ONE: It Started Like This
CASE 1-A: Coming Out
Subjects: Kyle Broflovski and Stan Marsh.
It happened like this:
At the beginning of junior year, a couple of weeks after move in, Kyle Broflovski decided it was probably time he told his roommate and best friend, Stan Marsh, that he was gay. The thing was, he'd spent the whole summer discovering it behind Stan's back, hanging out at the pools and ignoring the girls in their bikinis in favor of the guys in their swimming trunks and Speedos.
One sexuality crisis and numerous inappropriate boners later, Kyle came out of the closet to his brother. And his father, accidentally, because Kyle hadn't noticed him in the laundry room. And his mother, later that same day, when his father told her. It had turned into a big… thing, but three months later everyone was relatively fine with it and all this happened behind Stan's back because Kyle hadn't thought to tell him until now.
Kyle was a little too smart for his own good sometimes, which caused him to spend the better part of the day planning out the various ways he could come out to Stan and the various ways Stan could react and working himself into such a flurry that by the time Stan actually returned to the room, Kyle was a pale, shaking mess.
Since Stan was his best friend, instead of asking, "Oh my god, are you okay," his question was, "Dude, big test later?"
Which, yes, actually, Kyle did have a big test later that he'd forgotten about in the course of having an aneurysm, but he would worry about that later.
"Yes, but no," Kyle said, wringing his hands. "Why don't you sit down?" Stan stared at him oddly and then came to join him on the bed, but Kyle stopped him with an almost violent shake of his head. "No, I meant—you should probably—on yours."
When Stan finished doing as told, the concern on his face was palpable. "Is it your diabetes? Did it get worse? Are you dying again?"
"No," Kyle felt his throat close up and tried to speak around it. "Thing is—I'm kind of—I like guys."
Stan stared at him.
"In—In a romantic sense."
The stare intensified.
"And in—a sexual sense."
It was like Stan had forgotten how to blink.
"I'm gay… ish. I mean, I haven't—you know, but I'm—I think I'd enjoy it," And, because his brain had fled the premises the instant Stan had walked in, Kyle finished earnestly, "Sex with guys, I mean."
He finally fell silent and the awkwardness he had been feeling skyrocketed into a crushing tension that seemed to get heavier the longer Stan went without speaking. Stan was staring at Kyle with an expression so blank it was impossible to read a single one of his thoughts and the fact that he hadn't blinked in almost two minutes was troubling.
Kyle began to fiddle with the hem of his shirt. "So, what do you think?"
It was like he had flipped some kind of switch. Stan sprung to his feet, looking taken aback and slightly horrified. "I'm not gay."
"I… didn't say you were?" Kyle said uncertainly, wondering if maybe he had implied it over the course of his babbling. It wasn't as though he remembered the specifics of what he had said. Besides the obvious, of course.
Stan now seemed unable to look at him. "I—Look, that's great, dude. Alternate lifestyles are—whatever, it's who you are. I have to go though."
"What, now?" It seemed to Kyle that this was going absolutely nothing like he'd wanted to and that if he allowed Stan to walk out that door, then he would never see him again. Which was impossible considering they were roommates and had all the same classes, but he couldn't help his panic. "Don't you want to talk?"
"We just did," Stan cast his eyes around desperately, grabbed a textbook, and shuffled for the door. "But I have to study for that test. In the library."
"But we always study together—"
"I promised Kenny I'd—"
"Kenny studies with us, too—"
"Don't want to be—"
Stan stopped halfway out the door and turned to stare at Kyle with such a heart-wrenching expression of fear and distress that words died in Kyle's throat. "Please, Kyle, just let me… I need to go. I can't right now, okay? Please."
Kyle dropped his gaze and nodded, not looking up again until the door had clicked shut.
Result: Things became pretty awkward in room 116.
CASE 1-B: Coming Out
Subjects: The Broflovski family.
