Part 1 of Wedding in Vegas

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After having recently come out to my besty and her soon to be new husband, I was invited to her wedding. But Shawna and I can never do anything normal, so she had a destination wedding…In Vegas. I know what you might be thinking but I assure you this was a fully planned wedding and no one was pregnant.

Shawna was so excited to have me there for her wedding day and I was so excited to get to go out with the bridesmaids and go see Thunder from Down Under instead of being stuck looking at girls all night. It was exhilarating to be free and be able to look forward to the new experience.

I arrived at my hotel and was already exhausted from my early flight and being in a large crowded area. As soon as I get checked into my hotel I made a b-line for the hotel store to get some liquor. I was newly 21 at the time and had no clue what I liked to drink so I copied what all my friends were doing. Jager. Yes, I bought and drank straight Jager because I didn’t NEED a chaser so it was one less thing to have to buy. Since then Jager and I don’t really hang out much these days, at all actually.

I paid my 20 bucks (I don’t want to talk about the price..) and took my newly purchased treasure up to my room to wait for Shawna and her soon-to-be husband to show up. I got a little bored and wasn’t sure what to do with myself so I started drinking. I was approximately 4 shots in when the bride and groom called me telling me they made it to their hotel and they were heading my way to pick me up to go explore Freemont street.

Walking into Freemont Street was a bit overwhelming for a small town Montana boy. There are street performers everywhere, bands, stages, and an L.E.D. animated canopy overhead. My senses were pulled in all different directions, especially when they had strippers at every turn and I was trying my best to remain Bi. I somehow managed to talk them both into going in a strip club (didn’t have to do too much convincing).

It was apparent that we were not the normal customers as soon as we walked in. We ordered a few overpriced drinks (requirement) and awkwardly sat there next to the stage but not at the tipping bar. Even though I knew I was gay it was still enthralling to be around naked bodies, I can appreciate a nice body on anyone.

It was very clear to everyone in the bar that I was the third wheel with this couple, so I attracted a lot of attention from friendly strippers looking for some extra tips. We were approached by a tall bronzed stripper, who through my drunken haze, sort of looked like Halle Berry. She started talking to us and I do what I commonly do in situations when I travel. I lied and gave a fake story.

See this all originated at my dad’s all year high school reunion in his small town he grew up in. His wife and I felt very awkward not knowing anyone there so while my dad was dragged in all different directions seeing old friends she and I made up our Alias, Nick and Claudia. After that, it just became the norm to make up the most outrageous story I could think of but still make it semi believable.

She asked the normal sort of questions you’d expect; what brings you to Vegas? How long you here for? Where you from? What do you do there? Throughout each question, it always went Shawna, Garret, than me. I was just as excited as everyone else to hear what would come out of my mouth because my guess was as good as anyone else’s there.

When she asked what we did, I blurted out I was a doctor and she didn’t believe me, I then toned it down a bit and said, “Ok well, not yet…I’m in med school now starting my residency in August” She then looks at my friends and then me and was SHOCKED. Shawna and Garret were used to my drunken shenanigans by now so they rolled right along with it.

“SHOOT! You a doctor? Now I’ve seen everything!” I told her I graduated high school when I was 16 and started college early and that’s how I was going into my residency being so young. Oddly enough once people get comfortable with me, they tell all their secrets. Turns out Halle Berry look-a-like was married and some other personal details about her life.

I won’t lie I was pretty impressed with myself for coming up with that lie on the spot and being able to roll with it. If you knew me at all, you know I can’t lie for shit.

After she walks away she obviously started telling the other strippers I was a soon-to-be doctor because we became pretty popular with multiple strippers walking by talking to us and offering to go get drinks for us (On our dime of course). This busty beautiful blonde who was “bi” Zak’s type came up and started talking to us. It was clear she was there for me. She slid into the booth next to me, positioned her body language towards me. Whenever she spoke she leaned in to talk to me and laughed at all my jokes and placed a hand on my arm. She had all the basic psychology down of how to flirt with a guy. After about 10 minutes she smiles at me, holds out her hand and mouths, “follow me” to which I drunkenly obey.

She leads me over to a more secluded area of the horseshoe-shaped bar on the other side. We sit there talking more, she’s funny and being attractive sure didn’t hurt anything. I tried to excuse myself because I had no intentions of tipping or getting a dance or any other services that Vegas strippers might offer.

She grabs my hand as I go to stand up and pulls me in towards her and whispers, “Let me dance for you,” I can feel her hot breath tickle my ear as her lips ever so lightly brush against my ear. I certainly didn’t want to be rude and say, “Eww gross you have a vagina,” So I smiled and thanked her but told her I didn’t think so. She persisted and said, “Come on, It’s 90 for 2 songs and you can touch me anywhere.” I almost laugh out loud. I was thinking, “Honey, I’m from Montana, we have nickel strippers there, alright? I am not paying you 90 dollars for 2 songs when I can get a 20 dollar lap dance at Teasers.”

I smile and tell her it sounds like a deal but that I was starting my residency and that I had student loans so I couldn’t afford that.

“Well then let’s just do one song then it’ll be cheaper” she renegotiates.

I hesitate because I really wasn’t feeling up to forking out money for a lap dance from a woman. I’d rather tip to have a dick shook in my face but I didn’t want to be rude after she just wasted a good 30 or more minutes talking to me. So I agree and she interlaces her fingers in mine and leads me towards the back of the bar.

We walk through some red velvet curtains to the VIP room. On the other side is a huge security guard who looked bored sitting there with his arms crossed and a deadpan face. He looks me up and down as the blonde leads me past him. She shoots him a glare like you don’t have to worry about this one, he looks away uninterested. He was probably wondering how much longer until his shift was over.

