Against My Will - by Grant Bentley

Against My Will

By Grant Bentley

I was fourteen for crying out load. I was too old for this stupid, childish, dress up for Halloween crap. I definitely didn’t want to go to some stupid Halloween party. Hell, I didn’t want to go anywhere. And besides, Halloween was two days ago already. How the hell did I let myself get talked into going? Well, according to Mom and Amy, I had become this weird reclusive creature who never left his room and never left the house except to go to school, so, against my will or not, they had decided I was going to get out and socialize.

In Mom and Amy’s opinion, I had stopped having a life and I guess they were worried about me. I had never been a party animal or mall crawler, but I had enjoyed playing ball, hoops or tag football with the guys. Video games were good, or going to the mall once in a while to hit the arcade.  But in the last few months, I just wasn’t into it anymore, and I had been hanging out with the guys less and less. I hadn’t stopped hanging out with Amy though. Mainly because she wouldn’t go away.

It started a few weeks ago. They had begun to drive me insane with their stupid questions and suggestions. What was wrong? What was troubling me? What was my problem? The biggest problem was I couldn’t tell them what the problem was. I couldn’t tell anyone. You see, about six months ago, I figured out that I like guys. I mean, I like girls too, just not girl parts. I do however like guy parts. You know what I mean? And it scared the living hell out of me.

So here I was, sitting in the kitchen feeling like complete idiot while my best friend, Amy, totally against my will, painted my face with a ton of makeup, glued on a moustache and beard, hung these big dangly earrings on my ears, and pulled this nasty wig onto my head. All I could think of was, I hoped the wig had been properly sterilized and I hoped the glue wasn’t permanent. I really didn’t want some weird scalp disease and I didn’t want to be stuck with a moustache and beard for weeks… yuck.

Whether I liked it or not, I was going to be Jack Sparrow. I love Pirates of the Caribbean and I love Jack Sparrow, but I didn’t necessarily want to be him. Well, I might for one night, maybe, if I had to. At least the costume was good. Amy and my mom had rented it from some costume shop. I think they paid something like a hundred dollars to rent it for the night. After about an hour of moaning and whining, I was looking in the mirror and had to admit I looked pretty darn good. It was almost like I was looking at a picture of Jack Sparrow… well, almost. I still hoped the moustache and beard came off easily, though.

An hour and a hundred pictures later, Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann were walking the three blocks from my place to Amy’s. Amy was so excited she would have been bouncing off the walls if there were any, and even though I was definitely going against my will, I was almost thinking this might be fun. If nothing else, watching Amy spaz out all night would be fun.

In another hour, a hundred or more teenage Halloween characters took over the youth centre across the street from Amy’s house. I was quite impressed when we walked in. There was even a real DJ, not some ‘hip’ parent with a CD player and fifty watt speakers. And there was food galore… all done in the best of Halloween traditions… 90% sugar and 10% flour.

Amy and I danced almost non-stop for the first hour until we both felt we needed something to drink. We found a table close to the dance floor and sat down to have some ‘blood’ punch and some of what turned out to be very tasty eyeballs. As we were sitting there, a very attractive vampire, I had never met before, and his date, the wicked witch of the west or east, who I also never met before, joined us. We started chatting a bit, well as much as we could, considering the volume of the music. The vampire’s name was Vince and the witch’s name was Lisa. They attended St. Francis, the Catholic high school a few blocks from our high school, Western, which explained why I had never seen him… I mean them… before.

Once we finished our snacks, we all returned to the dance floor. After about a half hour, I suddenly realized that, for probably the last fifteen or twenty minutes, I had been dancing with Vince and the girls had been kinda dancing with each other. Now, thanks to some parent who decided that we needed the lights on; as totally natural as dancing with Vince seemed to be, I was not into outing myself to most of my class. So, after I turned several shades of red, I immediately turned towards Amy and started dancing with her again.

