"Ok, I'm going to tell you about the white boy who turned me into the fine, upstanding gay man you see today," Sandy says.
Alan, his partner Sandy, their friend Tarik, and I are swapping stories of funny or memorable dates and hookups. I tell about my date with Michael J. Fox. Tarik tells about the blue-eyed demon. Now it's Sandy's turn.
Sandy grew up in Washington, DC., graduated from Howard University with a degree in international relations, and went to work in the foreign service. He was stationed in Senegal, the Comoros Islands, and finally Barbados, where he became the Public Affairs Director at the American Embassy.
Barbados was black-friendly, but not at all gay-friendly. There were no gay bars or gay organizations. Gay men were criminals, and homophobic violence was commonplace. The few guys he met were on the downlow.
So, five to ten times a year, Sandy flew home to Washington, to take a sex holiday in the bars, dark rooms, bathhouses, and sex clubs.
"But I wasn't into that blue-eyed devil nonsense," Sandy says. "I loved white boys. Especially the blonds Fresh-scrubbed all-American jocks, like Ricky Schroder."
"I had a crush on him, too," Alan says. "When you were dating the Celebrity, I kept hoping he would fix us up."
"Um...I think Rick Schroeder is straight."
But last summer Sandy met his own Rick, a Howard University pre-law major, white, with dark blond hair, a round androgynous face, a tight smooth chest, and thick biceps.
"But his best feature was his mouth," Sandy says. "I could kiss him for hours."
They saw each other for three days, and then, on a whim, Sandy bought him a plane ticket back to Barbados. They settled into Sandy's house on Back Ivy Road, and Sandy looked into getting him a job at the Embassy.
But Rick was not used to the closeted, downlow lifestyle of Barbados. He started cruising in straight bars, picking up tourists on the beach.
"What a jerk!" I exclaim. "Sharing is one thing, but public sex! No matter how big he was beneath the belt, I'd show him the door."
After only 10 days, he was arrested for public sex in the woods behind the Yellow Bird Hotel and deported.
And he named names, outing Sandy as his boyfriend. The State Department didn't cotton to "homosexuals": Sandy was promptly fired He returned to the States, and found a job in public relations in Norfolk.
"But it was worth it!" Sandy says. "I hated being closeted, doing things on the downlow with married men. Thanks to Rick, I got the courage to be true to myself. And...I met my soulmate, Alan."
I sigh. This Rick guy still sounds like a jerk.
New York, November 1999
"Ok, I'm going to tell you about my weirdest hookup," Barry says.
Yuri is in the City, spending the weekend with me. Barry and I have taken him to dinner, and now we are in my apartment, swapping stories about good, bad, and ugly dates, boyfriends, and hookups. Yuri tells about how he tricked Ravi the Bear into sharing his boy toy. Now it's Barry's turn.
Barry grew up in a very conservative Catholic household in Williamsburg, Virginia, so when he went to college, he went wild, cruising guys right and left, sneaking into gay bars and bathhouses, tricking every night, but always hoping to meet The One, the Man of His Dreams.
And one night he did: Guy, a tourist from St. Lucia, in his 40s, black, muscular, huge beneath the belt. Plus a wealthy, sophisticated world traveler. He worked for the Ministry of External Affairs, so he was traveling all the time, throughout the Caribbean, to Europe, to Asia. He had just been to China to negotiate a trade agreement. Barry had never been outside the U.S.
After a courtship of just three days, Barry packed a suitcase, grabbed his passport, and flew back to St. Lucia with Guy. They moved into his house on Pansy Drive.
At first it was great. Castries was beautiful, colorful red and yellow houses set against the white beaches and mountains. The population was mostly black. Gorgeous guys everywhere.
One day when Barry got home, the police were waiting for him. They told him that Guy had been arrested for "public indecency" in the woods behind the Captain's Cellar Restaurant. They arrested Barry, too, as an "accomplice," but dropped the charges and sent him home on the condition that he never return to St. Lucia, and never try to contact Guy again.
He didn't listen. The moment he got home, he wrote to Guy. No answer. Three letters and a long-distance phone call. No answer.
"What an idiot!" Yuri exclaims. "He just leaves you when things get bad."
"Serves me right." Barry takes a sip of his Coke. "Serves me right for flying halfway across the world to be with a guy I just met."
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, December 1999
I notice the parallels right away: college student and older man fly from Washington DC to a Caribbean island, where one of them is arrested. The college student is white, and the older man is black. The two stories take place about the same year.
But: different islands, different names, different person getting arrested. Barry is only average beneath the belt. Sandy is slim and rather feminine, not muscular.
I show Barry a picture of Sandy. "Nope, definitely not him!" he exclaims. "My Guy was hot!"
I send a picture of Barry to Sandy. "No, definitely not him!" he writes back. "My guy was hot!"
Still not satisfied, I arrange for the two to meet. Sandy and Alan have moved a few times since the last time I visited them: now they're in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, about two hours west of Manhattan. We drive out for the weekend.
Barry and Sandy greet each other as strangers, but as they get to talking, sharing their memories, they realize that they were describing the same incident, perceived differently at the time, changed in the haze of years, and then changed again through the art of storytelling.
It was Barbados. Sandy was the one arrested.
Psychics tell us that we're surrounded by the same people in every lifetime. They play different roles: our father in one life may be our sister in the next, our lover in a third, and a memorable hookup in the fourth. But it's the same souls, over and over.
Maybe, in their next life, Barry and Sandy will be lovers.
The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.