John Biske

John Biske

Interviewed March, 1996

 

Interviewer: So tell me about your life

 

Well okay let’s see, start at the beginning, um, I was born on February 13, 1961 in Hartford, Connecticut, the youngest of 7 children. I have 4 brothers and 2 sisters. My closest brother is 8 years older than I am and my oldest brother is 20 years older than I am. So pretty big gap there. So my mother is Irish and my father is half Russian and half Polish. My mother actually passed away when I was about 2 years old … of cancer and my second oldest brother passed away also just after that.

 

Interviewer: Do you remember your mother at all?

 

Not really, I have really no memories of my mother at all, other than just pictures and stories that other people told us of her. Nothing that I can remember of her memory, of her actually. The only childhood memory I have like sometime around one or under, was of the um my father taking me out of my crib and holding me, making me feel safe because I was crying for some reason so putting me in bed with him and holding me because I was crying.

 

Interviewer: You only remember him being there ?

 

Yea I only remember him being there and I think that was probably after she had passed away. And after she had passed away my father actually sent my brother Gary and my sister Connie and I to live with some friends of his who owned a farm. My older brother Eddie was already married and my sister Nancy was married and my brother Bobby went into the service when that happened. So we lived on this farm with some basically friends of his until the state found out about it, and legally took us away from him. Gary and I went to live with my brother Eddie and Connie went to live with my sister Nancy. So legally, as far as the state was concerned, that’s where we were actually placed. I believe that they actually got state funds to take care of us as we were growing up. I grew up in Manchester, Connecticut. I, um, my brother Gary and his wife and my oldest brother and Eddie and Susan eventually had 3 kids of their own . Ah, pretty much as far as I can remember, a normal childhood. Living with my brother and his wife, I lived in a middle class white neighborhood and went to a middle class school. I have memories of my older brother actually walking me to kindergarten and memories of me walking my brothers kids to school when they were old enough. I felt very much a part of my brother’s family. I mean I remember horsing around with him and my brother Gary and really feeling a part of the family although there were times when I felt like we were outsiders. But most of the time pretty much felt like a piece of the family. As far as holidays and stuff like that, I didn’t really see my father at all from the time I was a little kid. The only time I would see him was every once and a while on a Christrnas, I didn’t see him every Christmas from the time I was a little kid at least I don’t remember seeing him on a regular basis. We spent most of the time most holidays and stuff with either my older brother and sisters or with my sister‑in‑laws family. We always did Thanksgiving and Christmas there. And her brother and his family would be there so I still like having grandparents but they aren’t really mine, although again, like I said. I was treated pretty much like one of the family.

 

Interviewer: Do you remember where your father was? So like nobody remembers seeing him?

 

Um, No not reaily. Well the only thing I remember was that every once in a while I would see him drive up and he usually drove up in this big Cadillac type car and seemed like a fairly well to do person that would stop by and bring me presents once in a while and that was like all I really ever saw of him or knew of him. Um, at Christmas we did traditions. Although my family is Catholic, I was actually raised Protestant. Which is what my sister‑in‑laws religion was so, I went to church with them. I went to Sunday school up in Bolton, Connecticut. Which was where her parents lived. So, pretty much had a, a religious childhood I wouldn’t say pretty religious upbringing, but ah, like we definiteJy went to church every Sunday. And you know like I said we all went to Sunday school and sang in choirs and stuff like that growing up and my sister‑in‑law was very much involved in church, and church activlties, so she

 

did a lot of fairs and things like that so we were more involved in church than just going on Sundays. We would get involved in a lot of the other activities there. Had a lot of friends in school, like I said, it seenled pretty normal childhood from what I can remember. My father, however, came back into my lHe when I was about 14 years old and he basically showed up one day and with somebody from the state and wanted to do a 6 month trial period where I would live with him and which I did and during those six months he treated me like a king. I mean anything I wanted he gave me, we went on trips. It seemed to be the perfect, perfect sltuation to be in. /nterviewer: How did you feel about it when he came back into your life? I mean you hadn’t seen him in all that tirne. I was just excited, I mean I was still pretty much just a kid. Alls I thought ‑ here’s my dad finally, so I was really excited about it and you know he had been remarried so he had a wife and since all the other kids were gone, it was just the 3 of us although when I first moved in with him we lived in really the family home in Manchester. It was the house that his mother and father had owned when they had first moved to the United States from Poland. And, It was a big huge farm at one time and slowly they had sold off the pieces. So this was kind of the original home with a small piece of land still left. Um, And my grandmother still lived there as well. So I lived with my father, his wife and my grandmother; I didn’t even know I had a grandmother actually until I had moved there because I had never seen her. And it was the best ,so after the six month perTod I had said yes absolutely I wanted to stay and from everything that had gone on well you know it worked out fine. I didn’t find out until some time later that my father had a lot of discussions with my brother and his wUe because that if I left they were gonna lose some of the money that was coming in and from what he told me they needed the money to continue to live in the house that they lived in although nothing ever happened after I left that I know of anyway. I don’t know if it was just people talking or what but…

 

Interviewer: What about Gary? Your brother Gary stayed. Gary had no desire from the beginning to want to come back and actually I don’t know if my father even tried to get him back or it was just me. But I went alone with him and Gary stayed until he got married. He lived with my brother and his wife that whole time. Like I said it was great, any thing I could ever want. Interviewer: So even after the 6 month period was over everything stayed wondefful? Well, it stayed wonderful for a small amount of time. Because after it was legal the state, the state watched for a while but I think probably after another slx months that was it. It was final. Which is when I kind of really found aut that both he and my step mother were alcoholics. Because they had been fine during that whole time. And Interviewer: Didn’tctr/nk? Didn’t drink. Or not that I ever saw. 13ut then after a certain amount of time um, my step mother would stay home and drink a lot, not go to work and then my father would stay home and drink when she would go to work. And they would k~nd of f~ip‑flop. I mean kind of not obvious. I don’t remember seeing them stumbling down drunk or anything but kind of like always having drinks, all the time. And actually my step mother would put whiskey in the witch hazel bottle and she would take the labe~ off and put it in the refrigerator and when she would go to the refri~erator and get Coke she would just put whiskey in it but from there not from the bottle itself, and my father pretty much the same kind of thing, but living with them, this kind of happened over a summer the trial period. And when I went back to school, and I went to the same school. Although it was the same ~riends, things were kind of different because my father… I wanted to be you know, a lime like my father, and I wanted to be a lot like him so I started wearing ties… My father always wore a tie to work. He was a TV repairman but um,he dressed very well. He always wore a tie and a jacket. I wanted to be like him so I started wearing ties to school and of course, no kids were wearin~ ties to school and I lived not in the same neighborhood at all. Now I lived quite a ways away. Even though I did

 

go back to that same school for that following year. So I started feeling somewhat alienated … I mean I still had my friends that I hung around with but it wasn’t like I was in the neighborhood. So I went home with them after school and played kick ball or whatever like we used to do. It was like I went to my neighborhood where I didn’t know anybody because that’s where I lived. Even though I went back to school during the days. So it started to get, I started to feel away from everybody and dmerent too because I was dressing dfflerent . Kind of the beginning of those kind of feelings. After the final year in junior high, no not jr. high, in grade school, actually, my father switched me to a parochial like catholic school for fifth and sixth grade. So again here it was a big change and by that time we had moved out of the house and my grandmother had lived with my aunt and we had gotten a place of our own. Interviewer: Okay, quesfion, you were 14 when yow father came back into your life? I couldn’t have been 14. Interv~ewer: for fifth and sixth grade you’re like maybe 10 or 11 ? It was definitely fifth and sixth grade I was in so I was a lot younger I guess. So here I was a lot younger I guess. Because I went to catholic school for 5th and 6th grade and then I went back to public school for 7th, 8th and 9th. Now that I think about it, it does seem I was a bit younger because I really felt like a kid still but catholic school was really tough because I wasn’t raised catholic and here I was going to a parochial school were I was supposed to know…l mean we had to go to church once a week. I was supposed to know what to do and how to act and I didn’t know. And my father didn’t really go to church either. I don’t know why he ever decided to send me to a catholic school. Although talking with my family all my brothers and sisters all went to that school when they were kids, so it may have just been something along those lines but again I started feeling I was very alienated there, because most of the kids had been going there their whole lives you know they knew the right things to do when we went to church and there were a lot of prayers at school and I kind of started identi…as

