I’ve been trying for months to write a post to answer a simple question: whether a man can fall in love with another man. After a lot of false starts, I found out that the only way to answer the question is to tell a couple of stories. That’s how the best questions usually work anyway.
I had only known S. for a month or two, and we had just come back from the bar. Two other guys were supposed to have been there, but I had secretly hoped they wouldn’t, because that way I wouldn’t have to share S. And really, for someone with my experiences, that hope should have been the first warning sign. But, well, that was a long time ago.
When the others failed to show, S. and I kept drinking. We came back a little boozy and still deep in conversation. I don’t remember what the topics were but I know the conversation was intimate, or as intimate as it was going to get (this was still pre-coming-out); I had admitted that there had never been a girl that I had cared about Like That, but I hadn’t said why.
In the kitchen, over maybe an extra beer or so, S. and I were professing our fondness for each other, the way straight men are allowed to do when drinking. Then there was a pause, and S. looked down at the kitchen table and said: “I just wanna get to know you better.”
As C. S. Lewis says, I was undone. Whether it was the shyness of his voice, or his vulnerability; or just the feeling of being seen, and seen as good — as worthy of knowing, being known — by somebody like him, someone with his confidence or his intensity or just, okay, his shoulders, what is it with me and shoulders? — whatever it was, my heart liquefied all in an instant, and resolidified in a different shape. Its contours were molded now to fit him, receive him, delight in him.
This happens all the time. I mean, not to me — that would be exhausting!, and two or three times in thirty years is bad enough — but to all humans, or most of us. I’ve never been in love with a woman, but I gather from friends and books and movies that what I felt for S. is like what other people have felt for the people they’ve wanted to marry.
So, yes; if what happened to me then, and lingered for the next 18 months or so (Lord, that was a LONG 18 months), is what is commonly meant by falling in love, then men can fall in love with men. Duh. If you’re gay, and Catholic, and the man in question is straight and/or Catholic, I don’t recommend it.
Anyway, that’s the end of the first story. It was a long time ago, but I am getting tears in my coffee. So maybe not all that long.