This is Blahsmopolitan, a weekly column about one freshman’s misfortune as he navigates his New Adult Life in Chicago, and the songs that soundtracked it. New stories are posted every Thursday, alongside a curated Blahsmo playlist to complement your reading and get you through the week with some new music. This week, our columnist asks someone to choke him, searches through his sexual Rolodex, and realizes he’s been thinking too much in hopes that you can learn from his mistakes.
Stream this week’s playlist on Apple Music.
Hey! I read this piece at UIC’s English Department open mic! Watch a little bit of my reading here. I swore a lot there but the transcript has been censored for the blog.
I spent the majority of my high school years hooking up with one of my best friends, which, in the long run, I don’t recommend. It’s a complicated living dynamic when you wind up going to the same college as said friend, and then have to live with a person who you’ve asked to choke you so you could c*m. Plus, the one time we hooked up in college was marred by him saying “Take off your stupid Thrasher shirt” and I was like, “Do you even know the new me?”
As a general rule, being young and gay is lonely. I came out pretty early in high school, and since the only people who come out in high school are bottoms, I started fulfilling every stereotype. I was listening to a lot of Lana Del Rey and sneaking my mom’s car out to Walgreens to buy sparkly nail polish to apply under the cover of night, but something clicked for me when I really thought about my dream guy for the first time. He was massive, truly hulking. He hated everyone in the world except for me. He had ripped arms, but a beer gut. He had a stark black beard that I could fit in my mouth, and best of all, he had a hard, red shell skin that was hot to the touch. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I entered the gay world fully wanting to f*** the devil.
Guys, older guys mostly, came and went- some stayed, but they all came- and I found myself with a true pit of loneliness at the center of my teenage existence. How was it fair that the fat guy and the ginger on Modern Family get to be happy but all I got was head from a guy with a bald eagle back tattoo? What could I possibly have done to deserve a guy who didn’t want to see me anymore because I turned seventeen? I was lost.
The friend I hooked up with in high school was one of a very rare breed- he was certainly gay, an ardent Nicki Minaj fan and longtime TiVo-er of America’s Next Top Model, but he could also roll with straight guys seamlessly- he frequently kicked ass at Call of Duty, preferred basketball shorts to neon Chino pants, and was 10000% emotionally unavailable. I, on the other hand, once asked a group of straight friends if Steph Curry was one of the judges on Chopped. We hooked up on his bedroom floor after we got wasted on little bits of our parents’ liquor we’d stolen over weeks, and naturally, I fell for him- someone who was respected as a man’s man, but wanted to be a man’s man.
He wasn’t interested, which made sense- I’d just started painting my nails hot pink and we were in high school, puberty was starting to catch up to me and my baby fat was slowly becoming plain old fat ass fat, but my heartbroken fifteen year old self chalked it up to something intrinsically wrong with me- I wasn’t meant for love, I was meant for bearded guys I met on the train to screw me in their car before school, then call the office and pretend to be my dad. I was meant for shame, or at the very most, to be loved by someone who in retrospect was a pedophile.
As I got older- the wise old age of eighteen, I deleted Grindr and started looking for somebody my own age- I played like a lot of Wii Fit the summer before my first semester at college and I was convinced I was finally hot enough to date, or at least to have sex with. I wasn’t entirely wrong- I shaved a close friend’s d*** in a vaguely sexual way on the Fourth of July. I talked to an objectively fat pharmacy school student who eventually told me that my body type was “healthy, just not for everyone.” I had a one-night stand in Urbana with a guy who, after seeming perfectly hot and sweet, had a tattoo in Latin that meant “bad b*****s is the only thing that I like.” My sexual rolodex was rapidly filling with scattershot moments of intimacy and satisfaction and d***s of all shapes and sizes, but I still found myself with a profound loneliness that sat in my stomach like a rock, or like how Chipotle tends to settle.
A lot of gay men that I’ve talked to say that they had a moment shortly after they realized they were gay, where they look at a happy straight couple- they could be older family friends, or they could be strangers just holding hands in a crowded street- and think to themselves, “I will never be able to have that.” And they cry. And it’s heartbreaking and numbing all at once.
I don’t know that I ever had that moment. When gay marriage was legalized I cried all day at work- I could have love that felt familiar, that made the most sense to me. But years have passed and the guys I’ve been with since then seem pretty unfazed by the opportunity to find someone, and to have that discovery validated.
But gay men are different. Once you’re gay, and you’re old enough to be in gay spaces, the rules change. I read a statistic that 96% of gay men say they’d prefer to date masculine guys, and while I’m not exactly a summer scarf wearing contour queen, everything I do at the gym somehow manages to look like Jazzercise. It’s not that I don’t get it- I signed up to be gay because I wanted to have sex with men, but asking for someone to put their d*** in your a** in a deep voice and cargo shorts doesn’t seem like a deep enough line in the sand.
I mean look at me! I’m funny-ish. I lost twelve pounds this semester and all I did was use a treadmill twice. I’m confident beyond the bounds of my ever-present back fat. Giving head pleases me to no end- if I had a boyfriend, I’d ask to do it at the end of a stressful day. I’m working really hard on me- doesn’t that count for something other than drunken hookups that fade to mutual Instagram follows?
Recently, I made out with a new friend because that’s who I am, a friend who’s said he’s started thinking he might be bi. After we kissed, he was like, “We’re friends and we just made out, is it weird now?” And I was like, “No, I don’t think so! Not yet!” but still, I was left thinking about that radio silence, that strange dissonance that comes between intimacy and friendship- the greyest of grey areas. I couldn’t help but think that maybe this was the way out- setting up shop in the confusion.
My new friend and I laid there, begrudgingly trying to get to this micro-worm in the bottom of his Mexican tequila bottle, and he told me that I was the first guy he’d ever kissed, and I was like, whaaat the f***. It took me losing all three of my virginities (I’ll let you figure out which ones those are) to finally admit to my best friend that I was gay, and this guy was out and proud without even kissing anyone? I told him I was honored to be his first while he sprinted to the bathroom to projectile vomit, but as I sat next to him absentmindedly rubbing his back and detailing disgusting scenes of his dad, whom I’ve never met, rimming me, to ease along the vomiting process, I was struck by a crazy thought. When I had sex the first time, I was like, Wow. That wasn’t like porn at all. When I fell in love the first time, I was like, Damn. That was nothing like the movies. I couldn’t help but wonder, had I actually been missing out this whole time? Had it ever been that serious?
I took a deep inhale, letting the tequila, vomit and Four Loko fumes colonize my lungs in a thick, acidic cloud, and thought. I thought about the friend I used to hook up with and his preference of sexting over actual sex. I thought about my friend who came out and got his heart stomped on by a skinny Aryan who went on to retweet “relationship goals” posts for weeks afterward. I thought about my roommate who f****d his girlfriend in a tiny plastic house on an elementary school playground and realized he loved her. I thought about me. And I realized that maybe this was it. Maybe if I let myself be wrong, one day, I could wind up happy. And I’m awfully good at being wrong.