Ted Clark – Identity and Awareness

“Don’t you think you’re gay?”

The sexual awareness was probably prevalent for me since I would say about age five. As I look back on my own history, I was always attracted to males, period. Why it took me until I was 28 years old and married to figure out I was gay is an illusive thought even for myself.

The real pivotal moment in my life was when I had my first strong emotional attachment to a man. By then I had been through high school. I’d had the high school buddies, the typical youth kind of experimentation—[in] college, once or twice, but nothing terribly significant. The stereotype, of course, is that you’ll meet the right lady, fall in love, and everything will be happy thereafter. You sort of went with that assumption. I dated. I had several serious dating relationships during college. Nothing really gelled.

Then, after college, I was still in my graduate program, and I was dating another very wonderful lady. We decided to get married and it wasn’t “happy ever after.” Then I had to deal with, “Okay, I’ve made a mistake. This is the wrong lady. I, you know, da, da, da.” Typical things that people go through.

During the first year and a half that we were married, I met an incredible guy who was a chaperone on a high school program with my wife and I. He was gay, and we struck up a conversation. Instantly there was an emotional attachment. I could easily say it’s the first time I was ever in love with a man. The whole thing just came crashing in, like, “How could you be so stupid, for so long?” It all made sense at that moment.

[He and I] met on campus in Bangor, Wales. [Laughs.] Yeah, and just, you know, sort of a fluke. One afternoon he and I had both done the same thing. There was a group activity for the kids. We were about three and a half weeks into the program, and we hadn’t had any time to ourselves. I needed to write some letters and just decompress for a little bit—take care of some business. [My wife] went with the kids on the event. There was a big commons room in the dormitory where we were. I went down to sit down and write some letters. He was in there doing the same thing. We started conversing.

At the end of the conversation—we talked for about an hour and a half—he looked me straight in the eye and he said, “I’m confused.” He said, “I’m hearing you say you’re gay.” I said, “Well, I don’t think so.” And he said, “I do.” [Laughs.] He said, “Do you understand that I’m gay?” I went, “No.” [Laughs.] Then we started talking about my background in terms of experience and that sort of thing. Over the next week and a half, it turned into a very passionate physical relationship also. But he was very clear that, “It’s a play thing. When we go back to the US, I have my life. You have yours.”

By then I had gay friends. Some of my junior high school friends were out and gay. I had visited them in San Francisco. They [had] said, “Don’t you think you’re gay?” And I’d go, “No, I don’t think so.” I had the background, but until I had emotional experience, to actually be attached emotionally to a man . . . It was like, “Whoa! You are gay.” [Laughs.]

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Sources: Interview with Susan Williams on 3 December 2006, held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture; Interviews with Laura S. Hodgman on 30 November 2012 and on 27 February 2014.