If We Met in a Former Life, Maybe He Was Straight Then

NEW YORK TIMES, Sunday, March 25, 2007

Modern Love

If We Met in a Former Life, Maybe He Was Straight Then

By ANNA DAVID

“He’s gay, you know,” Bonnie said.

We were sitting on stools at a bar on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, surrounded by Amstel Light bottles and cigarette smoke.

“Really?” I gasped.

“Really. And not just gay. Very gay.”

From across the bar, Brian caught my eye again and we gazed at each other lustfully. Bonnie had introduced us only moments before, and I was struck by the “love at first sight” lightning bolt.

Of course, I had felt such lightning bolts before. At 25, I couldn’t yet fathom relationships built on trust and mutual compromise; I saw only fables and romantic comedies. Love, I was convinced, happened in a lust-filled instant, and there was no mistaking it for anything else.

“I’ll be right back,” I said to Bonnie and made my way to Brian’s side.

“Oh, my God, Bonnie just told me,” I blurted to him, knowing I didn’t need to finish the sentence. I felt confident that the lightning bolt hadn’t only struck me; from the moment Bonnie had introduced us, Brian and I hardly had taken our eyes off each other. The news about his sexual orientation felt worse than disappointing; it actually seemed intrusive, like it was infringing on the course nature wanted us to take. “Is it true?”

“It is,” he said. “I mean, I always have been. But maybe — I don’t know.”

That opening, combined with the sight of his sparkling hazel eyes and perfect cheekbones, was enough for me. “I’m buying us shots,” I announced, certain that my bar order was the only thing we needed to reach the next step.

Though Brian was, in fact, “out,” he fit my profile of what I imagined a sartorially straight man might look like: he was dressed in a button-down shirt, gray slacks and basic black non-designer shoes, with no product in his hair.

And there was the matter of the eye contact we kept havingnot to mention that he seemed far more interested in cornering me for one-on-one conversations than other gay men I had met, who would start off talking to me alone but then trot me over to their friends as if I were a show-and-tell item, usually urging me to be “fierce” and funny.

By the end of the night, I was pretty sure this was love, and when I reconnected with Bonnie, she gave me all the confirmation I needed. “I can’t believe it,” she said, shaking her head, “but Brian is into you, too. This is just too bizarre.”

With that, I went up to Brian to say goodbye, and he asked me out for the next night. I nodded, giddy, and we kissed goodbye — on the lips, in the bar, with seemingly no worries over who might see. What kind of a gay guy does that?

I figured the conversion process was more than halfway through.

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