Out of the Closet
When I was younger,
I genuinely liked girls and girls liked me back. I was a bonafide
pre-school heartthrob, in fact. No, I really was. I don't know
why. Did metal braces or droopy expressions that faded in and
out turn on little girls? Who knows? I
was chest-high in pre-school girl ass and I loved it.
I did become a full-fledged
homosexual later on, but I don't feel as if it was all for naught.
I was able to feel validated. I realized that even with my mild
cerebral palsy, I could still
get the girl. I was the prettiest girl's best friend. We played
on the playground together, shared dolls, baked faux cakes and discussed
our mutual crushes on other boys. At the time, I thought it was
completely normal to have crushes on other boys. Whatever! As time
went on, I realized that Little Billy wasn't checking out my ass
nearly as much as I was checking out his. What devastation. After
that realization, my homosexuality took a little hiatus and I didn't
ever really think about boys again until puberty.
When I was fourteen years
old, I discovered that I was gay for real. I was in the shower and
had just completed a rousing masturbatory session with my main man,
Now that wasn't unusual. I had been masturbating to Ryan for quite
some time. What differentiated this time from the others was the
fact that I was masturbating to Ryan and only Ryan. Previously I'd
jerked off to a guy and a girl, with clear emphasis on the guy.
However, on that fateful day in the shower, I finally decided that
if you are lying to yourself in your own fucking fantasies then
you clearly need help. So I did it.
I masturbated woman-free.
No forced fantasy that included images of vaginas and breasts. Dear
God no. I masturbated to all man. However, once the orgasm wore
off, I had an "Oh fuck!" moment. The kind of "Oh fuck!" moment you
get when you wake up and find yourself naked in some strange apartment
next to that waiter from the deli down the street. The kind of "Oh
fuck!" you get when it dawns on you that flared jeans do indeed
make you look fat and you've you been wearing them for months (get
It was a definite "What
have I done?" crisis for me. Since I had not masturbated to a woman,
I must, in fact, be gay. And it wasn't just that I was gay; I was
gay and disabled. I'd already had trouble getting girls when I was
straight. My heartthrob days were long gone and I'd found that you
had to be either a jock or a misunderstood artist to get a girl's
attentionI missed the days when shopping trips and gossip
did the trick. I was still dyeing my hair orange and wearing mismatched
Puma shoes, praying that I would get an erection off a picture of
When I realized that
I was gay, a sense of panic came over that had me running for my
Xanax. I didn't know anyone that was gay except my uncle and maybe
that guy that sometimes dressed like a girl at school. I didn't
really know anyone that was gay, let alone gay and disabled. So
much for my dreams of being a "normal" cripple living in suburbia
with my understanding wife and two kids. I never really wanted that,
but now I couldn't get it even if I did want it. This was not good
How did being gay and
having a limp become okay? One word: Michelangelo. No, not the world-renowned
painter. Are you kidding? Thanks to CP, my fine motor skills are
shot. I can barely hold a paintbrush without accidentally scribbling
all over the page (thank God art is open to interpretation). No,
Michelangelo was a boy. A very cute boy, in fact. I met him at school
during my junior year. At that point, my hair was five million different
colors, I still wore mismatched Puma shoes and was a proud patron
of the unfashionable-as-fuck Urban Outfitters. It was a bumpy road
to fabulousness. Being in the closet, I found other outlets to display
my gayness, putting ugly colors in my hair and living by the fashion
mantra "Bright is right!"
I met Michelangelo at
my breaking point. I was sick of being in the closet. Deleting Internet
history that showed gay porn was tiresome. Watching "Queer
as Folk" for the acting was becoming less and less plausible.
I knew from the minute I saw him in his cute little Smiths
shirt that he was going to be the one to push me out of the closet.
And he did. Within two weeks of starting our friendship, all I could
talk about was "Michelangelo, Michelangelo, Michelangelo".
My friends were starting
to get suspicious. I was still hesitant to come out of the closet.
I wasn't sure if Michelangelo was gay and I didn't want to come
out for a boy that could never like me. Thanks to my excellent gaydar,
however, I went ahead and came out anyway, on my last day of junior
year. Over the next two weeks, I told everyone I knew. Everyone
except Michelangelo. I still wasn't sure that he was gay, and even
if he was, would he be interested in me? I finally got enough balls
and came out to him. Then he came out to me. We were boyfriend/boyfriend.
It was as simple as that. What followed was my Summer of Love, complete
with lost virginity, alcohol, Morrissey
and, most importantly, companionship. We talked about my disability
very rarely. Michel never made me feel different. He made it seem
that it never mattered to him. I'm sure that it played a role, but
to this day we've never really talked about it. Other than a fat
bitch at school asking Michel why he was with me if I had CP and
one drunken night of me telling him everything about my disability,
CP was never the third party in our relationship.
But don't think that
CP hasn't fucked me up in terms of relationships. I learned that
when Michel and I broke up. Without someone, I felt unwanted and
my disability became more apparent to me than ever.
"That guy didn't cruise
me because I have a limp."
"He'll never like me
because I have a limp"
around inside my head. I was like a deer in the headlights, too
wounded to do anything. Or maybe I shouldn't be using the past-tense,
since this is all semi-recent. I am just now beginning to build
up the courage to pursue relationships, to feel as if I'm worth
pursuing relationships. My self-esteem, in some aspects, is permanently
affected by CP, something I realized only after coming out of a
Being nineteen, I'm so
young and I have so much more to learn about myself and this disability.
I thought I was undeterred by my physical ailment and in some ways,
I am. But as far as intimacy and relationships go, I am held in
its grasp more than I'd like to admit.
It's hard enough to figure
out boys and how they work and which type will best work for me.
Trying to figure it all out with CP can be a daunting task. But
I will prevail; I will find the right one. The perfect one. Boys
who share their names with famous painters need not apply. And until
then, I'll continue limping my way toward romance and companionship
because it's the only way I know how.
© 2006 Ryan O'Connell
O'Connell is a nineteen year-old sophomore at San Francisco State.
He's a swingset enthusiast, a pretentious music snob and has an
undying love for all things Marc Jacobs. He has interned at the
television show, "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," and hopes to
sell his soul to Hollywood and write for television. Cheers!