What actually happened was this:
Ike Broflovski wasn't really popular at school. He was the smartest one there and was two years younger than all of his classmates, which already made him the target of ridicule. But he had also gotten on the bad side of Fillmore, the unspoken leader of the student body, and spent most of his time stuffed inside lockers as a result. He'd gotten pretty good at screaming loud enough for the janitors to hear and let him out, but still.
Thing was, Sheila Broflovski, his mother in everything but blood, had taught him to be proud of who he was no matter what anyone else had to say. Thing was, being proud of who he was got him beat up at school. Thing was, he didn't really know how to reconcile these two things.
So, when Kyle came down the stairs all fidgety and pissing himself, Ike, who had taken to doing his homework in the basement where his mother's noise couldn't bother him, figured Kyle was getting his ass pounded at school, too.
So, when Kyle burst out with, "SoIthinkImightlikeguys," took a deep breath, and repeated himself slower, Ike kind of wished he hadn't given himself that mental image.
"Okay," was his initial response because, well, what was he supposed to say? And then he tried, "When did you figure that out?"
"I—" Kyle blinked a bit stupidly. "You're not mad?"
"Why would I be mad?"
"I'm—Your brother is—"
"You've always been gay. Now you're the other kind of gay." Ike returned to his homework. "BFD."
He heard Kyle make a small noise, then, suddenly, he was being enveloped in a hug the likes of which he hadn't gotten from his brother since… well, ever. Kyle was more likely to kick him than hug him and it felt really weird, not because he was afraid Kyle was about to spring a boner for him or anything, but because his opinion mattered so much to anyone, especially Kyle.
"Good thing you go to boarding school," Ike said once Kyle had let him go. "There are no lockers there."
Kyle looked about ready to ask him to clarify—which would have been the same time Ike would tell him to go fuck himself—when Gerald cleared his throat and stepped out of the laundry room and Ike remembered, "Oh, yeah, dad's down here."
Kyle got fidgety and started pissing himself again. "Oh."
"Oh, indeed," Gerald did not sound happy or even remotely content. And his ears were red, which was never a good sign. "Upstairs. Now."
"Both of us?" Ike asked.
"The gay one," Gerald spat, storming up the steps.
Kyle turned terrified eyes on Ike, who shrugged. "Good thing you already go to boarding school."
Things got rough for Kyle after that and it got to the point where he began to hang out at Stan's house more than he hung out at home. And even that became suspect when, at one of the few dinners Kyle showed up for that summer, Gerald suddenly said:
"Oh, god, it's Stan isn't it? You're fornicating with Stan!"
Kyle paled, but this appeared to be less out of fear and more out of disgust. "Dad, I'm not having sex with Stan! I'm not having sex period!"
"That's responsible," Sheila pointed out. She had been upset for a good month and had banned Kyle from going to the pool as well as outright threatened to lock him in the house entirely, but then she had realized that gay rights was another cause to add to her laundry list of them. Gerald was a little harder to convince. "And, even if he was, at least he can't knock anyone up."
"I always knew you and Randy's son were too close. This is all my fault," Gerald buried his face in his hands. "I let you kids have sleepovers even after you went through puberty. I might has well have shoved him up your ass myself!"
"May I be excused?" Ike and Kyle begged at the same time.
Gerald waved a hand at them and they went out into the hallway, where Kyle grabbed his coat and began searching for his keys, no doubt on his way to Stan's.
Ike leaned against the wall. "So, are you and Stan fucking?"
"Don't say 'fucking'. You're eleven," Kyle said absently, finding his keys behind the couch. "And no. I wouldn't have sex with Stan. He's my best friend."
"Does he know that you're—"
Kyle's shoulders tightened. "Eventually, he will. I just—I can't deal with more of this. If I can't go to Stan's, then I have nowhere to go. I'll tell him—maybe when we go back to school, but I will."
And then he was out the door. Ike wanted to tell Kyle that he should be proud of who he was, even if who he was took it up the ass, but Ike also knew that being proud of who you were when you were different would get you beaten up at school. He was just glad he wasn't the kind of different that got him beaten up at home, too.
