Worst night in a black college boy’s life

Excerpt from "Walt Loves the Bearcat"

f9a1a-jbwlb_0069“I confessed to one of [my roommates] that I was—I don’t even know the word I used—but we both understood it as gay. Or he probably understood it as queer, since he was from the South.

“Anyway, I told him I was queer and in love with him—again, in whatever inarticulate words my 23-year-old mind used. He moved out the next day, breaking my very adolescent heart and leaving me without a good friend and a roommate.

“The beloved roomie had ratted me out as a fag.”

“It all happened toward the end of February. The basketball team was in a heated battle for a berth in the NCAA. After I got home from cheering at the greatest USC-UCLA basketball game ever, the apartment was eerily quiet. Next thing I know, I’m sitting at the kitchen table and reading this very long and angry letter on yellow legal paper.

“The note was from the other roommate, the one I hadn’t been in love with. He wasn’t even a student, just a Hawaiian guy on some Christian missionary-type voyage. Our apartment had been his temporary harbor.

“Turns out, the beloved roomie—who had already moved out—had ratted me out as a fag, so the evangelical roommate moved out while I was at the basketball game, leaving me a vitriolic note telling me all the reasons I was going to hell.

“Life became a blur. I had literally days to come up with all the rent, and before that, coming up with my third was already a monthly challenge. From the moment I read that letter until I graduated a few months later, I went into survival mode.

“My landlords were an understanding elderly couple. They gave me a few extra days to pay the rent and I recruited two strangers who each needed a mattress on the floor—same arrangement, different cast. This time, I kept my mouth shut and concentrated on surviving until graduation.

“The UCLA basketball team’s NIT title run was a godsend, a place to live the last of my boyhood dreams. After the climax of the hoop season, the faculty advisor wanted us to cheer at some volleyball games. I didn’t even bother responding.

“My work was done. I’d given two major universities my life and times and my heart and soul for five years, all while searching for one other male student who thought like me, felt like me, and was compatible enough to be my buddy-for-life.

“The closest I ever got was a guy at USC who once told me he was gay when he was drunk, then later told me he had no recollection of that disclosure when he was sober; and a guy at UCLA who was from the South and thought so much of me that he moved out the day after I told him I was in love with him and very confused about it all.

“I don’t blame him, mind you. He did what he had to do to move on, and eventually, so did I. I spent my last months of college making sure I passed my classes so I could get out of there and never, ever have to look back.”

Walt Loves the Bearcat—from Walt Loves the Bearcat
by Randy Boyd

A Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Best Romance

“Warm-spirited … resonates with soulful queries into the nature of love and life.” Bay Area Reporter

Comments

comments