Larry Kramer, the timebomb gay activist and author behind The Normal Heart, liked to talk about how gay men used their sexuality as a sort of fuck-you to a world who didn’t care about them; sex became their defiance, their rebellion, the colors on the rainbow flag. (He also liked to talk about how it was going to bite us all in the ass one day, but I digress.) Point is, sex—specifically, casual sex—has become an ingrained part of gay culture, to the point where it almost seems as though it’s a requirement. And while I don’t necessarily agree with Kramer’s preachiness when approaching gay sex, I have to admit that gay hookup culture is at least a little problematic. Because, for guys who are just now starting to come out, they’re being thrust into a culture where the pressure of engaging in causal and looking damn fine doing it has become de rigeur. And some of us just weren’t designed for it.
Look, I’m not—nor will I ever—judge anyone who’s into it. I rejoined Grindr after promising myself I’d never, ever, ever step foot in it again, and this time a part of me enjoyed it; I never felt sexy, I never felt physically wanted, and here I was both. (Not counting the creepy old men.) And it was really easy to fall into the rapport I tried so hard to avoid the first time around. I got comfortable sharing pictures. I got comfortable sexting online. One day, I was feeling reckless and vulnerable and sad so I lost my virginity to a guy I didn’t know who lived in a beautiful apartment in a nice part of town. It lasted fifteen minutes, it hurt, and I cried that night.
And maybe this whole thing isn’t gay culture’s fault; maybe it’s mine. A part of me, in the days after, questioned what the big deal was. I had to have known that, realistically, I wasn’t losing my virginity the way the teens in John Hughes movies did it. I wasn’t going to get the awkwardly sexy, giggly raw passion of two people completely new at this and completely in love with it (and each other.) But I wish, also, that I didn’t feel like a dispensary. I wish it felt like he wasn’t masturbating into me and not his hand, and I wish I didn’t feel like such a damn tool; I wish it meant something.
A really good friend of mine directed me to one of those 16 Personalities tests, and I got ENFP. Supposedly we’re dreamers emotionally; we seek grand romances through spontaneity, fire, longing, and an openness masking roiling intensity. And I know that a part of me never is going to let go of the idea that I’ll find what Carrie Bradshaw, also an ENFP, was always looking for; I want the spontaneous love story, I want the grand romance. I always have. This whole mess of a blogging career has been about it. And I got desperate and started looking in the wrong places, because this whole time I’d begun believing that those places were the only ones that existed; I ended up thinking that casual was endgame, that maybe my biggest fears had become a reality.
And to top it all off, the sex itself sucked.