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April 4th, 2021

Getting Back To Work On It

 

Finally getting to work on the next ACOS episode. This one is also just a two strip installment, so it shouldn’t take long.

This is where the story shifts gears pretty significantly. Remember the subtitle of this story is, The first person you come out to is yourself.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 3rd, 2021

Disturbed

Surfing my blog archives from a particular time in my life, I came across this one that describes it abstractly, and yet perfectly. 

October 5, 2006… I can see there how it really hit me in a very deep place that hadn’t really been disturbed in a long, long time. There are negative connotations to the word “disturbed” that some of us, usually of the artistic persuasion, recognize aren’t necessarily the case. To be disturbed is usually not a good thing, but sometimes it is an illuminating thing. Revelations happen. Not always nice ones. But it grows you inside. Once you see that, then you find yourself pursuing it from time to time. And people think you’re nuts. And you don’t really care anymore. That day, I was disturbed. And it was amazing.

by Bruce | Link | React!


The Heart Of A Coming Out Story…Not A Person, But A Time And Place

In October 2006 I put episode 6 of A Coming Out Story on my website. That would have been a month after I finally reconnected with the object of my affections in the story. I was probably working on it when that happened. It was over a year before I finished the next one. Before then I had no idea what had happened to him. I started doing the cartoon story in large part to try and process what had happened to me back in high school, and maybe make a statement about how it was to be a gay teenager in 1971. Fact is, I was beginning to believe I would never find him again, never know what happened to him.

He was a class behind mine. His family moved out of the country shortly after I graduated. It was very sudden, or so it seemed to me. I had no idea he was going. I was devastated. For decades I searched for him. I never stopped trying to find a boyfriend elsewhere, but that first love is something that strikes deep into you. I had to know what had become of him. Especially after the AIDS plague hit us. After that first viewing of the Names Project quilt on the Washington Mall, I had nightmares of walking among the panels and suddenly finding one with his name on it. Sometimes, oddly, I still have this nightmare.

So I kept looking. But after the years passed I figured that when I found him again he’d be happily settled down with a much more good looking guy…possibly some beautiful Brazilian guy and they’d be living in something like married bliss and I’d just have to accept it. He was a catch. Jaw droppingly beautiful, decent, good hearted, hard working, always a busy bee. I knew he would not have wanted for suiters. It’s what scared me about him. In the age of AIDS, he could easily  have been taken away by the virus. So many were. 

So I kept looking. When computers and modems and BBSs came about, I would occasionally toss little messages in a bottle out into the cyber void to see if he might reply…

Hello…are you out there…do you remember…

I heard nothing back. Later I learned he was on GeoCities but apparently not out in the larger net. So we never crossed paths that way.

I eventually found him again in a phone directory. He was here in this country, working at Disney World. Anxious, sweating profusely, I gave him a call. Thankfully what I got his answering machine instead of him or I might have just choked and hung up. And I heard his voice again for the first time in decades. It’s amazing how after all that time I knew instantly it was him, even before my brain processed the words on his answering machine, by the sound of his voice. It took me back decades. Suddenly I was that awkward geeky terrified teenage boy again.

I hung up on the answering machine. Then I wrote a script, practiced it several times, and called back. Thankfully I got the answering machine again and I spoke my lines and hung up. And waited. And waited. It was agonizing. On the walk home from work I noticed a call I’d missed on the iPhone and there was voice mail and OhMyGodIt’sHim!!!!  I waited until I got home to call back. He was glad to hear from me. We chatted for over an hour, catching up on this and that. It was the first of many calls in that first couple of years. I talked about my love for him back in high school and he remembered our times in the library and on the walk to his motorcycle. And he coaxed me into coming down to Disney World, a thing I’d had no interest in at all until then. I wanted to much to see him, but I wasn’t into theme parks of any sort. Come on man, it’s your heritage…baseball apple pie and Mickey Mouse…what’s wrong with you.  So I went the following spring. And we laid eyes on each other for the first time in decades, and it was like those high school days all over again. But that…that…turned out to be a two-edged sword.

