc. It all seems so stupid to me sometimes. I think: “What’s the big deal. Why get uptight about the whole matter. Shouldn’t people just be able to love in a way they feel comfortable with?” More and more I think that it doesn’t (shouldn’t) make any difference to God or to what [p. 45]goes on after this life. It just all seems relative in the long run. What I mean by that is hard to explain.
For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about all the negative aspects (there are many) and positive aspects (there are many here too). They seem to relate to two entirely different worlds. The conclusion I come to is that even though I may feel what I feel and be hopeful for the good in a gay relationship, the homosexual couple or single is fighting a losing battle all the way down the road.
One has several choices. You could stay independent, single, go for the one-night stands, brief relationships, and sure, maybe some excitement, maybe a lot of it. But then all you have ahead of you is to become a randy old fag who’s lost his looks and nobody wants. All that is really left then are many years of loneliness. The alternative is to find a permanent lover, establish a long time relationship, settle down and share your lives together, and probably be very happy. But the problem is that very few gay relationships are able to hold together for lack of helpful glue, such as children, a socially recognized marriage, etc. But then say you do stay together in spite of this. What you have to look forward to as you grow older is still the prospect of loneliness, for you have no children, and if one of you should die there is no way to establish your rights to your mutual property because your relationship is not recognized under the law. So unless there are understanding relatives on the dead one’s side, kiss it all goodbye or be prepared to drag your lifestyle into the courts.
Most straights will find it hard to accept you if you come out. You will not be able to be affectionate in public as straights are. Your relationship will always have to be hidden from most of the world. It will not enjoy the reinforcement that society offers a heterosexual relationship. To come out will change your dealings with even understanding colleagues, family members, and friends. It can’t help but do so.
You must always hide and live a lie. This can cause anxiety, severe depression, neurosis, etc. No wonder gay couples have a hard time staying together for any length of time. So to live, love, [p. 46]and be happy being gay is a long, difficult haul. It’s after realizing all of that that I think, I plead: “Why should it matter? Why are people so blindly afraid?” It is in that blindness that I see the greater sin.
NOVEMBER 30, 1978: Kurt, Michelle, and I went out to dinner tonight at the Spaghetti Mill, the first time we’ve done anything together since Barbara left. An interesting thing happened while we were there. We were sitting eating, and I was telling them about “Swept Away,” which I had seen at the SUB [Student Union Building] last night. As we were talking, I noticed a guy who looked near our age, blonde, a little heavier than me, being seated by the waitress at a table near us. He was alone. We went on with our conversation. After a few minutes we heard a voice asking what movie we were speaking of. It startled us, and on looking around I saw that it was this guy seated at his table. I laughed and told him the title. He said he hadn’t seen it. I told him it was foreign and had played at the university last night. Then I turned around and resumed talking with Michelle and Kurt.
Five minutes later we were talking about a Steve Martin comedy special we’d seen on TV. Once again from the other table comes a voice saying, “I saw that show.” Looking around, almost embarrassed for him, we all stared at the guy. After all, one doesn’t usually interrupt another party’s conversation in a restaurant. He seemed to recognize this and said something about our conversation being all he could listen to. I felt a little sorry for him, he seemed like a nice guy. I didn’t know what the others would think but on an impulse I invited him to come and eat with us. Everyone seemed to relax more. Suddenly it was like we were old friends, well not quite, but it was comfortable. His name was Alan. I was impressed by his firm handshake. He was well mannered.
He told us that he was from San Francisco and that he worked for an electronics company that makes detection systems for libraries. He was up here installing one in the public library. We talked about school, about big cities, about his work, his traveling all over, [p. 47]about backwoods Pocatello (ha), about entertainers. It was all very pleasant.
A funny and embarrassing thing happened. The last time we ate at the Spaghetti Mill I was chewing gum, and when the meal came I didn’t know what to do with it. Didn’t want to put it in the ash tray where everyone would have to look at it, nor in my cloth napkin, nor on the bottom of my chair. I made a joke about putting it in the water pitcher and we all laughed. But I put it in my own water glass where it was less conspicuous and didn’t bother me or anyone. Tonight the same thing happened and we laughed and again I put it in my water glass. But this was before Alan came. During the meal I was taking a drink, and he got a funny look on his face and said, “Hey, there’s a dark thing floating in your glass.” Oh, brother! How embarrassing. It was so funny trying to explain what it was and how it got there. We were laughing so hard, he must have thought us very strange and terribly unsophisticated. But he laughed too.
There were several things that led me to believe that he might be gay. He mentioned his girl friend more than necessary, he brought up the subject of gays as though he wanted to talk about it (this is a funny thing I find myself doing too, bringing up the subject in a casual way but also feeling the atmosphere produced and wanting to just talk with someone about it). Also he was from San Francisco, which is such a haven for gays. That fact doesn’t mean he’s gay, of course, but it enlarges the possibility. And then lastly, there was the way he looked at me.
There is a look in the eyes of a person who is hungry for the companionship of another person. It is a searching look, a pained look, and desire is there. It is like an animal on the prowl. It is a look that rests on the other’s face and speaks a thousand words without uttering a one. It is a look that lingers just a split second too long, almost a caress, a look of pleading, a crying out for love. I know this look well, for it reaches out from my own eyes. Sometimes the eyes of two such individuals meet and lock momentarily and exchange their secret knowledge. But only if the look is [p. 48]mirrored in the eyes of the other. Then comes the test to see who, if either, will be strong and unafraid enough to acknowledge what he has just revealed of himself and learned of the other. I have yet to be in this position where it was acknowledged by either party. But Alan looked at me in that way, that split second too long that tells all. And I looked at him. He was good looking, but he was also intelligent and I craved that too. This look occurred not once only but many times during the meal. That’s one reason I say it doesn’t happen accidentally.
I couldn’t have hopped into bed with him, even though I might have wanted to. I don’t believe in that, but still—and even if he wasn’t gay—he symbolized my imaginary lover. Sometimes I wonder if that lover isn’t only myself.
But as we left and said goodbye, I felt bad for him, that he would be alone for the evening in some boring hotel room. We had invited him to come with us to the lecture we were going to attend at the university, but he declined, saying he had to study some of his work plans. Did he? But it was sad for us to see him get into his rented car and drive away without a friend. It hurts me too, the gay aspect aside, to know that I will never see him again. He was just a nice guy all around. Perhaps we could have been good friends.
