Took you long enough

In high-school there was a boy in the year ahead of me with the prettiest eyes. He was in the math class I’d taken a year early, but unfortunately he was far too cool to show up to class with any consistency. I don’t remember his name, I’m not sure I ever knew it.

After a particularly vivid dream in which he featured prominently I spent an entire day convinced I was gay. Even then I didn’t think this was such a bad thing, but it wracked me with anxiety knowing how other people would react in our institutionally conservative catholic school. Still though, I liked thinking about it. It was exciting, transgressive, titillating. But, during the last class of the day, bored out of my skull, my eyes wandered to the exposed lower back of the friend sitting in front of me, her thong creeping out of her jeans. I felt myself get hard. Never has an erection been met with such an odd mix of relief and disappointment. Guess I was wrong, just teenage hormones running amok. That guy from math class was pretty fem anyway.

Then it happened again. And again. I can’t remember all the reasons I used over the years to explain away other crushes. I often settled on: “But look you’re still hung up on [insert gorgeous and interesting girl of the day who was likely dating my friend], and watch “lesbian” porn, you can’t possibly be gay.” And I was right, I’m not.

As the years went by I became better versed in queer politics and came to admit that bisexuality was a totally real and valid existence, just maybe not for me. As the cognitive dissonance rose the self justifications became increasingly pragmatic and cowardly: “I’m not *that* attracted to men, and not nearly as gay as [insert friend a zillion times stronger and more honest than me]. Anyways, girls are easier, and I want kids so will probably need to keep one of them around eventually.” It’s less of a fuss. Less of a statement. Stick to what you know. On reflection there was also a massive dose of societally ingrained homophobia. I still felt this hesitance despite a plethora of queer friends and family (fiercely courageous all) and a social and familial network that is ludicrously open and supportive. The encouragement was there to the point where my mom has sat me down and asked if I was interested in men more than once, backstopped with a credible offer of unconditional love. (Sorry I lied, mom. I look forward to a decade of I told you so’s.)

I’m conflicted about doing this quite so publicly. Feels a bit narcissistic or that I’m just trolling for potential partners (both true). But I think I do have something worth saying here beyond just cruising for attention. At 23, frankly, I’m ashamed that it took so long for me to admit this to myself. Or at least in a way that allowed me to act on it. I know of at least one or two very significant relationship I missed out on and god knows how many great hook-ups.

To the people to whom I’ve lied either directly or by omission, sorry. Straight male friends, hope this doesn’t change anything but it might. It’s no big secret that societally we’re bad at dealing with male affection broadly and I honestly don’t hold it against anyone who finds it uncomfortable to change your perception of someone. I think this sort of gets to a larger point about how as sexual diversity becomes increasingly accepted it’s incumbent on us to not lose track of the myriad other identities people hold but maybe that’s a post for another time.

I hope that the vast bulk of your reactions will be “big fucking deal, get over yourself” and move on to the next thing. But if anyone has any particular issues or questions — hit me up.

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