My first boyfriend Fred had many different jobs, cities, friends, and relationships. In trying to make sense of his life, I decided to go with his lovers.
1. The Farmboy. Fred was born on a farm in rural Western Illinois in November 1952. Growing up, he milked cows and fed pigs, but he was not isolated from the social ferment of the 1960s. He watched The Smothers Brothers and listened to Jefferson Airplane.
In high school, Fred was a clean-cut all-American, lettering in football, taking girls to school dances, leading Sunday school classes at the United Methodist church, respected by his parents and the oldsters, who thought he was the exception to a generation full of "draft dodgers and hippies."
No one talked about gay people. He was not aware that they existed, certainly not aware that he was himself gay.
He had no same-sex experiences except with the Farmboy, his girlfriend's brother, who lived about a mile down the road. After his dates, he dropped off the girl with a chaste kiss on the cheek and then met the Farmboy behind the barn for moments of homoerotic joy.
He majored in psychology, because he wanted to understand his desires better, and in Classics, because he was in love with his Greek professor: a Harvard Ph.D. in his fifties with a thick beard, a hairy chest, a little belly, and a Bratwurst beneath the belt. The Greek Professor mentioned the gay loves of Zeus and Apollo -- the first time Fred ever heard gay people discussed in public.
3. The Episcopal Priest. From 1976 to 1979, Fred was attending McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, studying for his Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in pastoral counseling. None of his textbooks or classes mentioned gay people. But somehow he found the gay neighborhood of Chicago, with its bars, bookstores, and bathhouses, and had several brief relationships and hookups.
Among his more memorable hookups was Ron Reagan, son of the future president.
His most memorable relationship was with Thomas, an Episcopal priest from Des Moines, who was certain that it was ok to be gay and Christian. They remained friends for the rest of Fred's life.
See: The Priest with Three Boyfriends and Fred Hooks Up with the President's Son
At the end of his internship, in the summer of 1980, Fred found a job as a youth minister at a United Methodist church in Gretna, Nebraska. He convinced Boomer to drop out of college and follow him.
Neither was prepared for the daily routine of a live-in relationship. Fred became controlling and argumentative, Boomer surly and jealous, certain that Fred was cheating with the teenager downstairs (and perhaps he was). After five weeks, Boomer left, to return to college.
But, like the Episcopal priest, they remained friends. Fred tried his best to keep his old loves in his life.
See: My First Date, with Fred the Ministerial Student and Fred and the Teenager Downstairs
I don't know why they broke up -- I suspect that the Nephew graduated and moved somewhere for a job.
In 1982, Fred left Gretna to become senior pastor of the United Methodist Church in Horrible Small-Town Kansas. He was pressured to date, and in fact had several lady friends, keeping his same-sex activity strictly on the downlow.
8. The Icelandic Photographer.
After hooking up with a 26-year old chef named Tyler, Fred moved in with him, as a roommate. He became close to Tyler's mother, Georgina, and a surrogate father to his brothers, Rusty and Max. They even took family portraits together.
Fred and Tyler were Platonic friends, a stepfather and stepson. After that first night, they never slept together, not even for "sharing," and each sought out other lovers. But it was Tyler who took care of him when he got sick in 2016, who helped him into and out of his wheelchair and drove him to his doctor appointments, and who was holding his hand that last day in the hospice.
Maybe, at the end of his life, Fred finally found his soulmate.
The full story, with nude photos and sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.