DECEMBER 20, 1978: I’m in love with an angel. She is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever seen. She’s only a junior in high school. Talk about robbing the cradle. She’s a sister of one of Roger’s friends. Her name is Trina Marsh, and she is sexy! I’m OK when I’m not around her, but I can’t believe how she makes me feel when I see her. I always thought this melting business was bunk, but I’m proof it isn’t. I feel weak at the knees, my heart pounds, and my eyes feel as if they will pop out. We went out once a couple of months ago on a blind date. It was fun, but I didn’t really pay much attention at the time because I thought she was too young, probably dumb and high schooly, etc. Sure she was good looking, but so what. Now for the past month or so I’ve been reevaluating. Now I think maybe she’s not too young, not dumb, and from what I hear, not [p. 49]high schooly. Anyway, I saw her at the high school choir concert Monday evening, and after much deliberation asked her to go out next week. This time you can bet I’ll be paying attention.
* * *
[After transferring to the University of Utah]
JANUARY 6, 1979: Update: subject—sex, what else. I don’t understand. I don’t understand! What am I going to do about my attraction to guys? (Here comes that sick feeling again.) I like them. I can’t help it. Why is it this way? I find myself attracted to women/girls only in a distant detached way. I notice their beauty and sexuality, admire and am pleased by it, but without any gut attraction. Only very seldom does that happen. The thing is, I’ve come to the point now where I don’t really want to change. I like being this way.
JANUARY 14, 1979: I have some things to say tonight about homosexuality, and then this will be the last time that I ever again mention it in my journal. This sick feeling is going to haunt me no more … . Homosexuality is not a good, wholesome thing in the long run. I do not condemn experimenting with it, but any sort of long range sexuality in this area or any experimenting that would distort a healthy preoccupation with the opposite sex is very wrong!
I have had many good arguments for homosexuality. I wanted to find it OK so badly, wanted it to be logically and morally right. It had to be, because I wanted it to be. But it’s not. Gradually, one by one, much to my despair, I broke down those wonderful arguments. One by one they crashed before my eyes. They had seemed so sound, so logically perfect, but they had one flaw—they just were not realistic. Their perfectness just doesn’t fit the real world. I have to admit that I am grateful to my parents for being so open with me and willing to discuss the subject in the way they [p. 50]did, most of all for their not finding it repulsive, only non-productive, a Pyrrhic choice.
So, now it shall begin—my struggle to do not what I want to do but what I know I must and should do. I want to make plain that just because I feel this way about the matter does not mean I can readily bring this about. I must still contend with that pounding, obliterating drive, that hunger for sex. And I must still live with the layer-upon-layer effects of eight years of habitual thought. I pray to the Lord that he will help me in this. He has given me the knowledge I need, and now I must supply the determination, the guts, to move this unmovable mountain.
FEBRUARY 1, 1979: In the last entry I vowed not to write about sex, homosexuality really, anymore. But I don’t know if I can do that. It’s what I’m thinking of probably three-fourths of the day, every day. It’s constantly on my mind.
FEBRUARY 4, 1979: My vow to never discuss homosexuality in here again was unrealistic. As little as I would like to admit it, it is very much there, good or bad, and somehow I must come to terms with it. To not be able to write about it would be to deny myself of the one outlet that I have to get the heaviness off my chest. Since I do not feel that I could openly discuss what I feel with anyone I know, this journal must lend its open, unjudging ear.
To be very honest though, I wish this journal could judge what I write once in a while. I guess what I’m looking for is complete acceptance of such a lifestyle, someone to pat me on the back and say, “It’s all right, homosexuality is not wrong. Be at peace and live as you would like.” I wish my journal could do that for me. It seems that I don’t want to take no for an answer.
I have met many people here. Most of them I like very much. I make friends with a few new people, and they in turn introduce me to their friends, and they again, until one knows a good number. That is how I met this guy named Edgar. A little background. He’s from Puerto Rico. He’s about twenty-six years old. He lived in New [p. 51]York a few years before coming here. He’s in the dance/ballet program. A dancer. He’s about my height and weight. He also has a pierced ear and wears a diamond in it. Not so long ago that would have really bugged me. If he wasn’t Puerto Rican I think it would bother me now, but that seems to make it all right for some reason.
I don’t know if he is gay or not. There are not many of the usual signs pointing either way. He’s not effeminate, but he moves with some grace, in a very masculine way. He moves like a dancer. I enjoy watching him. He’s quite a good looking guy in his own way. He’s also very hyper most of the time. He reminds me of myself in some respects.
We get along very well. I ask myself if I have some kind of crush on him. I find myself hoping that he is gay. I find myself wanting to sit down with him and tell him about everything I feel. Should I? He represents a lot of things I’ve wanted in my life. I like his being bilingual. He seems to be able to make his own stand on things. He dresses with a chic carelessness that I think is nice, but it is not something he seems aware of.
I think the fact that he is a dancer is the biggest thing. To me that is a mysterious world only a few are privileged to enter. He seems to be a door into that world. He and I went to the Ballet Ensemble last night. It was so good, so interesting. I felt a great contentment being there. And the fact that Edgar knew the dancers and that I even knew several of them was good too.
There was a group of mostly guys and a few girls (women) sitting on the floor in front of us watching the informal performance. From their talk and movements, they all seemed to be dancers. Some of the guys were so effeminate, masculine looking, but fems. Everything they said or did was a show for everyone around them. It turned my guts over. They were everything that I don’t ever want in myself or those whom I consider good friends. But Edgar is not like that. Ballet West is putting on “Don Quixote” in two weeks and we’re going to see it. I look forward to that immensely.
MARCH 9, 1979: I feel a general confusion about so many things. I [p. 52]just don’t know what I want. Mom, Dad, and now Edgar have told me over and over just to be patient. Things will work themselves out in their own time. There is no hurrying them or worrying about when. I feel a great impatience for something. Just what I can’t say. Perhaps it will always be like this, always wondering what’s coming next and never being satisfied.
… I can say one thing—there are more gays running around here than one would ever believe (or some would want to believe). Nevertheless, I’m still not sure gay life is the life for me. I keep thinking I want something more. But what more? Children perhaps. An open relationship that needn’t be hidden from the world. Things like that. Edgar says that giving such things up is the price you pay. He, for one, thinks it is worth it. I, for one, have not yet marked my ballot.
MARCH 10, 1979: I seem to vacillate between a complete acceptance of my homosexuality and then a quiet no. I have a feeling that for now it is going to be the first. I feel more and more lately that too much of a big deal is made about the subject. I’m tired of fearing myself, tired of analyzing this over and over. Straights don’t have to wonder and worry constantly about why they are the way they are. They don’t have to wonder about dominant mothers and submissive fathers. They don’t have to worry about being condemned. They don’t have to spend time in this lonely, fruitless searching through themselves. They don’t have to worry whether their love is socially acceptable and whether they can show affection to their lover in public.
