The Straightest Moments of My Closet Life

It’s fascinating to me how gay I really was, and how long I was able to go on living without (a) being caught, or (b) jumping out of the closet one day in a purple leopard-print leotard and pink feather boa while blasting Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now! (Or Prince’s I Wanna Be Your Lover, or anything by Madonna, really…) and waving a sparkler like the one-man parade my life has been ever since being out. (Ha! I wish.)

I mean, I was a gymnast for the majority of my childhood for Christ’s sake! I wasn’t even a stranger to leotards! I competed in them. And I looked damn good doing it, too. Gymnastics is a sport that requires finesse, grace, and understated strength. Any boy who naturally excels at it should have to come out as being straight, not the other way around. In my point of view it’s up there with theatre kids and boys who play dress up as one of the ultimate rainbow flags that parents should recognize early on. (And then totally encourage, of course. Your kid is gonna be who he’s gonna be, or else he’s gonna be unhappy for the rest of his life. So do the right thing, parents, and let your kid prance around in a leotard if that’s what he’s good at. And then make sure you videotape it so you can embarrass him later in life.)

And yet, somehow high school rolled around and I still wasn’t out. In fact, I was very much in. I had a girlfriend on and off, I’d stopped doing gymnastics at this point, and I was a total “guy.” Well, I guess I was acting how the stereotypical high school guy should act. Remember the speech in Kill Bill vol. 2 where Bill analyzes how Clark Kent is really Superman’s alter ego, and how Clark Kent was Superman’s observation on how males should act in society in order to fit in? Well, I was doing the same thing, in essence. Except my real personality didn’t have a sweet cape and extraterrestrial powers. The only difference was that my real personality liked penis (and the occasional Britney Spears single, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone), so when I hung out with “the guys” at social gatherings, I’d have to fake-talk about girls, which I was terrible at. I was Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and I was comparing boobs to bags of sand. Or even worse:

GUY: Whoa, you see that chick? Damn.
ME: Yeah. I really like her shoes.

So, here are some rules I learned to live by:

  • Words to avoid while describing women: adorable, fabulous, pretty, and friendly
  • Words to replace them with: cute, sexy, hot, and fat
  • Avoid going to all-guy parties. But, in turn, also avoid going to all-girl parties.
  • Don’t wear nice clothes. The baggier the better.
  • Hide straight porn magazines under your bed. They’re good decoys for anyone who’s doubting your sexuality (and have surprisingly well-written articles and entertainment reviews)

Following these simple rules helped me blend in better, and kept people from realizing that my asexuality was really a repressed homosexuality. It’s crazy how many people I’ve heard say this about other people: “No, I don’t think he’s gay. He’s just asexual.” Really?  Because you think being gay is a choice, but you think that exists? Well, then you’re either blindingly self-righteous or supremely stupid. Probably both, you fucking dumbass.

Asexuality does not exist. Everybody at some point in their lives wants to have sex. That’s why we are put on this earth. It’s our livelihood. It’s why we wake up in the morning, why we put on nice clothes, brush our teeth, wear deodorant, go to the gym… otherwise all of these “asexual” people you’re talking about would be morbidly obese, bed-ridden shells of human beings who wouldn’t have any friends anyway so you wouldn’t be talking about them to begin with. So many of my openly gay friends still play the asexual cards for their friends whose sexuality might be in question. Really, friend? Don’t you remember when you were in the closet and pretended to be asexual? Don’t you remember your friends saying the same thing about you, too? Well, they were wrong. Turns out you were a flamer, and I’m betting your friend is, too. So let’s get him drunk and see if he’ll make out with me, because he’s freaking gorgeous (another word closet cases learn not to say… let’s go with bangin’ instead).

Sorry. The whole asexual thing really gets me heated. So yeah, I played asexual because I observed my guy friends and tried my best to act like them. I was a chameleon. It was the best acting role I’ve ever had, and the Golden Globes or some organization should have been recognizing my performance throughout my closeted seasons. Screw Jon Hamm. Where’s my Emmy, huh? (My performance did start losing credibility around the 19th season, when my character slipped and made out with a black dude and then sucked on his penis.)

But there are some moments in life that, no matter how good you are at playing straight, you just can’t prepare yourself for enough.

I have one such moment that stands out in particular. It was senior year, and I was at the park playing tennis with one of my closest girl friends. This park also had a lake with a trail around it, so it was not uncommon to see other friends at this popular hangout.

On the way back to the car after our game of tennis (which mostly consisted of us trying to keep the ball within the ten-foot tall wire fence that surround the court), we ran into the mens Cross Country team, who were doing a few laps around the lake. We knew several of them, so we waved. They waved back, and one of them, Jeff, told us to hang out a minute because they were almost finished. So we sat down on a park bench to wait, and then a miracle happened.

All these beautiful, perfectly sculpted young men stripped off their shirts and ran into the lake in their skimpy running shorts. Oh my God. I had to compose myself. If I maneuvered on this park bench just right, it might look like I was adjusting my seated position rather than tucking my boner into my waistband.

Then Jeff, who was the hottest of the entire bunch (and was my vote for the hottest guy in the school), came back out of the water and approached us. Now I’m not kidding, this guy was a model. He was equal parts boyishly cute and unapproachably sexy. I don’t know how he did it. But you wanted to be his best friend but then also not get to close to him, in case you scratch him or get him dirty.

