A Coming Out Story



Episodes

Prologue - My First X Rated Movie

Episode 1 - Meet Your Libido

Episode 2 - I'm Not Gay!

Episode 3 - Babes

Episode 4 - Sex! Sex!

Episode 5 - You Don't Think He's Gay Do You...?

Episode 6 - That Smile

Episode 7 - Why Your Libido Can't Get You A Date

Episode 8 - "Hi...".

Episode 9 - Left Brain/Right Brain

Episode 10 - "Just Don't Look..."

Episode 11 - The Higher Brain Function

Episode 12 - Dinner Table Danger Zone

Episode 13 - How I Got My Camera Bug

Episode 14 - The Face In The Yearbook

Episode 15 - Heartworm

Episode 16 - LA...LA...LA...I CAN'T HEAR YOU...

Episode 17 What I Learned About Homosexuality (Part 1)

Episode 18 What I Learned About Homosexuality (Part 2)

Episode 19 What I Learned About Homosexuality (Part 3 - Aftermath)

Intermission - The Business of Tacos

Episode 20 - Why Do You Ask?...

Episode 21 - The Pause That Distresses

Episode 22 - The Zen of Tacos

Episode 23 - Consulting The Oracle

Episode 24 - A Conversation With God

Episode 25 - A Conversation With God - Verse 2

Episode 26 - A Conversation With God - Verse 3

Episode 27 - A Conversation With God - Verse 4

Episode 28 - A Conversation With God - Verse 5

Intermission - What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself

Episode 29 - Are You Serious?

Intermission - What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself (Continued)

Episode 30 - The Safe Spaces For Gay Nerds

Episode 31 - Say Something!

Episode 32 - Say Thank You

Episode 33 - So It Begins

Intermission - What I Learned About Homosexuality. . . And Myself (Continued)

Episode 33: And So It Begins

      Script:         Script
      Pencils:        Pencils
      Inks:           Inks
      Scan & Finish:  Scan & Finish

Trying To Bring This Thing To A Close

I've been working on this story for so long, and so much has happened since I began it, that I feel compelled now to just get on with it, and get the story to the place I had in mind when I first started drawing...that moment when, as the subtitle alludes to, I came out to myself. Because that's essentially what it's all been about. All the leading up to it has been simply to place it in the context it has to have...the 1971/72 timeframe, and how it was to be a gay teenager getting that full dose of self awareness just then, when it seemed the entire world either hated you, or was disgusted by you, or patronisingly very, very sorry for you. It was a lot to dump onto a teenage boy, but I survived it and this is about why.

So now comes the part where the object of my affections and I begin actually talking to each other, and around the elephant in the room...

NOTE: I've really made a mess of the notes on each episode here, so from now on I'm simply putting one note about the current episode on this page, followed by the introduction I wrote so long ago (it seems now). Maybe at some point I'll try digging into the Wayback Machine to try and recover what I wrote here previously. Or maybe when I've finished this thing I'll just gather it all together into a book with a new set of notes on each episode.



Introduction and notes

This began with with a one-shot slice of life comic I did about the time my high school buddies dragged me to see my first X-rated movie. That five page cartoon is now the prologue you see listed on the left. After I posted it I was really gratified to receive requests to tell "the rest of the story", but even before I'd finished it I knew I wanted to say more about that time in my life.

As good as I had it, and I admit I had it really, really good compared to many gay teens, I still had a very awkward coming-out process. In part it was my Baptist upbringing. Though I had walked away from church by age 14, the experience left me very socially awkward, and with this embedded idea that boys shouldn't be too interested in girls until they're old enough to get married. Ironically enough, I was fine with that.

But mostly it was the horrible Sex Ed class I had in 1969, which was taught by our gym teachers who seemed to want to keep us as ignorant as they could about sex and human sexuality. Those classes were full of awful grainy black and white 1950s films about the dangers of "heavy petting" and VD. All we learned was a bit of human anatomy many of us already knew, and a hodge-podge of ignorant ideas about human sexuality that mostly consisted of Don't Do That!

