3 min

Learn me good

The many ways to be queer

Credit: Xtra West files

A month into classes, Will Sunder found he had already managed to fall behind. His grades, weak as the rain around him, had begun to trickle in.

Underfoot, the fresh-dead leaves were moping. Davie St had turned all orange and brown. Climbing the hill from Granville St, Will fixed on the berry-ass of a guy two paces ahead. He felt connected to that ass, the way a baby elephant will hold its mother’s tail, oblivious to where it leads.

For the 100th time that day, Will asked himself how he could have let it happen.

The affair with his professor had started innocently enough-a grazing of bodies in the Aquatic Centre shower room. An exchange of looks during classes. And, inevitably, there was an agreement for a quick fuck in one of the toilet stalls.

“Not the Fine Arts building,” insisted Will. “Everyone uses the Fine Arts bathroom.”

There was something ideal in the pairing. Maybe it was the way the two of them fit so nicely together-teacher and student, giver and taker. Teach me. Show me. Learn me good.

On orgasm, Will’s teeth tingled and he choked on his own breath. Two big hands lowered him finally to the seat of the toilet.

He had been pinned, completely passive. But mostly, it turned out, he was relieved, relieved of all responsibility. Yes, finally. He opened his eyes and read a bit of graffiti on the wall: Faggots Die! And he thought, for an instant, he had.

On the long walk home, a windy Monday, Will began to worry again. Why did I get a C on the essay?

An over-compensation in the struggle to remain objective? Some guilt lashing out? Or, worst of all, could it really be a C paper? Was it just possible that his fucking and his academic career were entirely separate?

Arriving at Mole Hole on Pendrell St, Will fiddled with his keys and opened the door to find Ryan and Chris in the midst of a pile of clothing.

“Dressup?” asked Will, tossing his bag onto the couch.

Chris pulled a beer from the fridge and mumbled something about a date that night.

Ryan unbuttoned a blood-red shirt. “I’m helping Cowboy get ready for his big night out.”

Will gave the pair of them a shrug and headed for his bedroom.


It’s after midnight now; Chris has returned, happy and unloaded.

“You promised, Chris.”

“You really want me to go through with it?”

“A promise is a promise.”

“But I’ve never done this.”

“It’s easy. Start slow and use long strokes.”

“Okay, fine.” Chris takes the eye-liner from Ryan and applies some to his lashes, cringing.

“Now the lipstick,” says Ryan, holding out a tube.

“No fucking way.”

“Who helped you pick out your clothes for tonight? Who taught you how to wear those jeans right? Who told you what to say to her?”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re my sensei.” Chris applies his own lipstick, but Ryan insists on doing the blush himself. He pulls Chris’ T-shirt over his head and replaces it with a silk peasant blouse.

“So pretty,” coos Ryan. “Gimme a little sugar, hey?”

Chris pushes away, groggy. “Sorry. Not drunk enough.”

“What was that? Chicken shit?”

“You know,” gurgles Chris as he steps out of his sneakers and into some pumps, “there still are straight guys in Vancouver.”

Ryan is nonplussed. “Oh, I see.” He drops his shoulders then and the chiffon scarf skittles around his hips, settling on the rug. “I thought you and I were past all that, Chris. I mean, gay or straight, man or woman. Aren’t those all whatever we make of them? No, I’ve been thinking about it, really.”

“Have you.”

“Yes, I have. And you’re not straighter than I am.”

Chris guffaws, stretches his chest out, incidentally filling up his cleavage. “Then how do you explain Samantha and me tonight.”

Ryan smiles like a dervish.

“There’s only one way to be straight. But, you know, there are many ways to be queer.” He spins Chris around, so the full-length mirror fills with the boy, the dress, the wig.

“Jesus,” says Chris to the mirror. “I’m hot.”