As I did, she gave me a little smile as she glanced at Vince. ‘Oh shit, she knows,’ I thought, but I did smile back. I quickly made some excuse about being too warm and needing to step outside for a bit. I stepped out onto the back deck, leaned against the railing, and let out a big sigh. My God, what had I done? What if some of the guys saw me? What about Vince? Is he gonna think I’m some kind of freak and wanna kick my ass? Although I didn’t figure that would happen, since, if I was dancing with him, he was dancing with me. And what about Amy? And Lisa?

As all these things were flashing through my mind, I felt someone’s shoulder brush mine. Except it didn’t really brush mine cause it stayed pressed up against mine. I held my breath and glanced to the side to see who it was. It was Vince and I could immediately feel my cheeks start to glow again. Well, I think they were glowing under the makeup.

“You’re so cute when you get all embarrassed and start blushing,” he said quietly with a grin.

Okay, my cheeks were obviously glowing. But at least it didn’t seem Vince wanted to want to kick my ass.

Playing dumb, something else I’m generally good at, I innocently questioned, “Excuse me?”

“Back there when you realized you were dancing with me instead of Amy,” he replied quietly, “And just now when you realized it was me standing here.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I responded, keeping with the playing dumb ploy.

“Yeah… you do,” he said with a sincere smile.

Okay, maybe I needed to work on the playing dumb thing. It didn’t seem to be working and I just stared at him. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. All I could think of was I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him…or at least a significant amount of time with him. Unfortunately I had gone beyond ‘playing’ dumb and just stood there.

“You wish everything would just go away right about now, don’t you?” he asked.

Did I want everything to go away? Did I want him and this whole night to go away? The night maybe but sure as hell not him. Instead of replying, I just continued to stare at him as my eyes started to tear up.

“Don’t be doin’ that,” he said gently, “Your makeup will run and you’ll look like some demon possessed clown in a Jack Sparrow costume.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle when he said that and I think I actually smiled because he smiled at me and said, “Now that’s better,” and his smile became more of a grin.

Somehow, I found myself returning his grin. I also found myself feeling unexpectedly relaxed and comfortable. Something I hadn’t felt for ages.

“Sorry about the freak out,” I finally managed to say, “I really… more or less… kinda… just wish everyone would sorta go away…. not you… just everyone else.”

I got another grin from him and I don’t think it was for my eloquence.

“Not to worry,” he replied as he tucked something in my jacket pocket, “Call me. There’s so much I’d like to talk to you about, but I’m not sure here and now is a good time. I think Lisa and I are going to head home. You and Amy have a great evening. Okay?” Then he turned and disappeared into the centre.

By the time I clued in and hurried inside, there was no sign of him or Lisa. I noticed Amy sitting quietly at the table we had been sitting at when Vince and Lisa had come over to sit with us. I walked over, held out my hand to her and smiled. She smiled back, took my hand and we walked back onto the dance floor. We danced the rest of the night away and really did have a good time. Well until it was over and everyone had to head for home.

When we got to Amy’s, she gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, a little smile, said goodnight, turned to unlock the door and went inside. It actually seemed kind of weird because usually there would be an uncomfortable moment where I knew she expected a goodnight kiss. I would kiss her on the cheek, give her a quick hug, and walk away with a little wave. This time there was no moment. Somehow, I don’t think it was going to be necessary to come out to Amy.
I walked home slowly, quietly unlocked the door, slipped into the house, made my way to my room and started taking apart my costume. As I took the jacket off, I reached in and pulled out a slightly crumpled piece of paper. On it was written, ‘555-7809 Call me. Vince.’ I just stared at it for at least a minute. I so wanted to call him right there and then, but I figured it might be just a tad late to be doing that. Besides, I was still freakin’ Jack Sparrow. I did manage to get the rest of my costume off. I was even able to get the makeup off. Unfortunately it was 2:30 in the morning by the time I finished. I took a final glance at Vince’s number, turned my light off, crawled into bed, and was asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The next thing I knew, it was noon and Mom was poking me in the shoulder to wake me up. Once I finally managed to open my eyes, she laughed and told me lunch was ready, so I should get my lazy butt up and come eat. When I finally made it to the kitchen, Amy was sitting there and she and Mom were chatting as they ate.

I said, “Good morning,” and got myself a bowl of soup, grabbed a couple sandwiches, and sat down at the table.

“So did you have a good time last night?” Mom asked me.

“Oohhhh, you have no idea,” I replied sarcastically, which got me ‘the look’, so I changed it to, “Actually yeah, I did have a pretty good time.”

“See, we told you it would be fun,” she said.

Amy just sat there looking at me with a smirk on her face. Finally after a few seconds she said, “It was fun wasn’t it?”

I just smiled my most innocent smile and replied, “Yes it was.”

“We met a really cute couple there too,” she said to Mom.

“Oh really?” Mom asked.

“Yeah, Vince and Lisa,” she replied, “Vince seemed like a really sweet guy didn’t he, Grady?”

“Uh… yeah… I guess,” I replied, as I thought, ‘Please, let’s not go there right now.’ Thankfully, I was able to make the rest of the conversation revolve around the costumes kids were wearing, the music, and the food.

Once we finished eating and cleaning up, as usual, Amy followed me to my room, as usual, and flopped down across my bed, as usual. See, I told you I hadn’t stopped hanging out with Amy, because, like I said, she just wouldn’t go away. So, I flopped down beside her and we lay there in silence for a few minutes.

I think both of us were caught up in our own thoughts about what happened the night before. I know I was. Then, Amy asked the question I kinda knew was coming.

“Grady,” she said tentatively, “You liked Vince didn’t you?”

“Uh… yeah sure… why not?” I replied indifferently, As I thought, 'My opinion is, always play dumb if you can.'

“Grady, please,” she responded quietly, “I don’t mean just ‘like’ — you know what I mean.”

Okay, so playing dumb wasn’t going to work and I had to admit, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

“You don’t need to worry,” she said as she turned her head to look at me, “I’ve kinda known for a while now.”

When I didn’t respond, she said, “I’m okay with it Grady and I’m here for you if you need to talk.”

I didn’t know how to respond to her comment and it took me a couple of minutes to say anything. Finally I turned my head to look at her and managed to say, “I’m sorry.”

She smiled, brushed my cheek, and said, “Grady, you have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Thanks,” I said with a little smile.

“You’re a total sweetheart and you are who you are,” she added, “And, who you are is perfect.”

“Sweetheart, yeah, but perfect, I dunno,” I replied.

We continued to lie there quietly for a while before my little plastic bubble burst and I finally opened up, “Actually, all I’ve felt for months is scared. I’m not sure how to deal with it. When everyone finds out, the guys are gonna hate me and I’m gonna get bullied and shit. Mom and Dad are gonna freak and probably disown me and I’ll end up living on the street, or worse.”

“Okay, now you’re just being a drama queen,” she scolded, “You know damn well none of those things are going to happen. Think about it. The guys have no problem with Jake and Paul and they’re not only gay and out, but they’re boyfriends. I haven’t seen anyone get bullied at school in the last year. Mr. Reynolds would rip anyone a new asshole who tries it, and they’d be expelled. Your mom and dad are the most clued-in and understanding parents I know… and they love you to bits.”

“Yeah, I guess,” I said.

“Come on Grady,” she assured, “You know you have nothing to worry about. No one’s gonna care one way or the other. It’ll be totally cool.”

“Maybe, but I just don’t know what to do,” I said, “It’s not like I figured out I like tall girls better than short girls. I figured out I like tall guys better than short girls, tall girls, medium girls, or girls period. It’s like total weirdness. Why does being gay have to be such a bitch?”

The next thing I knew, I was getting a kiss on the cheek. When I looked at her, she grinned and said, “You finally actually said it.”