 

well as the fact that my father since he was so much older and to have a young kid thiS age, um most of his friends, you know, their kids most had already left home and so when we used to go do things or we would go on vacation with his friends it would always like be older people there were never any people, no kids my age at all ever. In school I associated a lot more with the teachers and the nuns because they would klnd of take me under their wings because they knew I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, they knew I didn’t have the catholic training. So I really started identifying with older people. Interviewer: Did you want friends that were your age? I did want..,Well, I can’t remember ever really wanting friends that were my age no just feeling different, still feeling very much that I wanted to be part of my father’s life although… you know at that time I still didn’t really know a whole lot of what was going on. Then seventh grade I went back to a public school and I think I was really looking forward to it because here I was back with the same kids I had gone to grade school with. Although I had been gone for a couple of years, I mean we only had one junior high in the town of Manchester so I knew they were all gQing there although there were a lot of elementary schools. But it was not what I thought it was going to be Because I had been away for a couple of years, they had grown, had other friends, so when I went there things didn’t just pick up like I thought they were going to and things at home weren’t going as well either because they were drinking a lot, and I actually started spending a lot of time with my sister, Connie. She didn’t… through this whole time I was with my father, pretty much my relationships with rny other family had disappeared because my brothers and sisters didn’t want to have anything to do with rny father and I didn’t find out about this untii years later that a lot of it was because when my mother was very sick and dying of cancer my father was seeing this woman who he was married to now. And of course I knew nothing and didn’t have any of those feelings but my brothers and sisters didn’t want to have anything to do with it and

 

since I now lived there I really didn’t see them anymore so it was it was a very big split from my family when I left and went to be with my father. Now my sister being, she’s like the seaond youngest. Its me, then Gary, then her. She didn’t really want to spend a whole lot of time with my ~ather either however, it got to the point where 1, for some reason didn’t spend a whole lot of time at home on the weekends. So what I would do is rny father would bring me over and drop me off at my sister’s house and what I would do was spend time with her and her husband and they had a little baby girl so at that time I think I was old enough to start babysitting and stuff like that so I spent a lot of time at my sister’s house. When I wasn’t at home so actually started when I went to junior high, that was also when I started getting into trouble. Hanging around… because, the kids that I thought I was going to you know be friends with, had been friends with… That didn’t happen. I ended up kind of one of the outcasts and ended up hanging out with the other people that were like that. You know that I used to hang out with them and stand on the corner and smoke cigarettes. So I found a group of people to associate with although you know it certainly wasn’t the grovp of people that I was used to associating with. So school in junior high was tough. um, and my, my father actually… things got really bad at home with drinking and because I was getting into trouble all the time. Well, hanging out with the wrong kind of kids. Going and hanging out with those kind o~ kids and smoking and staying out late not getting into trouble like I never got into trouble with the law or anything but just you know playing pranks on people and like just kind of kids stuff. Actually my sister knew what was going on and got me involved in Alateen which is a group for teenagers of alcoholic parents so I started to get some kind of help with hanging around with other kids that were in the same types of situations and there were weekly meetings just a place to be able to go and talk about it with other of people that knew what was going on and suggestions from the older people there that did know how to cope with things and deat witn things, which did help somewhat, but it was a pretty rough time. I also at that time, because I

 

was hanging out with those kind of kids started experimenting with drlnking myself and because I had it at home I could easily get access to it. I mean like they would never know that a few drinks were missing from the bottle so this is Junior high school that I started experimentirlg with drinktng and actually started doing or pretending to do some drugs I don’t remember actually really going out and buying drugs but hearing stories about mixing aspirin with tea bags and smok~ng it and I did that, and spraying antiperspirant on toilet paper stuck in the end of a tube and inhaling that and I did that, and smelling glue and stuff like that, and so to try to, I guess, get away from reality because I didrl’t want to cope with what was going on. J did have a couple of girlfriends but this was an age where it wasn’t really anything sexual this was more just a thing to do. I do remember junior high, um taking a black girl to one of the dances. Which was a pretty major thing, I mean nobody ever did anything like that. It was because I was kind of one of that crowd that was always on the edge. I was always trying to do things that were different. Not what people expected of me. And the same thing was true at home that whole time I was living with my father. Up until this point I never got punished no matter what I did. My father never punished me. My steprnothsr could get mad and yell and scream and everything and he would tell her to just leave me alone. That I assume was because he felt guilty for all the years he wasn’t there so, I think some of the reason I got involved in all that stuff was a test for them, I mean how far could I really go, and I don’t ever remember getting in trouble at all. I even remember one time locking my um… I thought my parents had given me some keys ‑ mis was back when I was living with them and my grandmother they had given me keys to the house and my grandmother was a diabetic, I took off one day and I locked the house cause I really thought it was cool to have keys. Well I locked my grandmother in the house and she didn’t have any way to get out and if something had happened..~ that was probably about the only time I really did get in trouble form my father. I don’t remember any other times getting in trouble…

 

Interviewer: Was your grandmother very much an influence on you? No. I mean she lived there in the house but I almost never saw her you know. She kind of like she lived upstairs in the end bedroom and there was a lounge up there that had a T V and stuff, so I mean I know she was there and I know we did have dinner with her sometimes, but I don’t remember spending any tirne with her at all and I’m not sure that she even spoke English all that, that well so that may have been one of the reasons. I don’t remember, Nope, nope I don’t. See my father actually passed away when I was in junior high school probably 8th grade. He had been sick for quite a ­ probably the year before that to the point where he wasn’t working at all and, and he couldn’t go up the stairs and we had a mattress leaned up against the wall and every night I would put the mattress down for him and he would basically kind of sit in the living room and watch TV all the time. That’s all I remember him doing the last, the last year before he passed away. My stepmother’s daughter worked at a, at a drug store down the street from where we were and I used to stop in there a lot and I used to do just Imle things around there. They’d pay me a llttle bit to put the Sunday papers together on Sunday eve, on Sunday morning. I remember stopping in there one day after school and being told to go right home and I went home and I walked in the back door and my stepmother was in the back kitchen and this is what I remember her saying was well, you finally did it, your father is dead. Basically meaning that I had killed him because one of the fights that her and I used to have all the time was about upsetting my father. It wasn’t about getting into trouble it was like I wasn’t punished for getting into troubJe. It was more wnat the affect was on my father for doing these things. And her and I used to fight all the time about it. Although we would try to never let him know what was going on. I don’t remember feeling a whole lot. I remember my family being there and I remember trying to make caJls to get a hold of my sister which was what I really wanted was my sister to get there. I don’t remember feeling a whole lot throughout the whole thing and as a matter of fact during the funeral, I mean people

 

told me afterward, some things that I did and I don’t even remember doing them. It was kind of like a whole blank… Iike actually standing outside of the funeral home smoking cigarettes. And um just acting strange at the funeral home. The only thing I remember about the funeral home itself was my stepmother trying to get in the casket and my brothers stopping her. Interviewer: Was your grandmother alive then? My grandmother, yes she was. But I don’t, I don’t remember… my aunt and uncle had the same amount of kids so we,l mean it was a very big family, although I don’t remember spending any time with any of them and the only thing I remember at the funeral were my brothers and sisters being there and pretty much mostly my si~ter Connle. All of this whole time I was still spending weekends there and she was the only one I really remember all that much about being there.. so after he passed away I stayed where I was. I stayed with my steprnother and she continued to drink. And so we basically lived on my fathers social security money and you know I got money because I was a minor. I still went to the same junior high school. I don’t really remember a whole lot of stuff happening right after that. There was some next door neighbors right near us, a younger couple. The woman Susan started taking me with her to visit her family up in Massachusetts and just kind of, she knew my stepmother was in her sixties at this time and again my whole family basically had disappeared again after this whole thing had happened the time that I saw them during my father’s passing away. But after that again I didn’t see them except for my sister. So she started doing a lot of things for me because she lived right next door. She’d sort of take me you know, do dinners so I started hanging around with her quite a lot. Interviewer: That was kind of nice . End of junior hTgh school. Again the same kind of things with girlfriends although at this time I remember more some of the reasons I went out with certain girlfriends was because of their brothers. Because I wanted to hang around with their brothers, with

