Justin's Life...

~ November 1999 ~

November 2, 1999 - Tuesday

Yesterday after class, I was walking back to my car when I heard a skateboard land on the ground behind me. I turned back and it was Justin, a guy from the class I was leaving. I said hey and he said hey and then he asked me if I did anything "last night" ("last night" being Halloween). I responded that I just handed out candy to the trick or treaters and then he said he went to West Hollywood because they shut the street down.

He then said something like, "There were so many fucking gays dressed up," and it caused me to do a mental flinch. He didn't say it mean spirited really, it was just how he thought of the gay guys dressed up in West Hollywood for Halloween. Part of me wanted to let him know that I was gay and that I didn't enjoy dressing in drag, but another part of me overruled and forced that part to be quiet. Instead I said something like, "Go ahead, tell me that your girlfriend twisted your arm and forced you to go." He didn't say that she did, but other than that I don't remember how the next ten seconds of the conversation went. Our paths forked and we went our separate ways.

As I was walking on back to my car, I kept thinking how I should have been more assertive in the situation. I didn't want to make him uncomfortable, but I wanted him to know that most gay guys aren't like the guys in West Hollywood. I decided that I'd write him a letter at the end of the semester, after class was over, just to let him know that I was gay and that he didn't know.

But that seemed the cowardly way out... yet we're in a group together. We've got to interact and write a paper before the semester's end. And I wanted class to continue unfettered, so I didn't want to rock the boat now. But I knew I should... I knew I should let him know I'm gay while he has a chance to see me instead of thinking about me in hindsight.

So on the drive home, I decided I'd write him a quick letter, and I'd stand up and be counted for everyone else that couldn't. His comment didn't hurt me. It didn't make me any less sure of my sexual orientation or make me feel like any less of a person, but his uninformed mindset would hurt others, so awkwardness in class or not, I had to do it. I had to do it for you.

Yet last night I went to bed, having written nothing.

This morning I again wondered if I should write anything, but I sent:

Subject: Quick FYI... :-)


Just wanted to send ya a quick note to let ya know that not all gay guys haunt the streets of West Hollywood in drag... I actually live a pretty boring life with a husband, two kids, and two dogs.

For every effeminate gay guy that you see, there are at least five if not ten out there that are completely masculine and undetectable. I know mechanics, chemists, construction workers, CEO's. etc., and you'd never think any of them were gay. Being gay really only means that you prefer guys instead of girls, but other than that, most gay guys are a lot more similar than dissimilar to straight guys.

I actually take flak for being politically incorrect about it. I don't buy that "we're all a minority and should bind together" crap. I like guys, but other than that, I have virtually nothing in common with most of the guys in West Hollywood. It's just that the gay guys in West Hollywood are a lot more visible than most of the gay guys at USC, so those are the ones you register as being gay. The gay guys at USC just blend in with everyone else, in the fraternities, in class, etc. and you therefore assume that they're straight, by default.

Anyway, no offense, and I don't want anything to be weird in class, but I just thought I had to let ya know that most gay guys AREN'T like the guys in West Hollywood.


I was still a bit nervous about pushing that "Send" button, but I did it, and hopefully I made my point without being confrontational and without it causing awkwardness in class.

It wasn't the easiest thing in the world, but I think we've all got a responsibility to let our presence be known. What kind of hypocrite would I be if I "preached" coming out to everyone but didn't have the balls to do it myself. So perhaps this is one of those instances where the diary influenced real life, but if the outcome is positive, so be it.


November 3, 1999 - Wednesday

I have to leave for class in about an hour and I'm a little nervous about it. I don't expect anything terrible to happen, but it could be awkward/strained.


As I was standing by the classroom door, reading a campus newspaper and waiting for the earlier class to vacate the classroom, Lora, a girl from my class, came up to me and asked if I thought it'd be weird if a girl gave a guy a single rose.

After she finished her reasoning (and gave me a list of possible answers as to why it would be unusual), I said, "Well, I'm gay, so you might not be asking the right person, but..."

