I’m From Elkton, SD.

by Allen Brandt

Satellite overhead image of south dakota from Google Earth 2022

My sophomore year of South Dakota State, I was SLOWLY coming to terms with my sexuality. After I gained 40 pounds of fat my Freshmen year, I knew I had to make a change. So, I took a weightlifting class and instantly fell in love with working out. Instead of a rotund guy who ate McDonalds and Domino’s Pizza on a regular basis, I slowly became a health nut and my body started to take shape into the build I’ve always wanted.

I noticed Doug a few times on campus. Blond hair, blue eyes, fair skin and built like a linebacker. I didn’t really think much about it, but I did see him around. He was a Resident Assistant in one of the halls on campus. I actually applied to become a Resident Assistant and Doug did interview me. However, I did not get the job, but did get hired on campus to be night security in one of the halls.

During that summer, I lost the rest of the fat and replaced it with muscle. I also got rid of the glasses and got rid of my floppish hair I had. I looked completely different than when I left for the summer.

I had training before school started for night security and Doug was there. He kept looking at me and I was wondering why. But I had to focus on training and thought nothing of it. Doug came up to me and started talking and asking me my name and where I am from. I told him and also told him he was the one who interviewed me for an RA position and didn’t get it. He was stunned by how different I looked. Doug asked me if I wanted to hang sometime and I said “sure” and then was on my way.

Doug and I hung out and did what every guy on campus would do – watch South Park and goof off in the halls. We talked about things and sports and school and for some reason, I did feel a spark from him. It was odd. I never felt that before. We slowly started hanging almost every day with each other until finally one drunken night, we slept together. Doug was my first time having sex with anyone. The next day, Doug was upset with me because he said that I must have been with someone before. I laughed and told him no.

During Christmas break, Doug started acting odd. He invited me to his parents’ place for New Years and I spent it with him and his pals. Doug was distant with me and was putting on this front of being a cocky jock in front of his pals and myself. I played along, but I was confused.

After break, Doug talked to me and said we shouldn’t hang out anymore. I was becoming “too clingy like Jim Carrey’s Cable Guy.” I was hurt and I wanted to know why I was being treated this way. I asked so many times to get that out of Doug and asked why I was being treated this way, but he never told me. So, I let it go.

I kept what Doug and I had a secret. It was intimate and I thought it shouldn’t be shared. I believed Doug would do the same. I was wrong.

My friends were asking me questions about things I supposedly did to Doug like stalking and writing love notes and tried to make moves on him. I brushed it off and said to my friends that he is angry with school and not getting a girlfriend, but internally, I was torn up. All the time we spent together, Doug was using it to paint me as a bad guy.

This went on for almost a year until I finally cracked and I admitted to a friend drunkenly that I’m gay and Doug and I messed around. News spread that I came out and I lost many of my friends because I wasn’t the same person they thought they knew.

I haven’t seen Doug since that talk. I heard he went on to get his master’s degree and became a teacher at a Catholic school in Sioux Falls. He was even interviewed talking about being a first time home buyer on Sioux Falls television and that he has (or had, I can’t recall) a fiance.

I held onto the words he said for many years. I was afraid of letting myself get too close to people and fearful that I may become too clingy. It did sabotage many good relationships I had. It wasn’t until a few years ago, as well as therapy, that I realized Doug was reflecting his fears onto me. He forced me out of the closet and I had to deal with being an openly gay man. Doug stayed in the closet in fear of being his true self. And even though I am not exactly where I want to be in life, I know I am completely comfortable in my skin as an openly gay man from South Dakota.

So, Doug actually did me a favor in the long run. Maybe I should send him a “thank you” card.

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