My earliest memories start around kindergarten. I attended Valley Crossing Community School (K through 6) in Woodbury, Minnesota. It was a really weird school! The school was divided into three “neighborhoods” A, B, and C. A & C went to school like regular and kids in “neighborhood B” were going to school year round. The “B” kids were seen as outcasts while “A” & “C” were often more likely to be friends with each other even though our classes were all across the school. Within our neighborhoods there were no SOLID walls! Retractable walls which would only be used if the classrooms were doing some sort of game or project or contest that needed to be concealed from another class until everything was finished... OR to separate the sex ed classes from the younger kids! This school was “peace oriented” with a peace pole outside, “peace meetings”, and everything. However, the atmosphere was so very controlled with a ton of rules; people who weren’t even teachers supervised everything we did. We also had a “Take a Break” chair where you were sent when you did something bad. The first time you were sent, you could come back whenever you wanted. Second time, you had to wait until the teacher called you back to the class. Third time, your teacher would call for a “Buddy Teacher” which meant you needed to go to a completely different teachers room and sit on the “Take a Break chair;” depending on which teacher you were with at the time. Anything beyond that you’d be sent to the principal’s office or likely have a “Peer counselor” meeting which consisted of 5th & 6th graders plus one over-seeing adult (usually the person who was in charge of your “neighborhood.”) The reason I’ve explained this system is to tell you that I was sent around to these chairs many, many times. I was well known for my temper! At one point they even had me filling out daily charts for each class that was signed off by teachers saying I had “been a good boy.” This started in kindergarten and stopped around the time I was in 4th grade. In 3rd grade though, I dated my first girl (Emily) and also had my first kiss. We broke up shortly afterwards. There was another girl, Ashley Overson.. She was so gorgeous and dating my next door neighbor Danny (who I’ll end up talking about.) She was the center of my attention for a very long time even though I could never get her to date me. We had a brief thing, like hours long! That’s most of what I have to say about elementary school because in my personal life, nothing much else was out of the ordinary. We took trips to Florida (3 times) staying at resorts, going to Universal, Disney, Seaworld, etc. On one trip was with my moms entire side of the family.
My middle school was named “Oakland Jr. High” which encompassed 7th - 9th grade. Oakland was not as nice, new, and well maintained as my Elementary School. However, Oakland did provide each student with an Apple iBook that they even got to bring home every single night. This was a study being done by Apple themselves spreading across many different Junior High schools and High schools across the country. They were studying to find out whether or not students having individual laptops helped them succeed more or less in their classes. They had multiple websites blocked, and you were only allowed to use them for SCHOOL USES ONLY! Can you imagine? Asking 12 & 13 to 14 & 15 year olds not to do whatever they damn well pleased on their given laptop…….. You’re kidding. From almost day one people learned how to play games in class, watch porn, whatever; using a proxy server. The only problem with doing that at school was that the “Help Desk” could remotely monitor your computer while you were using their network or at home. Obviously there was basically no point to try and monitor you when you were at home. That’s when us kids had to get extra savvy! When you needed to bring your laptop to the Help Desk for any reason they would check your browsing history. This meant that you needed to clean up your computer's history as much as you possibly could. Almost everyone knew how to clean their computer so well that they never knew. If you broke a computer screen you had to pay for it (which happened all the time.) If it was a hardware issue, it was typically the school or Apples responsibility. From the outside, the school looked old and dumpy. On the inside, it was still old and dumpy. After my 7th grade year, the school finally got us new lockers after about 40+ years. They were large, and amazing! Other than that, nothing really got updated ever. Although it was such a dumpy place, I really enjoyed my time there and seldom got into trouble; unlike my elementary years. Towards the end of 9th grade I had 8 years of learned spanish under my belt because it was taught in elementary too. In Jr. High, I had many girlfriends. There was Gerae, Jessica, Carly, Mari, and many more I’m having trouble remembering. I left out two, though, the first was Dani. She was my very first love, first girlfriend (I was in 8th and she was in 7th,) and I was head over heels. She was probably the coolest girl ever. Didn’t care what I did, really liked me, and she snowboarded! We found a passion together in snowboarding. I was introduced to her by the very first girl I ever made out with, Gerae. Gerae had a boyfriend during each time her and I would make out. Once her and her boyfriend broke up and I was together with Dani, Gerae got extremely jealous. There was a literal, all out girls fight, in the hallway, over me. Not to mention tons of back-stabbing and ending up in me breaking up a long time best friendship. Gerae would tell Dani lies like her and I made out while I was together with Dani. Times where Gerae said her and I went snowboarding and made out on a chairlift when she wasn’t around (which never happened.) Gerae was a psychotic, drug using, narcissistic, with bipolar disorder. She used to manipulate her way into anything and everything; being very convincing. Dani and I ended up breaking up surrounding too much drama with Gerae. The other girl I left out was, Amanda. We had spanish class together and she sat right in front of me for a whole semester. I would make her laugh the whole class, get her into trouble (as well as myself), tickle her, and just be generally charming as I am. Eventually, through friends, we found out we liked each other and would spend hours on the phone together until we decided to get together. We got along