It was as natural and painless as water off a duck's back. I didn't even think twice about it. We continued talking and I explained to her that guys tend to like small things, so a single rose left on his car would be perfect.

A little later, another classmate, Kyla, came up and laughed that Lora had too asked me about her rose question. We continued talking as the previous class came out of the classroom and in response to her saying that she would be making a trip to San Diego to leave it on his car, I said that I once took the subway in Boston for an hour to leave a rose on a guy's car. Kyla's eyes widened when I said "guy", and I said, "Yeah, a guy. I told her that I'm gay in the hallway before you got there." or something fairly similar. It, too, was as easy as saying I like Pepsi.

And so we continued talking about the rose and I was much more confident in the thought that if Justin had a problem and was being all weird, at least I could explain it to Lora and Kyla. But Justin didn't come to class.

It still amazes me what a snowball effect coming out has, even when it's least intended.


November 9, 1999 - Tuesday

Not a lot unusual has happened lately, but here's a peek into the more normal/mundane part of my life.

Weekend At
The Ranch

Nov. 6 & 7


November 11, 1999 - Thursday

Having only used two of my four allotted absences from my communication conflict class, I decided not to go on Monday. I figured I'd be missing the day before Thanksgiving, but otherwise, with end of the semester papers/group projects/etc., there wouldn't be a lot of great days to miss, so Monday seemed to work.

So, not going to class on Monday, and Justin not attending class on Wednesday last week, yesterday was the first time that Justin and I saw each other again.

As he walked in the door, I refocused on the newspaper in front of me "unaware" and waited until he walked behind me to get to his seat. (It's a conference table type room, where everyone sits at a large two leveled horse-shoe type wooden table. For the first few weeks of class, Justin sat to the immediate left of me (1), but for the rest of the semester, he's been sitting either one seat to my immediate right, one seat further to my right, or three seats away (2, 3, 4). But, typically, Kyla sits next to me, Lora sits next to her, and Justin sits next to her, and we all talk.)

So, anyway, Justin walked behind me and I said "Hey" and he said "Hey" back... and then he sat two seats to my right (3). Not as far away as he could have (and which would have been his usual seat), but not usually close either... and class continued as though nothing had happened. We talked about class; we talked about the weekend. By the time we were done, I even wondered if he'd gotten my e-mail: It was that the same.

When class was over, we said "Later"'s and left. It's amazing after all these years and experiences, I still expect it to be a big deal... yet it never is.


November 17, 1999 - Wednesday

Most of my time lately has been spent with academia. On Monday, I turned in my last ever individual paper about communication theories (May not sound like much to you, but if you'd spent the last 4.5 years writing papers about communication theories, you'd think it was a monumental step, too. ), and last night, I took my first ever and last ever graduate level test. It was three hours long and harder than I'd expected, but I think I did ok.

So, now, in this last month of my academic career (well, except for French III which I'll take a community college), I have quite simply:
  1. a group communication theory related paper
  2. a communication business application related paper
  3. a communication theory final
  4. a film class final

A group paper, an individual paper, two finals and THAT'S IT!!! Forever!!! I will never again study communication theories or go to USC for classes! Hooray!


November 19, 1999 - Friday

In about forty-five minutes, I leave to pick my parent(s) up from the airport. Parent(s) because I'm unsure how many of them will be on the flight.

See, the original plan was for Mom and Dad to get here today and then my brother and his girlfriend to get here on Tuesday and then everyone go home on Friday (after Thanksgiving). But yesterday afternoon, I returned to the house to find two voicemails from Mom, one saying that she needed to talk to me and the other saying that she was going to my half-sister's for a bit (so I couldn't call her back).

A few minutes later, the phone rang and it was Mom, calling from the car (a rarity), saying that Dad was thinking about not coming. My dad's a really smart guy and one of the nicest men you'd ever meet, but his fatal character flaw is his unusually high propinquity to worry about things most of us just take for granted; storms, flu, tornados, and airline flights. (Perhaps that's where all my stress comes from? )

Anyway, Mom said that the Egyptian Air crash had left both she and Dad a little nervous about flying, but as of last night, Dad had pretty much psyched himself up into not coming.