She leads me towards a secluded part of the VIP room and turns around, hair whipping around with her like Britney Spears. She gives me just hard enough of a shove in the chest that I take a step back and fall back into a chair. A nice effect I must say. Facing me she throws one 5 inch stiletto over my lap so she’s straddling me. She removes her top and starts gyrating her hips on my groin.

I, of course, was completely beside myself not knowing how to act with a stripper. My mother always taught me respect, so I was a little lost and awkward (and continuing to remind myself she’s someone’s daughter…thanks, mom!). I was even sitting on my hands to refrain from upsetting her by touching her or something.

She was not gonna let that happen, so she grabs my hands and puts them on her waist as she gyrates pulling them up her slender body. She forcefully throws my hands off and gets up and spins around sticking her ass out in a dainty white thong. She thrusts her ass into my groin again grabbing my hands and brings them around to the front of her as she slides them from her waist down the inner part of her thighs, being ever careful to just tease.

The song ends and she gracefully falls into my lap and positions herself in my lap so her backs leaning into my left shoulder but she can still make eye contact as she leans forward and breathily whispers in my ear, “How was that?” I don’t exactly know how to answer, I mentally check my dick and it’s still flaccid so obviously not that good. I lie and use my best acting and say, “Incredible thank you, what do I owe you” wanting to pay her as quickly as possible and get back to my friends.

It was like the girl I spent the last 30 minutes with, enjoying each other’s company went from being interested in me to that of a cold calculating business woman. I know it’s a shocker, a stripper not actually liking the guy?

“Alright well the dance was 40 plus tax and tip, let’s just call it an even 60.”

Being drunk, slightly embarrassed, and remembering there is a huge monster of a bouncer behind me I give her the 60 dollars saying thanks and walk away flustered that I was just hustled by a female stripper like an average trick when I wasn’t even into women. I return to the table with my friends and confess to them I got hustled for a lap dance I didn’t even want because I just like attention, regardless of who it comes from.

After they finally got themselves under control from laughing at me, we all left to get food and giant margaritas. Being newly 21 I, of course, got the 64 oz free refills one for the 45-minute walk back to my hotel. We finished one at dinner and go the refill for the walk home.

I don’t remember much from the walk back I remember falling after jumping off a stair and velvet curtains hanging from the ceilings covering the walls (like a movie theater) of a hotel and I remember drunkenly rubbing my face on them after we stopped in the hotel to use their bathroom. Apparently, after we got back to my hotel we ran into Garret’s boss in the casino and I decided he was my spirit animal and that I could keep up drinking with him (I could not).

If you want to find out what happens when I try to keep up with the Boss drinking the next day like my Facebook page and subscribe to my blog to find out next week the best night in Vegas (and the worst hangover).

Part 2 of My Coming Out.

Read Part One Here.
Age 21, May 2011: I waited an entire month before I was able to tell my besty, Shawna, or anyone else after my initial coming out. I kept trying to hang out with her, one-on-one, without her soon-to-be husband Garret there. It’s not that I had any issues with Garret, but I was still trying to figure this all out. The last thing I wanted to do was to drag an unsuspecting straight Christian guy into my mix of emotions and confusion until everything was somewhat figured out.
 
After a failed Applebees attempt with her I said, “Shawna, I need to see you.. alone. When are you available?” she shoots a text back, “I’m free tomorrow, Silverstar at 8? Whats up?” My stomach is in my throat again like the previous times I tried to tell here. “Perfect” I reply.
 
The following day was terrible. I couldn’t focus, Shawna kept probing for what the super-secret meeting was about. I was having such terrible nerves about the whole thing that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go through it. For a brief second I contemplated killing myself so I didn’t have to go through all this and tell everyone, it felt overwhelming. Especially if I wouldn’t be able to maintain my claimed bisexuality and marry a woman. I pushed that idea from my head. I didn’t have time for that.
 
How do you tell the person you’ve known for 4 years, who has defended you about not being gay to others, that you are in fact actually gay? Was she going to be pissed about it? Would she say “I’ve stuck up for you all these years and you couldn’t even bother to tell me, OH BY THE WAY I LIKE DUDES!?” Or would she simply storm out of the restaurant so upset that she wouldnt even talk to me or look me in the face? I think that’s why it was so hard to decide to come out to people. I felt like they wouldn’t be mad that I was gay but that I had to lied to them for so long about being gay.
 
I didn’t know for sure, but I knew that out of ANYONE in the world that would accept me for me, it was probably Shawna. She was sorta my back-up if my parents freaked (read: dad freaked). I never had any questions in my mind whether my mom would accept me, but my dad really could go either way. That and the fact that I was still kind of financially helped by him, which made it especially difficult to choose to come out. It wasn’t that he gave me money or supported me, but I didn’t have to pay rent living with him and he was paying my doctor bills and medications.
 
Shawna and I have a tradition that we stole from How I Met Your Mother. In the famous words of Barney Stinson, “SUIT UP!” So with that, we both donned our nicest clothes and met at one of the nicest restaurants in town. Normally, we B-line for the bar but because I was early and this was a more serious matter, I opted for the quieter side of the restaurant. I figured the dining side would be slow and quiet and I’d have my space to tell her without prying ears listening in.
 
Much to my dismay, it seems Silverstar didn’t give two fucks about whether I wanted to come out privately or not. I was correct in that the dining side was not busy, but my guess is they only had one server working that side. Instead of giving diners their personal space to eat their 50 dollar steaks in peace. They corralled us in this tiny little area of 5 tables hunkered together separated by short dividing wall with frosted smoke glass.  Not exactly how I wanted to come out. 
 