I think it is ironic that such a moral stigma is placed on being gay. Which is more immoral, being gay or being taught to hate yourself, to wonder always if you’re not a little sick, to always be afraid. And society wonders how some gays become warped and unable to cope with the world. And then they (the world) have the gall to attribute that inability to the homosexual inclinations in the person. Which, I ask, is the greater evil?
In the past I have looked at the subject through others’ eyes. My [p. 53]parents have had the greatest influence. Most everyone else made little difference. I found that Mom and Dad’s logic was sound. Their advice seemed convincing. But for all their understanding and openness, they do not know what it is like to want it so bad. I like guys. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. For whatever reason, whoever made me this way, however it happened, psychological, biological, social, sick, or healthy, it makes no difference in the long run: I am what I am … .
I feel good about myself and what I am. But even as I say that, the wheels inside my head begin to work. Are you really? Are you just saying that because you’d like it to be true? How do you know you are? Could you really be happy being gay? Where did you become this way anyway? Was it something you ate? Did your mother do this to you, or maybe your father? But if you are gay, when did it start? What about not having a family? What about promiscuity? Are you just running away from reality? Are you afraid of girls? Are you in love with yourself? What about loneliness? How will you cope with that? Do you really think that guy sitting next to you is so good looking, or have you just gotten into the habit of looking at guys instead of girls, a habit that needs to be broken? And so on.
“I wanted only to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so hard?” —Hermann Hesse (Demian)
APRIL 27, 1979: “Nothing is more difficult than not being one’s self or than only being one’s self so far and no further.” —Paul Valery
JUNE 29, 1979: The things which have taken place in the past month have had a great impact on my life and have caused changes, directing my course into new channels. First, there was my trip to New York. The city has given me a taste of a life I crave. I will return there soon.
Second, there is my relationship with Jon. It grows and develops every day. We are together all the time. The possibilities for us are [p. 54]wonderful. I love him and need him so much. I’ve never felt like this about anyone before.
Third, I told my parents last weekend about my being gay. It’s out and done at last. It was very hard for them, very upsetting for me also. They now know about Jon. I know now that my relationship with my parents will never be the same. I’ve crossed a bridge that will never be open to me again.
My father says that he will be surprised if my homosexuality lasts longer than ten years. He feels that I just reenforced one of two possibilities and that time will show me the other is more fulfilling. He does not deny its reality in me but feels it is probably only a subconscious backlash against parental and church authority, a need and desire to identify with a group, also partly the excitement of identifying with a persecuted minority. Perhaps. I don’t really care why it’s there anymore. For whatever reason, it is there, and I’m trying to adjust my life to it.
Just when I felt I was beginning to be comfortable and happy about my sexuality, my parents turn it over and help bring back the old anxiety about it. I know they do it because they love me and must deal according to their own insights which become increasingly different from mine, but I must say they didn’t help me at all. That was why I told them, to get help and guidance. It only made things worse. Still, I’m glad I did it. All things considered, they took it quite well. But I am so confused and have nowhere to turn for direction.
* * *
[Living in Los Angeles]
SEPTEMBER 23, 1979: I am living in Los Angeles with Jon. We have been here since the beginning of September. He applied for a fellowship at USC sometime last year and got one of the appointments … . He made it known to me at the start of our relationship that he would likely be leaving Salt Lake for southern California at [p. 55]the end of the summer. We wondered what would happen to us if that did occur … . Summer arrived and wore on. Our relationship grew and deepened. I moved in with him about a month after I came back from New York. It was more convenient, and it was nice living together, but I didn’t really unpack my things because we were unsure what the end of summer would bring.
We could feel the tension. What were we going to do? Jon wanted me to move with him. I wanted to, felt excitement and joy at the thought, and yet I wondered how I would explain it to my family and friends. I was torn. I have neither time nor inclination to try to describe how hard a period it was … .
When Jon left to find a place in L.A., I moved into another apartment alone. Mom and Dad came down for a visit one weekend, and we discussed the situation candidly. They asked me at last what I planned to do, would I leave or not? It was at that moment I made the leap and said, yes, I’m going.
And so here I am. That’s a very sketchy outline of what has happened and doesn’t begin to do justice to the complexity. But let me say that against everyone’s advice, family and friends and also my own better judgment, I moved down here and I’m proud that at last I had the guts to make my own decision. I feel very good about it. Jon’s and my relationship is suffering through the adjustment of the move, new city, new jobs, etc. I’m sure he has had as many second thoughts about us and this arrangement as I have. But that goes off in another direction.
My family has given me nothing but the best support since I made my decision. My parents, needless to say, are worried and not altogether pleased with the move or the situation, but they have begun the long process of trying and perhaps beginning to understand. I’m grateful to them.
Roger found out about my sexual preferences also. He took it quite well. He too is not pleased but perhaps will learn to be accepting. It has drawn us closer together. We have become true brothers since he found out. I’m glad he knows.
[p. 56]JULY 8, 1981: Several years now since I have written down anything. Many, many changes. Almost a new life—a whole new person. So much more on the way, however. Anyway—it’s time to get back into the habit. As for what has passed, I’m afraid what is gone is gone and I doubt that I’ll try to recapture it here. Bits and pieces perhaps.
I’m now living by myself in a still unfurnished apartment and feel a sense of true satisfaction. I’m on my own. I am changing constantly, and at last I think I’m prepared to deal with it all.
JULY 15, 1981: I went to a screening of Rainbirds tonight with Brad and Renee. She is an up-and-coming Dutch film actress whom we met last year. The screening was at Fox. The movie was OK … . It was at once interesting and exciting and horribly dull to be back at a screening with the same old crowd of people. All the people Brad and I met when he was working for Dan Ireland. It was good to be back out with Brad again. I still love him. We go so well together. We both enjoyed it. Old times all over again.
But it was the same false scene. Fawn and cry over everyone there and praise the picture to those in charge and the stars and then leave and dish everyone and tear the film apart. The banal comments! Brad was outdoing himself tonight. That is the Hollywood I intensely dislike. But it’s the glitter and the show that give it excitement.
I miss Brad. There were times when we were so happy together. Living on Detroit Street … for almost a year. We were so in love. And our Orange Cat. The Rabbit VW with the incredible tape deck. Climbing up the back stairs as high as kites at five o’clock in the morning and dropping into our huge bed and wrapping our arms around each other and falling asleep.
