Love is Love (by Grant Bentley)

Love is Love

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

Brynn spent considerable effort building his very own personal closet.
But all of a sudden, he found the door wouldn’t stay closed.

Some doors are easy to open and some are not. Some doors are obvious to everyone and some are not. Some doors should be kept closed and some should not. Some doors open by themselves and some do not. Out of all the doors in the city, there was only one door that concerned me. The door that kept me safe, that allowed me to escape numerous derogatory names, and kept me from acquiring bruises and/or other physical injuries. The door that kept me ‘normal’ but at the same time made me insane. That was, of course, my closet door. Well, not the closet door in my room. That would be stupid to be concerned about. No, this was MY closet door. My personal closet door. The one that I kept my biggest and scariest secret hidden behind, out of site, out of mind, closeted from the world.

It was two years ago that I realized I needed a closet with a secure door. It was the first time in three years that Gerry and I went skinny dipping in the river. That day I realized I wanted to spend the rest of my life looking at him naked. Okay, so that isn’t all I wanted to do, but that’s all I’m going to admit to. Since Gerry spent much of his time talking about girls and how hot they were, none of that was ever going to happen. Thank God we spent the last half hour up to our necks in water, swimming, and diving for an old baseball my dad threw to us. If we hadn’t, I would have had to stay in the water an extra half hour after Gerry got out, or I would have been embarrassed beyond what my poor little psyche could have handled. As it was, I had to look the other way as we walked out of the water and put our shorts back on.

The rest of the day was great. We went hiking up the side of a sort-of mountain with Dad. When we got to a wide ledge, there was an entrance to a cave. Now Dad carrying a big flashlight made sense. We spent more than two hours exploring the cave. Way back in, was this huge sorta room like thirty feet high. When Dad shone the flashlight up to the roof of it, there were hundreds of bats hanging upside down. It kinda creeped me out until Dad assured us they would stay there until it got dark out. I did kinda wonder how they knew it was dark out when they were way back there in a dark cave, but hey I’m not a bat so what do I know.

When we got back, the sun was just starting to set. Dad built a huge fire and we sat around it roasting wieners, making hotdogs, drinking orange juice, and laughing at most of Dad’s camping stories from when he was a kid. It wasn’t long before the odd bat would fly by. We knew they were bats cause they darted this way and that; not like birds that fly from here to there. Dad said they were catching insects like mosquitoes and stuff. All of a sudden, I liked bats.

About midnight, Dad decided we should get some sleep. Dad had his own tent not too far from the fire. His was big enough to stand up and walk around in. Gerry and I had a two man tent over by the trees. It was big enough to crawl into and, if you were careful, maybe turn around in. We walked over to the river, brushed our teeth and rinsed our mouths. It did cross my mind that someone upstream might have just done what Gerry and I had done in the river a few times, but hey, we were camping. When we got close to our tent, Gerry announced that he had to pee, and since we weren’t in the river, he would have to pull his shorts down and pee on a tree. Of course as soon as he brought it up, I had to pee too. Okay, big question, do I pee on the same tree or find another one? I chose to pee on another one and my personal closet began to form around me and its door began to close.

I should have been tired enough to fall asleep in seconds, but I didn’t. Gerry did, and I laid there listening to his breathing. All I wanted to do was cuddle up to him, feel his arms close around me, and feel his lips touch mine as a tear rolled down my cheek and I wondered, “Why me?”

Morning came far too soon and Dad shook our tent and announced that the coffee was brewing and breakfast was cooking. Gerry and I slowly crawled out of our sleeping bags and slowly crawled out of the tent. Again it was time to pee. Again I chose a different tree. Breakfast was amazing though. I don’t know how Dad managed to cook bacon and eggs over a campfire. I do know how we made toast because I made it. Dad had this thing I put a slice of bread in and then held it over the fire for a few seconds, flipped it over for a few seconds, and we had toast. Proudly, I only set fire to one slice of bread.

After breakfast, we went fishing for a couple of hours. According to Dad, if we wanted lunch, we had to catch it. Gerry caught a really big rainbow trout in the first five minutes. My first catch was an Adidas running shoe. Dad’s was a nice size rainbow as well. I did catch four small trout before we were done. Two of them we released back into the river because they were too small. Gerry caught three, including the biggest, and Dad caught three. Since I caught four, I declared myself the fishing champion of the trip. I also decided cleaning fish would never be a career choice…eewww.

