Closet Cases: Dirk & I come out in Australia’s Star Observer magazine

Dirk and I just came out in Australia’s largest LGBT publication, the Star Observer! Well… we’re out and proud already, of course, but we shared our coming out stories with the magazine.

The interview is the product of a chance encounter with Star Observer reporter Benjamin Riley, who writes a monthly column called Closet Case. We got to talking at the Laird in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, set up a lunch date to talk some more… set up ANOTHER lunch date to talk even more (what can I say, it was a great conversation that no one wanted to see end)… and the result is the article I’ve posted below. Dirk, Ben, and I hope you enjoy it! (The images below can be difficult to read, so I’ve included a text transcript at the bottom of this post.)

We covered a lot more topics during our marathon session, and Ben has hinted that there may be another article coming sometime down the road, so watch this space! In the meantime, in addition to the article below, you can check out the bonus content from the interview, called How to Get Started in Gay Porn.

Closet Case: Jesse Jackman and Dirk Caber
By Benjamin Riley for the Star Observer, July 2015

Jesse Jackman is a writer and software engineer, and his husband Dirk Caber is a composer and classical musician. Living together in Boston, Jackman and Caber are also two of the most recognisable names and faces (among other things) in gay porn.

JESSE JACKMAN

IN 1994, in his third year of university, Jesse Jackman went to live in Japan for a semester on an exchange program. Closeted and already feeling isolated, far from home his loneliness only got worse. In despair, Jackman remembered when, years earlier, a teacher from a nearby school came to speak to his school assembly about being gay. It was the late 80s, and a big deal for the school to give their students a positive message about homosexuality — for a 12-year-old Jackman, even having no one to share it with, the message gave him hope.

He had always kept the teacher’s contact details, and so at 20, posted the man a letter from Japan. “I wrote to him, terrified that he was going to write back, scolding me somehow, and saying that it wasn’t okay that I was this way, and I had to change… so I sent it and I dreaded having sent it the instant I put it in the mailbox,” Jackman recalled.

“About two or three weeks later I got a wonderful handwritten letter back from him, saying, ‘I understand your feelings of loneliness and your feelings of despair, don’t worry, there’s hope’.”

The teacher gave Jackman his phone number and said that if he hung on in Japan, once he got home he would find support.

Jackman never made contact with him again. “I was so heartened and terrified by receiving that letter that I never responded and I never reached out,” he said.

“Instead, that’s when I connected with my friend in Japan who was a religious fundamentalist. The only way that he could see to help me — and I really do believe he was trying to help me — was to get me to devote my life to my lord and saviour Jesus Christ.” This friend, another exchange student, was the first person Jackman ever came out to face-to-face. He joined the same local Christian church in Japan his friend was attending, and tried as hard as he could to believe.

“I wanted it to be me so much, because that would mean that I wouldn’t be alone any more,” Jackman said.

“So I faked it. But I faked it so well that I convinced myself that it was real.”

When Jackman returned to the US, he dove headfirst into the church with his friend, and ended up in a conversion program at an ex-gay ministry.

After a year filled with anger and shame, Jackman got out. But it was another three years before he felt able to begin safely exploring who he was as a gay man. Even years later, Jackman didn’t tell anyone about what had happened. His partner Dirk Caber only found out recently, and in fact it was Caber moving into Jackman’s apartment that prompted the revelation — while cleaning, Jackman found an old folder full of notes from the ex-gay ministry’s conversion group he had been in. Finding the courage to confront what had happened to him, 20 years later, Jackman wrote about it and shared it with the world for an article in the Huffington Post.

“I feel like I lost three years of my life — my gay life — and I’ll never get that back,” he said.

“So I’ve been working to make that up ever since. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that. But part of the reason I do what I do, with the outreach and the activism, and to an extent the porn, is I’m not just trying to prove myself as a gracious citizen of the gay world, I’m proving to myself that I’m a good gay man and a worthy gay man.

“It’s a battle, every day, every single damn day. I may never win it. It may be an uphill climb forever. But it’s worth the journey.”

DIRK CABER

For Dirk Caber — the porn alter ego of composer Jack Parton — his coming out experience couldn’t have been further from his partner’s. With parents who were New England libertarians, their responses to Caber’s confession were variations on: “That makes sense.”