I had to think for a minute, and I was not playing dumb. I had actually referred to myself as gay and, guess what, it wasn’t so bad.

It’s not like I was gonna run out and buy a rainbow flag. But maybe it was time to stop over-thinking it, be myself, and let things take their course. I should mention, those weren’t actually my thoughts. They’re some things Amy said after she bitched me out for being a ‘drama  queen.’

We talked for probably another half hour and I have to say I was feeling much better. We then decided to head for the mall. Some bowling, a little shopping, a movie, and some fast food was definitely a good way to kill the rest of the day. In fact it was almost 9:30 by the time we got back to Amy’s. She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and told me to have a good night… and to chill the hell out. I had to grin at her as I returned her kiss and promised I would.

When I got home, I found some leftovers in the fridge, made myself a snack, said goodnight to Mom and Dad, and wandered up to my room. I turned on my stereo, sat on my bed, leaned against the headboard, and started on my snack. As I sat there eating, I realized that, for the first time in weeks, I felt peaceful. I was actually listening to the music and not obsessing about my pathetic gay life. In fact, my life didn’t seem all that bad at the moment. I glanced at the piece of paper on my dresser and actually smiled as I thought of Vince. Hmmm, maybe I would call him… no… not maybe… for sure.

It was almost 10:30 when I finally decided to crawl out of bed the next morning. After a long shower and other morning rituals, I made my way to the kitchen, poured a bowl of cereal and sat down to breakfast. Mom came in after a few minutes, poured herself a coffee and sat down at the table with me.

“You seem uncharacteristically happy this morning,” she said as I ate my cereal and chatted with her.

“I do?” I asked.

“Yes you do,” she replied, “It’s good to see, finally. Your dad and I were starting to worry about you.”

“Sorry,” I said, “I had a lot on my mind, but Amy and I had a good talk yesterday and we sorted a lot of stuff out.”

“That’s good to hear,” she said, “Amy is such a sweet girl… smart too.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “She’s a good friend.”

“Just a friend?” she questioned.

“Yeah,” I replied, “Just a friend.”

She gave me a kinda weird look and then a little smile. Since the playing dumb thing  wasn’t working so well lately, and I really wasn’t sure I was ready to get into a discussion as to why I was feeling happier, or why Amy was just a friend, I quickly excused myself and headed for my room. At least for the moment I would be safe.

When I got to my room, the first thing I saw of course was Vince’s note. I looked at it for a minute or so, picked it up and looked at it some more. ‘Do I dare?’ I thought. ‘I mean, once I do, there’s no turning back…is there?’ Then I thought, ‘Stupid question, of course I dare.’ I picked up my cell, looked at his number again for several seconds, and then programmed it into my contacts list.

Wow! Vince’s number was programmed into my phone. Now when I was ready, all I had to do was hit speed dial.

Then I heard this faint voice saying, “Hello…Hello?”

Finally my brain kicked in and I put my phone to my ear and responded, “Hi.”

The voice said, “Hi,” back, and after a few seconds asked, “Can I help you?”

“Uh, yeah,” I replied, “Uh, this is Grady.”

“Oh my God… hi,” he exclaimed, his excitement obvious, “I didn’t think you were going to call.”

“Well I want to finish our conversation from the other night,” I said.

He suggested we meet at lunch time for a coffee or something at the food court in Chinook mall. Since it was only about a fifteen minute C-train ride for me, I said, “Yeah, for sure.”

Actually, if it had been a three hour C-train ride I would have still agreed to meet him. I got there about ten minutes before he did but I decided to wait before I ordered. When I saw him walking towards me, I recognized him immediately, even without fangs and his vampire makeup. When he got to where I was sitting, I smiled, stood up and reached out to shake his hand. He took my hand and used it to pull me into a hug.

A few days ago, hell, yesterday, I would have been freaked, but today, I enjoyed it and returned it.

