Friends and Lovers
I came out to one of my friends just a few days ago. I told him ‘I’m sorta gay’ by text message, to which his response was, ‘Thanks for telling me! This does in no way affect our friendship!’ I was very, very happy. It was the right time to tell him.
‘Sorta gay’ has meaning. I’ve been trying to figure out over the last few months just what I am. I don’t easily identify as gay – I’m not exclusively attracted to men. I’m not effeminate, and I don’t have a supernatural fashion sense nor an eye for interior design. I certainly don’t identify as straight – I’m not much of a bloke, to say the least. Bisexual is an overstatement because that might make people think I actually want a relationship with a woman. I consider myself a 70% gay, a diet gay, an almost gay. I’m halfway between bisexual and gay.
This puts me in an odd place in terms of friendship. I have never been effeminate enough to really get along with girls in a ‘gay best friend’ role. I’m not one for relationship counselling given that I’ve never been in a relationship and have a tendency towards over-rationalizing. And I’m not one for fashion advice nor boyfriend talk. And I have never been masculine enough to get along with guys who will talk about football and sex – especially given my fear of coming out or being ‘discovered’. Nonetheless, growing up I usually stuck with a select group of male and female friends with whom I felt comfortable.
But. Being gay, and spending time with men, has a certain side effect. I fall in love with the men I befriend; or, I end up befriending the men I fall in love with. Falling in love with straight men is devastating. It hurts, and I’m tired of it. I consider coming out to my new friend a major step because it demonstrates the first time I have come out to a person I befriended conscious of my own identity. It represents a line: I am gay, you are straight – we are friends, and not lovers. That relationship is safe, and close, and incredibly valuable to me. But it is queer. It is not ‘we are friends’ – there is a caveat: ‘and not lovers’.
The settling and acceptance of my identity has made me keenly, painfully aware of my desire for a partner. A boyfriend. A lover. A man with whom to share my life. By life I mean not clock hours, but the force which animates and makes me human. Each time I meet a new man I am usually thinking, is he gay and available? Would we make a good couple? My friendships have an agenda. It is disconcerting to start with, though it usually passes when I become sure of their heterosexuality. Friendship across the divide is hard – but it does make for good friendships.
Yeah. I need some gay friends.