And yet, here’s Jeff, half naked and dripping from head to toe in sweat and lake water. His tiny black running shorts were resting well below his waist line, and the V lines to his penis were screaming at me, like old friends trying to get my attention. But I couldn’t look. As much as they begged, I couldn’t look! I had to keep my eyes concentrated on his face (which was also beautiful, but something I could stare at during block periods in Spanish class). Needless to say I have no idea what we talked about. I probably stumbled around the conversation, trying to end it as soon as possible so I could go home and masturbate for several hours.

And then, to make things equally 100 times better and 100 times worse, the hottest freshman to enter the school came up to join the conversation. I knew this guy since we were kids, because we grew up in the same neighborhood, but damn had he blossomed in to a stellar beauty. And there he was dripping wet and shirtless right in front of me. I stared directly into his eyes as well, nodding and adding minimal amounts of conversation and trying my best not to look at his chiseled abs. Holy crap. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out.

But I made it. I passed the test. If I could get through that moment without giving away my gayness, then I could be in the closet for as long as I wanted….

Looking back, I probably should have just blown them both and gotten it over with. Dammit, what a lost opportunity.

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Chapter 1: High School Years

High school can be quite the trying time for closeted youth. It seems like every other week there’s a new story on the news about a poor bullied kid who’s taken his own life. We’ve all seen the viral campaign of It Gets Better videos, done by all walks of life, from straights to gays to nobodies to celebrities… even President Obama made a video. Needless to say, it can be hard out there for the young ‘mos.

At the risk of sounding insensitive, my high school years were great! I stayed in the closet, and enjoyed the perks of being the fun-loving class clown who would occasionally drink too much at a party and wake up with his pants off and his hair dyed green. If people really paid attention (or cared, for that matter), they would have noticed that my behavior was a ruse. Add these things up:

(Almost all my friends were girls) + (I hadn’t touched any of their boobs) = CLOSET CASE.

It’s not to say that I didn’t have any guy friends. I’ve been close with a few of my best guy friends since fourth grade, and I had plenty of other male comrades through middle school and high school, but nobody that I got close enough with to call a good friend. Without dragging out the details and making up tons of excuses, I do put partial blame for my “females only friend phenomenon” on the fact that almost all the dudes (and I call them “dudes” because they were complete and total morons, but nice guys) I hung out with in middle school went to a different high school, leaving only my girl friends to help me branch out and make more friends.

Oh, and also I was a major flamer, and was nervous to talk to any boys now that I was in high school. Better to keep my head down and not look them in the eye, in case they noticed that I looked at them differently or that my gaze lingered just a little too long.

In middle school it was easy to make friends with other guys (grades 6 through 8, for those who are unfamiliar). Puberty hadn’t hit yet for me in sixth grade, so I wasn’t even aware that I really liked boys until after I’d become friends with most of them. And once you become friends with people, and hear them fart and burp and see them be disgusting (albeit hilarious), it’s hard to find them attractive, even after you discover you like peen over peesh.

But anyway, I’m bored with middle school. Back to the high school glory years.

So yeah, I just kept my head down and had a great time. I was very involved and participated in several extra-curriculars, including sports, ASB, Honors Society, Year Book, and numerous other clubs. I pulled straight A’s, but I still knew how to party. I think it surprised some people that I was actually smart on paper, because as a person I was far from a bookworm. I must say, my ability to balance work and play was pretty advanced, and to this day it is still one of the more impressive skill sets I that attained from public education.

I even had a girlfriend on and off throughout high school. This might have been what threw people off my homo scent. She was great, and she didn’t want to have sex until marriage. So she was definitely a keeper in my point of view. At this point I knew that I was attracted to men, but was in denial about it. I tried to trick myself into thinking that I just envied the men I drooled over, that I wanted to be them, rather than be with them. Now I realize that it’s both.

So there’s my high school years. No suicidal thoughts. No stories of torture and bullying. In fact, I was amicable with most everyone, and didn’t really have beefs with any clique, from the jocks to the cheerleaders to the nerds to the band geeks. High school is where I learned that when you smile at people and make them laugh, they tend to like you, no matter how weird you look or how short you are or what color your hair is or your sexual preference. Don’t get me wrong. Bullying definitely exists and should never be overlooked. The recent epidemic we’ve seen on CNN is only a tiny fraction of the actual problem. I’m thankful I was able to avoid it for the most part.

And yet, for some reason I still didn’t feel comfortable coming out. It’s hard to look back and remember exactly what I was feeling. Perhaps it’s because I drank a lot and smoked pot here and there and now all my feelings are hazy and jumbled, but most likely it’s because I was confused most of the time. I do know that for a while I was in a denial phase, but it was more complicated than that. I blamed my watching gay porn on the fact that I simply wanted to look like these beautiful men, but deep down I knew that I lusted for them, rather than respected and admired their beauty. I mean, I respected Kate Winslet’s beauty, too, but I didn’t jerk off to her booby scene in Titanic three times a day. I was smart enough to put these two things together, but I was too stubborn and afraid to actually do the math.

I never did a single thing with a guy in high school. And ohmigod, there were some hotties. Too many hotties, really. Unfair. It wasn’t until college that the glitter started to fall, and the parade really began.

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