At fourteen I took the train and went downtown to Center City Philadelphia. I don’t remember much of what I did that day, but I did come home with a copy of Screw Magazine, an adult newspaper published by Al Goldstein. I didn’t really know what an orgasm was yet but I had the idea that if I used my hand like I was having intercourse something would happen. It did, and I discovered the incredible thing my body did through orgasm. I also discovered that it was the pictures of the men in the paper that I was excited by and not the women.
At fourteen I didn’t have a strong opinion of my homosexuality. I knew it was something that I could not talk about but I also loved, was addicted to, having an orgasm. That first day I masturbated constantly until my cock hurt, and it was the pictures of nude men that were getting me excited.
And then I did what I’ve done ever since when I needed to understand something, I began to research it. In my father’s den, a wonderful small room with floor to ceiling bookshelves on two walls in rich deep brown wood, and the rest of the walls painted a deep red, I found some information.
For whatever reason my father had a large hardcover book titled Homosexuality that was some kind of medical or scientific book, possibly Kinsey, I don’t remember. The book was completely unreadable in the same way you might want to learn about applying a bandage and tried to read The Lancet medical journal to learn how.
The second book I found had a much more significant, but not a positive, impact on my life. It was, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) by Dr. David Reuben. The portrait of homosexuality in Ruben’s book was one of lurid sex in men’s restrooms and bars; of a painful tortured existence; and of something sick. I became determined not to have the homosexual life described by Ruben. I also remember around this same period seeing the movie, The Boys in the Band, which added to the negative view I was forming about being gay. The movie gave a tortured, painful, stereotyped portrait of homosexual life.
When I was 15 I had had my first sex with a girl and a man. The girl was someone I met in a four-week summer program near Boston. We were both 15. She was Italian, had experience with sex, and to me seemed worldlier than I was when it came to sex and drugs. The sex was quick, unprotected and not overly exciting. The one exciting part was that we had sex in her house, where we had gone for the weekend. I sneaked into her bedroom and we fumbled around in the dark until I came inside her. I later learned that her father was a mafia enforcer – a true story. We were very lucky not to be caught.
The sex with a man was very exciting. I responded to a man seeking another man in a personal ad in an alternative newspaper — I was bold at 15. We agreed to meet on a Friday evening and I told my grandmother, who was watching us while my parents were away, that I was spending the night at a friend’s. I took the train from my inter-city private school to a suburban train station, (two blocks from where my grandmother lived), and where I was picked up by the guy in his car. He was older. I suspect in his 30s, a bit overweight and not particularly attractive. We went back to his place. Seeing how nervous I was, he kept mixing screwdrivers for me to drink. I wasn’t overly attracted to him but I wanted to try sex with a guy and we proceeded to have sex. During the evening the doorbell rang and a friend of his came over and joined us. His friend was younger, in his 20s, thinner with long brown hair and a hairy chest. He was more to my liking. I remember a little of what we did that night as I proceeded to get drunker as the evening went on, and I knew that I liked it.
My brother once told me that I have first child syndrome: wanting to please my parents; following the approved path. By the time I turned 16 I was coming to feel that the life I wanted of marriage, children, and normalcy were not going to be within my reach unless I could change my homosexuality. During this time my mother suggested I take a program which she had taken called Silva Mind Control. I was very impressed by the woman who taught the course, and after one of the classes, pulled her aside and told her I was gay, and that I didn’t want to be, and asked her if she knew anyone I could see to help me change. She put me in touch with a woman who worked in her office that was in Reichean therapy (also known as Orgonomy). The woman spoke to her therapist and yes, I could change from homosexuality through this therapy. Her therapist recommended another Reichean therapist in the area and she suggested I read, Me and the Orgone, by Orson Bean, which I did immediately. To my 16-year-old mind, Reich made immediate sense and I was incredibly excited by Bean’s book. The idea of freeing up sexual energy that was dammed up in me due to all kinds of repression made perfect sense as a way to change homosexuality. The therapist I saw also confirmed that yes, I could change through Orgonomy. And so began an almost 20 year (unsuccessful) journey to try and change my homosexuality.