When I was thirteen a friend of mine was working in a corner store where, unknown to the owner, was clipping out photographs from Playboy and Penthouse. My friend had hit puberty, and so had I. One day, when we were alone, he dragged me into the washroom and enthusiastically showed the photographs to me. It was then, I think, when I had that final signal confirmation that gay youth sometimes have – a sexual desire for women simply was not going to happen, ever.
But the problem remained – how was I to obtain, at my age, and without other persons knowing, the desired access to photographs of men? (These were the days before the Internet.) I had the idea to do so through a large bookstore in the city where I was then living – there was a section in one corner of the store, well hidden on a second floor, that contained the books on sex and homosexuality. It was there that I spend my Saturday afternoons, for several months, or more, when I was thirteen and fourteen. Needless to say I lacked the courage for the issues of Playgirl in magazine rack downstairs, near the cashier! I was always eagle-alert that no one else saw me, or what I was looking at, or what I was reading.
This situation all ended one day just after I left the bookstore, on what proved my last Saturday. An adult male, a good deal older than I was, approached me, and said, “Excuse me, I just saw the books that you like reading. There is no easy way to say this, but would you like a blowjob?” He was serious.
I screamed. I ran. He did not follow. I vowed I would not ever go to the store again – and did not, until I was seventeen. I think the event retarded my coming out by years.
I am writing this story as a warning to that small, small number of adult gay men who seem honestly to think such behavior — the propositioning of a youth — can, in certain circumstances, be acceptable. It’s not. And if you see a boy in such a circumstance – Bruce Bawer gives an example at the start of his book A Place at the Table – do what Bawer correctly did. Do nothing at all.