When I heard Carolyn Moos’ story, the woman who was engaged to gay, basketball player Jason Collins, I felt sorry for her but I couldn’t say I was exactly surprised. There are a lot of men, particularly black men, who are in severe denial about who they are. While Jason was wrong, he’s certainly not alone. I know that from personal experience. I’ve never been in a serious relationship with a gay man but in middle school and high school, the time when we become aware and start acting on our sexuality, three gay boys tried to date me.
I could take such advances as a threat to my womanhood; but instead, I realize the confusion and desperation these boys must have been feeling at the time. And for whatever reason, I was the “last resort” girl.
First there was Adam Baxter. I met Adam in 6th grade. He sang in choir with me and hung out with all girls except for one other boy, who we also assumed was gay…or at least bisexual. In addition to choir, Adam and I had a couple of classes together. We became fast friends because he was pretty hilarious. He’d literally sashay up to us, chest stuck out, wrist broken to share a quip, some gossip or a compliment about one of our outfits. And when our interactions were over, he’d swish away. These may sound like severely exaggerated characteristics, but I promise you that was his steelo. So imagine my surprise when one day, my friend told me that she and Adam were dating. Umm…ok. If she liked it, I loved it. After all, we were in sixth grade, the days when having a boyfriend was of supreme importance. I figured it was a relationship of convenience. It lasted a week.
Naturally, I assumed they broke up because she no longer wanted to date someone who was gay. But apparently, this wasn’t a conversation they’d ever had. Because two weeks later, as proper middle school dating decorum would dictate, Adam asked me out.
We were standing in the lunch line waiting for our tater tots and Fruitopia talking about something insignificant when all of a sudden Adam’s tone shifted. He looked in my eyes and said, “Veronica, do you want to go out with me?” I couldn’t believe it. And before I even had time to give a polite response I blurted an appalled “No.” If I had any doubt that Adam wasn’t gay, his reaction to my rejection removed all doubt. The boy literally put his hand to his heart, dropped his jaw and said “Ugh.” I chuckled a bit to myself before I apologized and explained that I didn’t like him like that and we went back to being friends.
You could assume that Adam was just severely effeminate but by the time we got to high school, even though we went to separate schools, news of his “coming out” somehow made it back to me. Absolutely no surprise there.
After Adam there was Justin in 8th grade. Just like Adam, Justin and I were really good friends. I didn’t know for sure that Justin was gay. I just knew that in 8th grade, when the knuckleheads around me were trying desperately to assert their manhood, Justin was just a bit more sensitive. He asserted his like for me a little less aggressively. He sent an anonymous note that read:
Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet. Guess who likes you?