Shawna meets me at the table and we immediately start talking. She wants to know what’s up but I of course wasn’t comfortable with the people around me so I had to lie to stall. I prolong the conversation as long as I can until the other diners wrap up their meals and finally leave. Now that we’re almost done with our meal I see my opportunity.
 
“Shawna, I have something to tell you, it’s not a big deal. I need you to know it doesn’t change who I am. I’m still the same me.”
“Ok..”
“I’m Bi”
She clears her throat, “So this weekend I was thinking..”
 
Really? I tell you my biggest secret and you pretend like I didn’t say anything? I was expecting more of a reaction.”
 
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?” as she throws her hands down on the table clattering the fork against the plate, “I’M TRYING TO ACT LIKE IT’S NO BIG DEAL WHEN I’M SO FREAKEN EXCITED! DO YOU REALIZE WHAT THIS MEANS? THIS TAKES OUR FRIENDSHIP TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL!! NOW WE CAN TALK ABOUT CUTE BOYS TOGETHER AND YOU’LL TOTALLY GET WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT WHEN I SAY A GUY IN A MOVIE IS HOT! LIKE MY BESTY IS BI NOW!”
 
I’m so relieved by her response, it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, it was intoxicating. She asks me if I had told my parents yet or anyone else. I hadn’t and didn’t know how I was going to tell them, or if I was going to tell them before moving to New Zealand. I even debated sending them an email when I’m halfway across the world and can’t do anything or will have time to cool off before I get home. I tell her no, and ask that she keep this to herself and wait to share it with Garret until I can figure things out. She agrees and we finish our meal and I feel a little bit freer than I was when I first walked in.
 
I continued to come out to female co-workers and friends over the next two months; leaving my male friends to be the last to know before I left for New Zealand.
 
Finally in July, after having taken an Ambien waiting for it to kick in I start watching more of the “It Gets Better” videos. As I’m watching them I catch myself getting emotional because as the campaign progressed the videos became sadder but there was always a ray of hope at the end.  
At some point during the videos I impulsively decide it’s time to tell my dad. Right now. No thinking it through, no thinking about the outcome. I stand up and my legs are a little wobbly from the Ambien that’s slowly seeping into my brain. I grab my bong to go upstairs to tell my dad. When I get to the top of the stairs my dad is in the kitchen doing dishes. I sit at the counter staring at him. “Yes?” he asks glancing at me before going back to the dishes.
 
“Dad I need to tell you something. Okay? I…This doesn’t change who I am, I’m still the same me, I still like the same things. I just…I need you to keep that in mind ok?” I’m already getting choked up trying to control my uneven voice as it cracked but remained somewhat composed.
He’s concerned at this point and has stopped loading the dish washer and turned his full attention to me.
 
“Ok” he says staring at me waiting for what I’m about to tell him.
 
“Dad, I think I’m….No, I am…or what I’m trying to say is that….I’m… bi… or I mean that I like guys too.”
 
His face doesn’t change expression much and he goes back to loading the dish washer as I’m sitting there trying to hold back the tears welling up in my eyes as we sit there in silence. The silence is terrifying as I sit like a child awaiting my punishment.
 
“Jesus Zak, you scared me, I thought this was something serious like you were dying or something.” he says glancing up at me while still putting dishes in the dishwasher. 
 
“Listen,” he stops and looks at me and says, “You are my son. I don’t care if you’re bi, gay, straight, lesbian, pink or purple. I love you and I will always love you. Do you understand? I have loved you since the day I held you in my arms at the hospital and nothing you say or do is ever going to change the way I feel about you. Is this what I wanted for you? No. Is this how I’d hoped your life would go? No. It’s going to be hard, but I understand that a person is born the way they are, you can’t change it any more than you can change the color of your skin. And honestly, I’ve probably always known deep down since you 4 fighting with the neighborhood girl about who was going to be the pink power ranger. But I just want your happiness, whether it’s with a woman or a man. Okay?”
 
That was hardly what I expected from a self-proclaimed red neck, born and raised in the ‘sticks’ of eastern Montana. I’m completely and utterly speechless. I’m trying to catch my breath but I couldn’t stop the tears rolling down my face. I was finally free, and I couldn’t contain the relief and happiness I felt inside. I finally told the one person I was most afraid of letting down, but I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
 
I regained my composer, feeling freer with the Ambien seducing me, reducing my coordination and motor functions. I estimate I have approximately 20 to 30 more minutes before the haze fully engulfed my brain reducing me to a zombie like state. I decide to take my bong out to the garage to relax and finally be ‘free’.
 
I get out to the garage and get my bowl loaded and flick the lighter and inhale that skunky smoke. After dealing with my parents’ divorce, which, let’s just say things got messy. I feared that this would be yet another reason my mother would use to say my sister and I loved our dad more, even though he’s the one at fault.
I could just hear my mom guilting me now, “You told your dad first? After I always made sure you knew I loved you no matter what? You were more afraid to tell me than him? I thought we had a deeper connection than that…” I couldn’t put up with anymore of the slander going on between my parents. I decided that I had to tell her in the same night as him.
 
She only lives about 3 miles away from my dad so I get in my car and start it, I back out and shift into drive.  I get to my mom’s house without incident but I’m still pretty emotional. I walk in the back door and see her husband, Garry, sitting on the porch. “Hey mate! you a‘right?” (He’s British) “Hey Garry, yeah, is my mom here?”
 
“Yeah, she’s in the bedroom” he points with the two fingers holding a cigarette with smoke dancing and intertwining his fingers like a ribbon.
 
“Thanks” I say as I wobble back towards the room with tears brimming in my eyes again as the Ambien seeps deeper into my brain.
 
“Mom?”
 