 

them and their brothers. Most of the time girls that I picked their brothers were usually a couple of years older than them, but hung around with them. So those were the kind of girls I used to pick so we used to hang out with their brothers drink, smoke marijuana and just kind of cruise together. That klnd of stuff. I also, right after my father passed away like six or seven months after that…. The manager of the drugstore that my step sister worked at was very much into Karate and my stepmother thought this would be a really good thing. I needed somebody around, I needed a guy around. He offered to take me to Karate classes and it was a big change because I got so into it. It’s all I could think about. That’s all I wanted to do and I stopped hanging around with those friends and I stopped drinking and I stopped doing like all these negative things and focused my entire life on this, this particular thing. And one of the reasons I think I liked it so much was because it was so structured. There were certain things that you had to be able to do to get certain belts. And you had to show the right amount of respect to other people. You had to bow before you could enter the do Jo or the classroom and you had to show respect to the higher belts. And here again was another situation where I was basically in the adult class. I mean I didn’t go to the junior class with the adults even to the point where they would go out for drinks after, after the class after the karate class someffme and because I was with this guy you know I would go out with them, although I was under age and couldn’t drink but I would still go out with them and I would hang out with them. And I just, just, my whole life got wrapped up into this. And that was also when I was goirg to… so that was like junior high and into high school when I started doing this, but I was also still hanging around with this woman who lived next door, Susan, and she actually became a born again Christian and because I hung out with her so much she she took me to a rally in Hartford one time and I can’t remember who it was but it was like Jimmy Swaggart or someone, a major preacher who came and I was in the audience and got caught up like everyone else did who came and accepted the lord that night.,. and this was the next thing that took

 

over my whole life because that was all I kept thinking about and I went with Sue to bible studies and we went to coffee houses and to church three times a week and just totally immersed myself in that…. group of people and that lifestyle. Again it pushed me onto the outside of things because here I was in high school now and the 5th grade and being a born again Christian. Praying before every class and getting together with kids and other kids who were born again Christians and spending our lunch time together and doing bible studies after school on school property And that’s all I was doing was these kind of things driving my stepmother crazy because she was still, still drinking, heavily. I remember sometimes at that polnt in rny life where she actually I don’t want to say sexually abused me because she never did although I think that she was trying because I remember her saying things like she wanted me to come into bed with her because she missed my father so much and and those kind of things and I pretty much didn’t want to have anything to do with it. So I’m immersing myself with this other person Susan and all these ather things and gaining this group of friends. It was just amazing. It was a way to always be away from it all and I was, and I was actually working at the drug store by this point and my stepsister was there and it got to a point at home where my stepsister, her daughter… N got to the point though at home where I was basically driving her crazy with all of this religious stuff that I was into because you know I would come horne and tell her she was damned and was going to hell and you know just all this crazy stuff and my stepsister’s husband came into the store one night at closing time and basically threatened me If I didn’t stop doing what I was doing… and I called up Susan and she lived right behind the drug store and she prayed with me on the phone and said a couple of things and said come up to her house in. I was afraid to go horne and I did and I went to her house and I stayed and I never left. We went through court and she became my legal guardian and my checks were signed over to her and I basically never even saw my stepmother again frorn that night. I did, you know run into her every once and a while and my

 

stepsister but, I quit my job there because I couldn’t work there anymore with them being so involved because she was working there and I quit my job there because things weren’t working out and I also stopped doing karate and I was getting a lot of pressure from the religious group as well because Karate was such a violent thing although I don’t believe that because the teacher was such a non‑violent person and what we were learning was just self‑defense. We certainly weren’t learning to have a negatlve attitude and I never used it that way. I was ah basically, I was a black belt and I was actually teaching by the time I quit. So, was certainly capable of doing what I wanted but never used it that way it was a very kind of meek mild type person and of course all the religious stuff on top of it was teaching me to be that way. So high school was mostly that ah, at least the first 2 years…and then Sue and her husband, her husband during this whole tirne had not been a born again Christian and I was, so actually when I moved in there were a lot of tensions there because here the two of us where preaching to him all the time and he didn’t want to have anything to do w~th it. But I kind of I got pulled into his family because his family was Polish. Actually they were Ukrainian. So here was this young kid from some kind af the same ethnic background and I got really involved with his family as well, his mother was still ali\~e and we used to go over there every Sunday afternoon and she would cook authentic Polish food for me. His family was kind of big and we would have these huge family get together at Easter and holidays and they would cook all these multiple plates of food and and it was pretty amazing to have so easily been accepted into his family although again like I said there was like all these tensions because of the religious stuff going on… Interviewer: So you don’t remember an attraction to your old roots Like with your grandmother who couldn’t eYen speak English. It sort of attractsed you as you got older ? Do you know why? Because like they were so much into it. I mean my family was re~Hy not into their roots

 

at all, although my grandmother was around. I never knew her and when I lived with my brother we never saw her. And then again I didn’t really spend very much time with my family, but I doubt that she was very much in\~olved with their life, but here were these people that were very much into their background. They went to the Ukrainian Society and they did Ukrainian artwork and they cooked Ukrainian meals and you know it was very much a part of there life and I thought this is really neat this is cool to have you know and to have an identity like this and although I wasn’t Ukrainian, I was close enough to know that it was really on the border, so they really kind of brought me into it all. And 1, I never really got into it my$eH. But I thought it was really neat that they were so into it. In other words, I never learned any of the ethnic things like I didn’t learn to speak the language or anything but I thought it was kind of neat that everybody was into it. Sue and David decided, David was, I’m sorry, not David, Andy. Andy was a respiratory therapist and he was actually studying to, he wanted to become a doctor but he was like in his thirties, so it was really hard for him to find a place that would let him into medical school. And they did finally find a place and it was in the Dominican Republic. I actually was old enough now to be getting rny, the checks, my social security checks directly to me Interviewer: So you were 18? Yeah, I must have been 18 about then when um, they moved to the Dominican Republic and I actually went and lived with my sister Connie again for the last year of high school. She and her husband, by that time she had I don’t know, let’s see,how many kids? probably 3 by then, and they were very, I mean they were great. My sister had always wanted me to be a part of her famdy, so they took me in they built a whole kind of apartment for me in the basement~ Her husband was very nice, I really liked him a lot, we used to spend a lot of time together, and I met this girl, I was still into the born again Christian stuff although they, you know, they didn’t want anything to do with it and it was kind of one of the agreements we had was I would leave them alone if I

 

was going to live there but I, I met this girl, Sharon, who was quite a bit older than me, I was like, I guess I was somewhere between 17 and 18 when I did met her. It was before I actually moved in with Connie. She was the guitar teacher at Manchester Community College and one of the things because I was going to these coffee houses was I wanted to learn how to play guitar. So I took a course in college and she was the teacher of the class and I started kind of hanging around with her, and she started going to the things with me and she became a born again Christian as well and we were, we spent all of our time together. She was probably in her mid twenties, so 10 years older than I was, maybe a little bit less but I spent a lot of time with her and she was very much into the Catholic church although there was a born again Christian movement in the Catholic church. And she was part of a folk group there playing guitar so I started getting involved with that, and those people, and kind of came back to the Catholic church… but it was the sect on the side because they were born again Catholics but I played guitar with them and I started singing in a folk group. She had a car and would drive me all around and we became very close and she wanted a lot more out of our relationship than 1, I could ever give her. Nothing sexual at all had happened up to this point. I do remember in junior high school kind of trying to get guys to come over to the house when my parents weren’t home and watching dirty movies together that I had found in the house or whatever and trying to experiment, but nothirlg really had ever happened yet and I really had no attraction to her other than just a really deep friendship and somebody to hang around with, again, somebody who was older that I really felt like I identified with, who could kind of make me feel important. She was, she was kind of an outsider herself because you know she was, I don’t know, not, in with a normal group of people, so I was very much involved with all of that when I was living with Connie and Billy, and one one major incident that happened when I was living with them. I remember we stayed up late one night playing cards, Connie, Billy, I, and Sharon. At one point Billy made some kind of a