For some of us, of a certain generation, it will always be a time before Stonewall. I know that a little better now.

It was October of 2006 that we reconnected. I published the episode of ACOS I’d been working on in November. It took nearly a year for me to wrest another one out of me. And it is still hard. The story doesn’t have a happy ending. But I’m still working on it. Because it needs to be told how that magical time of first love and awakening desire was stolen from so many of us, turned into a nightmare, so righteous people could make their stepping stones to heaven out of our hearts. Out of our lives.

I will never forget that first love. I tried afterward to find another. But what I was looking for, what I am always looking for, I would have probably found pretty quickly in a better world, at a church social, or a teen coffee house, or some social event organized by caring adults, where gay teens could meet and you didn’t have to worry about whether the one you were crushing on was straight and just not for you. Somewhere in some better world where I could have met a nice guy. But it was 1971, and all those nice guys were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them. They didn’t want God to hate them. They didn’t want to hate themselves more. And so it went.

I will never forget the awe and wonder and joy of that first love. And I will never forgive the ones who stole it from me…and from so many of us. You butchers. We were just kids. There was nothing wrong with us. There was never anything wrong with us. And you put knives into our hearts so you could be righteous. You monsters. I am an atheist now. It’s nothing to do with religious hatred against me and my kind. It was simply that belief just stopped making sense to me. But if there is a God Almighty, I would rather stand there at Judgement Day a proud homosexual, with every time I ever took another man into my arms laid out before me, than have to account for what you people did to so many innocent and pure hearts. You Monsters!

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 26th, 2021

Is Anything After All…Real…?

I’m insomnia scrolling on Facebook early this morning, and a set of photographs pops into view. It’s my old high school being torn down completely…the one A Coming Out Story takes place in…


Photos by Christopher Cherry

I thought they were going to do an extensive remodeling, not a complete teardown and rebuild. That’s what the plans looked like to me anyway.

It really feels like looking at the end of life, but it’s worse than I imagined it would be, because it’s not enough that I die someday…it’s that everything I ever loved has to die too.  Not just Woodward…nearly nothing of the old neighborhood exists anymore. Just try to follow some of the old roads and paths now.

Maybe I will sell the house after all and go live in a trailer somewhere in the desert. Did I have that life? Was any of it real? Am I real?

This stabs worse than I could have imagined. I’d rather have seen an empty lot than those pictures. That senior year I had there was one of the best years of my life, difficult though it was in some ways. I had a really difficult time in just about every other grade school I attended, but I felt embraced by the people and the culture at Woodward in a way I’ve never felt anywhere else since. It set me on a path forward in life I wouldn’t have bothered walking otherwise, because there wouldn’t have been anything inside of me to make me believe I could do anything with my life.

So it goes…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Is Anything After All…Real…?

March 18th, 2021

Wearing The Ball And Chain Of The 50s’ Into The Post Stonewall Time

This came across my news stream from NBC…

They lived a ‘double life’ for decades. Now, these gay elders are telling their stories.

In a new exhibit, LGBTQ elders share what it was like to spend most of their lives in the closet.

My life seems to me at times to straddle the bridge between the awful pre-Stonewall years and post Stonewall gay lib. I came of age in a time when living a whole and honest life seemed possible. But it was hard. So many chances for love snatched away, because someone needed my hopes and dreams to make their stepping stones to heaven.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Wearing The Ball And Chain Of The 50s’ Into The Post Stonewall Time

March 6th, 2021

The Stab That Bleeds

I post on my Facebook page about plans for a nice celebratory dinner today…someplace good…cost no object. Except of course it’s still a time of plague so it needs to be carry-out, not fabulous seated dining. A friend (who should know my history better than this by now) asks what is to special about March 6th. Oh goodness…here, let me tell you the whole sordid tale…and why I will never put anyone up on a pedestal, ever again…like teenage me did to a certain someone, once upon a time…

March 6, 2016. Walt Disney World.

