- Posted February 23, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Coming Out to Me - Thus Began My Journey
August, 1979, fresh from the Air Force and trying to figure out who and what I was.
I had lived life as I was taught. I had married not once, but twice. I was a proud father. Now, I was divorced and on my own.
The night I walked into Utopia, I was in heaven and in shock. I had no idea such a place existed. I had no idea that there were so many other men like me.
I sat there nursing my drink and watching men discoing with other men on the crude dance floor at the back of the bar. I couldn't believe that men were doing this in public. I was soon up and gyrating to the music.
I left that night feeling heady, not from alcohol, but the whole scene. The fact that men actually danced openly with other men was dizzying. I knew this was a place that felt like home.
RJ was a fixture at the bar. I had no interest in him. One night as I came back from the dance floor, RJ walked over and asked me to dance.
I made it clear I wasn't looking for anything more than dancing. Half way through the dance, RJ pulled me off the floor. He asked me to marry him.
The look in his eye, the tone of his voice, told me he was serious. This was 1979. This was unheard of even in fantasies. It wasn't thought about or done. Or so I thought.
RJ said he wasn't looking for sex. He wanted someone to share his home, be there to have dinner. RJ was going to pay all the bills.
Naive, dumb and stunned, I agreed. I reaffirmed sex was not part of the deal. Plans were made quickly for us to "wed" the following Thursday.
A United Methodist pastor in Terre Haute in a holy union ceremony, "married" us. RJ placed a wedding band on my finger. We headed to Chicago for our "honeymoon".
In Chicago, I realized the arrangement would not work. I could not go through with this sham "marriage". I gave RJ back his ring. The situation with RJ, as I was soon to learn, was far from over.
I had to put my car in the shop for repairs shortly after Thanksgiving. RJ came by the store where I worked and asked how I was getting home that night. I told him I was walking. RJ offered me a ride. I said he didn't need to, but RJ insisted. Due to an accident, the only way in and out of the car was the driver's side of the two-door car. We drove to my apartment. RJ parked the car in front of the house. I waited for him to get out so I could go inside. RJ sat there.
RJ suddenly drove off. I begged him to turn around. RJ ignored me. We were headed out of the city. It was then I noticed it. RJ had a gun aimed at me. He drove down a country road to a stripper pit.
I was frantic. What could I do?
The barrel of the gun reflected the moonlight. It was then he spoke.
"If I can't have you, no one is going to have you. I can drop you right now in the pit. No one will ever find you."
With an Oscar-winning performance, I promised to do anything RJ wanted. I told him I didn't realize how deeply he cared for me. I was sure we would have a beautiful life together.
RJ bought it.
RJ took me home. I bolted for the door, key in hand, but RJ was there with the gun to my back.
Once buzzed into the bar, I asked the bartender about his Christmas present. He looked at me puzzled. He asked if I wanted to see it. I told him I did. We walked to the living quarters attached to the bar.
He knew I had helped his partner pick out the gift the day before. I told him and his partner what had occurred over the last hour. His partner said if things got too difficult to run back to where he was in the living quarters.
The bartender placed a stool behind the bar near the cash register for me. RJ was sitting on the other side. He asked me to dance. I refused. He came around the bar to pull me on the floor. I ran for the living quarters. RJ followed. The bartender's partner started talking to RJ, keeping him there as I made my way back to my stool.
When RJ was ready to leave, I informed him I was not going anywhere. RJ came behind the bar. For a second time that night, I was petrified.
I felt the cold end of a gun barrel next to my temple. He told to stay, but he would find me wherever I went. I would not know when or where...but...click. RJ pulled the trigger on an empty chamber. Three times he pulled the trigger as he threatened me. I remained calm.
RJ walked out of the bar. The door closed behind him. He was locked out unless buzzed back in. Safe, I thought, I watched as RJ raised the gun. He pointed it at his car. He squeezed the trigger for the fourth time. The bullet ripped through the windshield.
I lost it. I screamed for someone to call the police.
The police came, took my report. Another patron offered to meet me in the morning to take me to the prosecutor's office to file charges.
I was too scared and shaken to go back to my apartment. The bar owners offered a place to stay for the night. After closing, we went to the living quarters.
The bedroom window shattered. It was the bartender's partner. He was in a rage. I had no idea what was happening. He ran at the bartender, fists flying. The bartender grabbed a gun.
I ran out into the night. I walked to a truck stop to wait for dawn.
Morning came. I met the patron from the bar. I filed the charges.
I lost my job because of the incidents of that night, leaving me with no money, no home. I resolved to live the man I am and not a lie.
From the Cornfield, all I could do was put one foot in front of the other and keep walking down life’s path with my head held high living true to myself. Another 26 years would pass before I met that special someone, who has been by my side for eight years now.