Alex was finally beginning to think his father had been totally wrong about gay men. How could the three people who had treated him so well lately be wrong, they all seemed to think being gay was ok, Justin even watched programmes based on their lives. What did they know that his father didn't or didn't want to know? With this revelation about what Justin thought of gay men, Alex decided it he could trust Justin about the trip to the hospital and why his father had thrown him out.
"I want to tell you something and I hope you won't think anything bad about me because of it."
"I told you I wanted you to feel like you could tell me anything, but don't think you have to tell me something if you're not ready."
"No I want to tell you, at least then there are no secrets about me in the house, but can you let me finish when I start?"
"Ok, I won't interrupt."
"I started to think there was something wrong with me a few years ago, I found that I wasn't attracted to the girls in school but I was attracted to the boys." This made Justin smile and want to jump for joy but Alex didn't see this because he was looking at the floor while he was talking, he didn't want to look Justin in the eyes in case he had misjudged everything. "I didn't know then that it was called being gay, but I did know, or more to the point, I was led to believe that it wasn't normal. Well to be more accurate, it was abnormal behaviour to most people and they treated those abnormals with utter disgust. I realised early what my father thought. This was around the time I told you of earlier, to do with the park. That was when I knew I had to change and become someone who was normal, I mean if my father thought it was so wrong for them, he would think there was something wrong with me too." Alex could feel himself welling up with tears.
"The trouble was I had no-one to talk to about it without my father finding out. I didn't know how to change so I started to do something when I felt these gay urges to punish myself and to remind myself that I needed to stop it and change. When I felt attracted to another boy I would tell myself off over and over, saying that that was abnormal behaviour and if I didn't change I'd burn in hell, then I would cut myself." Alex started to cry at this point.
As he was telling his story to Justin he realised that harming himself was never going to work, it was never going to change him because he couldn't change himself into something that he wasn't. Alex felt Justin sit down next to him and put his arm around his shoulders. The compassion he felt flow from Justin made the tears flow even more. Alex finally brought the tears under control and carried on telling Justin about what happened.
"I've been cutting my arms for years. I didn't want to disappoint my father. Yesterday I was really depressed, partly because it was my birthday and I've hated my birthday for years, but on top of that I had had a dream about another boy. So as I was waking up I reached for a kit I kept in my room. In the kit was a blade and a few things to help clean it up after. I cut my arm here," He lifted the sleeve to show the bandage on his arm. "But for some reason my hand slipped and the blade cut deeper than I've ever gone before. Jerry, that's my brother, came in, saw my arm bleeding and screamed. My parents arrived, my mother started to try and stop the bleeding while my father went to get an ambulance. So that is why I ended up in hospital."
Justin got up off the bed and got some tissues and the drinks off the desk, then sat down next to Alex on the bed and gave him the tissues and one of the drinks. They both took a mouthful of their drinks before Alex carried on.
"The reason I ended up in your home yesterday though was because of what happened when we got home. Dad and my brother went to my bedroom and started to search it while I was in the living room with mum. When dad came down he had a magazine he'd found in my room, it was actually an underwear and swimwear catalogue for men. My brain was in a fuzz from being in hospital, so I wasn't thinking properly and I just assumed that my father thought I used the magazine as porn. You could say I did in a way, I used the magazine to try to stop being gay. You see I would look at the magazine and if, or more accurately when, I started to react to the pictures I would pick up my blade and cut my arm. When my father asked me to explain the magazine I broke into tears, he must have suspected that I wasn't normal because when I didn't give him any explanation he told me to get out and never contact them again." It was at this point that Alex broke down completely. This time Justin pulled Alex into an embrace, Justin was in tears with him. It took Alex a while to be able to pull himself together.
"When I left the house, I didn't know what to do or where to go, I just carried on walking, not taking any notice of where I was going. Eventually I was beat and dropped onto a bench, it wasn't long after that that your mother turned up and, well, you know pretty much the rest,"
"It's gonna be alright now, you're safe here. You need to know we won't turn against you."