famously. She didn’t like that I smoked cigarettes or that I smoked weed. Her family was EXTREMELY Christian and it was really hard to get around because she had also accepted the faith. To put it simply, she was a goody-two-shoes. We hung out with each other as much as possible, made out all the time whether it was at school or not; she could always tell when I had been smoking no matter what measures I took not to smell or taste like it. Eventually, my smoking was the end to our relationship.. She just couldn’t get over it. We got back together and broke up several times. We had gotten back together before our end of 9th grade trip; which was to Valley Fair in Shakopee, MN. She broke up with me that day after making out with a classmate (after she said “she wanted to meet up with her friends and I should spend time with mine.”) I later found out that he fingered her shortly after that trip at a party.. Seems like she wanted more than I was willing to give her at the time because I was a late bloomer (not because I thought I was gay.) In 8th grade is also when I became a snowboard instructor at a ski resort called Afton Alps, I loved that job but it did not pay well and the hours sucked. When I was asked to come back the next season I declined because snowboarding is my favorite thing to do and turning it into a job just took away from it. During middle school my parents separated, but that will be touched on in the next paragraph. That is about all I have to say concerning middle school.
I feel like now is the perfect time to talk about my parents separation (not divorce.) It was the beginning of my 8th grade year when I started to realize my parents were having problems, even though they had never shown any signs up until now. It seemed to surround my sisters coming out as bisexual when he was in 10th grade; which I never understood. I was 14 when they seperated, my dad had been sleeping on the couches for months while my mom was drinking herself to sleep every night. One night my dad tells me “I’m moving out in a week.” I wasn’t seriously blown away by him telling me this. At this point, it had seemed already like a long time coming. I wanted to move in with my dad but because my sister was older, she got first pick (so I was told.) My mom especially wouldn’t let me live with my dad because she’s a neurotic mess who can’t stand to be alone from anyone; entirely different from me. Starting around the time I was 14, my life started changing and becoming not so normal anymore, not such a typical family anymore. I would go to my dads house every other weekend and stay at my moms during the week. When I went to my dads house, I had to sleep on the couch. I did not have my own room. The reason I stayed at my moms all week was because of the school bus. For my entire schooling my bus stop was right across the street from my house or in my driveway. Yet, I still missed the bus constantly. Shortly after my parents seperation my mom began bring around her friend Lisa. She was from Bemidji, Minnesota but worked with my mom at American Express. She was a lesbian and was very nearly around my mothers age, I don’t remember specifically. Lisa was a very nice woman who seemed like she had her shit together. She had a dog named Idgie who was a black lab and at the time we had a british yellow lab. My mom always called Lisa, her “friend.” For the longest time I sincerely thought they were just friends. Until one day my mom brings me into her room and begins sobbing while she is coming out to me as bisexual. She didn’t say in so many words but this is where I put together that they were indeed dating. It always seemed so weird to me that my mom would realize her own sexuality, put her marriage in jeopardy, ONLY after my sister was brave enough to come out to the family. I still don’t know if this is the specific reason my parents got divorced. In my family, almost everything has been hidden from me up until the year 2017. Not only hidden, though, straight up lying to me about stupid things to “protect my feelings” because my mom thinks I’m so sensitive that I’ll crack at the slightest bad news… Which is entirely unfounded. My mother and Lisa dating for a few years. I was sure they were going to get married or something. I started getting very depressed when I was 14 because of the separation, and because my mom treated me like a dictator. I hated living with my mom. She was an alcoholic who I ended up carrying up the stairs five nights a week because if she wasn’t near her alarm clock she would never get up for work. She’s, anxious, mistrusting, and generally a little crazy. She made everything I did so difficult. Especially when I started smoking weed / cigarettes and she knew it, It was a very tight watch on me all the time. I tried taking fluoxetine for my depression / anxiety, which is a generic prozac. I hated it! It made me feel like I was a robot or was being controlled by some sort of outside force. When I found weed, my entire life changed. My anxiety stopped becoming so crippling, my depression eventually subsided because I became so relaxed. It was a never ending battle with my mom though. If she found it, she would flush it. If she found one of my pipes, she would break it. I had to constantly hide and conceal the thing I felt kept me the in the healthiest frame of mind I could be in. I couldn’t understand why someone would want me to stop using something that could benefit me so much. She had me on like 7PM curfews when she found out I wasn’t going to stop. I would clean our 2 story, 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom house every other week just to make $25. Deliberately paying me $40 less than she would pay our cleaning lady we had used for years. She wanted to make sure I could barely afford to buy anything but would never cut me off completely. Starting in 8th grade (still age 14) I really stopped going to school on almost every Monday and Wednesday, sometimes even more than that. My mom would always call me into school as sick, had an appointment, etc. It was always a battle with my mom because obviously she didn’t like the fact we could end up in truancy court. However, my 8th grade year I missed about 40 days of school and never had an issue.This continued through until the end of my schooling in high school. My senior year, I had well over 75 days absent and nothing happened! I also always kept my grades up even though I missed so many days.