I was becoming aware that if I told a certain someone I was coming down, when I got there he’d be all standoffish and wouldn’t come over and talk like he used to. But if I just showed up he was all happy to see me and became a chatterbox and we’d talk for long enough after closing time I might have to be walked out of the park by cast members lest the Langoliers get me. But by then our conversations via email were no longer just between us.

This trip I’d made noises about coming down, but I wasn’t sure I could get away from work. It would depend on the schedule at work, which seemed to be in a perpetual state of flux. So he starts sending me all these shots of him and others in the family Nachbarschaft having a Perfectly Wonderful Time at a ski resort somewhere and I shouldn’t bother coming down if I wanted to see him. By this time I was becoming skilled in detecting his bullshit. Losing the rose colored glasses helped. It disturbed me to see so much of it. But that is what a life spent burying your innermost self does, and why I swore I would never do that to myself.

The Mitt Romney smile he was wearing in those photos was very disturbing.

On a previous trip I’d asked him if we could just hang out together somewhere after his shift. Maybe some favorite restaurant or other place, just somewhere we could talk about…things…and maybe get a few things between us out in the open. I was still very disturbed by the long conversation we’d had years previously. He looked at me seriously and said that he’d made his allegiances, and he had to stay in his comfort zone.

Okay…fine…but I needed a Disney vacation and I like Biergarten because it’s one of the few places a single traveler like me can sit at a table and chat with the other guests. It’s expected. Oktoberfest eight to a table seating and all that. And you have a lot of ready icebreakers to start a conversation with. Hi…where are you folks from? This your first time in Disney World? He told me once that he would watch me and I was great at getting a table to open up and start talking with each other. So when the schedule at work opened up like I figured it would, I ducked down to Disney World.

He got really standoffish…actually more like angry when he saw me. And I reckon it was written all over my face that I knew he’d be there and not skiing somewhere. But this time he did something he hadn’t ever done before. There was a new German kid waiting tables…Disney brings them over to the various World Showcase spots for a year or two from the host countries and Disney gets work out of them and they get a visit to the USA. So he introduces me to the kid, Nico, (yes that was his name). Nico told me about his plans to do a big USA road trip and oh my goodness I was full of all sorts of suggestions, as well as photos of places I’d been on my various road trips. We talked for hours.

He was cute, and smart, and full of energy. He was really looking forward to his road trip and I felt him as a kindred road runner spirit. We talked. And Talked. And talked. Between his needing to take care of his customers. He’d go off to one of this tables, take impeccable care of his guests, and then come back and we’d talk some more. And as we did, I saw that certain someone getting more and more pissed off.

What the fuck are you getting jealous over…you’re the one who foisted me off on this kid…yeah I like him…he’s a nice guy…so what… Finally it was closing time and I wondered where a certain someone had gone, because he Never left without at least saying goodbye. Nico went to find him for me, came back saying he’d just walked out and it was so very much unlike him.

The next day I blogged about it. I’d asked him once straight up once if he ever read my blog or looked at my cartoons and he insisted he did not. So I figured he’d see what I wrote on the blog that day. He did. I checked my server logs.

Later I had a reservation at the Hollywood Brown Derby. I liked having one nice dinner on my last day in the parks. But before I checked into Hollywood Studios I went to his restaurant just to say goodbye like I always did on my last day in the parks. Usually it was a pleasant exchange of goodbyes, even if he’d been standoffish before. But that day you have never seen such an icy cold German stare. But he wasn’t rude, that isn’t the German way. It was all very formal. Kinda like how a Baptist might say I’ll pray for you, in that tone of voice that says burn in hell.

Okay. Fine. Then I went to The Brown Derby and for some reason I felt like ordering the best they had, which right then was the Kobe beef steak. You order something like that and when the waiter asks you how you want it, you just say “whatever the chef recommends” because that’s what you’re going to get anyway. Under no circumstances do you ask for well done.