As soon as we done cleaning the fish we caught, Gerry decided it was skinny dipping time once again. This time, I dropped my shorts and ran for the river as fast as I could. Once I was waist deep, I turned to look at Gerry, but he was right behind me and I spent the next three minutes choking and gasping for air. Being dunked when you’re not ready never works in your favour. We tried to remember where we last dove for the ball. Of course neither of us was bright enough to bring it in to shore with us. Needless to say, we never found it. We did have fun trying though. After about an hour, Dad called us in for lunch. Unfortunately that also meant we would be heading home soon. Still, there is nothing so good as fresh-caught fish cooked on an open fire and we enjoyed every bite. Not to mention Dad’s an awesome cook anyway.

After taking everything down, rolling up sleeping bags, folding tents, putting out the fire with several buckets of water, washing our dishes and packing them, picking up all our garbage, and packing leftovers into a cooler, we were on our way home. We talked about all the fun we had most of the way home. That is until Gerry fell asleep. I had to admit I hadn’t had this much fun in years. It was the best time ever, but in the back of my mind it was the worst time ever too. I really didn’t find out that one thing I didn’t want to believe about myself on the trip. I already knew. But the trip made it official. I liked guys. I liked guys and I knew from school that liking guys was not cool. And, since Gerry ‘liked’ girls, ‘liking’ Gerry was not cool either.

I managed to keep my closet intact and the door closed for the next two years, so I don’t know if I was excited or scared shitless when Gerry announced that he wanted to go camping again this weekend. He said that, after all the fun we had last time, he couldn’t believe that we hadn’t gone camping again for two years. I had to agree with him, well, to a point. This time, I thought it would just be the two of us though and that was scary, because Gerry naked and skinny dipping would have made it impossible to regulate the direction of my blood flow. Fortunately it wasn’t just the two of us. Gerry had been dating Kim James for over a year now and her twin brother Kent and his best friend were coming with us. Besides Gerry, Kent was the one guy in particular that stood out for me, maybe because I had gotten to know him a little through Kim and Gerry, I don’t know. Or maybe it was because he was totally sweet and unbelievably hot.

Thankfully we didn’t skinny dip all weekend. Kent and Jeremy weren’t into it, so they saved me from that glorious but terrifying ordeal. I did get to know Kent a lot better, as he and I were often left on our own when Gerry and Jeremy went exploring. We did a lot of swimming and hiking. We even tried fishing once, but it was too boring. Naturally, we also did a lot of talking. Then, Sunday night, I thought I was going to have a heart attack, my heart was beating so fast. Kent and I were lying in our sleeping backs talking quietly, for who knows what reason, about love and if we had ever been in love, when he leaned in towards me and kissed me. I can’t tell you if I kissed him back because I was in shock. I didn’t jump back or run away though, I know that. Given a few minutes to regain my ability to think, while staring into his smiling face and feeling him wipe a tear from my cheek, I distinctly remember kissing him back the second time…and third. Of course, Monday morning we both promised not to tell anyone, but the lock to my closet door had just been broken.

The morning after we got back, I slept in big time. I probably would have slept longer if Gerry hadn’t started bouncing my bed up and down until I nearly fell out.

“You gonna sleep all day or what?” he asked.

“That was the plan,” I replied, “If you weren’t such an asshole.”

“Yeah well screw you,” he responded, trying to sound mad, “It’s too nice out to waste the day inside. Besides, school starts again in a couple of weeks. Can’t be wastin’ vacation time dickhead.”

“Okay, okay, I’m up,” I said, sounding as annoyed as I could, “What’s for breakfast?”

“Since when did I become your nanny?” he asked laughing, “You want breakfast, you make it.”

I climbed out of bed, got dressed, went to the bathroom to pee and met him in the kitchen. He already had a bowl of cereal and a glass of milk ready. However it wasn’t for me. I stumbled to the cupboard, found the box of cereal, poured some into a bowl, got the milk, poured some on my cereal, and some in a glass, and joined him for breakfast. We ate quietly. Well not exactly quietly, but we didn’t talk. Once we were done, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before. He had his roller blades on. Okay, I guess I didn’t have to ask what he wanted to do today. I found mine in the hall closet and within ten minutes we were streaking down the street. It wasn’t long before Kim and Kent caught up with us and we spent the day blading all over town. Unfortunately, Kim and Kent had to be home early as their grandparents were coming over for dinner.

