The Color of Pain

The Color of Pain
the story that began it all, but please be aware that this story is not a part of The Making of a Man story arc.
By: Diane Adams

Jared sat on the bench outside Dairy Queen and watched people walk past. The Dairy Queen was located in the center of the mall so he had plenty to look at; he was waiting for Alex to come out of the bookstore so it might be a while. People met his eyes and smiled in response to his nod of greeting, it was the south after all. 

Girls glanced at him and blushed prettily if he smiled at them, he wasn’t going to grace the cover of GQ anytime soon but he wasn’t bad. So it went, his ice cream was nearly gone before a body plopped down onto the cement bench next to him. A familiar arm went around his waist and a dark head came between him and the cone as Alex stole a bite. 

His partner sat up and grinned at him. Jared noted that he clutched, in the hand that wasn’t clutching him, a bag weighted with books. Jared shook his head; he had given up wondering how many books one man could read. Apparently, the answer was as many books as there were on the shelves and Alex meant to prove it. 

“I see you found something.” Jared commented his voice dry. Ignoring the slight sarcasm underlying Jared's tone Alex beamed and bit the cone again. He liked ice cream but the cone was his favorite part. Jared usually let him have it. Alex edged under Jared’s arm. Jared stiffened slightly, he loved Alex but his partner’s willingness to put their relationship on public display made him uncomfortable. 

Alex set his bag at their feet and took the rest of the cone from Jared. He finished in just a few bites. While he ate Jared contemplated the crowd once again. Things were less friendly than they were just moments ago, when he had watched alone. People no longer met his eyes; they lit on the couple and then slid off to the side, as if something had deflected them.Jared knew something had, it was the gay wall, almost invisible but highly effective. 

A friend once told Jared the wall was brick like a brick-red Crayola crayon. The bad simile made Jared laugh, but he knew the wall well and it had nothing to do with crayons. Its color had never been something as simple as red. 


Sundays Jared and Alex went to church. Jared was aware that it was on odd habit for them to indulge in but he was raised Southern Baptist and it stuck. He loved church and the music, and as corny as it sounded he loved God. He was bought with a price, and he believed it even if he wasn’t very good at living it. It wasn’t always pleasant at church, but that didn’t scare him away. He worried before he came out that he would be asked to leave but it hadn’t happened. There was no seal of approval on his relationship with Alex, but his young partner had the good sense not to flaunt things there and so they attended with an uneasy truce between them and the rest of the congregation.

Jared noticed that if he and Alex were not together people talked to them freely. He wondered if being across the church from his partner made him less gay. The idea was humorous. It was less entertaining when he rejoined Alex and they became invisible, hidden behind the wall. People walked around them at a distance that did not invite conversation. It was inaccurate to say people behaved as if they were invisible, everyone would have been less uncomfortable if they were. The wall was there, doing its job, buffering the world from gay contamination. It was the color of sin.


Almost every Friday night Jared and Alex went to the movies and then out to eat. Alex was happy to stay at home, with his books and Jared. Jared was more social and thought it was good for the younger man to get out once in a while. The movie was usually uneventful, but sometimes the restaurant was a lesson in restraint. Jared tried to stick to upscale places where the staff was more likely to be well trained, but even so when they tried a new restaurant there was always that moment when their server realized they were a couple. Confusion over who should be addressed as the “man” was comical. Alex often chided him not to laugh at other people’s expense.

“How can they know who’s in charge,” he asked upon occasion, his eyes lit with delightful humor, “when we can’t figure it out ourselves?” It was not so funny when they happened upon young ladies who believed enthusiasm somehow implied acceptance. Waitresses sometimes practiced little restraint in their efforts to integrate themselves with their customers. Jared wondered if there was a way to let them know beforehand that calling thirty-something men adorable did not increase your tip base. 



“I just love gay men.”

It was the wall again, never quite opaque, allowing a distorted glimpse of those on the other side. It was the color of ignorance.


Alex loved bookstores and Jared loved Best Buy, electronics stores of any sort were a delight to him but he was especially fond of that huge blue and yellow sign. 

“Brainwashed by the media,” Alex told him more than once as Jared dragged him through the doors. The interior of Best Buy, a brightly lit, and carefully arranged homage to the electronic age delighted Jared, and no amount of teasing from Alex ever reduced his infatuation. It didn’t matter what he came to buy, he wanted to look at everything. One night they made their way through the TV department. Alex was paying closer attention than he usually did because Jared was actually talking about buying one of the huge flat screen TVs, and even Alex had to admit that it would look spectacular on the wall at home.

