The Gospel According To Tomàs

A Gay Catholic Teen | Extracted From The Gospel According To Tomàs | The Boy Love | The Catholic Church Near Me

A Gay Catholic Teen | Extracted From The Gospel According To Tomàs | The Boy Love

Once upon a time… There was a young man called Tomàs. Then, once another time, a middle-aged man called Tomàs signed-up to the Catholic Church. But the story begins a long time ago – humanly speaking.

For faith seemed possible. Once upon a time… Once upon a time… Each day – and what with the age-inappropriate clothing – it seems close. It’s true – it stripped me. There was – nothing

Once, then, Tomàs – I was fourteen… It was Ry who first drew me there. Ry didn’t go to my school; he went to the Catholic grammar up the motorway. But Julia knew him from church. Ry was younger than me, evidently pre-pubescent, one mad day, but we never articulated that. He was taller. And blonder. And he had a big head. Pretty and weird at the same time.

Ry was of an age when his tennis-racquet cover played double, on the one side for lead, on the other for bass. My being – fourteen, fifteen. And while none of this seemed strikingly other-most, it was like being children. Besides, Ry was living-text cute, with no groggy undertow. Kid-A. We first met at Julia’s. I first become conscious of Ry in Julia’s room. And in the whole downstairs of Julia’s house. A modern new-build. There were limited-edition lithographs Julia discussed, and an enormously long sitting room, the depth of the house. A bar – a carbonated soda-squirt on display. Solid, plain furniture, pine or beech, of a kind I have later come to think of as Catholic. I snogged with Julia once, at the end of summer, when we had to go to school next day. There was minimal iconography in the hallway, and a picture of the Pope.

I decided, then and there, Ry and I were going to be best-friends. There were the three of us, mucking around in Julia’s room. I watched Ry give her a kiss as she straddled him, pinning him down. Submit. He snuck a cheeky kiss – smiling, upwards. I watched that… Razor lips. (How could he do that?) Ry was perfect. Then we went for a walk.

We did a lot of that: walking. Around near where we lived, village had rolled into village, a fat, wandering ribbon of flatland squeezed between the joins of marsh and the arterial road and planning-restricted farmers’ fields, though it was not so built-up back then. A seventies-eighties suburbia gave out directly on woodland, the farming, boggy spaces, and all the fields you could play in.

The heart of the main villages was pretty rough, while the newness of the newer residential developments seemed clear-headed and optimistic in those days – bright and unconfused. Most of the building has stopped there now, apart from in people’s gardens. There are, now, rusty old signs up in fields, one day hoping to be housing, choked with thorns. Other under-utilized land has been wired off and given to cash-crops. Even where the mines were, and the land unstable, they’ve built to the limit. There are roads left over, though, where it’s a small ring of two dozen bungalows forgotten and circled by big, empty fields, and it’s like time-travel into a different world.

That was a hot summer. England blazed. Not just in the way that it’s memories of childhood. The air itself, each yearlong day, felt hotly supportive of the becomingness of it all. There are memories of pumps tramping black, sticky tarmac. Ry’s were mixed-up, pudding-coloured, kiddy-coloured hi-tops. His legs went on forever, and we wore slender Ocean Pacific Bermudas, and in the evenings Pepe jeans, which we rubbed with stones to create the worn spots, and big, loose, white, slogan T-shirts, though a variety of musical forms coexisted. We were brooding to Marillion and waiting for Prince.

Developmentally, it’s fogged – a shapeless, catatonic, unreal gloom before this time. Since – twelve? There is a hole within life where – that Tomàs didn’t do people – friends. There was school – and all that there. But I remember it was summer’s approach when I thought – I had better do something about it. In a way, then, Ry comes at a point of sharp focus. In other ways, there seems a fair degree of sifting through people – until it came to pass that a set formed… This through decision and complementarity – not just local habit.

And when you’re sixteen, seventeen, everyone comes-out unwrapped. Social structures get their correct shape. But it was then, that summer, for a moment, an individuated human life became sharply distinct. And the form of it, like an idea, finite. A piece of life cut-out from the inter-relational. With Ry, at fourteen, fifteen, there first seemed an exact and a thought-yielding edge to it. Skin of the known and the possible. Ry’s skin.

Mostly, to remember, I must have been more or less simply immersed in the flow and drift of it. The rope-swing over the brook at the back of Ry’s house. We had crossbows and air-rifles. Bikes. Music. Walking, walking, walking. Walking like they’re forever doing in films based on fantasy – books, novels, while we discussed such. Always the level of talk at that level when you’re only just getting to know someone. Always in concord of shared belief in a pre-existent – a privately owned world. A commentary on all of it – our worlds – already beating and pre-equipped. Like sharing your heart. Holding your heart in your hands from your chest and holding it out to a person. And, though memory hovered around, at the time, observing all this, it was happy, passively spectated for a period. And any remaindered thought hadn’t blinked, didn’t feel left out and isolated, didn’t grasp.

That came and happened. Slowly, and without any words. The impulse from the chest – from the base of the chest where the lungs quiver. Only, with Ry, about the size of a football. Not swelling up all over – overwhelming him. Not that yet. It was observable. What’s this? Subject to enquiry. A taste without flavour. A substance. Meat – that came with no packaging.

The first time I felt it, we were sitting in my room. I sat back on my bed, Ry at my desk, stretched, all legs and pumped feet, and his goofy head at a philosopher’s angle introspecting it. I wanted so much to stand and to clench Ry’s shoulders. And the thought of doing that wandered at the base of Ry’s neck and behind his ears – over his shoulders. And fold my arms about him. Nothing I could think of could justify even a token of that gesture. Instead, there was only a halt, and it was the first time illusion of the flow of it broke, and I got bored and frustrated with him, burdened with drag like my room had plenty of stuff I could be getting on with.

Maybe I dumped Ry. Maybe you’d say I outgrew him. Maybe it just stopped seeming appropriate. Maybe I’d got what I had to get, learned what I had to learn. Maybe some powerful instinct did it for me. When one day, I’d twisted the lock in my teenage room and I’d shut himself in. Protection.

The last real picture is summer. Of the front lawn, from my window. Ry come to call for me. Ry’s bike spread on the lawn. Me hiding – peeking at the corner of the window. Ry picks his bike up and walks it to the front gate. I have absolutely no idea what underlay that – what conditions surrounded the scene – why I did that.

There he goes, off between the yew trees, onto the main road. Call after him: Ry! Too late.


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