JULY 21, 1981: I had a pretty good day. Got up at seven, read in my book on stocks, cooked a good breakfast. Crossed off several of the notes on my job list for the day and went to work.
Stuck work out all day! I’m proud of myself. It was a struggle. [p. 57]The work is MINDLESS! It’s not even a discipline problem anymore. But I need the cash. I stuck it out. Good for me. Points, points. I need to pat myself on the back as much as possible for progress and high spirits.
I’ve got to get away from that law firm job, do something different. I want to start my own business, a gardening service. I would gain a vast amount of knowledge and discipline from such an experience. A lot of planning involved, but I could handle it.
NOVEMBER 23, 1981: I’ve got to find some sort of creative outlet. My runaway libido has got to be brought back home again—if it ever was there in the first place. Somehow I’ve got to find an escape from this semi-depression I’m submerged in. I feel like my life has little meaning, no purpose. I find myself searching for a lover, but that is not the answer. My new part-time job at the Pottery Barn is about the most satisfying thing in my life now. It seems good to be back in the retail environment and to be working around functional things. They are delightful to my eye and help nurse my battered sense of self. I need some new goals. Money seems so tight right now. I cannot get ahead financially, and I feel that I am fairly frugal. In any case, I do need that artistic outlet.
DECEMBER 10, 1981: Bored. It seems like everyone is bored. Let’s find another kick. I’m living in a town full of jaded, desperate people. Need to escape. There has to be more. But you can’t go home again. Once you’ve tasted this, your thirst will never be quenched. Doomed to feed on myself and this town even though I realize it will eventually consume me, or bury me in its wake.
FEBRUARY 3, 1982 [speaking in the third person]: Just out of a hot bath, he lay on the bed sweating. Fighting to identify the classical music on the radio—was it Vivaldi? He cursed his neighbor for the steady, low disco beat that assaulted him through their shared wall.
He mused on the fact that he was flying home to see his family the next day. A short visit, only three days, but perhaps even that would be too long. In ways he resented the idea of losing an [p. 58]otherwise perfectly good weekend. He cherished those few free days. He disliked anyone impinging upon that time, even though he rarely used it to accomplish anything productive. Perhaps it would be nice after all to see the family again.
But these visits often turned out to be harrowing emotional experiences, dredging up old childhood anger, reducing his self-confidence, renewing old doubts, turning up unpleasant memories of guilt and self-hatred.
He stopped there. It was Vivaldi. He shut off the music and the light and slept.
MARCH 12, 1982: “If you can’t find it where you’re standing, where do you expect to wander in search of it?” 50 pushups done.
MARCH 21, 1982: L.A. crouches like a beast outside my door. She sits on my front step, beckoning with a long finger, saying, “Come on, there’s a party going on, and you are invited.”
It’s hard to sit home. Sometimes I feel like a caged animal. I don’t know whether it’s because the apartment is small or what, but it seems a prison that I have to get away from. There are times when I enjoy it. I run out of things to do here by myself. Reading is about the only thing that I can turn to. The TV’s broken. I find I’m sleeping a lot.
I have to learn to be a calmer person. I have to learn not to worry so much about things that cannot be changed immediately. I have got to learn to be satisfied with the now. I’ve got to learn to be easier on others and myself. I’m not doing badly, all things considered. But here there is so much pressure, so much stimulation, so much materialism. One can totally indulge in hedonism here. “Let’s go consume,” as Scott would say.
MAY 12, 1982: The whites of my eyes have the color of yellowed ivory keys on an old piano.
MAY 15, 1982: I went to the doctor today. He told me that he doesn’t think I have hepatitis. He said that apparently I have a flu virus that [p. 59]has irritated my liver. I’ll take his word for it. It felt lousy to think I had hepatitis again. To me it is an illness that signifies uncleanness or excessive partying and drug use. I have not been guilty of these. That was why it was so demoralizing … .
Living in a big city kills the ability to sit still. Relaxation is a difficult art.
MAY 17, 1982: The gods came and spoke to him while he was in bed with a high fever. He couldn’t get any sleep because they all wanted to talk at once. His dreams were closer to nightmares, a constant barrage of voices; like watching ten TV channels at the same time.
JULY 12, 1982: I don’t understand being gay. Sometimes I feel like I was cast in the wrong movie.
AUGUST 4, 1982: I think at times that L.A. must be the coolest city on earth. But it’s like too much cocaine. It gets to the point where you need more and more of it to get you off, and I don’t feel like I’m getting high any more. So many unhappy people. So much frustration, so much pressure to live the illusion of a life of wealth and status—to be ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, man!
“People are too concerned with whether they’re going to appear cool, or hip, or whether their ‘street’ credibility will suffer if they do this or that. No one’s going to be hip forever. Who cares. The important thing is to follow your instincts, and produce the best movie you can.” —Joe Jackson
* * *
SEPTEMBER 26, 1982: The gods talked to him constantly, ten TV sets blaring at once. He wondered if he was just a bit mad and would slowly become more so. Since they all talked at once he couldn’t understand any of them. Very frustrating to be talked to by not just one god but ten! And not be able to hear properly … .
[p. 60]The journal began to be less and less a record of personal events and emotions and more a playpen of random thoughts that needed no logic or purpose. An alter ego taking on a personality of its own, a schizophrenic outlet … .
Hawaii was beginning to bore him. Not being able to find a job or an apartment in two months was becoming depressing. He felt sometimes that the island was rejecting him.
There were some consolations. His lover was beautiful, the pout of the lips irresistible. There were miles of tropical beaches. But otherwise he felt stagnated. What was he doing here?
JANUARY 10, 1983: I lost my job today. No warning. Only a message not to come in. Depression, a feeling of inadequacy. A prison of boredom—again. Why can’t I just be an artist. A life that is streamlined. Mine has so many snags.
“Nobody is allowed to fail within a two-mile radius of the Beverley Hills Hotel.” —Gore Vidal
* * *
[Going back to Idaho]
FEBRUARY 13, 1983: I’m leaving Hawaii. Going back to Idaho for a while and maybe to Sacramento later in spring or summer to work for Brent. Hopefully school, landscape architecture, in the fall.
Hawaii has been good, a nice transition. Why am I so insecure about my decisions and my life thus far? My moralistic self wants to brand me and have me suffer for the past few years. I’m suffering from this backlash. I’m losing friends as a result of my moralistic judgments; am becoming increasingly schizophrenic, paralyzed by my harsh, puritanical, hateful side which confronts my lustful, blundering but progressive self. I have to keep it all in control. I hope going home helps and doesn’t hinder. I know that I’m trying really hard. Please don’t let everything I’ve loved so far be a mistake, as it seems in their eyes. I can handle it.
