It was a glance during the early days of 7th grade humanities class that first sparked those feelings inside me. I looked up from my textbook to meet his pale green eyes and was startled. I looked back down, blushing from embarrassment. I looked back up to find his nose deep in his textbook and figured his eyes had met mine accidentally.
Still, I spent my whole day reliving that moment. It was like my brain was stuck on an endless loop of our eyes meeting. My mind became overrun with thoughts of us together, holding hands, talking, all the stuff that couples do.
Maybe it was my crazy teen brain, but I felt like he had to feel at least a fragment of what I felt.
Soon after in music class one day, we were listening to a lesson about major and minor chords. He sat next to me. Since he was the type of kid to do anything but his work, he asked me what my name was, what grade I was in, small talk.
I started talking to him about girls because that’s what he liked, and then he asked me, ”You like boys, right?” And without thinking about it, I just said yes.
Almost everyone knew I was gay but I was still kind of nervous to hear his response. But he just smiled and said, “That’s cool.”
I was relieved that he wasn’t homophobic, and surprised at how nonchalant he was. It made me think he always knew the right thing to say, because that was how I always wanted someone to respond. As in: That’s cool, I could care less. He was the only one to say it without any judgment or weird awkwardness.
I felt shy around him. My heart raced when he talked to me. Just looking at him made me feel happy.
He Understood Me
Over the days and weeks, my feelings for him intensified. After I got over my awkwardness, we became not super close, but I felt like he understood me and didn’t judge me for liking guys like others did.
He always tried to make me laugh. Seeing him in class was my favorite part of the day. That only made me fall for him harder. He acted so cool, like nothing bothered him. This made me relax around him, like I didn’t have to worry about acting a certain way. Most people saw him as the class clown, but to me, he was someone who accepted me for who I was.
I thought to myself delusionally that maybe now that we were friends there might be a better chance of him liking me. I wanted to be more; I wanted to be something beautiful with him. I wanted him to feel the same crushing and intense warmth and desire in his heart as he had created in mine.
He Is Straight and I Am a Guy
It took me a while to finally acknowledge we couldn’t be together because he was straight and I was a guy. I was crestfallen. Eventually, we just stopped talking to each other.
But I couldn’t stop liking him. My friends told me it was pointless to entertain the idea of a relationship, but I had no control over my emotions. We don’t get to turn how we feel on and off like a switch, and we don’t get to choose who we fall for either.
I was stuck feeling like I’d been dumped even though we never dated. Then I was talking about him to my friend and she asked, “Why do you like him?” I told her that he was cute and funny. But then I thought about it more.
And that’s when it hit me: I was more attracted by the romanticized version of him in my head than the real him. I did actually like how he was cute and funny; he was a jokester, the class clown. But, the romanticized version in my head was also someone who always knew the right thing to do or say. That wasn’t him, though, at least not for the most part. Still, sometimes he seemed to understand me and I think I clung to that since I often felt so misunderstood.
Just Two People
As one of only two gay kids in my whole grade, and growing up in a society where being straight is the norm, I felt alone. I didn’t feel like my friends understood what it was like to be me, to see everyone else get crushes and actually have a chance of them being reciprocated.
Talking to girls in my grade felt like I was portraying the stereotypical “gay best friend” and talking to most of the other straight guys felt so weird and awkward, like they were uncomfortable talking to me because I was gay. But with him, it felt like we were just two people. Now I realize I was attracted to him because he didn’t make being gay an issue.
So that’s what I’m taking away from this relationship. I want to be with people, whether the relationship is romantic or just friends, who see me as a full person and not just an orientation.