A writing exercise with the brief “Write 500 words or less using the opening line “I kept Tony’s secret for a decade.”

I kept Tony’s secret for a decade. It was an easy secret to keep because it was my secret too, that we’d been lovers right from the start. We’d met at university, he was studying drama and I was a budding musician. We’d been allocated adjacent rooms in College and that first day he’d wandered into my room, scowled at the poster of George Best I’d stuck to my wall. “You a ManU supporter?” “Yeah, family tradition. I’m named George, after him”. I nodded at the poster. “I’m Tony, I support Liverpool.” The gauntlet thrown down, he’d spun and marched from the room.

But he’d come back and our mutual love of the game had developed into mutual love for each other. We’d kept it very quiet, as you did in those days; our relationship would have horrified our families. It would also have been heavily frowned upon by the College authorities; authorities which should have been more concerned about the increasing use of illegal drugs rather than the sexual behaviour of its students.

Even when we’d moved into a flat together, in our second year, no one suspected anything. It was just known as “George and Tony’s Place”; we were considered to be good mates, studying the same sort of arty-farty subjects but, jeez, we played uni soccer together. Whenever soccer was shown on SBS on our huge TV a steady tide of visitors, soccer players and supporters, art students and scientists, gay and straight, washed through our door. Tony and my arguments about the finer points of each game and the referee’s decisions became the stuff of legend among our unsuspecting mates.

By now Tony had developed into a great actor and appeared in many plays presented at University; I produced a more-than-acceptable keyboard in the musicals. We graduated into the colourful world of performance and theatre.

We continued to hide our feelings for each other as we knew our families would still disapprove. We found employment, Tony with the Sydney Theatre Company and I with Opera Australia. We rented an apartment in Paddington. No one thought it odd that we continued to share, “It’s just so convenient for our work”.

Our façade of convenience was aided by a stream of visiting friends, male and female, actors and musicians, gay and straight; soccer gradually was relegated to lower priority.

Our schedules became ever more hectic as our talents blossomed into artistic success. Extensive and frequent overseas trips with our different companies started to impinge on our lives, our relationship.

So the time is finally right for us both to schedule a less busy lifestyle, to arrange to spend more time together. It’s time to make a commitment, time to come out and tell our families that Tony and George are a couple, have been a couple for years. We’ve just announced our love to the world by sending out formal invitations to join us for a beachside celebration, invitations to the wedding of Antony James and Georgina Suzanne.

 

By Caroline Gaden  © 26 March 2006  (word count 500)

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