Result: Gerald didn't really get over it.
CASE 1-C: Coming Out
Subject: Kenny McCormick and Kyle Broflovski.
Afterward, this happened:
Kenny McCormick was like a silent force in the Beaumont student population. He never said much to anyone; he was more of a listener. He listened and he observed and he saw things that other people didn't because they were too busy talking.
He was also the person to go to if you needed something that was against school policy.
Kenny had been friends with Kyle Broflovski since his freshman year, when he'd been outside the welcome assembly smoking a pack and Kyle had come running up, late, and ended up blowing the assembly off to hang out with Kenny. Kenny liked Kyle because Kyle was smart and opinionated and could hold a whole conversation by himself. Kyle liked Kenny because he listened.
Kenny knew Kyle was gay before Kyle knew he was gay because Kenny didn't care much whose thigh he was running his hand up as long as they let him between his legs and Kyle was so disinterested in girls he was almost asexual before he realized guys were an option. Kenny was the type of guy to let other people wander into personal realizations on their own so he didn't push and he didn't hint; mostly, he just called mental dibs on Kyle's virginity.
Then, Kyle came to him and said, "I need a huge bottle of hard liquor and a new best friend," and Kenny became privy to the news about the fight.
Stan was Kenny's friend-by-association. He was Kyle's best friend and they hung out together sometimes when Kyle was busy or Stan needed to buy something, but mostly they were connected by the title of 'Kyle's friend'. Stan was a nice guy and all, but they just didn't click the way Kenny and Kyle had. Kenny suspected it was because Stan was jealous of their friendship.
So when Kyle finished, "—just left like I was a leper or something and I haven't seen him since," Kenny didn't have a problem telling him that Stan was a douche.
"I know," Kyle moaned miserably, resting his forehead on his knees. "But he's my best friend!"
Kenny listened for, like, the fiftieth time as Kyle recounted how he and Stan had met in Pre-K because they lived right down the street from one another and Stan had had a bigwheel and Kyle had wanted a bigwheel and Stan had said, "Well, you can borrow mine, but don't steal it," and Kyle had said, "Why would I steal it," and Stan had said, "'cause my friend said that Jews steal everything," and Kyle had punched Eric Cartman in the face for the very first time. Kyle had expected Stan to be angry, but Stan had just laughed because he hated Cartman, too, and they'd spent the whole day taking turns riding the bigwheel and Kyle had slept over at his house that very night.
From that moment on, they were inseparable.
In the meantime, Kenny had been growing up in the ghetto, learning how to run and duck and kick and bite so that the penny he'd found on the sidewalk on his way home wouldn't get stolen from him by one of the other hungry neighborhood kids. That had been before he'd learned how to liberate the things he wanted, no cash required. But Kyle didn't know all that.
"If I'd known this would happen, I wouldn't have told him!" Kyle sounded so upset it was making Kenny upset. And Kenny wasn't what one could call empathetic. "I haven't even done anything with guys! I mean, maybe I can talk myself out of it and we can go back to being friends…"
And that was about when Kenny shut him up by placing his hands on Kyle's knees, waiting until he looked up curiously, and leaning forward. Kyle's breathing increased and his eyes became the darkest shade of green that Kenny had ever seen, dark with want. His long, red lashes fluttered.
"What're you doing?" Kyle asked shakily.
Kenny kissed him, gentle, coaxing, his lips pressed together at first as they worked against Kyle's, begging him to relax. Kyle was trembling, but then one hand came up to touch the back of Kenny's neck and the tension slowly drained out of him. Kenny slid his tongue along Kyle's lower lip, swallowing his gasp, and slipping his tongue into Kyle's mouth.
"Fuck," Kyle whimpered as Kenny ran his tongue along his teeth and brought one hand up from his knee to trace a nipple through his shirt. Kyle moaned like he'd been short, bucking into Kenny's touch, and Kenny filed that sensitivity for later as he slowly drew away.
