Lets Leave the science of bisexuality behind for awhile and share the true life story behind my struggles with sexuality. For the next few months, I want to tell my story. This is the first chapter in the biographical novel that I am presently putting together. Comments welcome.
Chapter 1 – Setting the Stage
Growing up on the Canadian Prairies in the 50’s and 60’s, I was aware that society expected people to conform to the rules of normalcy and religion. There was religion in my life but not much normalcy. I was the ninth child but had no father as a role model. My mother was too worn out to take an interest in my life; my eight siblings were all much older than me, so I basically brought myself up.
Counting mon, we were a family of ten living in a two-bedroom six-hundred-square-foot shack. It was a small house with ten cold bodies and ten cold minds, feeding off the heat of the friction of ten fragile egos and ten angry souls. My oldest brother left to work as a teacher in a small Saskatchewan village. That left eight of us still at home. The twins, who worked and helped support the family, had one of the bedrooms. My three brothers who were now teenagers had to share the hide-a-bed in the living room. I shared a bedroom with only one bed with my mother and my two sisters. It was a small bed sleeping between a cold mother and two hot teenaged girls who snuggled for warmth in a cold barren room in a cold barren house. It was a small space for a young child caught between the sheets with those who care and nurture, a lost, cold child who will forever seek to share the same comforting warmth of four like souls in a bed.
Around the age of five my two twin brothers shamed me into moving into the other bedroom with them. I still remember the feeling; it felt so unnatural. Some of my earliest memories were about being aroused by the sight of my twin brothers’ adult male penises as they dressed for work. It was like I was all alone watching by older brothers live. My young life was like living in a desert. The struggles of desert life lay hidden to those who only view it from a distance. It was dry and lifeless, with all its passion stored under rocks and sand, emotion hidden like serpents in pockets along the trails into the wilderness ready to slither out and strike. My life suffocated under the motion of the wind that dried out the last drops of courage in a blast of hot air aimed to destroy and kill. Naked, burning, isolated, insulated, my life waited for the right moment, to dare to spread my limbs in the hot sun, to make the sap flow up to the surface, so that my own life could begin. There was no self-love. No self-identity of being a boy. No self-identity period.
Living with so many hot-blooded teenagers, I had a sense of sexuality from a very early age. I had an absolute fear of taking my clothes off in the presence of other boys in the change rooms at gym or the swimming pool. I felt like I was a girl trapped in a boys change room trying to hide my sexuality. I also had an unnatural response to being hugged or touched by older males. It was like I was experiencing a latent sexual response that made be recoil in fear and disgust.
When I look back at my life, I cannot separate the past from the present. All that I am in this moment is seen through the pain of the past. I was young when I took responsibility for raising myself. I was finger printed when I was five. My next oldest brother, Ivan, six years older than me, that would make him eleven at the time, got together with another guy (I forget his name) the same age who lived down the block from us and they stole a bunch of batteries from a salvage yard. My brother’s friend also had a brother my age, Robert Sinclair, who had become my closest friend. The two mastermind criminals got Robert and me to load up the batteries in our wagons and go sell them back to the same salvage yard. The haul would be seventy-five cents a battery, for a total of three dollars, a fortune at that time. That would provide the funds for thirty movies at ten cents a shot or sixty ice-cream cones from the corner store at five cents a pop. Needless to say, that plan could only end in disaster. The salvage yard called the police and I wound up in the police station. They carried out a very skilled interrogation by which I spilled the beans and confessed in tears to what had transpired. In order to scare the hell out of me, they took my fingerprints and then called Victor, one of my twin brothers, to come and pick me up. Ivan disappeared for three days before daring to come home.
I was drunk when I was seven. I remember that night as though it was yesterday. There was a party at my house with the young guys and couples letting off some steam. Mom had vacated the premises, and unable to sleep, I was left to navigate the party as best I could. Beer was flowing liberally and I saw my chance. I got a glass from the cupboard and went from brother to brother for a sample. I was soon feeling like I owned the night. I remember jumping on the bed and feeling the bounce like I was floating in air and then coming down again only to rise one more time. My oldest brother, Rene, noticed what was happening and realized I needed some fresh air. He got me on my trusty steed and I pedaled around the community in the night pushing my bike as fast as it would go up and down the streets feeling the rush of the air slipping past my face.
