It’s hard for me now to rationalize the crushes I had then.
“I’m gay,” I’ll say breezily. “I just thought I was bi because that was the only way I could see myself having a future.”
And that’s true (right?), but,
It feels too easy.
In middle school I used to sit on the windowsill and watch other kids play in the park near our house.
I had no friends to speak of.
So instead, I sat on the windowsill, and I cried.
This was a little hard to pull off, since the windowsill was barely wide enough for one buttcheek, but it was the most dramatic place in the house to be desperately lonely, and I wasn’t going to fuck this up.
I used to sit or stand at the edges of everything in youth group, as far away as possible, swallowed in my mom’s old coat, zipped all the way up to the top (“no, I don’t want another one, this one’s fine, it’s warm”). And everyone else would talk, and play, and I would sit silent in the background. And I would draw, and I would hate them.
All the while just desperate for one of them to talk to me.
But they didn’t.
So I hated them instead.
It was all I knew how to do. If I failed at something, if I wanted it, needed it and couldn’t have it, well, the only solution was to give up. To stop wanting (to stop needing). And the only way I knew how to do that was to hate.
I didn’t know how to dress well and didn’t have cool clothes, so I called that impulse vanity, and crucified it with my mom’s old coat.
No one seemed to want to talk to me, so I called that “looking to others for approval” and they were stupid, immature, idiots, and I wanted them to leave me the fuck alone. I didn’t want to talk to them.
But I did. I didn’t want to cry on the windowsill anymore.
And maybe that’s all those crushes were. I didn’t have intense, gooey-eyed crushes on distant, gorgeous girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day, like all the other little nerds in movies and television shows. The girls I had crushes on were nearby and approachable. They were on the girls I already knew. The girls who would talk to me.
I used to think if you thought about someone when they weren’t there, if you imagined conversations with them and looked forward to seeing them again and made an effort to hang out, that was a crush. Right?
I wanted it to be.
I used to count them, in the middle of the night I’d rattle through the list of girls I had crushes on, and I’d try to feel those feelings again, and I would feel this warm rush of relief if something trickled up. And I’d roll over and sleep soundly, definitely not gay.
If I had a crush on a girl, I couldn’t possibly be gay, right?
I can’t be homosexual.
But I might be able to be bisexual instead.
Because if I’m bi, I can do this. I can still swallow this down, this other feeling, this other need, and I can just meet a girl. I can just meet a nice girl, and get married, have a family, have a future. I’ll stuff down these feelings, these dirty impulses, I’ll drown them in disgust and stuff them down so far inside me they’ll never come back up, I’ll find the right girl and just replace them completely, like surgery, a transplant. If I’m bi I still have a chance at a fulfilling life. I can still be straight.
And each crush was proof. Proof that I could still do it, that I could still do this, proof that I was actually bi, for real, proof that I wasn’t gay.
But maybe I wasn’t bi, maybe I didn’t actually have any of the precious, validating crushes I thought I had.
Maybe I was just desperately lonely.
Maybe I still am. Sometimes I sing something to myself and I’m surprised by how hoarse my voice sounds. And then I remember it’s because I haven’t said anything in two days. There’s no one to talk to.
And maybe now I’m desperate to just be gay, just like I used to be desperate to be bi.
Because if I’m bi, this was all a waste. All of this pain, all of this soul searching, all of this tearing and clawing at myself, all the agony and screaming and hating myself. I could’ve just found a nice girl, and locked this back up in the same cage I’d kept it in before.