That afternoon, lock broken by Kent, my closet door was going to be opened a crack more, well maybe more than a crack more. Not by me, but by Gerry. He and I were sprawled out in the back yard, when he looked at me and asked me what I thought of his girlfriend, Kim.

“She’s totally sweet and pretty good looking I guess,” I replied.

Unfortunately, Kim was probably the most stunningly beautiful girl in school and he responded with, “Pretty good looking? You guess?

“Okay, she’s gorgeous,” I said with a grin.

“You think she’s hot?” he asked.

“Yeah I guess,” I responded, before a little pause followed by, “Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, she’s hot.”

Gerry just looked at me for a minute before saying, “Uh huh.” He waited several more seconds before asking, “What do you think of Kent?”

Oh my God. This was not a good time to ask me that. Kent was a total sweetheart, and he was hot, burning hot, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to say that to Gerry. At least not yet. Actually I was very sure I didn’t.

“He’s pretty good looking too, I guess,” I replied.

“Better looking than Kim?” he asked.

“Well they are brother and sister and they look a lot alike,” I responded, “So I guess kinda the same.”

“You think he’s hot like I think Kim’s hot though, don’t you Brynn?” he stated more than asked.

I was stunned, and my eyes began to fill with tears. When I looked at him, I saw a big grin as he rolled over and pulled me into a hug. I buried my head in his shoulder as a hundred and one thoughts flew through my mind.

“You like him don’t you?” he also stated more than asked, as he pulled back a bit and looked at me. Yes I liked Kent, a lot. However, as I said, even though I had nothing to fear, I wasn’t sure I was ready for this. Still smiling big time, he leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. I think my heart stopped for several seconds before a smile broke out on my face too.

“How..?” I questioned.

“We’ve been best friends since we were two years old,” he replied, “You can’t hide something like that from me bud. We know each other too well for that. In fact, sometimes I think I know you better than you know yourself.”

Apparently, as far as Gerry was concerned my closet door was never closed. In fact, there was no closet.

Since Gerry had been dating Kim for more than a year, he had gotten to know Kent quite well. Something he knew, that I obviously didn’t know before Sunday, was that Kent was gay. Something else he knew, that I didn’t know before Sunday, was that Kent liked me, or what he knew of me from seeing me and what Gerry had told him. Hence, Kent was invited on the camping trip and hence, the two of us were left alone…a lot.

“You guys set us up,” I said, trying to look serious, and maybe a little annoyed.

“Did it work?” he asked with a big grin.

At that, damn, as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t help but grin back, and he knew.

Still grinning, he threw a punch into the air and exclaimed, “Yessssss.”

I don’t think I need to mention that, after that weekend, more often than not, if you saw me, you saw Kent, or if you saw Kent, you saw me. Of course it usually wasn’t just the two of us. Gerry and Jeremy were with us most of the time. Kim and Jeremy’s girlfriend Christine or Chris, were with us a lot too. Considering none of the rest our friends were stupid, it only took a few days before we were known to be a couple. Once again, thanks to the powers that be, no one had a problem with it. In fact, not unlike Gerry, most of my friends knew or thought they knew already, and the same was true of Kent’s friends. So no big surprises there and obviously no big secrets either. Although unlike me, Kent had told Jeremy when they were both thirteen, so he didn’t have to figure it out for himself.

Now my friends knew and Kent’s friends knew, was it time for the world to know? Well our world anyway. We were walking past a jewellery kiosk in the mall one day, a week before school was to start, when Kent spotted a ring display. In that ring display were a number of matching rings. One pair in particular caught his eye. They were stainless steel with the men’s mars symbol raised up. He looked at me and when I smiled, that was it. Five minutes later we were sporting matching rings. Matching rings which told a story…if you were paying attention.

Of course our world didn’t just include friends and school. It included parents…four of them.

We decided that, if we were going to be out at school, we were going to have to be out at home. And, if we didn’t come out to our parents, someone else would do it for us. That was not the way we wanted it to go. Our parents deserved to hear it from us. So, we built up our courage, and suggested a Friday-before-school-starts bar-b-que at my place. Our parents would be there, as well as Kent and me, obviously, and so would Gerry and Kim, as a little moral support never hurts.

We were both nervous as hell all day, but the hour finally arrived when Kent’s mom and dad arrived. We busied ourselves getting everything ready. Gerry and Kim were right in there by our side. It wasn’t long before we were all sitting around the picnic table with a big juicy steak sitting in front of us and everything else was being passed around. The conversation was normal, were we looking forward to school starting, etc, etc, etc. Finally, Kent looked at me with a touch of fear in his eyes, and I nodded. Now it was my turn.

