So, You Want To Be Gay?

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. TC Mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


More From Thought Catalog

  • Jacob

    You wrote this in the second person but as a gay man most of it doesn’t describe my experience.

    • margaret

      And as we all know, when something is written in the second person it can’t be a stylistic choice or anything, it means it has to accurately reflect the experiences of everyone reading it!
      I read the article, and I’m gay but I’m a girl so it obviously doesn’t describe my experience and it was in the second person and the title wasn’t gendered but I just read it as a piece as it was meant to be read and didn’t feel entitled to go straight to the comments to whine about how it didn’t exactly describe my experience.

      • duncansomerside

        Hahaha love Margaret’s comment. 2nd person= reflecting EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD! How stupid. It means he is separating himself from it to try and encompass more people, it doesnt mean he was trying to encompass everyone.

  • bradders

    ‎”…and occasionally proud.” The last paragraph was nice. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand my approach to “fighting the good gay fight”, but at times, it gets tough to hold up your fists in solidarity; so we seem like flip floppers and unsure of our position. This was good, though.

  • max

    i agree. i’m gay too and i stopped reading this half way through. give it a rest with the whole 2nd person thing for fuck’s sake.

    • KadG

      Although I agree that this is not everyone’s experience, it was mine in a nutshell so I actually enjoyed this piece. So many people bitch about Ryan’s stuff but honestly you don’t have to read it if you don’t like it and all you’re gonna do is bitch in the comments. Oh the internet…

  • Only L<3Ve @

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • bongosabbath

    Write an article about being a romantic asexual man and I’ll be back ;)

    • Casye

      An article about being asexual at all would be fantastic! I second this motion.

    • Ve

      As someone who’s not asexual, it’d be interesting to read about…you never see anything [serious] about asexuality in the media.

  • Adam W

    Honestly it’s kind of scary how much I relate to this.

  • Drew

    If I wasn’t a robot I’d probably cry after reading that. It’s so strange because this isn’t a new insight, but it is presented in a way to speak to me and everyone like me. Every day I feel like I’m alone and that no one in the whole gay community will ever relate to someone like me. What’s most important is that I’m not alone in just trying to be myself. Thank you Ryan, I read all of your posts and thank whatever that I share thoughts with someone other than myself.

    • Triumph

      Same. I can really relate to this. There are times when I feel so empty I just redline my motorcycle and hit speeds in excess of 140mph. I can’t even really explain why I do it.


    ryan, not all gays are like you…

    • Josh

      And they’re not all like you. Funny that, we’re all different!

    • duncansomerside

      when did he say we are?

  • tnsquared

    Not every writer will speak to your experiences so stop being so whiny in every comment section in a Ryan O’Connell article.
    Essentially he speaks about how isolated you can feel when dealing with this new facet of your life, your gayness. Perhaps you didn’t experience this, maybe you grew up with PFLAG parents or you were too apathetic to care about your own feelings but his word speaks true to some people.

    I urge you then to share your experiences then if you fear not being represented or heard on TC.

  • Charlyse

    nice. the applies to many dykes too i think.

  • Angeline

    At what point does he profess this applies to every gay man? Sure, he writes it in second person, but it still describes a specific experience. I really doubt that anyone could write something that applies to every single member of a community – people are more complex and varied than that. If you want an article that applies to all the detailed aspects of your own experience, write it yourself.

  • puglover


  • Paige

    Surprisingly, I was able to relate to so much of this, and I’m a bisexual woman. Nicely done Ryan O’Connell. I like it when you’re serious.

  • alex

    ryan tells it as it is.
    oh dear…. it’s as if he’s reading our minds?

  • steve

    If there was a pill to “cure” homosexuality, I wonder how many gays would voluntarily take it. Probably not as many as you think.

  • duncansomerside

    gurl, you got it! This is everything I thought as a young gay male. Everything. Until I decided not to give a fuck. I hated being a “queen,” now im a proud queen of queens. I always felt so out of the loop, and now Im kinda getting in it.. Which is really strange. But so nice. There is so much more to being gay than the sex… But when you “come out of the closet” you are led to believe now you have to fuck your brains out with hung, built men, which is such bullshit. Sex is one element of coming out, it should be more about accepting and not repressing who you are, that your hips swing a little more than other guys or your voice goes up in different syllables. Hmm I am so interested by this article, that was such a random slew of thought, but I loved what you wrote for sure.

  • Heelz

    I’m sure the second-person POV was an attempt to make the reader, no matter their sexual preferences or orientation, able to relate to the author and other people like the author. It’s a bit presumptuous to assume that just because an article is in second person saying “You,” that it LITERALLY and specifically is referring to you personally. As a hetero female I found this thoughtful, which may not have been the case if it was written in third-person (too impersonal) or first-person (too personal). So well done, Ryan.

    • Lindsey

      EXACTLY. This was exactly how I felt after I read this piece, even before I started reading the comments. I don’t think it was ever Ryan’s intention to encompass anyone else’s experience.

  • S.C.

    “Love is always harder to tackle than sex, especially when you can’t even accept who you are.” DEBATABLE

    • TJD

      i would love to hear this debate S.C. Please elaborate.

  • So, You Want To Be Gay? | Thought Catalog | Gay Boys Video Blog

    […] So, You Want To Be Gay? | Thought Catalog Tweet Total: 0 ViewsPost Published: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012Published by: Ryan […]

  • Chris

    As a straight, young male, I found the second person to be a nice touch. I imagine if I were gay and my experience differed, it might actually be more difficult to like this article because my experience would be different. Being striaght though, I found this very thoughtful. I won’t go so far as to say ‘insightful’ because that seems condescending… But a very interesting read. We’re all cut from the same cloth; I wish people would realize that by now.

  • MC

    A+. Exactly how I feel to a T. Even down to the “gay group Provincetown part.” Then again I’m a twenty-something Virgo gay male like yourself.

  • kokari

    As a gay lady I can really relate to this. All of my early friendships had an intensity to them that was never really reciprocated.

  • So, You Want To Be Gay? | Thought Catalog | Gay Boys Video Blog

    […] article: So, You Want To Be Gay? | Thought Catalog Tweet Total: 0 ViewsPost Published: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012Published by: Ryan […]

  • So, You Want To Be Gay? | Thought Catalog | Gay Boys Video Blog

    […] reading here: So, You Want To Be Gay? | Thought Catalog Tweet Total: 0 ViewsPost Published: Tuesday, July 31st, 2012Published by: Ryan […]

  • bob bobertson

    totally homogenized and melodramatic…all of this stuff reads with the same mock importance of a my so called life rerun

blog comments powered by Disqus