*muffled* “I’m in here!” and I round the corner and see her butt sticking straight up in the air staring back at me. She’s cleaning under her bed so she’s preoccupied fiddling with whatever was under there. I try to ignore the fact that I’m not talking to her face and start out with the same speech I gave my dad, “Mom, I need to tell you something. Okay? This doesn’t change who I am, or what I like, I’m still the same me. I just…I need you to keep that in mind ok?” I’m much more confident in my delivery of the line now.
 
“Ok,” another muffled yet enthusiastic response,
 
I take a deep breath and say, “I’m bi…” and I stand there waiting.
 
“Ok,” her tone unaffected and still cheery sounding but still muffled. I’m slapped with a wave of relief and grief. I just stood there silently sobbing to myself, finally being free of the prison I put myself in back when I was 12.
After almost 10 long years I was finally free, I finally could start being who I really was.
 
She doesn’t find whatever she was rummaging for and gives up, stands up (with her back still to me) and fixes the bed skirting before turning around seeing my crumpled face and sobbing body convulsing silently.
 
“AWWWW!! Come here! NO!! I didn’t mean it like that! I just mean I’m not surprised.” As she embraces me and pulls me in holding me while I sobbed on her shoulder, “I just meant that it’s ok, I don’t care what sex you like. I’ve honestly probably knew since you were little and you and Hannah would play Princesses. I’m just not surprised is all. It’s not a big deal to me, honey, you know that. You know I love you no matter what” and all I can do is shake my head and try to get my crying under control. “Oh you poor thing, having to keep this in and too yourself this whole time. That must have been hard.” I sit there shaking my head wiping my eyes as I get myself stable again.
 
“So you like guys huh? So what’s your type? What kind of guys should I keep my eyes out for so I can tell them they should meet my son?”
 
I give her a smile as my eyes dry and say, “Mom…I’m not THAT comfortable with this yet. I don’t want to talk to my mother about the type of guys I like” treating it like it was a sexual kink in the bedroom rather than a viable options to live out my life.
 
She looks at me and says, “What? Everyone has a type, I know you don’t like every guy out there, just like you don’t like every girl, so I want to know what kind of guys I should be looking out for?” and she kind of nudges me with her shoulder in a playful ‘everything-is-ok-now’ type way.
 
Not everyone was supporting of me coming out, but the few that weren’t were far and few between. The months leading up to my coming out I started pressing the people around me on their beliefs. The people that said they thought being gay was a choice were cut from my life. While those who said they believed someone was born that way were brought closer into my circle.
 
Others have shared their coming out stories with me and it’s so sad to hear how the people in their lives reacted. I have been extremely lucky with my life. My parents were supportive, loving, and accepting from the start. I cannot imagine what I would have done if they disowned me or if my dad would have overreacted calling me names or physically assualting me.
 
I urge you to proceed with caution when it comes to coming out. If you’re a teenager and there is even a slight possibility your parents will disown you, overreact, or try to send you to conversation camp I urge you to wait until you’re 18 so you can at least rent your own apartment and get a job and away from the toxic situation.  The world is changing everyday and people are much more accepting now then they were even 20 years ago.  But even so I’ve heard of parents dropping their kids off at youth homeless centers, but after the age of 18 many of these kids are kicked out onto the streets.  LGBT youth are also more likely to engage in survival sex where they trade sex for places to stay, food, drugs, or anything else to survive. 
 
If you enjoyed reading about my coming out subscribe to my blog and like my Facebook page to find out what happens when I go to Vegas for Shawna’s Wedding. 

Part 1 of My Coming out

Age 21 – March 2011: The final straw of my sexuality was when I was working at the ‘Big Foot Hunt’ event in a tiny town in Montana about 45 minutes from my hometown. I was helping out my besty with the event because I enjoyed being there without having to participate.  But I refused to go with a bunch of straight country boys to help set up the bonfire and hunt area and sit in a cold plastic beer bottle in the middle of the wilderness, while it’s getting dark, in 10-degree weather like the previous year.  So she had no other choice but to put me on the front counter because, no one would be scared, respect, or listen to me as security.

At the halfway point of the event, the front counter became the prize counter and there were prizes for different colored balloons. In order to keep people from taking pieces of the more expensive prize balloons, you had to redeem the knots of the balloon for it to count. No knot, no prize. The ‘hunt’ was over and most of the people who participated had stumbled back and redeemed their prizes and we only had a few women’s spaghetti strap tank tops left over.

Cue these completely wasted guys stumbling in well after the hunt ended and they brought their pathetic little shred of a balloon (not even the right part of the balloon) up to me and drunkenly ask, “What do we get for this!” I felt bad for them and also a little mischievous and bored so I flipped on my server personality and look them dead in the eyes and say, “Really guys? This isn’t even the right part of the balloon, I need the knot, this is just a piece of latex, you would get nothing for this, but here’s the deal, I only have two prizes left and you both can have them, but you have to wear them right now for the rest of the night.” And then like the Devil himself I let my devious crooked smile shine through. They, being drunk, were not about to back down from 1. A challenge or 2. A free prize. So they said DEAL!

I walk over to the women’s shirts and grabs each by a singular strap and walk back over to the guys who were already stripping off their shirts.  I stand in front of them lackadaisically holding out the two shirts and they snatch the too small women’s shirts from me and put them on and immediately start strutting around like proud peacocks.

This, of course, prompted people to flock around these guys and to circle them and make them the center of attention, which as you can see, they clearly loved. Other guys started coming up also wanting a women’s spaghetti strap to wear and we fumbled to locate any more shirts for this improvised show.

We ended up finding two additional ones (Or other prize winners donated their shirts to the cause) and we got the bartender in one for the rest of the night and an additional guy I can only assume was their friend.

