John: I'm in a bad mood.
J: Because I started to cry because I said goodbye to Atkins. My baby. We said goodbye in his room in the barracks. Hugged him. Shook his hand. Us two alone. I said, "I'm gonna miss you." He said, "Well, you're the best roommate I ever had. You're more than a roommate." I told him, yes, the same way. And then, went to McDonald's prior to coming here, ate, and then I shook his hand goodbye, drove off. And started crying.
Z: Tell me about this guy. He was your roommate.
J: My roommate, and someone I really care for and love. Dearly.
Z: He's straight?
J: Straight, and very close.
Z: What was it like being in such close quarters with someone who you were so attracted to?
J: The first time I saw him it was like, "Holy!" Before I came out of the closet. I met him through Saul [the gay soldier who "brought John out"]. As soon as I saw him I almost died. And Saul said like, [snaps finger] "You're coming to S-1" [the personnel center where John and Saul worked]. And I was like, "Where is he gonna stay?" And I had this big room to myself. I said, "Well, he can stay in my room." And then I can remember this one guy, they already had somebody in my room, and I was like, "No you're not staying in this room! He's comin' in. You're gettin' out. Out!" I was so obvious I wanted him in my room. After that, we became really good roommates. I was really attracted to and amazed by him. He had beautiful eyes, hair, body. Skinny, but pretty built. Dark haired, well-groomed. One eyebrow: connected. Very handsome, very loving. Hazel green eyes.
Z: Was there ever any sexual tension in the room?
J: No, it was like, you know, well-- I used to beat off. Sometimes at night I beat off. And then all of a sudden I'd hear him doing the same thing. It'd be dark, about a half hour after I'd say, "Let's go to sleep now." Then I'd go ahead, start. I was so horny. I was still in the closet. Then he'd do it, and it would be real great. And we done it for a long time like that. Then I came out of the closet, and started going to [the gay clubs in] Frankfurt, and he saw a difference in me.
Z: How did he become aware of your coming out?
J: Because Saul was effeminate, and Beau [another soldier] was effeminate ha! Real effeminate. And I guess he just assumed that them being my friends that I started, you know, "butt jamming," like he says.
Z: Okay. But he just assumed that. You never talked about it.
J: Never. He knew, but he was waiting for me to tell him. But I never told him for more than a year. I just recently told him. That's when he came back from the field one day. He said, "Let's go out and get something to drink." I said okay. We went down to the pub in Aschaffenburg. He was buying. We must have had about six Weizenbiers apiece. First it was only one beer, then it became two, three: "Oh, you want another one?" "Yeah, I'll take another one." And when we were in the pub it was the best part. Because there's these two females. And just out of the blue they asked if we were gay, 'cause we were together. And me and Atkins looked at each other, and laughed, and tried to play it off. We started playing towards being gay. Then later that night we left and went to the room. And he was laying on his bed, in his underwear. I was laying against the green chair. And that's when I started talking -- started talking about everything. And he was like, when you talk, and you mumble, and start falling asleep? And that's when I started caressing him. Slowly.
J: Different parts. I touched him down where his dick was. And it was hard. And he'd wake up "Oh, oh, what are you doing?" "Oh nothin'." Then I'd talk, carry a conversation on, and then I did it again and he didn't do nothin'. And then I took my hand away, licked my finger, then touched the tip of his dick with the wetness? And that's when he woke up, and said, "Why are you doing that?" And I just said, you know I told him that I wasn't gay. I mean I was, but I wasn't. And I said, "Well, I really don't know what I want." And he was trying to help me about making my mind up. He said the only way you can know is you just gotta go and try it. Either be with a female or a male, see if you like it. And I said, "Yeah." And then I asked him if he ever beat off in front of another male before. He said no. I said, "Well, do you want to?" He said, "If If" Let me get this right. He said, if I thought it would help me make my decision. And I said: "Yeah." And he pulled down his boxer shorts, and I pulled down mine, then we just went for it. Just masturbation. I tried touching him but he didn't want it, at all.
Z: Did he look at you while you did it?
J: Yeah, we both looked at each other the whole time.
Z: What happened afterwards?
J: He told me not to ever tell nobody. That it was between us. And then I crawled up in bed, on the top bunk, and I started talking. I asked him, "Would you feel differently if I decided I was gay?" He said, "No, I always figured that you were that way anyway. I was just waiting for you to say something."
Z: Have you ever been seriously harassed for being gay in the Army?
J: No. Nothing serious. Not where they came up and pushed me, talking 'bout 'You faggot," and shit like that. Well, I had one incident like that. I was taking over CQ [charge of quarters desk], and this one guy named Brad, he was a runner for the previous CQ. I told him he had all night to clean the common areas, and I said I wasn't going to take this CQ desk unless this stuff is clean. He said, "You fuckin' faggot." And I just blew up. I fuckin' grabbed him, and pushed him up against the wall, and I slapped him. "Here's how a faggot slaps!" I slapped him against his face. "Now hit this faggot!" And he wouldn't do nothing, he just stood there. Just went and cleaned. I never had trouble from him again.
Z: Do you think if you were to stay in you might eventually be discharged
J: For being gay? No. I know too many friends. I've got friends. I've also got enemies who talk about me behind my back, but there's a lot of 'em who still want to be your friend. It ain't much of a friend, but they'll actually stick up for you, in a fight, or will stick up for you completely if somebody says something. I've got a lot of them around here.
Z: Would you have come out, do you think, if you'd never joined the Army and come to Germany?
J: No. Not where I was at. I didn't even know gay clubs existed until I came over here.