 

joke or comment about me and gay people and all I can remember is getting really upset and running upstairs and locking the door and I, I wouldn’t talk to anybody for hours and I mean I finally did come out and I talked to my sister and I don’t even remember how or what I explained, and I’m not even sure I really knew why I got so upset at that kind of comment or joke that he had made. But I just kind of said to my sister that it was just a kind of negativa thing to think that or say that or to have that attitude about me. So I lived with them for a couple of years and then I got rny own apartment. It seemed like I lived with them for a couple of years but I remember that I was still in high school when I had my own apartment, my last year of high school, which I did not finish. I actually quit high school half way through my final year but in 1 1 th and 1 2th grade I do rernember that the only thing ~ was really interested in was the computer classes that I was taking. I was acing those classes and flunking everything else and the major thing I remember about high school was, was being late for classes was an incredibly hard thing for me to deal with. If I was late for class and the door was already closed, I could not walk into that classroom because I felt like ever,vbody was going to stop and look at me. And I got into a lot of trouble in high school because I skipped classes and it wasn’t because I had planned to skip classes, it was because if I got there late, I couldn’t go in, so I would just not go to the class. But I did ace all of my computer classes and I was basically flunking everything else. Sharon w~rked at a food delivery service in East Harfford and they were looking for a data entry clerk and I thought well it’s not computers but it’s somehow related to computers, so I actually took a job there. and I took it part time to start with and then halfway through my final year in school I quit school and I took the job full time during the day. And, it was, it was a very small place, and actually where I worked was kind of the operations area. The computer center was in Greensboro, South Carolina so Sharon was the computer operator, she

 

actually ran the job, she would run parts through the system and print out reports. So she would set up the paper on the printers and do commands like that and there were four keypunch machines and I used to run the keypunch, do data entry, and I actually learned how to, the machines themselves where programmable. And I got the books and I learned how to program the machines and I kind of changed the way we did things and programmed the machines to make our data entry a lot faster… and at one point she had to go away for training or something and they needed someone to run, run the center while she was gone. ~nd so I did that for a week and 1, 1 loved it. I thought this was the greatest thing, I was really disappointed when she came back. I’m not sure how it worked out but I ended up doing data entry part time and doing the reports like second shift. So kind of doing the sarne job she did but at a much lower level. She did it full time during the day. and I would stay late for a couple of hours and run it. We were still going out then and we were still involved in Christian stuff but not as much t was starting to feel very much like… These people seemed to be like just so hypocritical. They teach you so much about Love and compassion and yet I would see times where somebody we would see would fall away from the Lord and and they would just have nothing to do with these people and I would feel like we needed to go there and be with them and hold them and talk to them, and they just would say like no, they’re with Satan now, and I couldn’t understand this. I couldn’t understand how they could just cut people off like that. So I was starting to feel very disenchanted with the whole thing because it wasn’t, they just didn’t act what they preached, and I really felt,…l felt just very different from them. At the beginning it was that it was so much of a community and everybody felt and thought the same, and it was very structured, just like karate, it was very structured. Everybody was expected to play by the same rules. Everybody knew what they had to do, and here were all these people telling you here’s are the laws~ everybody has to follow these, everybody has to be like this and yet they would turn around and not do that. So I worked there for a, for a little bit

 

longer and because I was starting to fall away from all that stuff, I was starting to fall away from Sharon because she was so involved in it. She also wanted things to to get a lot more serious, and actually I, I did ask her to marry me, but … I mean I only did it because of the pressure I was feeling, I didn’t do it because I really wanted to. It was the pressure that she was putting on me and other people were putting on me and my family knew her and we, we saw them, and everybody just felt like what are you doing­ you’ve been with this person for so long, and that kind of brought some things to a head, where I said that I need to get away from all this, so I stopped working at the, I quit my job there and I stopped hanging around with her, and I stopped going to all these Christian things and I actually got a job. My brother’s wife Beth, worked at Aetna Life and Casualty and she got me a data entry job there, in the same department so I didn’t work with her but I worked in the same department as her. It was just very much kind of the same thing I had been doing. It was data entry although it wasn’t on keypunch type machines it was more on terminals. I kind of got involved in that. It was pretty low level but it was interesting and actually I asked them to let me, to allow me to use the cornputer system on my own time to learn more. And I got some books on computer programming and kind of immersecl myself in that. And during that first time when I was at full time empJoyee Sue came back from the Dominican Republic and, actually her and Andy had broken up. and she carne back and she actually moved in with me. I figured she was there when I needed her and I needed to be there when she came back. So she moved in with me and she was still again involved in the barn again Christian stuff. She never really did lose any of that but she had ~igh~ened up about it a lot. So it was okay that I wasn’t really involved. I mean I was stilt reading a lot of the bible but it just wasn’t my whole life anymore. She lived with me for probably about a year and things kind of went downhill with expenses and money because she was living with me and she didn’t have a job, t think she was going to school at computer, CPI ‑Computer Processing Institute. And although I was

 

working full time, I was doing data entry so I wasn’t making any kind of money, and the bills got really out of hand. Although she did have some money, she really wasn’t putting a whole lot into taking eare of things and. It just got out of hand to the point where my phone was turned off, the eleetricit,v got turned off, the gas got turned off, and I mean basieally, we were kind of thrown out. But because it was all on my, it was all on my name because I had the apartment. First she got an apartment in the same complex and we kind of started the whole cycle all over again but now everything in hers but she was very consistent about making sure that I give her money to pay all the bills and 1, 1 actually was very upset about that at the time and I remember looking back, staying hame one day and looking through cheeks and seeing what I paid versus what she paid and making a sheet and seeing that I was paying for everything that I could and she wasn’t putting anything into it, but I never said anything I just kind of let it happen and my credit was pretty bad, pretty ruined at that point. I was told I would not be able to get electricity in my name and phone in my name and stuff like that so. So she met somebody, and klnd of turned him to the Lord and they saw each other for a while and she actually, they ended up buying a house together and they asked me to come and live with them. I was still working at Aetna at the time, I had moved jobs from doing data entry to… it was really kind of an operations group but again it was in the business it wasn’t really in the computer or the systems company of Aetna, it was within the same business area, and I worked for a guy, Walter Petresky, who was basically like a Tsar. He was very, very strict. To the point where he would look through people’s garbage at night to see what they were throwing away. He kept track of how many minutes you spent in the bathroom. I mean just very, very strict and I kind of knew what was going on, what he was doing and I was really getting into the computers. I was doing more operating like I had done before, running printers and stuff like that, but I was aiso learning to do programming and was asked to do some small programming projects, and I figured out a way to set up a password on my

 

computer. So I had set this thing up on my computer to enter a password and I had gone away for a couple of days so when I came back he was pissed because he couldn’t get in and look at my files, I kind of liked it but, I got in a lot of trouble. Don’t ever do that, he was my boss he had the right to look at anything he wanted to; including my desk, or my files, or whatever. So as I was learning all this stuff on the computers, I figured out how to send messages over to another terminal and there was this girl at work. Chris. She worked at Aetna… and I got, I really kind of got close with her. Just as a really good friend she was somebody that I worked with, she was young, she was like my age, maybe a little bit older we just started to hang out a lot together and she was also doing kind of computer stuff and we figured out how to send kind of these messages that would mess up a screen. So we used to sit together and we used to send these messages to Walter aU the time and just watch him think that his screen, his computer was getting all blown up so 1, I figured out a way of kind of getting back for all the things he was doing. Also at that same time I was still kind of involved with the, the folk group and they wanted to go roller skating one night, and since I, I never liked doing anythlng unless I at least had some kind of knowledge of it, I decided to go and take a couple of roller skating lessons, which I did and then we went out and we had like this birthday party on roller skates and it was really fun. Had a really good time and that Christmas, I was at my family’s house and my niece Bonnie who is my oldest brother’s daughter, oldest daughter, roller skating was kind of a really big thing for, for teenagers to be doing and she was in high school then, so we decided to go roller skating, kind of get out of the house just the two of us, and we went roller skating… and she really wanted to learn to skate better because she saw that I could do it really good and I could go backwards and all this other stuff. So, she came and took a couple of lessons and one of the pros there saw us and asked us if we wanted to take lessons doing pairs and we thought it was kind of neat so we started taking lessons doing pair skating and we actually continued it for a couple of years

