Thomas is a Homosexual In Love
“Mom? Mom?!” Thomas’ call went unanswered. He was adjusting his suit even though he’d been dressed for nearly an hour. The only part of his outfit that was missing was his shoes. Where were his damn shoes?! “Mom!”
“What!” Thomas heard a reply from a room down the hall.
“Do you know where my shoes are?!”
“Check your garment bag,” came a faint but confident response. She sounded distracted. She was probably finishing a floral arrangement.
“No, they’re not in there!”
“Okay, try my duffle bag.”
“Why would they be in there?”
“Because I knew you’d forget,” his mom responded, walking into the room. Her hair was up in a messy bun, her dress barely clinging to her shoulders. “Will you zip this for me?”
“Is everything ready?” Thomas asked as he zipped her dress, then bent to put on his shoes.
“No, don’t!” His mother said, almost exasperated. “You’ll wrinkle your shirt. Your dad just ironed that last night. Here, I’ll tie them for you.”
Thomas accepted, and laughed at the image of a thirty-year-old man having his mother tie his shoes. He looked down as she gracefully wove the shoelaces together. Her hair had gotten so gray, and yet he thought she looked even more radiant now than he’d ever remembered. He was deep in thought when she looked up and caught his eye. “Thomas, what is it?”
“Mom-“ His words got caught in his throat. He began to cry. He knew he’d cry today, he just wasn’t sure when it would happen. He thought maybe over breakfast, or in the shower, but his tears decided to come now, in this moment, alone with his mother.
“Oh, my sweet Thomas.” His mother’s eyes began to tear up as she smiled, stood, and cupped his face with her hands. “You are ready to do this. I am so proud of you, son.”
“I know. I know. I just—I never thought this would happen. I’m so happy.”
“Me too. We all are.” They embraced.
A sound from the hallway. His dad came lumbering into the room, obviously out of breath. “Why is this church so goddamn big?” He held the doorframe for support. “Thomas, the rest of the crew is looking for you. Honey,” He turned to his wife, “it’s time.”
Thomas’ mother turned to look at Thomas one last time before she left. She said something in that silent gaze that remained with Thomas long after she left.
Thomas began the descent down the long, narrow stairwell. As he reached the landing he began to hear anxious giggles and hushed chatter. When he rounded the corner his nerves disappeared. Standing before him were his best friends, and they were there for him.
“Ready?” His friend named Gia asked.
The doors opened, and he caught a glimpse of Colin at the end of the aisle. With a deep breathe, he walked forward to stand with his future husband.
It was Valentines day and he was casually swiping on Tindr. The oven timer went off, and he was careful not to get burnt as he reached in for his pizza. As he sat down and grabbed the ranch dressing his phone chimed. Someone named Colin had messaged him on Tindr.
Colin: What’s someone as handsome as you doing alone on Valentines Day?
Thomas smirked, and typed back, what makes you think I’m alone?
Colin: Well, you responded pretty quickly, so I’m guessing I’m right.
Thomas: I’m not completely alone. I’ve got a pizza and bottle of wine to keep
Colin: Omg haha, me too.
Thomas set down his phone. He’d had this conversation what felt like hundreds of times. It never went anywhere, and he’d stopped getting his hopes up a long time ago. His phone vibrated again. Wiping ranch dressing off his fingers, he picked it up to see another message from Colin.
Colin: sorry if this is forward, but would you want to grab coffee soon? You’re really handsome.
Was this guy for real? They had had a boring exchange AT BEST, and now he’s asking him out for coffee? Thomas opened his profile, and after a few seconds of clicking through his pictures, he decided he wasn’t being catfished. With grease-covered fingers, Thomas replied:
Thomas: sounds like fun.
The decided on the next day, and just like that, Thomas had a date. He considered not finishing the pizza so he wouldn’t feel bloated tomorrow, then decided no man was worth that kind of sacrifice.
Thomas arrived to the coffee shop a few minutes late after an intense internal argument on what to wear. He decided on a soft blue button up with a vest and skinny jeans. The weather was mild, warm for February, and he spotted Colin sitting at a table outside scrolling on his phone.
“Thomas, hi!” Colin stood and firmly hugged him, as if he already knew him. “I ordered you a drink, a latte. I hope you like lattes.” He handed him the drink.
“Of course, that’s perfect.” Thomas took a sip and sat down.
“So, Thomas, tell me about yourself.” Colin obviously wasn’t one for small talk, Thomas thought. At first he told him all of the typical things, the things that made him sound more impressive and funnier than he was. But then, and Thomas didn’t know why, he began to tell Colin things he had never told anyone on a first date. Maybe it was the warmth of his smile, or the way their calves were touching under the table, or the way his eyes flashed in the sun. Thomas told him about his high school crushes, the way his dad’s face fell when he first told him he was gay, and the time his dad apologized to him for his reaction years later. Thomas shared his fears, his hopes, his dreams and his heartaches.
