“Love for me is that feeling where you could literally be standing in the middle of a thunderstorm holding a metal rod and you know you’re going to be okay.”
Relationship Status: Dating his boyfriend for the past eight years
When did you know you loved your boyfriend?
Just a few months in, if that. It wasn’t a big moment or anything. We were at home, we were having a stupid conversation about whatever, and he said something and in that moment something in my mind flipped over to “This is it.”
So then for you, what is love?
Love for me is that feeling where you could literally be standing in the middle of a thunderstorm holding a metal rod and you know you’re going to be okay. It’s the thing that always pull you out of your lows, and if it can’t pull you out it will be respectful enough to suffer through them with you to keep you afloat. I used to think that it was a star hitting me, like it was always something so bright and so weirdly unattainable even though you could see it everywhere around you. And now I feel like it’s more tangible. Since being as close to my boyfriend as I’ve become I’ve learned to realize that special isn’t the thing you wait for. It’s a thing that kind of just creeps into regular moments.
Did you ever have a couple or a source of love that you looked up to, while growing up?
I did not have a single queer-centric relationship in the media, or otherwise, that I could look up to as a source of like relationship goals.When I was growing up I think the closest thing I could point to was the episode of Buffy where Willow kissed Tara. But overall, I didn’t have a thing that I could look at and say that’s the kind of kind love I want.
The closest thing, and it’s definitely like putting a heterosexual lens on the concept of romance, is the relationship between Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask. Watching that unfold on TV you’re like, “Oh my god those two are young and barely know each other, but they know that they’re meant for each other” and the sentiment of that was very beautiful. And I wish that I’d had something queer centric like that on TV.
That’s why I’m an independent author of gay romance. I write what I write because I come from a perspective where I appreciate the powerful coming out story and sharing the queer experience, but I feel like we need a lot more out in the media.
Do you think it’s harder for a lot of other people who are LGBTQ to figure out relationships and what love means to them?
Yeah. This isn’t a direct quote from me, and I wish I could remember the Twitter user from whom I saw, but I remember reading a tweet once upon a time that summed it up pretty nicely. They said that as a queer person growing up, whether you’re in a supportive environment or not, your teen years are not yours to live. You don’t really get to know yourself terribly well without a system of support or without things to point to and identify with. And I think that’s why a lot of people in the queer community are late bloomers. My teen years were not my own. When you’re gay and you’re growing up and you don’t know how to tell someone it’s like there’s a vice grip on your neck at all hours of the day. So I just didn’t date until I was 18.
I think that’s why a lot of people in the LGBTQ community come off as a little messy sometimes because we are figuring ourselves out a few years later than everyone else. I think that is definitely a contributor to why things are a little bit different for people on the spectrum who are dating and trying to define what romance might mean to them.
Have you ever faced any adversity being out where you live?
I’ve been so adamantly vocal about just expressing myself the way I want to express myself. If ever my boyfriend and I are faced with a person who will do a double take of us holding hands, I very much have always responded by just rooting myself to the spot and staring until they stop staring.
But [our love and relationship] is not something I think that can be invalidated by a negative response from someone who doesn’t get it. I do genuinely believe that people who don’t appreciate non-heteronormative relationships are a smaller number. My relationship is nothing to be ashamed of. And I do hope that we could all get to a point one day where anything that isn’t a heteronormative relationship isn’t viewed with such a weird fascination.
Do you think love, in general, is something you constantly have to work at?
I used to be the kind of person who thought that like if you fight with someone it wasn’t worth spending your time on them because it meant that it was fragile and would fall apart. And now I understand that is wildly unrealistic and you will never find love like that.
You definitely have to put in the time because I think relationships, like any social interaction, really is always going to be like a two way street of communication. It’s not even that lack of love is a thing you have to work on every day, it’s just communicating. Communication is at the root of it all.
And do you always associate love in that romantic way?
I definitely believe there are other forms of love. I can very comfortably say that I love all of my friends. I’ve been blessed enough to have a lot of people in my life who can reciprocate that kind of like platonic love. And so when I say I love you to my friends they know it’s not weird. And I think with friendship it’s a little bit different because it is harder to suffer heartbreak. It’s easier to find a new romantic partner than it is to fill the void of friendship.
What about self-love?
If you have a hard time loving yourself, there are parts of yourself you’re not going to able to communicate effectively to someone else. If I weren’t able to tackle any of the issues about my stretch marks or body hair or my flip flopping weight, if I weren’t able to have those conversations openly with myself I think that I would probably not be able to give someone else the time or energy to put into a relationship because I think I’d be struggling with myself constantly.
So love your damn self. You have to. You absolutely have to, but if you don’t that’s also okay. Because there are circumstances in people’s lives that will just straight up not allow them to completely love themselves. But if you don’t love yourself you’re not any less valid as someone who is completely self actualized.
So overall, love is… ? Fill in the blank with a word or two.
I would almost want to stop it full stop: love is. Love is blank: it’s whatever you want to fill in that gap, it’s whatever you want it to be, in whatever form you want it to be. The way that I express my romantic feelings to my partner isn’t the same way that you would express them to yours. I think it’s kind of like a cop out response because it definitely is a cop out response, but it’s true.