On a gray day in the gray city of Jackson, Michigan, we met up with Todd at the fountain in the middle of the local mall. As we sat on one of the benches, Todd told us a story of unrequited desire and long-distance love. Please enjoy:
TODD: I guess I knew I was gay as early as 7th grade. All the other guys around me were starting to notice the girls and I was starting to notice them. Just last year, my sophomore year, there was this guy named Blake in one of my classes. That was the first time I actually completely admitted to myself a full-blown crush. And, of course, once that happened I kinda went a bit overboard and came very close to stalking him. Needless to say, I’m not exactly his favorite person anymore.
Before I found out about my school’s GSA, I felt really lonely. I went through some really severe depression and actually attempted suicide quite a few times. When I met Blake, things started looking up again and then I started coming on too strong and he rejected me and things just kinda plunged back down.
YGA: How long ago was that?
TODD: Probably about this time a year ago.
YGA: Was Blake out?
TODD: Yes. And part of the reason I liked him so much was that I really admired that in him. He actually sat right near to me in one of my classes. While this was all going on I barely actually said anything to him. I remember I’d write out a really long intricate note, pass it to him, get one back a few minutes later. It’s funny cuz the first note I gave he seemed pretty friendly. Then the very next day a mutual friend of ours found out that I liked him and passed the information along, and after that he just completely pushed me away.
YGA: Were you pissed off at the friend?
TODD: Honestly, yea. But there wasn’t really anything I could do and I didn’t want to confront her about it simply because I didn’t have many friends and didn’t want to risk losing one. Near the end of everything that was happening with Blake, my school’s social worker began talking to me about my depression and he told me about the GSA. I started going to that, and it was there that I met Tyler, who was basically the founder of our school’s GSA. Tyler’s about a year older than me. I basically managed to look up to him and yet want to be with him at the same time. Needless to say, things didn’t work out with him either, but they ended on a much more positive note and he and I are still good friends.
A couple months after everything that had happened with Blake, February 3rd, two days before my brithday, I was still having trouble getting over him and was online at adultfrienedfinder and I was in a chat room kinda hanging out trying to find someone to talk to and sort my own feelings out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day because that was when I met Andy. Things started off really well between us and they’ve been going well ever since.
YGA: Is Andy here in Jackson?
TODD: That’s the thing. He’s not. He lives in New Jersey. But despite that, I still feel this little connection with him. In August, he finally came to visit me and it was just the most amazing week of my life. We literally spent every waking moment together.
YGA: That’s so great.
TOSS: Right now I’m waiting for him to come back for another visit. A week from now.
YGA: It’s already planned?
TODD: Yea. My mom’s insiting that he make Thanksgiving dinner, cuz he’s an excellent cook.
YGA: Awww. How does she know he’s such an excellent cook?
TODD: I was actually at my dad’s house in the Upper Penninsula, when he came to visit. My mom only met him briefly when I came back. But she knows he’s a good cook because while he was there he cooked dinner every night, and after every meal I’d say “Mom your cooking’s not as good as Andy’s.” I don’t think she really liked that.
YGA: So you met him on Planet Out?
TODD: Yes. I’d been trying the personals for a long long time with absoluetly no success, then suddenly one day someone–seemingly at random–just comes across it. When he comes to Jackson again I’m planning to have him meet all my friends and have just an all and all great time.
YGA: What does he do in New Jersey?
TODD: Right now he is working at a factory. I’m not sure exactly what he’s doing there. I guess that’s just because I never got around to asking. I’m like, as long as you get the money to come out and visit me, do whatever… well, almost. Anyway, I’m sure he’s making much more money than I do. I have no real room to counsel him about what his occupation is.
YGA: Do you have a picture of you two?
TODD: No, and the reason for that is we took one when he was out here, he took the camera back, but he still hasn’t used up the rest of the pictures.
YGA: Will you send us one..?
TODD: Sure. I know my step-mother kept saying we made a really cute couple. Of course my step-mother also says I’d make a beautiful woman.
YGA: Have you ever dressed in drag?
TODD: Not yet, but I want to try. Right now the farthest I’ve gone is doing my nails, and I didn’t do them all that well either.
YGA: So now you’re looking forward to Andy’s visit?
TODD: I’m getting ready to present him with my friends and spend some more quality time with him. And the best part is, once he’s gotten a year in the factory where he’s currently working, they’re going to transfer him to a sister plant here in Jacklson. So that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to.
YGA: How does the distance thing work for you?
TODD: That’s the one thing I don’t like.
YGA: But y’know distance can be a very good thing for a relationship. It can give you the opportunity to take things slowly and ask questions of each other. It can be very health.
TODD: Well it helps that locally he doesn’t have all that much compeition. I mean, at my school right now, including myself and Tyler, there are 3 of us that are out. I don’t know how many more are just in the closet, hiding through their high school years.
YGA: So you said your school has a GSA?
TODD: Yea. In fact it was really neat cuz our school has this big showcase on the first floor right by the main stairwell. Pretty much everyone passes by the showcase sometime during the day. People can resreve it or clubs and sports teams and that type of thing for certain amounts of time and decorate it however they want. Well, last year we tried to get the showcase for the GSA it was our first year and we had to focus too much on actually getting the faculty to accept us. Last year they shot down our proposal for the showcase. But this year, we got it reserved for the entire month of November!
YGA: No way, that’s awesome. How did you decorate it?
TODD: The whole background is black construction paper, across the center we’ve got a rainbow going across, with a sheet of construction paper for each color, then along that rainbow we’ve got a sort of a Gay History timeline starting with Stonewall and continuing till now. In the middle on both the top and the bottom we’ve got various famous gay people from different time periods and different occupations. In the bottom on one corner we’ve got this big cardboard triangle covered in a collage of magazine clippings that we thought were relevant. It’s a really neat thing.
YGA: Do you know how lucky you are to have a school-supported group like that?
TODD: Yea. It’s really great.
YGA: Did you go up here?
TODD: I was born here, I moved around within the town, but I’ve lived here all my life.
YGA: Is it really the birthplace of the Republican Party?
TODD: Yes. There’s a spot somewhere in the middle of town where the first Republicans actually came out and formed the party. It’s one of the few things we’re famous for in this tiny little town. Other than that, we used to have a really good ice cream parlor. It was really famous. Ice cream from there would literally be shipped to places all over the stae. It was a real shame when they closed.
YGA: Future plans?
TODD: I want to go to college. Probably after college, my eventual goal is to be a writer but I know I’m not going to be able to support myself right off the bat with that, so I’m thinking about teaching one of my two best subjects, either English or German.
YGA: When you look at your life, do you think you’ve been fortunate?
TODD: Yes. I think I’ve been fairly lucky so far, and hope I’ll continue to be. Everyone wants to be.
YGA: What have you learned?
TODD: That generally parents are a lot more open-minded than you give them credit for. Not all parents, of course, but most. Even if they appear to be complete stubborn idiots about things at first, eventually over time they can change. My mother was absolutely disapproving at first, but now she’s come almost a full 180. She’s actually recently been attending PFLAG meetings. I’m seeing definite improvement, although there’s still the occasion things she has to get used to. Like one day last week I came home from school and we’d just gotten this new exchange student in english class who was really hot. I told her and she just gave me this look like “huh?” I’m like “well, he was!”