"You're always on my mind, you're always in my head
And I can't live, I can't live another day without you."
-- "A Minute Without You" by Hanson (Middle of Nowhere)
It's one of Hanson's more underappreciated songs but at the end of the day it really is the one that has the most truth in it. Desperate, obsessive love is easy to pick up and difficult to shake.
Call it a "crush" but that term has taken on such a negative connotation, bringing to mind a shallow, two-dimensional, primarily physical interest in someone. And most of the time (especially for high school students), that is exactly what it is, but every lifelong relationship has to begin somewhere. And that somewhere is usually crazy, obsessive love.
Once you've got your mind on someone, all you can think about is taking the next step. This is hard for anyone: the fear of rejection is, frankly, quite terrifying. But to the gay teen, it is doubly frightening: not only must we worry about whether the person likes us or not but frequently also whether they are even gay at all (since, especially in small towns like mine, most gay teens remain in the closet).
Luckily, most gays are equipped with a sort of "gaydar." In my experience, limited as it may be, this is a remarkably sensitive instrument but it, too, has its problems for the gay youth: while you may pick up that someone could be gay, it is all too likely that that person may be in denial or perhaps the thought hasn't even crossed their mind and their actions are purely subconscious. If you came on to them, who knows what might happen? Such is the trouble with living in a deeply homophobic society.
What's more, it is deeply frustrating to think that the other person may be going through exactly what you are going through: "Is he gay? If so, does he like me? What should I do?" Why, it's enough to keep you up nights!
I know what of I speak. I spent most of a night in a sleeping bag in a hotel, tossing and turning, wondering if the person 10 feet away had a thing for me. My mind spun like crazy, trying to figure out what was going on, going over and over what I might have done differently, going over the endless possibilities and "What if?s".
It would be nice if such mental torture went away quickly but it doesn't. That was in March. This is July. And I'm still wondering. When we saw each other every day (albeit very briefly), each day would introduce a new variable, a new point to ponder, a new twist to try to untangle.
I saw him just a week ago, for the first time since school let out. He was playing with his band for the Independence Day festivities (that's July 4th for all you non-Americans). Oh, he looked so hot! Butterflies in the stomach and I could literally feel my tongue binding up. I never did get a chance to talk to him and I'm not even sure he saw me. But it introduced a whole bunch of new issues to grind on for another month and a half when we go back to school.
Does this sound familiar to you? The universality of emotion is always surprising to me and I guess that is why I wrote this article: to let others out there know that love treats everybody pretty much the same way, straight (like, I regretfully assume, the Hansons) or gay (like you and me). And perhaps you can help me, too. If you want to talk about the challenges of gay love, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Until next month, take care and God bless.