Content Warning: mentions of sexual assault
I wish I remembered his last name, but I think it was Vasquez. I wish I remembered how old he was, but I think it was 24. I wish I remembered how old I was, but I told him 17.
What I do remember is sticky air, and a rooftop in Brooklyn, and a sky that looked like mango sorbet. I remember each time I drank the champagne my veins felt warm, like someone put a syringe of sunlight in my shoulder. I remember my eyebrows and jaw knitting closer together as the dotted red lights on the F train danced to display 7 stops left, and then 5 stops, and then 3.
I remember champagne became whiskey, and the roof became a bedroom. Concrete became a comforter. I remember flashes of his face in blue light, and I remember finishing before I wanted to, and him entering me before I was ready, my cum acting as a souvenir of inexperience and lube. I remember thinking it was hot, wrong, and embarrassing that I might finish again because it felt so good, and that being one of the reasons why I stopped him.
I remember I had just closed a show where we wrote our own pieces, and I came out to audiences of 100 people over and over again, and they would tell me I was brave and vulnerable and beautiful the way I was. I remember I lied to my mom about who was allowed to come to the show, and now I was lying about where I was, and about my age, and why I stopped. I remember sitting on the floor of a bathroom in Borough Park and knowing once I emerged back into the bedroom, I’d lie about why I needed to go home, and about how the night went to my friends, and I thought that being gay felt a lot more like a marathon of lies and not something that made me brave or vulnerable or beautiful the way I was.
I remember thinking I was glad I won’t remember most of this.
I saw him a few years later on a bus in Pittsburgh, and I knew it was him from the sunlight shot in my veins, even though there wasn’t any champagne, and I got off the bus, even though it wasn’t my stop. He messaged me shortly after on Facebook—“I think I saw you on the bus today? if so, it was nice to see you, if even for just a second stranger!” I blocked him, and decided that I was still a virgin, and that was okay. I decided I was still gay, and that was okay. I was lying less, and I’d lose my virginity that summer to someone my age who loved me and who knew just as little about champagne, Borough Park, and using cum as lube as I did. Soon I’d actually be 17, and maybe my whole family would see me perform, and the sky would look like mango sorbet, and I’d be brave and vulnerable and beautiful the way I was.
Jose Useche is an actor and writer from Queens, NY. As a writer, his web series pilot SLUT has received laurels from the Official Latino Film Festival, the Baltimore Next Media Web Fest (where it won best LGBTQ Web-Series), the Chicago Pride Film Festival, and Web Series Festival Global. Jose has written jokes and questions for SCRUFF’s in-app game show HOSTING, and does communications for several LGBTQ nonprofits including the Arcus Foundation, the Transgender Law Center, and PFLAG NYC. His personal blog, Manic Hispanic, has garnered over 10,000 hits in its lifetime.