For A Brief Moment

At fourteen years old I discovered my attraction to men. My friend Josh and I had taken the train down to Philadelphia on a Saturday afternoon planning to wander around the city. There was a section back then on Sampson Street that was being touted as the next Greenwich Village and that is where we headed to.

The reality did not live up to the hype and we only found one building on Sampson Street that contained a few interesting stores, including a head shop. One of our goal was to see if we could buy some pot. I have memories of a young black man coming up to us on the street offering to sell us pot. We bought a dime bag which Josh and I split. I had never smoked pot before and this was a whole new adventure, both frightening and exhilarating.

On the way back to the train station we noticed Screw Magazine on a newsstand at 17th and Chestnut. Josh tried to buy a copy and got chased away by the newsstand owner. Josh had not gotten his growth spurt yet. He had a baby face with no beard growth and shaggy blond hair and pale skin. At six feet two inches and wearing a green army jacket and cap, I looked much older than my fourteen years. I circled back to try again and bought two copies of Screw Magazine, without question, one for each of us.

My mother picked me up at the train station and I smuggled the magazine into my house down the back of my pants. Upon arriving at home I quickly headed to my bedroom and locked the door. It was only then, as I began to turn the pages of the black and white newsprint magazine, with pictures of men and women in all kinds of sexual poses, that I realize with a dawning awareness that it was the men I was looking at.

For a short while, I really liked the fact that I was attracted to men. I thought it was cool and interesting. I began to try and learn more about what it meant to be attracted to men. In 1972 there was very little information I could easily find.

For a brief moment, before I began to learn how the world of 1972 saw homosexuality, I felt I had discovered something special and wonderful about myself. I loved the pleasure I could bring to my body by as I masturbated to photographs of men in Screw Magazine.

Then the world began to intrude, I found some books in my fathers den about sex and devoured them. They painted a dark, desperate picture of homosexuality, one that I did not identify with and that I was determined to avoid. Thus began my long, unsuccessful goal of trying to change from homosexuality.

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