2005 was really quite a year.
I first recognized I was gay in the summer of 2003, when I was eighteen years old, which I talked about here…
This is the moment I knew I was gay. (Hint: it’s not what you think.)
We all come to the realization about our sexuality at different ages and moments. Here was mine.
And I didn’t kiss my first guy until January of 2005, when I was newly twenty years old, which I talked about here…
This is the moment I first kissed a guy. (Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.)
Every gay person has that all-important first kiss with a member of the same sex. Mine didn’t go exactly as planned.
That was a terrible kiss. One I definitely have never forgotten and one that didn’t necessarily make me want to make out with another guy in the weeks to come.
Still, you’d think I would have gone out with another guy soon thereafter. Maybe in February. At least in March, right?
But as it turns out, I didn’t kiss another guy for six more months, not until July of 2005. I had a busy school semester that spring, and I made a short film called Lonesome Bridge that is to this day my favorite movie I ever made. It’s actually a movie about homosexuality that in a way allowed me to vent my frustrations about my personal life.
When in the spring of 2005 I still felt uncomfortable about my sexuality, still was too nervous to still tell almost anyone about who I really was, I did what any smart artist does — I created something that dealt with those feelings. And so in March and April of 2005 I worked on a short film that became something I was definitely proud of, and still continue to be. I might write about the making of this film in time.
For now, take a look at the film if you have any interest…
I didn’t come out until the fall of 2006, but a lot of people who saw the movie recognized this was likely more than just another one of my movies.
I even had a friend come up to me one day right after he had watched the film and tell me, “Brian, I didn’t know you were gay!”
Would you immediately assume the writer/director of this film was gay? You tell me. I always found that aspect of Lonesome Bridge intriguing.
Anyway, the first half of 2005 came and went, and I still hadn’t kissed a second boy.
I definitely wanted to, though. I came home to Reno for the summer in the middle of May, and I remember spending way more time than I should have on social media. Facebook was still in its infancy, but I was on that every day, and I was still active on MySpace, which I continued exploring well into 2006 and maybe even 2007.
There was one big change I had made to my MySpace page during my spring semester of college in 2005. My sexual orientation had said Straight for the longest time, but one day, late in the semester, after I had finished Lonesome Bridge and was about to wrap up my classes, I changed my sexual orientation on MySpace to Gay.
I just did it. Didn’t tell anyone about it. Didn’t make a fuss. I was just so sick of looking at MySpace every day for months and seeing Straight in my bio. I had known I was gay for two years now. I had gone on a date with a guy. I had kissed a guy.
So I changed my sexual orientation to Gay, pretty sure most people in my world wouldn’t even notice.
Of course some of them did. My friends Brandon and Samantha I can remember e-mailing me, Brandon in particular wondering if it was a joke or not. I was honest with them. I told them through e-mail that it was something I didn’t want out to the world yet, but I was beginning to come to terms with my sexuality and to please respect it. They did.
I thought it was certainly possible a member of my family could be on MySpace and see the update, and so looking back I’m actually surprised I changed it well before I was ready to come out of the closet. That was kind of awesome of me actually to do it when I did.
Nobody else in my world saw the update though, and in the summer of 2005, back home in Reno, life was normal, for the most part. I was about to study abroad in Germany for four months, so I had that coming up. I worked with a personal trainer during the summer and got in the best shape of my life. I made another short film, this one called Virgin State of Mind, which is my other favorite short film I made, certainly the one with my best performance (Jennifer Crenshaw, in the lead female role).
One other thing was happening, too. More and more guys were messaging me on MySpace. Some Los Angeles guys, some Reno guys. Most of them I had no interest in. I probably messaged a few of them, but the chats didn’t really go anywhere, at least in that particular summer.
There was only one guy I had immediate interest in.
A boy who messaged me on MySpace one day in June and who I started chatted with right away. His name was Jakub. He was nineteen years old. He lived with his mother and baby sister in Stead, an area outside of Reno I had almost no familiarity with.
He was one of the cutest things I had ever seen. Short blond hair. An earring in his right ear lobe. The sweetest smile. Unlike the first guy I ever kissed, I can actually still picture Jakub in great detail. I still remember the way he looked at me the one night we spent together. I still remember how nervous he was, somehow more nervous than I was. We were both just starting to explore our sexuality, and there was something kind of beautiful about that.
We talked for a few weeks on MySpace. I wanted to meet him… but he didn’t have a car. I remember that detail specifically. I wasn’t out to my parents yet, not for another year, and so there was no bringing him to my house. And he lived so far away it wouldn’t have been fair or sensible to pick him up and bring him all the way back to my house anyway.
I thought about taking him to lunch or something. Maybe find a coffeehouse near his house.
The problem was he didn’t live near anything. He was so far out there, in the high north area of Stead, that to pick him up and drive him back to civilization would have taken half the day. So that kind of date never happened.
But a date did finally occur in July.
Eventually we both wanted to meet each other, and one afternoon he messaged me on MySpace asking if I had interest in driving over to his house later that night. His mother worked as a prison guard during the graveyard shift and would be leaving by 8pm and be returning sometime early in the morning. We would be all alone at his house for hours.
Well, mostly alone. He was looking after his baby sister, but he said she would probably be asleep by late.
At the time I wanted to meet this boy so bad that I said yes right away, told my parents I was hanging out with a friend, and I made the long journey to Jakub’s house, which I remember being a forty-minute drive, maybe longer.
It took so long that around the half-hour mark I decided I was never making this drive again unless this boy was amazing, unless we had the absolute best time.
