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By Sheena Bryant

A few months ago, I went on a date with a gentleman who  really had me scratching my head. When I initially met him, I can recall thinking that he was perhaps more sensitive (aka, feminine) than most of the guys I engage. However, I decided to be nice and at least get to know him a little more before drawing any conclusions. I left my number with him and within a few days he’d arranged to take me to dinner at a restaurant I had been eager to try. While I had resolved to keep an open mind, in my head was the reality that I would need to see some unbridled manliness (whatever that is) during this date in order to be comfortable with seeing him for a second one.

The evening of the date, he greeted me with a single red rose, opened the passenger car door, waited until I was all buckled up before he returned to the driver’s seat (manners!) and we took off. We did the precursory small talk and enjoyed popular tunes courtesy of satellite radio. Not long after being on the road, he began to enthusiastically sing all of the songs. Now this perhaps might be cute and silly behavior for a boyfriend hanging out with his girlfriend, but amongst strangers it somehow struck me as awkward behavior. I could feel my discomfort levels rising, but—self-admittedly—I often have hyperbolic notions of masculinity so I tried to shirk my confusion. But THEN, Lil Kim’s  “Crush On You” came on, and this good sir bypassed all of Biggie’s part and Lil Cease’s lyrics and decided instead to passionately rap every word of Lil Kim’s verse, including the “I’ll be undressed in the bra all see through” portion. Major. Side eyes. Ensued.

As I sat on edge in the passenger seat, frantically wondering how I’d endure what I was sure would be a long night at this point, I tried to maintain my composure. The next 15 minutes or so were fine but as we got closer to our destination and began to look for a parking space, he blew my whole mind when he said “NO he don’t!” I turned toward him with the blankest of blank stares and asked, “What?” To which he replied, “Did you see what he was wearing?” I said no, and before I had time to mentally process this ridiculous-ness, he asked, “Do you have gay friends?”

Am I being “Punk’d”? Are my friends going to jump out from the bushes with Demi’s ex-love and camera crew at any moment? Sadly, that didn’t happen. But what did happen during the rest of the date was that the gentleman told me that one of his closest guy friends came out to him and consequently he had to stop being his friend because, “[he] can’t be friends with a gay man.” He later confessed that Eric Jerome Dickey is his favorite author, that he doesn’t like when women say that lots of men are gay, and he decided to stop talking mid- conversation because a Ne-Yo song came on and he felt the need to turn the volume all the way up and sing every word. In the end, he danced, AND clapped, like I have never seen ANY hetero man dance– EVER.

He was attractive, and a perfect gentleman, expressed no interest in playing games and appeared to be more interested in finding someone with whom he could see himself long-term. He was extremely financially stable, family oriented and held the same religious beliefs as I did, but of course, I knew I would not see him again. As we concluded the night, I was baffled by the idea that this man had sustained long-term committed relationships with women—that he actually sought them out and that women obliged. I had come to the conclusion that this man was gay or, at the very least, was far more effeminate than anyone I could ever be romantically involved with.

I walked into my home that night with so many questions swirling around in my head, because I knew I had seen men like him with many kinds of women. How is it that women comfortably date men who appear obviously gay? I think we all recognize that there are men who are charismatic and masculine, who exude sex appeal and aptly woo women, but who secretly desire and have sex with other men. It, perhaps, is understandable when a woman is duped by a man deeply, seriously on the down-low. However, what is to be said of women who willingly date men who exhibit characteristics more consistent with the behavior of the gay men in their lives rather than the heterosexual ones? Is it that the women honestly don’t notice? Is it that they’ve noticed, but because the man treats them well and has a lot going for him, they’re willing to overlook it? Is this even a matter worth discussing? In this day and age, it just might be.

Have you ever found yourself being seriously pursued by a man that you honestly thought was gay, or have you found yourself scratching your head because you knew someone who was dating a man who you were convinced was gay?

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