November 11, 1994: DIDDLY SQUAT

Dear Dominic,

There are so many things your sister wants to tell you, so many things she could say. I asked her, “Why don’t you tell these things to Dominic?” She realized that she doesn’t know diddly squat about you. The Dominic I tell her about personality-wise is foreign to her. She is always so tickled and surprised to hear that you would ever do such things. Does she always have to be? It disturbs me that I know more about her personality than you do, and that I know more about you so that she needs to ask me.

We did talk about homosexuality for a while. I haven’t told her about our most recent conversation, exempting the one at 3 am. I don’t want to be a reporter. Actually, I refuse the designation completely. If she wants to know, she can ask you.

Love,

“M”

October 21, 1994: WHAT’S SO NEAT ABOUT FRIENDSHIP?

Dominic,

Why do I feel that whenever I tell someone of my feelings that I’m burdening them with silly problems? Why don’t I want to write to you anymore? Do you really worry about me? Why do I doubt your friendship? Is it because I feel like I don’t deserve it? Or because I feel like I don’t need it? Or because it’s too good to be true? Or because you’re not capable of it considering all of the things that have happened, and the things you’ve confided in me?

Give me a good reason why we shouldn’t just give up. You have your life in Milwaukee and here I am at Seattle U. What’s so neat about friendship? Give me one good reason. Because I’m struggling and I need your assurance.

Or your release.

“M”

October 21, 1994: PATENTED BULLSHIT STUNTS

Dear Dominic,

I’m glad you trusted our friendship enough to share with me what you did about what’s happening in your life. I had to read the whole letter twice to decide you weren’t pulling one of your patented bullshit stunts (you have to admit: you might write a letter like that even if you weren’t gay, just because you thought it would be funny). The second time through, I saw in the words you wrote that you were in earnest. After reading the letter again, I set it down and cried for about two minutes. I can’t express very well how many times you’ve salved my heart with your unconditional friendship and support. If I ever failed to return that friendship or that support, I would dishonor our relationship, which is of inestimable value to me. I still consider you my best friend. If you’re gay, then that just means my best friend happens to be gay. In a way, that’s good, because that kind of thing is all the rage these days.

My main concern with all this is how you’re perceiving your relationships with the people around you, with God, your family, and the world. You’re still loved very much. The only thing that bothers me about you’re being gay is that you’re going to have to deal with this society that has chosen to censure such “impropriety.”  What you’re going to do about your mom, I don’t know. I think you’re right that she’d probably freak out, at least at first, but on the other hand, she loves you more than anything—even more, I think, than she loves the security she enjoys in her orthodox Catholicism. I hope you two can (sometime soon) come to a loving understanding. As far as your relationship with God, please always remember that his love is humongous and unconditional.

Sincerely,

“D”

October 6, 1994: WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?

Dear Journal,

So I’m at Angelo’s again, after midnight, just to order a pitcher of beer and write in this journal.

What the heck is going on? I have no idea! I don’t believe I just got off the phone with “S”* and that she actually told me she was having sex with her boyfriend. She called at just the right time, too, while I was watching a movie on TV about sexual experimentation during college. I guess she’d tell me eventually. I just never wanted to believe it. Why did I never think it could happen, would happen, to “S” and me? Were we immune, at least in my mind? Obviously not. And I just talked to “E” last night about her sleeping with this someone new. While I thought imagining exes sleeping with somebody else was difficult-—try imagining your sister!

I don’t think I know totally what I’m doing. I think that’s partly why I’m doing it. How rash you can be. Spontaneity’s one issue, being stupid and jumping in too deep is another. I told my class this morning that I was in love. Of course, I was kidding and told them so. But was I? Could I just totally forget about “L”? Do we ever totally forget?

How can I forget, when everywhere I turn around, I’m reminding of my possible homosexuality? I had just got done yesterday writing a note to the leader of the GLB Discussion Group, expressing my interest, when I returned to my apartment and see a new sign for—the GLB Discussion Group. I go up to my room, turn on the TV, and watch an episode of Frasier—about a gay station manager…

I really need to study. I don’t care what sex I’m after, I’m not here, ostensibly, to chase women or men! But I think about “L” a lot. Too much, probably. I keep wondering why he is seeing me and what he sees in me. This is all so new. Yet it feels so natural.

There’s something invigorating about being with him, sort of like the tingly feeling I get when I take a sip of coffee. Making out with him is a lot different than with “P” (too long) or “E” (too tender). It’s most like “J” (spontaneous and forceful).  But even more so.

My face feels hot. Did I blush last night? At the theatre? On “L”‘s futon?