What strikes me the most about that night now is how naive I was, in a way. How I could have found myself in serious trouble. I was going to a stranger’s house, after dark, forty long minutes from my own neighborhood, in the middle of nowhere. Looking back, I’m kind of surprised I made that drive in the first place. I had seen a lot of horror movies by the summer of 2005, after all. Didn’t they teach me anything?
So I arrived around 9pm. Texted him to double check that his mother had left for her prison guard job, which he said she had.
His house was in a pretty crowded neighborhood of houses, so that made me feel better. It was the middle of nowhere to be sure, but it wasn’t a wooden shack at the top of some creepy hill somewhere.
I knocked on the door and he invited me in… and one thing about Jakub definitely surprised me.
He was as cute as his pictures made him out to be, that was for sure.
But he was short. Like, really short.
Probably the shortest guy I’ve ever been on a date with, if what happened that night could be called a date. I think he might have been 5'3? Possibly even 5'2? And at 6'3, I was taken aback by that. To dip my head down so far was already hurting my neck after a few minutes of talking inside his entrance hallway.
He asked me if I wanted a tour of the house. I said, fine. I remember him pointing out his baby sister, who was fast asleep in her crib. He poured me a glass of water in the kitchen. Eventually we sat down on the couch in the small family room area, which was kind of a mess, but I didn’t say anything about it.
He asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I said sure. I don’t remember what he watched exactly. It might have been Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, which I remember Jakub telling me he loved, and which I tried to pretend liking too. Sandra Bullock is my all-time favorite actress… but that movie sucks.
We watched the movie for awhile. I remember him pushing himself closer to me every few minutes. We kept on talking. I got to know a little bit more about him. He was taking classes at the local community college. He had a different dad than his baby sister. His mom had a gambling problem.
You know… typical date stuff.
Eventually I kissed him, and within seconds I recognized, wow, this is actually a kiss.
He didn’t shove his tongue into my mouth. He didn’t push his hand against the back of my head. The kiss was soft, inviting. It was the kind of kiss I had always imagined sharing with another guy.
We spread out on the couch, and Jakub got on top of me. The kissing became more intense. A few minutes passed and eventually both our shirts were off.
There I was miles away from home, in a stranger’s house, making out with that stranger on his couch while his baby sister slept a few rooms down, his mother working at her prison guard job. At the time everything seemed so simple, but looking back, I’m not quite sure what I was thinking.
I guess I know what I was thinking. I had a crush on a boy, and I for weeks had wanted to meet him, and I was finally spending time with him and kissing him. It felt right.
I did recognize soon that thing between us was never going to go anywhere. He lived far away from me. He didn’t have a car. I was leaving soon for Germany, and then would return to Los Angeles in early 2006 for another school semester. Part of me actually assumed this might be a one-night thing, and I was okay with that.
I kind of hoped I would see Jakub again after that night, but during the moment I just remembered to enjoy every second with this boy. Because there was definitely no guarantee of another encounter.
Jakub stayed on top of me for the longest time and continued to kiss me on my lips, my neck, my upper chest. I didn’t really know how far this was going to go. I didn’t want it to go very much farther. I wasn’t ready… for much else yet.
But I didn’t exactly have time to ponder the situation any longer.
A car pulled into the driveway.
It had otherwise been so quiet outside that it was impossible not to hear it. I remember thinking maybe the car had pulled into the driveway of one house over, but no — a few seconds went by and the front door opened and there was a short Mexican lady walking into the house, her eyes immediately locked on me and Jakub.
He was still on top of me. We were still shirtless.
We were still kissing.
The next thirty seconds is kind of a blur. All I know is one moment I was kissing this cute boy, and the next moment I was hurrying out to my car on the street, struggling to put my t-shirt back on, failing to catch my breath.
His mother didn’t start yelling or anything. She didn’t get physical with her son or me. I figured when I made it to my car in one piece that Jakub had probably done this with other guys before me. That if this were the first time she caught her son kissing another guy, the wrath from this short Mexican lady could have been terrifying.
I didn’t say anything to Jakub before I left the house. I didn’t say anything to his mother.
I just stormed out of there, not looking back, and I got into my car and drove away.
The next day, Jakub messaged me on MySpace.
He said his mother had actually gone gambling that night, and that she wasn’t at work like he thought she was. That’s why she came home so early. He apologized. I told him it was fine, that the incident just startled me and definitely freaked me out.
We talked a little bit more that next week or two, but I got busy directing my new short film Virgin State of Mind, and I ended up working on that movie all the way up to mid-August before I left for four months in Germany. My thing with Jakub fizzled out pretty much before it ever began, and sadly that’s the case with a lot of guys I dated over the years.
I’ve definitely had a lot of first dates that didn’t go anywhere. Dates where I liked the guy but he didn’t message me back. Dates where I didn’t like the guy at all and the other guy wouldn’t stop messaging me for weeks at a time.
But I don’t think I ever had a first date with a guy quite like this one. The sketchiness of the drive, and of it being late at night, and watching a woman walk into her house while her shirtless son was on top of me.
Yeah, that never happened again. And I’m thankful it didn’t.
After August 2005 I never heard from Jakub again. I wonder what he’s up to today. I wonder if he still remembers that crazy night.
It’s what so much of life is made up of, isn’t it? These occasional specific, highly memorable moments that never really fade from your memory no matter how much time passes.
I have so many memories to share, if there’s interest out there. So many more crazy first dates, so much heartache and disappointment… as well as, of course, some memorably magical nights, too.
We all have our highs and lows in our dating lives. This will always be the one rare instance where I experienced a high and a low… in the very same night.
Brian Rowe is an author, teacher, book devotee, and film fanatic. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his BA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He writes young adult and middle grade suspense novels, and is represented by Kortney Price of the Corvisiero Agency. You can read more of his work at his website, brianrowebooks.com.