I crept in the basement with silent steps making sure no one followed me, listening careful to determine if anyone else was also down here. Being I was only 12, I was usually afraid of any basements, not just my own. This fear came from watching the late Saturday night horror movies we were warned would give us nightmares. Yet determined to carry on my mission I pushed aside any fears I had and continued. Assured I was in the clear I went into the small dusty room that no one in my small family used. The only occupant was an unbalance worn pool table which had assistance from the telephone book under one of its leg. Also within the dimly lit room was a closet and within that closet was a hole in the ceiling. It was the perfect hiding space especially for anyone scared of spiders and bugs, which included me, but it was worth a spider running over my hand as I reached in to retrieve my hidden prize. My hand made contact with soft paper and a staple undone which scrapped against my fingers. Pulling it out gently, I held in my hand my bible. It was a copy of Blueboy, a gay porno magazine that I had shoplifted from the comic book store that also sold adult magazines in the back. School was now in session. It was time to learn what it meant to be gay.
As I opened the well-used pages that had become worn and starting to stick together, I was careful not to rip apart any of the pages especially the photos of the nude men. The pages were sticking together not because of any self-sexual satisfaction on my part as I had yet to discover that sexual side of me. Instead it was due to the moisture of the leaking pipes, a home that was not in the best of shape but as a child I saw as a castle. It was a hiding spot, one so deliberately chosen that I felt it was a matter of life and death. My life and death as knowing if discovered it could have meant for me a life of being laughed at and ridiculed for being one of 'them' people we were warned to stay away from. Those who the Preacher talked about as he screamed and shouted each Sunday had a life destined to spend eternity in Hell. Or the discovery of my book could be my death, something served to me by my mother who warned us that, "If you ever turn out to be one of those faggots, I will kill you."
My Blueboy was used to explain to me what it meant for me to be gay. I had nowhere else to go. I had no one or nothing else in my life to explain to me what I was feeling inside. Was I even gay or maybe I fallen off my bike when I was younger and hit my head causing this storm of confusion in me. There had to have been something I did to make me interested in this Blueboy magazine. And if I was one of 'them' was there a pill I could swallow to cure me of this feeling that I was giving birth to? And if I was giving life to what I feared was in me how did I go about giving myself an abortion? It seemed that despite how I felt or thought it was going to eventually make its way into the world and I should at least be ready.
As I navigated the familiar pages to my favorite pictures, I would feel my heart racing. The picture that seemed to capsulize my new identity was the striking nude man that made up the two pages of the centerfold. I forget his name but can't forget how he leaned against the fire truck and had this comfortable smile that said, don't worry it's okay to like other men even if they are nude. He was a manly looking man with a huge chest and this thick mustache. What was it about this centerfold that made my senses go into hyper drive? I mistrusted my other senses, like my hearing, as they would be dulled out by my beating heart. I needed my ears to make sure no one was coming down the creaking stairs but as they failed me I used my excited and panicked eyes as my warning system.
In truth the heart racing could have been produced from the fact that I was learning about this thing called sex. Perhaps there was hope for me as I had no idea what sex was at my age and according to everything I heard that's what being gay was about, sex. And my Blueboy magazine proved it as throughout the book were men in sexual poses. Or maybe my answers lay in the back of the book where it seemed if I called the 1-900 numbers they would probably have what I was looking for. And they must have meant for young people like me to read it as the book even had cartoons in it. The cartoons weren't like the ones I watched on Saturday morning though. I never remembered Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble doing what the men were doing in the magazine.
As I stared at the snapshot I was thinking maybe my fascination with the picture was my mind wondering if this is what my father looked like. A man who I never met and didn't have the fortune to raise me. It could be the fact the model also reminded me of my math teacher, a strong demanding man who loved us with a spoonful of tough love and difficult math equations. A man who I wished during his lessons could equate to us how being gay added up and what subtractions I would face in my life by being gay. But like other places school was another setting left out as an option. No wonder I was jealous of my classmates who were able to learn about the bird and the bees from not only adults in the school but wherever they found themselves. This world belongs to them and I was nothing but an outcast.
My worn, tattered copy of Blueboy was all that was left to me. A magazine with faded pictures of a life I was unsure if it was destined to be mine. I was only 12 but it felt like I was growing up faster than what I was supposed to have been.
Finished with today's lesson I carefully place the book back in its hiding space. I'm no wiser than when I walked in the basement but more aware that there's more to this thing called gay. Will I ever find out what it is unaware of what lies ahead? I don't know but as long as I have my copy I feel less alone in my answers as I'm sure there are other kids like me who have nowhere to turn as they reach into hidden places where they hide their bible, their own copy of Blueboy.