Lost and Found
by Jack Kendle
I was home, alone. I was chatting on the Internet with a friend of mine, someone for whom I care deeply, though thousands of kilometres divided us. Thank God for the Internet, I thought for perhaps the thousandth time. It was a revelation when I found out via various chat-rooms and sites, that there were literally thousands of men 'out there' who were in situations so similar to mine: gay, but caught in marriages of either convenience or else trapped after having made a basic mistake in their younger days, hoping that marriage would 'straighten us out'. That's impossible of course, but to know of the large numbers out there gave me hope and reassurance that I wasn't alone. I had found some great people to chat with and be the 'real me'.
As I say, I was chatting with Jacob, who knows everything about me and whom I regard as one of my closest friends, although we have never met and I told him about the events of the past few days. He warned me to be very, very careful. His words flashed on to the screen in front of me:
It's one thing to have fantasies about younger men/youths, but quite another to act on them, particularly if it is a teacher/student situation.You are playing with fire. If I were you, I would try and back out of the situation you have created.
I was devastated. I knew that what Jacob was saying was right, but I couldn't bring myself to go to Leo and let him down. I could tell this extra coaching meant a great deal to him. I knew he was a loner, not into sports, and music was all he had; and I was determined to try and help him develop his talent. I was trying all the time to rationalise, I know. There was always, always my sexual orientation rearing its ugly head everywhere I looked, however I reasoned to the contrary. I was damned attracted to the boy and for what I hoped were true and noble reasons, I wanted to help him. Surely a bit of "eye candy" now and then wasn't bad? Jacob only reiterated his warning to me, adding: It's your decision, but I think you are in very dangerous waters here!
I said goodbye to Jacob, signed out and tried to think over the situation. Leo's image flashed before me. I remembered how he was when he played my piece and how he tried to explain to me what he thought it was about. Somehow, somewhere, that boy is hurting, I thought to myself. He has everything he could possibly want; loving parents who are well off, a protective elder sibling, Cat. He is intelligent, with good grades at school and he is blessed with the most beautiful appearance. So what is it that I seemed to sense, just beneath the surface? Of course, in my long career, I have seen countless manifestations of teenage angst how they become surly and rebellious, withdrawn and argumentative... and yet, with Leo, it wasn't quite the same. I wondered what his demons were. He didn't have any 'best friend', Cat had told me. I wondered why that was. He had all the makings of being a popular boy: even-tempered, handsome, too handsome, I thought wryly. Yet he seemed to keep everyone at arm's length, as if he didn't want to let anyone get too close. I wondered why he had set such store by wanting to get into the senior orchestra. After all, being the loner he was, what could he possibly get out of it, except the musical side?
As I pondered, I began to wonder whether Leo's problems might be due to insecurity with some aspect of his being... could Leo be just confused about his feelings? It's not unnatural for teens to go through difficult periods when even their sexuality is unstable. Yet, with Leo, it didn't seem to be confusion, it was as if he was bottling something up, something he wanted to keep to himself and was having difficulty doing so. But he couldn't quite manage it. His playing was in many respects his weakest link, because, no matter how hard he tried to discipline himself in daily life, it was in his playing that the 'real' Leo got the upper hand... But this was mere speculation on my part and, if I am brutally honest with myself, it was speculation on something I secretly wished was the case: i.e. Leo is gay. I am going to have to be so, so careful, I thought for the hundredth time. Sighing, I closed down the computer and hearing the car in the driveway, prepared myself for the homecoming of my wife and kids. Back to the real world, Jack.
The real world.
That involved my wife, two kids and all those humdrum things, which go to make a "normal" life. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids, one of each, my daughter, aged twelve and my son two years her junior. They got their brown eyes from me and their dark brown, almost black hair. I love them to death and could not imagine my life without them. See how complicated it gets? Gay, yet married and a father. My wife and I got on well enough, but there were cracks in our relationship. Of course there would be cracks. I did what I could to satisfy her sexual needs, but the occasions when we made love were becoming more and more rare and I knew that Hannah, my wife, was not content and our rows became more frequent. Our fights were always about sex; angry whispers in bed so as not to disturb the children asleep down the hall, after yet another (failed) attempt by her to get me to have sex. My excuses were running out. No longer good enough just to be 'too tired' or feeling ill. We had been through all the interrogations as to whether I was having an affair. I could honestly put her right on that one. I was most definitely not having an affair. At least that part was honest. Then, on another occasion she confronted me bluntly with: Are you gay, then?" I felt as if my heart would pound itself out of my chest.
"Of course I'm not," I lied. But since then, I sometimes saw Hannah looking at me slightly speculatively, particularly if something about homosexuality came up on the television or if the topic came up in passing about people she knew. I felt very uncomfortable and would try and act as if being gay were no big deal, and if there was a programme about gays on the television I would be the one to switch channels. I even tried to be more regular in my lovemaking, but the attempts invariably petered out and the whole cycle of coldness would come round again.
So, all in all, it was a very unsatisfactory state of things and I knew, deep down, that sometime, sooner rather than later, things would come to a head, and quite honestly, I dreaded it. I couldn't imagine the whole horrible mess of divorce, having to leave my kids, finding another place to live, giving up my job and most likely having to move far away and try to start my life again. For one thing, we had so much tied up in our house; years of saving and improving the property... I had too much invested in it. Then there was my job. If I had to get a divorce, it would surely come out why and I would be out of a job; and at my age finding another one wouldn't be easy. We live in a small close-knit community and any whiff of scandal would put an end to my chances of teaching in the area.
You might, rightly, say that I am a coward and that I should be a man and come out and face the music; but you aren't me and you don't know all the circumstances. I keep wondering how easy or hard it would be to come clean and say to Hannah that I am gay and that we should separate. I think she would kill me for having duped her for our entire married life.
I know it's selfish, but as I said, I am a coward and would prefer the status quo to the upheaval and trauma that coming out of the closet would entail. Meanwhile, I would have to try and make as much of a go of my marriage as I could and concentrate on bringing up my kids.
That and my music.
I am trying to write a piece for my senior orchestra to take on tour, in which I want to try and say everything about me that I can't do in words. It's going very slowly, but let me tell you, it has my entire heart and soul in it. At least for me, it would be the only kind of statement about me that I could make, short of shouting it out from the rooftops: "I'm gay. I am sexually attracted to teenage boys".
I think I love Leo. God help me, I think I love Leo.
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