[p. 61]MAY 3, 1983: I’ve almost finished a second month of my Babylonian captivity, in other words, I’m still in Idaho. Being here dredges up all sorts of memories, many of them unpleasant: old feelings of guilt (that prison without walls); adolescent emotions from high school which amaze me in that they can still twist me around the same as before, emotions of inadequacy, lack of confidence, the need to measure up to the old macho creed. Just walking around these streets brings the boogies back. And then there’s the inescapable dark hand of the church. This too surprises me, for I had forgotten how much suppressed anger, frustration, and hatred can accompany one who dares to be independent.
Living at home is both a cradle and a curse. On the one hand, it’s nice to be back among these people with whom I grew up and have shared so much, to feel a part of a unit, to be needed by my family, to draw some strength from them. And yet I find myself retreating back into some of my old adolescent patterns of suppressed anger and frustration in my relationship with my parents as I am temporarily dependent on them. They have given me great leeway to do as I want, and yet I still—perhaps only in my mind—feel the subtle pressures, and my own anxiety over our differences, and the need to prove myself in their eyes.
In ways, I almost feel like an anthropologist on a mission to study the nuclear family from within. I feel both attached and curiously removed from them, as though I had never seen them before. In some ways I really hadn’t. It’s difficult to be objective about something you’ve not broken with yet, as a child not having any basis for comparison. The question is, “Do I really like these people?” a question which I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking at one time. The answer, by the way, is yes. Blood is thicker than water.
Still I feel, perhaps because of my age or perhaps because of my sexual orientation, the urge to go far away from them. I feel that somehow I don’t quite fit. A square peg in the proverbial round hole. And also I feel sad about my inability to communicate, or their inability to understand, what it really means to be gay, that flame that burns in my soul. I am beginning to despair that they will ever [p. 62]understand, accept yes, understand no. A source of great hurt for me. By not understanding, they—who could be my most delightful and satisfying companions—are separated in spirit from me. Without meaning to be tragic, I think I have no choice but to go away, to seal off the hurt with distance and occasional phone calls. Perhaps this will change with time.
JULY 13, 1983: I realize intuitively (and at times through conscious deliberation) that happiness, long term happiness, is not going to be gained by life in the fast lane, by a constant pursuit of transient pleasure, which is what my few years in Los Angeles so largely consisted of. Anything else seemed to be a bother, to be standing in the way of the “earnest” and “real.” Thus I spent a lot of time (and still do) feeling dissatisfied because life gets in the way; i.e., I don’t have much money, I have to work for a living, I can’t be in two places at once, I have to go back to school, etc. I could make a long list.
The vision of life I was shown in L.A., or perhaps the vision I saw because of my own predilections and fantasies, was one of endless sensation, a kind of movie world, a fantastic realm where things are always “too cool.” Such a world, however, also seemed to be constantly evasive, just beyond my fingertips. This was much the case for most of my L.A. friends also, none of us having been born with a silver spoon in our mouth, yet we ached for and, yes, at times felt we had attained that idyllic moment. But it always seemed to finish too quickly. What a crash, what a disappointment. “You mean I’m not one of the beautiful people?” Cinderella at 12:00 midnight. Back to the ashpit, back to the struggle, the endless frustrating pursuit.
Somehow I want to reconnect with the real world. Life isn’t the fantasy I wanted it to be. In looking back, already I’m beginning to see how young I was. To go through all that would be hard on anybody. I’ve a few battle scars to show for it.
“But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find [p. 63]that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.” —Brideshead Revisited
JULY 28, 1983: My days sometimes seem to pass in a dream-like state. I move from the pools of my unconscious dream world of sleep and go swimming at the gym shortly after waking up. The sensation I feel—to have moved so quickly from the one liquid reality to the other—is strange. It can become difficult to discern whether I am really awake and swimming with a sense of having been previously sleeping, or vice versa, sleeping while dreaming of moving in this cavernous liquid womb. From the pool I go sit in the steam room, sometimes for nearly an hour. Again, here is an “unreality,” a small oblong room, very warm and humid, the steam making the enclosure seem possibly much bigger, a womb again. Images continue to flood forward, mind trips. Home to study; all day spent with my nose in a book. This seems to be but a continuation with somewhat more direction. The day is one long flowing mental river.
JULY 29, 1983: I miss homosexual company. I miss being able to share fully the sense of irony that our lifestyle brings with it. There is no one here who understands. I have tried and tried to explain to my parents the fundamental differences in sensibility between homosexuals and straights, and yet, as I do not fully understand them myself, I can only fumble and search for words which fail to express this thing. Philosophy, outlook, value system: all these words and others fall short of that spirit which makes GAY. Indeed it is something of a spirit, perhaps a muse which touches some and not others. I end such discussions feeling total frustration and, sometimes, unspoken anger. But I am beginning to realize that such things do not need to be explained to everyone, even if it were possible. My necessity for explanation comes from my own need to understand and defend. As I grow more comfortable with myself, [p. 64]I suspect that much of this need to explain to others will die away … .
Two years since I began this notebook. Bits and snatches of a wild time in Oz. (“Is there life after Oz, Glinda?”) A new phase has begun in my life. I’m growing up, slowly but surely, and yet at times I feel as if I shall never grow old, remaining one of the Lost Boys forever.
Facing the future is frightening. I try to project my mind forward to divine hidden events, but can only guess at possible scenarios. Being comfortable with the unknown is not one of my strong points, nor is living in the present. I suppose the future will be here all too soon.
SEPTEMBER 26, 1983: Reading Hesse’s Demian. Very interesting. I have always seen myself in the characters of his novels. The same again this time. It is as if he had read my thoughts before they or I existed. The books always seem so relevant to my needs at the times I have been reading them.
* * *
[At Utah State University]
OCTOBER 2, 1983: So classes have begun. One week gone by already. This thing is not going to be any easy task. They are working our butts off. I suspect they enjoy their own tyranny. The whole thing feels like some sort of initiation ceremony into a brotherhood. If you pass the test (the final at the end of the second year), you’ve made it into the club, you’ve proven your worth. Well, I want to be in their club, I tell you, and they can throw their worst at me. I’ll give it my best shot.
OCTOBER 14, 1983: Living in this community throws my oddness, my homosexuality into sharp relief. It seems impossible to blend in, to be a part, to think like the people of this community, this mentality. A sad story.
