This morning, before I ran out to grab coffee, my mom and I sat next to each other. She told me about her friend’s son, who had recently come out as gay, from a Christian background. And he had just gone on his first date.
“That’s exciting!” I told my mom.
“He came back sobbing. He was devastated. He turned to his mom and told her, ‘mom, I don’t want to be gay anymore.’” He came out, then went back, I guess.
I met up with a guy today. Evan. We had been chatting years ago, although we lost touch. We never really connected. He keeps bees.
Today he messaged me, and we decided to meet up and figure out what to do. So, I drove to Long Beach, and he picked me up in a gold Toyota, saying, quietly, “hi.”
He held my leg the entire drive. I thought of how I couldn’t do that if I drove my car, because my car is a stick shift. Weird. Behind us an ambulance wailed, with sirens blaring on and off, but it could not get around us. Evan drove forward, into the traffic circle, where the ambulance peeled off, and he drove up into a parking structure. As we climbed, the cars thinned out, until near the top, two or three cars sat parked, with a single man, looking out, inside each one. The cruising spot. We got to work.
A man walked to the front window, looking in. We looked back, then away, and he turned around, towards the other cars. Evan got up, turned on the car, and pulled into another spot where we would avert others’ gazes.
Evan tried to be dominant, telling me what to do, and it turned me off. I wanted to go home. I wanted to get out. I wish I drove separately. I lost my energy to even finish, but I stayed, thinking that it was not so bad at all. I just had no idea who this guy was, other than the fact that he keeps bees, and I really just was trying to figure out whether he catfished me, although he mentioned that I might have been catfished by other men on other apps earlier, so I wondered if he made that comment self-consciously. And what really counts as catfishing if it’s the same man, but with a very different body type? Evan seemed sweet though. Honey does that. So I said no to his commands, and looked into his eyes. He didn’t read them. I stayed, thinking of how rote domination can be a crutch so that you don’t have to read someone--which is the opposite of its appeal.
And so we finished in the back seat, while several cars sat parked around us. They never moved, and each only had one man, waiting, in it. After we finished, Evan leaned into me, horizontally, embracing. We stayed like that, I guess, even though I was ready to go home. I was relaxed. The light was golden. And he threatened to leave, saying that it was time to go—that his friend’s mom needed to buy his honey—and I said, “you first,” but he never moved. He held me tighter as the sun went down, saying, “I never usually do this…I’m bi…” and I said, “that’s fine. Most people come and go.” He said, “yeah I’m bi, so I don’t really do this sort of stuff,” alluding to the cuddle posture he had taken. I had a few questions, but I did not press, saying, “I had plans to watch the sunset. But it’s getting too late.” (Now, reflecting: who makes plans to watch the sunset? Me.)
“We could go to Signal Hill,” he said, “what time is it?”
“4:30—we have like 20 minutes,”
So he drove to Signal Hill, and we watched the last ten seconds of the sun, before it faded below the horizon. I counted down in my mind. He held my thigh the whole time.
But, earlier, on the way out of the parking structure, down the maze of cars, with more and more men driving up where we were, I said, “lots of gay—and bi—men in one spot. I’ve never seen a spot this busy for cruising.”
He said, “most of them are straight. Older men, with a wife and kids.”
“Regretting their life choices,” I said.
I thought of how they’re not really “straight.” Straight men don’t fuck other men. Bisexual men cuddle, too.
I told my mom, in response, that I understand a bad date. I have, on my computer, a document of so many of the bad dates that I have been on. If something is wrong, or unbelievable, or mean, or tender but migrates away in the end, or if a date just will not work out, I write it down. If someone’s life is broken down, if someone had just been kicked out of their home, or the police took away their roommate who was hallucinating and foaming at the mouth, or they accuse the porn videos they watch of looking back at them, or say that the CIA is watching every move they make, or if they have (notably!) a “taco bed,” then, at some point, I end the date. Dates must always end. I go home. I take a breath. I write down what happened. Because I know coming out can be hard, and I know gay men are wild bunch, so, when being gay is so unbelievably absurd or isolating, I take each story and put it on paper. So that I can wonder about what it means to be gay for others, and what it means to be gay for me.
I told my mom that for me, to quit being gay is an impossible option. It’s also unspeakable, and not even a thought worth entertaining. So it’s best to make do with what you’ve got.