Most everything I know about the gay lifestyle I learned at Brigham Young University. I don't blame the university. I don't blame the people I met there. I saw an opportunity that hadn't presented itself before -- one that I had apparently been looking for for quite a while -- and I made a choice.
It's not like there was a class or a club - though I hear there's one now with its own Facebook page. There wasn't a paragraph of my "Welcome to BYU" pamphlet that included gay as part of the Cougar experience. My first gay interaction as a consenting adult was with a guy I met when I came to Provo for higher education.
The Smith Field House was the place. I sat on a bleacher completely unanimously and watched guys play. They smacked each other, they ran each other over. The grabbed each another and wrestled. They touched each other, and I thought I would pass out on the spot. It wasn't just that young men were enjoying each other. There was something more to it. There was so much familiarity.
Later I figured that these intense relationship had to do with missions and same experiences and in guys usually a part of a minority suddenly swimming in guys who believed like they did; An instant brotherhood.
I wanted to be one of them. They were contemporaries, my Mormon friends -- or guys I wished were my friends -- who looked at me (if they looked at me at all) as some guy doing homework in the bleachers.
At the end of my first year at BYU I discovered that the men's rooms were the places to meet guys who were looking for... whatever I was looking for. There was graffiti that pointed the way, and some of the writing on the wall made it really clear what the author was looking for.
So I sat there and waited for some signal from the guy in the next stall. I got all the signals I wanted, but I didn't know what to do. I figured it out quickly. We were all fast learners.
There is is. That's how I started. In a men's room at a church school. I was a fool more than a naive. Regardless, I became a regular.
It wasn't until months later that I heard that guys were picked up, and by that I mean that they were arrested or kicked out of school when undercover cops made their own kind of contact. I was lucky. Later, I was experienced enough to know when I was being played. So I didn't find myself in that horrible position of being outed as it came to be known, by an undercover cop.
I once was caught by someone I figured was a professor who interrupted a beginner in a tryst. I just sat there looking at my shoes until he left. I couldn't bear to look up at the man scolding me for fear that I might be recognized or that I might recognize him.
Once I made a connection with a guy. Looking over the stall I recognized him as a fellow music major who was a friend of mine. I was horrified. I believe to this day that he recognized me, though there was never an acknowledgement. This was my first obvious foray into leading a double life.
You would think that these few experiences would have kept me "clean and sober" as it were, the fear of getting caught, would discourage me from involving myself in the behaviors.
No. It didn't make me do anything but to be smarter and careful and look for other places to find what I wanted -- and there were plenty of other places.
You find what you look for. Down deep I don't know what I was looking for at that time. But I found it at BYU