On my facebook page that morning I wrote:

Few things in life make pampering yourself more sensible than hostility from your high school crush. So…I’m Going To The Brown Derby! To hang out with the other stars and have drinks and five star food and stuff…

It was magnificent. Halfway into it I got an email from a certain someone telling me I was creeping him out and never to contact him again “in any way shape or form.” And, “My peace and quiet begins Now!” Well whoever is disturbing your peace and quiet Deutscher it isn’t me because I live a thousand miles away and all I ever do is email you from time to time. But our emails stopped being private sometime in 2011, just after that disturbing conversation. And the three months you took off work for…some health related thing. No it was not torn rotator cuff surgery. Nobody fully recovers from torn rotator cuff surgery and is slugging plates full of liter mugs of beer around in three months. But it’s about the amount of time someone will typically spend in…well…

So I blasted back, again on the blog which he never reads anyway, and every March 6th since I’ve treated myself to the best dinner I can find anywhere, price no object. Some kind of meat. Beef some years, pork one. This year I’ll do the baby back ribs at Corner Stable…carry out because plague. But it has to be meat. The best steak, or the best ribs, or something like that absolutely stunning pork steak entrée I had a few years ago at Rocket To Venus here in Hampden.

Corpse food as the vegetarians call it. Yes. Quite.

Never love yourself less than you love somebody else.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Stab That Bleeds

February 25th, 2021

In Seven Words Describe How Your Life Is A Complete Not Worth Living Failure…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt occasionally posts these little challenges on Facebook for his readers. Every now and then one of them hits me pretty hard…

He was beautiful, but it was 1971.

Kinda hard to realize that even back when you were a teenager falling in love for the first time it was already over and done.
But I had to keep learning it over and over…and over…and over…

Strike one…strike two…strike three…strike one redux… You’re just not getting the message are you kid…your kind isn’t allowed to love…

 

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on In Seven Words Describe How Your Life Is A Complete Not Worth Living Failure…

January 21st, 2021

Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

I’m sure most of the population has other, more pleasant hobbies and blissfully tuned out for 4 years, but some of us couldn’t do that. I’m not overstating things and saying I WAS PERSONALLY IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH DONALD TRUMP, but I think anyone who has had *that person* in their lives knows of the constant low level stress of wondering when they are going to wander into the room and just blow everything up with their latest nonsense. -Atrios, writing in his blog today

It’s odd because his tweet is about Trump, but this business about the constant low level stress of wondering when they’re going to wander into the room and blow everything up instantly reminded me of actually living that, and perhaps it’s knocked some sense into me that’s been long overdue. Something like fifty years overdue as a matter of fact. My entire childhood and a good part of my adolescence, and most of mom’s life I suspect, were spent in an abusive relationship with her mother (who I have often referred to here as my Bitter Baptist Grandmother) and I never really looked at it that way until just now.

It’s always been just…yeah that was her…she was like that. Now I’m thinking that lots of people see their abuser that way…not as an abuser specifically, but as just being like that. Someone who is always cranky and bad tempered. Someone who just seems to always be miserable, and wants everyone else to be miserable to. Someone you are always tip-toeing around, trying not to set them off, trying not to attract their attention. Because…that’s just how they are. Not abusers, just difficult people. And you avoid their gaze because you know what you’ll see in those eyes. People who are always making you tense up. People who make you feel small whenever they’re around. 

Yeah. Abusers. I’m sixty-seven years old and she still haunts my bad dreams.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Maybe I’m Finally Understanding This

December 12th, 2020

Once Upon A Time…

I remember skies
Reflected in your eyes
I wonder where you are
I wonder if you think about me
Once upon a time
In your wildest dreams…

I played this Moody Blues song lots after it was released in 1986. I’d moved on from that first tragically magical gay teen high school crush by then, and was busy impaling myself on the second big crush of my life. But I was also beginning to learn by then that you never really forget that first one either. When Morgan Jon Fox asked me if I was willing to chip in some funding for a short he was making The One You Never Forget it was as much because of my own feelings for that time in my life as that Morgan is an amazing filmmaker that I did it. But unlike the boy in Morgan’s film, I never got to ask that first one to the prom, let alone take him. It was 1971. Even in a better world where gay teens could do that I’m not sure I’d have been the one he said yes to. He was a catch. I’d have had competition. And I was just this scrawny little geek from the other side of the tracks.

