There were signs. There were definite signs. You would form close friendships with boys in elementary school, friendships that were intense for any 10-year-old to have, let alone a male. You loved these boys though. You really loved them without knowing what the love meant. In a way, it was nice not knowing. It was nice thinking of love as this thing you could just give to anyone, like it was a blanket that kept you warm at night. It was love without sex, love without a question mark.
You grew older. You got “weirder.” You dyed your hair bright colors. You formed closer bonds with girls than boys. At home, your father began to look at you funny and that’s because he knew something you didn’t, he knew what was coming in a few years. This made him sad, regardless of his politics because parents don’t want their kids to lead a hard life. And being gay is still considered difficult no matter how many rappers come out of the closet and movie stars thank their partners in acceptance speeches. It’s always going to be the less desirable road to take until everyone agrees that it’s not.
You became turned on by the male form. Your penis reacted positively to biceps, V’s, calves, and nice butts. Your neck stiffened up the second your penis did. Why, why, why? You hung your head low in the shower, letting the water wash over you and dribble into your mouth. You thought that no one was ever going to love you, you were never going to be accepted in the gay world — not like you even wanted to be! You just wanted to be yourself and not deal with the weight of what being gay meant hanging on your shoulders.
Sex didn’t scare you. Love did. You tried to imagine yourself saying “I love you” or “Please hold me” to another man and froze up in embarrassment. You couldn’t do it. You couldn’t fathom kissing another man’s forehead and bringing him soup in bed or holding his hand down the street. You could deal with having sex with some anonymous stranger before doing a thing like that. Love is always harder to tackle than sex, especially when you can’t even accept who you are.
You see gay men who seemingly have it all figured out. They’re in great shape, have a healthy amount of sex, and, most importantly, have a huge group of gay friends. How do they do it? How did they get an A+ in being gay? Did they sleep with the teacher or something?
You want gay friends. You want your own gay tribe to pal around with. You want men you can just be gay with, whatever the hell that means. (You know what it means.) You want a nice body. You want no sexual hangups. You want to go to gay destination spots like Provincetown with all of your homo buddies and take pictures together on a beach, smiling wide. You want to not feel uncomfortable when you’re surrounded by so many gay men at once.
You want to be considered masculine. You don’t want to be called a queen. Oh, the horrors! No, you must be able to pass for straight. That gives you so much clout!
Get love away from you. You can’t do it, so you continue to sleep around instead.
You feel so alone in your “gayness,” like no one is experiencing things in the same way as you. But they are. Oh, they are. Gay men love to build walls up with each other. They love to create an emotional and physical distance when, in reality, they’re so much closer to each other than they like to think. It’s like we’re all just a little scared of one another, we’re all seen as being a small threat. To what though?
You’re young and gay and sometimes you’re not having sex, even though you feel like you should. Sometimes it feels like everyone else in the world is having sex but you. People meet you and assume that your sex life is plentiful because you’re gay. You must always be sleeping with someone, right? That’s how gay men do it, right?
Wrong. It’s all wrong but here you are: out, gay, and occasionally proud. A lot of the times it’s easy and doesn’t seem so complicated and you don’t think about gay identity or being judged. And other times that’s all you think about.
That’s all you have room to think about.