Kyle did not open his eyes for a long time, long enough for Kenny to sit down next to him.
"Why?" Kyle whispered, eyes still closed, his head resting against Kenny's shoulder.
"Because I'm your friend," Kenny answered just as quietly. "And I don't care who you're fucking."
"Oh," Kyle said and didn't say anything else and Kenny stayed with him until it was lights out and he had to go back.
Result: Kyle fell in love.
CASE 1-D: Coming Out
Subjects: Kyle Broflovski and Stan Marsh.
It started like this:
The first party of the year took place near the end of September in the old barn near the lake. Beaumont was an all-boys' boarding school that was separated from Belleview, the all girls' boarding school, by a shoddy chain link fence. No one watched the chain link fence or really did anything to keep the boys and girls from climbing over it, which was why the girls came over in September for the school year kick off party in the barn and the boys went over in June for the end of the year party in their old gym.
The alcohol came from many sources. Some kids had learned how to brew it in their rooms and did at risk of expulsion because town was too damn far away to walk to and you had to sign out to get there on wheels. Others, the chief among them being Kenny McCormick, got them from mysterious means that only he was familiar with and gave the quality bottles out for a price.
Kyle was immune to the price, having been Kenny's friend since freshman year, and got an entire bottle of grey goose to himself. And, boy, did he need it. Things had gotten so bad between himself and Stan that just being in the same room as him was like waiting for a time bomb to go off and they had both taken to avoiding the room like the plague unless they needed to sleep. Kyle had begun to find sleeping difficult and, as a result, had started running around campus until he was too tired to do anything but pass out once he hit his bed. It put him in good shape and all—good shape he was hoping a certain someone might notice—but he suspected it wasn't healthy.
He missed Stan, but Stan obviously didn't miss him, if the way he was chatting up a few of the girls was any indication.
Kyle had found himself a place on a stack of hay where he could sit and watch and mourn the days past and drink grey goose until he got alcohol poisoning, but he was having trouble with the last part. He hated grey goose, hated the way it burned his throat, but it was all Kenny had and it was Kenny's favorite and Kyle was trying to get used to it. Not that he was trying to impress Kenny or anything.
Still, he was only slightly buzzed when Stan stumbled over to him.
Kyle hadn't seen—really seen—Stan in two weeks. His hair had gotten longer and messier, a halo of uncombed strands that framed his face, and there was a hint of stubble on his chin. His eyes were huge and unfocused and his cheeks were bright red. In other words, he was drunk off his ass. No wonder he hadn't gone running scared in the opposite direction yet.
"Kyle," Stan breathed happily, as though they hadn't been avoiding one another. "Put that bottle down."
"Why?" Kyle asked grumpily, not too drunk to not be upset. "So you can get alcohol poisoning before me and force me to take care of your sorry ass until you pass out in a pool of your own vomit and wake up to shower and avoid me again?"
Stan thought about it, wobbling as he did.
"No," he decided at last. "So, I can—"
Whatever he was going to say was lost as he suddenly reared forward, gripped a fistful of Kyle's shirt, and kissed him. His mouth was warm and wet, his tongue swirling around Kyle's and sucking it into his mouth, his breath a warm fan on Kyle's face. Kyle was too shocked to do anything but gape at him and then Stan's eyes fluttered open and the blue of them made his breath hitch and his stomach pool with warmth.
He shoved Stan away. "Dude, what the fuck?"
"Mmm," Stan licked his lips and looked at Kyle with new eyes. "Kyle."
And then he was wrapped around Kyle like a second skin, his fingers buried in Kyle's curly hair, his tongue buried in Kyle's mouth, and his hips nudging insistently against Kyle's waist.
And Kyle, tipsy and horny, wrapped his arms around Stan's waist and kissed him back, his head tilting to deepen the kiss, his gasps and groans muffled against Stan's lips, his dick hard against Stan's thigh. The rational side of his mind tried to remind him that this was Stan he was kissing, but the drunk side of his mind was chanting, action! action! action!
