(Boylove Documentary Sourcebook) - The First Gay Encounter of Gad Beck

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Gerhard "Gad" Beck (1923–2012).

From An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin (Und Gad ging zu David: Die Erinnerungen des Gad Beck, 1923 bis 1945 [1995]) by Gad Beck, written with Frank Heibert, translated from the German by Allison Brown (Madison; London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1999).

My first real sexual experience happened during physical education—with my gym teacher. I was twelve; he was twenty-two. Since, as a Jew, he was prohibited from continuing his studies at the university, he was hired as a teacher’s assistant. After official school hours, he worked out with individual students on a voluntary basis. I was still running the relay, but he wanted to win me over to jumping hurdles—actually a silly idea considering my short legs.

One day I was his last student. When practice was over, we went to the showers. He was in one corner, and shyly I went to the other end of the shower room. He finished before me, put on a bathrobe, and threw me a towel. In that moment I was overcome with unrestrained desire. Without thinking about what I was doing, I went over to him and snuggled into his bathrobe, naked. Not a word was uttered. Thank goodness! I would not have known what to say. I felt like doing it and I did—it was enough just dealing with that.

I embraced him and noticed he was aroused as well; I relished the feeling. We caressed and rubbed against each other, not even all that much, and then we came, both of us. The nicest thing for me was that he reciprocated the affection by putting his arms around my shoulders. I had taken him by surprise, but when it happened, he wanted it too, there was no doubt about it.

I ran home beaming with delight. “So, how was your day at school today?” my mother asked as she did every day, throwing me a scrutinizing look. I was incredibly and obviously happy. “Really nice,” I reported breathlessly. “After practice I hugged my gym teacher in the locker room. It was really fun.” As unbelievable as that might sound, that is how naive I was.

If something had happened with a girl in my class, I probably would have been afraid to say anything. We did at least know that much about this serious thing reserved for grown-ups, which had something to do with having children. But being affectionate with a male teacher? What could happen? Certainly I couldn’t get pregnant.

My mother’s reaction was just as baffling—she was not at all upset. “Aha, I thought so,” she answered dryly. She knew her son was delicate and rather feminine. I never fought with the other boys; instead, I often competed with my sister to see who was more ladylike. Besides, my mother remembered the Seppl doll she had given me; she evidently saw my development as rather consistent.

I came out, as you say nowadays, in a totally nonchalant fashion; it just happened. I never had any feeling that it was wrong to accost my teacher in the shower. It happened spontaneously, just like when my dog wants a sock to chew on and simply jumps up and grabs it.

I never talked about it openly with my parents, but it wasn’t necessary. They knew, and later, when I was an adult in Israel, there were certainly times they offered their opinions on concrete situations in my often complex love relationships.

With my gym teacher, by the way, things never went beyond that one experience. I knew very well that I could not catch him unaware again. A few weeks later I was with him alone in the locker room again and went over and hugged him, like the first time. Of course, this time we were both dressed. He was wearing sweat pants, which by no means concealed his physical reaction. But he did not let it go any further this time. He surely was also afraid of the possible consequences. He hugged me very gently and pushed me aside. That made things crystal clear.

But that wasn’t really so bad. He had done something for me. And I have never forgotten the happiness of that first encounter. That teacher is now living in Holland. He’s over eighty, has been married for an eternity, and has a number of grandchildren. He probably wouldn’t even remember who I am.

Naked Skippers (Fishermen) and Boys on Green Shores (ca. 1900) by Ludwig von Hofmann. Oil on canvas, 142.5 × 204.5 cm (Leipzig, Germany: Museum der bildenden Künste).

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