Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Ramblings: Welcome to the Dolls’ House

I mentioned in my post called "The C Word" that there are a series of questions people often ask me. In the spirit of over sharing (which I may have invented) I'll answer another one. When did I realise I realise I was gay and have I ever slept with a girl?

 I suppose I always knew I was a bit different from most of the other boys at school. I was the only boy who had a dolls' house. I was the only one who when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up answered "Wonder Woman" and I think I was the only boy in Primary School who had a desperate urge to sit on the afro clad guitar playing teacher's lap. He had lovely denim flares.

This wasn't a source of joy to me and being different wasn't easy in an inner city junior school. If there's one sure fire way to gain disapproval from your parents it's to ask for a Girl's World for Christmas. I had a lot of untouched Meccano, Hornby and Scalextric. If there's one way to gain disapproval from your peers aged 6 it's to be completely crap at football and to want to spend all the playtimes with the girls playing shops. I thought maybe there had been a mistake and I should have been a girl and that perhaps one day I'd wake up female. I soon came to realise that actually, I had no desire to be a girl and wanted to keep my boy bits and couldn't be doing with all that palaver that girls have to put up with like make up and hair. I just wanted to be a boy who didn't have to put up with all the palaver that boys have to put up with e.g. understanding cricket, being able to fight and kissing girls.

 When I started at senior school it became more evident. The proximity of older children bought it home that I was indeed very different. They soon managed to point out that I was indeed a "poof" and I was glad to have a name for it. Poof was only one of the many names I soon learnt applied to me. Luckily for me there were 4 of us and I had 3 other gay companions in the class to keep me company. There's safety in numbers when there's missiles. I proved quite popular among some of the girls and had a coterie of female friends who would act as body guards.

 I remember one memorable occasion when aged 14 a boy called me "Gaylord" and tried to trip me over. My stern female friend punched him in the face whilst I swiped at him effetely with my bag. He didn't try it again.

 Once the hormones kicked in I realised I was indeed gay and fancied men with a mad yearning. I really wanted a boyfriend but the idea seemed remote. Although there were 3 other gay lads in my class I didn't fancy them at all. Damn those minority statistics!

 I got offered sex aged 13 by a straight boy in my class. He was very spoilt and had a Walkman and everything so I loved to spend time with him. He also had two things which attracted me very much: easy access to booze and cigarettes. We used to sit in the bushes on the park smoking until we vomited and sipping whiskey, also till we vomited. It was mighty fine. One day the subject turned to masturbation and he initiated a conversation about how much he liked to play with his penis. I was a little shocked. I was a prudish boy. He then went on to ponder on how nice it would be if there was someone who'd play with your cock for you and boldly suggested I might like to have a go and if I liked it might I consider putting it in my mouth. I was horrified and grabbing a handful of his ciggies and a couple of miniatures of whiskey, I legged it home. I later regretted this. He was quite hot and never spoke to me again. Missed chances and no more free cigarettes.

I did decide to investigate gay "porn". I took a deep breath and thanks to me being a tall 15 year old, managed to purchase a gay magazine from a newsagent in the market hall, called "Him!". It being the 1980s, it was barely porn. You'd probably get saucier pictures in Woman's Weekly these days. It featured lots of men standing naked with their flaccid penises on show. Very daring. I rememebr feeling mortified buying it and dying inside a little when the imposing woman in the shop sucked her teeth in disapproval and looked me up and down.

Gay became a hot subject in the 1980s thanks to the gender bending antics of Boy George and others and the emergence of a handful of openly gay pop stars. Mrs Thatcher bought the subject into the open too but not in a good way. Section 28 did no one any favours. I crammed in as much knowledge of what it was all about by clocking as many gay films and books as I could. I sneaked gay novels out of the library and watched a few gay films covertly by shuffling into the cinema, underage. I listened to Bronski Beat, Soft Cell and Erasure in secret on my cheap Sanyo imitation Walkman. I loved reading Edmund White, Felice Picano and Armistead Maupin. I avidly watched "Prick Up Your Ears", "My Beautiful Launderette" and "Maurice". I learnt a lot. I studied "gay" instead of the things like geography and history which seemed so dull in comparison. I quickly began to realise it was all quite normal really, in spite of what my parents, a few of the less progressive of the teachers and some of the boys at school said.

I told my friends I was gay when I was about 15 and to be honest, apart from the hideous sport lessons (more of that later), school life was pretty bearable. I didn't tell my parents till I was 17. I think they may have guessed though. Maybe the dolls' house had given them a warning shot.

As for the second part of the question (have you ever slept with a girl?), I'll tell you a little story. Aged 28 and in a bit of turmoil over whether to take the bold step of leaving my partner of 12 years, I stupidly suspended my cynicism and went to see a fortune teller. She was grim, totally hapless. Towards the end of a very embarrassing hour as she stumbled over a lot of "cold readings" and got everything wrong, she made the final mistake.
"I know you're gay, love but have you ever slept with a girl? I'm sorry for asking but there's a dead baby hovering over your shoulder and I think it might be yours."
"It's not mine." I replied. "Tell it to piss off."
She gave up on me at that point and I left.

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