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September 27th, 2015

Back To Work…

Finished the pencils and photoshop scan and some line art work on another three panel strip for ACOS episode 19, and got three more panels of a four panel strip done. It’s only been what…about a year and a half now since the last episode…

Six more (about) to go. I need to do some more pencils to finish that four panel one. Hopefully I have the energy for it tomorrow after work. One problem is, and has always been lately, that I have to be in such a state of concentration all day long at work that when I come home I’m so mentally tired I just want to veg out until bedtime.

The biggest problem however…since oh, about 2008…is how a certain someone down south screws with my head whenever I tell him I’m working on this. But he’s staying in his comfort zone lately so that gives me some space…and energy…to resume work on this thing. And to continue the storyline the way I’d originally planned.

Spoiler Alert:

See…after years of searching for him, I finally found the object of my affections. So I began to re-write major parts of the storyline to deemphasize some of it that I thought he might find embarrassing after all these years. We were both pretty awkward but that’s how it is when you’re a teenager. You do things that make you squirm to recall when you’re an adult. I have an episode written about a very lame joke I told him once that makes me squirm even now to remember. The kind of thing a thoroughly twitterpated kid might do trying to impress the object of his affections and falling flat on his face. But it’s funny too and adds to the story so I’m telling it anyway. That kind of thing, but also how the relationship developed over the short time we had as classmates was something I was afraid he’d dislike. Like a lot of gay guys of my generation, he’s still in the closet.  I wasn’t sure how he’d react to my blabbing about this to the entire world.

So I began to rewrite stuff. But that threw me into a state of immobilizing confusion as to how to tell the story at all. In the end, Mark Twain was right about how if you just tell the truth you don’t have to remember so much. Nothing made any sense unless I told it like it was. It’s only been recently that I’ve come to see that telling it like it was…and is at the end of it…gives it significance and makes it worth anybody’s time to read. Looking over the whole thing now…now that I have some semblance of closure I didn’t before…there’s more to the story than awkward gay first teenage love comedy.

I can’t out him and still call myself a friend obviously.  But from the start I changed the names of everyone but myself in this story, and added random details to further disguise people, including him. Especially him since I didn’t want my other classmates bothering him, should he still be out there somewhere. (When I began this I had no idea if he was even still alive anymore.) There was a bunch of stuff going on at the time, including a lot of pot smoking, that other classmates of mine probably don’t want me babbling about to the whole world. So The Names Have Been Changed To Protect The Innocent…and the not so innocent. And faces too.  And I’ve said at the beginning that the story I was telling is one-third what actually happened, one-third artistic license (such as time compression, event combining, for plot coherence), and one-third fantasy (my libido didn’t actually materialize as a naked but for a fig leaf me). There isn’t much in there that’s immediately recognizable to anyone else who was there but me. And him. 

Rewriting major parts of this story just to please him was a mistake. Ironically enough the kind of mistake I kept making back when I was getting all twitterpated over him. You look back and you see everything you did wrong. So it goes. The interesting thing is when two people get back together after so long, they pick right back up making the same mistakes. I still turn back into an awkward teenager every time I see him. And he is still the beautiful person within he was. He’s still a tease, still a busy bee, still the sharp mind and good heart. Still afraid. A lot of guys back then turned my head, but only one won my heart. But his life went the way a lot of gay kids lives went and I have to be careful. For some of us it will always be a time before Stonewall. And that’s why I need to tell the essential part of it like it happened, or the story loses its heart and its meaning. Heterosexuals get their first love, and the whole dating thing and the prom and that wonderful discovery of love and desire and finding the one who hung the moon and the stars for you. Gay kids get being told we’re sick and God hates us and our families hate us and our classmates hate us and the world hates us, and we’re lucky if we make it out of adolescence without so much damage we can barely function. Some of us spend years in therapy trying to get over it. Some of us further punish ourselves for years more in various ex-gay ministries, trying desperately to become something we’re not so we don’t have to hate ourselves and maybe everyone else will stop hating us too. Some of us to this day still don’t make it out alive.

It’s said that Samuel Goldwyn of MGM fame once said that movies are for entertainment and messages should be delivered by Western Union. To which I reply if you don’t have anything to say you should shut up. Picasso said art is a lie than makes us see the truth. For all the humor I’m putting into this story, I have a deadly serious message I want to send: Please Stop Putting A Knife Into Gay Kid’s Hearts!  Our hopes and dreams are not your stepping stones to heaven. 

There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. Jacob Bronowski said art doesn’t set out to preach, but to shine a light. I am shining a light, and having a little fun along the way. I can look back on a lot of it now with a sense of humor. I want people to enjoy the story, get a few laughs out of it, maybe even see themselves and their own awkward teenage moments in it and remember it all fondly. But when it’s all over I hope people think about what happened to these two basically good kids and why did it have to be so difficult and why couldn’t it have ended better for them.

The ending…well…how it ends is what it is. When I began it I actually had no idea how it was going to end. I just needed to get it out of me, and hopefully make some sense of it all after all these years. As I progressed I began to recognize in it a story that needs to be told about how it was to be a gay kids back then, and still is in a lot of places. All in all I can see now that the ending it finally gets is the one that makes the most sense, given everything that happened to us back in 1971-72.  But I am years away from finishing this.

If I can just get this one three part What I Learned About Homosexuality story arc out of the way then I can get back to more lighthearted fun stuff. The serious stuff comes later, after we grew up, like it usually does.

 

[Edited a tad for clarity…]

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