Little else I’ve felt compares to what it felt like, being nine years old and lost in a daze, staring at Peter Andre’s abs.
It did not strike me as odd then, that a male body should enamour me this way. Rightly so too. Children don’t discriminate the way adults or even teens do. Maybe it helped that I grew up in a socially conservative household, the kind where sex and sexuality have just been willed out of existence. A household in which that passion had been entirely scrubbed out, replaced solely by religious devotion. Maybe it helped that despite the claustrophobic vice of religion, liberalism in matters of purely intellectual nature was tolerated, and so homophobia wasn’t indoctrinated in me as it would have otherwise.
Fast forward a few years to the age where I knew why my penis throbbed the way it did sometimes and how I could relieve the throbbing: My homosexual attraction was quite different from the heterosexual attraction I felt. For one thing, it would come and go. There would be periods where my fantasies were dominated by men and men alone, and then there were periods where they just weren’t.
I recall getting on the internet and searching for answers as to why I was attracted to men. Searching for loopholes in religious edicts around its prohibition, and always coming up with nothing. Except for guilt, I suppose. I recall that science and medical journals were more accepting of homosexuality and more than one paper stating that it was perfectly normal. And this greatly relieved me.
My fantasies, however, remained just fantasies. Did I never find a boy I liked? A boy that I found attractive? I would, but it was rare. And when I felt that way about a boy, my words failed me. There was no language of love available to me to express what I felt. But even if there were though, would I express those feelings? I doubt it. My own trust issues played one part in keeping my feelings bottled up, and the hyper-masculine ideals of young boys, another.
Fast forward to adulthood: To an age where I was more comfortable in my own skin. I was out of the closet by then, but only to myself. Who else would I come out to? My trust issues had not been resolved, for one. The lack of a community, of safe spaces, was another major blow. Yes, there was a scene. But what I heard was of little more than cruising spots. And even so what I heard would be half a rumour – entirely unverifiable if I wished to remain in the closet. It would be several more years before a casual acquaintance asked me out, that I was introduced to the community.
I look back now at all the time lost, as a man of 30 that had his first homosexual experience at the age of 27. At how the avenues that I needed to explore to know myself better, to live my life to the fullest, to do the things I wanted to, to live my life the way I wanted to – just were not available to me. And why? Because of the homophobia ingrained in society? In religion?
It is a grudge that weighs heavily on my shoulders. One that I imagine I shall hold on to for long.