Right Working Romantic Related Learning Friendly Healthy Legal Inspirational Unfiltered

Thank You For Being A Friend (And An Amazing Uncle!)

, , , , , | Related | August 3, 2021

I don’t recall my exact age when this story happened, but I know that puberty came much earlier for me than my peers and that I was presumably in the very early stages of it at this point, as I’d just recently started to consider the idea of dating and romantic (or sexual) attraction.

This new attraction confused me a bit, mostly because I found myself as attracted, or perhaps more attracted, to other boys as I was to girls. I grew up in a more conservative area and so didn’t realize that there were people who weren’t heterosexual out there yet.

My parents had a close friend who visited semi-regularly. He would often take time to spend with me as well, to the point that he was almost like an uncle to me. One day, he was in the living room talking with me while my parents were busy doing something elsewhere in the house.

Friend: “So what about you? Do you have yourself a girlfriend or boyfriend yet?”

Me: “What did you say?”

Friend: “I asked if you were dating anyone.”

Me: “You said, ‘boyfriend’?”

Friend: “I said girlfriend or boyfriend, whichever you have.”

Me: “Boys can’t have boyfriends.”

Friend: “Sure, they can! Most boys prefer to date girls, but some boys end up preferring to date other boys, just like some girls end up dating other girls.”

Me: “Why do they date boys?”

Friend: “That’s just who they like to date. Everyone is different and likes different things, right? You like vanilla even though I know chocolate is much better. Same thing with dating — some just feel happier dating other boys instead of girls.”

Me: “How do they know?”

Friend: “What do you mean?”

Me: “How do they know they want to date other boys?”

Friend: “Oh, well, I’ve never been gay — that’s what they call boys that only date other boys — so I can’t really say for sure. I mean, can you explain how you knew you liked racing games more than other video games? It’s just something you figure out because it’s what you enjoy and like doing. Like, if you close your eyes right now and picture dating someone, are they a girl or a boy?”

This question was a little too on the nose for me. I panicked a little, not wanting to admit that I’d probably pick a boy, so I lied.

Me: “I don’t want to date anyone!”

Friend: “Oh, girls all have cooties, right? Well, just for the record, whenever you do decide to date someone, your parents and I would love to meet them, whether they were a girl or a boy.”

I remember thinking that day that he was staring at me like he saw through me and already knew I was lying. For years after that, whenever any topic about dating or sex came up, he seemed to make a point of saying, “girlfriend or boyfriend,” and generally making it clear that he would be supportive whichever I ended up dating. I never knew if he would have done that anyway or if he was doing it specifically because he suspected I was gay.

He was the first person to suggest to me that being attracted to the same sex could be okay, and his continuing to hint that he would be supportive of me even if I was gay was honestly a real help as I struggled to identify, and admit to myself, my own sexuality. It was good to know that at least one person would be my friend no matter what.

I ended up being somewhere between gay and bi; I’ve had relationships with both sexes but generally, I’m a bit more attracted to men. When I finally came out officially, the friend was right; my parents were fully supportive of me. As to their friend, his response basically boiled down to, “I knew it, and I’m glad you’re finally ready to come out to us.”

I don’t know how long it would have taken me to even realize that non-hetero people existed without him, or how difficult it would have been to come out if I didn’t know I had someone supporting me through it.