Everyone jokes about how middle school kids are shy around the opposite gender (even though there are more than two genders). I was no different.
In high school, this inability to connect with boys persisted. My one male friend was queer. I didn’t have strong crushes in high school. I went to prom alone.
Then came university. I thought, probably along with a lot of weirdo high-achieving teens, that the end of high school was the end of the cool kid domination. University would be a place where I would be loved for being my curious, driven, dorky self. I thought I would suddenly shed my awkwardness and men would flock to me and give me the external validation that I craved.
I was partially right. I grew into myself in university, became an active (and electable) student politician, and made many female friends. But I still struggled to connect with men. I went out gallivanting and had the occasional boyfriend, but I never felt attached to any of these men. With the short term and medium term men, I felt more like I was playing a game, achieving a task, playing a part.
Apparently, my inability to talk to boys didn’t go unnoticed. After telling one of my queer female friends I became gay, she told me she wasn’t surprised. She remembered working on a group project with me where I seemingly gravitated towards the women and showed the men no attention. I remember it too. At the time, I blamed it on awkwardness.
Fast-forward one year after that group project. I graduated from my Bachelor’s and admitted my love for my female best friend on a bougie lesbian awakening trip through Europe. After that magical month, I went home and started a new job. I developed deep friendships working there. And, the kicker, I developed these deep friendships with men.
Becoming gay cut all the tension I felt around straight men. I like to think it’s because I can now relate to them as I was always meant to. I think that the reason I was so awkward with boys before was because I knew how I was supposed to relate to them, but that never felt right.
Paradoxically, it was my ability to connect with men that was my first big sign that I was queer, (rather than in a fluky kind of one-off love with a very particular woman).