I cannot begin this piece without thanking the huge variety of folx who have reached out in support, or with congratulations, or by giving a simple “like” on Facebook. As I said in my last post, I knew I would be accepted and encouraged by my friends, but the outpouring has been unlike anything I’ve experienced in my life.
For Part 2, I want to talk about how I was forced to confront something that’s been causing me stress and holding me back from my emotions: my socialized idea of masculinity. It’s easy to say “toxic masculinity has kept me from being truthful with myself,” but that is oversimplifying a much larger issue that manifests in many ways in my life and that, most recently, has caused me to avoid asking big questions about myself, including questions about my sexuality.
The most radically eye-opening thing coming out has given me is the opportunity to re-examine the relationships I have with men and most specifically, my relationship with my best friend. It’s the type of friendship that’s always there and always has been; we know the intricacies of each other’s minds and the deep details of each other’s pasts. I could go on for hours about the many redeeming qualities of my best friend, but what’s more important is how my queerness intersects with our friendship.
It’s not easy to say, but I’ve been in love with my best friend. At certain points in our friendship my feelings for him have transcended a common feeling of “like” and have crossed into the territory of a deep, unwavering dedication and fierce desire for closeness. I’ve been jealous of others vying for his attention and I’ve been uncomfortably protective of him when others have hurt him. I can’t describe exactly what love “is”, but I can say that’s what I’ve felt and it’s distinctly different from the usual friend feelings I have for other folx.
This may seem easy for me to say but trust me; it’s been a battle. I’ve long fought these feelings with everything in me because I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable and I felt like I shouldn’t be feeling that way. I told myself to push the emotions and the love down and out of my body until I could just be a regular friend. In no way did he tell me to do this. This was a self-inflicted punishment for feeling love toward another man. This was masculinity preventing me from being truthful to myself and to my friend. This was my desire to “be a man” causing me to act like an idiot to someone I love in a myriad ways. I could have told him my feelings up front but something told me he wouldn’t want to hear it and it wasn’t healthy for me to feel that way. This was me pushing someone away because I didn’t know how to feel about my emotional connection with them.
I’m happy to report that we have talked about this since I came out a few weeks ago and that our relationship is even stronger than it ever has been. He’s aware of the complicated nature of my emotions and he’s been supportive in every way you would expect a friend to be through my entire process of coming out. Masculinity will continue to rear its ugly head in my life. I rarely cry and if I do, I usually have it scheduled out beforehand. I continue to push away uneasy or unfamiliar emotions because I don’t want to deal with them. I still wonder why I don’t just join the gym so I can be muscular like all the people in movies I like (more on this another time).
But, for now, I’m happy that I’ve been given the opportunity to tackle masculinity and express my truest self to one of the most important people in my life and he has accepted me and everything that I bring with me (even though it’s a lot).