An Ask E. Jean Classic
Dear E. Jean:
I'm a 24-year-old grad student with absolutely no relationship experience. Living in a highly conservative (think "Fox News is too liberal” and Robert E. Lee photos on the wall "conservative") family, I've spent my life doing everything possible to hide the fact I'm gay, all the while hoping somehow I was not. I've come to terms with the fact that I am, and that's not going to change, but I still have to hide it.
In fact, just hiding it isn't good enough. At home, I "must be gay” if I'm not actively lusting after and borderline sexually-harassing women. It's exhausting. Coming from a small Alabama town, I've never had the chance to tell anyone.
I've never been on a date, never been kissed. I've never even been hugged romantically, and I'm a very hugg-y kind of person. I finally left home and town a year ago to start grad school, and I've probably met more people in a few months than I had in the previous 23 years of my life. The freedom I have now is amazing.
Sadly, though, my college is relatively small (4000 students), and the LGBT population on campus is not large and not active. The city my school is in is not LGBT-friendly. That is to say that my dating and gay-friend-making prospects are pretty small.
However, I spent this last summer interning at a large state university that’s a three-hour drive from my school. While there, I met this guy I was almost instantly head-over-heels for. I can't possibly begin to describe how sweet, smart and absolutely adorable he is. I'm talking one of those people that you meet and just go, "Wow!” We have a lot of common interests and, although I only had the chance to talk to him a few times, it was amazing to be around him. No one had ever made me feel fluttery before. I really, really liked him.
I have absolutely no "gaydar” though; and I've still never told anyone that I'm gay, so there was no chance that I'd ever even think about saying anything to him, although I really wanted to. Still, there were a couple of times I thought he may have been flirting with me. The first time I met him, for instance, we ended up talking about relationships at one point, and he made a couple of super-vague comments that I interpreted as saying he was gay and was having a hard time with it. He then insinuated that I "had been there.” I brushed it off as hopeful-thinking and ignored it.
I'm back at my school now, and I can't stop thinking about all the things he said and realizing that he was so clearly trying to tell me he was gay and that he liked me. After the initial high of suspecting someone I liked so much — and who's wayyy out of my league — was also possibly into me, I can't help but feel sad and frustrated. Did I screw it up? I would do next to anything to be with him. He was so incredibly sweet, so comfortable and fun to be around. He was one of the few people I've met who was actually interested in listening to the (very) nerdy things I like to talk about. He had the prettiest eyes I've ever seen, and one of those too-good-to-be-true, movie star smiles. I wanted to hold him soooo bad. We don't have any mutual friends. I never had the courage to ask for his number. I can't find him anywhere on social media. I have the number of his roommate, who might have his number, but it feels creepy to ask someone I don't really know for his number, only to text him out of the blue. What would I even say?
It just hurts to know what could have been. :(
I know the odds of me finding anyone else are slim to none. The dating pool at my school and in my town is absolutely tiny. I've tried Grindr, I've tried Tinder, and all the other dating apps out there. They're all garbage. Knowing him, I want him. And it would take a miracle for that to happen. What would you do? Is there anything I can do? — Random Sad Guy
Random, My T-Rex:
I am legally obliged by the Society of Advice Columnists & Grindr Consultants to hand you the following “Declaration":
Thomas Jefferson gave the colonies the Declaration of Independence in 1776; the dashing Marquis de Lafayette gave France “The Rights of Man” in 1789. You can see the Declaration of Independence displayed in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, and you can go to France, I suppose, to see Lafayette’s “The Rights of Man;” but you may view your Declaration any Tuesday and Thursday between 10:30 a.m -11:30 p.m on the top roost in the second nesting box of my chicken coop. Egg salad sandwiches and soft drinks will be provided.
Here is a copy:
The Declaration Of The Rights Of A Gay Man in Love
The Right To Instantly Fall “Head over Heels”
The only reason you are on the planet is to “just go ‘Wow!’”
The Right To Contact the Roommate
This is what roommates are for.
The Right to Say You Are Gay, Bi, Queer, Straight or Trans to Anyone Who Makes You Feel “Fluttery”
Go ahead. It will move things along.
The Right to Sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiide Back and Forth on the Gay-Bi-Straight-Queer-Trans Spectrum
All in the same evening, if you feel like it.
The Right to Say “Yes”
With "No" achieving top-billing these days, we sometimes forget to shout what James Joyce calls "the female word" — YES! — as often as possible.
The Right to Pursue Someone “Wayyy Out of Your League”
Why should rich old white men have all the fun?
The Right to Enjoy as Many Flirtations, Flings, Things, Affairs, Romps, Riots and Romances as You Please
If you think the “odds of finding anyone else are slim to none,“ you’ve never been to San Francisco.
The Right to Text and Ask a Person Out
Here is what you say: “Hi, this is Mr. Random. We met at ----. I’m heading over your way again next week. Want to meet for coffee?”
The Right Not to Wait for E. Jean to Tell You to DO IT.
When you see him, hug him!
Good luck, Random!
And Speaking of Gay Rights
Here’s the great Robbie Kaplan, who won the landmark Supreme Court Decision in Windsor v United States, the case which paved the way for Gay Rights in America
And Robbie happens to be my attorney in Carroll v Trump, and here’s the latest on the case:
England has their Mary Wollstonecraft and her “Vindication of the Rights of Women;” but America has the Conflab
The Conflab is where we hash over the questions sent to Ask E. Jean—and where our boisterous community regularly rescues mankind. Today we’re solving the problem of Mr. Random, who met a chap he likes and is flummoxed about what to do next.
Mr. Random is so careful and circumspect, indeed, he asked me on Sunday not to run his letter because, as he said in an email, “I'm concerned that it contains enough identifying information to put a name on it.”
I removed the details, showed him the new version and he replied: “Looks great! I approve.” So there it is, Conflabbians. Now. How can Mr. Random overcome his romantic trepidations?
Stone-cold facts please.
How do you kill your fears when you see your crush? How do you force yourself to speak? How do you know what to say? Have you ever made the first move? Or do you only make the first move?
And what is the perfect text for Random to send Mr. Prettiest Eyes?
What in Blazing Hell Is this Thing?
Was this email forwarded to you and you are now wondering what the heck it is? “Ask E. Jean” has been solving snafus since 1993. Now the Conflab is pitching in and we’re the top-ranked Health Substack in the United States. Click here.
You can get me on Twitter, or send me your questions by using the Voice Memo on your phone (I may run the recording on Ask E. Jean), or shoot a video question (again—I may put it on Ask E. Jean), or write to me about what’s driving you crazy: your career, your wardrobe, your love affairs, your lusts, your languishing, your politics, your finances… at AskEeeeJean@gmail.com.
P.S. I don’t know a single thing about finances. But I love your pet photos!
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Photo of Ben Whitshaw and Matthew Goode in Brideshead Revisited, the Internet; Photo of Robbie Kaplan and Edie Windsor in front of the Supreme Court, Mark Wilson, Getty Images; photo of Joshua Matz, E. Jean, and Robbie Kaplan walking into Federal Court: Jefferson Siegle for The New York Times.