TIM OUTS HIMSELF
The Minneapolis Tribune, Saturday, March 13, 1965. Special to the Minneapolis Tribune. By Susan Wilfield.
Tim, the boy with no last name, national diving champion for so long nobody is counting, and Southwest High School hero, dove off the 3-meter platform at the Southwest High Swimming and Diving Invitational yesterday afternoon and came out of the water a new headline. He was helped up the pool ladder by Charlie, another young man who eschews a last name, and immediately they were embracing, followed by a quite passionate kiss. [Inset: Photograph; Caption: "Tim and Charlie after Tim's final dive;" Credit: Michael Reasel, Staff Photographer, Southwest HS Blade, Mpls. All rights reserved.] Tim immediately was given a microphone by Coach Nelson Waters, the swimming coach at Southwest High School. Waiting for quiet Tim said, "My wonderful friends. I love you all. But I want you to meet Charlie. I love him best. We are life partners, and our life together starts now. Please wish us well." With that announcement two young homosexual men came out of the closet and into the bright lights of public scrutiny.
The response of the fans in the natatorium was instantaneous: Loud cheering broke out, and Tim's teammates quickly surrounded both him and Charlie, patting them on their backs and congratulating them. Tim has long been a favorite at swim meets in the Twin Cities area, always drawing a crowd for his spectacular diving. The crowd clearly showed that it continued its long support for Tim. There were a few boos, and one or two people left in evident protest, but the vast majority of the group was supportive.
The announcement that his last dive, a graceful back jackknife with a full twist, scored a ten was almost an anticlimax. Undefeated all season, Southwest easily won the meet. Coach Waters was quick to point out, however, that even without Tim's point score Southwest would have won. He added, "But we couldn't have won without Tim. As four-year captain of the team he has led and inspired all of his teammates to extraordinary levels of success. He is a true leader. The courageous step that he has now taken, that of publically expressing his love for his partner, Charlie, is typical of his courage and leadership. I'm quite certain that the whole team is united in support of their captain and friend."
Dr. Wilbur Olafsen, Southwest High Principal, was in the audience at the meet. Asked about Tim's announcement, Dr. Olafsen said, "Personally I wish Tim and Charlie well. As Principal of the school no comment is needed. Tim's announcement is unrelated to the affairs of the school. It is strictly a personal matter. I truly hope that that will be the attitude of the entire community."
Asked if he had known of the announcement in advance, Dr. Olafsen said, "Yes. Tim and Charlie both spoke to me about it, and invited me to be at poolside. I appreciate their willingness to inform the school in advance, but I truly hope that it was an unnecessary precaution. Under Coach Waters leadership, the Southwest High School Swim and Dive team has had spectacular success this year. Their leadership in the area of sportsmanship, graciousness, team cooperation, and consideration of their opponents has been remarkable. I have received numerous compliments from other coaches, parents, and parents from opposing teams thanking me for the leadership this team has shown. I hope and trust that this spirit will guide the team, the school, and the community as it receives and absorbs Tim's announcement. I trust that we will find no room for hate or prejudice in our school or community."
Seated poolside in reserved seats were Tim and Charlie's parents and families, and six boys who were fellow campers at Camp White Elk in Michigan at the time that Tim met Charlie. The group is quite remarkable, in that of the eight in the group, including Charlie who was their counselor, three are Olympic hopefuls for Mexico. In addition to Tim, there is Hal Broder a budding marathoner, who is expected to run in the Boston marathon this spring, and Charlie, a high level competitor in archery. The director of Camp White Elk, Stanley Phillips, was also present. Asked to comment, he said, "Tim and Charlie were two remarkable members of the most remarkable group of young men I have ever seen assembled-at Camp White Elk or anywhere else. Up until now Tim has dominated the headlines, but expect all eight of these boys to accomplish remarkable things. The fact that Tim and Charlie had the courage to do what they did this afternoon is indicative of their moral strength. Camp White Elk is indeed proud that it is part of Tim and Charlie's heritage."
The Rev. Isaac Wilson, pastor of the Southside Evangelical Community Gospel Center, was on the scene shortly after Tim's announcement. He was demanding that the school remove him from the swim team, and forbid him to be seen with Charlie on the school grounds. He stated, "Homosexuality is an abomination before God, and must not be tolerated in our community. I demand that the school board take action." Only a few of the persons present seemed to be paying any attention to him.
It was clear that Tim, Charlie, Coach Waters, and probably others had carefully orchestrated the events of the afternoon. The Southwest Swim and Diving Team was informed immediately after school, and asked not to say anything until after the public announcement. Reserved seats had been placed poolside for Tim and Charlie's families and guests. A photographer from the school newspaper, the Blade, was on hand to photograph Tim and Charlie's poolside kiss. [See picture inset.] Principal Olafsen was on hand to answer questions. But the support from the crowd was spontaneous, and generous. This reporter got caught up in the spirit of the day, and extended her congratulations to Tim and Charlie.
The swim meet was followed by a party given by Tim and Charlie's families for the Southwest Swim and Dive Team, family and other friends. The party was private, and the press was not allowed. Tim is scheduled to compete in the Minneapolis Gymnastics Invitational taking place this afternoon at the Twin Cities Gymnastics Club. Nothing has been said about any plans for a further announcement at that time.
[The story continued with a history of Tim's swimming achievements. She didn't know much about me, but did place me as a native of Indianapolis, graduate of Rockford College, and a former employee of the Red Cross in Des Moines.]
Those were the bare facts. What was going on in our heads and hearts didn't make the newspaper. As soon as Tim's announcement was complete we were surrounded. Tim and I were determined to stay together, but it was difficult in the tumult. Any hope of restoring order in the natatorium seemed forlorn, but the formalities of the conclusion of the swim meet had to go forward. Tim and Coach Nelson stood together with the microphone and each begged the crowd to quiet down, be seated, and let the officials speak. As calm was beginning to be restored, we heard the first negative shout, "Queer. Go home." There were a few other comments, most cruder than that one. But they were few, and the crowd didn't seem in the mood to tolerate that. I saw one young man being shoved out the exit by a half dozen boys from Southwest High.
Finally the officials regained control. The chief judge spoke, "I'm delighted to announce that the score on Tim's last dive was a ten, unanimously agreed by the judges. Tim finishes in first place, as does the Southwest High Team. " He continued with other winners and ribbon winners, and the other team rankings. Nobody seemed to be paying much attention. Then he added, "On behalf of all of the officials at today's meet, we want to extend our congratulations to Tim and Charlie. We look forward to Tim's continued competition at Twin Cities high school swim meets." He came over to shake both of our hands.
Coach Nelson took the microphone, "Tim's going to dress. Charlie's going to try to get dried off. They would be delighted to greet friends in the lobby in about five to ten minutes."
We headed for the locker room, but we were waylaid by Susan; the Susan of a thousand questions. We answered for as long as we could, but she knew that we needed to go. Just as she left she gave Tim a kiss on the cheek and whispered, "Thanks, Tim. This's the biggest scoop of the year for me. High school sports reporters don't get opportunities like this very often. And I know perfectly well that I was the only reporter here except for the Blade. It was a wonderful gift."
Tim answered, "Susan, you have been fair and honest in your reporting. But much more important, you have respected me, the team, and our need to escape the press a lot of the time. It was my pleasure to pay you back if I could. And thanks for not bringing a photographer. This was Mike's big day."
"I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine. Don't forget me."
"I won't. See you tomorrow afternoon?"
"You can bet I won't miss it. You can also bet the press corps will number more than one. And a word of warning: They're going to break down the doors to be at your team meeting before the meet."
"That's OK. They don't know where it'll be. Don't waste your time, it'll be offsite."
"You guys sure worked out every detail. I think there's a story there."
"You decide. If you can wait until Monday, we'll talk."
"It's a date."
"We've got to run. See you tomorrow."
Now we really did need to rush to the locker room. Tim showered while I changed into dry clothes that I had stored in Tim's locker. Tim dressed quickly and we headed to the outside lobby, which served both the gym and the natatorium. A long line had formed; it seemed that virtually no one had left. We both shook hands for about thirty minutes as the place gradually emptied. Then we headed for the gym where the team, the Gang, our families, and a few close friends like Tina, had already gathered and were downing drinks and snacks.