My friends growing up and to this day have been a quintessential part of my entire waking life. Let's start with my next door neighbor growing up, Danny. Danny and I could've been brothers since we did everything together, looked alike, and were born within a year of each other. Even though he was a year younger than me; we learned new things at relatively the same time. When I learned to ride a bike, so did he. The same for tying our shoes, zipping up coats, and all of those other little things. Him and I enjoyed playing video games, jumping on their trampoline, going bike riding, swimming, and staying over at one another's houses constantly. I actually had my first sexual encounter with Danny when we were SUPER young. I’d like to say I was probably around 6 or 7 when Danny and I built a fort one day out of blankets and we exchanged blowjobs…. Sort of. It happened once or twice and then never again. I never thought of it as a sexual thing, and I still pretty much don’t. It was innocent exploration. Whether he learned about it from his older brother or not and wanted to try it out, I wouldn’t know. The friendship between Danny and I started to dissolve around the time I was in 3rd grade. I met James, who would become my next best friend for many years. James was an extremely interesting person when I first met him. His parents let him do things my mother never would have let me do. He was honestly a pretty flamboyant person although to this day he has never come out as gay. He got to play whatever video games he wanted. His parents didn’t restrict him based on violence or nudity or anything of adult content. For christ sakes, they let us watch Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was in 4th or 5th grade AND took us to the live show when I was in 6th grade! Which we dressed up in eyeliner, fishnet stockings, and hooker heels. The only thing his dad wouldn’t let us do was go on stage at the live show (keep in mind James and I were both straight and dating girls at a certain point.) James and I hung out almost every day. James also introduced me to his neighbor Kevin, who I also thought was awesome. Neither James or Kevin liked Danny. They always said that he seemed overly-childish. They wanted me to stop being friends with him or they didn’t want to be friends with me. To be honest, I knew Danny was going to be in my life for a very long time and even if I did stop being friends with him eventually it wouldn’t matter. James, Kevin, and I were thick as thieves from 3rd grade to about 7th grade. We all stopped hanging out because James ended up going to Math & Science Academy. His sister attended that school and it was a 6th grade through Senior year sort of specialized school where kids needed to be accepted with certain test scores. I had no interest in applying. By the time Kevin got to my Junior high I had already made brand new friends. In 8th grade it became hanging out with a large group of people. There are entirely too many people to rey and list. So what I will do is just refer to them as “The Group.” We were all a bunch of weird, semi-psychotic, outcast kids, who never really got into much trouble, and were stoners. But not stoners at first, I was the one who started smoking weed and it caused a huge shit storm with my friends. I didn’t want to stop because it was helping me so much and they didn't understand but still disowned me. It didn’t last long. Eventually, I got everyone of those people to smoke whether it was later in high school or starting as early as 8th grade. My group of friends at a certain point were described as Emo or Goth, when we were into Screamo rock music. By 9th grade, we were the stoner rave kids. In 9th grade I learned to drive and was getting my license by the end of the year. All this while being friends with this group I met my friend Brad. Brad also grew up not far down the street from me. I started hanging out with him more once the group hated me again for being shitty and stealing some weed from another mutual friend. Brad became just about my only friend for over a year. He was an extremely relaxed, car savvy, lower middle class guy who lived with his Dad, Sister, Mom, and Moms boyfriend. His mom and his moms boyfriend lived in the basement of the house (which I lived in later in life around age 19.) I loved going over to brads house because he was really cool, his family liked me, plus him mom and dad didn't care about us smoking. The way they saw it, if we weren’t able to do it at the house we’d be off galavanting around possibly getting in trouble with the police or otherwise. At least this way they knew we were safe and not going anywhere far unless they knew about it. Brad and I biked ALL over the place though, all day every day unless we were hungry or thirsty or it was just plain too hot outside. I would spend all day on Christmas with my family but then at night I would go over to Brads and hang out with his. I was always considered part of the family. Especially after I