I set my own hours of coming and going when I was eight. I grew into a powerful young man that no one fought with, fearing the cold, latent anger percolating just below the surface. I lived in an impoverished community with single or incapable parents trying to raise large families. One family, the Roblins, had seven boys being raised by an alcoholic father. Two others boys were being raised by tired grandparents because their daughters could not raise them by themselves. We terrorized the community. But somewhere around the age of eleven I found competitive sport, hockey and baseball, largely because of the guidance of my brother, Vic, who was trying to be the father I never had. He worked in a Sporting Goods store and kept me supplied with sporting equipment. He attended all my games and I set out to make him proud of his baby brother. I made new friends. We golfed together and kept score on how life was progressing. As we moved into our teen years, my old friends got arrested one after another for crimes, ranging from car theft to rape, and eventually armed robbery and murder. It could have been me if I had ever let the smoldering emotions out of the bag.
At the same time I found pleasure in academics and read extensively and wrote my first novel at the age of twelve. I was academically gifted scoring perfect 100% scores in both English and Mathematics on the provincial exams in Saskatchewan during my grade eight year, in preparation for moving on to high school for grade nine. I had an unquenchable desire for perfection. I was a talented athlete in every sport I attempted. I was pretty, sought after as a trophy by the girls. I was the most popular boy in my school not only with the girls but also with those who lived on the outside. I would not allow bullying in my school yard. If I saw someone being picked on I would jump in and defend the one who needed a helping hand. But I did not stop there. I made sure they were included in the workings of the group. When I think about my motivation now, I am sure that it was based on my own feelings of being isolated and alone. By saving them I was saving myself.
As I entered my teen years, I rebelled against the sculpturing of my older siblings. I rejected the masculine brutality, the drive to push myself, my thoughts, and my desires into the fight fought by alpha males. I rejected the anger and coldness aimed at my sisters and mother. I rejected the feminism that manipulated in the guise of weakness. I became a reconciler, a mediator, a seeker of peace, a lover of justice, a poet who watched from the outside, and in the process rejected and ignored the poet on the inside.
As I reached puberty, I realized I was different but didn’t quite know how. I know the day it started. At the age of fifteen, I had the impulse to try on women’s clothes and experienced an erotic arousal. It just happened one day. I was visiting my brother, Ivan, and his wife in Edmonton during the summer holidays after my Grade 9 year. While they were away at work, I decided to try on his wife’s panties and panty hose. It was like another side of me had said to my masculine self to “butt out for a while and let the other me take over”. It was like a dissociative experience but I was totally aware of who I was and what I was doing. As I felt the silk panties slip sensuously over my penis, I had an immediate erection. As I buried my throbbing body into my pillow. I had my first conscious ejaculation. Oh I had ejaculations before, but they had occurred during wet dreams. This was different. It was a masculine moment clad in a feminine identity. That was my first experience in bisexuality.
I had no one to talk to who could help me understand what was happening to me. As I struggled to figure myself out, the stage was set for a life based on guilt, anger, and shame. It was all so confusing. It was like Loki had played a cruel joke on me and put my female mind into my male body. But that was not the funny part, the real joke was that I was completely comfortable as a male and at the same time completely comfortable as a female. I was bi-gender. It was just a matter of time before my bi-gender would turn to bisexuality.
Back in North Battleford in the fall, I went to the all boy’s Catholic college and again excelled in all subjects. Catholic boys went to the college and Catholic girls went to the convent. The wisdom of the priests and nuns determined that it was safer this way. It did not do much for my social life but it sure made a difference academically. I made no attempts to have any relationships with girls in the other high schools but I did not have any desire for sexual contact with boys either. I was able to disguise the feminine side of my identity and not worry about dealing with dating.
Around this time, I discovered an erotic novel, Last Exit to Brooklyn, that stoked my fantasy life with frequent journeys into masturbation and release. It was like my gay sexual desires were now a part of a fantasy world that was just that, a fantasy world. I looked at the gay world through my limited knowledge of what I thought it meant to be gay. It was just these weird people in the big cities that dressed up as women and went to special bars to solicit sex from men. I did not see my own experience as being any part of that. I was content to live sexually in my fantasy world and devote all my conscious energies to sports and academic excellence.
