Growing up Gay in the South: High School
Well, here we are. High school. A little better than junior high, but not by much. High school is a time when most people drift away from childhood friends and hobbies — once again, I said most people, not all — to pursue the first semblance of adulthood.
For me, that meant realizing what was around me would never be enough. And on top of that, I couldn’t even get a girlfriend. What came easy to most seemed next to impossible for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I got close. A couple of girls here and there, but no real commitment until I was a senior, but we’ll get to that next time. For now, my fruitless attempts to “nab myself a girl” remained just that — fruitless. I even tried dating my best girlfriends (the fact that I had girlfriends in that sense should have alerted me to my disposition), but they never went anywhere. I was always let down the same way every time. It always went as thus:
“Hey,” I would say, “I think I like you.”
“Aww,” she would reply, making eye contact as if with a teddy bear, “That’s so sweet. You’re a really good guy, but I think we should just be friends.”
The dreaded friend-zone. I lived there in high school. Was practically banished there, and I was supposed to just act like everything was fine. But I wanted a girlfriend. It seemed like the cool thing to do. All the good-looking guys had them, and I was handsome, right?
But it didn’t happen. I was friends with all the pretty girls, but that’s as far as it went. And whenever my Dad asked me if I had my eye on anyone, I would always say, “Yes.” To which he would reply, “I’m sure it will all work out.”
Knowing what I know now, God knows what I could have done in high school. There were probably all kinds of closeted gay men just walking around, begging to hook up with another guy. It really was a missed opportunity on my part. If I had come out then — it would have been hell nonetheless — I might be socially well-adjusted now — possessing all the answers every gay man must know about hooking up and dating. Instead, I feel like a horny eighteen year-old with no experience, learning things that my counterparts endured ages ago.
I think about the hot high school boys every once and a while, wondering if maybe, just maybe, I could have hooked up with one or two of them had I been out at the time. Caramel eyes — from my last article — actually got even better-looking, his biceps becoming more pronounced, his abs flat and defined — I snuck a peek every time his shirt raised up for whatever reason.
And there were others. One was blond, his body sprouting a new muscle every time I stole a glance. His pecs were what did it. He always wore undersized t-shirts so that it looked like he was on the verge of splitting his tops should he flex too hard. I always fantasized it happening, me there to pick up the pieces should he need assistance.
There was something different about this guy, though. He elicited a visceral reaction from my body, one that even I — with my unquestioning loyalty to Christianity — couldn’t deny. Whenever he was around, my body called out to him, in hopes that I could simply brush his arm or touch his chest by accident, relieving me of my self-induced celibacy. I even got hard whenever I thought about having sex with him — countless times, may I add. It was effortless to get a hard-on when I thought about him, but with girls, not so much.
I could easily devote this entire article to boys — their bodies, their mannerisms, the way they smell after a workout. But I won’t. Let’s just say my life could have been a candy store — with its varying flavors and surprises. But because the only man I was allowed to love was Jesus — and my Dad— it was instead like Eden. There was plenty of fruit, but the fruit I wanted was forbidden. So, in other words, I was like Eve (except I’m prettier).
My one saving grace amidst all the sexual frustration was theatre. I didn’t know it then, but theatre allowed me to freely express myself, escaping my own life if even for a couple of hours each night. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like I was living a terrible home-life. I was comfortable. I just had to repress a core part of myself every second of every day. That’s all. :)
It was through theatre that I realized my leadership potential. It was also the first place I was around openly gay men, and guess what? I didn’t contract the gay disease. Or maybe I did. I guess we’ll never know.
I loved theatre, though. It was the only place I felt I could be myself, unlike at school where I felt judged day in and day out. I felt like most people just expected the following conversation to play out:
“Hey,” I would say in my newly-bought pink crop-top and heels, “I just wanted you to know that I’m gay.”
“What?” they would say, clutching their chest. “We had no idea!”
“Yeah. After being around all those theatre fags, I just decided one day that this was the life for me.”
And then we’d live happily ever after, and they would consult with me any time they needed interior decorating advice.
But alas, it didn’t happen like that. Instead, I would deny my existence as a gay man until I was a senior in college. But again, that’s for another article.
So I did theatre, and I guess I became a stereotype. Musicals became my life, and whenever I had the chance, I would belt my own version of “Defying Gravity” from Wicked or “Do-Re-Mi” from the Sound of Music, my falsetto impeccably high for a “straight” man.
And thus was high school. I masturbated to almost every attractive high school athlete I came in contact, asking God for forgiveness at the altar every week. This became my normal, and somehow, I convinced myself that that was fine. When in fact, it was really fucked up that I even had to feel that way in the first place.
But don’t worry. In college, it got better. And thank God. Masturbation is only good for so long. Until next time. Kisses.