[p. 65]OCTOBER 15, 1983: Mom and Dad stopped by tonight on their way back from Salt Lake. They had said they might, but still it was a pleasant surprise. I took them over to see the department studios where I spend so much time. We got into a discussion in the sophomore studio about the light and dark sides (Apollonian versus Dionysian) of one’s personality, I saying that I love the dark side, the danger of falling, Mom saying that she is frightened for me.
I have to laugh at us, the way we drop into such deep and intense discussions at any time. How typical. Was so good to see them. We went and got ice cream. Their 26th anniversary tomorrow.
NOVEMBER 16, 1983: There are the good days and the bad ones. On the bad ones I feel as if I’m falling down a dark hole, grabbing at the sides with my finger nails, trying to hold on. Or I feel as if I’m crawling, slowly, blindly, groping my way through the hours I have to remain conscious, wishing and waiting only for the time when I can find some respite in sleep.
The good days are marked only by the lack of this darkness moving in over the horizon, much like storm clouds which I am powerless to stop, able only to watch their approach. The good days are only characterized by the lack of this unbelievable numbness and fear. The last week has been pretty good in this sense, if one can call such a feeling good.
NOVEMBER 20, 1983: When I reread my entries from the past few weeks/months, it seems hard to believe that I can get so low at times, that things can be so bad. The problem is that they do and often put me at my wit’s end. I’m bored here. There are just no two ways about it. I don’t know what to do.
In trying to be positive about the whole situation, I can say that Logan is beautiful (as it always has been). The program here is definitely a good one—probably one of the best. But other than that I am at a loss for any other good words. I feel as if I am living my life in a vacuum—no friends, no real stimulating conversation, no night life, no confidante, nowhere to get away. Have I made a gross [p. 66]mistake in deciding to go to school here? Should I have gone back to California and tried to study there—Davis maybe?
DECEMBER 4, 1983: I’ve been in one of my anti-homosexual moods again today. Raging inside myself against the horrible anti-social sexual werewolves that we all are. Right? Like I said—what’s a boy to do? I have to confess, I don’t understand the whole thing. Is it symptomatic of other more deep-seated problems? Am I rebelling against the world? Am I afraid of growing up and refusing to accept responsibility and my own mortality? I long for love, but do I really know how to love, or is it just neurotic projection of my fantasies. But when I think about living the rest of my life with a man (not mattering that we “might” love each other) I am hit with a wave of straight homophobia.
DECEMBER 6, 1983: As I have said before, the common life here in this small, rural, middle-class town contrasts powerfully with the life that the majority around me (and even I at times) see as abnormal, the homosexual life. I think about how much safer and more at ease I felt living in the ghetto where there was security in numbers, where you weren’t constantly reminded of your “oddness.” (That is, until you got off the bus—with fifteen other men who all looked, dressed, and acted the same and went to the same places.) Perhaps I deceive myself into thinking it was much more comfortable there. Self-destructiveness certainly existed at a peak level in the ghetto. Even though we were all comfortable with our “gayness,” we seemed hellbent on doing some damage to ourselves, whatever the consequences. That isn’t comfort.
JANUARY 19, 1984: I’m enjoying my classes so much. This is what keeps me going. Design, Graphics/Sketching, and Site Analysis. Just finished a design problem for Dick Toth. Composition showing enclosure/implied line w/focal point/balance, etc. Fun but I feel drained. Worked all day to finish by 5:30. Very pleased. Don’t know how the grading will go. Must write about my attitudes toward this [p. 67]man and why I like his classes, why I hang on his words—and hope for his respect.
JANUARY 20, 1984: Went to a party tonight, with a girl from class, Monica, and her boyfriend/lover, Paulo. Both from Argentina. Fun party, with quite an international cast—South Americans, Europeans, blacks, a few Orientals. I had thought this type “scene” did not exist here. There is life in Logan after all.
NOVEMBER 1, 1984: I try to approach my stay here as a sort of Buddhist test. Now is the time when I must learn control: control of my desire/hunger, control of my self-identity, control over that raging animal which tears at my inside and seems close to breaking free … . There are too many times that I feel my grasp, my ability to pass the test turning into a failure. It seems to be more than I can deal with.
I need to turn my anger and fear into physical activity, to work myself to the point of exhaustion so I don’t carry such poisonous flammable material around in my head. If I cannot find others to share with me, I will do it myself. I will beat it out of my own hide! But it must not be done in anger. I need some sort of daily workout. I have to begin to press myself in this area, into a new direction.
FEBRUARY 6, 1985: I have been reading a book on Buddhist thought and tradition. I’m enjoying it very much. It echoes so many of my own ideas about the world and the painfulness of life. But it says that we can break the chain of birth-sorrow-death-rebirth by right action. I believe this is true. I feel it innately. I think I have always known it. This is my way out, most likely not in this life, because I am too addicted to the sensual world, but possibly in one soon following. I feel that little by little I am moving in that direction … .
Talked to Mom on the phone tonight. She sounds so calm it’s almost unreal. She has found her peace at last, much as my father promised she would. Much as he has promised that I will also. I long for mine, and I feel happy for and envy Mom. My parents are certainly my closest friends, perhaps that I will ever have.
[p. 68]MARCH 9, 1985: Hung out with some of the local gay flora tonight. I felt like a third thumb. There were four of us … . My discomfort was not of my own making. These guys all reminded me of so many of the queens that used to be in the bars. Sort of super faggot types. I think my anger is stemming from my loneliness. There’s that word once again. Isn’t there anyone around fairly normal and gay? The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. What am I doing here? Why can’t I meet people whom I’m comfortable with? Where are the people like Scott and Richard?
APRIL 14, 1985: My homosexuality has always put a damper on my confidence. It has made me hang back from the others in games and anything that included an element of physical aggression. It has helped create, along with the melancholia, a very introspective life, a sort of pale, sickly child of the mind.
It may be that my attempts to make friends have been awkward. They have, granted, often involved a sexual attraction on my part, and therefore have made me into the shy, gawky kid. But then there have been very few people I really wanted to know. I long for people like Chris with whom I could discuss literature, art, philosophy, etc., at a stimulating level. Scott understands music and aesthetics, although he knows nothing about literature. Richard, also, could relate to philosophy, and at bottom I just plain enjoy his company. And so I ask myself why it has been so difficult to find such people here. I realize that these three friends were gleaned from a great crowd of people I have met in the last few years, and I did not meet them all at the same time. Making good friends is not a quick process. Brian today made me feel a greater interest in him and his ideas than I have felt for anyone I’ve met here … .