“Hope you weren’t waiting long,” he said, “Mom found a job for me to do at the last minute.”

“No problem,” I replied, “I just got here a few minutes ago.”

We got coffees and a couple of squares and sat at a table by the windows. 

“I really am glad you decided to call me,” he said with a big smile.

“Yeah, so am I,” I replied with just as big a smile.

“I’ve been thinking about you all weekend,” he said.

“Yeah me too. I mean thinking about you, not me,” I said feeling a little embarrassed I’d even admit it.

“I love it when you blush,” he said grinning.

“Thanks,” I replied grinning back, “I think.”

“You embarrass way too easily,” he said, “This could prove to be fun.”

“Oh no,” I said laughing, “Don’t even think about it.”

“Okay, I’ll be nice,” he said with a grin, “But I gotta tell you the best part of the other night was dancing with you.”

“I know. And, I know this is gonna sound weird, but dancing with you seemed so natural… that is, until I realized I was dancing with you,” I said laughing.

“Subconsciously natural but consciously unnatural?” he asked with a chuckle.

“No, more like subconsciously and consciously natural but also consciously scary,” I responded.

“Yeah I know,” he replied, “It shouldn’t be though.”

“Yeah, I mean, seriously, we should just be able to be ourselves, to be able to hold hands, kiss, dance together, whatever,” I said, “Why the hell is it such a big deal anyway?”

“I’m still trying to figure that one out. Why these lunatics are so obsessed with us,” he responded, “I mean of all the hundreds of things that they should be concerned about like poverty, famine, war, or climate change, they only seem to see one thing. The very existence of life on earth, as we know it, is being threatened, and the only thing they can see is the ‘gay agenda’ — whatever the hell that is. I don’t get it. I mean I really don’t get it.”

“I know,” I said, “They’d be more upset if a gay couple moved in next door to them than they would be if there was another BP oil spill in the gulf. It’s insane.”

We did get onto other topics fairly quickly. We went on from there and talked for over an hour. On the plus side for both of us was that we liked a lot of the same things, like reading and writing, fantasy movies and books, and a lot of the same video games. We both loved hiking, snowboarding, swimming, and a hundred and one other things. Well, actually we didn’t discus a hundred and one things, but we did discus enough. Most importantly, we both hate spiders… like ‘freak out and die’ hate.

About the time we were ready to start on our third coffee, I glanced up and Jake and Paul were heading towards us. I guess they just happened to be in the food court, and just happened to notice us. They had also been at the Halloween party. The next thing we knew, they were asking if they could join us. We of course said yes and I introduced them to Vince as they sat down. We talked a little about the party. They had seen the four of us dancing together. I hoped that they hadn’t noticed anything although I knew they had. That’s why they came over to sit with us.

They didn’t actually say anything, but I could just tell they assumed Vince and I were together. They asked how we knew each other and were surprised when we had to confess that we just met at the party. The focus quickly shifted off us though, and rest of the time there was no particular direction to our conversation. It was kind of all over the place.

That is until Paul announced, “Hey, next month the GSA is putting on a dance at the youth centre.”

“Yeah, you guys gotta be there,” Jake added, “They do the whole ‘nightclub’ theme. Well sans alcohol of course. Kids will be there from three other GSA’s. It’s gonna be friggin’ awesome.”

“You won’t be sorry,” Paul said, “Trust me.”

“Okay, you do realize neither of us are out to anyone except Amy and Lisa?” I clarified.

That got me a big grin from both of them and I turned a whole new shade of red as looked at Vince. He just gave me a kinda shy smile.

Okay, so if I had been thinking, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, though not clearly, I might not have just outed us to Jake and Paul. Not that they hadn’t already figured us out. But I had just made it official.

“You know we won’t say anything,” Paul reassured, “You should still come though. You have nothing to worry about at Western.”

“I know you guys won’t out us and Amy and I’ve talked about Western,” I replied, “But Vince is in St. Francis and the Pope doesn’t like us.”

