I sent this email to someone who was very much like a father to me, although I had misplaced intentions from time to time.
February 2, 2000
[someone that was special] –
Not sure why I’m writing this, other than I guess we haven’t really had a “talk” since everything happened in Searcy, Arkansas, and I just wanted you to know how I got to where I am today.
** If you can’t handle this right now, please don’t read on. Just delete the letter and we will talk when you can handle it. **
I guess I’ll start in Searcy. Let’s see, after I graduated from Harding University] in December 1996, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do. I knew that I didn’t want to stay in that town any longer than I had to, but had no clue as to what and where I would do something else. My yearly evaluation with Walmart was in May, so I figured I would stay until then, and try to transfer to the Home Office, since I was already working for the company, and the benefits seemed good enough.
So, saying my (forever) good-byes to everyone that I knew there, I packed up everything I had and moved up here to Fayetteville. While waiting for the HO to find my transcripts (for almost two months), I pretty much just stayed around the apartment and played on the computer most of the time. I think “recluse” would best define my life then. I learned a lot more about computers during that time, and played with different “chatting” programs, and began more actively exploring feelings that I had been fighting with. I somewhere/somehow came to the conclusion that the only way to know for sure if I was or wasn’t gay was to just “try” it.
I can’t tell you what made me come to that point in my life, because I don’t really even know. Curiosity? Loneliness? I don’t know. All I do know is that I did it, and when I did, I knew that was honestly who I was. It was like all of a sudden everything just clicked into place. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you, but it was almost “peaceful” to me. Well, peaceful isn’t the right word, but it’s how I felt on the inside. It was like everything I knew about myself suddenly fell into place and made sense.
I do want you to know that I never had any sexual contact with anyone (other than that thing with person removed] when I was a kid) until I moved up here. I don’t want you to think that I was lying to you all a long, because I wasn’t. I was truly fighting with myself the entire time I lived in Searcy, as well as for the first few months that I lived up here in Fayetteville. I know that I was “protected” by you and others from stupid choices that I made at times when I was in Searcy, and I want to thank you for that. I don’t think I could have handled then what I experienced when I finally allowed myself to do it.
** [Someone that was special], if you can’t handle the above, please don’t read anymore, it kind of gets graphic/intense after this. **
Anyway, after seeing this “first person” for about 6 months (from July 1997 to December 1997) over the weekends, it just stopped. (The reason it was just weekends was because he lived in Van Buren.) I can’t say it was a relationship, because it was pretty much just sex between us both, and neither of us had feelings for each other.
I was fully aware of that fact that I was definitely gay at this point and not confused, but I just didn’t know how to handle it with others. I was having a hard time fighting the stereotypes that are associated with “gay,” because I guess I didn’t seem like what most people think of when they think “gay.” I especially didn’t want to tell you at that point, although you were also the first person I wanted to tell as well. (Doesn’t make much sense, huh?) I didn’t want to tell you because of everything that had happened in Searcy. I still feel somewhat “responsible” for a lot of what happened, and I felt that this didn’t help that any. But at the same time I wanted you to know because I was finally so “happy”/”at rest” inside.
Anyway, I became friends with someone in January 1997, who I guess you could say was kind of my first crush as well. Other than a few mutual touching “sessions,” we were never went farther than that, but I still had a crush on him. He moved to California in April and I was pretty upset for a while. We still talk today, but I no longer have any feelings for him, other than that of a very good friend. He took me to my first gay bar on a trip we made to Tulsa one weekend. I thought it was an odd place — It was a dark bar, and no one was really there. I kind of look back on it and think of it like “Cheers” — just your typical neighborhood bar really. I somehow figured they were all like this, and never went to another one.
After he moved, he talked me into going to, at the time, the only gay bar in Fayetteville. I had heard about the place online, and didn’t really want to go, because they were known for drag shows, and that was definitely no interest to me. Turns out the drag shows are usually just on Sunday, and since I was working on Sundays then (in Field Support), I never went to a show anyway. I ventured out by myself on a Thursday night, and it was a somewhat nice place. Thursday and Friday were sort of the “Cheers”-type thing although the music seemed to get pretty loud at times], and so I started going almost every weekend. It was odd being around people who all had something in common, and to be able to relax and be what I really am, without having to hide it from others.
I made a few acquaintances, and a few good friends, but was never interested in sex (pretty atypical for someone going to a bar, I know…). I was still somewhat a hermit, just going to work and coming home and talking with friends online.
Sometime in June 1997, I met Robert online. We talked on and off for a month or so, before we finally got up the nerve to meet each other. We decided to meet (of all places) at the Rogers Walmart on July 1st. The rest is pretty much history, or would be I guess if you knew the story.
We walked around Walmart that night and talked for a few hours, and then went back to my apartment in Rogers, and, well, not to sound like sluts or anything, but we “got together.” We continued to meet, almost daily for about a month and spent time together. But I was “holding out” to see if he was interested in me or sex, in I guess what would have been considered dating. (I’m not sure why I wasn’t interested in sex at that point, but I somehow knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, and wanted to make sure he felt the same.) I didn’t know if when we came to you and [someone that was special’s to-be wife]’s wedding in August if you could tell, or if [someone that was special’s to-be wife] already knew Robert was gay since they had known each other in the past. I knew I was starting to develop serious feelings for Robert, and wasn’t sure if I was ready for that at that point in my life — especially considering I think of Robert as my first long-term relationship. I knew we both had many of the same goals: settling down, etc.
I would have to say that since meeting Robert, I have been happier than I have ever been in my life. We have been together for 2 1/2-years now, and it has definitely been an interesting time. I can say that I would never have foreseen owning my own business (or in this case, co-owing one), or being in a happy, stable relationship; and much of that is thanks to him. We haven’t had a “wedding” yet (a “real” wedding is against the law in all but one state right now), although we both would like to have a “formal” ceremony with friends and family there. We do consider ourselves in a “married relationship,” and have taken the steps we can as a couple to have many of the same benefits married partners have.
I just want to thank you for not “throwing” me out. And thank you for accepting Robert as well. I can’t put into words what that means to me, or how it makes me feel, but all I can say is “Thank you,” and I love you for that.
I miss the relationship that we had, and I know a large part of that is because we both had issues to work on with ourselves and other relationships. I hope you made it this far in the letter, and I hope to be able to spend some time with you in person to be able to talk about everything.