But once again in my friendship with Brian, who is so very heterosexual, since he knows nothing about my homosexuality, he knows nothing about a great deal of my life. It is the crucial part of the puzzle. He cannot know me and understand my thought and experience without it. It becomes like trying to tell a story and having to leave out key elements. Great gaping holes. And because [p. 69]I am afraid of his reaction to such a revelation, I stumble on trying to avoid making the gaps apparent. Such a fear can become quite a blockade to true friendship.
APRIL 17, 1985: This tape makes me long for Los Angeles. Living there was such great fun. L.A. and I were made for each other. I wonder how I can even consider living elsewhere, including San Francisco. I can’t believe that I’m in Logan. The very idea is oppressive to me. I feel almost obsessed with the idea of getting out of here, whatever the cost. I must have been crazy to think I could ever be happy to spend four years here. But I can remember the rejection mentality I was in at the time I made the decision to come, feeling that I had to renounce the “fast life” of the big city and in no small way “punish” myself for having been such a promiscuous and highliving bad boy. And so we move to the opposite self-denying extreme of the spectrum. If I have learned anything by coming here, it might be to try to be more moderate in my choices. Happiness is not to be found by bouncing between the two poles.
MAY 15, 1985: I have wanted to write about this for a long time. But I have felt too ashamed about the fact that I “cruise” in the gym dressing room. Certainly my cruising is not blatant. In fact, it may be that I don’t pick up anyone because they can’t tell I’m even interested. I find the whole business sort of dreadful. What an odd thing to be writing about. I don’t think that anyone who is not gay could understand this matter. I sometimes think about how it would be for a heterosexual man, like my brothers or my father, say, to be able somehow to move freely among the naked bodies of women in their dressing room, without the women being aware of it, of course. He would blend in with them and yet would be like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This is my situation. I am a wolf among the sheep. Like a predator in the steamroom, patiently waiting.
Last night for the first time in a long while I thought how foreign is the thought of living the rest of my life with a man. It’s fine in romantic fantasies but more difficult in reality. I have become more [p. 70]attracted to women in the past couple of years. I look forward to the time when I fall in love with a woman and sleep with her. I think about children more all the time. I long for domesticity in my life. I think about big houses and grandchildren and the type of environment I would like to provide my children for growing up. I think I would make a very good father and partner. Ideally, what I seem to be longing for at this point is some sort of menage-a-trois, with another man and a woman. How the logistics would be worked out is uncertain. I have fantasies about meeting a man, falling in love, and on my telling him of my desire to meet a beautiful woman to marry and have children with, one who would understand my homosexuality, he would introduce me to his sister. A woman could also introduce me to her brother. But it seems important that they be tied together in some such manner.
I am homosexual. There is no doubt about this. I feel that this is now and will always be my true nature and inclination. But my aesthetic appreciation for women is developing and expanding into a more sexual inclination. I am beginning to feel a need for a female presence in my life, for a counter-balance that only a woman could provide.
* * *
[Again in Pocatello]
JANUARY 1, 1986: I have been intending to write for many weeks now. This seems an appropriate day to get around to it finally. [He recounts briefly the events leading up to his November hospital sojourn in the intensive care unit.] Not a pleasant experience. More info can be obtained from the other members of the family. I don’t remember too many details about the whole thing, thank goodness. Since then I have been on the slow road to recovery. My health is much improved. I feel like a different person. (Perhaps I am.)
Mike has gotten engaged to his girlfriend Marnice. I have to [p. 71]admit that I’m kind of excited by the whole thing. Someone from outside coming into our family.
It’s the new year and I have several goals I hope to fulfill:
1. I want to learn to juggle. I made myself some blocks filled with beans, made them today on the sewing machine. No small feat in itself.
2. I want to start learning some magic/sleight-of-hand tricks. I have wanted to do this for some time.
3. I want to learn to play my harmonica. I have wanted to do this for a long time too.
4. I want to write with more regularity. Several times a week if possible.
5. I want to start playing the piano again, eventually resume taking lessons.
These are simple things. I seem to have a great deal of time for them on my hands, but it is a commodity that may be in short supply.
FEBRUARY 8, 1986: There are times when I feel so restless I could just scream and scream. Absolutely everything seems to irritate me. But at this point there really isn’t much I can do about it. Mom made a comment today, that I might have to stay here for a very long time because of my illness. NOT IF I CAN HELP IT! This WILL NOT be my fate, to live out my life in Pocatello.
Now when I sit down to write out all the things I’ve been thinking about the past few days, everything turns to sand and slips away. I need to eat something. I feel sick from not having eaten enough today.
FEBRUARY 17, 1986: The doctor gave me the results of some blood tests today. They are basically unchanged from what they were in the beginning of my illness. My system is still screwed up. This is disappointing. I had been entertaining some hope that because I’ve been pretty healthy lately, perhaps the virus was dying. Apparently [p. 72]not. But being discouraged will not help. I should continue to be thankful for the health I’m experiencing right now and not be concerned with what might go down in the future. I will not worry … .
Still, I can’t help being bummed about the results of the blood tests. I want to live! I want to get better. I have been making plans. Wasting away was not one of them. But get a grip. One never knows what fate has in store. Before I got sick with pneumonia, I didn’t have much desire to get better and very little desire to live. I just didn’t care. My mental state was very bad. Something changed in the hospital. I was offered a choice: to go or to stay. It was up to me at that point. I made the decision to stay. I have been approaching life with renewed vigor, finding enjoyment in things that had become empty for me earlier, like music and reading. Now that I am involved in living again, I feel afraid of death in a way I wasn’t afraid before. I have too much at stake, too much to leave easily, things I want to do. I have to stay well. At some point they’re going to find a cure.
I have been swimming with some regularity the last few weeks. I am surprised at my new found strength, though I can’t go as far and as long as I could before my illness. But its getting better, a good sign.
There are about ten old men that have been swimming regularly at the gym for years. Watching them is like watching the March of the Troll Brigade. Some of them wear flippers on their feet. They sit in the steam room with me after their swim. They do “exercises” in the steam. Waving their arms about, lifting their legs as they lie on the slab table in the middle of the room, they look for all the world like plucked chickens, their skin hanging, their withered breasts sagging above their bellies. Lord knows if these “exercises” help much. But the effort seems to satisfy the old men. Eventually they shuffle out slowly, their knarly, grotesque feet looking not quite human. I’ve been wanting to write about the old men for some time now.
