This was to be the story of a straight roommate who fell in love with me. But, obviously that sort of statement is in need of a lot of qualifiers. Was he really straight? I think he was. Was he really in love with me? My wife thinks he was. Regardless, by all other accounts we were best friends and closer than I've been with anyone except my wife. I would have asked him to be the best man at my wedding, but he disappeared shortly after I left for medical school--no e-mails and no phone calls. Sometimes I wonder why a guy who was closer than a brother would suddenly drop off the face of the earth; why he would go from driving me and my stuff halfway across the country to ignoring me altogether. All I can figure is that he suddenly became aware how tied to me he had become and got scared.
Let me rewind a couple years to the beginning of the story. My wife and I had been dating for years, but parted ways when she graduated and our relationship hadn't progressed. She moved on with her life and I got a job in the real world. I lived in a BYU student approved complex even though I was no longer a student (shame on me) and enjoyed life finally pulling a paycheck and having my evenings study-free. At the end of the year the perennial student turnover emptied most of the complex and a guy from my ward I didn't know too well invited me to move into his apartment.
At first I didn't like the idea--this guy wasn't really a great friend, just an acquaintance. But the fact that I could go from a shared bedroom to a private bedroom sealed the deal. My then current room roommate deserves a whole chapter of his own, but we'll forgo that for now! So, I moved in with Jeff.
I don't remember exactly how the following months played out, but the fact that he had all the cool electronics meant that we spent a considerable amount of time hanging out. For whatever reason, he was really nice to me. He would wash my dishes and clean up my messes in a way that invited reciprocation, and soon we were just always looking out for each other and pretty close. He would use my stuff and I would use his. We traveled all over the country together and took every weekend we could to go camping in southern Utah. We hung out with each other's family. The lines of who owned what in our apartment were blurred in a way that felt like family. We just got really close.
He was brilliant and had landed a high paying job (six figures!) right out of BYU. He got me a job at the same place and with that transition we were together pretty much 24/7. One day a coworker discovered porn on an office computer and I was asked if I had been the culprit. I honestly answered that it hadn't been me, and Jeff defended me. After that fiasco had faded and we were chatting privately about it, he said he had been 100% sure it hadn't been me because it wasn't "my brand." He had become aware I was gay quite a while before as he used my computer in our apartment. I had been less than tidy with covering my internet history. But nothing really changed after he knew. I had no idea that he was even aware.
The nice thing about the experience was that it gave me a chance to be honest with someone and talk about things. I gave him my speculation that part of my problems with sexuality were related to my repressed upbringing. We compared stories and his history intrigued me. When he looked at porn as a kid and his dad caught him, his dad (a bishop) said, "that's my boy," and didn't give him a hard time. The expectation was always there that he not look at porn, but he didn't feel guilty or shamed by the experience. His dad had an openness about things that took the "forbidden" element out. It normalized issues. I, on the other hand, felt I needed to confess to the bishop if my eyes fell on a swimsuit pinup as I walked down the halls of school.
He said he thought I needed things normalized. I needed a brother. Someone who didn't judge me for being gay, or looking at porn, or whatever. Someone who just accepted me and loved me anyway.
We kept hanging out, getting more affectionate over time. We slept in the same bed sometimes. One of us would fling an arm around the other one in a way that some would call brotherly and some would call flirty, and we'd fall asleep that way. I liked him well enough by this point that things could have gotten inappropriate fast except for one thing: he was straight. We discussed it more than once and I held some doubts whether it was really true. But without going into all the situational details, I had seen what turned him on, and it wasn't guys. Sure, maybe he was bi. If he was, he wasn't turned on by me, but he still loved me in a way that was hard to explain.
The summer before med school we planned a big trip with two girls (I married one of them later!). My wife tells me now that it was on that trip that she first really suspected that I was gay. Just seeing us together, how we played off each other, how much we really loved each other, she was convinced that we were BOTH gay. A few weeks later, I came out to her and she told me she already knew. But she loved me anyway. She liked Jeff too, up until the time she believed he was a rival for my affection.
And, there you have it. One weekend in the fall, we piled all my stuff into the jeep and drove across the country to my new home. We slept in the same bed for the last time and Jeff drove off into the sunset never to be heard from again. We had big plans that after I finished med school we would start a business together. Or maybe we would take flying lessons and buy a plane together. We had a good track record of sharing possessions. But, somewhere along the way I suspect he may have realized that he had been changed by our relationship more than he intended. Rather than just me feeling more "normalized," maybe he was brought to consider some gay feelings he never knew he had. I don't know. I still love him and miss him and now that my wife doesn't feel like she has to compete anymore (she definitely doesn't), I sort of wish he'd step back in and pick up where we left off as friends.