I wish my mother would stop asking me whether or not I’m dating anyone. Of course I am, but I can’t let her know that. And then she adds things like “Secrets aren’t good, especially for families” or “Pray for your sister, because I know she’s living in sin.” And I have to answer “I know” and “I am, I will.”

I told my sister about my date. I used a male pronoun. I know she knew what I was saying. But we were arguing about something else, and she let it drop.

* My sister.

October 3, 1994: A MORE DISTANT LOCATION

Dear Dominic,

I am pleased that you are in a more distant location in which you can develop your own personality and lifestyle. When one lives at home, one is caused to accommodate the pressure and demands of parents who never seem to realize that one grows up and is no longer a child in school. My comment, here, is not a complaint, but a general observation based on many years or contact with numerous young friends.

If some of us seem somewhat interesting, it is because we have seen more things happen, we have journeyed longer, we have struggled more intensely with ideas and experiments. Perhaps we are not really interesting, but only peculiar, quaint, or eccentric.

Sincerely yours,

“H”

Howard taught Spanish and Health when I was in high school, but taught more than that: camping, hiking, fishing, bicycling, respect for Nature and for God.  He remains a good, true friend.

“H” taught Spanish and Health when I was in high school, but taught more than that: camping, hiking, fishing, bicycling, respect for Nature and for God. He remains a good, true friend.

 

September 27, 1994: MIKE, OR NERD AT A GAY BAR

September 27, 1994

Dear Journal,

It turns out that “L”

is fresh out of school—just got his PhD in psychology
is working on training at the VA hospital in geriatrics
is most importantly, and surprisingly, Catholic
used to sing for a church group
loves to read, and has to to get to sleep
is clean-cut and dresses preppy
is strikingly handsome—why else did I follow him through the bar?

This Friday, at 7:00, I’m going to meet him at the Water Street Brewery for dinner. I can’t believe I’m thinking about what I’m going to wear, whether I should get my hair trimmed. I guess this is what I’ve wanted for a while—but with a guy like “L”? What are the chances of running into someone like him in the middle of a crowded, smoky dance floor?! And on the night I decided to walk straight from the library to the Third Ward—wearing khaki pants, a button-down shirt and tie, a cheesy tweed jacket, and carrying an umbrella . . . an English grad school nerd at a gay bar.

This is probably what I looked like that night I walked the two miles from my apartment to the bar.

This is probably what I looked like that night I walked the two miles from my apartment to the bar.

September 26, 1994: STAY AWAY FROM GIRLS!

Dear Dominic,

I really miss you, especially if I let myself dwell on the miles. I’m afraid—I guess I won’t ever relax until we’re all in heaven together—I hope! Keep us all in your prayers. Don’t neglect prayer! Nothing is more important than saving our souls. (Have you decided to wear your scapular again? I bet you don’t miss me giving instructions?!)

An empty bedroom.  Saying goodbye to 8417 Linden Avenue North.

An empty bedroom. Saying goodbye to 8417 Linden Avenue North.

I wish you were home, or in Pullman anyway! I could have brought you a pie this week!

I love you! Can’t wait til December.

(And stay away from girls!)

Love,

Mom

August 22, 1994: CARPE DIEM SUCKS

Dear Dominic,

I just received you first (out of many, you say?) letters.

No dice, buddy. Uh uh. There’s no way in hell I am going to lose you, my best friend whom I love so very much. There’s no way that I’m going to lose you to the devil. Sorry. That’s just not going to happen. You’ve got one feisty little chick over here in Seattle. Satan’s gonna have to do battle. Ok?

And you better believe that it’s Satan, Dominic, because it is. It really is. You’ve done so much for God with your life—high school, your friends, family, the way you treat other people. Satan knows that you’d be a powerful ally to God if/when you decide to give yourself fully to His blessed love.

First, I am going to tell you what I did today and yesterday. Dominic, I spent the night at my grandmother’s house in Port Orchard. There’s one thing you and I are going to do when you get back for Christmas: I’m going to personally take you to visit her. You’ll love her. And I’ve told her so much about you, Dom. I told her that you thought you were homosexual, and I had good reason. If there’s ever a time that I get depressed, confused, or whatever, I call her up. She loves God like you would ever dream of loving and trusting in Him. I told her about our conversation, and about what I said and advised you to do (of which she was 100% in support), and she vehemently warned me, “Oooooh, ‘M’! Don’t you dare, don’t you dare lose him to the devil! Uh uh! Fight him all the way. Oh, no. Don’t let him go!” And that’s what I intend to do. How, I don’t as yet know. Because I don’t want you to think I’m fanatic about this.