“Not to mention their anti-bullying record sucks,” Vince added, “Particularly when the bully is exercising his religious freedom.”

“Fuck, you shouldn’t even have to worry about shit like that,” Jake responded, “It’s just so unfair. You have every right to be who you are and not have to hide it.”

“I know,” I replied, “We were just talking about that.”

“I just wish there was a way,” Vince said, “I’m tired of hiding and being scared.”

We talked for a while longer about fairness and being scared and a few other things. Jake even suggested that Vince find a way to transfer to Western. Even though it seemed like a good idea, Vince didn’t think it would be a possibility. We did note the time however and realized that we would all be in crap if we didn’t get home in time for dinner. We said bye to Jake and Paul and headed for the C-train. As we were riding the train, we were pleased to discover that we both lived in downtown high-rises about eight blocks apart. I lived on Twelfth Avenue and Eighth Street and Vince lived on Sixth Avenue and Tenth Street. When we got to the downtown station, we said our ‘goodbyes’ and headed for home.

During the next few weeks, Vince and I got together as often as we could. My parents thought he was just the sweetest boy and his parents thought I was a well-mannered personable young man. Of course Amy and Lisa were with us quite often. For that matter, so were Jake and Paul. Things were going perfectly and we all know what that means. Something is going to hit the fan. Well maybe not hit the fan, but hit something.

That something hit me upside the head as Mom, Dad, and I were finishing dinner one evening. That something was an observation from my mother. A observation I really wasn’t ready for from either of my parents. An observation I was going to have to explain.

If you want ‘totally against my will number two,’ this was it.

“You know your father and I were getting concerned about the way you seemed to be closing yourself off from everyone,” Mom said.

“Yeah I know,” I replied, “Like I told you, I kinda had a lot on my mind there for a while.”

“Well, we can’t tell you how relieved we are to see you so much happier and confident lately,” Dad said smiling.

“Thanks,” I responded, “I do feel a lot better.”

“Vince seems to be a very good influence on you doesn’t he?” Mom questioned.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy,” I answered as I thought, ‘Oh shit. Here it comes.’ And it did.

“We know you and Amy have been close friends since you were little,” she said.

“Uh… yeah, we have,” I responded.

“We also know that we have never seen that special little sparkle in your eyes when you look at her,” she noted.

“We’re just friends Mom,” I pointed out.

“Yes we know dear,” she replied as she reached over and took my hand, “But we have noticed that special little sparkle when you look at Vince.”

‘Oh my God… how do I respond to that?’ I wondered as my vision began to blur.

She immediately squeezed my hand and said, “Oh Grady, don’t get upset. We love you more than anything in this world and nothing is going to change that.”

I just sat there. I don’t know for how long, but I eventually wiped my eyes on my sleeve and looked first at Mom and then at Dad. I saw nothing in their eyes but love and concern.

I finally took a deep breath and quietly replied, “We’re together… Mom… Dad… I’m gay… Vince is my boyfriend.”

“We know,” Dad said quietly as he reached over and patted my arm.

I just sat there for several more seconds before letting out a huge sigh of relief followed by “Oh God.”

All three of us sat looking at each other with reasonably stupid smiles on our faces. Eventually, I got up and gave my mom a huge hug and then my dad.

“I love you guys,” I said as I sat back down, “Thank you for understanding.”

“We love you too son,” Dad replied, “And don’t you ever forget it.”

“I won’t,” I replied.

“And you can tell Vince he can be himself around here from now on too,” he added.

“Yeah,” I said grinning, “Uh… I think I’m going to call him right now.”

I ran to my room, grabbed my phone, flopped down on my bed, hit speed dial 1, and waited for the sound of Vince’s voice.

“Hey Babe,” were the first words I heard.

“Hey,” I replied, “You’ll never guess what just happened.”

“Something good, by the excitement in your voice,” he said.

“I came out to Mom and Dad,” I exclaimed.