I noticed at once that the caterers had gotten the food all wrong. I had ordered chips and salsa, and other light refreshments, to be followed by ground beef barbeque. People were eating fruit, cheese, shrimp, and they were setting up a buffet with a big steamship round of beef. Norman got to me before I charged at the caterer, "Listen, Charlie. You did a wonderful job of planning this, but you were too anxious to save money. I contacted the caterer shortly after you did and switched your menu. I told him to keep it a surprise. Jason, Mamie, Betsy and I are delighted to make this a real feast."
"Buy the damn shoes," was clawing its way into the front of my brain, just in time to assure that I had the good sense to thank Norman, and not jump at him for screwing up my plans. I didn't just thank him, I hugged him tight, and said, "Norman I love you."
"I love you too, Charlie, as much as I love Tim. You have no idea how pleased Betsy and I are that you're part of our family. We have never seen Tim so happy-and Tim was a happy boy. If you continue to love Tim, all of his life, this little party'll be just a blip on a radar screen. But I do hope you enjoy yourself. Eat heartily."
I didn't just hug him, I kissed him. And Tim came up and did the same thing.
Dinner followed, and finally Coach Nelson called for everyone's attention. "Folks, we aren't here to make a lot of speeches. Everything that needs to be said has been said many times this evening. I just want to take this opportunity to thank Tim for coming into my life four years ago. I'm well aware that he could have gone to any high school with a swim team, anywhere. But he came to Southwest. Thank you, Tim. And Charlie, thank you as well. You're welcome here anytime. We'll always think of you as part of this team, just like Tim. Godspeed to both of you."
Ricky, the team co-captain, stood and took the microphone. "Tim and I came to Southwest at the same time. I met him the first day of swim practice back in ninth grade. We had been swimming and diving about two hours. I was beat and ready to quit. Then I heard Tim asking Coach how late the pool could stay open, that he'd like to keep working on a new dive he was adding to his list. He had been number two in state the previous summer, but no one on the team knew that. I just knew that he was working on a dive that I could only dream of doing, and he was asking the coach to stay late and keep practicing. The rest of us were completely beat and certainly weren't in the mood to stay in the water.
"But we learned that this was Tim. He never threw it in our faces, never criticized, never hassled us. He always encouraged. He took the time to show us how to improve. He invited us to practice with him, but seemed to understand that those of us that lived in the real world simply couldn't function in his. And we loved him. We elected him captain of the high school team in ninth grade. It was an unheard of honor. There was one vote against him-for our leading senior diver. I'm convinced to this day that that vote was Tim's. We have slowly gotten used to having a celebrity, a national champion, a kid that had enough chutzpah to say 'no' to going to Tokyo for the Olympics, for a teammate. And he has always acted like he was just another guy on the team. The first time I was asked for my autograph because I was his teammate was when I really realized that this kid was truly different. He doesn't put on his pants in the morning the same way the rest of us do. He doesn't cheer when schools are closed because of snow. He doesn't chase girls. And now we know why! It's just another way in which he's the most exceptional person I'll ever know. Tim, it has been an honor to be your teammate. Charlie, you're the luckiest guy on earth-you get to take him home at night. Take care of him. Love him. Make him relax now and then.
"We all love you Tim. And you too, Charlie."
Several other of his teammates spoke. It was clear that he was beloved, and had inspired the rest of the team, swimmers and divers, to reach levels they never expected.
Then Tom, the leader of the Gang at Camp White Elk, stood up and spoke. "I met Charlie and Tim at the same time. Charlie was my camp counselor and Tim was a fellow camper. We were part of a remarkable group which has stayed together as no other camper group from Camp White Elk ever has. And we're all together here for the first time since that first summer. I'd like to introduce you to them. By the way, get used to us. We all just use first names like Tim and Charlie do. First, many of you may know Hal, who has been running circles around Twin Cities cross country runners for four years now. There's a real story there, but it has to wait for another time." Hal stood. Tom worked his way through the whole group. Then he introduced parents, Carl and Carol. Tina needed no introduction, and got loud cheers when she stood.
Tom continued, "I hope that some of you will have the opportunity to get to know Charlie as the seven of us have. Tim took one look at Charlie, shook hands with him, and fell instantly in love. The rest of us did too, but we had to get in line behind Tim. Tim was just smarter than we were, or acted faster, or was sexier. In any case, Tim got the prize. A wonderful prize. Tim you take as good care of Charlie as he does of you. Good luck, guys."
Tim and I worked our way to visit all of the tables. He met the parents of some of his teammates for the first time. I can't believe how many autographs he signed. He never said, 'No.' In fact, for the rest of our lives I never saw him turn down an autograph. He couldn't bear to disappoint people. He kissed all of the boys' girlfriends, and they all seemed to swoon when he did. When he kissed Ricky's girl, Ricky said, "I was glad to learn you were gay. If you were straight you'd be dangerous."
Ellen, his girl who had just been kissed, said, "Ricky, he's dangerous gay or straight." And she kissed him back. Ricky was a good sport about it. I think.
The party wound down. Coach Nelson realized that we wouldn't leave till everybody else did, and he knew that we needed to get home to bed-tomorrow would be a big day. I don't think he realized that before tomorrow would be a big day, tonight would be a big night. He turned the lights up bright and said, "Good night all. Thanks for coming. But we need to clear the gym."
Tim and I headed for our car. Tim grabbed Ronnie and told him to come with us. He was staying tonight in Tim's guest room, and that saved his parents from having to drop him off at our house. There were other motives as well!
With all that had happened, it was hard to believe that we got home by 10:15. Mom and Dad, Carl and Carol, Tim and I, and Ronnie all sat around in the kitchen-it was only a little crowded around the table-and digested the day. Ronnie sort of summed it up: "Guts and luck."
Dad said, "Right on. But there was something else. Tim has given love, kindness, and caring to every one of those people. Unconditionally, for four years. They know it. They feel it. They might react to a stranger saying he was gay very differently than to Tim. When you give love, it comes back to you."
Ronnie said, "You know, there were three of the eight in the Gang that knew they were gay when they arrived at Camp White Elk. But now I think all eight would admit to being at least a little bit gay. Tim and Charlie and Franklin have shown us all that it's the love that's important, not the gender."
Carl said, "Again I have the role of pointing out that this has all been said before, many times, and we believe it. What're the plans for tomorrow?"
Betsy said, "You and Carol have to be out of the house by 7:30. If you want breakfast let me know now and be down by seven."
Tim said, "Be back by 10:30, that's when the Gang's expanding."
Carl asked, "Expanding to include whom?"
"You, Carol, Phil, Tina, Sue, and Nancy."
Carol said, "I recognize all but Nancy."
"Nancy is Tom's love. It seems pretty certain that they'll get married someday."
"What about lunch?"
"Lunch will be the fourteen-the expanded Gang."
"The meet starts when?"
"Two. Team meeting at one. It'll rush lunch, but that's life."
"Bedtime," said Tim. And we all headed for the stairs.
At the top of the stairs Tim grabbed Ronnie and headed him into our room. "You won't need anything from your suitcase."
Inside with the door closed, I said, "Ronnie, this is your night. Two weeks ago it was Franklin's turn; he was first because he lived near Des Moines and could join us. Hal and I had a very quick encounter Thursday afternoon in the shower. You're next because you don't have a partner. The night is yours. We told Franklin the same thing."
"What did Franklin ask for?"
"Of course. And the answer is?"
"Franklin asked to have Charlie alone, and the two of them went off to a motel. I had a grand time with Phil, Jane and Priscy."
"You may have had the better deal."
"Not according to Franklin. If you want Charlie alone, it won't bother me at all. Please believe that. I'll just head down the hall to the bed you would otherwise be sleeping in. Unless I get sidetracked into Carl and Carol's room."
"Are you serious? With Carl and Carol?"
"Yes, he's serious," I answered.
Ronnie said, "I think I live in a different world. A pretty restricted one. I hope I'm ready for your world. Tim and Charlie, tonight I would like both of you. I know you sleep spooned together. I would like to be right between you. What happens next, well it simply happens."
