Like theirs, my air of innocence regularly attracted guys.
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Actually, I was raised Pentecostal — think Jesus Camp on steroids — in California, but by the time I came to New York, my religious identity had evolved from homogenous Christianity to amorphous agnosticism, though my actions often said differently.
For years, I held the sentiment that penetrative sex was the sacred line that separated men who liked men from officially being gay. It was a complicated perspective for a repressed gay millennial.
It was that knotty distinction that helped me exit the closet a year earlier in college: You can date guys so long as you don’t “know” them, in a biblical sense. My female virgin friends at least had religion or traditional values or purity to hide behind when the issue of the Sex They Would Not Be Having came up — even if most guys weren’t patient with their prudish behavior in the bedroom.
Pretty quickly, he got how far it was going to go, even though I didn’t say anything.
He went down on me, but that didn’t work, so we tried finishing each other off with our hands. He had warned me before that he never let guys spend the night, but that was the part I had wanted most.
I had hoped he would make an exception, but he did not: I took a shower, alone, and left.
A few years later, I would joke with friends that I had jerked off half of Williamsburg, because this is how nearly all of my encounters went in my early twenties.
He was the sort of guy the 16-year-old closeted version of me had fantasized about — a brooding former model who was late enough into his twenties to be retired, had probably been mistaken for Brandon Boyd in 2002, and was confident enough to wave at me from across the bar.
“Stay there,” he mouthed before walking to my corner.
“I saw you and have to buy you a drink.” He actually bought me several before inviting me home, but I hesitantly declined. He played the Sea and Cake to ease my nerves while our clothes met the floor.
Three days of texting later, I anxiously met him at his apartment all the way on Manhattan’s Avenue D, which a friend jokingly warned me stood for , and told him it was my first time. I twirled a lock of his hair and ran a finger along his feet, intoxicated that I finally had access to another man’s body but unsure what to do.