I sat for a few seconds before I finally managed to say, “Mom, Dad, James, and Crystal, we have something to tell you.”

Gerry and Kim were suddenly alert and focused on our respective parents. They were ready to fight for us. Something we both noticed and appreciated.

Kent took my hand and gave it a squeeze as I quietly uttered the words, “Kent and I are gay and we’re together. We’re a couple.”

Dad looked at us, then at Mom, then at Kent’s parents, then back at us, and asked, “Why are the parents always the last to be told?”

Then Kent’s dad, James, responded with, “Right, how long did you expect us to wait? We’re not getting any younger you know.”

Okay, hoped for, but not necessarily expected, it seems our parents knew about us individually for years and knew we were a couple about two days after we did. It took our moms about ten seconds to make their way around the table to give us both a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Our dads weren’t far behind…minus the kiss on the cheek.

Now, I’m not complaining, but why were we freaked out and nervous? I mean everyone else had us figured out before we told them, so why wouldn’t our parents? They did admit the matching rings solidified their analysis that we were together, but certainly didn’t initiate the idea. It was still an amazing relief and weight lifted though. We were gay. We were a couple. Everyone we cared about the most was good with it and it was no big deal. Life was good.

So, best friends…✓ sibling… friends… parents… rest of the world…next.

Informing ‘the rest of the world’ would begin on Monday. Fortunately, how ‘the rest of the world’ would react was not an issue. We were surrounded by friends who would ‘have our backs’ if we needed them to. As it happens, not a lot of people noticed, or not a lot of people cared. Of course there had to be the asshole group who would use any issue as a reason for bullying. They lasted about ten minutes before they found themselves surrounded by a couple dozen people who seemed to have an issue with…them, not us. Two of them actually transferred out. Apparently they couldn’t deal with their sudden loss of ‘status’.

The rest of the year was amazing. There were so many ‘firsts’ and so many memories that are indelibly imprinted on my brain that I could write a book. I won’t though, because some of those firsts belong to Kent and me only, and are ours and only ours to share with each other, now and forever. We did make an impact on our world too, though. It wasn’t long before several other kids came out, some on their own and some with their boyfriend/girlfriend. We even got the administration thinking about a GSA for next year.

Our first Halloween party together was totally fun. We went as Jack and Jill. I got to be Jill…lucky me. Kent did seem to enjoy waxing my legs though. Just in case you care, that shit hurts when you rip it off. Whose stupid idea was it anyway that girls can’t have hairy legs? That will be my first and last, though unintentional, attempt at drag, guaranteed. My legs and their hair will not be separated again.

Our first Thanksgiving was great. Both our extended families were there. When my family met Kent, the only negative thing we heard came from my Grandpa Ben as he commented about the world going to hell in a hand basket. Grandma Rose smacked him upside the head and told him to get his mind out of the eighteenth century…and that won’t be the last he hears about it either. The only one in Kent’s family that looked like he might choke on his own saliva was his cousin Levi. Levi is working on being a ‘good old boy’, working the land as God intended. Although I don’t know if a million dollar grow-op was really what God had in mind.

Christmas together was unbelievable. It was just our immediate families and Kim and Gerry, and Jeremy. The five of us decided to ‘camp out’ in the basement. Kim was a little upset when her dad suggested she sleep in her room. He did relent and let her stay with us after a bit. I think there was a comment about zipping sleeping bags together though. Trying to be cooperative, Gerry and Jeremy promised they wouldn’t. Opening gifts was a blast and eating until we couldn’t walk worked for me too. But opening the gifts from each other was so totally special.

Spring break was totally amazing too, as we spent the first four days snowboarding at Lake Louise. It was kinda like Christmas, Gerry and Kim, Jeremy and Chris, and our immediate families this time. Even though we had been out to COP (Canada Olympic Park) several times, four days in a row on the mountain nearly did us in. We spent most of the second half of the break recovering from the first half. The toughest part of the trip was that Gerry and Jeremy had to share a bed…not with their person of choice, but with each other. Kent and I decided they’d make a cute couple, if they played for the right team.

But hey, as Jessica said in closing her GSA presentation, “Kim and Gerry are a couple…Kent and Brynn are a couple…Christine and Jeremy are a couple…and Jill and I are a couple…love is love…end of story.”


Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.