“Oh my God,” he responded, “You did it?”

“Yeah and they were cool and okay with it,” I said.

“What made you decide to come out to them?” he asked, “Cause last time we talked about it neither one of us felt ready.”

“Well it was kinda like they drew me out,” I responded, “Mom started talking about how much happier I am and stuff. Then she kinda dropped the Vince is special to you isn’t he bomb.”

“I’m special to you bomb?” he questioned.

“Yeah, she, said since I’ve been so happy lately, you must be a good influence on me,” I replied, “and then — get this — she said my eyes have a special little sparkle in them when I look at you.”

“Oh wow… really?” he asked.

“Yeah really,” I said, “And then she said they love me and would always love me.  Not like they didn’t already know, but that’s when I told them.”

“So obviously they know we’re together,” he said.

“Yeah. Dad told me to tell you that you can be yourself around here too,” I said with a chuckle.

“Oh man,” he said excitedly, “That is so cool. Now if my parents would be so understanding.”

“Maybe they will be,” I tried to reassure him, “You never know.”

“Yeah maybe,” he replied.

“Hey, why don’t you come over for a bit?” I suggested.

“I would, but I have a ton of homework and there’s no way Mom would let me out without proving to her it’s all done,” he responded dejectedly.

“Damn,” I said, “I thought it would be so totally cool to try out being ourselves with my mom and dad… finally.”

“Tomorrow night for sure,” he said, “I’ll make sure I don’t have any homework.”

“Okay, for sure,” I said, “I’ll let you get after that homework then. Maybe I should get after mine too.”

“Yeah I guess,” he said, “Love you.”

“Love you too,” I replied, “Night.”

“See you tomorrow. Night,” he responded and we hung up.
As soon as we hung up, I decided that maybe I should get my homework done. I had several assignments due tomorrow and three that were due the day after. I decided that I would get all of them out of the way so Vince and I would have tomorrow evening free. It took a few minutes to get my concentration back because I was still excited, but I did get all my work done even though it was almost midnight by the time I finished.

Vince arrived at about 7:00 the next evening and the first thing I did was give him a quick kiss as he came in the door. It felt so cool to know I had that freedom and I couldn’t get the grin off my face. Neither could Vince. Mom had a bunch of snacks and stuff set out on the kitchen table for us so we nibbled and chatted with her for a good half hour. After that, we went to my room and just cuddled on my bed for a bit before we got into some serious video gaming. After we were video gamed out, we put on the movie Beautiful Thing I got Mom to download from iTunes and cuddled up on my bed to watch it. About halfway through, Dad poked his head in the door and said ‘hi’ and watched a few minutes of the movie before he disappeared into his study, probably to do some work related stuff. It was one of the best evenings ever for both Vince and I. Finally we had someplace where we could be ourselves and it was so cool.

Even though they had never said anything negative about gays or homosexuality, Vince was still scared to come out to his parents though. They were Catholic and, as I said before, the Pope wasn’t exactly gay friendly. However, a month or so after my parental coming out, Vince and I walked into his room after school. On his pillow was a book entitled The Meaning of Matthew. We looked at each other with a kinda ‘what the hell?’ look on our faces. Vince turned a little pale and teared up and I immediately pulled him into a hug.

“Oh God, they know,” he whispered in my ear.

“Yeah,” I responded, “But I think they’re probably okay with it. I mean, no one could read The Meaning of Matthew, and not be moved by it. There is no one more pro-gay than Judy Shepard.”

“Yeah I guess,” he said as he gingerly picked up the book.

When he did, neatly laid out under the book were two Erase Hate pendants. We picked them up, looked at them and Vince immediately hugged me and burst into tears. Of course, that set me off too. We were still standing there, arms around each other, and each with a pendant in our hand when his Mom and Dad appeared in the doorway. As soon as Vince saw them, he broke our hug and stepped back.

“So,” his Dad said with a smile, “Were you ever going to tell us?”

