It was the second semester of my freshman year in college, the first time on my own. This was not a good time in my life. The introvert in me formed a shell of isolation, growing thicker by the day. I went to class, I came straight back, I ate a ton of food, I did the freshman fifteen cliché, and I found no new friends that would last a lifetime like I’d been told. I was struggling to find who I was. (Not to be dramatic but I was literally having an identity crisis.) For the first time, I was truly unhappy.
Up until this point I’d never known loneliness, and I never had to reach too far out of my comfort zone to make new friends either. So I stuck with what I knew, and what I knew was this: The one friend I have here makes me really unhappy, but at least I have one friend.
He was a friend that I knew from high school, who now lived only a three-minute walk from my dorm. We saw each other constantly, from the French class we shared, to the Catan games we played with our roommates every weekend. We saw too much of each other. At this point in the year, every word that fell off his tongue echoed of a toxicity that banged around in my head at night every time I thought about limiting the time I spent with him.
Orphan Black is probably a stupid show, why are you so obsessed with it? Wouldn’t you rather hang out with me? The amount of time you spend on tumblr makes you such a loser. We could be going fishing instead. How come you don’t want to play Euchre today? Do you want to do French homework together instead? How could you finish it without me? Why don’t you like me? Nobody likes me. I’m so alone.
I wished every day that I would just woman up and tell him to leave me the fuck alone, but of course that never happened because I was too scared of not having any friends. Eventually, I did spend less time with him and more time contemplating my sexuality, becoming even more isolated than before. Honestly I don’t know which was worse.
I never admitted I was gay. I tried my best to never even think the word. My head constantly split between anxious curiosity and internalized homophobia, wondering if maybe, possibly, there is a slight chance that maybe I could possibly find a woman attractr—NO. This exact dialogue continued for several months.
He texted me while I was arguing with myself, asking if I wanted to hang out. (Which I didn’t.)
I can’t I have homework
Wanna hang out later?
Aw why not?
You can’t always have homework Jesse. You never hang out with me anymore. I miss you
Sorry I’m busy
Do you even like men
I mean I’ve never seen you with one
I’m not gay
Skip ahead almost five years later and I most certainly am gay. I thought I got him for a while there because I was sure bisexual was the label that fit me. So I still always thought I had a one-up on him because, Haha I’m not gay, I’m bi. But I’m really to that point where labels don’t mean very much to me because that “I feel attraction to every gender except cismales” label doesn’t exist as far as I know.
But what still gets me about this conversation is that he had the audacity to assume that just because I didn’t want to get with him (which to be fair, he never actually asked), that I didn’t like men. Of course he was pretty much right about that but it still annoys me. And when it happened I wasn’t just annoyed, I was scared to death. I thought, oh my god, everyone thinks that I’m gay???? I’m NOT gay. What if other people think I’m gay? What if my parents think I’m gay? What if my sister thinks I’m gay? What if gay people think I’m gay??
His (accurate) accusation inflicted a kind of harm that set me backwards. From there I spent more time convincing myself that I wasn’t gay than anything else. It became a distraction that put walls between myself and him, myself and my family, my schoolwork, my health.
It’s hard to know what reaction he would’ve caused had I gotten to the point where I was ready to admit it. I imagine it would still be something similar. There simply hadn’t been enough time for me to digest and understand what I’ve been discovering about myself. Being in the midst of questioning my identity was not the right time to deal with some poor pissbaby’s hurt ego because the girl he spent all year guilt-tripping didn’t want to get trapped into ever having to see him naked.