I had no idea where he was…I imagined that he’d gone back to the South American land of his birth and was having a wonderful love life of his own down there. I knew I’d just have to live with it, but at the same time, whenever the chance arose, I would make inquires, throw little messages in a bottle out to the emerging computer networked world. Are you out there? Do you remember?

This one, and Ringo Starr’s Photograph really hit me with how it felt that he just suddenly vanished from my world, and I had no idea where he went, or what he thought about the times we managed to spend together, once upon a time. So of course they made it to the While Working On A Coming Out Story playlist I’m building. When I have something I’m satisfied with I’ll share it here. Like one of those embarrassing cassette mix tapes us kids used to give to our crushes back in the day.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Once Upon A Time…

December 7th, 2020

Walk Over And Say Something To Him…

A Coming Out Story, episode 31 in progress on the drawing board. When the drawing you’re working on makes you relive old anxieties…

 

…and I got that look 40+ years later too. So it goes…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Walk Over And Say Something To Him…

December 6th, 2020

The Lover Is A Monotheist…

The lover is a monotheist who knows that other people worship different gods but cannot himself imagine that there could be other gods. -Theodor Reik

I’m working diligently on the next two episodes of A Coming Out Story, and I’ve taken to listening to the Spotify playlist that Beth David and Esteban Bravo put up as their background music while working on their animated film about a schoolboy’s first crush, In A Heartbeat. It’s surprisingly appropriate, but at some point I might make my own playlist for A Coming Out Story. (It should probably be all 60s/early 70s songs)

Those days are long gone, and yet so much of the adult I eventually became was because of that period in my life. I survived admitting to myself that I am a homosexual, possibly the most awful thing you could be back in 1971, apart maybe from being a communist or a hippy, because I was was in love, completely and utterly twitterpated. When the realization finally broke through it was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I swear it really was like something out of a Walt Disney movie…the birds sang a little more sweetly, the stars shone a little more brightly, I walked with a lighter step…everything was beautiful. It saved my life. I never doubted afterward that there was nothing wrong with me, or with any of us. But it did not end well. It often doesn’t for teenage lovers, and gay kids especially back then, and even now, have their own excruciating battle to fight for their hearts and their dreams. But if you never had that thrilling first love experience in your teen years, I am sorry for you.

Supposedly Kurt Vonnegut once told his daughter that you are allowed to fall deeply in love three times in your life. I think about that quote often when I look back. I’ve had my three strikes. But the quote above expresses how it was for me perfectly. It was always like that for me. Always.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Lover Is A Monotheist…

December 5th, 2020

Safe Spaces For Teenage Gay Nerds

A Coming Out Story, Episode 30 is live…

There’s a panel that should be in there at the beginning, after “The breathless glances” and before “The constant denial” that would have been captioned “The Flirting”, (more likely “The gay teen nerd in denial flirting…but that wouldn’t fit…) but I cut that one out because it didn’t fit the layout…and I can get to that part of the story soon enough.

So I can move along more quickly here (Hahahahaha…yes…I know…) I’m breaking the episodes up into smaller chunks. So expect to see more two or three strip episodes instead of the huge 10 strip plus ones I’ve put up here previously.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Safe Spaces For Teenage Gay Nerds

December 4th, 2020

A Coming Out Story, Episode 30…Real Soon Now…

Final strip for ACOS 30 almost finished. I hope to put the new episode up tonight and make it public tomorrow morning. I’ve discovered I need to let my cartoons simmer overnight before going live.

Notice I’m using GIMP now instead of Photoshop. After Adobe bricked the Windows copy I spent 850 dollars for I vowed to get myself off Adobe products. They claimed I’d somehow bought a “bulk” license that had expired even before I registered it. They’d let me use it for two years after the alleged expiration date. Then one supposes, since their new rental software business model wasn’t such a big hit, the tweaked their license algorithm and remote turned off my copy when it failed the new check.

