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Power Chapter Three: Brett

Mark meets his first gay person
“Thanks for coming with me,” Brett said. “Lots of guys your age are threatened by gays. I’m glad you’re open-minded.” I told him the truth: I had never met a gay person before in my life. He smiled and said, “I’m sure you haven’t.”

I told him that I liked girls and was not open to anything other than friendship with him. He told me he figured as much. The story of my flight from the shower room had made the rounds already. I was evidently straight, open-minded, and scared shitless of women seeing me naked. I nodded my head.

Over lunch I decided to be blunt. “Brett, what’s it like to be gay?” He asked me what it’s like to be straight, and I didn’t have an answer. “Well, it’s what I am.”

“Same thing here,” Brett said.” It’s what I am.” Hmmm, what do I say now?

Brett told me he had pretty much always known he was gay. He didn’t come out until his senior year of high school. He was afraid that everyone would hate him and his friends would leave him. He had been going out with a girl to keep up pretenses and told her first.

“Of course you are, honey,” she told him. “Everybody already knows.” It turned out to be true. Brett was six-three and had played basketball. He told the coach who said, “Thank God, we don’t have to dance around the issue any more.” Brett had been astounded. His teammates, the girl he was going out with, and all of his friends already knew. He asked his best friend how everybody had already figured it out.

“Well, we always kind of suspected, you know. It was confirmed at the underwear party at Holly’s. One of the girls got drunk and took off her bra and panties. You never looked. Then one of the guys dropped his boxers and you stared. Almost everybody got naked, but you didn’t. You hung around the naked guys but kept trying to hide your hard-on. It’s fine. Just don’t ask me to start liking Broadway musicals.”

His parents had no understanding but plenty of acceptance. Brett told me, “Understanding is seriously over-rated. Acceptance is what is important.” Brett had never had a boyfriend and had never experienced what he called love. He had sex with a couple of guys who came out to him, and on a camping trip spent an entire day in a sleeping bag with another guy. He knew what he was, but only had a little more experience in his realm than I did in mine.

Later that day Jack moved the homophobe to another room and moved an older freshman – 23, the oldest of us – into Brett’s room. The new roommate moved in and promptly stripped naked. “Take a look, I don’t mind. Take a feel and I will mind. What you do and with whom you do it is up to you. If you want to bring a date back here and fuck, then be my guest. I plan to, but my dates all have pussies.” Brett’s life improved dramatically after that. We eventually became friends, but never close. We shared no classes and few interests. We remained friends for all four years. We would see one another around campus and chat. I saw him at parties; sometimes he was alone, sometimes he was with another guy.

Once he showed up with a girl. It was Sarah, Jay’s friend. I hadn’t seen much of her since the first week and by then it was two years later. She told me proudly that she had just been elected President of the Gay and Lesbian Students’ Society. It’s a good thing I hadn’t bit at the first girl I saw.

Brett made money as a nude model for the life drawing classes. Most of the students were girls and he was one of the few guys who wouldn’t pop a boner. Eventually he got a steady boyfriend, after which I saw less of him.

Brett certainly expanded my horizons. I never had sex with him or even something close. I saw him naked often, just as he saw me. He told me I was his “type” (smart, sophisticated and open-minded, but I think he was just being kind). He also told me I was a friend and nothing more. He had no sexual interest. Other guys did, but that’s another chapter.

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