As we’re wrapping up the last of the event details getting ready to leave; my besty, our busty friend Mary, and I were all sitting together counting our tills and talking about the events that happened that night. When one of the guys (I won’t say which one) came back into the bar room with nothing but a pair of jeans and snow boots (Keep in mind it’s literally 10 degrees outside). He’s grinning ear to ear like an idiot and walks right up to the table directly in front of me and says to me, “Look what you started, now all I have on is my pants and boots, I lost the shirt somewhere…” as he trailed off and started looking around the room to see who was within earshot.

I immediately assume since I’m sitting with two attractive women that he’s attempting to pick-up our busty friend as they both looked to be the same age. Plus she’s blonde and flirty, and guys don’t talk to ME unless they want to know the girls I’m with. So I casually try to help him out, you know, bro to bro style….or whatever.

“Well you should have kept the shirt on than, right Mary?” and glanced at her holding her drink in her hand sipping and chewing on the straw seductively and flirty, “Hahaha, yeah you guys were pretty funny earlier.” He looks at her for a second and kind of gives her a nod and smirk and then turns his whole body back to me. “Heh heh, yeah….so man this big foot hunt was awesome! I’ve had a blast and met some awesome new people (Gesturing to us) Got an awesome prize (gesturing to me) I’ve had a lot of fun at my first hunt. Do you do this every year?”

I’m literally dumbstruck as to why this guy is still talking to me and not Mary or Shawna but I maintain my server personality and try to pawn him off on her again, “Well this event been going on for like 20 years, this is my second year, but this is Mary’s first, right Mary? Are you doing it again?” and she giggles and flips her hair, “Yeah! I had a lot of fun! But probably not, hahaha, I’ll probably be a patron next year.”

He looks at her for a second without much acknowledgment and then turns back to me, “So can I ask you something?” My heart sank, every gay guy and the questionable straight guy knows this question all too well.  Especially when you’re still in the closet. Knowing the question that’s coming I give a hard eye roll and let out an audible sigh and say, “K?” serving my best resting bitch face.

“Sooo…. Are.. Youu.. Gay?” he finally gets out, and as I look back now in retrospect I wish I would have responded differently because approaching someone you know is gay and talking to them is difficult enough. But approaching someone you aren’t sure on has to be absolutely terrifying in a conservative state like Montana and something I don’t think I could EVER do even today.

(PS I actually could have passed as a douchie bro back then. I have the tribal tattoo and everything.)

“No I’m not, are YOU gay” I almost immediately shoot back trying to deflect the attention off of me and back to him before he ever finished his question.

“Oh,” he said, looking a little hurt “Well I wouldn’t care if you were…” he reiterates trying to recover his positive tone again.

By this point, my eyes are half open and I’m completely OVER this entire conversation and say, “Oh really? Cool, I wouldn’t care if YOU were either…” to which he chuckled and said, “Oh cool man, yeah…. no I was just wondering….I’m gonna go try and find my clothes and a coat and go smoke a cigarette haha” and he turns around and disappears into the sea of people. I later saw him before we left with a girl, still shirtless but he at least had found a Carhart vest to put on. Still smiling ear to ear.

I stare at my friends Shawna and Mary in shock and disbelief and say, “Wait….was that guy just trying to pick me up?”

“UH YEAH!” Mary sarcastically says, “I had my girls out and everything, he was NOT interested in Shawna or me”

I mockingly act appalled, like ‘How dare someone assume I’M gay’ but secretly in my head I was wishing that Shawna and Mary hadn’t been around. I would have explored that experience a little further or at the very least given the guy my number.

Later, on the drive home; Shawna, me, and Garret (her husband) were all talking about our nights. Garret heard about my experience and goes, “OHH, So YOU were the who that guy wanted.” I was more than confused by his response so asked him to explain.

“I heard him talking to his buddy in the other room as he passed by me at the door, said he was gonna go talk to who he wanted to take home…I didn’t realize that was you.”

Upon finding that out, I had to text Mary to inform her of this revelation too. She and I talked about it, reliving it one more time because it was actually quite flattering that I was attractive enough to him to prompt him from across the bar to come talk to me.

During the conversation with her something inside me finally snapped. Maybe it was the way Ann passively gave me the information and guidance I needed to hear or maybe I was sick of living a lie every single day. Whatever the cause was I was sick of Not. Being. Me. So I decided it was time.

With sweaty palms, I took control of my life and reversed the question that had plagued me for so long. Instead of saying ‘Hey can I ask you something?’ I said, “Mary, can I tell you something?..” She assured me I could tell her anything and I said, “If you and Shawna hadn’t been there, I probably would have given the guy my number.”

I felt sick, my head was spinning, and I stared at my phone in disbelief wondering, ‘Oh fuck, did I really just do that?’ She, of course, wasn’t surprised but knew what it took for me to tell her that so she acted very nonchalant about it like it wasn’t a big deal. “So do you only like boys? Or do you like girls too?” I should have realized this would be my new hated question. Just because I finally could say out loud that I liked men, didn’t mean I was ready to give up 21 long years of trying my best to make myself straight.

I, like so many gay men before me, took the precautionary way out and claimed “Both. Like I don’t think I could marry a guy, you know, just like getting my rocks off with one.” I wanted to test the water and see how people reacted to me only being “half-gay” holding on to the hope I’d still be able to marry a woman someday. This, in fact, is such a popular way for gay men to ‘test the water’ that we made up a cute little slogan for it, ‘Bi now gay later.’

(Just to be clear, this is a completely UNFAIR stigmatization of bisexual men who get unfairly lumped in as being outright gay from both the hetero’s and the LGBTQ even though they still like, are attracted to, and sleep with women.  They legitimately like both genders equally and even if they do like one gender more, who THE FUCK are YOU to tell someone what their sexuality is? Stop placing people in boxes and worry about your own damn life. Rant over.)

