Camp Crush

I only went to summer camp once (not counting Bible school – and that’s an entirely different story). The camp I attended was a CYO thing (I didn’t even know what ‘CYO’ stood for… actually, I still don’t…) Suzie used to go for all four weeks of the program and loved it. She knew everyone and was social and friendly, and I knew no one and wanted nothing to do with it. My brother was there though, so we hung out together and by the end of the week I had made a few friends – and developed a crush on a counselor. (Of course.)

He must have been a teenager, but to my childhood eyes he was the older man – apparently I’ve always liked them older. I distinctly remember watching him play softball inside the gym on a rainy day. A line of dark sweat ran down the blue shirt on his back as he ran around the bases. He lifted the shirt to wipe the moisture from his face, offering a tantalizing peek of his belly. His curly brown hair was damp at the ends. And every once in a while he caught me staring. Mostly, though, my attention was not detected. I watched from afar.

He seemed so at ease in his masculinity. He moved casually and comfortably through the hall, slightly cocky, but always at ease. It was a style I wanted to emulate and capture. I wanted both to be him, and to be with him.

He had blue eyes that smiled when his mouth did, and around them a crinkling of fine lines that I took as kindness. Some of the counselors were mean – drunk on their little bit of authority – but he never seemed to be. I almost wished he was, I so badly wanted to hate him. It was the only thing I could think to do with my confused feelings.

In those early days, I exhibited my like of someone in extreme outward dislike. I only hurt the ones I loved. I tried explaining him to my Mom. I went into a deep discussion of how much I hated him because he was so sweaty and gross, but that I was trying to like him because it was wrong to judge people based on appearance. (The mind of a child.)

In reality, I just wanted to talk about him, to anyone who would listen. I wanted to bring him into my life in whatever small way I could. It eased the ache of being ignored. Far too young to understand or access true desire, I only felt the very first stirrings of attraction. It was very real though, and important enough to have stayed with me all these years later.

Whenever anyone questions whether or not people are born gay, I think back to those first crushes. I wasn’t old enough to know what sex was, but I knew who I was attracted to – and it was always the men.

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