The news was showing on dozens of screens, though little attention was being paid by the people browsing. The only things on their minds were color, contrast, plasma or LCD. Jared and Alex were looking at a particularly fine model. The color was brilliant and the picture sharp. The commercial went off and the news came back on, Jared began to turn away distracted by the offer of a lower price but Alex’s hand tightened around his and tugged him back. There had been a murder. More people paused to listen. It was a particularly brutal one. People around them turned towards the TV but the crowd stood apart from Alex and Jared.

Beaten to death with a baseball bat, the victim was only 16. They showed his picture, a beautiful boy with a brilliant smile and a thatch of spiked blond hair. His killer was 17. His motivation? Kill the faggot. 
The empty space around them seemed like yards though in reality the closest shoppers were only a few feet away. Alex clung to Jared’s hand. 

People around them pretended not to notice. There were quiet murmurs of “what a shame.” and other like minded platitudes. Who really cared that a boy had lost his life for such a senseless reason? The wall was there, disguising the brutality and the abomination of what had happened. It made such acts a shame instead of a nightmare. It was the color of hate. 


Jared was older than Alex, although only by a few years and not by the great gulf of time Alex thought was amusing to pretend lay between them. The Difference between 30 and 35 was negligible but Alex was different than Jared. He was a dreamer and often seemed less aware of what was going on around them. He was playful and affectionate. He was beautiful. There was innocence in his green eyes, even at 30, which few held beyond their teens. He loved life, and he loved Jared with an abandon that delighted his partner. 

Jared never discussed the wall with Alex. He believed that his partner’s natural optimism blinded him to it. He never hesitated to go anywhere with Jared or to express his feelings for his partner. Some disguises are better than others and some walls more skillfully crafted. 

Jared and Alex went to Alex’s parent’s house for Christmas. They came in from the cold, dusting snow off each other’s shoulders; Alex’s face was bright with laughter and flushed from the crisp air. In a sudden rush of affection, Jared kissed him quickly on the lips. It was unusual for him to take such action in public and Alex’s eyes lit with delight. They turned to face the room as they stripped out of their coats and found a greeting cooler than the snow they had left outdoors. 

When his mother called the week before Alex was reluctant to accept her invitation but Jared encouraged him. Now he wished they were home. Disapproval radiated from those watching them come into the house. Beside him Alex clenched his jaw. A woman stepped forward, her smile forced. Alex’s mother welcomed them awkwardly into her home.

“Thank you for coming, son.” She said formally. She did not try to touch him, “You’ll have to forgive us. We weren’t expecting to see…I mean…that is…” she fumbled for words; her eyes fixed on their clasped hands. Perhaps that was all the wall would let her see. Alex tore his hand from Jared’s and fled. Carrying both their coats the older man followed him outside. The door closed behind them. No one came to call them back. 

Jared caught up with Alex and forced him into his coat. Finally their eyes met. There were no tears but Alex’s eyes were dark in a way Jared had never seen before, and he knew. Alex was not blind to the wall. He saw it clearly in all of its colors. He chose to ignore it, to live his life as if there was no wall, and he was magnificent at it. Tonight his strategy had failed and he had run into it head on.

“Fuck them.” He said suddenly. “Fuck them all.” Jared understood that his lover did not mean just his family. He meant all of those who could not see past the wall; everyone who let their eyes slide away, or accepted them because they were a novelty, or killed them for being different. He meant every person who had ever helped to build it; the gay wall that stood between them and the world. It was the color of pain.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story. It is such a shame so many of our children have to go through hardships like these. My daughter and her partner could care less who says what, they refuse to hide from anyone. It scares me half to death knowing how many ignorant idiots are out there willing to "teach them a lesson". With all the hate crimes we see on news nowadays, gay couples need to be aware of their surroundings, which is not fair.


    1. I agree Rush,it's so scary how cold hearted people can be. There was a post on my facebook recenlty that I feel said it all. "I dream of a day when being gay doesn't take courage"

      It's so sad that there are people who have to keep one eye on the world while trying to look into the eyes of the one they love.

      Thank you for commenting and sharing part of your own story with me <3 Diane

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Pat,

      It's very sad and I couldn't begin to do the subject justice.

      <3 Diane