….. or am I wrong here? Hey EC Community, I’m Sketch and I’m new ---erm--well returning after 10,000 years A bit of ‘drama’ recently happened to me which ultimately caused a few good friendships to fracture. Looking back on it, there some things I wished I handled differently, but ultimately it is what it is. I have since distanced myself from some of these people which is hard cause this issue involved 3 out of a group of 10+ friends. I was on the fence about posting this; I didn’t want to mentally through the events again. I didn’t want to think about how I lost these people over something in my opinion, isn’t a huge issue, or maybe it is, I don’t know. I’ve talked with people IRL who aren’t involved and I’ve gotten their perspectives on the matter, which may or may not be swayed in my favor just cause they know me. Yet I still felt it necessary to post this here for different unbiased opinions on the situation and also I hope by writing it out in full I could gather my thoughts and see the situation objectively and critique my actions. Regardless, I wanna get over it and move on. I’m hoping by writing it out, I could finally do that. So gather ‘round the campfire ya’ll IT’S STORYTIME! *names used here aren’t the actual names of the people involved* The Backstory I met Nora at a bookstore we worked in a few years back, we hit it off instantly and became pretty good friends. I still think she’s one of the dopest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of crossing paths with. She’s involved in performance art, specifically spoken word poetry, as well as social activism; and through our friendship, she exposed me to a lot of new creative, talented people that I would have never encountered before. She was one of the first few people I came out to and accepted me during a time I had difficulty accepting myself. Nora and I were pretty close back then, and even still in the next few years after we left the job; but as of late we began to drift apart slowly due to different work schedules, yet we still managed to meet up and hang whenever we could. I’d say Nora was a pretty charismatic person, whether she’d agree with that or not. She in my opinion has no trouble making new friends.Because of her interests, she met a lot of social activist / poet spoken word artists too, who in turn became mutual friends of mine; Eva, Iris and Cory, became really close with her. Nora, Eva & Iris formed a poetry collective focused on social activism, while Nora & Cory worked together on a two-man performance piece. So Mid November of last year, Nora invited me to an event Cory was hosting at their place. After Nora and I had left we sat in a nearby restaurant where she told me that Cory asked her about me, and whether or not I was gay. She told them yes, to which they responded “good to know..” They confided in her not to tell me that they liked me, but she me told anyhow. I smiled, nodded, didn’t think too much of it, and just moved on, I knew then that I wasn’t really into them like that. Within the week, Cory friended me on Facebook. They then started to message me randomly, making small talk here and there. I’d respond, took it for the friendly conversation that it was, didn’t think too deeply into it, and then……….nothing. A few months later around February of this year, Nora & Cory had another performance that I went to. After the show, I spoke with both of them about plans for videos and animations I could make to help promote their show; they were exited. Later that week, Cory started to hit me up again on messenger, small talk here and there. When I brought up ideas about promo vids for youtube/facebook etc., they’d make a small comment and then steer the conversation back to more small talk. I knew they had a crush, but at this point it’s been at least 4 months of not really seeing each other as they were a mutual friend who didn’t friend me until very recently. Regardless, I had a general interest in making new friends, they’re a genderqueer femme, I thought they were a talented performer as well as an intelligent person, and just generally saw them as a pretty cool person so yeah, I wanted to befriend them. I didn’t want to assume that they still had a crush on me ( which seems silly in hindsight) , and I didn’t want to reveal to them that Nora told me about it 4 months ago. There was also a part of me that couldn’t believe that someone actually had an interest in me, much less would hold onto it for so long. Two weeks later, Cory hits me up and asks me if I’m free anytime soon; I happened to be off of work that coming wednesday. I wanted to say no, make up an excuse, lie; but I decided that hanging out with a friend would beat another day off spent flicking through Netflix. So I agreed and we made plans to meet up for lunch at a diner which was a usual spot Nora and I would go to stuff our faces and talk shit. At this point, I was still in denial of this being a date, figuring we were gonna talk business, or actually get to know each other. The Lunch Date. So any delusions I had about it not being a date and just a hangout between two potential friends quickly evaporated once Cory and I started talking. They often gazed a lot, laughed at every single joke I told (even the dumb ones), listened intently to my bitching about boring work days, grabbed my arm when we walked e.t.c Was I put off by it, a bit, because I was surprised they still had feelings; again I didn’t want to make any bold assumptions as this was the first time we even really interacted or talked. Flirting aside, I had a great time out with them that day, we basically stuffed our faces, laughed extremely loud, walked around the city arm in arm and enjoyed each other’s company; I didn’t feel the same kind of attraction they felt. Should I have made it clear that I wasn’t into them like that from the jump, …yeah; But honestly I was afraid. No one likes being rejected, let alone having to reject someone else; also I knew that my rejecting them could potentially send ripples through the little friend network I’d spent the last 4 years building, which (Spoiler Alert) is exactly what happened. When we said our goodbyes, they asked when they could see me