It was during that year that I decided to join the priesthood which delighted my mother. She told me I was the seventh son and the seventh son was special; that’s why God had selected me for the priesthood. I informed the priests at the college of my decision and they begin to monitor my school progress. Father Gokarts, the regional recruitment priest, visited me often during those years. Because of my academic excellence, he informed me that I would spend one year at the novitiate in Ottawa and then it would be on to Rome to finish my education. My future was laid out for me. I could relax, forget about my sexuality, and just go with the flow. When I play the game of imagining what life might have been like, I wonder if I would have perhaps lived a life of peace, contentment, and purpose instead of the one that resulted in so much pain. However, looking back, I now realize that this was my attempt to escape the turmoil of my suppressed sexuality. Here I would be close to god and god would protect me from myself and forgive me for my perceived perversion and sin. But it didn’t work out that way. My teenaged sexuality was suppressed and bound to force its way out regardless of what I did to stop it. In desperation I took the six inch metal crucifix that hung above my bed, attached a chain, and wore it around my neck to fend off the evil spirits of my bisexual fantasy life that I seemed powerless to control. Meanwhile I kept the confessional busy.
One day during one of his visits, I got up the nerve to tell Father Gokarts about my sexual problems. He immediately assumed that I was experimenting with masturbation and assured me that this was not a game-changing problem and that all boys eventually will struggle to come to grips with their sexuality. I accepted what he said lock, stock and barrel but did not tell him about the nature of my sexual fantasies. During these years I experienced deep levels of guilt and shame and suppressed any confusion and pain related to my same-sex fantasies. It never occurred to me that I could be gay. I simply was male. A popular male. I was asexual in all outward aspects of my high school life. I was a man’s man in a boy’s world.
Between academics and sports I blissfully made my way through high school. We had a terrific sports program at the college, but sports were a weird thing for me. I was highly skilled but I lacked the aggression needed to take it to the next level. I dropped out of junior hockey in my grade twelve year and concentrated on other less aggressive sports. I represented the district, skipping my high school boys curling team to the provincial finals, and won the Northwest Saskatchewan Junior Golf Championship.
As I moved into my grade 12 year, I focused on my studies, sports, and my hopes of becoming a priest and withdrew from genuine relationships. I created a fantasy world with imaginary lovers. Sexual impulses became fantasies of women without souls. This led to fantasies of men without faces. As time went by, all feminine images disappeared, and I was left with the loveless eroticism of faceless men. My self-concept was based on the faceless person I had created. I had no self-esteem, just the unattainable drive to be perfect so that I could feel worthy enough to be loved. I detached myself from the confusion and pain. I had no self-identity; so I continued to stand by and watch myself live. As I grew into a man I lost my way. I wanted to please them all. I wanted to submit, to just let go of my responsibilities and struggles and be taken care of by a man, by the father I never had, or by a woman, the mother who was never there. My sexuality became just a tool to be used to please, a means to make others love me. My life became a life of pain without tears.
Looking back at my childhood now as a mature adult, I think I now understand what was happening to the confused child in me that was becoming a confused young man. I was conceived by a single mother with nine children. After her husband had left her to raise the family by herself, she was lonely and needed comfort and someone to want her so she had an affair. She got pregnant and went through the anxieties of having to nurture another child, her eleventh birth having lost two girls in childhood. I was born unwanted. I was the evidence of her sorrow and sin. Following the fearful death of my infant sister, who had been born a few years before me and died a few months before I was born, with no resources, skills, or energy left to give me the essentials of life, my mother raised me loving, but never daring to feel or show love. So I grew up feeling unloved.
I was guided by two half-sisters and six half-brothers determined to make me into the man I could not be. Rejecting their scorn, betraying my mentors, I took responsibility for raising myself, growing into a man with no identity, neither male nor female. I fluctuated in the void. Caring and loving, thinking and absorbing, longing for completion into something, someone, that I could respect and accept, I found only my own failures, and broken relationships, and inadequacies, and unachievable goals. In my fantasies I found masculinity in the arms of soft young women; I found femininity in the strong arms of faceless men, but they could complete me only in the ecstasy of the climax. When the details were consummated, and the lights turned on, I was alone again in my own darkness, incomplete and broken. I had no identity, except the one I had created for himself, forged fearfully in the fires of hell. I had nothing real to face the world in the moment of truth.