Q is for Queer

Friday, June 18, 2010

A while back (it seems like only a little while, but I guess it has to be about 10 years) I was sort of seeing a guy named Tom. Tom was a really nice guy, but after a few weeks we realised that we made better friends than partners, and that’s what we became. We used to spend a lot of time together, mostly just driving around at night stopping at random places to get a drink or at The Jam Factory for giant steins full of coffee at the cafe in Borders.

It wasn’t just the two of us on these trips – there was also Liam, a guy that we’d both known since early high school. Liam was a funny thing – he epitomised the stereotype of the closeted gay man. For years and years he insisted vehemently that he was heterosexual while everyone around him told him that it was ok, we understood that he was gay and that it was no big deal. Instead of admitting it to himself and coming out, he continued to persist with his denial, making any attempt to land a female partner that he could - much to our amusement.

So the three of us spent a lot of time together driving around in Liam’s bashed up old Mitsubishi Colt and I remember it all as being huge amounts of fun, even though I don’t recall a lot of the specifics now.

About a year after Tom and I had dated, he had a birthday party. As kind of a joke gift, a friend and I got him an erotic join-the-dots book which we thought would be good for a laugh. When he unwrapped it, he wasn’t as amused by it as we thought he would be. He gave us a wry sort of smile, and asked us to go for a walk with him. We walked, and as we did, he told us thanks for the present, but it really wasn’t for him. He wasn’t interested in porn like this - because he was gay.

At first I thought he was joking. I mean, we’d dated after all, and I’m absolutely certain that I’m no man. And it didn’t make sense – Liam was the one we knew was gay, not Tom. But when he looked a bit put-out by our disbelief, I knew he was serious. So I laughed – because I realised we couldn’t have bought him a more inappropriate birthday present. And that was that. Tom came out to much surprise and exclamation, followed by complete and total acceptance. And life went on pretty much as usual.

A couple of weeks later, encouraged by Tom’s willingness to accept his own homosexuality, Liam outed himself to us. The response to his coming out was not what he’d hoped for, I’m sure. I’m not certain but I think he was disappointed by the lack of surprise or gossip. It was more of an ‘oh good, we knew that – we’re glad you’re ok with it now’ response, and I’m sure that’s not what he had expected. I feel a little bad that what was such an enormous moment in his life didn’t get the attention that it probably deserved. I think that perhaps Tom’s announcement had more of an impact on me because of the fact that we had dated.

I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about having dated a guy who turned out to be gay. I’m not sure if it makes any difference to me. I don’t think it’s had a huge effect, other than to make me slightly more wary when someone is interested in me. I think if you let yourself over-think it, you’ll start to question your looks or your personality or the whole thing, and that’s a hole that I don’t want to dig myself into.

I think the biggest effect the whole situation had on me was to impede my own dating possibilities, because once the two people you spend most of your time with come out, you start frequenting a lot of places where single heterosexual men are scarce.I think that's a large part of the reason that I didn't date huge amounts in my very early twenties, which makes me a bit sad when I look back on it.

I fell out of touch with Tom a couple of years ago, although I still see Liam.I think it's probably because to me, Liam never really changed a lot, so the guy I knew back then is pretty close to the same guy I know now. Tom, on the other hand, embraced his new lifestyle and became this whole other person. I'm happy for him that he was able to do that, and when I see how different he is now to when we dated briefly, I can't feel bad about our relationship. The guy I dated wasn't this new person, and there is no way that anything I ever did could effect a change this massive on someone's personality.


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