It happens. It?s painful.
Raphael?s Angels ? Oil on Canvas by Darko Topalski
A young friend once asked me if it?s possible for a gay guy and straight guy to fall in love and have a fulfilling romantic or sexual relationship. He had it bad, you see.
We humans tend to fall in love with one another. Sadly, our hearts are not always ruled by our heads. Sometimes we fall in love with people who can?t fall back in love with us. And we hurt.
So, how did I answer? Naturally, I had a story to tell him!
This is what I said:
Well, you might think about becoming stranded on a desert island with him, I joked. Or serving time in prison. Or being in some other all-male setting where your friend can?t have any sort of sex with a woman. In my day when the military was mostly male, you did tend to see a certain amount of situational homosexuality.
The thing is, though, if this straight friend is just not wired to find men sexually appealing, then is there any point? I get it, because it happened to me once.
Decades ago, I fell for a cute straight guy in my military unit. And I mean I flipped over him. Head over heels. I ached. Nobody else existed or could exist. The universe would END if I couldn?t be with this guy.
We became good friends and spent huge amounts of time together. He sussed out my feelings pretty easily and ? his being a decent guy, combined with no women readily available ? he eventually engaged in some light sexual activity with me. He really was totally straight, so as you can probably imagine, this activity strictly involved me getting him off. It?s not that he was selfish, he was just straight.
When I was near him and he looked at me in that special way, all was right with the universe. My heart sang, as the cliche would have. The sun would glitter and glow, even if black clouds marched across the sky. The air would smell sweet, caressing me like a warm blanket. I would know that I could accomplish anything.
But if we were apart? Nothing could make me happy! No food could ever taste right. The universe would derail.
Let me tell you something. The affair I had with him was terrible for me. One of the most painful experiences of my life. I fell in love with him, of course! That?s what gay men do, we fall in love with other men. Becoming sexual with him made me fall even harder.
My friend, despite being quite a decent, considerate young man, did not fall in love with ME. Straight men fall in love with women. I didn?t just have the wrong physical equipment. I simply was not and could never be someone he could be in love with.
So this totally sucked for me. Unrequited love is one of the worst pains imaginable. I spent a good year hurting. Wasted a good year not finding a boyfriend who could actually return my feelings.
In retrospect, I wish my friend had NOT become sexual with me in any way at all. It would have been far kinder of him in the long run. Or maybe I wish I had been mature enough to know better than to even hope.
If I?d been just a tiny bit more mature or sensible, I?d probably have known that I needed to distance myself from him for a while. I?d probably have understood that intense crushes are fed and energized by presence. I?d probably have understood that the cycle would break faster if I made space between us for even as little as a couple weeks.
I understand infatuation better today than I did in my early twenties.