. . . As I read what I’ve written, my life sounds grim and my outlook bleak. But know that my life has been very good; indeed, I’ve lived richly. . .When I see one of my paintings on display or read parts of the novel I’ve written I even amaze myself at times. I’ve been very blessed. I love life!
I was born onto a Nebraska sand hills cattle ranch—a fifth generation descendant from pioneers—into a close family of great grandparents and all the way to fifth cousins. I was the oldest of nineteen grandchildren in our immediate family and the rest were stair steps down from me—the last being eighteen years younger. . . I am very thankful for the time, place, and the salt of the earth people I was born into which were mainly of Irish, German, and Welch extraction.
Yet very early I knew I was different from the others. As adolescents will, my cousins, friends, and I experimented. But when the time came, they put it away and I didn’t. Although I had heard the word ‘queer,’ bandied about from fifth grade on, I had never heard the word, ‘homosexual,’ until I was a sophomore; or ‘gay,’ used in that sense until I was in college. I knew I was all of that though, just as I knew the word ‘queer’ applied to me in fifth grade. And I was surprised to learn I wasn’t the only one in the world because I had never met another. I thought of myself as some unique perverse freak.
But I knew what I was just as a boy knows he’s a boy and a girl knows she is a girl. I thought maybe I’d out grow it when the time came to marry and that worried me. As a friend I enjoyed the girl with whom I went steady for two years in high school until she became more insistent and we broke up. Various college dates were disasters too and I just wanted to spend my life in a desert lime shack I’d seen in a movie. There I could live with a couple of sun bleached cats and a flea-bitten dog and not ever have to deal with the opposite sex. The girl I thought about marrying in my early career has become a life-long friend; but the thought of having sex with any of them was repulsive. Even the act of kissing was a trial.
So the thought I might all of a sudden change and start caring for women sexually scared me because I wanted to stay the same even if it meant the Nevada desert. Liking women in that way just wasn’t me. At the same time I thought, ~this is me—the pervert; and I’ve chosen a career that involves working closely with young men. No one must ever find out. And so I turned off physically and I hid for forty years.