Because I believe this is a very serious, very real situation.  I hope you do, too, Dom, in the same way!  If you don’t–if you don’t believe that Satan is pulling your heart strings, well, my friend, he’s already won…

You’re confused, so you told me, so I heard, so I gathered from our conversation. I’m going to say what I said before, then: You are a very emotional young man—you love to experience emotion. The Wilde blurb fits you to a tee, my dear friend, and that’s the key: too much emotion is dangerous! Dangerous, because it draws you away from God, so that God no longer is #1. Your emotions become your top priority.

Before I go on, though, I want to ask you this again: Do you believe in God, as a personal being who loves you very much?  Do you believe in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for you to save your soul from eternal damnation (and it exists!)?  Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the breath of God that grants us peace and joy?

Dom, I’m not going to pray that you’ll “go straight,” because I don’t believe you ever went “crooked.” I’m not saying this out of an unwillingness to admit anything, either. The feelings you experienced for Gary were very human. I’m not going to downplay them and say that you were imagining them. I’m looking at your words for what they’re worth—you needed to write them, and I’m so glad I was here to receive them! I’m so glad you’ve accepted me as your friend.  God brought you and me together, do you believe that?  Please tell me…

You need to look back on what you’ve grown up with: the faith that has been your foundation for the 21 years of your life.  With one change: the perspective…

The world, the Honors Program, your indulged emotions—all these tell you that it’s good to “keep an open mind,” to experience everything to its fullest. Carpe diem. Well, guess what, Dom? Carpe diem sucks. It’s crap. No, it can be, if the day isn’t seized for the glory of God. God first, my friend, then your will and intellect, then your emotions last.

The Honors Program at Seattle University opened up a whole new world for me of literature, philosophy, history, art.  I learned that there  were "more things in Heaven and Earth" than were "dreamt of in [my] philosophy."

The Honors Program at Seattle University opened up a whole new world for me of literature, philosophy, history, art. I learned that there were “more things in Heaven and Earth” than were “dreamt of in [my] philosophy.”

Do you want to continue being selfish and to feed yourself on your emotions in a state of confusion? Or will you replace yourself for/with God, selflessly and humbly? Right now, you have been doing the former, and that’s wrong and that’s a sin, my boy. Yes, it is. Commandment #1 is not a suggestion— in a state of confusion? Or will you replace yourself for/with God, selflessly and humbly? Right now, you have been doing the former, and that’s wrong and that’s a sin, my boy. Yes, it is. Commandment #1 is not a suggestion—you are no god. Off to confession, and please write and tell me why you didn’t go, if you decide not to. I’d certainly like to hear your excuse.

Oh, Dominic.  Your letter made sense to me, be reassured.  I only wish, sometimes, that I could be there with you…I agree with your friend that God gave you this experience–the feelings are not futile.  The feelings are the reason.  You can use this attraction for a purpose–a renewed knowledge that Satan’s power is a reality.  However, your feelings not being futile does not mean they are right.  If you don’t believe you’ve sinned, and if you don’t believe you’ve fallen into the trap of the New Age way of thinking, then stop reading… But your willingness to ‘glance’ at II Peter and James showed me that you want to get rid of this confusion with God’s help.  (I already advised you to see Fr. Roach, and I recommend it again.)  Our prayers exchanged and offered together over the phone are another reason.

My friend, I love you and you got me. To be honest, I thought I was in love with you at one point. But what did I know about that? I, who’d never had a kiss (gasp!). But I’m not going to be your savior—there’s only one guy for that. All I can do is give you love and encouragement and a few slaps now and then when you get nonsensical.

My good college friend Maggie, giving me the basics: on my birthday, but also in this letter.

My good college friend “M” giving me the basics: on my birthday, but also in this letter.

Sometimes you piss me off. And sometimes you make me laugh. I love your laugh. I love you. Write soon.

Love always,

“M”

 

May 31, 1994: MAGNA CUM LAUDE

Dear Dominic,

The root causes of all difficulty are disobedience and pride. You rarely gave me difficulty—and see the result? You are now a college grad (magna cum laude!) with a great future ahead of you. Musically talented, a well-rounded, well-adjusted guy everybody likes.

Seattle University graduation.

Seattle University graduation.

I pray so hard everyday for all of us. I’m so happy you love us, Dominic. You have always been the only joy in my life. Yes, I love your sister, but we’ll never be close again—I accept that. And Dad—I have more respect for him than anyone alive. How all around wonderful he’s turned out. Flawed, yes, like all of us, but I wouldn’t trade him for anyone. Please keep praying for his conversion. It’s so important—it’s everything. Only eternity matters.

Love,

Mom