A lot of people only know me with my current partner, Rasheed. The reality is that I had a few boyfriends before him. It was long time ago now, considering that we have been together for almost 25 years. So let me fill you in on who these men were:
Kevin was a handsome, African American man. He was the first guy I ever dated. He was the life of the party — everyone knew him and loved him. He was just a fun person to be around. He was definitely an original. Very confident, a little fem. I was a little surprised that he would be interested in me. Here I was the shy, quiet guy who had only come out recently. And here was Kevin — totally out. He had an apartment with some roommates. He had even done some modeling for Benetton.
I remember talking to my therapist at the time about him. I told him that Kevin was not the type of guy I would usually go for. I had dreamed about an all-American surfer boy type. Kevin was anything but. I am glad I gave him a chance. He definitely opened my eyes to the beauty of a black man.
I was glad that I got to know the private Kevin. The guy who was more complex and vulnerable than he came across at the rap groups. I remember going to a concert with him to see Adam Ant. We had a great time. Kevin had made a sign requesting one song, and sure enough Adam played it for us. I remember spending the night with him at my parents house in my bed, when they were on vacation. Another time, I remember spending all day with him and some friends playing games and having snacks at his place. I pissed my parents off because I didn’t make it to church that day.
We only went out about 6 months. I was still living at home at the time. I can’t say I ever loved him as a lover (but only as a friend). The gay life was so new to me, he was ready for more. I don’t think that I was. We lost touch, and I didn’t see him anymore. Soon enough, we heard it through the grapevine that he had died of AIDS. He was definitely gone too soon.
Al (Kimo to some of his friends) was a cute, Asian/Pacific Islander from Hawaii. We met at Rage nightclub in West Hollywood. We danced some, and he got my number. He called me later that week, I went to see him and we slept together that night. We sort of rolled into a relationship from that point on. I consider him my first real boyfriend. I fell hard for him. I loved him (or at least I thought I did at the time).
He was a free-spirited individual. He loved music and dancing. Plus drinking and smoking too. (So compared to me, he was a bit of a wild child.) He worked for an aquarium place in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
I remember working with him some at his aquarium job. We did a job at a hotel in Pismo Beach, setting up an aquarium there in their lobby. Plus we got to stay overnight in the hotel. But Al was never one to be satisfied. He ended up quitting that job because he was convinced his boss wanted him. Also, he was an artist too, and felt that he wasn’t living up to his potential in his career. He ended up getting a job at a carpet place next — so much for making money at art.
Al could be sweet, carefree and cuddly… but as time went on I also found him to be manipulative, cold and demanding. After our first anniversary, there was even talk of us moving in together. I remember going to see a few apartments with him and some of his other friends who were going to be roommates.
The warning signs kept popping up for me. He had friends who did drugs. I remember visiting one friend of his, and they were doing cocaine in the living room. He had trouble keeping a steady job, or a steady living situation. He was arrested for a DUI. At one point he was basically homeless and rooming with some prostitutes.
I actually read about him in my journal recently and got very depressed (why? For stuff that happened 28 years ago!). I can’t believe I let myself be used like that. He had me being his ride, meal ticket and cash machine too. We finally broke up about 1.5 years after we first started going out — outside of the Bally’s Holiday Spa in Hollywood. I told him it was over and had been for some time. I cared about him. But didn’t feel that he cared or even loved me. I remember some guy even hit on me that day after the breakup.
I ran into him a few times after the breakup. Once about six months after, and we talked in the park. And then again on Halloween in West Hollywood. Other than that, I haven’t seen or talked to him since. I don’t know if he is even alive. I still have one of his precious painting in my home now. I kept it for collateral — if he ever paid me back what I lent him, he could have it back.
I am thankful these guys prepared me for the relationship I am in now. I had to go through some very trying times, but I came out of it OK. I am a survivor. God had something better in store for me soon — and his name was Rasheed.
KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.