by: Jonah Lefholtz
I’m sorry. Let me explain.
This has been a very active year as far as my identity goes. I came out as femme, I went through a detox program to address a physical addiction to alcohol, and I am finally dealing with the fact that I really like other men. I don’t think this makes me gay, because I wouldn’t turn down a female-identified person if we connect, but I really want to explore dating my own gender. I guess I am coming out as gayish.
This year, I got a real (not just sexual) crush on a guy for the first time since I was about 12. And oddly, it feels the same as it did when I was in middle school. I feel awkward, and I’m not sure how to relate or act. I’m in my thirties and I still don’t know how to talk to boys. I’m still me, after all. I especially don’t know how to talk to boys that only date boys as a person socialized female that mainly dated females in the past. Your masculinity, no matter how gay it is, throws me off. And I have no idea how to exist in gay male society.
I’ve always liked guys, and I’ve always been “bi” or whatever you want to call it when you like alllll the genders (I guess pansexual?). But until recently, it’s just been for sex. The idea of being intimate with another guy scared me… if I slept with a guy, I often left or made him leave after we both got off. If I let him sleep over, there was no cuddling. I slept with my own blanket and our legs never became entwined, and when we woke in the morning, we didn’t smell like one another. Honestly, I’ve treated guys like crap, in the past. I was disrespectful in not seeing them as real people, only as something to fuck.
My mother hated men (coincidentally I have mommy issues, but that’s another story). Thinking that men are unequal to women is deeply ingrained in me, and even though I now identify as a man, my female socialization leads me to see myself as something different, and previously, something better than a man. It’s a totally fucked up and irrational way of thinking. It’s not a very good excuse, but it’s all I have, and this is what I’m sorry for.
I’m sorry for hating on you, talking shit about you, thinking you were dumb, and expecting that you don’t have feelings that are as real as mine. I’m sorry for never allowing myself to feel things about you that were positive, and for slighting you the second a pretty girl showed up on my radar. I’m sorry for being too casual when you tell me you like me, and I’m sorry for laughing.
I’m also sorry for not knowing how to communicate with you. I’ve never had a problem communicating with other female-raised people, because we had similar socializations and a shared history, in many cases. Can you help me out here? In the words of my favorite 2 year old, “I need a lil’ help.” I clam up, I worry that I’m being too needy or communicative, so I act aloof and stoic. I think too much about what to do or say that I don’t do anything (that’s a direct quote from my OKCupid profile, by the way). I don’t know what I’m doing. Twelve year old me is shaking in his boots. Twelve year old me doesn’t know how to pass as a gay man.
I apologize for thinking I am somehow better than you. And for hurting your feelings and being flippant. I’m sorry for not calling when I said I would, because I think that since you’re a guy, you don’t actually care about me. I’m sorry for being insensitive. It was all out of fear. Again, such terrible excuses, but ones that I have to own up to. I’m a work in progress; I’m still cooking. You probably don’t want to peruse a date with me, just yet.
Part of me coming out as gayish has a lot to do with accepting my feminine side and coming out as femme. It has to do with accepting the fact that I don’t really want to be the big spoon anymore; I want to be held by a hairy somebody with manly pheromones. I’ve let my guard down and have let myself be more relaxed. This means a lot more fey movements then I used to display. This means my gait has changed. I’m no longer forcing myself to walk masculine-ly. I don’t care anymore about being read as straight. I want you to read me as gay. Because then you might think I am cute.
At first, when I was contemplating what it would mean to have a boyfriend, I thought about what I would tell my family. I mean, my identity has been evolving my whole life and I’ve confused them on many occasions. I came out as a lesbian at 14, came out as bisexual at 20, trans and queer at 22, and now at 31, gayish. I’m afraid of the argument that I should have just stayed female if I was going to end up dating men anyway. Yeah, like I said in my piece about being femme, I could have just stayed that way, but I like my body so much more now, and my identity could have never come this far or and I never could have come this close to self-acceptance. I love myself more now than I ever have.
So, fellas, I’m sort of gay. I know it probably isn’t the biggest surprise in the world, but accepting myself is news to me. In the words of my friends a last month, when I said to them that I think I may be gay, they responded: “You think?” And gentlemen, I apologize for my past behaviors. I’m sorry for being a jerk. And be patient with me while I figure out how to navigate through this new world.
Jonah M. Lefholtz is a student and care-taker in Chicago, IL. He recently came out as a femme male and his life is better for it! He likes spending time with his family and friends, has two cats, and appreciates complexity.