It Gets Better

I wrote this piece this morning, after writing stories about two friendships in my youth, both of which should/ could have been young lovers. But they weren’t. In those years, I lived in a closet—closed tight with not even a door to open and escape my own prison.


It will become a repeated tenor of my story through this section of Secrets Unveiled. For thirteen years between the ages of thirteen and twenty-six, I repeated this emotional roller coaster. These stories are at once exhilarating and loaded with thrills and anticipation while at the same time excruciating in the suspension of any desired culmination or outcome.

I need to pause and acknowledge the mood—the fraught emotion.

These stories are painful to tell. As always, I am reliving the memories as I put ink to paper. This stuff is real. Remembering it is real. Telling the story is real. And it hurts.

This is book #3. I now have more than 400 short memoirs in my notebooks. My writing craft is improving as I continue to do this. And with the improvement, I feel more acutely. The memories don’t simply poke up from the recesses of my mind and zip onto the page. I relive each and every memory as though it happens all over again in my “Now.”

My entire youth is so tortured by my existence in this straight closet where I lived and breathed—all the time trying to hold my breath. Time and again, I fell in love—or at least into lust. Time and again, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t act.

So here I am today, telling my story—reliving the torture of desire and wanting and loving; then halting at the edge of fulfilling the wish. It hurts. It pains me today as much or more than it did then. 

Today, I am a whole and loving gay man. Today, I can feel what I repressed and hid back then. Today, I shed the tears that should have been shed so long ago.

I also realize in my “Now.” I am putting you through this with me. I am asking you to ride this tortured roller coaster through a decade of my life, when I could not be Ric d. 

I want to apologize, but I’m not sure that’s appropriate. If I really didn’t wish you to experience this with me, I could simply not write about it. 

But that would be a lie. And I don’t live a lie. And I won’t ask you to live a lie with me.

So, I will simply acknowledge that I feel like I should apologize. But I won’t. I ask you, “Please, stay and walk this with me. It gets better. Gloriously, deliciously, sensually, sexually so much better.

Published by Ric d. Stark

New to a post-retirement commitment to literary non-fiction, Ric d. Stark will focus memories on gay life, Hawaiʻi life and Hawaiian quilting.

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