“I wouldn’t want to make things weird between us,” I bullshitted, shaking my head and reaching for my drink. It was sometime around the witching hour and I assume he waited as long into the night as he possibly could. It was a bump to a conversation that had long past grew stale. He had agreed to let me sleep on his couch as a way to extend his opportunity. Coming out of his bedroom with a comforter under his arm, he sat back down next to me and pressed the spacebar on the pirated Oscar season screener neither of us were really paying attention to on his MacBook. I could see him playing Scrabble in his head trying to find the right words. It wasn’t long after Rayon strutted into the Dallas Buyers Club bootleg that he had finally found his segue. He downed the remnants of his Solo cup and stumbled into a conversation about homosexuality. I pretended I didn’t sense the awkwardness of it all and answered his questions with comforting facial expressions. When the convo paused, he’d ask another question and I’d answer as quickly and positively as I could. When the boilerplates stretched as far as they possibly could, he finally decided to caution himself into.
The classic: “I heard men give better head than women.”
A few weeks prior, we worked together during one of my stints of blue collar fuckery. He knew I was gay and treated me accordingly as the environment called for. It was everything they teach you in the sensitivity training videos I always cringe at. No minefield conversations or slurs. Dialogue started off scarce, but as the weeks went by and the realization that I probably wasn’t going to be leaving anytime soon, you find a little more common ground and it goes slightly deeper. Ours was movies. We’d eat the clock analyzing Tarantino films and when it was time for lunch, he’d branch off toward other employees and pretend we didn’t. I assume he had to field jokes about being partnered up with the faggot and he’d defend himself because his fragile masculinity had no choice. Like a lot of hetero men, they’ll be cool with you in private company, but when they’re in a space where they can be judged, they act aloof. I get it. Still, I didn’t really care. I had my own life outside of that fuckin’ time clock.
I was fired a few weeks later because I always find a way to get fired from my shitty jobs once I get a little monetary leeway and can look for something more reasonable with my skill set. When I received a text from him a few weeks after that, it kind of came as a surprise. I already deleted his number because I didn’t expect I’d need it again seeing how I’d only used it to ask when our shift started whenever I’d typically forget. He wanted to know how life’s been going since I lost my job and to remind me that Oscar season screeners have started to leak. Life’s been shit and I’d already watched 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle and I was saving Her and Dallas Buyers Club for tonight. To my surprise, he sent out an invite to watch it at his place tonight because his girlfriend was at her parent’s for the week and he didn’t have anybody else to talk to about them. I accepted because this isn’t the first time this type of thing has happened to me.
“I wouldn’t want to make things weird between us,” I repeated, taking a sip out of my Solo cup now. There was nothing to make weird between us. I was on my way towards forgetting he even existed before receiving that text earlier and probably wouldn’t even see him again afterwards. But the hesitation tactic was more calculated than anything, as if I needed him to be certain that we were running this red light together and I wasn’t pushing the pedal through the metal on my own.
“Nah, it’s nothing weird,” he slurred, realizing he was too far in now to go back. “I mean, I’m not gay or anything, but it’s always been something I was . . . I guess curious about.”
After some prolonged uncertain expressions from me, some nervous chuckling from him, a meek acquiescence on my end, I was in between his legs, tugging down his basketball shorts as he reaches for his laptop and began searching for straight homegrown porn on RedTube to get him in the mood even though he’s already brick hard before the video even buffers up.
This wasn’t an anomaly. In fact, I’d wager that the majority of the men that I’ve slept with in life identified as straight. Most of them don’t bother with the gray areas because it’s a lot easier not to. They all didn’t stem from drugged up reunions or drunken encounters either. Before I felt comfortable with my positioning on the Kinsey scale, I was dishonest with myself too, because the truth hurts and consonants and vowels can bruise just as easily as sticks and stones.
There was no sneaking in and out of gay clubs for me. I didn’t loiter around gay areas in the city or try for risky encounters at popular cruising spots. I didn’t feel like I had any connections with gay men outside of sex, so I went online to narrow down on this commonality, which was a safe haven for men who wanted to experience with other men in secrecy. It wasn’t some type of ‘masculinity addiction’ or ‘straight guy fetish’ that that padded my resume with straight men. We simply existed inside of the same safe spaces.
It all began in my early twenties with an impulsive Craigslist hookup. Even back then, I knew this wasn’t the safest way to go about meeting individuals, but dishonesty leads to reckless behavior and dangerous dopamine fixes. I felt past due for my gay experience and was ready to get it over with. I’d gotten in contact with a man who just wanted to give a blowjob and nothing more. No face pics. Neither of us could host, so we decided to meet up in a Walmart parking lot after dark and do it in the back of his van, which sounds like the intro to an America’s Most Wanted segment, but I’ll just chalk that up to youth. The reality of it wasn’t as dramatic though. I climbed in the front seat and the man sitting across from me looked as harmless as one possibly could. The older, smaller Latino guy with a soft voice who tried to make nervous conversación with me, but he had a strong accent so I could understand him, but I had to listen hard. At the least I knew that I could take him on if he tried anything, but he was simply there for one reason. The van went silent except for my YKK detaching followed by the slurping going on between my thighs. I rubbed my hand through his thinning mane, amazed by what was even happening. It wasn’t until he went southpaw and switched hands to unbuckle his pants and begin pleasuring himself that I became transfixed by an image I’d never seen before. The faint streetlight was gleaming off the cold of his wedding band wrapped around my dick.
