This is what we often hear from straight people who are struggling to understand how any man could ever not want to know the “softness” of a woman’s body during sex or how any woman would ever have the audacity to not want to enjoy the pleasures of a penis.
But how can you be sure you’re gay when you haven’t tried it with the opposite sex?
It’s a question the gay community is collectively resistant to. A question we roundly shut down because we want there to be left no doubt as to our certainty about how valid we are as gay people.
It’s a question that is rightfully pointed out for how prejudicial it is. A question we feel no one should ever have the right to ask a gay person.
But what happens if gay people are the ones asking this of straight people to satisfy an agenda of their own?
I have a heterosexual friend, Akan, a very good friend of mine. First we started off as him being someone I was very attracted to, before we settled into a friendship that has contributed immensely to my life. And he is quite frankly one of the most un-heterosexual straight men I’ve ever known: all man with none of the toxicity. Incredibly sensitive and patient. And so, when I once posted his picture on social media to commemorate his birthday, and had the thirst gang swarm my inbox, wanting to know details about him and disbelieving me when I said he is straight, I suspected a time would come when Akan would have something to tell me about gay men who just won’t quit from harassing him with their thirst.
That time came soon enough.
We were walking down the street from his gym class, when he suddenly turned to me and said, “Why is it that gay men don’t listen when someone tells them he’s straight?”
And with a grin, I said to him, “Gist me what happened.”
So, someone he’d always known through mutual friends but whom he’d never bothered to get better acquainted with, because of how much of an asshole he considered the guy to be, reached out to him toward the ending of last year. This guy (let’s call him Richie) was making amends with people, and Akan was on his list. Which was quite overboard, seeing as he and Akan were not really close enough for Akan to deserve that kind of consideration.
But there he was, on the line, wanting to make amends. Acknowledging that he knew that he was an asshole, and wanting to be good friends with Akan thenceforth.
Even though Akan thought this was all unnecessary, he agreed. And the two started getting acquainted, often chatting on WhatsApp and all that.
Then – because that’s the way these things usually go – Richie began addressing Akan with endearments. “How are you doing, dear?” “Good morning, hon.” You know how it is – when you’re feeling out which way the guy you like swings, you start dear-ing him, hoping he’ll catch your drift, dear you right back and confirm all your homosexual dreams come true.
Akan found this development puzzling but wasn’t offended by it. He however kept his responses very platonic still.
So then, Richie (of course) dialed things up a notch, when he began suggesting for them to meet. Hang out. Except he always insinuated that the meet be private. Just the two of them. Intimate. And so, even though Akan had agreed to a hang out, when he suggested going to see a movie, Richie rejected it because a movie date was apparently not intimate enough.
At this point, according to Akan, he’d started to get the sneaking suspicion that Richie was into him in the ways he didn’t want him to be. But he didn’t confront him with his suspicion because he didn’t think Richie had crossed any line.
Then a female friend of Akan wanted the two of them to go swimming. Akan didn’t know any places that had good swimming spots, so he buzzed Richie to find out if he had any idea. Predictably, Richie interpreted Akan’s query to mean his suggestion of what kind of date he wanted the two of them to have. And he was over the moon, promptly reeling out names of places they could go and all the services these places offer aside from swimming, for instance, how they could go to a steam room and sit in naked.
I suppose this was when Akan decided he had crossed a line and broached the subject he’d had on his mind about Richie.
“Excuse me, I’d like to ask you something,” he began carefully, ever conscious of how sensitive the issue of same-sex attractions was, “and I just want you to know that if this turns out to be what I’m thinking, then I won’t judge. I don’t think it’s bad. I don’t think it’s a crime. I just want clarification because of the way you’re relating to me. So, are you gay?”
Richie admitted that he was gay. After which Akan told him that he was straight.
Now, this is where things took a turn that nauseated me as I listened to Akan’s narration. In the following days after this exchange of information happened, Akan found himself persistently reiterating that he was straight to a Richie who didn’t seem to be hearing him. In fact, now that he was out to Akan, Richie abandoned all the stealth he’d been employing before and began coming on very strong to Akan. Flat out propositioning him. Talking about how he would “take care” of Akan. How he didn’t mind being Akan’s first gay sex. Yada, yada, yada. From WhatsApp chats to phone calls, Richie had tossed aside all sense of propriety and his thirst was out in these streets, swinging.
And Akan, as decent as he was, didn’t know how to shut down his advances without coming off as a jackass – something he didn’t want to be.
“I know that as a gay man, it’s in his nature to be attracted to guys,” he was saying to me, “but I didn’t know how to get it through to this guy – short of blocking him – that I’m not one of those guys who’d ever be interested in him like that. And the fact that he was choosing to ignore what I was saying to him proved that he is still the asshole I didn’t want to befriend last year.”
Then he recounted how he told this story to a bisexual girlfriend of his, and even though she empathized with him, she eventually said something that irked him.
“You keep saying you’re straight, that you’re not interested in getting with a guy,” she’d said. “But really, how can you be so sure you’re straight if you’ve never tried it with a guy before?”
Even though this is not something I haven’t heard before, even though I can understand why a bisexual person would say this (according to Akan, his friend discovered her attraction to girls years after being into boys), I was still struck by the hypocrisy loaded in those words when coming from a queer person.
A friend of mine, gay himself, often says that whenever he comes in a possibly sexual contact with a presumably straight guy who has internal conflicts, he would rather hold back and let the other person make the decision to get to the destination of wanting to get sexual with him himself, instead of seducing him to that point. (That way, he wouldn’t find himself on the receiving end of someone’s accusation about how he made him do it.)
Sexuality may be fluid, but it should be up to an individual to wade their way to whatever point of the spectrum they are most comfortable with. No one should guide (read coerce) them there.
This is why I do not subscribe to the concept of “conversion” that some gay men like to pride themselves with, something that is as ridiculous as it is juvenile. The idea that anyone can “convert” a straight man becomes even more starkly nonsensical when you juxtapose it with the faith some straight people have in gay conversion therapy.
No one can convert someone else’s sexual orientation. A straight person who has sex with you doesn’t do that because you converted them, but because they recognised a situation where they could give you what you want in exchange for something they want (which has nothing to do with their sexual orientation), or they simply aren’t that straight (at best, a latent bisexual or a late-blooming homosexual, and at worst, a self-denying “straight” person). Thinking that one has have the power to convert a straight person into having same-sex attractions would make them a hypocrite for not believing that gay people are susceptible to that kind of change – as I’m sure that most gay men who believe in converting straight men would recoil from the idea that any woman could turn them straight.
I often tell people to apply their convictions of themselves to circumstances involving other people. As a person who has been emotionally involved with a woman and then came close to having sex with a woman, something that filled me with no small revulsion, I can say with absolute conviction that I am a homosexual. That I have absolutely no interest in being with a woman.
If I can believe this about myself, as do most of us in our community, why can’t we believe the same for that straight guy who says he has no interest in being with a man? Why do we second-guess his own decisions with thoughts about how he can be sure of that if he hasn’t tried being with a man? Why should anyone try something before they can be certain they don’t want it?
Written by Pink Panther