We headed for bed. Getting undressed was no big deal for the three of us, we had undressed together all the time at camp. Ronnie had no hesitation climbing in bed between us. He was soon the recipient of both Tim's wiggle and my hand. His hand soon roamed, first in front of him toward Tim and then behind him toward me. Soon Ronnie pulled my hand out from in between him and Tim, and his own roaming was limited to my thighs and Tim's chest and belly button. I whispered to Ronnie, "You know there're no limits tonight?"
"Yes, I know. And I appreciate it. But just lying here makes me so happy, I don't need or want anything else."
"It's your night, Ronnie. Nobody's going to push you."
We all just lay there, enjoying each other's presence. Soon we slept. By morning we were ranged all over the bed. Tim asked Ronnie, "What next?"
Ronnie simply replied, "It was a wonderful night. It's time to shower. We played a little in the shower, but only a little. Ronnie was happy, and Tim and I were happy if Ronnie was."
We headed for breakfast with the Gang. Mom and Dad had gotten up early and had fixed breakfast for the eight of us. They hadn't eaten; Mom said that they were going to go out and have breakfast at a diner all by themselves. I asked her to stay until all eight had arrived, so that they all could thank her for the meal. She agreed, and everyone had a chance to greet Tim's folks, say "Hello" and "Thank you," and wave goodbye as they left us alone. Carl and Carol had sneaked out even earlier.
It was the Gang's first time alone together since the last night at camp-three and a half years ago. The seven boys had been together at camp, and I had visited all of them (Tim just the one weekend after camp). But now we were all together. There was lots of hugging and kissing, and talk of events that summer at camp and of events since then. We actually stopped long enough to eat the glorious breakfast that Mom and Dad had fixed for us. Then Ronnie sort of made himself master of ceremonies-Ronnie? Yes, Ronnie!-and called us to order by banging the table with his hand. "Look guys, we don't have a lot of time, and I think there's a lot to talk about. First, I want to say how happy I am that we're all together again. And I think what needs to be added to that is that there's no way we're going to wait more than three years for the next time. And that's on the morning's agenda. First, let's go around the circle and hear, very briefly, the high points of people's lives since that summer at camp. And if people leave out important things, someone else can fill in. I'll start."
Ronnie continued, "I'm in college at the University of Wisconsin. I love it. I'm studying theoretical physics, and I won't try to give lessons. I would like you all to meet Sharon some day. She's my lab partner, smart as a whip, and a truly nice girl."
"Romance's coming Ronnie's way!" someone said.
"I don't think so. At least not yet. But Sharon would be on the short list-that I'll admit."
Jim and Andy went next. As with almost everything else in their lives, they went together. The facts of their lives were pretty simple. The were graduating with good grades, admission to the University of Michigan and no girls. Andy did report that Jim had been state wrestling runner-up in his weight class the previous year, and was expected to do well in the state tournament coming up in May.
Jim hadn't tooted his own horn, and neither had Andy, so this was new information for the Gang. The first reaction, after congratulations, was to get rather angry at them both for not letting us know. At least some of us would have made it to the state tournament last year-especially Tom, who lived in Detroit. Jim simply said, "Look, I like to wrestle. It isn't a big deal. I got lucky at state last year; I never expected to place."
"You should have told us. No secrets."
"I'm sorry. You're right. But I don't do too well blowing my own horn."
"Then get Andy to do the job. Andy, what the Hell happened?"
"I'm sorry, too. Jim didn't want to advertise, and I respected that. I should've insisted that the story get out. It will next time. The tournament's in mid-May. I'll get the date and details to everyone."
Tim said, "I'm not satisfied with that story. I think there was another reason. Think 'New Hal,' 'New Ronnie,' 'New Charlie'."
Hal said, "I think you're right. Own up Jim."
"OK. Yeah. I could just hear you guys saying, 'If Tim can make the Olympics, and Hal, and Charlie, why not Jim?' I wasn't ready for that."
Tim said, "Jim, we respected Ronnie. Hal, Charlie, and I only changed because we wanted to. Two years ago Ronnie asked us to help him get in shape and lose weight. That created the new Ronnie, but we didn't try to change anything he didn't want changed. He's still Ronnie."
Jim said, "Look. I like to wrestle. I'm pretty good. But I don't have the dedication to be a top wrestler. And I don't want to invest the time and effort it would take. Tim, you and Hal aren't like that. I really didn't think you would understand my not wanting to be the best in the world."
Tim said, "Guys, we need to learn two lessons here. First, always tell the whole truth to the rest of the Gang. Actually, we should tell the truth to everyone. But some things get held back from the public. No holding back among this group of friends. Second, we need to be able to count on each other, and count on the fact that we will all respect each other. Jim, most of my teammates think I'm a fool for the schedule I keep. I still love them. I'll still love you if you aren't an Olympian. As we go to sleep, Charlie and I may talk about the fact that you could be an Olympian, but we aren't going to try to change you. You are you. When you stop being you, the Gang will be irreparably harmed."
"Thanks guys, said Jim. And I'm sorry. I should've known all that. It's just that Tim is such a remarkable model."
"I'm just a model for me. Maybe for Charlie. No one else. Never try to be someone else. Be yourselves. Everyone will like you better."
Hal was up next. We pretty much knew his running story, as it had been pretty public. But he had gotten permission from Sue to tell her story of being raped. It was difficult, but he knew that it was important that we all know the story if we were going to relate well to Sue. And that was very important to Hal. I asked, "Is Sue ready for us to talk to her about this?"
"Yes, she is. Be gentle, as I know you all will be. But it'll do her good for this not to be a secret, and for her to understand that it makes not a bit of difference to you. Believe it or not, she still runs into people that blame the girl for rape. It almost kills her."
Tom brought us back to Hal. "You're up for the Boston Marathon this year, right?"
"Yes. I'll enter a qualifying race in the Chicago suburbs later this month, and I'll easily qualify for Boston. The race is on Monday, April 19."
"On a Monday?" asked Tom. "That means we're all going to have to get off of school."
I said, "No matter what day it is, you're going to have to get off of school. We can't get there, support Hal in a race, and get back in a two-day weekend. Monday's good. It gives us two days before, the race day, and Tuesday to get home. If it were a different day, schools would try to squeeze the second day before out of you. Will you all be able to get off?"
Hal said, "You seem to just be assuming that everyone would go to Boston."
"I am. It was discussed sometime ago by some of us, and everybody has been clued in. We're all going. I'm pretty sure that a number of parents are going as well. I think Franklin's will, and Tom's, and probably ours."
"Tim's and mine; that is, Tim's. I think of them as mine now, along with the originals in Indiana. I'm pretty sure that they won't be in Boston. Oh, yes, Hal's folks will be there."
"It's going to be quite a crowd. Where're we going to stay for three nights?"
Hal said, "Dad has that solved. He called a real estate agent and was warned that hotels, motels, short term rentals-everything-will fill up that week. The guy wasn't hopeful about a big group-even though this was six months ahead. The marathon has been on the calendar for years. But he asked the agent about big houses. He was told to wait until closer to the race. Last month the agent called. A big old house was just sold. It was vacant, and was scheduled for remodelling in May or June. Dad could rent it for the month of April for $250, which would be a lot less than the number of motel rooms we would need. It has basic furniture, chairs, six beds, tables, odds and ends in the kitchen. So it's bring your air mattresses and sleeping bags, camp cots if you like, and bunk in a house-it isn't far from the marathon route-of course half of Boston's not far from some point on the route."
"How're we going to get there?" asked Jim.
"How many of us are there?" I asked.
Tim started counting, "A Gang of 8, Carl, Tina. 4 partners. Parents? I'd guess almost all, that would be 14, say 12. Hal's coach and his wife. That's 26. I'll bet its 30 by the time we're done."
I said, "Let's hire a bus. Then nobody needs to drive. Hal can sleep on a bed spread across the five seats on the back and arrive refreshed. It can't cost more than driving almost ten cars, or paying thirty air fares."
I said, "You know we all have to get to Jim's wrestling meet as well."
Tom said, "It's near Detroit. We can all stay with me and at Jim's-he's close enough. And it's not a bad drive. Boston is another matter."