We both just stood there staring at them. Neither one of us quite knew what to say. After a few seconds, Vince almost flew into his dad’s arms and started crying his eyes out. His mom took a couple of steps and pulled me into a hug. Then she pulled the two of us into a group hug with with all four of us. We stood there for several minutes until his mom said she had coffee and snacks for us and maybe we should go to the living room and talk.

They had had Vince figured out for a while. I guess, initially they weren’t too thrilled about having a gay son and had decided to do some research into it. Part of that research included The Meaning of Matthew. They were still in the process of accepting it when I came along. They had us figured out after the first couple of weeks we were together. At first, they weren’t sure how deal with it. Dealing with Vince being gay was one thing. Dealing with him having a boyfriend was a whole different matter. It was a little too foreign for them and they had no idea about how to bring it up. I guess that’s why they didn’t just bring it up like my parents did. And I guess that’s why they thought the book and pendants was a good idea. I’m not sure what would have happened if they were wrong. It could have been real interesting. But, they weren’t wrong and we had a very meaningful discussion about everything from realizing you’re gay, to accepting it yourself, to the fear of coming out, and you name it. In the end, we had their blessing and now could be ourselves in both my home and his.

Three weeks after that, Vince and I were walking into the youth centre with Jake, Paul, Amy, and Lisa. I think it was the biggest step either one of us had ever taken by our own choice. There were close to a hundred kids in the centre; probably fifty from Western. Obviously, we were safe at a GSA function, but this was it. We were coming out… coming out to the world. Well, maybe not the world, but definitely to everyone at Western. Word does tend to get around, especially in high school.

Vince however, didn’t have too many worries about being outed at St. Francis. That is until we started moving around and chatting with people. Of course, we got all kinds of attention from kids that knew me but didn’t know I was ‘family’. It was seriously cool when they actually got excited, hugged us, and welcomed us to the GSA.

However, as we moved around, it didn’t take Vince long to realize that he recognized at least eleven couples from St. Francis. Again, we got the same kind of reaction from them when they realized Vince was ‘family’. Maybe Western wouldn’t be the only high school where we would be out.

The best part for both of us was that, out or not, we were not alone. Whether at Western or St. Francis, we both had allies, gay and straight, and someone would always have our back. I guess I should also mention that the evening itself was amazing. The music, the dancing, the company, the freedom, everything. We both went home that night feeling better about life than, I think, either of us had felt since the day we realized that, unlike most of our friends, we liked boys.

Sunday, I actually went to church with Vince and his mom and dad. I won’t say it was the most enlightening experience of my life but it wasn’t the scariest either. We made no effort to hide the fact that we were a couple, and when Father John greeted us after the service, he couldn’t have been nicer. He made sure we knew they had a huge potluck lunch in the basement and he expected to see us there.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay but Vince convinced me it would be all right. He also convinced me I would be eating some of the most amazing food on the planet. He was right on both counts. Thankfully, two of the couples, Jamie and Ross, and Tom and Ryan, who we had seen at the GSA dance were there, too and we hung out with them most of the time. Also, several people made a point of talking to us and making us feel accepted. Probably the coolest thing that happened was Father John coming over to talk to us and, during the conversation, we discovered that Ryan was his little brother and was living with him.

We spent most of the rest of the day at Vince’s. We were both too full after sampling as many dishes as we could at the potluck to get into anything active. We watched a movie, chatted with his mom and dad, and played a few video games. None of us were ready to eat much for dinner, so we just snacked on sandwiches and chips.

Afterwards, we decided to go up onto their rooftop terrace. As we stood leaning on the railing, I looked over at Vince and smiled as I thought to myself how lucky I was to have him in my life. I also thought how lucky I was to have Amy in my life, because without her going totally against my will, and forcing me to go to the Halloween party, Vince and I would not be standing here together, totally in love, and taking in one of the most awesome sunsets I have ever seen.