It didn’t matter if it didn’t fit my identity. It didn’t matter if it didn’t fit my sexuality. It just mattered if it brought me love.
I’ve always prided myself on being open. I’ll try any new therapy or modality or New Age idea—and, believe me, I’ve tried them all. I’ve done the self-work. I’ve “found myself.” I’ve even practiced my affirmations. I knew who I was, without a doubt.
That’s why I found myself in unfamiliar territory when I—the open guy, the “figured out” guy, the unquestionably straight guy—realized that I was in love with my best friend, a man. A man I had known for seven years. A man I had never before even thought of in a romantic way. But, there I was, in love.
Only it didn’t start out as love. See, two summers ago, I came down with a mysterious illness. Not the common cold kind. Not even the achy back kind. This was the kind where you vomit massive amounts of blood throughout the day. The kind where doctors pass you from specialist to specialist. The kind where you’re bent over in pain with tears in your eyes.
And my roommate, Garrett, one of my best friends at the time, took pity on me. He took care of me. He picked up my prescriptions from the pharmacy. He cooked me dinner. He stayed in on Friday nights to watch movies. He’d even rub my back when I was in pain.
Each day, I waited anxiously until he came home from work. My face lit up when he surprised me with my favorite dinner. I replayed conversations we had when I was alone. I missed him when he was gone.
Two months into this routine, I had a thought—a tiny, little thought—that I loved him. It seemed preposterous. It seemed laughable. I shooed it away immediately. But that thought started creeping into my mind whenever he was away. That thought sneaked in whenever he did something nice or made me laugh.
And it all came down to this moment—one moment when he was cooking me dinner, and he looked over and smiled at me. I knew this was it. This was the moment where I had to decide if I could allow myself to love a man against everything I had previously known about myself. This was the moment when I had to decide if I was going to take a step forward into this crazy idea of telling my best friend that I loved him.
The question you’ve been asking of Mike and his partner: How a Straight Man in a Gay Relationship Made It Work
What Mike learned after he shared his story: What Love Is & What Love Isn’t
Previously published on MindBodyGreen.com.
Photo: Giulio Zannol/Flickr