In the beginning of seventh grade my best friend dumped me because I tried out for the school play. He replaced me at our lunch table with a soccer player, leaving me no choice but to sit with the special-ed kids who chewed with their mouths open.
Literally, not a day went by that I wasn't called a fag. I know, because I kept track. The taunts didn't stop, even when I had a girlfriend in the spring musical who let me feel her up backstage.
At the start of eighth grade, my mother moved six hours away, had a near-death experience, and told me she wasn't my mother anymore. I coped by following a balanced regimen of binge drinking and overeating. Luckily, I had the theater, my one safe haven. There I found a new best friend, who was just flirty enough to cause me a painful hard-on for the next four years.
Then my father married a rage-aholic addicted to illegal steroids who convinced him I shouldn't go to drama school. I moved out on my 18th birthday.
After my mother who claimed she wasn't my mother sued him, my father relented and I pursued my life's dream by going to one of the country's top theater programs, which then kicked me out for being neurotically and emotionally constipated.
At 20 I felt washed up, spent, a failure. I moved to New York City to find my place in the theater, which was having the second-worst Broadway season in history, the first being the year before. I thought the theater was dying, but it turns out it was just the people who were dropping like soldiers on a battlefield.
Then I fell in love.
The unlikely named Floyd was a theater nerd, too, an aspiring Broadway producer who was happy to meet someone who would see a play with him five nights a week. Like me, he was a broken person, one who cried on our first date when he told me he had HIV.
We escaped New York together, stopping off in Colorado before moving to Portland, where even wilted things grow. We healed, both physically and emotionally. I took my adolescent pain and turned it into two comic novels, which was like making a soufflé out of shit.
Then, when Floyd and I reached the age when most people give up on their dreams, he and I moved back to New York to finish what we couldn't do when we were so young and so broken.
It gets better.