“Wait, what?” I stopped. At my office desk, in front of my computer, my work came to a halt. I pressed my head into my open palm; I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Chu, the guy who had flirted his way into a month’s worth of online conversations before meeting up and then inadvertently hooking up—he was now coming clean that he was not gay at all?

“I think that, before we started making out, before we went into your bedroom… do you remember when we were talking?”

I struggled to keep my patience. “Yes…”

“Well, I remember you brought up a lot of things that were of concern to you.”

I flashed back to the moments before our hookup. We were in my living room, talking across from each other, building tension through body language, eye contact, and the space between us. Somehow, we began talking about the idea of moving too fast, and I brought up a few scenarios that my overly-analytical mind warned me to be cautious against: What if he just needed a homosexual outlet from his chaste Arkansan seclusion? What if he wasn’t really attracted and just needed an easy way to get off for the summer that we’d be working near each other? At the time, though those questions surfaced, he assured me that—despite the nonsensical part about knowing each other for just about a month and having met for just a few hours—he actually did like me, especially after finding out that I was a pretty decent guy not just online, but also in real life. And that’s when we started making out.

“Yes, I remember…”

“When well you asked if I was using you as an outlet because I had none in Arkansas, it got me to thinking...”

Had I opened my stupid mouth again?.

“…and I think that I’m not using you as an outlet in place of my Arkansas experience; I think I’m using you as an outlet because I have a hard time with women.”

I remained silent, waiting for him to explain. He didn’t. I prompted him for more.

“Well,” he continued, “when I was in seventh grade…”

MAJOR PAUSE. When you were in seventh grade? You’ve been thinking about this since you’ve been in the seventh grade, you’ve roped me into this years later, and now you’re saying you’re straight? UNPAUSE.

“…I started getting really shy around girls. I’d be friends with them, but I wanted to be more with them. But my self-esteem was awful—it still is. I couldn’t approach them in the way that the other guys could. I liked them, but I was so worried about what they’d think and how I looked and how I behaved that I couldn’t get myself to act on my attraction. So I think that’s when I turned to guys. I began looking at the other guys and how well the girls reacted to them. I began to get jealous, admiring the other guys for the things they could be and the things they could do and eventually the things they could get that I couldn’t. And so I began looking at them as reflections of who I wanted to be. My self-esteem issues kept me away from the girls and deflected me to the guys.”

I tried processing what he said, which was tough given that he had just shattered the only potential for actual dating that I had had in almost half a year—if not more. “Okay…”

“So,” he pressed on, “I think that reaction has been embedded so much within me that I’ve just gotten scared of approaching girls. And so I go with the next best thing—which is—well, guys…”

I didn’t know how to react. On one hand, he was obviously aroused when we were making out on Friday night. How do you fake that as a straight man? Random, accidental friction could not have been enough to bring about that strong of a reaction. And on top of that, how do you pull me along on a string for a month and go as far as hooking up when you have all of these doubts in your mind? In conversation, he even asked a mutual friend about what kinds of things he could say or do to impress me—that type of pre-meditated flirting is not at all indicative of doubt.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to bring you into this. I just obviously don’t have this completely sorted out for myself.”

“It’s okay,” I forced myself to say. It obviously was not completely okay as much as it just had to be okay. “It’s just… you know… it’s just a lot to think about.”


My gut feeling was not to believe him. No, I thought, this had to be some deep-rooted psychological reply steeped in heterosexism; at the same time, who was I to impose my own theories on his own obviously confusing sexual journey? I was in no place to tell him he was wrong or not; if anything, I could throw him into much more of a maelstrom than he perhaps needed at the moment.

But I wasn’t done. I couldn’t be. So I had to throw a litmus test at him.

“Can I ask you a really blunt question?”

“Yes, please,” he said, wanting to make sure he entertained what I had to say so that he could feel better about throwing this on me.

“Well, if we are to understand sexuality as heterosexuality, homosexuality, and other sexualities—we have to talk about sex. And if we’re talking about sex, Chu, then—can I ask what turns you on?”

“What turns me on?”

“Yeah: dick, vagina, what…?”

“Do you want to know the truth?”


“Boobs and ass.”

I took that in. It wasn’t what I expected until he asked if I wanted to know the truth. “Okay, well, so what’s gotten you off with guys since the seventh grade?”

“Well, when I’m with guys, I enjoy the stimulation. But I don’t like stimulating. It doesn’t turn me on.”

“Okay,” I acknowledged. I didn’t want to question him further. I had to accept this, maybe because I could empathize: maybe if I were blindfolded and a girl was providing adequate stimulation, then maybe… maybe it’d work. Maybe the self-esteem is such a huge issue for him—as it has been for me—that it’s had this huge of an impact on dictating his actions and interactions with the world. Maybe, when I boiled the types of people in the world down to the sex they were having and enjoying, maybe he was best defined by his feelings and thoughts rather than his actions.

But maybe he’s just overanalyzing himself. Maybe he’s just digging himself into a bigger hole by rationalizing his apparently deviant actions. He was telling himself that this wasn’t like him, and who else could tell him who he was aside from himself? Not me.

The problem is that I understand it all. I see both sides. The only thing I don’t get though: the making out—the scratching of scruff, the redness that remains only after male or male tongue twisting. How did you come to enjoy that stimulation, Chu? Doesn’t that count as stimulation? Stimulation that I doubt replicates the guy-girl experience whether you close your eyes or not? How did you rationalize that one?

The next day, Chu changed his all-important Facebook interest from undefined to very definitely, “Interested in Women.” And I—hundreds of miles way—still could only wonder, “What if?”

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