'What my first gay experiences taught me about homophobia'

2016-07-07
Let’s Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Homophobia I knew a drug dealer in Bristol with the most beautiful blue eyes. Everyone on the party scene knew him when we were seventeen: he was our age but seemed older, with his cocksure strut, James Dean jaw and jet black hair beneath a rudeboy cap. Guys wanted to be his friend, girls wanted to get with him. Yet he always seemed one world apart: he never spoke more than was necessary, and didn’t smile much. He had a reputation for fights. One evening I ended up back at a friend’s party with him. Myself, a girl I was seeing, and he crashed in the same makeshift bed. We were heavily intoxicated, sharing the dimly lit room with a vibrating couple in another bed, who laced the shadows with small moans and intense breathing. I felt the girl’s lips meet mine and began kissing her. As I rolled over on to her, with her hands on my back, I felt a third hand slip into my boxers and grab at my dick. I climbed out of bed, grabbed a packet of cigarettes, and went into the adjacent bathroom. I was sitting there smoking when he walked in; muttering that the girl had passed out. He didn’t quite make eye contact. Although we were high, we were both nervous. My homosexual flings until then had been grabbed wherever they presented themselves: rarely had I had a chance to get with a guy my own age, who I actually found attractive. But, before we fucked, we talked. We spoke about our desires with ecstasy-riven tongues, as two boys who’d never before had a chance to speak about these remarkable things were let loose and free with each other. We shared the entire packet of cigarettes together. And the more we smoked, and spoke, the more he began to hesitantly make eye contact. Until finally he was looking straight into my eyes, with his irises that burnt like blue flames, when I leant in and kissed him. We got into the shower together. Although what happened that night will stay with me – we all must keep some memories precious – what I remember noting was that, for a figure so renowned for his fury, he was so very gentle and tender with his touch and lips. As steam filled the air, he whispered how he wanted to see me again and be with me, and afterwards, we recklessly fell asleep in each other’s arms, like some gay teen fairytale romance. Ah seventeen, what a cruel age. Following that night I was full of excitement that I’d found my first proper relationship: finally I’d be able to explore my emotional private life, as my straight friends had been doing for years. I wouldn’t have to pretend with girls. Maybe I could start enjoying gay sex with a lover, somebody I cared for intimately, rather than yet another fleeting fuck with a stranger. I let my imagination run wild with hope. Only he didn’t text. In the morning he’d been monosyllabic, but we both had images to upkeep in our straight-performing worlds. A few weeks later, when wasted in a club, I found the inebriated courage to text him if he wanted to do it again. The reply was almost immediate: “Fuck off”. I remember looking out of the club windows at all of night time Bristol’s street lights sparkling orange, and suddenly feeling my own sparks of anger. I text back: “Fine, I won’t text again. But you fucking enjoyed it”. His reply? “Mate, all I’ve got in front of my eyes are these fucking disgusting images”. I didn’t text again. When our paths crossed in my last year of the city, he’d ostentatiously touch his new girlfriend’s ass when I was around, and never once looked me in the eyes again. Slowly I had to dispel my fantasies of Beautiful Thing happening in Bristol, and realise love might conquer all but the insurmountable force of internalised homophobia. Whatever I might have offered that boy was no match for the sheer terror of his shame. I did, however, often think of that conversation we shared. That starting point of relieving speech informs what I feel is most important for young gay men now: education. Not only of gay sex education in schools, but of gay relationship education. When invisible, we’re robbed of our chance to explore our needs, to nurture our emotional spectrum in youth. Homophobia is not just violence or taunts on the streets: on a deeper psychological level, it’s smothering silence. Let’s Talk About Gay Sex & Drugs - Homophobia’ is at Ku Klub, 30 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BA rpom 6.30pm. Free entry, and all welcome, whether to speak or listen. More stories: Is this the best coming out announcement of all time? Tom Daley documentary set to offer an 'intimate' insight into life and relationship with Dustin Lance Black