He continued, "I guess I'm next up. You all know the story of Julie. I still can't believe that she's gone. And I can't believe how I fell apart. And I can't believe how Charlie put me back together again. In less than a day. Well, now I have Nancy. She's different from Julie, and I never try to compare them. Nancy is now. And is she wonderful. Charlie saved my butt again last October. He met Nancy and me in Chicago and helped us work through plans for marriage-not now-and college. Actually, we said very little about college, but we left ready to make plans. We're going to the Univeristy of Chicago."
"Do you know what you're going to study?" someone asked.
"No. We'll find out over the next year or so."
Tim said, "Charlie and I are next. But I don't think there's much you don't know. We have been keeping all of you pretty well informed."
Franklin said, "There's the one big, grand, overarching secret. Spill it. Where're you going to college, and is that where you, we, are going to live?"
Tim said, "What're you talking about?"
I said, "Tim, last winter when I visited the Gang we talked about where we were going to live, and whether we wanted to spend our lives together. There was a pretty strong feeling that we did. But I asked the group to cool the conversation until you and I were paired. It wasn't fair to you to talk about a future when you and I weren't making plans beyond now. But that was then, and this is now."
Franklin continued, "I said that I thought we would all likely follow you and Charlie. And I asked Charlie where you were going to college. He didn't have any idea. He said you two didn't plan beyond the big birthday. I said then, and I believe now, that you may not have told Charlie your plans, but that we'd bet that you had them, and that they probably included retirement. You can't tell me that isn't mostly true. So give."
I said, "OK, Tim. They've got you. Fess up."
Tim said, "Guys, I think it's a fabulous idea that we try to live near each other. But where that will be has got to be a decision."
Jim said, "Look, kid. We'll be honest. If we don't like your ideas, you'll know it. But it's time for honesty. Right now."
Andy said, "That's giving him his own medicine."
Tim said, "OK. You win. And if I don't talk, Charlie will. I told Charlie that I was thinking about the University of North Dakota in ...."
"North Dakota!!!" from all six of them.
I said, "Yes, North Dakota. He likes the Midwest. He likes public universities. North Dakota's small enough so that he can be a big duck in a small pond."
Tim said, "My words were that you and I could be two elephants in a puddle. But listen, guys. I've never been to Grand Forks. Charlie and I are going to arrange a trip as soon as we can. But it may be a bust."
"Oh, Hell, Tim," said Hal. "If you don't like something about it, you'll just change it."
I said, "For starters he's already talking about the need to start a gymnastics club or program of some sort."
"He will," said Tom.
Ronnie continued the questions with, "Are you thinking about returning to Grand Forks after graduate school?"
Tim started to hesitate.
Hal said, "Tim, just answer the question. You know the answer, and I think we do too."
Tim said, "Yes, if I invest four years in a college I want to be around to see the payoff."
Franklin said, "You two're going to end up running the place, aren't you?"
Tim said, "Look guys, this is tough. You're just dealing with my imagination."
"Hell, Tim. Your imagination is the way your plan your life. That's how you dream up your dives; your gymnastics routines; your love life. You imagined yourself with Charlie, and here you are. So what do you imagine about the University of North Dakota?"
"Charlie and I run the place. Remake it into a world class university."
"God," said Tom. "Is there any question that all of us want to be around to see that happen? North Dakota it is guys. But I think I'll let Tim and Charlie freeze their butts off next year, and join them after grad school."
Tim said, "It's law school for Charlie. Starting a year from September. And you're looking at the next Dean of Law at the University of North Dakota."
"Wow, Charlie, can I have your autograph?"
Ronnie said, "Franklin, you're up."
Franklin said, "I'm in love with Phil. It was a match made in heaven and Charlie's brain. There's nothing more to say. By the way, Tim, we beat your record."
Tim said, "What record?"
"You always claimed you fell in love with Charlie in two minutes. That record."
Ronnie said, "You beat two minutes? Who're you kidding? I've never been convinced that Tim wasn't kidding."
Franklin said, "Two heartbeats. And I think that's on the long side. I opened the door at Charlie's apartment and there was Phil. We stared at each other a long time, but we knew, we both knew, in the first instant, that our search was over."
I said, "I was there. I'll vouch for it. There was never the slightest hesitation on either of their parts."
Franklin said, "And neither of us has had the slightest regret."
Tim said, "There're two things Charlie and I want to talk about. The first is the ceremony tomorrow. Except for the minister, we're all coming in from the back. We want you six to lead the parade. We'll show you tomorrow where we want you to stand. But essentially, Charlie and I'll stand in front of the minister holding hands. You're going to be in a semicircle in front of us, but down some steps so people can see. Parents and other friends are going to gather on the side. But you six are special, and we want you to have the special place of honor."
I said, "Except for two people. Tina's going to stand next to Tim, and Phil's going to stand next to me. They're going to kiss us goodbye."
Tom said, "If anybody gets through this with dry eyes we're going to take him to a lake and throw him in."
I said, "Second thing-unrelated to the first. The Gang needs to expand. The original group of eight is special. And from time to time we need to come together as just this group. It rejuvenates us; it nurtures us. But three of you have partners. They have to be part of the Gang. Three more of you will have partners. They'll be welcome. Carl, and Carol, need to feel welcome as well. As does Tina. So there you have it, eight plus three plus three is fourteen, and growing. Is everybody comfortable with that?"
"Yes," said a chorus.
Franklin said, "Are they comfortable with that? Do they want to be a part of this bunch?"
I said, "They're joining us at 10:30. Let's ask."
Franklin said, "There's a third thing. Let's get it on the table."
Tim said, "I think I know where you're going Franklin."
"Then say it."
Tom said, "Right. We all know that this group has had sexual overtones from the beginning. We slept nude. We ogled each other. Tim got stripped. So did Hal. Jim and Andy took flight right after camp. Franklin wanted everyone, but only attempted Hal."
"What does that say about now?" asked Ronnie.
"Nothing and everything," I said. What went on before, in our minds or actions, doesn't govern now. But it's our past, and we need to talk about the future it's going to lead to."
"Partners have a lot to say in this," said Ronnie.
Tim said, "Yes. But only after this group has talked. Nobody's going to get pushed. And this is the group in which 'No' can most easily be said."
Franklin said, "I think you all know where I am on this. I am a 'Yes' and so's Phil, but he can speak for himself."
Tim said, "Charlie and I are talking with each other about this. As of now we are 'Yes.' And, I have told Charlie, and he agrees, that he needs to sleep with all of you at least once. You all deserve that."
I said, "And that's progressing delightfully, I might add. I was with Franklin a couple of weeks ago in Des Moines. Hal Thursday afternoon. Ronnie last night. Jim and Andy, how about you two tonight?"
"You mean it, Charlie?" said Jim.
"Yes, he does," said Tim. Ronnie, you can bunk with Hal tonight, unless you want to go to the hotel with your parents."
"You can't be serious!"
"Well, not really."
Hal said, "You're welcome. But don't get your hopes up. Sue'll be there."
I said, "From what I hear from Tim, he might very well get his hopes up."
Hal said, "I can't speak for Sue. I always worry that she may be more fragile than she lets on."
I said, "Hal. You have to trust Sue. She says she's over her trauma. Believe her. If she finds that she isn't, she'll tell you. But if you protect her needlessly you'll harm your relationship."
"You're right. I'll try. Ronnie, I don't'know what will in store for us tonight!"
Ronnie asked, "Are your parents comfortable with all of this?"
I said, "I'll answer that. I'm not sure you know this Hal. I got a phone call from your mother about the time things were moving with you and Sue. She said, 'Charlie, it's pretty clear that Hal and Sue are ready to have sex, if they aren't already. John and I are concerned. This isn't a question with a simple "Buy the damn shoes" answer. Can you help us?'"
Hal said, "My mom asked you that? You're kidding, right?"
"No, Hal, I'm not kidding."
"What did you tell her?"
I said, "You bought him the shoes, now let him wear them."
"You're kidding again."
"No. She understood that she couldn't make the sexual rules for you; you were going to make them regardless. I could hear myself passing on Tim's father's wisdom, as he had talked about his relationship with Tim and Carl. Your mom talked to Tim's mom as well."
"All this time I have been giving her credit for being such a cool mom."
