Amherst College is the biggest tease. I have never seen such a collection of beautiful men in one place all at the same time. However, as a gay or bisexual man all you can do is look because 97% of the male population identifies as “straight.” And there’s not much to choose from in the 3% that are actually out since we’re all friends, so you turn to the UMass gays. That gets really old and really stupid really fast and all of a sudden you download Grindr and Tinder to try and meet some decent guys. Sadly, all you find are the very same guys you see at every flipping gay thing you go to until you get a message from a guy you’ve never seen before, a guy who’s not open or out about their sexuality, someone who’s closeted.
After getting matched and messaging with whoever this closeted UMass guys is you just don’t know what to feel. He’s sweet, he has a wonderful smile and he’s really attractive. You have great conversations with him and he makes you laugh, but the only time he actually wants to see you is after 2 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night after he’s been drinking with his friends. But you want to see him because you think he’s amazing and really freaking cute. However, the next day you see this guy at Starbucks and he pretends like he’s never even seen you in his entire life; and the awkward thing is your mutual friend introduces you to the guy you’ve been talking to for a month and he says, “Hi, I’m [insert name here]” and not “lawls, we already know each other.”
Then this cycle continues and each time you think, “this one is going to be different,” but it never actually changes. You end up talking to guys who are ashamed to be seen with you because they haven’t fully developed their feelings and emotions towards their own sexuality. Then you just end up feeling awful about everything, literally, because you ask yourself: “what does this imply about me?” “What does playing this closet game as an open gay man say about my morals towards my sexuality and myself as a person?” This experience inflicts a deep wound, and you say you’re never going to see any more closeted guys again until something very interesting happens.
Until you notice that Amherst guy you’ve been practically in love with for a very long time actually looks back at you in a very interesting way one day; or when you get matched on Tinder with one of the Amherst guys you’ve had crush on since your sophomore year. Your first reaction is, “Holy shit! And then you’re like nah, stuff like this doesn’t happen at Amherst; there’s no way that he’s gay or even bi, nor would he openly admit it.”
Then all of a sudden you and this guy start to get closer but you can’t seem to read him, but he’s leaving you little hints here and there. Your mind and heart go like a billion miles per hour just feeling and thinking about how you’re going to get hurt, and if anything happens it’s only going to end badly; but every time you see him your heart beats so hard it feels like it’s going to fall right out of your butt. You want so desperately to be with him but you just can’t help but think that when something happens he’s just going to ignore you and the fact that anything happened. Then this implies that there is something inherently wrong with who you are, because he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s been with another man since that is not the “norm;” therefore, it implies who you are is wrong and not normal.
There’s nothing at all wrong with being a person who is not out and still in the closet. In no way is someone a bad person for being in the closet. Every queer person’s closet takes a different form and shape depending on who they are and what their sexuality actually means to them, simply because everyone is different. Hopefully, one day, people in the closet will come out when they’re ready to embrace everything they have to offer. In my experience, being trapped in a closet wasn’t the healthiest thing in the world. When I go out at parties I can see the pain and fear in the faces and eyes of those who are still in the closet; it’s so easy to recognize because I’ve seen that same face and those same eyes in myself when I looked in the mirror when I wasn’t out. But when I busted that door down I had never felt so light and happy in my entire life, because it seemed like thousands of pounds were just taken off my shoulders. Having any type of physical and emotional relationship with someone who still is in the closet seems to complicate things both internally and externally for someone who is open and comfortable with theirs. We must remember, though, that the person who is still closeted is hurting in very different ways. For someone to share his true sexuality and self with you is very special, and to help someone come out is a very special gift that you should treasure. Amherst College is a great and accepting place for people who are queer, but it doesn’t exactly foster the type of atmosphere that allows for people to come out.