When I hung up from her, I called the house and asked Dad about his thinking about not coming. He, in turn, gave me a laundry list of reasons why he shouldn't leave (none related to the trip itself). I asked if it was the plane flight and he said no, but upon further pressing, I found that it was part of it.

I know he must be beating himself up at the lunacy of it. The logical part of him understands that statistically, it's much safer to fly in a plane than to drive the car to the airport, but the emotional side is having trouble with the concept of letting someone else control his fate in the belly of a plane.

Anyway, I'd write more (and probably be more "eloquent"), but I've got to get dressed and be at the airport in 45 minutes. More to follow.


Amazingly, Mom got off the plane by herself... and although I'd contemplated it as a possibility, I hadn't really believed that Dad might not come. The ticket was $500 and he'd flown before, saying that it was no big deal. He'd also said that if a plane went down with Mom on it, there wouldn't be much left for him to be around for, so it all just seemed like he had to be there. If I were that worried about the safety of something, I certainly wouldn't want my wife doing it without me. Yet he was not there.

Mom, her eyes noticeably puffy, said that she'd cried as she left the house, but it was a two hour drive to the airport and a five hour flight... she'd obviously been crying on the plane as well. She went on to say that she wouldn't let Dad kiss her goodbye or go with her to the airport, and for a couple that's about as real life Brady Bunch as they come, that was a major, depressing occurrence.

Mom and I talked about other things here and there, but for at least an hour or two, I was, for the most part silently, recovering from the letdown of Dad not coming... yet his not getting on the plane repeatedly came into the conversation.

When Mom and I did get home around 1PM, I called Dad to let him know that she got here ok, and without being too chastizing, I said that I figured he'd be on the plane. He apologized and said that he'd been wrong, that he should have gone, and that he treated Mom badly by not going. I gave the phone to Mom and he told her the same. She was callous back. It was that stuff I only read about. It was the parental interactions of those other kids; those who never grew up in my picture perfect household. At first I thought she was being harsh, but then I realized that he'd really dropped the ball on this one. It was his idea that they come for Thanksgiving, even. Life isn't always picture perfect, even for the Bradys.

So, anyway, they talked for a bit and by the end of the conversation, things were a little lighter, but not very. A possible course of action, if finaglable, is for Dad to fly out with my brother and his girlfriend on Tuesday. Otherwise, I can't imagine that we'll be very thankful for our Thanksgiving without Dad.

In other news, I need to leave for the airport shortly. Andrew, who was to fly in earlier today to share in our Thanksgiving joy, missed his plane and subsequently has been flying all over trying to get into LAX tonight. He handled his own flight fixing to get here, but overall, you could say that today hasn't been great. I mean, I don't even really know if Andrew will be at the airport when I get there... the plan was "If he didn't call, he ran through the terminal in Seattle and got on the connecting flight (from stand-by)" and he didn't call.

All I do know is that I'm the only person awake around here and that I need to finish writing this now to get the airport in time. Hopefully tomorrow I can stop worrying about plane flights entirely and instead simply have a nice day relaxing.


November 25, 1999 - Thanksgiving

Shortly after I arrived at the airport last Friday night, Andrew arrived and stepped off the plane. We got his luggage, headed around the 24 hour airport Carl's Jr., then drove back to the house.

Saturday and Sunday, Mom, Andrew, Larry, the kids, and I went down to the La Jolla house to hang out with Warren and Selma. Saturday night was a trip out to eat and to watch Sleepy Hollow, while Sunday was spent lounging around and visiting with a college friend of Larry's.

Sunday night it was back to LA, and Monday Mom and Andrew went to campus with me to walk around the school while I attended class. The one and half hour excursion was fairly uneventful for Andrew, but Mom enjoyed watching that aforementioned preparatory school set building be transformed into a naval academy set, complete with cannon and ship's wheel in the foreground yard.

Monday night, we'd originally planned to cook dinner at the house, but ended up taking the family out to El Coyote, a "tacky" Mexican restaurant. Also Monday night, we found out with certainty that Dad wasn't coming with my brother and his ("ex-")girlfriend on Tuesday morning. (We'd managed to get the plane ticket changed from the flight with Mom to be on the same flight with them on Tuesday.)