"Hal, she is. She didn't have to ask those questions, and she didn't have to listen to the answers. We all need help making important decisions. It doesn't matter how we reach the conclusion; we all should seek all the help we can. What is important is the conclusions we reach and the actions we take. You have a really cool mom." That was Tim. It could have been me. Were we really twins?
Tom said, "When do I get sex with Charlie? Franklin, Ronnie, Jim, Andy, Hal. But I'm going back to Detroit."
Tim told Tom to stand up and come to him. He pushed Tom gently toward me, and grabbed his pants and pulled them down. Then he pulled down his shorts. He said, "Right now, right here, if you're game."
Tom was flabbergasted. I got down on my knees and took him in my mouth and sucked him very gently. He swooned and almost fell over. Tim hugged him from behind. Franklin came up and took his right hand and just held it. Jim and Andy took his other hand. Ronnie kissed him gently. He came, and I shared him with Tim with a grand, sloppy kiss. Then we all kissed Tom, first on the lips and then on his dick. The whole thing didn't take more than ten minutes. Tim pulled his shorts up, and Tom got his pants straight. "Wow!" was all he said.
We looked at the clock. It would soon be 10:30 and the additional Gang members would soon be here. I said, "Kisses all around. This group is really special. I love you all." And everybody managed to kiss everybody, at least once.
The doorbell interrupted our attempt to go around a second time. It was Sue, bringing Nancy and Phil from the hotel. Tina arrived a minute later, followed by Carl and Carol. Kisses all around again!
There was conversation and small talk for a few minutes-we all wanted to get to know the partners of our close friends. Sue, Nancy, Phil, and Carol all passed muster with flying colors-they were all as loveable as could be. Carl was already known, and most of them had known Tina as they had met her with Tim over the past two years.
Franklin sort of called the meeting to order. "Look, it's simple. The eight of us are bosom buddies. We call ourselves the Gang. And we're talking seriously about planning our lives in such a way that we can live near each other. The bottom line is: we're extending an invitation to you six to join us as part of the Gang. Three of you are our partners, and this isn't new to you. Tina, the idea can't be new to you. Carl and Carol, I'm not sure whether this is a new idea to you, but I am sure that you're welcome."
Tom said, "We want to be clear. None of us has made any kind of a commitment as to where we're going to live. We have just said that we would like living together if it can be worked out. So we aren't asking you for any kind of a commitment. We just want you to feel included in what we think is the most exclusive group in the world, and the nicest as well."
Tim said, "One more thing. Again with no commitments, but with considerable enthusiasm. We just decided in the last hour that sex is part of who this group is. Nothing defined. Nothing settled. No commitment. Just an understanding that sex is part of who we are."
Tina spoke first, "I've always felt part of the Gang. But it's really special to be invited like this. Yes, I'd love to be thought of as a Gang member."
Phil said, "I'll second that."
Carl said, "I've always felt cheated that I was a year older and wasn't part of the original camper group. But you have always made me feel welcome. Thank you."
Tim said, "Carl, you're a special brother. I really love you. And Carol, too."
"I'm in too," said Carol.
Sue said, "Hal's a truly special boy. As I have gotten to know him, and heard his story, I realize that you guys're the reason that he's so special. I not only want to say, 'Yes' but also 'Thank you' for giving me Hal. I love you all, and I really hope I get to know you really well, really soon."
Nancy said, "Tom talks of you all, but I have never known what to make of you. I heard about Charlie helping Tom. And then I met Charlie in Chicago and watched him work his magic. Now I find out there're six more where he comes from. Wow. Count me in. Count me lucky."
Tim said, "There aren't six more Charlie's. He's unique. But there are six more boys; each is unique; and each is wonderful."
The conversation continued as a sort of mutual admiration society until time for lunch. Mom had left plenty of sandwiches, salad, and drinks. We gathered in the kitchen, crowded around the table, and continued the conversation while we ate.
"What's up next, Tim?"
"I'm meeting with my gymnastics team. We're meeting at the home of one of the boys on the team; we want to avoid the press."
We headed there and arrived fifteen minutes before the meeting time. Soon the house was full of gymnasts, coaches, and me. They had been told the location of the meeting by telephone chain late the night before. We were determined that the press wouldn't find us until we wanted to be found. Tim's announcement to the team was the same as the day before, except that everybody knew it was coming-those that hadn't read it in the papers had been called on the telephone as the word spread like wildfire in the diving and gymnastics communities of the Twin Cities. We kissed just as the day before. Because it was anticlimactic, the cheering was a little less boisterous, but the support was just as firm. The boys gathered round and congratulated us, hugged us, a couple even got brave enough to kiss Tim, and one kissed me-on the cheek.
Coach John spoke as soon as he could get quiet. "Guys, this is a big day for Tim and Charlie, and for this team. There're going to be television cameras in the gym, and we expect them to break away for some live coverage-maybe quite a bit. Some of you may find yourselves on television-be sure to do your best. And please, the more you show support for Tim the better. I don't know how all of you really feel about homosexuality, but you do know that it engenders a lot of hate in this world. It speaks volumes for this team and this program that there's no hate in this room. I ask you to be ambassadors of love as you go out there today in front of the other gymnasts, the fans-it'll be standing room only-the press and television, and the whole community. It's our chance for the St. Paul Gymnastics Club to stand out as a beacon, not only of skill, but of kindness, acceptance, and love."
Ralph Phipps, another senior on the team and, along with Tim, the top gymnast, stood and spoke, "I think I'm speaking for the whole team. We had a day's warning that this was coming, but Tim and Charlie haven't exactly been hiding it for the last six weeks or so. The team's on board. We think its cool. We think you both are cool. And we aren't going to tolerate anybody saying otherwise. Guys?"
In unison, the team stood and shouted, "Right on. Tim and Charlie."
Tears anyone? Tim and I were literally speechless.
Coach said, "We have to go. I suggest that you simply don't answer anybody from the press on the way into the gym."
Tim said, "But after the meet, feel free to talk to the press or anyone else. We have no secrets, nothing to hide. And don't forget the big party in the gym after the meet. It'll take about a hour to set up, so cool your heels in the dressing room, or talking to the television. You're all invited. Your families. Everybody who comes with you to the meet. But please help us try to keep strangers out. The press isn't invited to the party."
Tim and I had a couple of meetings to hold before the meet. The most important was with Mom, Dad, Coach Nelson, and Dr. Olafsen. We were considering whether Tim and I should kiss again, when, and whether before the TV cameras. Mike's picture of Tim and me kissing was running in newspapers all over the country. It was clearly going to be "the picture" of "the kiss" and no picture taken today was going to displace it. But the hatemongers were out. There were pickets at the gym-though not very many people were paying any attention to them. The gym was private property-unlike a school-and the police were keeping them back on the public sidewalk. They couldn't be heard inside. But they couldn't be ignored either. Clearly some of those inside would be unfriendly.
Tim listened to all of this and said simply, "I'm going to kiss him. The rest is Bullshit. Sorry Dr. Olafsen."
Dr. Olafsen said, "I agree, the rest is Bullshit. But we can't completely ignore it. But I agree, Tim, kiss Charlie. You'll get cheers in this crowd. Go for it.
I asked, "How about when we're interviewed just before the meet on television?"
Dad said, "No. Tell them to run their cameras inside, but no private opportunities."
Tim and I both agreed. So that was settled.
The next meeting was with the home coach, Arlen Smith; Coach John; Tim and me. Mr. Smith was concerned that the meet would be overpowered by Tim's and my announcement, since everybody knew it was coming. He said, "Let's do it first. Is that OK with you guys?"
"I think that's what we always had in mind." I turned to Tim and asked, "Do you see a problem with that?"
"Then let's do it."
Coach Smith was obviously relieved, and said a heartfelt, "Thanks."
It was 2:00 o'clock. The gym was jammed. It set records for any gymnastics meet in the Twin Cities, ever, except for at the U. Three television stations were on hand, and as soon as they heard-at our interview before the meet-that the announcement would be first, they went live.
Coach Smith walked to the middle of the gym, blew his whistle for quiet, tested the mike-it worked-and said, "Welcome to the 14th Annual Minneapolis Gymnastics Invitational Meet. Your host is the Minneapolis Gymnastics Club. We're honored to have a new participant in this year's meet, the St. Paul Gymnastics Club, here by special invitation so that fans in Minneapolis could view the best of the best from St. Paul. I want to introduce Coach John Fenton, from the St. Paul Gymnastics Club, who has a special introduction to make."
