Another unedited excerpt of Wrecking Ball
I came out, for the most part, when I was 19 or 20. But I didn’t fully embrace that part of myself for a few years afterwards. At 23, I participated in a week long conference wherein queer identity and expression was quite deliberately in one’s face. The effect radicalized me and encouraged me to no longer play hide and seek with the closet door.
A woman who attended the same church as I did worked hard to be an ally to the local LGBT community. One project she took on was novel and interesting, or at least I thought it was. She sought to document the first sexual experiences of queer men and women, in their own words. I contributed my own less-than-exciting story, one that had been more forgettable and awkward than passionate and memorable.
She’d solicited these anecdotes at odd moments. Mainly, she trolled solidarity gatherings of LGBTs, idling up to them before making her sales pitch. She’d been remarkably successful. I observed the fruits of her labor, a collection of hastily scrawled stories without a general theme to link them together. Many were compiled on folded loose leaf notebook paper in ink pen.
The intention was to distribute the planned pamphlet at the annual Pride festival in June. The stories, when put into an order, were to be printed up, bound together, and distributed for free. Most of what I read was interesting, but a couple contributions prominently stood out.
The first submission of note was several stanzas of melancholy free verse, written by a gay man. In it, he mentioned the pain of being ditched by a fickle lover, one who only desires him for sex alone. The account included lines about the longing and intimacy of feeling a man inside oneself during the act itself. The object of his desire never returned, nor desired further communication. Sex alone was not enough for the protagonist. He wanted love and permanence, not short-term pleasure.
This story was topped in intensity by an especially jarring account. It was summarily agreed that this anecdote was far too intense and emotionally loaded to make the final cut. In a single sheet of paper, it told the tale of a young teenage boy, probably no more than 14 or 15. He’d been lured into a public restroom for sex by an older man, though the precise age of the instigator was never specified. Unsure of what was to follow, the boy nervously assented to anal sex without lubrication or much time to adjust to something unfamiliar.
In his own words, the initial experience of penetrative sex made him feel like his insides were being split apart. The tone was matter-of-fact and direct. He was not mad at the man, nor did he blame himself. Instead, he was resigned to his fate. To him, this was just the way that things happened. Had he been female, statutory rape would have been more readily enforced. As a means of soothing nerves and easing pain, the young boy was assured that he was beautiful and would make a man very happy someday.
I wonder how many men have excused away this sort of conduct as initiation, not violation. I myself did, quite certainly, and on multiple levels. The world of boys, as I experienced, was rough-and-tumble, unforgiving, and violent. The strongest took control and the weakest did their bidding. This hierarchical existence was never questioned or challenged.
I suppose the greater point the pamphlet sought to convey was that losing one’s virginity is a universal truism regardless of sexual orientation. But a distinctly queer sensibility was conveyed alongside. Without the same exhaustive rules that govern heterosexual conduct, we were also learning what it was like to be who we were, as we were.