The Silver Lining of "Let's Just Be Friends"

“I think we can be great friends.”

Over the past twelve months, this is a phrase that I’ve heard about five times. It has come from five different guys that I’ve had five unique situations with. What I’ve found common amongst all of them is my reaction. I didn’t want to be friends at the time.

The paradoxical joy of being gay is that it is very possible to still be friends with someone you had sex with or dealt with in any romantic way. Because you identify as the same gender, there are a lot of hobbies, traits, and ideas that you all can still bond over as friends, just taking out the romantic part.

When I graduated from Hampton, I had a total of about four close male friends and a plethora of female close friends. I tend to get uncomfortable around masculine presenting, cis males, whether gay or straight. It’s always been this way growing up. I even attended an all boys school during grades 9-12, and experienced some of this anxiety. This angst even discouraged me from joining certain organizations during my undergraduate career at Hampton. It mostly stems from being made fun of during my life for having a more feminine presentation and not wanting to do a lot of things that guys my age wanted to do. This bullying and trauma caused me to anticipate tension between males thus not even bothering to strike up a conversation, let alone a friendship. I did a lot of prayer last year upon moving to Atlanta and made it a goal to develop and strengthen platonic relationships with males as I am transitioning into adulthood.

Atlanta, the “black gay mecca.” I thought that I could just find my circle of friends and then my boyfriend. It’s perfect, right? What I thought would be a smooth transition, turned into two years of so many experiences that I one day would love to put into a television series. I made wonderful friends, but my journey into finding a partner became very interesting. Bring in these five men I mentioned above.

With timing not being on our side, things started to just become lost in translation. Either I became too (in typical Aries fashion) impatient with how slowly things were going or I simply became bored. Arguments started to fizzle, distance started to be made. I realized that my attitude was causing all of these men to not even want to see or be around me. It started to feel isolating. I talked through all of this with my therapist. Circling back, are these men the friends that I am looking for and I’m trying to make them lovers instead because they fit my type?

When I was ready to revisit, most of these men were dating or in relationships. I started to become angry. I thought “how can all of these men not want to be with me, yet enter relationships with other men? What is wrong with me?” Feelings of imposter syndrome started to surface. What if it is because I am not good enough? Not pretty enough? Do I not fit the archetypal masculine traits placed on black gay men? What if he’s Or, am I not meek or soft enough to be considered worthy of courtship and an open, healthy relationship? I noticed that instead of a graceful exit, I was collecting all of these sour impressions from people that could ultimately lead to me having a bad reputation and someone people would not like to be around. Let me save you some time: these men will not give you answers. And if they do, it will be orchestrated , prepared, and not the actual reason.

You will create scenarios in your head until you learn how to just let things flow. Sometimes, they do like you, but things just got in the way. The wisdom that I’m learning from all of these odd experiences is that people want their fairytale just like you do. And sometimes you just don’t fit into that. You should not change yourself. You should not feign for anyone’s attention. Sometimes, a friendship is the easiest way for people to keep you in their life while life figures itself out. Sometimes, a friendship is just a not right now. Rejection can burn, especially when it comes from people that you thought you may like. Your test will be how graceful you come out of it.

Justin AlvisComment