Coach John took the microphone. "At the beginning of last year my life was turned upside down. I got a call from a diving coach in Minneapolis who said that he had a young man, a diver, who was looking for a good gymnastics program. Would I be willing to talk to the young man. His name was Tim."
Just the name set the audience off.
"I guess the rest is history. I don't try to take any credit for Tim's successes. He's a self-made phenomenon. And he's a wonderful kid. Having him in our program has been the best thing that ever happened to me in my coaching life. But you don't want to listen to me. You all know that Tim has an announcement to make. Here he is."
Tim couldn't resist, even though it wasn't in the game plan at all. He ran from the side of the gym, did a triple back somersault and ended up standing next to Coach John, who had a hard time not ducking as a flying human came at him. I walked out, and before I could get there, Tim had the mike and was saying, "Charlie, hurry up. I miss you." I ran the last few yards!
Tim spoke into the mike. "Folks, I know you want to see some gymnastics, and I want to get to it as well. I just want to tell you the same thing that I told the fans at Southwest High yesterday. 'My wonderful friends. I love you all. But I want you to meet Charlie. I love him best. We are life partners, and our life together starts now. Please wish us well.'" That said, he leapt into my arms again and kissed me squarely on the mouth. We weren't worried about cameras, or anything else, so we held the kiss a lot longer. All of a sudden, the crowd was chanting numbers--counting seconds. We held the kiss till they got to twenty; then I put him down. The team was gathered around us, and the others teams in the meet were crowded around as well. The gym was a single wild cheer. There simply wasn't any negative voice. We learned later that there had been a few, but they were simply ignored.
The television cameras hadn't picked up any negative expressions: neither signs, gestures, nor shouts. We never knew whether they really hadn't spotted the few hateful words and actions, or whether they had chosen to ignore them. We have always chosen to believe the latter.
Mr. Smith finally got order, and made plans for the meet to begin. It was now thirty minutes late, but nobody seemed to mind. Tim was spectacular. The St. Paul club came in second, which was very good for this meet which included only the best teams in the area. Tim was second overall, but top in floor exercises and horizontal bar. To Tim's and my delight, and certainly the coaches', Ralph Phipps came in top on the vault, a personal best for him. He was fourth overall in the meet.
I sat in the audience with Mom, Dad, Tim's parents, the Gang and others. We all just glowed with pride as Tim had one success after another. I said to Norman, "He has a long way to go before he's qualified for the Olympics. Think he'll make it?"
"Of course. But I'm prejudiced."
"So am I. But he'll make it. Tim is Tim."
"He's going to have a fall someday."
"Not with you behind him."
"Thank you, Charlie. You know, we had our doubts when Tim first told us he was in love with a man six years older than him. But you're the best thing that has ever happened to him."
"Thanks again, Dad."
"You're very welcome, Charlie."
The meet was over, prizes awarded. Tim and I would have stayed and greeted people in the gym, but the caterers had to get a party set up. So we walked outside in the twilight, and shook hands and talked during most of the hour till the party was ready to start. Tim went in and dressed quickly, and we arrived at the party just as they opened the doors for everyone. It was a bigger crowd than the previous night, because team members had known what was coming and had invited friends and family that might not otherwise have come. But it was a wonderful crowd. My brother Wayne and his wife Irma had arrived during the day and had joined us for the meet and the party. There were nice speeches and lots of hugging and kissing. But not much was said that wasn't said the night before. The evening ended with everyone singing "For They Are Jolly Good Fellows" and insuring that everyone that wasn't tone deaf would be for at least a week or so.
On the way out we were met by Susan, of the Tribune. "Tim, Charlie. Listen, if I promise to be just a friend, and not a reporter, may I come to your ceremony tomorrow?"
I said, "I take it that if you're asking that question that most of the press knows about the ceremony, and probably when and where it is."
"Of course. You can only keep so much a secret. Somebody took a stab in the dark, and started checking places that might host a wedding, but would be open to something like your ceremony. The Unitarians and a few private halls was most of the list. It didn't take long to find it scheduled at the Unitarian Church of Minneapolis. I think that I have convinced them to keep the place and time out of the news until after it's over. I warned them that whatever paper printed the story would have your enmity forever, Tim. I think it worked. But you can expect reporters. They'll bring cameras, but you can keep the cameras out. Then they'll want Mike's pictures. I suggest you get them developed immediately and decide which ones you're going to release as quickly as possible. Are you going to try to keep the press out?"
"We can't. There aren't invitations to this thing, as we had to invite people to a party Sunday afternoon, and friends made a lot of phone calls Friday evening and Saturday to let people know what and where. Kids'll bring parents, teachers, etc. We have no way of controlling who gets in. If there're hate mongers inside, Tim and I are going to try to kiss them and get Mike to get pictures."
"Wonderful," exclaimed Susan.
Tim said, "In answer to your question, Susan, I'd love to have you come as a friend. But be a reporter too. I'd rather you wrote the story than anyone. We'll find time to answer questions. And we're on for Monday, if you still want, to talk about all the planning."
"If I still want! The Tribune's still in shock that I scooped this. It's a quiet news weekend-you're lucky the Titanic didn't sink on Friday-you two are the story. And evidently that's nationally as well as locally. Several papers have run the kiss picture on the front page. You're news. Sports star who has always been a little quirky. Comes out as gay. Does it as publically as it's possible to do it. Kisses his partner, and sees to it that a wonderful picture of the kiss's instantly available to the Tribune, and through them to the AP. Add in the fact that Charlie's handsome and you're just the cutest thing that any girl, or gay boy, ever dreamed of. Of course you're news. It won't be fifteen minutes, either. More like an hour. Enjoy."
We went home and found a small crowd of protesters in front of the house, with signs informing us that we were sinners before God. Neighbors had called the police who were keeping them on the sidewalk. We simply ignored them, and went inside. Everybody else seemed to ignore them as well, and they soon left.
Dad said, "I hope that isn't a portent of things to come."
Tim and I agreed. I said, "I think Monday at school's going to be the acid test. And Dr. Olafsen thinks it'll go well."
Dad asked, "Are you going to be there, Charlie?"
"Dr. Olafsen thinks he'll have to have a press conference. He isn't sure whether he wants Tim and me there, but I have agreed to be available. I expect to spend the morning in his office, at his invitation. The afternoon if necessary. Believe it or not, Tim is skipping practice after school to meet with Susan...."
"The reporter from the Tribune?"
"How come you two are so friendly with her?"
Tim said, "She has been fair in her reporting, and has respected me and my privacy. I like her. But now we're scratching each other's back as well."
"Without my even asking she conveyed my threat to boycott any paper that disclosed the place and time of tomorrow's ceremony. She thinks we can keep it out of the papers till after the ceremony. Otherwise we could have a thousand people there."
Betsy said, "I hardly think a thousand."
I said, "This has gotten bigger than we expected. We had 2,000 in the gym today, and they say they turned down at least 500, not to mention the fact that the phone rang off the hook all day, and people were told all tickets were sold."
"When did they sell out?"
Dad said, "As of 9:00 a.m. this morning 425 tickets had been sold. About normal for this meet. They would expect to sell between 150 and 250 at the door. Most of the advanced sales are to the athletes for family and friends-they get them a little cheaper that way. The rest of the tickets went on sale at 9:00 a.m. at the gym. They were gone at 10:14 a.m. according to the woman selling tickets at the gym door. She said the line was around the block at 8:45 when she arrived. This was totally unexpected by anyone."
The doorbell rang, and Jim and Andy were let in. Dad grinned and said, "More musical beds?"
Jim and Andy had gotten over being shy about sex around parents, and were pretty sure that Dad was safe. Jim answered, "Just one bed needed, sir."
Dad laughed. "I've met my match. I hope Charlie hasn't met his."
Andy said, "Oh, he has, I assure you. But it's Tim, not Jim or me."
Betsy said, "Come in boys. Would you like Cokes, coffee, a snack?"
Tim said, "We'd all like Cokes. Let's go to the kitchen."
We did, conversation continued about another twenty minutes, when Dad said, "Bedtime. Big day tomorrow. Tim, no alarm. That's an order. Charlie, make sure he obeys it."
