Matt and I were looking back over some of the comments you guys left on the post before this one and it got us to thinking some about how young gay guys get comfortable with their new identity as "gay" when they decide to come out. And also how they figure out if "dating" another guy is similar to a guy dating a girl.
If you haven't read about our next door neighbor, Jake, you might want to scroll down to get some background. Also, check out the comments people left to see why we started thinking about all this.
We talked to Jake last night and he told us Brady invited him to go riding horses this weekend. Brady's grandfather lives a little ways outside Boston and has some horses that Brady helps take care of and ride.
Jake came over to talk to us about this bit of news and said he told Brady he'd love to. He asked us if this might be considered their "first date." Can you tell Jake is all excited and also a bit nervous?
Jake's never been on a date before, either with a girl or another guy, so this whole thing is completely new to him. Neither Matt nor I have ever dated girls but we feel pretty sure there are some things very much in common. You know, that initial excitement (on the one hand) and nervousness (on the other) when you ask another person out on a date for the first time in your life.
Oh, and also that same excitement and nervousness when you've been asked out for the very first date in your life. I'm pretty sure all of this excitement and nervousness is similar whether you're gay, straight, bi, or trans.
So we told Jake that in our very extensive and wise life experience, he was most definitely asked out on a date by Brady. It was beyond cute and adorable when he sorta relaxed, let out a sigh, got just a small hint of a smile, and simply said in a quiet, shy voice, "Cool."
Well, Jake told us he's never been on a horse before and is all nervous he's going to look like a dork. He said he was doing some research on it and found some vids on YouTube that show you how to get on the horse's back and how to hold the reins and how to "steer" it! Oh man, it was so cute to listen to him talk about it. We held in a grin when he talked about "steering" the horse! Such a city boy!
But we also got to thinking later about what some of you were talking about in the comments in the last post. That whole thing about being there for someone who just came out and is new to this identity. About being a "Big Brother" (or "mentor") to someone and helping them feel more comfortable to ask questions they might have about dating another guy, or other stuff that might be on their mind.
When Matt and I were Jake's age (he's in high school), there were always many opportunities to get a sense of how to connect and relate to girls. You got to actually see it happen all around you every day. And I don't know about girls, but guys love talking about their love interests. Some of it is silly and some of it is a little more serious, so we got a pretty good idea about how straight guys thought about dating, love, sex, friendship, etc., with girls.
In addition to all that, all you have to do is turn on TV and see it being played out there also. Oh, and you were always being asked by different family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) if you had a girlfriend. You could tell it was something they really wanted to hear about, so there was lots of encouragement and support for that.
But... where, and how, do young gay guys like Jake learn about dating another guy? It's not something you see happening in school and it's not something you see other teen guys doing on TV. It may sound silly, but if you're a guy, where do you learn how to flirt with another guy? Do you approach a guy differently from how you might approach a girl you're interested in?
If you were the parent or friend of a gay high school teen and he asked you these questions, how would you answer him?
And how do you go about accepting and loving yourself so you don't have to pretend you're something you're not? And how do you deal with people's hatred and disgust of you? Who do you talk to about all this where you won't be judged or made fun of or told you're sick for having these feelings? Where you'll get the support and encouragement you need to feel good about yourself?
I don't think hearing Jake talk about watching a YouTube vid about how to get on a horse or how to steer the animal is anything to laugh at, even though it was more humorous in a cute way. And I don't think doing something like that is different for straight guys or straight girls. That's just about being nervous you might look like a dork in front of the very first person you've ever dated.
So we'll be there for Jake as he gets ready for his very first date, and we'll be there for him after the date. I guess it's really all about finding ways to care about each other. And be there for each other. And support each other.
If Jake was at least 18, we would probably see if he wanted to write a post for us on how to "steer" a horse in case other young gay guys out there get invited to go horse-riding as their very first date ever. I'm sure there would be a lot of important stuff in it, as well as being a lot of fun to read.