What we were taught about homosexuals and homosexuality was nothing more then the myths, lies and superstitions of the time...but the high octane version. We were taught that homosexuals usually killed the people they had sex with, that they mutilated the genitals of the people they had sex with, that homosexual men were mentally ill and thought they were really women, and wanted to have sex with children and sometimes animals too.

We all just listened to it raptly, like a group of kids being told ghost stories by the scoutmaster. Looking back, I realize now that if they had only laid it on a little less heavy, I might have grown up knowing I was gay, and loathing myself like a lot of other gay teens back then did. But what my gym teachers did was convince me absolutely that I couldn't possibly be homosexual, because I wasn't any of the monstrous things they taught us homosexuals were.

Problem was, I had this thing for good looking guys that kept yanking my chain the older I got. It didn't make me afraid, so much as confused and irritated and disgusted with the whole love and sex thing generally. By the time I was 17 I figured I'd just skip the whole thing, and go live on a higher plain somewhere, and be beyond the reach of all that dating and mating stuff. Ha Ha Ha.

So this new cartoon series is about that first step your gay and lesbian neighbors take in the coming out process...the time when you come out to yourself. I'm old enough now to look back on a lot of it with a sense of humor, mixed in with a bit of amazement that I came through it all mostly okay. The 1970s were a different time. There were hardly any resources for gay adults back then, let alone gay teens. You just kind of flailed around on your own, grabbing whatever bits and pieces of knowledge you could, from wherever you could dig them up. The Stonewall riots had only happened a few years previously, the only national gay paper, The Advocate, was hard to find anywhere except inside of seedy bars and grimy adult bookstores, and if you subscribed it came in a plain brown envelope. There was no Internet, no personal computers, no way of discovering the larger gay community beyond your doorstep, other then fumbling your way down to the city's one dank gay bar...not exactly the best place for a teenager to hang out.

Hopefully I can capture some of the sense of coming out back in those days for readers today, but not in a heavy handed way. The story I want to tell is mostly light-hearted, although it has it's dark moments. About a third of what you'll see as the series progresses really did happen to me...about a third is artistic license...and about a third is pure fantasy. It was a trip. I had great times, and I had terrible, awful moments that even now I really don't like to revisit. On the whole, I think I'd rather have grown up in a society that didn't give a good goddamn about sexual orientation. But I had to deal with coming of age, and coming out, during the Vietnam/Nixon/Counter Culture/LSD/Watergate/Long Hair and Bell Bottoms years. Black people were rioting for what decades of segregation was doing to them, women were fighting their way out of the 1950s womanhood straight-jacket, people were coming home from Vietnam crippled or in body bags, and hard hats were bashing long hairs in the streets. The adolescence we live is the one we're tossed into. This was mine. Mostly.



Note: New episodes are posted on a highly erratic schedule, so Just keep checking in, if it interests you. Or ask and I'll put you on a mail list so you can know when I have a new episode up.

July 2, 2007 (Episode 10)

This one was a lot of fun to do. I was giggling almost the whole time I was doing the pencils.

A sense of the broad arc of this story should start becoming evident now. This thing is going to take a while to wind through, but the trip should be fun.

This one was about that period of time when I knew I shouldn't be looking at good looking guys in quite that way, and yet I was utterly unable to stop myself from doing it...and especially so when it came to a certain someone. It was all very annoying.

And yes...he really did wear his gym shorts that tight. Back in those days a guy could wear things like that and he wasn't automatically assumed to be gay. In fact if anything, it was those of us poor thin scrawny geeky guys in our baggy gym shorts that never really looked right who were taunted with words like queer and homo. Though in all fairness you rarely heard that sort of thing at my old High School, which was a blessing.