We headed upstairs. Jim, Andy, Tim, and I all headed for Tim's room. Jim said, "Franklin and Ronnie both told us what to expect. We hope they weren't making it up."
"What did they tell you?" asked Tim.
"That you were going to defer to us."
"That's right. But since it's you two, Charlie and I are going to have to add, 'Within reason.'"
Andy flung himself onto Tim, who fell back onto the double bed, landing underneath Andy. Jim piled on top. Jim said, "We decided not to ask, just act."
Tim giggled. "Charlie, take a lesson here. These kids're onto something."
I said, "I'm watching. Shall I help them?"
Tim was fast losing his clothes; despite his wiggling, it was clear that that was exactly his intention. Jim was lying across his chest, holding him down. Andy was on his knees between Tim's legs, clearly with evil intentions. All of a sudden Tim jammed his hand down the inside of Jim's pants, reached into his crotch, and did something that made Jim jump pretty high off the bed. Tim was instantly free of them both, off the bed, standing next to me and grinning. "As I said, 'Within reason'."
I was laughing so hard I almost missed the fact that Jim and Andy were now aiming at me instead of Tim. But I saw them coming just in time, and ducked from Andy's grab for me. Jim, however, took the opportunity to pull down my pants, and Andy turned and pulled down my Jockeys. Jim grabbed my balls and said, "Surrender?"
"Of course. You know you could have reached this point by simply asking."
"But it wouldn't have been half so much fun."
Tim, still naked, lay down on his back on the bed and asked, "OK, tell us what you want for the night. Or just take it. But you don't have to fight for it."
Andy said, "Simple. I want to go to bed with you and wake up with Charlie. Jim wants the opposite."
I said, "Since I can't walk with my pants down around my ankles, Tim's going to go to the guest room down the hall and take Andy with him. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and quietly trade with Tim. The rest of the action's up to you guys."
Tim got up, grabbed Andy by the belt, and pulled him down the hall. Jim looked at me in a wondering sort of way. I said, "I don't think you're going to need clothes tonight. Are you embarrassed to take them off?"
"Sort of," said Jim. I have dreamed of spending the night with you ever since your visit to Michigan. The reality is a little unnerving.
"In my opinion, that heightens the sexuality of the situation. Would you like me to take your clothes off? Sometimes its sexier to do it yourself."
"Can I turn out the light?"
"I'm not sure how comfortable I'm going to be, being naked with you. Not when it has total sexual overtones."
"Oh, boy, are you going to be fun," I said. With that I grabbed him, pushed him on the bed, opened his belt, unzipped his fly, and pulled down his pants and shorts. I said, "I want to look." I aimed Tim's desk lamp directly at Jim's groin area and stared. He was hard as a rock, and clearly a little embarrassed. Perhaps more than a little. "Your dick's telling me that you find this situation pretty exciting."
"Oh, God, Charlie. I do. It's just like the first time with Andy. We've never been able to duplicate the ecstacy of that first time."
"But you still enjoy sex with Andy, don't you?"
"Yes. But we both want a girl. We're both more straight than gay."
"Do you want this to stop tonight?"
"Oh, God, no. Do something to me Charlie. I don't know or care what. But do something. Now."
We both still had shirts on, both had our pants at our ankles. But it seemed that was going to be the way it went. I got on my knees between his legs, took him in my mouth, and sucked. He moaned and squirmed, and quickly gave up the ghost, coming in my mouth in strong jerks. "Kiss me, Charlie."
I did, and our tongues fought roughly, making a mess of his cum down our throats and down our fronts. Finally we both fell back, side by side on the bed. "Charlie, that was wonderful. Thank you."
"Jim, you're completely welcome. I've been as eager to discover you as you were me. You were so anxious it was totally arousing."
"Speaking of being aroused, I think you still are from the looks of little Chuckie down there."
"So do something about it."
He said, "Let's get our clothes off."
"Nope. What was good enough for you is good enough for me. Do it any way you like, but do it now."
He used his hands, bringing me much slower than I had him. He would get me all tense and ready to climax, and then he would back off, and do something different. He moved from my balls, to the head of my dick, to its shaft, to my nipples completely at random. I was determined not to beg him to bring me; I almost lost that however. But just before I cried 'Uncle' I came in great gobs all over his hands, my shirt, and some on his shirt. We both laughed, and I said, "I hope you brought a clean shirt."
"I didn't. I may be embarrassed in the morning. But I have a clean one at the hotel."
We got our clothes off, he used a washcloth to wipe cum off his shirt in the bathroom, and we fell into bed, naked in each other's arms. "Charlie, thanks. I know we talked today about the Gang having some kind of a continuing sexual relationship. I don't know about that. It sort of depends on the girl I find. And I'll find one. So will Andy. But if we never have sex again, tonight has been enough. You belong to Tim, and I don't want to compete; thanks for tonight."
"You're welcome, Jim. Thank you. And goodnight."
I had set the alarm on my side of the bed for three a.m. I turned it off quickly, before it awakened Jim. I slipped down the hall, tapped Tim on the shoulder, and sent him back to his own double bed, while I crawled in bed with Andy, who was sleeping soundly.
The next morning Andy woke up, stuck his hand over in my direction, and quickly came fully awake as he discovered me in bed with him.
"This is what you wanted, wasn't it?"
"Yes.... How... How did you change with Tim without my knowing it?"
"An alarm clock and very quietly." I cupped his genitals gently and asked, "Do you have something in mind?"
"Charlie, I have all kinds of things in mind. But what I really want is to have sex with you exactly as you would like. Please, take the lead."
I kissed him, letting my hand roam, and then my mouth. He was equally eager. I moved us toward a 69 position, took him in my mouth, and waited for him to find me. He did. We both moved slowly, inexorably toward the obvious conclusion. I swallowed while keeping his soft dick in my mouth, and we lay there quite a while, just holding each other. Finally I said, "I think that is it. You were great Andy. I hope you're that kind and gentle with Jim."
"I try to be, and Jim is with me. But you know, Charlie, we want girls. We just haven't found them. Maybe if we gave each other up, we might work harder at finding the right girls."
"And maybe you would make mistakes because you were overeager to have sex again. When the right girl comes along, you'll know, Andy. So will Jim. And if the fact that you have had sex with Jim turns her off, she isn't the one for you. She has to be able to accept you completely as you are-and that's at least partly gay. It doesn't mean that you have to continue having sex with Jim, or some other man. But it does mean that your 'little bit gay' is going to stay with you, and if you try to make that a secret, it could destroy your relationship."
"I think I knew that, Charlie. But it was helpful to have you say it so clearly. Thanks. And thanks for being here this morning. I really do love both you and Tim. You know, Tim and I didn't have sex last night. I just wanted to lay beside him. He's so loveable. So kind. So soft. And his wiggle is worth a thousand orgasms. He told me you love it as well."
"I wouldn't say it's his best feature, but it's right up there. I don't go to sleep at night without a wiggle from Tim. Usually wiggles."
"I love you, Charlie. We all do. Jim and I are going to follow you two to North Dakota, or wherever. We have talked about it, and we have completely made up our minds. You know, we both want to be high school athletic teachers and coaches. We can get jobs anywhere. We'll be there. You watch."
"I'm a little troubled that you would subordinate your life plans to Tim's and mine."
"Tim's word: Bullshit. You're going to follow Tim to the ends of the earth. Why can't the rest of the Gang? Just because you get to be his true love, he has enough to go around. And we're following two of you-we have more reasons than you do. We'll see you in North Dakota. But college's going to be in Michigan."
"Good for you. And you'll always be welcome in North Dakota-if that's where we actually end up. Welcome in every way. Understood?"
"I do, Charlie. Thanks."
It was time go get up and face the day. Breakfast was going to be with Phil, Franklin, Tina, Priscy and Jane. We all met at a restaurant not far from Tim's home. The food was good, but we were there to talk. To reminisce. To think about the future. Phil asked, "Charlie, is this a goodbye meal?"
I said, "No, Phil, this's a rite of passage. Tim and I are moving to a new stage in our relationship, and it affects everyone in this room. I thought we should make that passage together, as friends, as lovers, as partners."