 

and were… the second place champions in the region. In the Northeast region at one time. So we had a lot, a lot of, really good times. You know we used to have to go and practice 3 days a week, so I would leave work and go pick her up and go skating. This girl Chris at work one time had mentioned to me just in general passing that, her and her mother had accidentally gone to a gay bar and this actually started me thinking a lot I didn’t really know why or what was going on, but I was really interested in this, and I told her well you gotta tell me where this is so I could never make the mistake of going there. When of course, my actual intention was to find out where it was. Around the same time a movie came out called “Making Love”. And I went ar~ saw the movie and the movie is about a man who’s married and who comes out and meets this other guy and admits to hirnself that he’s gay and ~reaks up with his wife. But the point that I got out of it was that here he was, you know older, already married, they were thinking about having children and he had all these feelings that he had never realized. They really did a great job in the movie of understanding and portraying her feelings. A lot of what she was saying was I can’t believe that we’ve been married and we’re so close and I’m finding this out about you. And she was so hurt. And it really made me think a lot about some of the feelings I had been having and and I really hadn’t been doing anything sexual, or seeing anybody. But this thing with Chris and the gay bar and seeing this movie and thinking back and realizing that I always had these girlfriends and the reasons that I hung out with them was more because of the brothers that they had. It really made me take a hard look at myself and, and realize that I was gay… at least I though I was. So I decided to go to that bar. I was living with Susan and David and I borrowed her car one night and I went and I sat in the parking lot for oh I don’t know, and hour, hour and one half, smoking cigarettes, getting up enough nerve, I mean sitting there and watching in my rearview mirror people going irl and out. Getting up enough nerve to go in. And I did finally go in and I don’t really remember a whole lot, I mean it was dark, and I had a couple of drinks, and I left and that was about it. But

 

having done it once, it was easler to go back. So I went there a couple of times, actually met a couple of people and had some sexual experiences with them and realized this really was what I was. It was a really, I mean in one way it was such a relief to kind of admit to myself and to start to be able to do things about the feelings I was having. But on the other hand I was totally confused by the whole thing and didn’t know what I wanted and what this was all about, and I used to go to those bars and I would sit there for nights on end and never talk to anybody. I was a very shy, at least 1, I say I am. People wiN refute that but, I am a very shy person. In certain instances, in work atmospheres, I am not but, when it cornes to social stuff I really am. So I was having a very hard time because I wanted to meet people, I wanted to have more experiences, but it hasn’t happened, so here was this kind of relief admitting it, but then still not being able to do anything about it because I was so shy and I couldn’t meet people. And I actually, ended up talking to Susan about it. She was still a born again Christian and I was kind of on the edge there because I was not really involved in it but, I meanJ and I still considered myself and here was a thing, that I mean, you couldn’t put the 2 of those together. Well her first husband had become a doctor by that point and was back and working at Mt. Sinai. They actually had a fairly good relationship. So I talked to him about H, he also, by the way, had become a born again Christian by that time. He had somebody that worked at the hospital, that was a therapist that he thought I should see and talk to. So I started basically doing analysis and I would go and talk with this guy. I don’t know, I mean I found it an interesting experience to go and talk, but I didn’t necessarily feel that I was getting anything, or going anywhere with all of this. I was still skaffng with Bonnie, so there were parts of my life that were still just the same old thing, but I was still working and going to see Bonnie, but then here was this other part I would go out at night and do these things and I’d go talk to the therapist about it, and of course Sue thought I should be coming back to church and they should pray over me and heal me… and all this stuff. And I

 

saw a couple of people here and there and I would tell Bonnie about it but it was always I was seeing Donna not David or it was nothing anything, nothing serious. It was kind of these casual relationships where I would see somebody for maybe a week or a couple of weeks at a time. One afternoon I decided to talk to Bonnie about it. Because we had become very close over the years of skating. She was just she was only a couple, 3 or 4 years younger than I am, but we used to spend so much time together skating, We would do a lot of stuff outside of that too. I mean I felt it was somebody that I could talk to. So I remember one afternoon kind of going for a drive and just stopping and talking and she asking about Donna and I finally said Well, Donna is not really Donna, it’s really David or Don or something. And she was just like oh okay, I mean totally supportive of the whole thing. At least on the surface she seemed very supportive of the whole thing and, and you know weeks or months after that never really anything changed between us. It was still all the same stuff so I was starting to feel a little bit better about it. But I do remember during those times having some thoughts of suicide, of leaving a bar and driving home and just thinking you know, I should drive off the road because I can’t take all of this. But I think her support and, and having the opportunity to talk with the analyst, and Sue and David, although they were being a real pain about it with the Christian side of it, were also actually pretty supportive of, you know we just had a …They just thought I needed a lot of time to just think it all through. They knew a lot of my history, so they felt I was just kind of really messed up and didn’t know where I was going. At one point, I went to this bar in Hartford, and I kind of got a crush on one guy that was there. Who I thought he was very cute and probably the cutest person I had ever talked to at that point in all my experiences and he actually seemed interested in me and I couldn’t believe it and we saw each other a couple of times and I actually went home with him one night although nothing ended up happening. But I kind of fell in love with him or thought I was and I would stop by and leave him cards, and I would, I mean I was driving the

 

poor guy crazy because all I wanted to do was be with him and I was at the bar one night and he was talking with some other people and I am not sure how I heard the conversation, but basically what I found out was that the only reason he had gone out with me was because his ex was there and he wanted to make him jealous. And I just got so pissed. And I found out who his ex was, and I made it my objective to get this guy. So I went after his ex with everything that I knew or could do, and I did it. And I let him know exactly what I was doing and we had a couple of conversations or confrontations where he said stay away from him. I’rn getting him back and I was like hal Forget it. He’s mine now. ~he way you treated me… Well this guy that I was seeing, his room mate was the bartender at the bar. So because I was seeing this guy and I wouW go to their house, I got to know the bartender. Well, the bartender at a bar is a very interesting situation because he knows a lot of people, I am sure there are people that come in that, you know, are there for the night but this was kind of a little neighborhood bar, and particularly because it was a gay bar and there are not a lot of em, there was a lot of clientele that came there all the time. So he was kind of my conduit to meet people. Because I would go there, I would go there right after the place opened at 4:00 and was open till, oh I don’t know midnight, and it got to the point that I would go there as soon as work was over I’d be there at 4:00 and I would be there until the bar closed. And he would kind of watch out for me and tell me who I should talk to and who I shouldn’t talk to. If I mentioned that I saw someone who I thought was really cute he would send them a drink from me without even telling me. He was always like an instigator. And he had a lover that was my age, actually a little bit younger than me, hanging around with him and a couple of his friends. And I got to have, have some really close, good friends at this place. We used to do everything together, I mean a lot of it was the bar but a lot of it wasn’t. I mean we used to go to Disney World or go to the beach. It was the first time in my life that I felt I was with people that were like me, doing the things that I wanted to do. So I really got heavily into the bar and I actuallY