Years later, when Caber decided to go into porn he had to come out to his parents a second time, and the prospect made him a little more nervous. He’d already been in the industry for a few years by that stage, and had been filming for some of the most high-profile studios in the US.

“I was getting worried, because Jesse and I, through some of the activism we were doing… we were becoming known outside of the porn world as porn stars, visually,” he said.

“We knew it was probably only a matter of time before somebody sent [my parents] an email with a picture saying, ‘is this Jack’?”

Caber decided it needed to come from him, so he drove to his parents’ house for dinner.

“Halfway through dinner I said, ‘I actually need to talk to you about something, and this is a little awkward, because I don’t know how you’re going to react.’ Then I proceeded to catalogue all the great things that have come into my life because of porn.”

Before giving any explanation for what he was talking about, Caber rattled off a whole list of changes: relocating from Chicago to Boston, achieving some financial security, reaching out to a whole new group of people engaged with his music, even meeting Jackman, a partner his parents adore.

“‘So what I’m trying to say is, I have become a porn star’,” Caber recounted.

“The moment I said, ‘What I’m telling you is I’ve been acting in gay porn’, my mother’s first response was to heave this huge sigh of relief and say, ‘I thought you were going to tell us you had cancer’.”

After the dinner-table conversation, Caber’s father went away and googled what his son had been up to. “He’s looking at my blog and he’s looking at Jesse’s blog, and he’s looking at all these mentions of us online and reading some of the things we’re writing and taking about and he says, ‘you guys are famous’,” Caber said.

“His final word on it was, the only thing he didn’t like about it was that he had nobody he could brag about it to.”  ★

9 replies
  1. melissa Mcentyre
    melissa Mcentyre says:

    This is a very interesting look at different events in Gay Men’s lives–Thanks Jesse & Dirk for the sharing

    Reply
  2. Steven Lerman
    Steven Lerman says:

    Thank you for sharing this I love being able to learn more about you and see you guys doing so much with the celebrity you earned through your porn works. Love seeing the real men behind the facades of Jesse and Dirk. If only I could have the oppertunity to learn more in person.

    Reply
  3. jerry
    jerry says:

    Dear:
    dirk and jesse

    Thank you for sharing your story with all your folloeer . You guys are inspiration to others that are still in the closet. We have learn more about your self i aploud you for who you are professional personal great leaders in the LGT world.

    Reply
  4. Adam
    Adam says:

    Wow, I feel like Jesse was describing my time up at zoomass to a tee..Isolated, depressed and a wreck about my sexuality. I thought if I acted on my attraction to men and my parents found out I’d be cut off, or god knows what so I toughed it out for 5 years. Put on a smile and tried my best to delve into my studies, despite the obvious to my family, especially my twin, my best friend, that something wasn’t right. Finally hit a mental wall about the time I stumbled onto your blog, and you sharing your stories and your pain literally saved my life. You were the only anybody that told me I exist, that bisexuality is a legitimate orientation. You don’t know how much I needed to hear that. And just being able to bounce thoughts off of another man attracted to men was such a release. I’m still not completely out to all my friends, I’m not living a lie anymore. And I don’t need to prove shit to prove to the world that bisexual men exist…I know what I’m attracted to. I’m a good person and if someone is willing to write me off because of my sexuality, their loss. I don’t need to try and jam myself into a box to fit in. Now I can put it all behind me and get on with my life

    Reply
  5. Vicky Huntington
    Vicky Huntington says:

    I love you guys and I love that you have each other. The world is changing and I know its not fast enough but no matter you will always have my support.

    Reply
  6. kim thorne
    kim thorne says:

    wonderful article jesse and i am so very sorry to hear about some of the hell you went thru back then im glad your doing better now and you and dirk have such great and understanding parents. no one should have to go thru what you went through. threre in my opinion is nothing wrong with someone being gay or whatever. be true to yourself . you and dirk are very kind ,intelligent, and great guys . have a nice summer jesse and congrats about getting married.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] + Closet Cases: Dirk Caber & Jesse Jackman come out in Australia’s Star Observer magazine. [Jesse Jackman’s Blog] […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *