The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson


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I was amused a while back when UPS ran it’s “WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?” adverts. Because, when I was coming out in my early twenties, a popular euphemism for fucking was “browning”. It was used as a verb, “to brown”, as in “I’d like to brown him”. Somewhere in the east there was a school called the Browning School: gay guys in my generation loved to have a picture taken of themselves under the sign “Browning School for Boys”. The term seems to have died out, along with “corn-holing”.

More recently, there was the flap about the Repugnant Party expropriating the term “tea-bagging” for some silly protest march. Reporting on that gave Olbermann many opportunities for delicious puns.

So yesterday I opened The Nation and found this ad:

The answer of course is C U M ! Or is “pearl necklace” another term we used to use that’s gone by the wayside?


I do wonder if one reason guys don’t want to be in the showers together any more is because so many of them are shaving off their pubic hair. According to some bloggers, close to a quarter of today’s young men are doing this. As for the porn stars, they shave all over! But all the signals are mixed: why festoon your lovely body with tattoos, if you’re afraid to strip down and show them off? How long before the gym showers are segregated into straight and gay? It is all very confusing.


Towards the end of my time with Johnny, there came a weekend when I simply HAD to get away. I asked my older brother to wire me a plane ticket to Southern California, where I spent time with him, his wife and kids, and several boxer dogs. On my last night there, my brother said, “I sense there’s some problems you are working on: if you wanna talk about them, we gotta do it tonight cuz I gotta go to work in the morning.”

It was now or never! I steeled myself for his reaction, up to and possibly including throwing me out of the house, and said, “Well, for the last several years, I’ve been married to this guy, and it hasn’t been going well at all.”

Bro said, “Yeah: we know all about that. I was in the Navy, we had some gay guys on board, and as Captain I had to deal with it. You see how Leena and I get into it now and then: it seems to come with the territory. But, if the situation isn’t what you want, get out of it.”

No histrionics. No hysterics. Matter of fact. My brother already knew I was gay. He had never mentioned it.

What a relief!


Motivated by yet another flare-up with Johnny, one night I sat down and wrote a long letter to my oldest brother, revealing all. His reaction, when it came, startled me. He reminded me of an occasion years before when he had arrived at the family home in Modesto: I remembered it well. He had driven in with a lot of noise and honking, and when he came into the house, Butch and I (we’d been carrying on in my bedroom) were dressed and composed. It turned out, my brother had driven by the house and seen a strange car in the driveway, and a light on in my bedroom. He parked a few doors away, walked back and and peeped into my bedroom, observed Butch and me for a while, then made is his noisy entrance. He never said a word to me about it until years later! Whether I was gay, straight or otherwise, he could care less!


I soon discovered that both of my brothers had discussed my being gay with my father. Of course, he discussed it with my stepmother. So, when at last I broached the subject with my Dad, he finally asked me if I identified my self as a homosexual, and I had to reply that I did. He took it in stride, and we rarely ever spoke of it again. Eventually, he gave me the same advice with respect to Johnny as my brother had, and helped me cope with some of the fallout when the “divorce” finally eventuated.

My stepmother, who had connections in education circles in Modesto, finally admitted she had heard on the “grapevine” that the administrators of my high school were all convinced I was gay! I wish they had told me, dammit! It seems they all thought I was sucking dick at a great rate, when in fact I was so sure I was some sort of misfit I wasn’t doing diddly-squat. (Except whacking-off every chance I got). Sheeeeesh!


Many years later, when Dad had retired for the third time, I was home one weekend. He explained he had been going through all the books in the house, disposing of out-dated texts and so forth. I asked him if he had gotten rid of my favorite of his books.

“What book was that?”

The Sexual Life of the Child, by Alfred Moll.”

He consulted his card-file. “No, I still have it. Why were you interested in it?”

“‘Cause I usta steal it from your office and read it! It had a lot of case-histories ‘n stuff. And, Moll  advanced the theory that because the penis is a muscle, masturbation favored development.”

Dad chuckled, and (punning unintentionally) said, “You know, we’ve come full circle on that topic in my lifetime: why, I can remember going to the Denver YMCA when I was about 14 to hear some guy tell us all about the ‘evils of masturbation.’ In fact, that’s where I learned about it!”

Well, old Moll was something of a nitwit, but the book had been written in the twenties. I still have it. His theory about masturbation favoring development has long since been disproved. But I love the picture my Dad conjured of some old fart going around the country talking about the “evils of masturbation” and thereby introducing hundreds of horny boys to it.

We used to say, “Join the YMCA and do it the Christian way!”


At this point I was approaching 30. Out, when it mattered. Out to my family, to whom it did NOT matter. I had a decent job, my Dad’s old ‘53 Chrysler V-8 to drive. The next major event in my life would occur in 1966.

Stay tuned!




Written by Bruce

December 14th, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Coming Out