Saturday, August 5, 2017

Guilty pleasures...

As I first began supressing my gayness as a child in the late 1970's, by the time I was a teenager in high school in the late 80's I had become so good at supressing my gay feelings that I began to fall for my own trick and started believing that I wasn't really gay at all. But in truth I was just in complete denial. Deep down inside I knew exactly who I was all along...

I was gay. Me! I liked guys instead of girls.

Though I was afraid to completely admit it to myself, I knew without a doubt during my teenage years that I found guys sexually attractive and although I had tried looking at girls the same way I knew that I just didn't feel the same. There was no avoiding the fact that I swooned over guys at school because they were cute and that I had serious crushes on some of them. I even thought about my gay crushes after school and as I lay in bed at night I would imagine what it might be like to ask any one of those guys out on a date... and what I would do if ever we were alone together. I fantasized about kissing them and what it might be like to fall in love with one of them.... or even just to hang out and be near them.

Yet, I couldn't ever do any of that for real! I also couldn't flirt with my gay crushes or show off around them to get their attention. I had to remain neutral around them no matter what I felt inside, my "survival" in high school during the late 80's and early 90's depended on it!

But my gayness had to come out of me somehow. It just had to, otherwise my stomach pains and identity crisis "blank" moments (as discussed in a previous post) would continue to get worse. So, even though I was still struggling with my denial about being gay and was afraid to actually be gay, I somehow made a bargain with myself to allow a few small "guilty pleasures". Here are some examples...

  • Whenever I had the opportunity at the beginning of a new semester I would choose a desk at the back of the class so that no one would see me staring at the cute guys in the room. When sitting at the back wasn't possible I would often try to sit in a desk next to a cute guy so that he would talk to me during class if he had a question about the assignment, or just wanted to talk with someone. However I was always too chicken to start a conversation of my own with any of those guys. I was happy just to be near them! :)

  • In gym class when we were learning how to wrestle, on one occasion I got paired up with one of the guys I was crushing over, so I purposefully put up a poor fight so that he could pin me to the mat. My momma didn't raise no fool! It was a glorious win for both of us!  :)

  • On another occasion I noticed a guy that I liked staring at me in class so I allowed myself to smile back. He got the biggest smile on his face after that! I couldn't believe how cute he looked smiling at me like that! He spent the rest of the class glancing back at me, and so I kept smiling and then jokingly winking. I thought for sure we were going to get caught. We started to hang out after that, and I ate lunch with him a few times, but we were just friends. We never talked about how we felt about each other or that our friendship had blossomed from a flirting session in class! Then one day he stopped coming to school and I never saw him again. I asked my teacher about why he wasn't coming back. I forget what she said exactly, but her reply indicated that there wouldn't be any way that I could get in touch with him. I've often thought about him over the years and wondered how he was doing. Had things gone differently I suspect we would have hit it off and could have become a cute couple, all before we even graduated from high school! I may have even come out and accepted being gay a lot sooner than I did otherwise, but who knows? C'est la vie!
 
  • Outside of high school I spent much of my time at the YMCA in the early 1990's. I was well aware that "the Y" had a reputation as having been a place where gay guys hung out, or at least they did back in the 1970s. At the time I wasn't so sure if that was still the case, but deep down I was hoping it still was as I had no idea where else I might meet other gay guys. So I treated myself to a membership. However, the rational that I told myself was that I was getting the membership so that I could actually go swimming and use the pool. In reality, I spent about the same amount of time swimming and working out that I did in the change room pretending to get dressed. Of course, being the shy person I am, I never spoke to anyone unless it was very brief. I was much too wound up and nervous about being there in the first place as I still had the "denial" going on. Any time I went to the YMCA I would have two narratives in my head. On the one side I wanted to be there to check out other guys, but on the other side I didn't want to be there because it meant admitting to myself that I was gay. It was quite a confusing time of my life.

Next page: Being gay in the mid 90's and beyond
 
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Originally Posted March 2016
Last Updated Aug 2017

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The original contents of this blog including text and original photos are TM and © Mikey Artelle, 1988, 2017

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