Since I was a child, I felt different about boys, but it was only during my adult life that I found out he was gay.
I usually say I have a pretty good “gaydar” and can see if a man is gay even when he leads a pretty straight life and still hasn’t realized this. I myself have actually been in that place for a long time. After all, living in a society has a great influence in the way a person sees and defines themselves — and that is one of the reasons why I think it took me so long to realize I was gay.
Coming out, for me, was a discovery process that took place slowly, little by little. Even though I already felt attracted to boys when I was younger, I only found out I was gay during my adult life, when I was about 25 years old. Before that, there were a lot of signs here and there, but it took a while for me to really understand it.
I grew up with no references of gay people around me or in the media, so I never even thought it was possible to have a homosexual experience. When I was in school, I remember wanting to cuddle with my friends, and to even kiss some of them, but I felt like this could damage our friendship.
At that time, I didn’t know what was happening was a “crush”. My feelings were confused: I didn’t know if I was in love, let alone that it was possible to explore that side of my sexuality. Besides that, all my friends were straight, had girlfriends, and being gay wasn’t an option for me. Today, I think that, if I had grown up in a different environment, maybe I would have come out during my school years already.
I kept following that path when I went to college — and, like my friends, I found myself a girlfriend. Everything happened quickly: we met at a dancing event at Stanford University, where there was Swing, Tango and Foxtrot going on. We danced together and she said she was going to a party afterwards. I went too, met her there and we talked a lot that night. We could see we were getting along well, and shortly after that, we started dating.
We got along very well and had so much in common besides the passion for dancing, so our relationship was really nice. There was only one difference: since she only wanted to have sex after getting married, we never had sex. That didn’t bother me, I wasn’t in a hurry. Maybe that was already a sign that I was gay, something that I didn’t see in that moment.
A year into our relationship, something curious happened. A friend came to visit me, met my girlfriend and, when we were alone, he asked me what I was doing, because that wasn’t the right person for me. Thinking about what he said, I realized he was right. She was someone that wanted to have a dream life: graduate, get married, have kids and two dogs. And I had real interests and passions, I wanted to live the most of everything, try new things, meet people, travel the world… I’m a geek at heart, but I’d rather be surrounded by people, trying something new than sit at home watching Netflix.
In that moment, it was clear to me that I wasn’t ready to take the next step in our relationship, but I wasn’t sure why. The curious thing is that, when I said I wanted to break up, she stopped for a moment, thought it through and said we could have sex before getting married, if that was the problem. But, to me, it wouldn’t make a difference. We had a good relationship, and the sexual part wasn’t the most important one. And it should be, at least a little, right?
After that break up, it still took me another year to get involved with a guy for the first time. During that time, some things started getting to me. My friends sometimes teased me, saying I was gay. I started noticing the men I saw on the streets. All the elements were there, but I still hadn’t realized my sexuality.
At the university, I was surrounded by open-minded people. One thing I loved to do was to get together with my friends to drink and watch “Queer as Folk” — everyone was straight, except for one guy. It was the first time I (and a lot of people) saw how gays lived on the TV. I really liked the show, just didn’t know why. I think it was because I, somehow, could connect with that world, with those stories…
After that, I started to get more curious about the gay world. I started reading more about the subject and started to go out to dance in the Castro, San Francisco’s gay neighborhood. I wasn’t going there thinking about getting laid, but I felt really comfortable around that new community.
To finally come out, all I needed was a physical experience. I had never kissed a man, and it happened in a rather surprising way — and it wasn’t even in San Francisco, but during a trip to Europe. But that’s the second part of this story, which I will tell you on my next article.
In the meantime, stay beautiful!