By my senior year, which is when this story takes place, I was given the choice of opting out of gym class...which I immediately did. It saved me a lot of embarrassment, but in retrospect I wish they'd made things a little better for slight guys like me. We needed physical fitness too. The problem was they kept throwing us into team sports that our bodies simply weren't suited for... like football. And I could never for the life of me run track, though my gym teachers persisted in making me try. In my twenties and thirties I could put on a forty pound backpack and hike miles into the woods...but put me on a track and ask me to do a 100 yard dash and I'm doing good if I make it to the finish line. They needed to tailor the physical training to the body of the kid and the system was never designed to do that. Even at Woodward, we were all given a pretty much cookie cutter education (Frank Moran's art class was a happy exception). It's just that at Woodward it was done as well as possible and the teachers were actually good at what they were teaching. Most of them.

June 17, 2007 (Episode 9)

It's been almost seven months since the last episode! Argh! I am so sorry to those of you who have been patiently following this story. The problem is that when you write about your post, you have to be careful. Sometimes your past reaches out and taps you on the shoulder.

I'm writing a story here about an period in my past that is still, to this day, vital to me. I'm trying to do it with a little humor, but there is a serious side to all this that I'll get to later on. Those of you who know me from this period in my life, shouldn't take too much meaning in the specifics of it, and in particular, in who is who. I've fiddled with the identities of the people in this story, partly because I don't want to embarrass anybody. I doubt that any of my old high school friends want their current employers to know about all the stuff we did back when we were all teenagers. But more importantly, this story is mostly about something that happened to me on the inside, not so much the outside. I'm trying to tell a story about how it was back in 1971-72, that I came to understand that I am gay...and most importantly of all, how it was that I never hated myself.

I'm sure there will be some speculation eventually about who the object of my affections was. But I've disguised his identity, along with everyone else's in this story. Never mind who he was. What I'm trying to tell a story about, is who I was...then...and how I came to be who I am today.

And it's about one other thing: How hard gay teens used to have it once upon a time, how hard many of them still have it today, and how unforgivable it is to take away from a young person, one of this life's most perfect, most wonderful and magical moments...that moment when we fall in love for the first time, and discover what it's all about.

That moment should be one of the most perfectly happy moments of our lives. But for gay teens, even to this day, it is often turned into a nightmare of pain, alienation, and self loathing. It's unforgivable.

But, because it happened to me in the quirky way it did (see the Introduction above), I managed to escape most of the pain and bitterness. Which is how I can look back on this time, painful and confusing as it often was, with a lot of fondness, and a little humor. But it was a near thing. It could have turned out much, much worse for me. Given a different set of circumstances, or a first crush who turned out to be a cynical manipulative creep, I could have been completely devastated by it all. But I wasn't. I was lucky. Very, very lucky.

Mostly.

November 26, 2006 (Episode 8)

This one was a tad difficult to do. Some of the memories I'm digging up in the process of doing this aren't the best...

The next one is going to be a Lot more fun though...

August 27, 2006 (Episode 7)

This one was a lot of fun to do. Not much fun to actually live back when I was seventeen though...

July 18, 2006 (Episode 6)

Hey...a new episode and it's only been a couple of weeks! Things get a little fun-er now in the storyline...

July 2, 2006 (Episode 5)

This one was intended mainly to introduce my circle of friends and add a little to the setting. I never intended for it to take so damn long to produce...I just kept hemming and hawing about how I wanted to do this one, which is a very repetative sequence of panels, and so I did other things and let it slide for far, far too long. If I want to finish this thing before I'm 100 I need to be a tad quicker at getting these out.

This one is about a certain blind spot I had in my teen years, that drove some of my friends nuts. They kept waiting for me to grow up and "get it" and I kept wondering why they often looked at me like I was from another planet. Little did any of us really understand that I was growing up right on schedule, just on a slightly different course from theirs. Paradoxically, had I a better understanding of my own homosexuality, I might have had a better understanding of their heterosexuality, and how hormones were jerking them around too, in their way. And when a guy with a 'C' average at best said he was going to go help one of the foxiest honor roll girls in the school with her homework, I might have been able to read between the lines a tad better then I usually did.


Click Here For The Main Cartoon Page Click Here To Go To The Story So Far (blog)...




This page and all contents copyright © 2005-2016 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved.
Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com


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