He felt at ease around Colin, and focused intently as he listened to Colin’s story. Colin was raised in a family of five, the youngest of three brothers. All three brothers were athletic and charismatic, but Colin slowly grew distant from them as he began to realize that he was gay in high school. He was outed on Facebook by someone he thought was a friend his junior year, and his parents immediately signed him up for counseling to solve the issue.
“Was it terrible?” Thomas had finished his drink long ago, but help the cup and picked at the cardboard sleeve.
“It was. It wasn’t, like, conversion therapy terrible, but it felt like hitting my head against a wall to try and stop a headache. Each time I went I just piled on more and more shame. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and I convinced my parents to let me go live with my grandma in Arizona. I convinced them I’d be isolated, so they agreed.”
“You probably were isolated, at least mentally.”
“It was amazing, actually. I told my grandma why I was there, and you know what she said? She said ‘I love your father, but he can be a damn prude.’ Then she asked me how many boys I’d kissed.” He laughed, and Thomas laughed.
“Colin, when you messaged me, I had no idea the day would be like this.”
“Like… healing, if that makes sense. I haven’t talked to another gay man in awhile, let alone about these things.”
“You’re a natural.”
They held hands and walked along the river until dusk.
A week after their wedding, Thomas stood next to the bed he and Colin had had delivered and set up while they were gone. He was deciding which clothes from the honeymoon needed washed and which he could get more mileage out of when Colin came in from the kitchen with a container of raspberries.
“I didn’t know we had any food here,” Thomas said as more of a question than a statement.
“It looks like your mom had a whole shipping container of food sent while we were away,” was the mouth-filled response. He handed Thomas a short note in his mother’s handwriting.
“’I thought you could use some food to get you started,’” he read, imitating his mother’s slight southern drawl. “’I also sent some Gatorade. I remember how dehydrating my honeymoon was. So much sweating!’” At this point Thomas and Colin both burst out laughing, incredulous as her insinuation. “That is so gross!”
“Your mom has… no filter,” Colin said through laughter. Tears came, and Thomas couldn’t help but mentally capture the moment he and Colin first shared their new home in a pile of laughter and tears. As the laughter subsided, Thomas curled up next to Colin who put his arm around his husband.
“I love this moment. I don’t want it to end.”
“You want piles of dirty laundry and dozens of unopened moving boxes to stick around forever?”
“I don’t care about those things,” Thomas laughed, “This moment with you. It makes me feel so sure about everything.”
“You’re one of the few things that I’m sure of, Thomas.”
They kissed. Thomas was kissing his husband. Every hour he spent in his youth worrying about being outted, wondering if he’d ever be happy, all felt so long ago; like when he remembered it, he was recalling the life of someone else. How had he ever been that scared, insecure, heartbroken boy?
“Thomas, you’re crying,” Colin said as he pulled away. Thomas hadn’t realized that his thoughts had provoked this reaction. He quickly wiped away his tears.
“I’m sorry, I was just thinking… never mind.” Thomas didn’t want to ruin the moment.
“What? Tell me what you were thinking.” Colin pulled a pillow underneath him and leaned against the headboard.
“Well… sometimes, when I look at you, or when I kiss you, and just now when I thought about us being married, it feels like I’m looking into someone else’s life. Like, I forget for a moment that this is my life.”
Colin laughed. “I get it, I totally get it. Hell, last week when I saw you walking down the aisle, I wasn’t only thinking about how lucky I am, but my whole closeted life flashed before my eyes. It’s like my brain is still hardwired to doubt happiness.”
“Exactly!” Thomas sat up and crossed his legs, placing a pillow in his lap. “Like, there’s this deep well of sadness I can’t keep pulling from. My happiness is tethered to my sadness, and when I experience one it’s only a matter of time before I’m catapulted toward the other.”
“Thomas, no matter how far down you reach into that well, know that I’ll always be here to pull you out. Every damn time.”
“Colin…” Thomas began to cry again. When did he become a crier? He just couldn’t keep the tears in. He was happy; this moment, this life was sheer joy. He had found love where he was told it wasn’t supposed to be. Colin slowly sat up and wiped away Thomas’ tears with his rough thumbs.
Colin glanced at his phone. “Okay, I don’t want to ruin this moment, but… pizza’s here.”
“What are you doing just sitting here, go get it! I’m starving.” Thomas laughed through his words, smearing the final tears off his cheeks as his husband ran from the room. This, he thought, was truly living.