When I was 17, I went on a weeklong trip to Santa Fe with a community service group I belonged to to work as a paid page for the New Mexico Legislature. There were about thirty of us who attended the trip with one chaperone. We’ll call that chaperone Mr. M.
Mr. M was one of the most popular teachers at my high school, his classes were very difficult to get in to, and though he was in charge of some of the more academically monotonous extra-curricular organizations, everyone seemed to join them just to be near him. Besides the clubs and organizations, I had taken two courses with Mr. M, including an intensive summer preparatory course between my Freshman and Sophomore years. Over the development of my high school career, I began to see Mr. M as a father figure to me at the school. He was someone I could talk to about troubles at home (now they truly seem silly), school, and my hopes for the future. Everyone loved Mr. M.
Our first night on the trip, after we checked into our condos at Fort Marcy in Santa Fe, Mr. M announced that he needed someone to go with him to the grocery store to pick up some food. Our three condos were equipped with state of the art kitchens and spacious dining rooms where we could all share evening and morning meals.
“I’ll go” I volunteered. “It’s my night my night to cook.”
“Very well” said Mr. M “Anyone else?”
None of the other students spoke up or raised their hands to go. This didn’t upset me as my classmates were all clearly engaged in board and card games. As I went up the stairs to grab my jacket I heard a voice say “I can’t believe you have to share a bed with that faggot Marcos; your’e gonna get ass-raped!”
Even though I wasn’t out yet, I had been made fun of for my sexuality for most of my public school career. Visibly flamboyant from a young age, I was likened to a girl starting around kindergarden, and would eventually be excluded from playing playground sports like basketball or soccer, based on the fact that I clearly wasn’t one of the guys. Another problem was, when I would try and play games like jump rope or tag with my female friends, I was met with “no boys allowed!”
Anyways, back to high school; there wasn’t a day I went to school that I wasn’t called “faggot, cock sucker” or “homo” I was even met with taunting jokes when I walked down the hallway like “silly faggot, dicks are for chicks.” The worst occurred IN the classroom. My Algebra II teacher’s son, Garrett Hall was a year ahead of me, and since I was enrolled in AP science courses, I often had course time with upper classmates. When our AP Anatomy teacher would leave the room, he would often announce if he would be a while, giving us a timeline to finish our work by. Garrett would then go up to the board and write “Jacob likes little boys” or “Jacob is a HOMOsapien” at which the entire class would usually laugh hysterically. I was often left with the task of walking in front of everyone to erase the words. Many of the students on the trip were from those classes and had at one point or another all laughed at me.
“Ready? asked Mr. M.
“yeah let’s go” I replied as we left for the supermarket.
“Are you ok? asked Mr. M.
“Yeah, I’m fine, why do you ask?”
“No reason, just that I know you could hear what the others were saying about you, and it can’t be easy.”
“It’s fine, really. I mean, it’s not fine, but I’m used to it.”
We turned into the DeVargas Shopping Center in northern Santa Fe and proceeded to go inside the Albertsons. As we walked through the store picking out produce for the week, we passed a tall glass case of condoms.
“Do you need any of these?” asked Mr. M?
“What!? Um… no I’m not sexually active Mr. M, no”
“Well I just thought that you and Marcos…”
“Oh, no, I’m not, I mean, Marcos isn’t, umm… you know.”
“Oh, sure” replied Mr. M “I’m sorry for suggesting, I just thought that you were, you know… gay”
Uncomfortable with the situation, I changed the subject immediately to dinner. As we walked for the door, Mr. M put his hand on my shoulder “you know you can talk to me about this Jacob.” I didn’t reply to him.
“I’ve dealt with homosexuality in my family before, I won’t judge you.”
“I know you won’t” I replied, “I just haven’t told anyone. My family, we’re very Catholic and, I just don’t know if this is what I want for my life you know; I had always envisioned a family, a wife and kids…”
“Who says you can’t still have all that?”
“Well, I can’t…”
“Let me talk to you about something” said Mr. M. We we were now in the school SUV in the DeVargas parking lot. “I went through the same thing you’re going through right now.”
“What!?” I was shocked, Mr. M was a complete family man; he had a wife, three kids and held a priesthood in the Mormon Church. I had never viewed him as anything but a teacher, family man and, well… Mormon.
“Believe me, when I was in college, I was a flaming homosexual… boy did I love cock.”
“Really” continued Mr. M “I loved taking a huge cock; cut, uncut, it didn’t matter.”
“So what you’re telling me is… you’re gay?” I was so confused, uncomfortable and by now all I wanted to do was get back to the condos, eat and go to bed.