lived with his dad in the same house much later. Brad did not live there at this time, he lived up in Park Rapids, MN with his mom for reasons I can’t remember. Brad and I have seemed to fall out of touch just a couple years ago. I went to his grandpa's house in Mound, MN for his sister's graduation party. Upon getting there I had learned that Brad got into meth about a year earlier. Meth is something that will completely turn me off from a person. Since Brad was and is one of my best friends I’ve always given him the benefit of the doubt. Until one night he told me he was going to hang with some friends and that I was welcome to come but that I wouldn’t like what would happen there. I decided not to go and he didn’t show up again until the mid afternoon. I was trapped in his room waiting for him to get home so that his family wouldn’t know he snuck out to go do meth. I would like to get back into contact with Brad but only if he’s sobered. This about sums up my best friends
I want to talk about one of the saddest and most heart wrenching things of my childhood. My relationship with my dad was never an excellent one. He wasn’t the type of person to say “I love you” frequently at all. In fact, I can probably count on my two hands the number of times I heard it from his mouth. For some reason my dad always thought I hated him. Hence why he ended up taking me to his therapist with him so that he could reassure me that he loves me and that I don’t hate him.. This was never the case.. I never hated him. He was the hard ass. But he was also a softy. He was the one who would sneak adult movies and video games past my mom so my sister and I could watch or play them. If I wanted to go somewhere he would always drive me and it was more likely I’d be able to go if he said yes before my mother. He owned his own construction business (5th generation family owned) passed down to him by my grandfather with all of his equipment. My dad was abused growing up so when it came to disciplining me he had a hard time. He never hit me or anything like that, no. But he did get very angry and loud when he was mad. The things that would come out of his mouth aren’t always what he meant. Just like me, he has a temper that could scorch a thousand suns. His temper leads me to talk about our falling out. Without going into much detail.. I did some pretty bad things when I was a kid. Since my mom wouldn’t give me enough money to afford the medication I saw best suited me.. My friend Dan (who was a part of the group i explained earlier) and I used to break into cars to try and scrounge up money for weed or cigarettes. We would take change, phones, entire purses, briefcases, you name it we probably stole it. The reason I bring up our thievery is because it links to my falling out with my father. One night, my mom needed something from my room so I went to get it for her and she followed. I stupidly opened a drawer with a purse in it that I had stolen. My mom asked, “what is that?” To which I replied “Nothing” and she shrugged it off but I knew my mom well enough, she would be back to investigate. So naturally I moved the purse from where she had seen it. You couldn’t hide a damn thing from my mom if you tried. She of course found it and called my dad over to the house. When my dad arrived, GUNS WERE A BLAZIN’! I won’t go into everything that was said but it ended up with my dad saying “I never wanna see your fucking face again!” right after we were about an inch from each others faces about to fight for real. Now, I took my dad fully seriously when I shouldn’t have. My mom even told me not to take him seriously. But I did. I didn’t speak to my father for 2 years. No christmas. No birthday. Nothing. I would get a gift here and there for such occasions, along with a text or an attempt at a call. One night my mother and I were awoken by the doorbell at about 4am. Neither of us had any idea who the hell it could be. Upon further inspection we figured out that it was both of my Aunts from my dads side (Amy & Joy.) They basically came right out and said “Zak, your dad passed away this evening.” My dad had drowned in the Mississippi while hanging out on my Uncle Denny’s houseboat. Being the daredevil and exciting guy my dad was; he was drinking, having a good time, and screwing around like he always did. This time it was fatal for him though. It took me several years to get over my dad's death. I couldn’t believe the mistake I had made over the last two years. I was NEVER going to get to resolve my issues with my father. It ripped me apart. My father's death shaped my future relationships for many years. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. Overcoming my father's death, it took a lot of hard work and concentration and still to this day feel I will never be the same person I once hoped to be. It’s really hard for me to type here.. Most of my thoughts about this are so internalized that I couldn’t possibly fathom entertaining a more sophisticated explanation.
