It was in the lead up to my 21st birthday that my thoughts turned to spending the rest of my life with you.
We had been down to the farm a couple of times to meet my family and this did a lot to calm the waters with Dad after the bitter Vietnam incident. I think both he and I had decided to steer clear of any further argument on this issue and as usual, my parents were at their best when they were playing host to visitors.
Dad was smitten by you and the discussion on the way back to Canberra reinforced how charming he could be.
“Bruce, your father is a really nice man, why don’t you two get along?” I could have listed a whole lot of reasons, I could have told you about the beltings, I could have told you about Raelene, I could have told you about the arguments and the bitterness but these were in the past, and at the time; I was so relieved the weekend had gone so well and we were looking to the future.
Your time with Mum had not been so successful; “I don’t think your mother thinks I am good enough for you” there was something bitterly protective about my mother I had seen many times before with both Madeline and Gordy, I did not understand this but I was duty bound to spring to her defense.
Mum’s attitude was totally at odds with the warm welcome and inclusiveness I had received from your family and it saddened me.
There were times during this period, when I was wracked with self-doubt about my capacity to quell the demons of sexual questioning and become the husband you deserved. I knew I could never push my longings completely out of mind but I could never envisage living life as a homosexual.
To be honest, the thought was so abhorrent at the time, that any thoughts of this were simply beyond any comprehension I had.
Certainly, there was a part of our relationship which was driven by my desire to be normal at all costs, it is easy to see this now, but at the time I was constrained by the world I knew. Any questioning I had was coloured and distorted by the disgust in the community generally, and within my own mind; for what I thought as perverted and evil longings.
If I did not see myself as evil, how could I possibly embrace the evilness inherent in the perverted thoughts, that would come back to haunt me at often the most inconvenient of times.
Homosexuals were “perverted pedophiles” according to the accepted thinking of the community, it was impossible for me to think I could ever be a part of that “underground”.
I can look back now, and even I; can be incredulous at either my cowardice or my naivety but at the time; any thoughts of not being normal were just too far off centre to have never really entered my mind.
The grief of ignorance and shame is something I will never be able to erase, the toll this would have on you and those closest to me over the years, has played heavily on my mind and, for this I can never truly atone.
The irony of hurting those you love the most, by denying yourself, is a truth it would take me many years to accept. It would cause damage I can never properly repair and the guilt of my cowardice will never leave me.
I did love you Sas and I have never stopped loving you.