I have been in love. I have been heartbroken. Listen to me when I tell you – “gays, too, fall in-and-out of love.” My love was not with my “first.” My first was just that; someone who helped me evolve in the LGBT community, and he made that perfectly clear. Despite what he saw as clarity, however, I saw it as confusion and ended up falling head-over-heels for someone who could care less.
My first was beautiful: caramel-complexion, beautiful smile, perfect teeth, average height, and athletic. I remember the first time I met him at Trotwood-Madison Middle School. I was new, so he walked up to me and introduced himself. As he approached me, this big smile grew across my face as I reached my hand out to his. Intentionally shaking his hand longer than normal and looking into his eyes, I nervously mumbled, “My name is Preston.” He smiled, said his name, asked where I was from, and one lunch break later, we instantly became friends. We exchanged numbers and our friendship with one another blossomed into something beautiful.
My freshmen year at Trotwood-Madison High School was an interesting one. Girls searched for the cutest boys they could find and boys attempted searching for young girls that caught their attention. This is when I noticed I had no interest in girls. I always thought they were attractive, but no real connection. I began to pay attention to masculine behavior and how I should act in order to be accepted. Boys constantly talked about girls, sports, and parties, and though I liked to enjoy myself, these were of no interest to me. So to fit in, I dressed “masculine” in an attempt to overcompensate for my growing femininity and lack of desire to be with women. This did not last for long.
Still attempting to find myself, I pretended to have crushes on different girls in my high school. When I was not pretending about having crushes, I fabricated stories about girls I dated from work. I could hear the lies getting bigger and more ridiculous, but that never stopped me. At one point, I remember telling a friend that I broke up with a girl because she was pregnant and said the child was mine, though we never even had sex. But, of course, there was no girl and most certainly, no pregnancy. Though rumors about my sexuality began to spread, I went on with my life until someone would blatantly ask, “are you gay?” That never happened.
As senior year arrived, me and my first reunited after he left for another school during our junior year. Homecoming came by, and being selected for homecoming court brought me some attention. Was I masculine now? Is this how I was supposed to reach the pinnacle of manliness in high school? In short – no, but it was worth a shot. After homecoming, me and my first exchanged numbers after losing brief contact and made a commitment to continue speaking; and we did.
During senior year, my depression increased. Externally, I would smile and show all signs of positivity, but on the inside, death seemed to be a great option. From problems at home to remarks behind my back, I was at my wits-ends. So I called my first to talk; he immediately picked up the phone, came over, and we just sat in the car as he listened to me vent my frustrations. Something was odd about this friendship though; the way he looked into my eyes felt like someone who could see inside my soul. I ignored it and continued talking. We sat in the car for hours just talking about senior year and what colleges we would attend.
The night of senior prom changed me completely. After I was announced Prom King, I remember being tapped on the shoulder, heard “congratulations” whispered inside my ear, followed by a “call me later – it’s important.” After the limo dropped off me and my prom date, I waited for my best friend to take us to the charter bus for “After Prom.” All day, the only thing on my mind was “call me.” To my surprise, I received a call later that night offering to come take me home after the bus dropped the seniors back at the high school. I graciously accepted.
That 15-minute car ride felt like an eternity. We said no words; we just let Usher’s “Can You Handle It?” play in the background, which made our interactions increasingly awkward. He dropped me off, and just as he was about to drive off, I said I needed help carrying my bag into the house. That was a lie; he knew it, but that same beautiful smile lit across his face, and he decided to help me anyway.
He walked into my room, shut my bedroom door, sat on the bed, and he talked to me. “Preston, you can sit on your bed,” he said. It was probably best that I didn’t, I thought, but I sat down anyway. He looked in my eyes and said, “You know I won’t hurt you right? I will always be here.” I let out a nervous chuckle out of fear of saying something stupid. Before I knew it, warm hands grabbed my face to turn it slightly, and I felt soft lips press against mine. Did you know heaven had a taste? From that moment, I did.
It was my first kiss from another man.
I didn’t budge. I didn’t flinch. It felt . . . perfect. He took his lips away, chills ran down my spine, and immediately, I wonder what just happened. Should I be kissing another man? Better yet, should I have liked it?
That summer, we grew closer and closer. Every morning, I knew I would receive a “good morning” text, followed up by an “I hope I see you later.” Suddenly, however, the messages stopped, the phone calls stopped; it all just – stopped. After not speaking for weeks, I received a phone call urging us to talk. Already thinking I had fallen head-over-heels for the wrong person, he came over so we could speak. My heart started to pound; pound so hard that it felt it would explode out of my chest. He approached me, gave me a hug – he always had this amazing smelling cologne where you could easily identify him in a crowd.
The first few moments were awkward, so I finally said, “What happened to you?” His response will never leave my head: “I wanted to help you figure out yourself.” In other words – “you got too clingy and this will never happen; we will never happen.” I politely asked him to go home. I sat and cried for minutes, which led to hours, which led to days – thinking of how stupid I was to ever think that an attractive, assertive, secure guy would want me in the same way I felt about him. That, coupled with my first kiss from the same-sex, did not help. So I grew even more confused; hating myself on the inside, but still attempting to pretend I was happy on the outside.
Finally “coming out” to my best friend, Felicia, I had someone to talk about too about my internalized feelings and emotions. That helped to a degree, but I needed to find another outlet. So I prayed constantly and wrote everything I was feeling in a journal, but I never shared it with my first.
So, today, I write this blog post not only for myself, but for those who never brought their internal feelings to the external. It is important for us not to internalize negative emotions or negative energy. We always need a healthy outlet for the preservation and progression of our mind, body, and soul. I write this because, somehow, when homophobes think about “homosexual relationships,” they refuse to take their mind off the word “sex.” Same gender-loving relationships are much more than about sex – they are above love, heartache, and confusion – just like many opposite gender-loving relationships. If you are reading this blog, just remember an important lesson that I learned the hard way – that “gays, too, fall in-and-out of love.”