I continued, "Tina, this's hardest for you. All the rest of us have moved on to a new partnership-without giving up the love that we found in the previous one. You have yet to find that new partner. That's got to be tough."
"Bullshit, Charlie, to use Tim's favorite word. I'm so happy for Tim that I can hardly contain it. If ever a kid deserved the best, it's Tim, and as far as I can tell he's got the best. You're always going to treat him well. Protect him. Love him. And he'll do the same for you. As for me, remember that I knew what I was into from the beginning. Very early he told me he was gay and that nothing permanent was going to develop between us. Well, he was wrong. Something permanent has developed between us. Charlie, you're right, this is a rite of passage. Tim's and my love isn't going to change. Just the physical arrangements of how we are together. I have to share him now. And before long he's going to have to share me with some wonderful boy, whom I will find. Maybe with your help. Who knows?"
Tim was seated between me and Tina; he leaned over to her and kissed her very gently. She wrapped her arms around him and responded considerably less gently. They were beautiful together. I almost felt guilty breaking it up. But Tim was gay, and he loved me. It wouldn't have worked with Tina, and they both knew it.
Phil said, "I have a partner to replace Charlie. Like you, Tina, I knew when I fell in love with Charlie that Tim existed. We had the most wonderful month together. Charlie, don't ever forget that month. I hope it meant as much to you as it did to me."
"It did, Phil. Believe me."
"Then you brought Franklin into my life. What more do I need to say?" He kissed first me and then Franklin.
Priscy said, "I'm not exactly sure why I'm here. Charlie and I were never in love. He knew I was a lesbian and I knew he was gay. I guess that's why we hit it off. We had a grand time together. I don't know whether I'm telling stories out of school, but everybody here seems to tell all, so here goes. When I left Des Moines to live with Jane I took Charlie's virginity with me."
"Oh, Charlie!" said Phil.
Franklin burst out laughing. Tim just grinned; it wasn't news to him. It clearly wasn't news to Jane either. She simply said, "Charlie, you don't get another chance."
"Jane, I don't want one. Priscy and I truly enjoyed each other for a short while. But she needed a real partner, and when she found you I was thrilled for her. I hated to see her leave Des Moines, but it was right for her. I consider the New Year's Eve that you just mentioned to be an important rite of passage for me."
Tina said, "Now I know why Priscy and Jane are here. And while we're telling all, just exactly one year later Tim lost his virginity to me, and I to him. What a wonderful rite of passage. It's too bad it can't be repeated, but there's only one first time. I consider it a great honor to have shared it with this kid here."
Tim and I both kissed Tina.
Franklin said, "I think that all that needs to be said at this affair has been said. You know, that first year at camp I wasn't sure what to expect. I was gay, and wasn't at all sure that being around a bunch of guys was a good idea. But my parents had encouraged me, and I went. I fell head over heels in love with my counselor, but some damn pipsqueak got to him first. But something happened that summer. It isn't ending here, but this's an important milestone along the way. I love you all."
I said, "Tim and I have a request for Phil and Tina. Will you stand with us during the commitment ceremony, and at the appropriate time kiss us goodbye? We would be truly honored."
Phil said, "If that request came from anyone but you and Tim, Charlie, I'd say you were out of your mind. Who kisses his former boyfriend, or girlfriend, on his wedding day? Answer: Charlie and Tim. Who else? I can't speak for Tina, but I would be honored as well."
"So would I," said Tina.
Tim said, "Then it's settled. We want you two to walk in just ahead of us. We'll give you all the details this afternoon."
Next up was lunch. It was at a restaurant near the Unitarian Church. It would be a pretty big crowd. Our families; the expanded Gang and their parents; the coaches and their wives; Stanley; the minister; Gene and Ruth from Rockford-I had hoped they could come, but were afraid they couldn't; we learned they were coming at the last minute; a few of Tim's close friends from school and the gymnastics club; Dr. and Mrs. Olafsen. Finally, Norman and Betsy had invited a few of their very close friends. I never bothered to count.
My two Dads played host. Norman got up and gushed about how wonderful I was, we were, the guests were. He was so happy and excited it was infectious-but it didn't carry much content. My Dad surprised me. "I'm Charlie's Dad. His mother and I have met some of you this weekend, but most of you are still strangers to us. Well, the dictionary would say you are strangers. But your kindnesses to our son, and his partner, make you much more than strangers; you're friends. We thank you for that friendship.
"We're at a little disadvantage here. Norman and Betsy met Charlie three and a half years ago. Long before that they knew Tim was gay. They knew that because they created a family in which there were no secrets. Because of that they have had the joy of watching this partnership grow over almost four years. It has been strange-all at long distance. But it grew nevertheless. And this afternoon it'll bear fruit.
"Mamie and I tried to be good parents. Norman and Betsy have very kindly said that we must have been wonderful parents-look at the result. Well, we're proud of the result. But while we were doing something right, we did some things wrong. We never established the trust level needed for Charlie to tell us he was gay. So we only learned that six weeks ago. That's also when we learned about, and met, Tim. How could anyone not love him?
"To be honest, we're still working through what it means to have a gay son, and a gay son-in-law. Charlie and Tim are being very patient with us, and loving us all the way, just as we love them. All of that is simply to say, 'Tim, Welcome to the family. We love you and we always will. And we'll proudly stand with you as you face the world, beginning this afternoon, and for the rest of all of our lives."
Tim lost it completely. He rushed to Dad and hugged him and kissed him so tightly Dad could hardly breathe. I had lost it before Tim, and I came and kissed Dad as well. Then we both kissed Mom. I think that everyone in the room knew that this was a kairos moment for my family. Everybody stood up and clapped, saying things like "Wonderful" and "Right On."
Norman saved the day by saying, "I wish I could have said that. But I knew the little squirt was gay back when he still wore short pants. In fact, I have known for so long that we had to use the word queer instead of gay."
Tim said, "I've been queer longer than I have been gay-if queer means strange."
Carl stood up, raised a Coke glass, and said, "Here's to my strange brother. And I can testify to that."
The jokes had eased a possibly maudlin moment, but not before the full impact of Dad's speech was felt, not only by Tim and me, but by everyone in the room.
I said, "Thank you all. We need to head over to the church. Many of you here have roles in the ceremony. Please, when you get to the church take seats near the rear. We're going to go over the plans as soon as everyone's there-nothing like doing the rehearsal well in advance." I continued, "A couple of weeks ago Tim said, 'This crowd won't remember things very well, so let's do the rehearsal just beforehand.'"
Tim responded, "I didn't say that, but it's probably true."
With that insult to just about everyone, the lunch ended, and we made our way to the church.
We did rehearse the movements of everyone, but Tim's and my parts had been rehearsed with the minister several times before. Three o'clock came, an hour before starting time, and we emptied the church and shut the doors. The plan was to gather outside-the weather was in the forties-until about 3:30. Then we would open the doors and invite people in.
Tim and I disappeared to change clothes. After much debate about tuxedos (absolutely not) and dark suits (yuk) we settled on two matching camel's wool sport coats and dark brown slacks. Both Dads thought it was entirely too casual, but we were adamant that that was as formal as we wanted this show to be.
Shortly after three we came out on the terrace in front of the church and greeted the guests that were beginning to arrive. We wanted everyone to feel that they were part of the ceremony, and we tried to greet and talk to them all. It soon became clear that would be impossible. The crowd was growing rapidly, as we realized that the general invitation to much of Southwest High (originally for a party and then updated over the weekend by a telephone chain to being a commitment ceremony) was being accepted wholesale. Family, friends, neighbors, teachers, gymnasts, swimmers, divers, they were all coming. The Des Moines contingent arrived-almost all of my former co-workers at the Red Cross were there, and the archery club as well-when they saw it in the paper on Saturday morning they had contacted Randy at the Red Cross and learned the Sunday plans. A total of ten cars had driven up.
Franklin and Phil, acting as heralds, called everybody to quiet, and invited them inside. Tim and I opened the church doors, stood at the middle back of the church, and greeted people as they came in and took their seats.
Several times I looked at the growing crowd in the sanctuary, and then turned and kissed Tim. It was clear that today was going to be the best day of our lives-so far. Perhaps the first of many grand events, but clearly the most meaningful.
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