She accepts my answer and promises that it will stay between her and I until I can choose when and how I come out to everyone else.  After realizing I just came out to someone else first….who was basically a stranger to me…was going to PISS SHAWNA OFF….

Wonder how my besty or parents took the news of my coming out as bisexual? Subscribe and like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/zakaway to find out next week.

Figuring It Out.

Age 20: the beginning of 2011:

Chaz and I had been friends for about a year, we had met through our friend Chad because they were coworkers. One day Chaz and I were talking while he was away at college about how he was so burnt out from school and life. He wanted to run away and avoid adulthood. I agreed thinking of my upcoming public speaking class I was about to start.

Chaz and I had previously gone to Mexico the year before and we reminisced about our week abroad. I half-jokingly said “Let’s run away to Europe and backpack around” to which he said his cousin lived in London and we could maybe stay with him. That’s when we really seriously started talking about doing it. But after some research; we realized that you’re welcome to come spend your money in their country, but they didn’t want you working there.

Well– that’s not entirely true, you’re welcome to work there if you’re a degree holding work visa applicant and you have a company willing to sponsor you.  Also, the United States doesn’t give out work visas or working holiday visas (except in the same situation I just described). So there aren’t very many countries that offer them in return to US citizens. We knew realistically anywhere we went we would only be able to save enough money to get us a plane ticket over there and have a cushion until we got jobs. But we knew we needed to be able to work where ever we went if we wanted to have the experience that we dreamt up. While still being able to eat and have a place to sleep.

When we realized that Europe was not going to work for us, we did a general google search and landed on a brilliant booking site that offered a few places. We settled on New Zealand because it was the longest working holiday visa and was perfectly set up for what we wanted to do. The stories and reviews we read about it didn’t hurt either. We signed up for the program, paid our 500 dollars to the company and bought our plane tickets 9 months away for September 2011.

Fast forward a few weeks later to the first day of my public speaking class I was dreading. I was sitting in the upper corner of the room in the first row closest to the podium. I was plotting ways for me to con the teacher into giving me a C for the class but not making me present in front of the class. When she walked in my heart immediately sank. She was kind looking and older like a grandmother but she looked like she didn’t take shit (or excuses) from anyone.

“Well hey there, I’m Ann and if you haven’t figured it out yet this is Public Speaking”

A few  ‘Hi’s’ were muttered but everyone in the class seemed to be as nervous as I was about speaking in front of each other. She gave an icebreaker for the first part of the class to loosen everyone up. “Now,” she commands attention for the 2nd half of the class with an authoritarian voice, “Let me introduce myself and tell you a little bit about my background.”

I lost track of how long she talked because I was completely enamored by her speech. The part that really stuck with me was when she talked about her youth. I felt an immediate connection with her when she spoke of her teen years and the terrible acne that left horrible scarring in her adult years.  It crippled her with fear and anxiety of having to talk to anyone, let alone get up in front of a class full of people.  She talked about getting derma peels, chemical peels, and sandblasting and everything else she could to reduce the scarring but eventually, she embraced it.

This was reminiscent of my teenage years with acne and self-conscientiousness of my ears and nose. I had it all planned that I was going to get a nose job and my ears pinned back. Then I heard the price, pain, and recovery time and decided I’m gonna learn to love those features on me instead.  That and a poor decision at 25 we’ll talk about later.

She told us she decided that she was done being afraid. Why should she have to remain quiet for fear of drawing attention to herself? Why should she care what some stranger she would probably never see again thought of her? She said life’s too short to be someone you’re not. Stop trying to be everything to everyone, because someone still won’t like you.  Just be yourself, everyone else is already taken.  Upon hearing all this I thought ‘Fuck– looks like I’m not going to be able to convince her to give me a C without presenting.’

Ann never allowed us to be quiet in class.  In fact, we were encouraged to talk before class. We had to present 5 speeches we wrote and because of Ann and becoming more comfortable with who I was with this group of people brought me out of my shell a little. The picture above is from one of my last speeches in which I gave a step by step on how to bake brownies, as Betty Crocker.

Side note–The part that makes this more comical is Betty Crocker was a fictitious woman created as a marketing campaign for Gold Medal Flour. The ad department was flooded with 1000’s of letters with baking questions from housewives and the department manager, Samuel Gale, didn’t feel comfortable signing his name as he felt woman would much rather hear from another woman. Thus Betty Crocker was born. So I thought dressing up as clearly a man with a wig on would be very SNL like and comical…If only there was a video..

At some point in the class, I mention that I’m moving to New Zealand in September. The class, of course, thought it was pretty awesome but Ann really seemed to take an interest in the subject.  She approached me after the final class with a proposition. “Say, my partner and I both got new laptops but we don’t know how to work them. We need help getting things transferred over like pictures, files and setting up printers. You look like you are tech savvy, would you be able to help him and me and maybe teach us a few new things? We’ll pay you so you have some extra spending cash for New Zealand.”

How could I say no?

Now, lots of friends and family have asked me how to let someone know (that they think are gay but won’t come out) that it’s ok if they are.  Every time the only thing I can think of is how Ann did it for me, whether she meant to or not.  Here’s why, the SECOND anyone even hinted at thinking I was gay or telling me it’s ok if I was, I immediately shut down and quit listening to them.  So all those “Zak it’s ok if you’re gay” went unheard because I was seething at how the FUCK dare someone assume or think anything about my sexuality. Who the FUCK are THEY?

