I had an odd experience a month or so ago that’s got me thinking. I’d been invited to an afternoon cocktail party hosted by a woman friend of mine in town visiting. As friends we have a long history going back to high school, though I can’t say we’re especially close. I went to the party more out of obligation than anything since we don’t see each other often. She held the party at her parents’ house and I had no idea who would be attending.
Not surprisingly I didn’t know any of the other guests. I’d transferred high schools midway through so didn’t get to know too many people at the new school, and I didn’t recognize any of the people at this party. Some were older and had graduated before I’d arrived at the school. Everybody was nice enough. All male/female couples, and then me. One of the guys there was very humorous and rather good looking though not someone I recognized from high school, but that was more than twenty years ago. Feeling like a third wheel and out of my element, I stayed at the party just long enough to be polite, then made my excuses and departed.
It was not until I was driving home that I suddenly realized who the guy at the party was. He was a guy I’d been truly infatuated with back in high school. I’d totally forgotten about the infatuation in the years since, but now it all came back. Holy shit, that was HIM! He had been a year older than me in high school and I’d never talked to him (had no reason since we didn’t have any classes together) but I’d see him around school and I’d developed the biggest crush. Back in school he’d been cute, a sharp dresser, was on the swim team, and had a sexy deep voice. I was both envious (I wanted to be cool and handsome like him) and also totally attracted to him. I’d even seen him naked once in the showers after PE, which was unusual since NOBODY ever took showers (being too modest), but for some reason this guy had the gusto to do it once. So all the ingredients were there for a total, complete teenage infatuation. He graduated and over time I forgot all about him… until after the cocktail party.
His was one of many, many crushes I had going back through childhood.
It’s funny to revisit an infatuation years after the fact. I suppose it’s good I did not recall who he was at the party, as I would have probably fallen out of my chair or become tongue-tied. Maybe I would have stayed longer. I did send him a LinkedIn invite (which he accepted) and realize we have absolutely nothing in common. But it was amusing to go down memory lane and feel those butterflies again.
People often ask how old I was when I knew I was attracted to the same sex. That would be second grade for me. A new boy showed up in school and I found him very appealing. I didn’t understand the nature of this appeal, and it was not overtly sexual, but I found I liked to look at him and I wanted to become friends. We did become friends, and were friends for many years. He was the guy who swiped me that first Playgirl I recounted in an earlier post.
Through grade school, there would be similar crushes, though again I would not recognize them as such. I just knew that I’d see a boy I liked, and I’d want to become his friend. I didn’t occur to me to pursue anything physical, yet the interest was definitely based on attraction rather than just wanting to make friends. Why did I want to be friends with this boy rather than the others? Well, I liked the way he looked. In the fifth grade, I went so far as to covertly take a photo of one of these boys with my instamatic camera so I could look at him privately.
I expect this kind of thing is common with all gay boys (except perhaps for the photo part).
By high school it would be clear that the attraction was sexual, even if denied. By then I was jacking off with my Playgirls so I knew that guys turned me on even if I could not admit it. And by high school the boys were looking more like men, and that’s really what I was attracted to. It did not occur to me that there could be sexual contact, all I knew was I wanted to see them with their clothes off. And when I did finally see one of them with their clothes off? Damn.
A couple of years ago I went to my high school reunion. There were a lot of people there who I’d grown up with, and yet very few gay guys turned up and very few of my crushes turned up. What would account for the absences? I know at least one of my childhood crushes turned out to be gay… could it be that some of the others were too? Perhaps a subconscious prepubescent “gaydar” was what put us together as kids. Were we all afraid of admitting this to each other, to coming out to each other? If we saw each other as adults we’d have to acknowledge we might have been attracted to each other as kids? Easier to skip the reunion than confront all of that, perhaps.