[p. 73]FEBRUARY 23, 1986: I think Mom is as bored as I am. Some nights we two alone end up parked in front of the TV, aimlessly switching channels. We hand the channel changer back and forth, as if by letting someone else do it something of interest (even slight) will appear out of the wasteland. We both need to get out of here, out of this town, off this planet. I think I’ve watched every nature show ever devised.
My walk yesterday was so pleasant in spite of the drabness of the weather. I keep thinking about it. It was wonderful to be outside again. And I had a great swim today. Many laps, no fatigue. There was a pregnant woman in the pool today using a kickboard to paddle. She was graceful like a sea cow or manatee is graceful. Very nice. As I swam I could see only her legs and belly beneath the surface, this big extended orb. She was quite pregnant. I wonder if—and hope—her baby will like the water as I do because of this early exposure.
FEBRARY 24, 1986: There are times like now where I’m sitting out in the warm sunshine reading my book when I think, “I could possibly die soon, but I have stayed alive long enough to enjoy this moment.” I’m glad for this. I don’t mean to sound sappy. I saw a butterfly today, the first. Maybe that’s sappy. But a good sign.
MARCH 30, 1986: “One day you’re here and that’s fine, and the next day you’re gone and that’s fine too, and someone has that very day come in to take your place whatever that might have been.”
—City of Night
APRIL 14, 1986: Listening to Der Rosenkavalier. It makes me want to cry. The thought flashed by again today (it doesn’t happen too often) that I am not ready to die. I want to live. I want more. I am not done yet. I still have to keep my appointment with that mysterious lover in my dreams. He’s out there waiting for me and I refuse to believe that mysterious person is only death.
APRIL 21, 1986: Early morning. I have spent my life up to this point believing if I searched long enough that life and the “way” would [p. 74]reveal themselves to me, that my sheer desire would squeeze it out of the clouds and ether. This obviously has not happened. I am quickly coming to the point where I realize that the answer to my questions is, there are no answers. This is it. Some actor said something about this life not being a dress rehearsal. “But isn’t there something more?” I am so restless. I want to throw plates at the wall.
Evening. “A man of old has said: ‘Those who practice meditation seeking things on the outside are all imbeciles.’ If you make yourself master in all circumstances, any place you stand will be the true one. In whatever environment you find yourself, you cannot be changed.” —The Buddhist Tradition
APRIL 22, 1986: I have not felt good the last few days. I’m feverish most of the time, similar to the way I felt every day before I went into the hospital. This is only a recent development.
It rained hard today. Was beautiful. Everything is very green. Tulips everywhere, but no daffodils. Beautiful tulips, more than I’ve ever seen.
I feel discouraged because of my illness. It’s left me in this weird limbo land. I feel like a prisoner and wonder if this is how it will be from now on. Some days I’ve felt that I could easily work full time, or at least hold a part-time job, but then on days like yesterday when I feel like crap I know there’s no way I could hold a job. And so I’m becoming an invalid, trapped in my parents’ house.
MAY 10, 1986: Many things—I just watched a show on the Shakers and their community and beliefs. It made me want to cry (I’ve been emotional again lately). Their lifestyle was so simple. They achieved such serenity and peace in their lives. All things they did, they felt they did for God, and so they tried to do all things well and with pride. Their lives were celibate, and this in turn gave them great creative energy. They believed in equality and love for all men.
Contrast this life to that in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and the Damned, which I just read, where people are only concerned [p. 75]with materialism, temporary beauty, and are cynical, oh so cynical. It made me feel awful because I recognized in it much of myself and my years in Los Angeles. I felt sick inside.
I have long thought of becoming a monk of some sort, withdrawing from the world into a life of work and contemplation. Somehow I have to find my way back to my god. I have yearned for this and hurt for this for so long.
On the one hand, celibacy seems so desirable. For me anyway. I am so tossed and whipped by my desire at times, it seems impossible to deal or live with it. I feel I have become a slave of that of which I ought to be the master. And yet I believe and know that sexuality can be a wonderful, God-given gift.
AUGUST 13, 1986: “He would go on a journey. Not far—not all the way to the tigers . . . three or four weeks of lotus-eating . . . in the lovely south …” —Death in Venice
Looking back over my journal, I realize that a great change in my attitude concerning my illness and my imminent death has taken place over the last few months. As it has become apparent since those entries that dying soon is my fate, I have spent such a lot of time (I had little else to do) thinking of death and preparing for it that I have come to hunger for its release. The thought that it could be denied me for now, that I could go into remission again petrifies me. I ache now to be released from this life. The waiting seems unbearable and cruel at times.
I am worn out physically. Some days I can hardly move from my bed for lack of strength. My weight has dropped far from the return to 140 during spring to 120. My appetite is poor, and I look very thin. My hair is also coming out like it did when I was so ill before. I show all the symptoms that I displayed before I had to go into the hospital except the daily fevers. It is my hope that by September or October I’ll be gone. I am so tired of this.
SEPTEMBER 5, 1986: Thoughts—Scott’s here. Arrived this afternoon. Many effects—on self, family. Good to see him.
[p. 76]Feel more in control. Situation will not run me anymore. Making more effort with family to be less defensive, less caustic, and quit playing old games. Decided to transcend somehow. Scott here for a few days only. Last time to see him. Have to be careful not to be caustic with him also. His importance to me is beyond measure. How will I be without him? My eyes keep closing—tired. Listening to Rachmaninoff (“Isle of the Dead”), Debussey. Favorites. I feel ambivalent about death again. Yet I am so tired of this. Family has been very weird lately. So wonderful to have Scott here.
Being home destroys any confidence I have gained. My parents are never wrong.
I’m going to die soon—nothing to do about it. I miss Genesee [the street where he lived in L.A.]. That was a cosmic point for me. It goes with me in my heart. I can’t describe it. Personal. Scott would know.
OCTOBER 22, 1986: Further adventures—My illness is progressing nicely. I have lost my ability to be mobile on my own. I hardly have the strength to get out of bed and my legs have atrophied. There is talk and a lot of thought about the need for canes and wheelchairs. I’m losing the peripheral sight in my left eye and find myself surprised that this bothers me so little. My appetite is good—maintaining weight between 110 and 115. I have been sleeping literally all day and most of the night. Socially I have withdrawn from everything. I feel ambivalent about having my California friends call for news and would be content never to hear from them again. (Writing is becoming difficult. I feel spastic.)
Got a card from Joyce Parsons today. Really fine to hear from her. Nice to know that my feelings of affection for her and fond memories are still reciprocated. Must admit I was a bit surprised.
Listening to Firebird. Top ten. I’m losing it. Can’t concentrate anymore. Have to stop.