 

ended up working there as a waiter, which was even more to the experience because this bar had a lot of older clientele and I was pretty young. And ah good looking, you know and dressed sexy and I found the whole thing very intriguing that I could get all of this attention. Cause I had been dying for it for so long and couldn’t find it and here it was right in front of me. I could get anybody I wanted. Il~nd I had a lot of sexual experiences, I had a lot of people that I met there. A lot of just encounters, but I had my friends that I used to hang around with all the time. I was still working at Aetna but, thi bar thing was was kind of getting to be everything, because It’s all I wanted to do. I would go there right after work. I would spend a~l my money, I wouldn’t pay my bills. I was living with Sue and David but they were expecting me to put in and I wasn’t paying those bills and I was spending all my cash at the bar buying drinks for myself and my friends and going out and just kind of hanging out with thern. I had bought a car at one point ar~d I basically didn’t pay the payments so the car had gotten repossessed. Sue and David were rea~ly good, and Sue actually let me drive her car cause she worked near where I worked. So I was actually allowed to bring her to work and take the car and bring her home. And mat was okay for a white. Then I wasn’t able to go to the bar all the time because I didn’t have my own way to get there. We kind of worked it out finally to the point where I could use her car when I wanted to. I did a lot of drinking and a lot of smoking marijuana with my friends there because it w~s the thing to do, it was what everybody was doing. And It was also kind of the first time I ever started hearing about AIDS. It was just being talked about. I remember reading some papers with some articles in it b~Jt it was nothing that anybody really knew a whole lot about yet. And one night I had her car and I got really drunk at the bar and I got in accident on the way home. It was nothing serious, I mean I drove off the side of the road basically fell asleep drove off the side of the road and hit a tree and was fine and drove the car horne. And yol~ know she saw it the next morning and that was the end of that. I was so involved in thls and because now I had no way to get to

 

the bar, I decided to move out and I found some, sorne people that worked at the bar or friends from the b~r that lived downtown, near it and I ended up being roommates with them and I moved out and I moved downtown and my life was just this whole thing… the bar. The guy that I lived with worked at the bar as well, so it was all, my whole iife was just around it. I was still working at Aetna but that was just because I had to go there, that was it. It got to the point though at sornetime, because I lived with these roommates, I mean I moved around a lot. I lived with Robin for a while and then I would move and live with someone else for a few months and it wasn’t anything serious. There were points when I was living in my car. We would go to the bar then I would drive my car to the parking lot at Aetna then I wouW sleep in the car then I would get up and go into Aetna and use the showers there and go to work. Or I would rent a hotel room for a night I mean, I didn’t have all that much money so I couldn’t afford to do that all the time. Or t would find somebody to take me home with them. Or I would find somebody who would pay for the hotel room and wouldn’t necessarily stay, but have sex and then leave. I was still hanging around with a lot of my friends and I went down to New London one time with them, and I was at a bar and I saw a picture on a wall and it was a caricature of somebody. And I just thought this person was so interesting and he act~ally ended up coming into the bar that night and I don’t know why but I was just totally infatuated with this guy. I didn’t even know who this person was but I got totally infatuated with him. I probably did a lot of flirting with him because of the picture and I got a lot of posiffve responses back. But this was in New London. I wanted to be with this person, but I didn’t know how. So…l met somebody in Harfford who let me move in with him, he was a very nice guy who wanted to have a relationship with me. But I lived with him really because I knew I could save money but he, He dominated my life. He wanted to know everytl ing I was doing, where I was going, and… I let it happen because I knew it was the only way I could aflord to get my freedom back. And one of the other things that was strange was he was into very

 

young boys. People would come knocking on the door early, 3:00 in the morning and he would let them in. Like kids from the neighborhood and it was very strange but it was the only way I could do it, so I stayed, until I had enough money and I got a car again and I finally left and I drove down to New Haven. And I had seen this other guy in between when I could, when I could get friends to drive me down there and I drove down in my car and I said well, I’m here. and he was like fine, but you’re not moving in with me. So I got really upset the night that I had drove down there and I went to the same bar I had met him at and somebody was there who said that they had some mescaline. And I bought it and ~ took a couple of the tablets. And I got very messed up that night. And I remember the bar closing and I sat down at the end of this guy’s street. I didn’t know what to do so I called Bonnie. This was like one o’clock ~n the morning, I called Bonnie’s house, my brother’s house and his wife answered the phone and I said I want to talk to Bonnie. And they finally put Bonnie on the phone and I don’t remember the conversation at all but I was just so freaked out and I told her I couldn’t take it and the only thing I could think of doing was I wanted to go to my sisters. My sister had moved to Arizona several years before that. So I got in my car and I decided I was going to Arizona. And I don’t remember anything after the phone oonversation with my niece. Until I woke up in South Carolina. I drove that entire way. Through New York, down the eastern coast, paying tolls,whatever, and I don’t remember anything but waking up in a rest area in South Carolina. It was actually a couple of days into the week, when I woke up and I realized where I was. So I caJled work and I talked to my friend Chris, and my sister in law still worked, at Aetna and she got my sister in law on the phone because she was just really concerned about me. Because I told her I’m not coming back, I’m going to Arizona and all this stuff. So she got Beth on the phone and Beth talked to me and said you know, this Is crazy, this is not the right thing to do it. If you’re doing this because you’re gay, don’t think that we don’t know. And your brother and I want you to come back to Manchester and you can live with us.

 

We know, we know you’ve been living in your car and all this other stuff. And, I was just so crazy I didn’t know what to do. So I said okay, I did drive back. And I lived with them and I talked to my brother about being gay. It wasn’t a very open conversation, I mean, we touched around the subject and they basically said it was okay and I said okay, but, I really wasn’t comfortable talking to them about it. But it seemed all right, so I stayed there. Still working at Aetna again. Seeing my sister in law a lot and staying with them really helped me… get things together a little bit. I mean I was still hanging around with a lot of the friends at the bar. I had quit working there but staying with them, trying to get myself… back together again, get my bills caught up and just like get my life back organized. Then one evening, I was with a friend of mine and we kind of went out drinking we decided to go to a bar in Orange, Connecticut called Man’s Country. And we did. And when I was at that bar that night I met somebody named Duane. And I actually was pretty drunk. We met standing in line for the men’s room, or at least what we thought was the line for the men’s ~oom. Because there were a lot of people standing in line for the bathroom and we found out after standing there for a while that we were in the wrong line We were standing in the line for the drug bathroom, so we had kind of talked a little bit and went and did our thing. And when I came out he was standing in a corner and I just remember I went over. And I remember putting my arms on either side of him and saying that I thought he was the most handsome m~n I had ever seen. And it was really just another line, I mean he was my type. Although he was a lot younger than anybody I norma~ly would see. All the ffme t had been going out I had usually been seeing people who were maybe 5 to 10 years older than I was. But here was somebody basically my own age. We ended up dancing quite a bit that night and talking. And my friend was there, and I had driven him there. And at the end of the evening, you know the bar was closing and Duane was leaving and I wanted to go with him. I told him where I was going and he told me where he lived and he said I could follow him back to get on the highway and he said

 

that he lived not too much past that So I left and I followed him and I left my friend at the bar. I’m not sure whether I ever did talk to him after that or he ever talked to me. I think we did have a ~uple of conversations after that but I was just so into what I wanted to do and instead of getting on the highway, I followed Duane home. C~ne thing that was really interesting that happened was that his roommate was home and Duane was kir~d of shy about bringing people home. or had a deal about not doing that. And really didn’t want to walk in there with me, with his roommate there, but after sitting outside and it was very cold, we ffnally ended up having to go in. And when we walked in and I said “Oh, Hi Richard”. I knew his roornmate. And I knew his roommate because he had stopped by the guy in New London that I was so mad in love with that threw me out. He knew this guy David. Richard did they had met in Province town. So I had only met him a few months before. I still wanted this other guy, David. But after everything that had happened living with him and all this other stuff I’d still see him every once in a while so Duane was kind of j~st this one night, but we kind of hit it off good. I went back home and didn’t really think that much of it the next day. During that week Duane called the house to talk to rne. He called once and I ignored it . I never had any intentions of calling back. He calIed twice, I ignored it. And he called a third time and I was just like, who is this guy. Why does he keep calling me. I mean it wasn’t that interesffng, or whatever, so I called back and and he invited me back the next weekend, and so I did go back. And well we spent a lot of time together on weekends, talking and learning about each other. I just felt like here’s somebody who, you know like other people I had met~ lld move in with them instantly I’m sure It was a casual thing. It was a very casual thing to do in that lifestyle, oh sure, move in for a couple of weeks, never expect things to last very long. Well, Duane didn’t want that. He pretty much told me from the beginning. You’re not the most important thing in my life. I have work and family and friends, and those are the important things. But I’m interested, and I want to keep seeing you and, we have something. Well J thought this