In the days since picking them up at the airport, we've pretty much spent money like lottery winners and purchased more food than previously imaginable. I mean, we've done a lot of other things, but do you really care how the family and I went to the bank, bought a battery for the camera, or rented six movies from Blockbuster? It is "historical", but it's sort of like those pictures of the Thanksgiving fixings; something you always do, but never look back at and say, "Ah, do you remember the turkey that year?"

Yet, of note, we did play a drinking game last night whereby Andrew, Larry, my brother, his girlfriend, and I went around and continued an alphabetical packing list for an imaginary camping trip. By the trip's end, we'd packed: an alien, a butthole, a clit, a dick, an enema, a fruit, a gay, a Herman, an ice pick, a jock, a kitten, a lesbian, a mosquito, a nooney of Daisy, an orgasm, a penis, a quarter, a revolver, a stud, a turd, underwear, a vagina, Wayne, a xylophone, yo mamma, and Zena: Warrior Princess, and by game end, Andrew'd spat all over the table in an uncontrollable burst of laughter and I'd cried from laughing so hard.

And today's dinner was really nice. The nine of us sat around the table and had a picture perfect, loving dinner. The only absence was Dad who my brother mentioned in the blessing.


November 28, 1999 - Sunday

I'm still sitting in half anticipation of someone opening my door and saying that they need something, but Mom, my brother, his "ex-"girlfriend, and Andrew went home yesterday so my life is slowly returning to normal.

Seriously, family is such a peculiarity. When they're not around, you worry about their welfare and enjoy their conversation, but when they are around, you often find yourself wishing they'd simply placate themselves for a while and shut up.

Yes, I know it's not kosher for me to say that I wish my mom would shut up, and especially that she's not here now, I have pangs of guilt for writing such a thing, but when she was here, there were times when I simply had to tell her to stop, that she was driving me crazy. Had I the time alone to write in the journal then, I would have certainly written more than simply wishing that she'd take a break, but that, too, was part of the whole whirlwind of family: no time alone.

Anyway, everyone's back in their homes and I'm back here in my office, enjoying the peace of no sports, no radio channel surfing, no incessant talk, no wanting to go out to eat three hours after we ate, no needing to turn off the alarm for someone else, no going to the grocery to buy tons of food, no demands... implicit or explicit. Hallelujah.


November 30, 1999 - Tuesday

For the next 35 waking minutes, I'm responsible for the kids (as Larry's in New York on business). I lay here in the bed in fire drill mode, waiting for the crying alarm of Spencer to go off. I listen carefully to the intercom, secretly hoping that someone else will arrive before the alarm begins. I hear the dogs bark like false car alarms at passersby on the sidewalk in front of the house, and I wish I had a car alarm remote to mute their barks. Someone does arrive. The alarm of the house goes off. Yet now I sit in the bed wondering if I should get up, go out of the bedroom, and do my duties of walking the dogs, placating Spencer, and being social, or do I sit here in bed?

I'm beyond awake. There's no real reason why I shouldn't get up and go tend to things... except some loss of power in my mind. Why am I worried about sharing my space/time? I don't know. All I do know is that the guilt of sitting here while someone else is out in the kitchen taking care of the kids and dogs is too much. Off I must go.


When I got into the kitchen, I found little puddles on the floor. The nanny had given Daisy (the dog) a drink of water instead of taking her outside to go pee. We've done this before. She pees in the floor if she doesn't go out first. What the f*ck was she thinking?

She said that Daisy wouldn't come to her when she tried to take her out but instead begged for water... but we've MADE this mistake before. A pee covered floor is not easily forgotten. ARGHH!!!

Anyway, I took Daisy and Eugene on a walk, mopped up the pee on the kitchen floor, then gave Spencer his bottle. The maid then arrived at around 8AM, and no more than two minutes after her arrival, I took off for my office and have been working ever since.

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© 1999 Justin Clouse
Justin's Life...Justin's