I never thought about the actual insanity or implications of the situation-a man tiptoeing around his vows, sneaking past sin and diving head first into an abomination. I could sense by his contagious eagerness this was the most intense lust he’s ever felt. It was forbidden and one he kept in check until he couldn’t anymore. I guess in some way I felt validated being the one administering this joy to him. The morality didn’t bother me then. My pleasure seemed sacrosanct. He’d have to take that up with whomever he prays to at night.
I spent the next few years encountering a variegated spectrum of self-identified straight men. I’ve been in offices after hours and crept in basements after dark. I’ve maneuvered around evasive eyes and face down photographs. ‘Masculine, extremely discreet, can’t host,’ faceless torsos on Grindr solicited me every other day. I texted dick pics to pic collectors posing as muscle jocks who found creative ways to slip their number in CL ads. The heavy scent of random men stayed in my nostrils and under my fingernails for several days at a time.
One man blew me in his garage while his wife wasted away from chemo in their bedroom.
Another fucked me on his back porch while his girlfriend was melting into the bed from opiate abuse.
Marathon sex on a Thursday with a conservative construction worker because his visitation weekend with the kids was coming up.
In the back of his store, a burly and hairy Armenian criminalized his sexuality by asking me to smack and spit on him while we fucked on his desk.
A freshman in college getting his first taste of life on his own couldn’t handle his alkyl nitrite and told me he loved me off of his inaugural popper buzz then never called me again.
A veteran home from deployment nervously mumbled an explanation to me while he was pulling up his pants about how vanilla straight porn didn’t do it for him anymore and he’d graduated to interracial gay porn
My neighbor who told me he couldn’t remember anything that happened last night because he was barred out of his mind and I decided it’d be easier to play along.
One of the nicest and most grateful Russian men who I’d see regularly, until I found out he would beat his wife as if this were all her fault.
Most of them made it seem as if their relationships had turned into occupations. That these liaisons were just vacations they needed occasionally to escape the slavery of sanity. I wonder if this is the way they intrinsically feel or just the narrative they crafted around the shame of their sexuality. Whether they’ve just embraced a lie of convenience because they’re scared of being judged by sanctimonious finger waggers who are deviants behind their own door hinges or if they really were just in search of something novel. Regardless, these men weren’t the social insurgents they thought they were. We’re living in a society where everybody is skewering reality to create a perfect persona, so telling the truth is seen as a rebellious act.
These dalliances weren’t just NSA m4m, FWB and casual encounters on my end all the time either. During my younger days, I associated sex with love and would use these encounters as a form of validation and acceptance. When we first met up, I saw the ambivalence in his eyes once the post-nut clarity hit. He kept conversations curt as he dressed and threw out an ungrateful ‘thank you’ before flying out the door. Half a dozen orgasms later and he’s smiling ear to ear. I’d lay on his chest, drowning in his hirsuteness and building up a real relationship in my head. He’d say things at night that he’d renege on in the violent sunlight of a hungover walk of shame. I’d try to shame him into loving me even though I knew it’d never work. He’d leave a Shaq-sized footprint in my life when he decided to walk away from it all. These relationships are degrading. Everything was always done by their rules and on their time. I knew this, but I became the masochist anyway. These rejections turned into stomach pains and body aches and I was clenched up in bed at night. I experienced my first heartbreaks by men who never intended to do anything else with it.
Which is why when I’m finished with my ex co-worker, I’m already jaded enough to not expect anything reasonable from this. At the most, I’d just corrupted a new camaraderie. At worst, I’d never hear from him again. His dick was heavy with blood and his dilated and evasive eyes were full of shame or regret or shock, but nothing appreciative. I saved both of us the awkwardness and decide to head home, even though he offered to let me finish Dallas Buyers Club, and I wondered how an AIDS-infested movie like that could turn him on in the first place.
Apparently, he finished the movie and wondered the same thing and I guess he was hoping those bad karma shoryukens didn’t bring his health down, because he texted me a day later asking me to get tested. I assured him I was negative but he didn’t want to take my words at face value and was belligerent with me for a few days as if I was responsible for every bad decision he made when the dopamine floods. I put him at ease and then he let me down easy. He didn’t wanna risk anything anymore and thought we should cool it. Little did he know, in the near future, he’d be starting asinine fights with his girlfriend as an excuse to storm out the house to come see me and I’d still be unemployed and just as accepting of some type of human contact.
Even though now I can look back at these actions which could warm the veins in Lucifer’s dick, I still can’t ignore the reality of the lifestyle. Sleeping with straight men will always be a part of the gay experience. It’s just the distorted way that society is structured. As long as there are men out there who don’t want to confront the shades of gray or are scared that some omnipotent force would start throwing lightning bolts out the sky if they said it out loud, we’d all be scraping for sin, searching for lust-filled satisfaction on this pirouetting rock.