By Kenneth Miller
You pass a boy in the ninth grade who smells like band practice and pickles, and realize you like men. Stare off as he packs his locker with heavy cardboard-covered biology textbooks, exposing his veiny spectacular bicep, and think, “Whoa! This is amazing.”
Attend 4th period scripture class and grasp that this interest must be kept a secret. You’re still curious though. That doesn’t stop. Google images of naked celebrities and declare Brad Pitt your first love. Look up what an uncut dick is and question where your foreskin went. Masturbate an extraordinary amount and write haikus about your orgasms. Soon, you will be miserable and exhausted. Just wait.
Go to the graveyard with your best friend and come out of the closet. Watch as gusts of air twist the fraying trees’ branches and retract your queer thinking. Instead, hold her as she comes out and cry uncontrollably while keeping your twisted secret. Feel liberated and grab a Bacon, Egg and Cheese and two Grape Cherry Fusion Four Lokos from the bodega. Recognize you are normal and loved.
Get pushed against a decaying train station’s wall by a man with screwball eyes and slim lips. Have your first kiss with a stranger who plays the piano and smokes dope. This is what you wanted. Follow him to Burger King and let him buy you a small fry. On your way back, stop at your elementary school’s playground. Give him head and swallow his lumpy cold load. Taste the fries stuck in the crevices of your teeth as you tell your mom you had an uneventful day.
Move away for college, but not too far from the city. Meet other types of gay men and try not to stereotype any of them too pointedly. When they’re not looking, sneak onto Grindr and see which ones are looking for a hookup. Discover the bears who are really into leather, the Britney Spears gays who have Instagram accounts dedicated to the Vegas queen, the punk queer boys sported with septum rings, the Equinox-loving juiceheads obsessed with douching, and the daddies wanting to exclusively indulge twink boys with money and domination. Taste the rainbow and celebrate a community you can finally call home. This is where it all happens.
Still, you have an identity crisis and slowly detach yourself from the one community you feel most comfortable in. Dye your hair bizarre colors and see someone new in the mirror every day—someone worth fucking. Ink your skin with images that make people think you’re a different kind of gay. Paint your nails to show people you have an edge and can take abuse. Come to terms with the fact that you will never feel welcomed in your own psyche, and move forward thinking about those wondrous Hans Christian Anderson tales your mom used to read aloud where the boy was happy and could have it all.
Replace your sadness with men. Become an expert at performing discreet blowjobs in public places. Eventually encounter a true man who believes in God and appreciates the wonders of art on your way to work. Fall in love and bring him home for the holidays. Defend him as your dad questions the legitimacy of a theatre degree, and wipe away his tears with your childhood blanket. Capture his eyes looking into yours and note that the worlds you live in coincide with one another.
Get stared down as you hold his hand in Union Square by the protesting religious right. Head to the dog park as he fights back against the woman with the zany voice and childless stroller. Go to Whole Foods and feed each other bits of strawberry cheesecake with oozing fudge drizzle. Feel domesticated and safe.
Look through his cellphone and catch the sight of dick pics that aren’t yours. Say nothing. Continue to let him cheat on you, and justify his actions when loved ones question. Ignore the betrayal because it’s easier than facing the world lost, alone and sad.
Figure out who you are. Place your life in context with your peers—the queer AF folk and the hetero ones. Separate what defines you sexually and personally. Realize some factors are interchangeable and that’s okay. Think of ways to define yourself outside of your sexuality and come back dry.
Wonder why you were made this way and awe at the existence of humanity. Contemplate the possibility of true alikeness between individuals, and retreat to feelings of childhood innocence. Think about it again and again.
You will stop one day and begin embracing your identity. Trust me.