I was always a good student but this caused me to miss more school than I ever had my senior year that I ended up flunking out. My high school experience was normal and nothing special to talk about, so I won’t go into a lot of detail about that. I dated one girl, Marie, and didn’t get into a lot of trouble. I was actually ahead on my credits so I got to come into school an hour late and had 2 teach assistant classes where i essentially did nothing but run passes or do homework. When my dad died, I dropped two college courses I was going to take and my second year of American Sign Language. I flunked out but came back 2 years later when I was 20 and took online classes for the two credits I had failed. I got my DIPLOMA not my GED. I only had one traumatic experience with gay bullying. I didn’t come out as gay until after high school. However, some boys in my weight training class (who had decided on their own that they knew I was gay) were totally bullying me from afar. For weight training we had 2 days of upper body, 1 day of cardio, and 2 days of leg days. People ALWAYS chose dodgeball for the activity with the exception of another gym being open and then we had options (usually floor hockey after that.) I was told by a friend of mine in that class they would talk shit about me at lunchtime, told him that he shouldn’t be friends with me at all because of their insecure thoughts. So he told them fuck you guys, I’m gonna start sitting with him at lunch and actually made a point to tell me this and ask me if it was alright. Probably the coolest thing someone has done for me up to this point in my life. But I digress, he also told me why I was getting hit in the testicles with dodgeballs constantly. THEY WERE AIMING FOR THEM as a way to bully me because they THOUGHT I was gay. Unbelievable. Eventually, I just became better and more angry while playing dodgeball. I worked on my aim and ended up getting them all at least once in their testicles. Can I get an Amen?!
I think I can finally conclude my Early Years with my coming out story. Since my brother came out before me; I always knew that when I was questioning my sexuality I would have nothing to worry about when coming out to my family. My friends wouldn’t have an issue either. Several years ago my sister began to feel as though she was born in the wrong body. This last year is when HE started transitioning! This came after my coming out, though. I came out to my friends first via facebook. Everyone was shocked. Considering how many girls I’d dated and the way I acted. 2 of my friends growing up had given me blowjobs. There was Jesse and James. Jesse, we were both wasted and about 14. James, wanted me to give him some weed but wouldn’t leave my house without “payment” of some sort. Obviously, you can fill in the blanks. My brother was the first one in my family to find out and we’ve since really bonded over our coming out and our fathers death.I never told my mom outright that I was gay. I didn’t think it was necessary. Since my brother came out, I knew that I would literally have nothing to worry about. My mom loves to give her shpiel that I’ve heard my entire life.. “You know I love you and nothing is ever going to change that.” It’s true, that is how she feels.. I’ve been arrested multiple times, I’m gay, I could bring anyone home of any cultural dissent, I could bring home a trans person. Nothing I do could possibly sway my mothers love for me. So one night when my mom was OF COURSE, wasted, she just says to me “So Zak, when were you gonna tell me you’re gay?” My jaw dropped. I figured she would find out and it wouldn’t need to be a conversation, I didn’t tell her because I wanted to avoid her shpiel for the billionth time. But of course she just has to come right out and start saying it. At this point, I know my mom well enough to know exactly what she was gonna do next: make me feel bad for not telling her, and then continue with her shpiel to make herself feel better. So I stopped her right in the middle and said “Stop! This is why I didn’t say anything! I know what you’re gonna say already and it doesn’t need to be a big deal such as this. That’s literally as exciting as my coming out story goes. I moved out of my childhood home of almost 18 years and was on my own. I was able to do this because I started doing webcam porn 20 days after my 18th birthday. This also eventually lead to me being able to explore my sexuality more, really solidify what I wanted from a partner, and how I wanted to live my life. I lost my virginity to a girl I was dating while I was doing porn as well. She didn’t know this. While I was with her, I was making plans to go down to Alabama and meet up with a fellow model from the site to work together (we also had a romance blossoming.) I lost my man-ginity on camera for the first time. It didn’t bother me and still doesn’t. Our romance unblossomed once I got there and he transformed into this coke head, alcoholic, rude, douchebag. After him, I met my ex Austin and we also worked on the site together (it’s how we met.) I dated Austin for a year and a half; flying back and forth from Minnesota to North Carolina. I would go to NC for a month and go home for a month and that was how our entire relationship worked. Austin was my very first realized love. He was such a nice, artistically talented, sexy, and well rounded person. I loved his family, his family loved me. The distance became too much of an issue when he moved back to California with his family. We parted on mutual terms. In conclusion you guys, just be yourself and don’t ever let someone bully you, tell you’re worth less than you are, run your life for you, or treat you like the dirt on their shoe (unless you like that.)