I called their support number to ask what was going on and that I’d spent serious money for that copy, and their service droid told me to be more concerned about all the money Adobe was loosing to Piracy. But I’d bought a legitimate license. They even let me register this so called expired license that cost me 850 bucks and use it for two years.

The wonderful thing about commercial software is there are so many different directions they can point their fingers to blame for customer abuse. Adobe of course can blame the vendor I bought the license from that they claimed was already expired when they let me register and use it for two years. But of course, after two years the vendor isn’t much likely to refund my money. And more than likely they’ll claim it was a perfectly legitimate license and it’s Adobe that’s fucking with me, not them. And the fact is, buried inside nearly everyone’s licensing terms, is a clause allowing the vendor to change the terms of the license out from under you whenever they feel like it.

Think about that, those of you who think you have a permanent license for an Adobe product. 

So I’ve switched to GIMP, which has turned out to be a nearly perfect replacement for Photoshop. And it’s open source. But there is one small problem.

GIMP has a well known problem with tablet input devices, like my Wacom. It seems there is a bug in GTK2 that they’ve been dallying with fixing for 5+ years (It’s Open Source!), and the only machine that GIMP works properly on with my Wacom is the MacBook Pro you see here. So for the duration, that has become my art room computer.

Allegedly GIMP 3 fixes all that (real soon now!). There is a development release, GIMP 2.99.2, that allegedly has the tablet fix in it. But what you get, apart from a development release they tell you up front might crash on you at any moment, is a tarball that you have to compile.

I don’t have an up to date Linux system (it’s on my todo list) so I’ll just stick with the MacBook Pro for now. I’m actually really happy with GIMP. It does some things I need better than Photoshop, and its quirks are easily adapted to. I have a reference document I’ve been working on that steps me through a How To in GIMP things I did all the time in Photoshop, like ingesting line art onto a transparent layer. (It’s in Google Docs if there are any GIMP users here who want to look at it…message me) Moving and sizing objects on a layer is very odd in GIMP if you’re used to the way Photoshop does it, but once you understand it the process is very straightforward. Likewise copying line art from one image to another. But I can do everything in GIMP that I once did in Photoshop…at least regarding my cartoons…so I’m happy.

At some point I need to work on moving my photography workflow away from Lightroom. They say there are lots of good alternatives, some of which work way better at things like noise reduction and shadow detail.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story, Episode 30…Real Soon Now…

November 27th, 2020

Coming Soon…

I’m finally getting ready for the next three episodes of A Coming Out Story (plus intermissions…). Here’s a peek at the next episode…

I’m going to be busy at my paying job all weekend long, but this episode, and the next two, are only three strips each so it should go quickly. The intermissions, which are the story of my reading The Truth About Homosexuality by Dr. Pompous J. Fraudquack are single strips interleaved with the rest of my storyline, leading up to the moment I come out to myself. I know…it’s crazy but hopefully easier to follow once it’s all done.

Stay tuned…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Coming Soon…


The Minefield Of You

This came to me via Facebook Memories this morning…

Facebook memories are a good antidote for gaslighting. So are diaries. And blogs like this one.

I was spending Thanksgiving week at Walt Disney World that day, and had visited my high school crush at his place of work in one of the restaurants there where he works as a waiter. I used to hang out after closing time and we’d have chats lasting so long at times I would have to be escorted out of the park (Cheerfully and politely because it was Disney World after all…) to my hotel, lest the Langoliers find me. The fact was that after the last fireworks of the night not everything closed on the hour. The rides and restaurants would close of course, but the stores remained open until very late because departing guests might want to buy just one more thing, and Disney leaves no money on the table.

This would have been two years after we reconnected, and I was already beginning to see how his affections ran warm, hot, and cold and it was hard to predict what I was going to encounter on any particular visit. The fact was it was a minefield from the start, and I just got used to periodically being allowed to wander through this lovely pastoral landscape, that would occasionally explode under my feet.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Minefield Of You

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.