I have deliberately kept to myself, denying myself a confidante, by refusing anyone I could divulge to because I am scared that if anyone knew my real fears, secrets, and thoughts, they’d not like me. This engrained fear of rejection began in middle school when everyone began experimenting with relationship dynamics. Every boy and girl seemed to pair off while I was left alone; the one flamboyant boy even got more attention from girls and boys than I did! So when a girl asked me to be their boyfriend I said yes. Even then relationships with girls felt wrong, but I didn’t have the vocabulary for ‘why.’ I withdrew and couldn’t muster the interest to mimic boyfriends I saw modeled on TV, and waited for the inevitable implosion. When she did call to break-up I didn’t feel relieved. Rather, I felt nothing, not even numb – I simply went about my afternoon watching cartoons.
In middle school there were no boys to roleplay intimacy or boundaries; everyone’s burgeoning masculinity was too fragile. Back then ‘gay’ was a pejorative for ‘stupid,’ ‘sissy,’ ‘girly,’ or ‘less than.’ With group acceptance as the primary goal being labeled the outsider was unacceptable, so I kept any suspicious ‘gay’ buried through comic books.