The worst part of it was that EVERYONE seemed to be obsessed with my sexuality. Friends in high school, people I just met, friends parents, customers at the restaurants I worked, it was very off-putting and hard, I wasn’t even into my own sexuality that much. It felt like everywhere I went I had to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, to make people I didn’t care about to like me. My own sister even asked my best friends, Chad and Chaz, behind my back if I was gay. As far as everyone was told, I was straight and many friends defended me. To which I was grateful for those types of friends.

Here’s what Ann did: She knew, or at least subconsciously knew, that I was gay but not “out” (To myself or anyone else). So instead of awkwardly asking me whether I was gay or not and then stumbling and backtracking going on to tell me “It’s ok if you are, my so-and-so is gay” like everyone else in the past had done. She ignored my sexuality and focused on someone she knew for a fact was gay.

“Gosh,” she says, “you would just love my nephew, he is just the most wonderful guy in the whole world! His Mom and dad and I are so proud of him blah blah, he’s so successful blah blah, he’s active in human rights campaigns blah blah, his partner and he are so happy blah blah, he lives in San Francisco but works in New York.” Basically talking her nephew up telling me how successful he was and getting me interested in knowing more about him and his type of work as I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then she stops and says, “But when he first came out {…}” obviously inferring that he was gay. She never once implied that she thought I was gay or that this was one of those its-ok-to-be-gay talks. Instead, she talked about some of the struggles he faced when he first came out. Parents not being thrilled about it, friends, etc. This was the time when the ad campaign came out “It Gets Better” so I had heard a lot of these type stories already so was only half listening.

What I HADN’T heard or seen in this campaign is anyone passionately speaking up and against the mistreatment of their family. I forget exactly what the premise was or what the conversation had turned to but it was about someone who made a comment or tried to disown him or put him down and her response to the person left the impression of, “How DARE you! He’s just like everyone else, he puts his pants on the same way, he goes to work like everyone else, pays his taxes, and he loves just like you! YOU….YOU DO NOT get to sit there and judge him and tell him HE’s the abomination and going to hell, I’m Catholic and I’m here to tell YOU God DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES!! You are not God, you weren’t there when he created the heavens and the earth, and you don’t know what Jesus said! You won’t ever talk about him this way in MY presences again.” which reminded me of those great friends that always stuck up for me.

It was at that exact moment I had an “Oh shit” realization. My body was tingling like it fell asleep. My arms and legs and head felt fuzzy the moment her words and sentiment struck a chord with me. It was at this moment I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep my secret for much longer.

Something’s happen for a reason, you meet the right person at the right time. Ann definitely came into my life with a purpose, a message. Had it been anyone else, or had she tried to talk to me the same way everyone else had, I might not be where I am today.  It’s funny when you can look back on your life and make the connections of where things happened for a reason.

Each day I played with the idea of finally telling someone. But I didn’t trust anyone enough to not gossip about it behind my back and let me decide when and how each person would find out. Subscribe and like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/zakawry  to find out what happened at the Bigfoot Hunt that made me finally come out and who the first person to find out was.

*names have been changed*

Addiction

 

We meet thousands of people in life and when you meet someone new it never fails that they say, “So tell me about yourself,” and you awkwardly say a few recent things about yourself and ask them in return. I usually hate this question because I say something like how old I am, that I lived in New Zealand for a year or how I moved across the country for school. It doesn’t tell you anything about me, but it leaves people stuck on whatever I decided to share.

Which made me realize a lot of people know bits and pieces about my past and some know good chunks. Yet, I don’t think anyone knows the whole story or struggle of my life. From my ‘straight’ phase to coming out to moving to a different country to moving across the country. Addiction, lust, love, sex, travel, and lots of booze; I’m sure I seem young and relatively speaking, I am. But at only 27 I have experienced more than many people twice my age. So without further ado, here’s my first chapter of my life story.

Age 19 2009: I knew I was gay and I had known since I was 12. That was when I first fantasized about a rumor of one of a male classmate dry humping another at his birthday sleepover. I had spent the next 8 years trying hard to lie to myself and the world by saying I was straight. I wanted to be straight so badly that I prayed and begged God to make me “normal”. I even tried to condition myself with edging (being on the verge of an orgasm) and then watching straight porn while I climaxed.

I “dated” a few girls, but of course, it never felt right and never lasted longer than a month. I stayed busy with work and school and getting stoned in the evening with my two best friends, Chad and Chaz (names changed). I told myself and others I didn’t have the time or want a relationship right now. Even though all I’ve ever wanted was my partner in crime. I had decided early on that if I couldn’t be straight, then I deserved to die alone in shame without ever divulging my innermost secret. I was bound and determined to take my secret to the grave even if that meant killing myself to do so, and as a result, I developed a lot of unhealthy coping skills to be able to deal with the shame and embarrassment.

I wanted everyone to think I was the perfect. I wanted all my friends and future girlfriends and their parents to think I was the perfect person for them. I wanted my parents to keep believing I was the smart non-fuckup they raised. And I wanted to make sure my grandma’s still thought I was the perfect grandson but to be perfect meant to not be gay.

I was completely obsessed with trying to make my life look perfect from the outside in, even if that meant dying inside. To distract myself from intrusive thoughts I would meticulously clean things like my car or room. I’d arrange, organize, and measure everything on my coffee table to be perfectly parallel, centered, and spaced.

When I had nothing to do or clean pills, booze, and weed became a few of my favorite things. I used them to numb the pain of wanting to be dead; but see that was the thing, I thought I was suicidal and wanted to die, but what I actually wanted was to pause life for a second and disassociate myself from my life, my friends, my family, and my problems. To forget who I was, essentially.

