Week 28- Brian Weeks

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Brian Weeks, Week 28

Hi Fellow Geekz – I know this one is late this week; I did it on purpose. I wanted to post this week’s submission on October 11th – National Coming Out Day. 🙂

“Are You Trying To Tell Me Something?”

When I was younger, I kept a journal. I didn’t write in it as often as I would have liked – there was always one more show to watch, one more party to go to, one more test to study for. (OK, so I made up that last one, but you get the general idea.) Reading some of these journals again, I’ve found that more often than not what I didn’t write was more important than what ended up on the page. Such was not the case in this entry.

Sunday, 19 March 1995

9:39 pm

So much can happen in 24 hours. One day ago, I was talking to Jenn. 24 hours ago exactly. We were talking about a dream I had where [a classmate] told the senior class that was gay. Jenn stopped me. She said, “Are you trying to tell me something?”I said, “I don’t think so.” And that’s where it all started.

Sixteen years ago, I came out of the closet. I was just 17 years old, a senior in high school, with just three months left until Graduation Day. I didn’t throw the door open and jump out that night, but I did manage to crack open the door and peer out into the dark. Growing up in rural New Hampshire wasn’t the most welcome and accepting environment – to this day, I don’t know what I would have done without the love and support of my friends. I was able to feel safe and comfortable in that safe, insulated group of girls.

For as long as I can remember, I have gravitated toward women for my closest friendships. In junior high, I became close with a group of girls for the rest of my high school years. However, sometime around the summer after junior year, we started to splinter off into smaller groups. Partially because Kelly, Jenn, and I not only went to school together, spent a majority of our free time together, as well as worked together, it was pretty much a given that we became the Fearsome Threesome. I had even planned to take out an ad in our senior yearbook for the two of them, but I just didn’t have the cash, based upon my pert-time McDonald’s and full-time partying schedule.

TO MY BEST FRIENDS (AND WORST ENEMIES) KELLY MARIE JOHNSON AND JENNIFER ANNE STROBEL: I love you two like sisters. You have been there for me when no one else has, you have listened to me whine when n one else would, and you have been my friends when everyone else has dissed me. Through girlfriends and boyfriends (or lack thereof on both parts) infatuation, revenge, homework, notes passed, many jobs, and everything in between, we have put up with each other… Stay in touch and remember me always. Good luck in all your future endeavors. You have been the best friends a guy could have. I love you.   – R. Brian Weeks, October 1994

It was at Jenn’s house that we had not even a month prior spent the evening getting ready for the Winter Carnival Ball. We were all going alone, together. We ruined several of Mom Strobel’s white towels dyeing my hair black. Around the same time, we broke out the Johnsons’ good china for a dinner party we threw for ourselves. Spaghetti, homemade sauce, and garlic bread and a Christian Slater movie marathon, courtesy of the video store.

March 18, 1995 was a Saturday night that began like any other. I was home watching Nick at Nite and suppressing the urge to murder my little sister. Jenn and I both had the night off from McDonald’s, and she was in the Weirs, babysitting. It was after 9pm, so with the kids in bed, we had plenty of time to ourselves to talk on the phone. I vividly remember lying on my bed, the white phone cord wrapped around the room, under the chair, over my nightstand and around my left foot several times. It was unseasonably warm, so I was lying down with my head at the foot of the bed, in front of the open third-story window.

I no longer remember what we were talking about besides that dream. I’m sure that taken in the context of our then-current social life, it was wildly important, but today my memory starts with that question. “Are you trying to tell me something?” My forehead wrinkled, as it does when I’m thinking. “I don’t think so,” I said, hesitantly. Then, all of a sudden it hit me.Yes. You are.

“Lynn’s home. I’ll be over as soon as I can. Don’t go anywhere!” She hung up. Where the hell was I going to go at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night with no driver’s license? The wait for Jenn to arrive felt like an eternity. I finally heard loud R&B coming up the road, and saw the cherry red Nissan Sentra she had just bought come to a stop in front of my house. I silently thanked my mother for moving her bedroom to the back of the house so she could no longer hear Jenn (and me) coming and going at all hours of the day and night like we normally did.

I AM GAY. That looks weird when you write it. I AM GAY. We talked and until 3am when we went to Concord… We talked in the car, and Jenn finally dropped me off at 6:15am. I got up at 1pm and went to work… I called Kelly [when I got home] and told her I’m gay. I’m really afraid of this new world in front of me. Wish me luck.

Jenn and I were famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for our “Jenn and Brian Conversations” that would last for hours, long after the last Diet Coke was emptied, the last Marlboro Light was ground out in the overflowing ashtray, and long after the end credits of the umpteenth Melrose Place rerun had ended. That night was no different.

In the coming days, I would begin to tell other firneds in my inner circle. I can still feel that nervous excitement… Finally, one of my life questions was answered. If nothing else, I knew on which side my bread was buttered, in a manner of speaking.

Monday, 20 March 1995

8:26pm

A new season, a new state of mind. The first day of school since I came out wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I am 500% happier now. I feel that a great weight is on the process of being lifted from my chest. Kelly told me she’s never seen me so happy. But, who can I trust with this? Anyway, as long as I’m happy, fuck everybody else.

Looking back, Jenn would have been the obvious choice for me to come out to first anyway, if I had any premeditated thought about it. Her mother was the innkeeper at a gay-owned and –operated establishment in town, I always wanted the chance to work there. I don’t believe I ever asked her about it, because I felt that even if she had hooked me up with an interview, it would seem likea form of nepotism if she helped me get a job. All that being said, I was still pretty nervous when we sat down for dinner that night about a week later at the Red Blazer in Concord. It was just the three of us; Jenn, her mother, and myself. I had been working up the courage to tell her my big secret, and I blurted it out in between getting my Sprite and ordering my entrée.

“I know, honey. Are you sure you wouldn’t like a big steak?”

“No. I don’t like steak. The chicken will be fine. What do you mean, you know? I didn’t even know until last week!”

Seems I was the last to know. Mom Strobel had gaydar before that even had a name. We would have many conversations about this in the coming months. I would give her a book I stole from the library about being gay for her to read – to understand more about her co-workers and other gay friends. This seemingly innocuous gift would become the center of a very unpleasant afternoon later on in the summer. I’ll save that story for later.

By mid-April, I had told my closest friends, and Jenn’s mother. I’m not sure why I saved Kelly’s mother for last – I’ll give that more thoght at a later time. It was a Friday afternoon, and the sun was just beginning to set. Kelly’s mother drove up the long driveway in her little blue Subaru. I went outside to help her bring in the groceries, and finally get this off my chest. It was a beautiful, warm day – no need for a jacket. I was wearing the white class t-shirt from Winter Carnival. On the front was printed in blue, “Graduating in ’95?” As I was turned toward Kelly’s mother, putting all of my cards on the table and revealing why I’d been acting so strangely for the past month, Kelly and Jenn watched through the picture window in the living room. The irony was not lost on them that during this exchange, printed on my back in huge, blue letters were three simple words: “YES I AM!”

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Comments
  1. Robyn says:

    This is wonderful. The last image is beautifully described, and the final three words are a perfect end to something entitled, “Are You Trying To Tell Me Something?” Beautifully written.

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