Monday, November 17, 2014

The Almost Boyfriend. Part 1.

The almost boyfriend referred to above is exactly that. He is a boy that I love, but whom I've never officially called my boyfriend. One of the main reasons we've never been officially together is this disorder. When we first met he was out but discreet, and I was completely closeted. I was also the school's student pastor (It was a church school), so I also had a ministry that I was completely and utterly devoted to, that I refused to jeopardize because I admitted to being gay. I was 2 years older than him in High School and he wasn't my type really, so beyond asking him how his day was going, we really didn't interact much. I caught his eye, though.

When I graduated from High school, it wasn't very likely that we'd ever meet. We weren't friends, and I was still closeted to everyone but myself. And I was still opposed to gay relationships on top of that so...
But life is very mysterious. A religion teacher form my high-school decided to take some of her former and current students to a biannual life-improvement seminar called foundations. I hate this kind of stuff, so I held her off for a while. But eventually she wore me down and I went to the biannual conference. On the second trip, this guy was there. And by paying close attention to certain details (listening to Britney Spears as we sat next to each other on the plane, mooning at guys in a GQ magazine he'd brought with him), I came to the conclusion he too was gay.
I had just told someone I was gay for the first time 6 months before (November 3, 2009), and I was desperate to find someone I could talk to about this whole gay thing. I was still against gay relationships at this time and still pretty conservative, but I needed someone. And I only knew one person who was openly gay so....

We met at a restaurant and when I told him he literally started shaking, he was so nervous and blown away. I was pretty calm, in the sense that a political prisoner is calm on his way to the gallows, which was what telling people I was gay was like for me in those days.
I thought I was just making contact with the gay world at that meeting. I didn't know he had a crush on me. And i certainly didn't have a crush on him. But I needed a gay friend. And thus the strange relationship began.
We talked about boys, about God (he a recent atheist, I a devout Christian) about the morality of being gay. He flirted with me incessantly. I always turned him down. He was bubbly, bright and full of energy. Much braver than I was. Though he did have some dark parts. Once I saw that he had a band-aid over his wrist. I asked him what happened and he said he'd cut himself. I didn't know what to do, I probably said something uneducated, I don't remember now. But it scared me a lot that such a normal kid (from my perspective) could be hiding such inner turmoil.

We met on and off regularly for a year. And then, a month before his graduation from High School, at the end of my Sophomore Year of College, I told him that we couldn't hang out anymore. His flirting had become more insistent, and I was becoming more irritated with it. So I told him it wouldn't work out. I wasn't OK with gay relationships, so it would probably be best to just stop hanging out for a while. He took it like a champ in front of me, though he was probably dying a little inside. I was completely oblivious of course, just relieved that the strange pressures of temptation to experiment with the forbidden would finally be over. I stopped taking his phone calls. The next month I went on a "mission trip" to Lebanon with a tour of Syria, and he graduated from high school. I came back just before graduation, but I was too much of a coward to see him march down the aisle. Shortly afterwords, he left town to pursue his college experience elsewhere.

The day that we...stopped hanging out, I went home with a feeling of relief. But when I got home I couldn't stop thinking about him. His eyes, his voice, his smile. I couldn't eat that day, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't concentrate. And for the first time I realized that all those sad love songs weren't exaggerations. I had a crush on this beautiful boy. Bad. And I didn't realize it fully until after I had said I didn't want to be with him so he should stop trying. I should have gotten up and called him right then and there, but I was still so convinced that gay love was ultimately disordered and destructive. And so damn prideful and stoic. The only thing I took from that experience at the time was that gay people and straight people really did have the same feelings. Which was pretty significant in and of itself.

And this is where our story should have ended. But of course it didn't.

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