In the backyard of my childhood home, there stood an elevated hut that my father had built for us to play in as children. It was a marvelous structure and provided us and our friends a wonderful place to call our own. Over the years, my friends and I spent many extraordinary nights sleeping in the hut and wandering the neighborhood until all hours of the morning. The hut was also the place where I learned to have sex with men. It doesn’t matter how it started, but what does matter is that somehow there was something in it for me, and I knew I wanted more. The first relationship lasted for more than two years, until he put an end to it. While we knew this was something to be kept quiet and secret, we were pretty adventurous for first timers; going so far as to have sex in the tennis complex near our house and in a field situated right in the middle of our neighborhood, with people passing by on the sidewalk. But in the end, there was nothing in it for my friend (I think he was doing it to make me happy). He ended the relationship and found a girl. I was bereft and alone.
And then we moved immediately to a community where liking guys could have gotten me killed, in a very real way. So, I hid the truth about myself and held onto that first relationship in my mind. It was the only thing I could do to keep the real me alive. Well, that and a secret file of magazine cutouts from international male that I kept hidden in my bedroom. But when the time came to escape this small-minded community, I took the freedom and the opportunities that came with it. I lived my life on my terms and in my own way. And now, in the middle of the night when I cannot sleep, I look across the bed at the partner with whom I have chosen to live my entire life. I think about the hut – which is no longer there – and the ways in which this small structure shaped the course of my life. And I am happy.