Kyle was a teenage boy with needs, godammit, and Stan seemed quite insistent on fulfilling them.
"Kyle," Stan moaned as he pulled away, trapping Kyle in his blue eyes again. Then he scrambled out of Kyle's lap just in time to throw up on the ground in front of Kyle's haystack and pass out, narrowly missing the mess.
Kyle peered over the haystack at him, then glanced up to see Kenny watching him curiously. His cheeks flared.
"He fainted," he said, because that seemed important.
"I can see that," Kenny replied, smirking. "I could see the two of you doing a lot of things."
Kyle lifted his chin stubbornly. "He was drunk. He was drunk and taking advantage of me."
The next day, Stan woke up with the hangover from hell, but seemed to be over avoiding Kyle if the way he bought Kyle a huge carton of sugar-free ice cream and cleaned the room while Kyle was out running was any indication. Kyle considered telling him what he'd done, maybe even asking him about it, but the rush of relief he felt when Stan looked at him again overrode that urge. They had been drunk, anyway. It didn't even matter.
At the next party, Stan got drunk and made out with Butters Scotch.
At the next, he locked lips with Clyde Donovan.
At the next, Kenny McCormick.
But at all three parties, no matter which girl he began with while sober and which guy he made out with while drunk, he always, always, always ended up in Kyle's lap, shoving his tongue down Kyle's throat. And Kyle was always helpless to stop him.
Result: A drunken mistake turned into a running theme at those parties.
CASE 1-E: Coming Out
Subject: Wendy Testaburger.
The problem was this:
Wendy Testaburger was the student council president at Belleview and Beaumont. The way things had used to be, Wendy was the student council president at Belleview and a boy named Eric Cartman was student council president at Beaumont. No one knew how Eric Cartman had gotten elected because everyone hated him, but he'd actually been pretty effective.
Well, until he'd tried to use his sway with the administration to gain a list of all the Jews at Beaumont for something he described as "ethnic cleansing". Since no one else had wanted his job, Wendy got it.
What that meant was that Wendy was the envy of all the girls at school because she got to go to Beaumont during school hours to carry out her duties. She got to see the boys in their natural habitat. And she had the school-sanctioned ability to enter their rooms. It was a pretty sweet deal.
What Wendy loved about it was the power. Wendy loved power. She loved power and attention and being respected by her envious peers. She loved having people hang off her every word and hanging out with the guys and making a difference.
The first difference she made? The union of the two schools.
"Beaumont and Belleview are practically one school anyway," she'd said in her meeting with the board of directors. "The chain-link fence is rusty and it'd save us more money to take it down than put up another one."
"Co-ed interaction is an important part of teenage development," she'd continued without the use of any of her index cards. "The downside to keeping boys and girls walled off from each other is that after graduation the two sexes find it difficult to interact with one another since they've been subconsciously conditioned to stay with their own kind."
"And," she'd finished with an ironic little smile. "Haven't we learned that segregation is wrong?"
It had taken her nearly two and a half years, but the board of directors finally ruled that the chain-link fence should be taken down and the boys and girls should feel free to enroll in classes in one another's schools, instead of simply sharing clubs. Her junior year was spent perfecting the plan, talking to the teachers, tweaking syllabuses and teaching styles. That summer, the fence came down.
The changes were to take effect senior year.
Result: Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski became an item.
CONCLUSION: Coming Out
So how did awkwardness between roommates and a drunken mistake-turned-habit evolve into best friends becoming lovers, despite the fact that one of them was in love with someone else? What exactly happened when Beaumont and Belleview became jokingly referred to as "Bellemont"? Or when family troubles and sexuality troubles combined?
The results are contained in this study. More cases to follow.
Author's Note: I wonder if this counts as one of the two chapters I promised my Red String readers this month... Anyway, this is a silly little story that popped into my head while I was trapped at a business conference I had to attend for class. And if you are wondering who exactly is writing this case study, you are thinking too much about the story and should just enjoy the ride!