 

was really strange but, I was kind of intrigued by the whole thing and we really did have a lot of good tirne, quality time together. So I ended up rnoving to a frlend of his in New Haven Connecticut, Ed Smith. And Duane was involved in Dignity, which was a gay Catholic organization, and Ed was a part of that. Of course I had a somewhat camolic background and very religious and Ed had been in the brother’s at one time and also very religious so I kind of got a religious connection there as well. It wasn’t too far away from Duane’s and would basically split our time up between staying at Duane’s house and staying at Ed’s house. We also still had our own time together and our time apart, because he wanted that. I didn’t necessarily want that at the time, but he did. After a while I found it to be a just the right kind of a situation because I still had an opportunity to spend time with my friends from the bars in Connecticut. I wasn’t spending as much time with a lot of those people but there were a couple of people there I had become very close to and I continued to spend time with them. Affer about nine months we did finally move in together. Our relationship just continued to grow. We were there I don’t know, 3 months, in New Haven and,Duane didn’t seem really happy with his job. Not unhappy but, just kind of bored because it had been the same thing for a long time, and I had kind of pushed him to make a change. The change that ended up happening was that he got a job offer with a company that was going to relocate him to Boston. We discussed it and I felt that I really cared about this person, and I had kind of been the one to push um, and then if it meant moving to Boston, then I would go. . .I had met some other friends at Dignity, some people that I had ended up becoming very, very close with. Friends that I had actually met separately that ended up getting together and being a couple as well, Joe and Steve and I was very very close with them. Joe was a friend of Ed’s and we used to spend a lot of time together at Ed’s place and he liked to smoke marijuana and actually, so did I at the time. He spent a lot of time skipping classes and just hanging out with me I mean I was just very, very close with these people. And when we did finally move to Boston, which I

 

was exdted about and I wanted to do for Duane, it was one of the hardest… ffmes of my life actually. We moved up there, I got a new job, actually I had quit Aetna a while before and became a computer consultant. I had continued to learn computers and was interested in that and did a lot on rny own and became a computer consultant. So when we moved to Boston, l switched and moved to our Boston consulting company. I got a job at Fidelity Inves~nents Consulting. It was a really interesting project on some stuff that I wanted to learn, but also has sorne experience with. So the job itself was great and Duane worked out of the house for the first two years. We lived in the suburbs a middle class to upper class suburb, about 12 miles north of Boston and we really had no friends there. And I was finding it very, very dfflicult to make friends. And Duane, I rnean his work was out of the house so he didn7t have a lot of colleagues that were there. He didn’t seem to be making a lot of friends and I missed my friends to the point where I was going down to Connecticut twice a month maybe three times a month. I was at the point where I would call up my friend Joe and say, I’m coming down after work and I would drive down after work 2 1/2 hours. Spend the evening with them and I would get up in the moming and drive back to Boston to go to work. When ~uane was traveling or somethTng I felt very lonely. Duane was there and everything in our relationship was good and growing but, he had to travel a lot. The next job, we still lived there he had to travel even more. And my job at Fidelity was great ar~ I liked the people there but I just had nothing else other than that, and I started drinking a lot. Again, because I would come home from work and there was nothing there for me to do. So I would just get home and I would drink until I fell to sleep. All I would do is just sit there and drink and watch TV. I just basically felt like I had no life. And seeing my friends a lot in Connecticut and going down there a lot and I tried to get them to come up and they did once in a while. I was going back to see them all the time and ~ decided that I needed to see a therapist again. I was just so unhappy with everything that was going on. A lot of feelings about my family, and my

 

childhood and my father were all coming back back probably because of my drinking and doing drugs. And also at this time I changed… the consulting company I was working for, the manager that I had,had left and started his own consulting company and I decided to go with him.And when he created the company it was so small that the insurance policies he had to get, everybody had to get a physical and blood test. So I went and did it. And I did it without even thinking about it. And I was at home one day and I got a ~etter from the insurance company, and in the letter it said that I had tested positive for HIV. And Duane was away… and of course I was pretty freaked out.. and I called my friends Joe and Steve and I couldn’t be alone. And I just left the house and I drove down to Connecticut that evening. And I think I stayed there a couple of days until Duane carne back and I talked to Duane about it and I told him and he was fine about the whole thing. He gave ms some suggestions for seeing his doctor, which I did. And his doctor helped me out even more because he told me I shouldn’t be going to, to the place that he worked at… the Lahey Clinic because they just didn’t know how to deal with this type of informatlon and that I might want to think about going to Mass General Downtown because they had AIDS specialists and it was a better place for me to go and to make sure I didn’t tell anybody in my family and not to let work know because it could effect my insurance and all this other stuff. And the funny thing is, it turned out that the insurance dWn’t even need to do that because the company grew fast enough that they didn’t need this kind of a policy so it was kind of a moot point. 1 got the insurance anyway but, it brought a lot of things up. A lot of rny thoughts then were that Duane was never around. He just never seemed to be there when I needed him to be there, I mean he was there, but every time something would happen because he was traveling so much, he wasn’t there. And I was going back to Connecticut and I just went out one night, and drank and just kinda like decided, just like that trip I was going to take to Arizona that’s it, I’m going back to Connecticut. I got on the highway and I drove and I got to a certain point and I got off the highway and I

 

was at a hotel and I called Duane and we talked about some things and I did end up going back and we talked about some more things and I did more therapy and things did seem to get better, we started having a tot of really deep conversations with each other. We never really fought, we ended up having some really strong conversations some time and I was still a very timid person and Duane was still a very strong minded and strong wiUed person and, and there were times when I felt like he was making me do things. And I was letting him make me but sometimes it got to the point where I would freak out about the whole thing. I remember one incident, I wanted to go and meet some people and there was this group of people that were into science fiction, a gay group of people that were into science fiction and I had told him about it and and he kind of pushed me a little about getting involved in it. And we went one day and to this meeting. Or we were on our way to the meeting, he was bringing me to the meeting in the car and I got so freaked out in the car because I was so nervous about going to meet these people that I basically almost jumped out of the car while the car was moving on the highway and we had a very big discussion about that one Probabty the worst fight we, and maybe it wasn’t a fight, it was the worst time I ever had. I really lost control… Only time I think I have ever done that with Duane. He could see that I was pretty upset about it, so we stopped and we actually went to a Pizza Hut and had dinner and talked about things. And I have a lot of memories about stopping at Pizza Hut and having long deep conversations. Duane switched jobs again and there was somebody who, who…He was taking this guy’s job and they kind of hit it off and and ended up being a friend of ours, so we did actualiy start having people that we could hang around with. And there were people at work that I started feeling like I could spend time with outside of work. But there came a point where Duane had another job opportunit,v that was going to take him to New York Cit,v. Actually a couple of other things going on at work where he might have to move someplace else so he was looking for a job and this opportunity came up in New York and we discussed it

