Sunday, May 06, 2007

My Closet Years – Part Two

Picking up where I left off, in the fall of 1974 I started law school at the University of Virginia’s School of Law. At first it was daunting, since everyone was in the top of their undergraduate class, and there were plenty of Ivy League grads. The first semester “Paper Chase” hysteria was compounded by the fact that a new law school building had been built (in fact it was not yet completed), so for the first semester only first year students had classes in the new building, although the library was complete. Among my classmates was George Allen, former U. S. Senator for Virginia, Evan Thomas (who was hot in law school), now with Newsweek and the author of a number of books, Congressman, Randy Forbes, and Cynthia Kinser, now on the Virginia Supreme Court.. Many other of my classmates have had likewise distinguished careers.

Meanwhile, my life in the closet continued and, true to form, I soon had a crush on one or more of my classmates. My first year, I lived in a large house with eleven other guys I had known to varying degrees from my undergraduate days, one of whom was a major crush interest. Twelve guys sharing eight bedrooms and three bath rooms led to frequent occasions of seeing each other in the shower and so forth. Seeing my crush interest (who I will call WG) in the shower left me almost dizzy – he was so gorgeous and a sweet guy. When he started dating a girl from the parish college group, I was green with envy. WG graduated at the end of the year and basically left my life forever, although I can still see him clearly in my mind. Socially, I still was involved in the frat house scene and often socialized with undergrads or friends of two of my sisters who were also students at UVA at the time.

As first year progressed, I moved on and eventually had another object of unrequited love in the form of one of my classmates (MP) who ended up being one of my roommates during my second year of law school. First year was very stressful and at numerous times I thought of dropping out as did MP, since both of us had been somewhat pressured by our fathers to go to law school. Talking about our feelings about law school and other things, MP and I became very close. The fact that he was 5’11”, had beautiful dark blues eyes and dark hair, was a former college swimmer, and had the looks of a model obviously did nothing to dissuade me from becoming increasingly infatuated. The long and short of it, we helped each other to remain in law school and spent much of the following summer together since we both had summer jobs in the same city. At times I so wanted to share my feelings with him, but was too afraid of losing his friendship to take the risk. Sometimes looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I had done so. My other roommate second year was equally beautiful, except he was blonde. He likewise was and great guy and I was not lacking for gorgeous surroundings that year.

It was during my second year of law school that I met the woman who would turn out to be my wife. On Fridays, Graduate Student Happy Hour (with $0.25 beer) was the spot one found out what parties were going on for the weekend. Along with one of my law school class mates, one Friday in September, my friend picked up a girl from Charlottesville and I was saddled with having to be the date for one of her friends. One the way to the party hosted by some law students (where we saw future Senator Allen from our class, who was quite the party boy) we stopped to buy some beer and my friend’s date said sheepishly that “she might get drunk.” No truer words were ever said. She got completely inebriated and, to this day, I do not believe I have ever seen a woman so drunk and out of control. My friend soon was trying to act as he’d never met her and did not know her. Meanwhile, her friend and I had definitely NOT hit it off and she ended up picking up another member of our class who she ultimately married.

It was during this disastrous dating adventure that I met my wife to be and ended up talking to her most of the evening. She was beautiful, smart, and better yet, not a law student. I was definitely impressed – or as impressed as a closeted gay 23 year old male (who is still a complete virgin) can be by a woman. Most of the night she stood with her back to the fall since moments after entering the house, she was bit on the butt by a second year law student who now is a member of one of South Carolina’s most prominent law firms. Our next encounter was once on one of the University buses as I was headed to the frat house for a road trip to a local women’s college. I did not even sit with her in my preoccupation with getting to the frat house in time (my car was in the shop and I was running late) before the chartered bus pulled out. Then we met again at another law school party sponsored by a guy in my class who wanted to get people dancing to disco music. After that, we began dating and made a great pair dancing together. We even went to a law professor’s costume Halloween Party as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Indeed, we had fun together and I fell in love with her to the fullest extent a closeted gay ever could.

Never, ever did I let out anything about my secret track record of same sex attraction and crushes on other men. My religion, my family, and society (especially in Charlottesville and conservative UVA) made fully admitting these attractions even to myself something that just could not be. Throughout law school, I continued to attend daily mass and try as hard as I might to “pray the gay away.” If nothing else, the Catholic Church is without rival when it comes to instilling guilt and the hope that somehow God will work a miracle.

After graduation from law school, my former wife and I got married in New York City in a full blown Italian wedding. I remember as clearly as yesterday standing up on the altar as she came down the aisle and thinking to myself, “can I do this.” Due to my religious brainwashing, I told myself that, yes, God would get me through it and that I would be able to suppress my same sex attraction forever. Given my history of crushes on guys, I should have known, I guess, that such thinking was delusional. However, the desire to be what was expected and to deny what I knew deep down somewhere within me was simply too strong. After getting married, we lived in Mobile, Alabama for four years and – as I will describe in another post – the same old attractions soon arose.

2 comments:

Mr. Intellectual said...

Thanks for sharing this; I can’t wait to hear the rest of it. I’m 22, grew up catholic and am a closeted gay. Luckily, through the Internet, I have come to accept my sexuality but still don’t quite feel completely ready to come out. I think though that I am gaining more and more confidence. Stories of other people’s experiences, like yours here, are certainly a great help. Thanks a lot.

Love, Mr. Intellectual

Anonymous said...

I must tell you that you have me fascinated so far, I find I am comparing my experiences to yours. I believe that the more of us in the gay blogging world who share our experiences, will hopefully make it easier on the next generation that follows ours. Perhaps I should put this on my list of essays to write for my blog too.

Thank you for sharing yourself with us. I salute you.