“Well I’m not gay anymore. You know I have a wife and children.”
“Well, yeah, but” my mind was filled with confusion and anxiety. Was Mr. M gay? What was he trying to tell me? Or suggest for that matter!?
“I was really, really lost Jacob” continued Mr. M. “ and then I found God, I found religion, and that’s how I overcame this.”
“So now you’re straight?”
“I’m a man of God, and I’m telling you that there is nothing more sacred than making love to a woman. To have the ability to be one with God in that moment, to, like God create life.”
“Was that difficult? To change…?”
“At first, but I’m telling you Jacob, this path you’re on, it’s a dangerous one, and if you want to change, you need make some changes.”
“What do you mean?”
“I bet you think of men when you touch yourself. Its ok, I still do sometimes, but if you want that first time with a woman to be truly holy, to be a Godly experience, you need to stop touching yourself. Its like a demon inside you, this sexuality, and you need to starve it.”
By now I was really uncomfortable, Mr. M had started revealing to me that it was difficult to concentrate on his wife during sex, that he sometimes pictured young, high school aged boys when penetrating her. The worst of all? He cheated on her.
“I would never cheat on my wife with another woman” he said “that’s sacred.”
“And you don’t feel bad about it?” I asked
“No. I know that I’m experiencing something holy when I’m with my wife that can’t be reproduced with a man.”
Furthermore, Mr. M revealed many of his sex partners to be students, and that he had engaged in such activity since he was only a substitute teacher. He kept revealing his secrets to me in that dark parking lot.
“Are you hard?” asked Mr. M.
“I just thought all this talk might make you, you know… because I am.”
“I think we should get back to the condos” I suggested “its getting late, and I’m sure everyone’s hungry.”
When we finally got back, the students all verbally complained that they had been waiting and were practically starving. Mr. M suggested that it was my fault since it was my turn to cook that evening and my ingredients were varied.
After dinner, I was checking my e-mail on the downstairs computer when I felt Mr. M’s hand on my back. He began making small circles at the nape of my neck and continued downward. Though there were a dozen students in the room, it wasn’t wholly uncommon for Mr. M to give a massage to a student, in fact we all regularly expected it.
Later on that evening, Mr. M was playing a card game at the dining room table with my classmates JD and Jerry (the student who made the faggot comment) while I tried watching a television show in the adjacent room.
“…but wouldn’t you want to be like God when you die?” I heard Mr. M ask Jerry and JD, “to create new worlds, new universes, and to be the god of your own creation?”
JD and Jerry just mumbled stupidly and suggested a game of dominoes.
The next day, after an afternoon of conducting tours of the New Mexico Legislature to children, I found myself both physically and mentally exhausted. I didn’t know how to look at Mr. M without being utterly confused and upset.
“I put something in your suitcase” whispered Mr. M.
“What is it?
“Go and see…”
When I got to my room, I closed the door and opened my suitcase to find a Walgreens bag. Upon opening the bag, it’s contents fell to the floor. A box of Trojan latex condoms. I put the box back in the bag and walked across the hall to Mr. M’s room.
“We need to talk” I said.
“Yeah?” Mr. M’s eyes sparkled with excitement.
“I don’t need these; I won’t be needing these for a while. Please throw them out or give them to somebody else.”
“Are you sure?” insisted Mr. M.
“Positive” I replied.
“Why don’t you take a seat?”
I sat down on the edge of Mr. M’s bed with my head looking to the floor.
“I know things are probably scary for you right now, just know that I can always be here if you need.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
During that week in Santa Fe, Mr. M had revealed to me that not only had he been cheating on his wife with men, but with male high school students, that I was his type, and that no one had to know. He also walked in on my roommate Marcos and asked him about the size of his penis just before giving the box of condoms to Jerry. He suggested to Jerry that since he was such a “ladies man” that he would be needing them. Jerry used them alright… while masturbating to his father’s vast pornography collection.
When I had discussed events of the trip to my friend Elizabeth, she immediately made me talk to our guidance councilor. The guidance councilor then made me tell the principal who immediately made me tell my parents about the incident. Now, I never really told anyone the whole of the story, and the rest of it is still locked away in my memory. When I went back to visit my high school a couple of years later, I tried to tell my former principal Mrs. Pargas the complete, unabridged version of what happened on that trip. She stopped me mid-sentence and said “we’ve moved on Jacob, and it looks you have too. I would like to think that Mr. M is beyond this and I really don’t think he would try such a thing again.”
As I drove away, I passed a ticker in the middle of town naming Mr. M as the district’s teacher of the year. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s so caring after all.