"I know, but it hurts, I miss my family even though they treated me like crap." Justin didn't reply, he just held onto Alex. They were sat there like that for a while, with the occasional tear still coming from Alex.
"Are you ok with me asking a few questions or would you prefer I keep them for another time?"
"I think I'll be ok, what do you want to know?"
"I suppose the first question is what made you think you could trust me enough to tell me you are gay?" Alex was sort of surprised that that was Justin's first question.
"It was a combination of things. Firstly, when I was talking to your mother this morning about staying, one of the questions I asked her was how you would react to having me live here if you knew I was gay. She said she was pretty certain you wouldn't have a problem with it. I noticed that series of DVDs on your shelf, Queer as Folk, based on the lives of gay men and women. But mostly it was what you said about Rick and Alan, how you thought they were cool. That was when I thought that maybe your mom was right and I could trust you"
"I want to thank you for trusting me and I want you to know that I won't tell anyone unless you say it is ok to. Why did you think cutting was going to help you change?"
"If I am honest, I am not sure exactly how I started but the pain seemed to act as a constant reminder of what I needed to do, although I didn't know how that was going to happen."
"How often would you cut? Would you cut more than once at a time?"
"I would probably cut a fresh line once a day and usually only one line a day."
"God, I can't even begin to imagine doing that. I don't know if I could do it once, never mind once a day for years."
"I suppose I just got into a routine. I am not sure about whether the urge to cut will go away, but I am beginning to accept the fact that I'm gay and can't change what I am, that's all down to you and your parents."
"I'm glad we've been able to do more than giving you somewhere to stay, but I think it's only fair that I tell you something." Alex could feel his heart sink to the floor, his shoulders went down with it and Justin felt the reaction. Alex expected the worst. "I sort of set you up earlier. I wanted to know whether you were gay but didn't have the courage to come out and ask you, besides I wasn't sure you would answer truthfully anyways. So I thought that if I put on a little bit of a show, you'd react in a way that would let me work out if you were or not."
"Wouldn't it have been easier to have just asked me?" Why would he do something like that? For Alex, taking his clothes off in front of someone would been more embarrassing than asking a question although he had to admit there was some twisted logic to it.
"If I had asked you earlier, would you have been truthful with me and said you were gay?"
"No." Alex was wondering if he had given Justin a reason to suspect that he was gay.
"A few reasons. The biggest one is because I have always tried to deny it to myself and others and it wasn't until just now when I was telling you about yesterday that I was ready to accept that I am gay. Even if I was comfortable being gay, I didn't know if I could trust you at that point. There is also not knowing why you would be asking me that."
"See, you answer your own question for me. I didn't expect you to get all upset and I'm really sorry you did."
"I thought you would think I'd been perving on you or something and want to beat me up for it, and what did I do to make you think I could be gay?"
"I'll never want to beat you up, ever. I wouldn't beat anyone up for perving on me. I take it as a compliment when anyone thinks I am attractive besides what's not to like?" As Justin said this he stood up and gestured his body, while smiling at Alex. "And you didn't do anything for me to think you might be gay. I had my own reasons for hoping you were."
"Less than an hour ago I thought there wasn't anything worse than being gay, I am still not totally over the moon about, so why would you hope I was?"
"Isn't it obvious?" Justin didn't want to just blurt it out to Alex, he wanted him to get there on his own.
"No, the only reason I can think of for hoping someone was gay, is when that person is gay themselves and they fancy the other person, but you can't be, I mean look at you, you're a jock."
"What, can't a jock be gay? I can think of quite a few sportsmen who are gay, me being one of them." Justin
"Whoa, you serious? You're not just trying to make me feel better about being gay but then why would you say something like that, you really are gay?"