 

and we decided that we would move to move to New York city for him to take this job. Work for me was really good but because of course I had to leave and there was a girl there that I was very close with and all through this time at work I had been pretty open about my relationship. I’m not a person who is very flamboyant about being gay. I don’t like throwing it in people’s faces, but I was never closed about it either. When people asked me what I did on weekends I would tell them that Duane and I did this or people who knew who Duane was had come to the house they had met hlm. When I left, I told the consulting company why I was leaving, that I was gay and that it was my lover who was moving to New York and they were all fine. They really liked me, they always liked me, thought I had done a great job and wished me the best of luck, but this girl at work who I had thought was a lesbian for a really long time, but had aiways denied that she was. Two weeks before I left we went out and she told me that she actually was. And had been the whole time but was having a really hard time dealing wlth it, and there were a lot of reasons why she dldn’t want to ~alk to me about it. But one of the things that she had said was that, she was a manager there…Said that I was one of the most well respected people at Fidelity. I was a consultant, I wasnJt a fuH time employee, but all the managers there who knew me knew about my lifestyle and really respected and liked me because of my abiliffes. And this was really one of the first times that I remember feeling r~ally good about myself, because somebody was really telling me a~out this stuff that people would never really tell you about. And I had an opportunity to feel so goo~ and and realize that these pe~ple, although they were not saying it out loud or being very vocal about it, really did care and Uke me. And it was a time that I felt kincl of changed. It changed me. We went to New York for a couple of rnonths but I had a lot of things that were in the fire. So I wasn’t too concerned and I got a job with another consultant company through friends that I knew in Boston. Other people from the consultant companies up there got me a job and work was great. I worked on Wall Street at a couple of places the consulting was very

 

good. New York was very exciting to me. Duane and I lived together again because his job was not in New York but right outside so he wouW be home every night and things seemed to be great. It was what I always wanted it to be, I think. And of course living in New York city, in Greenwich Village where being gay is so open and so accepted. Working in a city where it’s just so diverse I started to build more confidence in who I was and, and outside of work, as well as growing inside work in my abilities and leadership, and stuff like that. I also took up tennis while I lived in New York City. Again, it was something that like the Karate and skating, it dominated my life. I threw myself into whole heartedly. It was all I could think about. I would take a couple of lessons a week and I would go in and I would rent courts and I would just hit balls and um because of doing that and because of our INe change, I stopped drinking as much and I started feeling like I ~vas getting to be like really healthy and taking care of myself. I had gotten pretty out of shape and over weight when we lived in Reading because of how unhappy I was. But here I was really loving this sport, I decided to learn all about nutrition and eating the right things and felt the best about myself mentally and physically that I ever had. Well of course nothing can last forever. So Duane’s company decided to move from the suburbs of New York to a place in Connecticut and. We talked about moving back to Connecticut. We both decided that that was not something that we wanted to do. We both enjoyed the city life too much but Duane wanted to stay with the company, so he got an apartment in Connecticut and would commute back and forth. It started to get back to the way it was in Reading with him being gone a lot, but it wasn’t the same with me because I was involved in things and I was so rnuch more confident in myself and we didn’t still didn’t have a lot of friends, I had my friends in Connecticut that I still associated with quite a bit. But I didn’t have friends in New York City. There were people at work that I associated with and wouW go out after work but not people that we spent evenings with. But the thing about New York was that everybody wanted to come to New York when we lived there

 

so we had company every single weekend, his family…nobody in my family, but I never saw my family anyway, but other friends of ours…So we always had things going on so anyway it was very happy. At one point I got a call, a couple of years after living in New York, I got a call the same consulting company I had worked for in Boston. Telling me about an opportunity at Fidelity again. I went up and I interviewed for the job and it was working for the same manager that I had worked for several of years before,who I liked. But the job opportunity was fantastic, it was new technology. It was something that I didn’t know, it was something like that was too good to pass up and the bonus and the salary were going to be great and C?uane and I discussed it and he decided that this move would be for me. For my job. We figured because Connecticut and Boston/ Connecticut and New York were about the same distance it really wasn’t going to change our lifestyle very rnuch except that it would be Boston, instead of New York, and it was about the same distance from each other and we could go on the way it was. So we decided to move to Boston, and I carne back and worked for the same consu~tant company but it was different because here I was working for that same consultant company but totally, openly, gay. Working for Fidelity as my client for the people I worked with before but again, I knew they all knew exactly what was going on and I was more confident in myself and my abilities work wise. So I came back very confident and really got into my job and really enjoyed it. And got to a level that I had never been before. Not only with the consultant company but with the client as we~l. I was able to do things that I didn’t think I was able to do and was given the opportunity to do those thing and Duane and my relationship continued to basically grow stronger and stronger all through the New York and coming back to Boston. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like. There were definitely some times where I would get freaked out. And there were times when I feel like I tested Duane just like I tested my father and rny stepmother, where I would do outrageous things just to see if he would stay. If he would get upset, if he would kick me out. and he never did. He never

 

would and after so many years, this was probably 7 or 8 years by this point that we had been together, I started to really understand that no matter what he was going to be there for me. The HIV stuff was really kind of in the background because I was only HIV positive I had never been sick because I got so in shape in New York, I felt really good, like nothing was going to happen although it’s always in the back of your mind, it’s always there like when I got the flu or got strep throat I thought, thls is it, this is it starting now…but it wasn’t. And to this day still in my life there are some times when I think like that. I went to the doctor several weeks ago for blood tests and I was pretty freaked out until everything came back and everything was okay. But I thought this is probably it. The longer I live with it being positive, the more chances are that now’s the time that I am going to start getting sick because the statistics show that everybody eventually does. But Duane was very supportive through all of that as well, except for one incident after we had moved back to 80ston. We decided to get some cats. I have afi~sma and ended up getting extremely sick, ended up in the hospital after a month with them and called Duane and told him that I was in the hospital and he was at work in Connecticut . I was in the hospital and Duane didn’t call until the next day until the next evening actually. And that was pretty freaky. That was probably one of the most upset t have ever gotten because, or the most concerned I had ever gotten beeause I honesUy believed that someday I would end up in the hospital and dying of AIDS, that he was not going to be there. This was like one of the most major things and like one of the most scary things that had ever happened. And he wasn’t there. Then we talked about it. We did finally talk about it before I got home from the hospital and I confronted him with it. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to be there, it was that it was a really hard thing for him to do. My mortality and not wanting to lose me. I mean I certainly couldn’t judge him on that. I understood it. I made it very clear that when something happened, he had to be there, and we would deal with the other stuff. As we needed to.

 

LIFE STORY RESPONSE                             Jeannine Lefevre

 

 

 

 

John is a 35 year old gay man who has had a painful childhood, a troubled adolescence and as he struggled to overcome all the adversity, discovered he is HIV+. In spite of all this, John has continued to improve himself in his health, in his career, in his education and in his relationships.

John was not raised in ideal circumstances. His mother died when he was very young and he was passed around among family members, an alcoholic father and various neighbors as he grew up. His development, according to Erikson’s theory, has been much delayed.

He has struggled with inferiority well past the 12 year mark because he was unaccepted by his peers and was often the new kid in school. He has only recently developed a sense of his own identity and often took on the identities of his current passions ‑ such as karate, bom again religion and the gay bar scene. At 35, he has finally achieved the joy of intimacy, which he was unable to allow himself for so many years.

Growing up, John had no role models. A lot of development, usually experienced in childhood, has only occurred for him in adulthood. Self esteem is recent. John was often hurt and “used” in his past by the people who professed to care for him. He learned that people “helped” him only to really get what they wanted themselves, such as state money to care for him, a roof for sex, attempted molestation disguised as comfort by his stepmother. So John learned well to use others for what he wanted and to expect to be used by others.

This is a very different upbringing than my own. I was raised in a family with two good parents and plenty of wonderful role models. I have a high level of self esteem and trust in myself that I used to think was “normal”. John’s experience shows me how blessed I

 

have been. Even when his father died and John tried to grieve, he was accused of causing the death by his stepmother. I cannot imagine a situation so painful.

John, however, has come a long way in his growth in the past few years, in spite of his HIV+ diagnosis. It would have been easy for such a stressor to cause his recent self esteem to crumble, but he has resisted such temptation and continued his advancement despite the feared outcome.

I found no evidence that John’s HIV+ status has helped him look at life differently and I felt disappointed in that. I don’t know if he’s not ready to discuss how it has affected his life or if it hasn’t become a reality for him, but I expected a changed outlook which wasn’t there. Perhaps it was just a poor assumption on my part.

In my final analysis, John has overcome some huge defcits in his life to have become t~le person~e is. Many others, under the same circumstances, would not be a far along the developmental path as John. My hope is that his growth can continue for a long time to come.

 

 

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