I have been on and off medication since I was 13 years old for depression, bipolar, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, and the list goes on. During this time I was prescribed Ambien for my insomnia. Ambien is a pretty scary drug because it causes amnesia in people who don’t go straight to bed on it. People will drive cars, eat large quantities of food, and even engage in sex and have no recollection of this whatsoever. For me, taking a pill gave me the feeling of having downed 10 vodka shots so I felt loose, goofy, bubbly, and uncoordinated.

In my senior year of high school, I started smoking cannabis on the weekends after with my best friend at the time. After we graduated she left for college and instead of quitting, I just found more friends that smoked. It was always casual, social, and fun but as I learned the effects and how it interacted with Ambien, my body became more tolerant and it quickly turned into an every night thing for me.

I had to take one of them if not all of them in order to go to bed. Sometimes I would skip the Ambien and save them for my friends, but as my need to disassociate myself grew, my desire to share with friends dwindled. We still all would hang out but I’d lie and say I was going to bed early or excuse myself from the social gathering so I could pop an Ambien and smoke a bowl to pass out. I knew I couldn’t continue this lifestyle because my liver or kidneys would eventually fail from all the harsh chemicals and mixing them with alcohol.

I started to notice a dependency on Ambien around the end of 2008. Alcoholism and addiction ran in my family. I had seen how these substances had affected their lives and one morning after feeling groggy and hungover from the prior night of my Ambien cocktail, I looked in the mirror and saw the path my life was heading and told myself I would not get a prescription refill of Ambien again. I did anyways.

Yes, I was eventually successful in my attempt to give up my nightly chemical cocktail to put me to sleep but I wasn’t successful on my first attempt. It literally took YEARS. I kept failing, I kept making promises to myself, I kept making rules to limit my intake of alcohol or Ambien, I’d say this is the last time, but I kept fucking up.

I can specifically remember one night in particular where I didn’t want to smoke and I didn’t want to take an Ambien but after I got home from work it was like I was on autopilot and along for the ride.

I remember picking my prescription bottle up and thinking, “What am I doing? I don’t even want this, why am I taking this, I know I shouldn’t, why am I taking this? Just put it down, why am I taking this? Just stop!” and then tossed my head back and swallowed the pill dry. I then went I get my bong out of my closet and got it all prepared and went out to the garage to smoke.

I remember packing the bowl saying the same thing I did about the Ambien, “What the fuck is wrong with you? I don’t even want this, why am I doing this? Do I have a problem? What if I’m addicted? Why am I still doing this? I need to stop. I know I need to, yet I’m still packing this fucking bowl…” after I flick the lighter and inhale the earthy skunky smoke my mind instantly slows down from its worrying and anxiety and my body physically relaxes and as I exhale I think, “Ohhh, yeah…..this is whyyyy”

Please don’t think that it’s easy to just quit cold turkey or that all you have to do is have a strong will. Addiction affects over 23 million Americans and less than 10% seek help. I’m hesitant to even refer to this time in my life as an addiction because in comparison to other people who actually have substance problems I never suffered withdrawals and mine never affected my job, school performance, family or goals. I was self-aware enough to see what was happening and I was lucky enough that I was able to eventually get myself under control by myself. But that’s not the norm, that’s not most people and it took me years to finally get my drinking under control. I was extremely lucky not everyone is as lucky as me. If you or someone you know is suffering, seek help, talk to someone, please don’t sit there suffering alone in pain.

If you enjoyed this story please like it or if you know someone who might like it or benefit from it feel free to share it with them. Subscribe to the blog and like my Facebook page Zak Awry to find out why I chose to move to New Zealand and who inspired my decision to come out next week.

Dear Masc4masc Guys

Dear Masc4masc guys on Grindr,

 

I find it really cute that you think you’re masculine because, in all honesty, you’re probably less masculine than my sister. You just walk around saying, Dude and Bro, a lot and you think that because you watch sports, go to the gym, and drink beer you are somehow less gay than me.

Guess what, “bro,” you take a dick up the ass or stick yours up one just like every other gay man and your internalized shame and homophobia of yourself is really getting old.  Is there some definition or action that makes you more masculine? I ask because I have done long distance backpacking trips, went hunting regularly for 6 years and bagged and tagged my own deer and antelopes gutting them out bare handed, then drug it back to hunting camp skinned it, and then butchered it when I got home. I’ve built shit with my own hands using power tools and building materials, I mow the grass, I enjoy lake days and boating, change my own oil and work on my car, and go to the gym too.

But let me make it clear that I’m not “Masc” just because I do or have done those things. The difference between you and me is that in addition to those “masculine” things I also enjoy “feminine” things like yoga, cooking, baking, ballet and operas, theater, cocktails, and dressing in drag. That doesn’t change who I am or make me any less of a man than you.  It’s taken me a long time to finally be comfortable with myself and to like what I like and not care what other think and not waste my time with things I do not like.

So “Masc” bros stop placing me and every other gay in a box because I don’t have a three-day scruff beard going on and I don’t even lift…bro…I don’t want to be a muscular meathead, I want to be a toned, intelligent, free thinking, healthy individual and I guess I should probably thank you for putting something so unintelligent as masc4masc on your profile because then I know not to even waste my time trying to talk to you because you are just as closed minded as right wing Republicans. 

So masc4masc bro, good luck finding someone like you. I’m glad you all will all be pairing up and getting the hell out of the way so I can find someone more interesting and who’s not as narrow-minded as you because honestly you’re not that interesting to talk to and the exact reason why I don’t like straight guys.  I need someone that has something going intellectually because, looks fade, and I want to do marriage right unlike our straight counterparts and so many gay relationships. I want to be married once and that means falling in love with someone’s soul and personality, not looks or how they act. Have fun being alone at 45 because you have no personality and your masc boyfriend cheated on you with someone else. 

 

Not So Sincerely,

 

Someone who does “Masc” things and “Fem” things.