"Yeah, I've known since I was 13. I didn't grow up with parents or others telling me it was wrong like you, and when dad gave me the sex talk, he told me that it was no different for two men to be in a loving relationship. It was around that time that dad told me that Rick and Alan were a couple, not just two friends who lived together. I haven't felt close enough to anyone to trust them with this secret. I suppose I was always scared of what the kids in school would do if the wrong person found out. I love sport, I love playing on the team at school, but I know there is one or two on the team that would try and keep me out if they knew. I know I can trust you because you know how I feel."
"How come your parents don't know?"
"I've never felt the need to tell them, but I suppose I should do. I just don't want to disappoint them. I know my mom wants grandkids."
"They'll be fine, they took me in even after they knew I was gay."
"I suppose, I just don't think I am ready for that step."
"Your mom was right, we do have a lot more in common than we realised."
"Yeah, now you know I'm gay, have you worked out why I was hoping you were?" Justin was feeling brave now and wanted to know if Alex might be interested in becoming more than friends/brothers.
"The only reason I can think of can't be right." Alex thought that Justin was implying he fancied him but that was just not possible.
"Why do you think it can't be right?"
"Because if you are suggesting what I think you are then you need to see an optician or a shrink."
"Why is that?" Justin was certain now that Alex knew what he was talking about.
"There is no way someone like you would be interested in me. I mean come on, I've just told you how messed up I am."
"Is there some rule that says I have to fancy certain people and not others? If there is no one told me and besides, attraction is something to do with the chemicals in the brain and I have no control over them. I am saying as plainly and honestly as possible, I fancy you Alex." As Justin said the last part, he took both of Alex's hands in his and looked Alex directly in the eyes.
"Justin, I can see you are being honest, but I can't see why you would find me attractive when there are loads more attractive people out there than me. I think you are a pure stud but I am not ready for anything like that. Today is the first time I can think of that I haven't cut myself for being gay, although I came very close earlier." Justin could feel tears welling up when he realised that Alex's urge to cut up must have been around the time Justin was putting a show on in his boxers.
"Alex I am so very sorry, I didn't realise I'd made you feel like that, I didn't want that, I never want to cause you to feel like that ever again."
Justin realised that if he was going to develop the relationship with Alex further it was going to take a lot of time, but that was ok because he wanted a relationship that lasted more than a quick fumble in the back of the cinema.
"You didn't know that I was cutting up over how I was feeling so I don't blame you, besides I didn't. You are a big part of the reason I didn't. You came down and talked to me which helped me start to realise that what I was feeling was normal."
Justin wiped a tear away from his face. "What was the other part?"
"Your mom, she made me promise that before I cut up I would go to her and talk about why I wanted to harm myself, but I knew I couldn't tell her the reason I wanted to cut up this time which made me want to cut up even more, but I also realised that if she saw that I had she would ask me about it."
"You mean it would be too embarrassing talking about sex with my mom?"
"No, I wasn't sure how your mom would react to me telling her about how I was feeling when I saw you changing. That was why I couldn't talk to your mom, I thought there was a chance she would want me out of the house knowing that."
"You've got me there. I don't know exactly how she'd react but I do know this, she wouldn't kick you out. You are here now until you want to go, and I hope that will be some time never."
"Maybe you're right, but remember I've only known any of you for twenty four hours."
"I can see your point." Alex gave a massive yawn. "Sorry for keeping you up." Justin said with a smile. "Do you want to go and catch a nap?"
"Nah, I'm alright here."
"Would you like to watch something, rather than play on the PS2?"
"I think that's a good idea."
"Do you want to watch something in particular?"
"Ok then, you get comfy on the bed and I'll get something to watch." Alex moved some of the pillows so that he was half sitting and half lying down. Justin knew exactly what he was going to put on.
Thanks to all who have written this week, that includes: JR & Bud, Brian C, Adam B, Terry W, Wayne N, Trish, Paul F, Bill H, Eldon R.