last first kissI guess technically my first kiss was with my 10th grade boyfriend. His name was Anthony, and he was a 9th grader. I know he is the first boy I kissed, but I remember absolutely nothing about that kiss. I only know it happened. We met at the high school we both attended. We met somehow, became friends, and then he asked me to be his girlfriend. I liked him well enough, so we started going together over winter break.

He lived not too far from me on a small street. I would go to his house sometimes and we’d hang out in his room in the basement. I remember us making out – nothing too serious, a lot of kissing and touching mostly. While it wasn’t unpleasant, it wasn’t…it didn’t feel…in spite of my inexperience I knew there was something missing between us physically. There was a lack of chemistry, a lack of compatibility, a lack of connection sexually. Our make-out sessions lacked passion. He tried to have sex with me in the non-threatening non-forceful ways young men did in those days. I was totally comfortable with telling him “no”, and he accepted my “no” with little complaint.

ME AND ANTHONY HENLEY 1982But we enjoyed each others company; he was an intelligent young man and we had great conversations. We’d hang out at The Inner Harbor on weekends, and he always took great care to make sure we wore matching outfits for these outings. (These matching outfits were extremely important to him, and were carefully coordinated by him.) I broke up with him shortly before the school year ended. He was very angry with me when I ended it, and immediately cut off all communication with me, even after I suggested that we could remain friends. When we returned to school after the summer break the following September, him as a sophomore and me as a junior, he came out of the closet. Well, he came out as much as a high school student could in those days – in this case it meant more “feminine” and “flamboyant” dress, speech and mannerisms. His new best friend was a classmate of his, a lesbian girl who dressed in very traditionally masculine clothing. Her name was Kim. I never had any conversations with her, but I could tell by the way she looked at me that she knew about my past relationship with Anthony.

He never spoke to me during the remaining two years we shared at the same high school, though they would often throw me shady and hostile looks when we passed each other in the halls or in the cafeteria. I never shared any of the details of my relationship with him with any of my classmates, and it always bothered me that he still seemed to harbor so much resentment towards me. His hostility made me sad. I sometimes wondered as a teenager if he was angry at me because I hadn’t been intimate with him – I wondered if he though maybe if I had been then he wouldn’t have been gay, and wouldn’t have to deal with the hardships he was facing with it. Though he was popular with the girls the way gay young men often are, he was still teased mercilessly by other students and dealt with a lot of homophobia in general. My heart bled for him silently from the sidelines, but I didn’t know what I should say or do. I thought maybe he felt like I might have saved him from having to face what was a difficult truth for him had I not rejected his sexual advances. In the back of my mind I had always planned to try to talk to him about these things, maybe after we graduated from high school. But some years after we both graduated I heard he’d passed away from AIDS.

But the first kiss I do remember was with my first REAL boyfriend. His name was Keenan. It happened in the basement of my house, right off from the kitchen. Keenan was tall, much taller than me, and very dark skinned. I remember when we went into the dark basement that I couldn’t see him – it took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, and as I was moving around my forehead bumped into his lips really hard. I heard him mutter “dammit” in the darkness, and I felt supremely embarrassed. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I responded in the general direction of the “dammit”, and I heard him laugh in response. He felt him gently grab my face, and he pulled my face close to his. Finally our lips found each other, and I felt the electricity move from his mouth to mine, and the sharp pulse of energy caused me to shut my eyes. And like a perfectly orchestrated dance, our mouths opened in union and our tongues searched and found what they were looking for. Suddenly my ears filled with a roaring noise that sounded like huge waves hitting a beach.

I always thought he had beautiful lips. Looking at his lips was my first experience with being aroused by something physical on a man’s body. They were full and perfectly shaped – well at least to me they were. I used to touch them with my fingers and they were always so soft. I thought about this as we kissed that first time – I thought about how his lips felt as good as they looked. I squeezed my eyes tight, and saw dreamy colors floating about on the inside of my eyelids – royal blues and fuchsia shaped like bright fluffy clouds. I have no idea how long the kiss lasted – it might have only been a few seconds, or it might have been forever. But my eyes parted ever so slightly, and our lips began to part, and as our faces pulled away from each other, a long sticky thick string of saliva began to stretch from his lips to mine, and it grew longer and longer as the kiss officially ended. I watched it, absolutely horrified. The perfect kiss was being ruined by this awful saliva string that finally decided to pop, and by this time the thing was so long it actually made a sound when it popped.

My embarrassment total and complete now, I swore I would never kiss again. I broke that vow about 30 seconds later.