again, I made a doggy excuse about being a bit busy and that I’d hit them up in the future. As I left I ended up texting Nora about the “date”, I told her that I wasn’t into them like that. She wanted to know why I wasn’t attracted to them. I told her its cause they weren’t my type that I was into guys with a more masculine gender expression. She suggested that I be upfront with them and tell them the truth; which is what I knew needed to happen all along , but was avoiding it, hoping falsely that the crush would fizzle out on its own; and it didn’t. This was a conversation that needed to happen face to face, and I already missed my chance to have it. I didn’t want to invite them out again just to reject them, but this needed to happen asap and shouldn’t be dragged out any further so I ended up calling them a few hours later that day …..which didn’t go to well. To make a long story short, I told them I wasn’t into them in that way, that I thought we were better off as friends. They were disappointed, upset but said yeah sure whatever, and then they hung up. Less than 10 minutes after that, they texted me asking for clarification as to where my mind was and why I wasn’t attracted to them, citing that we had such a great time together, which we did. I knew that I had to be honest regardless of if it was ugly or not, so basically I told a genderqueer femme that I wasn’t attracted to them due to their genderqueerness, and felt horrible all the way through. I said that I was attracted to a more masculine aesthetic, and that I wouldn’t be the right person for them. I said they deserved to be with someone who is attracted to them wholly, not just half of them or only on certain days. I apologized for telling them this via text as opposed to face to face. ----10 minutes later— So, If I wore a jacket, jeans , t-shirt and Tims today, would you be attracted to me? Or like should we have just met in bed where I wasn’t wearing anything? Cause if you say you want to be my friend these are some questions I need answered. I didn’t respond to that text for one of two reasons. One being, I knew I hurt them by saying that, and I knew they responded from mostly a place of hurt because what they told me was the point I was trying to make; the fact that they shouldn’t have to change aspects of who they are just to attract the certain kind of guy their after. In the beginning, I felt really bad, I was upset with myself for hurting them like that and I questioned everything about how I view my sexuality; but as I thought about the situation, it annoyed me. It made me mad because it made me feel like I didn’t belong to myself, like I had no choice in who I want to be with. They liked me and I was just supposed to go along with it, for sake of preserving my ‘Friend circle’. I resented that they in a way were dictating to me what my ‘gay’ should be like and who that should or shouldn’t include in terms of what characteristics I’m attracted to in another person. ‘ I’m gay and you’re gay therefore the only thing you should be concerned with is if I have a penis or not.’ I also resented the fact that they were basically upset with me for being attracted to the same type of guy that they were. During our lunch hang out, they expressed how much they were into dark-skinned black men while intensely staring at me, guess what? Me too. Maybe this is a problematic thing to say, perhaps my whole stance on this is problematic. Maybe I didn’t need to tell the truth, maybe I should have lied, but I didn’t want to. And yet I think if I did, if I made something up and said “Oh…well, I’m not looking for a relationship right now” or “I have a boyfriend”, that they would always quietly judge me on that and say in the back of their minds, “it’s because of my gender expression”. I did think and examine aspects of myself. The situation made me wonder about how closely gender expression is intertwined with sexual attraction at least when it comes to myself. The SHADE. Three months later in mid June; Nora, Eva & Iris were having an open mic show at a bar which Nora invited me to. From the moment I arrived, the ‘friends’ who used to be excited to see me, used to greet me with warm hugs and smiles, couldn’t give two shits about my presence, save for weak fake smiles and eye rolls. Iris already unfriended me on FB, which I honestly don’t care and Eva was pretty shady that night, making slick references about me ‘hurting others.’ When Cory walked in, they pretended I wasn’t there in the room, hugging and greeting the people around me, but seeming more stoic than usual. So at the event I, hung around other mutual friends who weren’t involved with this and I had as good of a time as I could. In hindsight, I should have called them out then….. I wanted to. I wanted to make a scene, yell and curse ’em out, yet in the moment I felt that the problem was between me and Cory, arguing with thing 1 and thing 2 would have done no good, and I didn’t think it was any of their business. Even Nora, who immediately after ‘The date’ went down told me that her and I would still be cool, seemed pretty distant that night on; This is the most distant as ‘friends’ we’ve ever been. The following week, Nora and her boyfriend threw a housewarming party for their new apartment. They invited me, but I was on the fence about going cause I didn’t want to be somewhere where I felt I wasn’t wanted. I eventually decided to go figuring that they’d be enough of people at this party as well as a good amount of mutual friends not involved in the drama. I also figured that if a confrontation was to happen, this would be the better place to hash shit out. I showed up a bit later in the evening and was left waiting outside for a good 10-15 minutes before Nora showed to let me in. Nora & I rode up in the elevator there making small talk, but there was a bit of awkward energy between us. When I got inside, Cory, Iris & Eva were on one side of the house and ignored me when I came in, and I wasn’t pressed to be in their faces. I stuck on one side of the house for most of the night hanging with folks I haven’t seen in forever while Nora, Cory, Iris & Eva stuck to the opposite. I hung out with everyone else there. Close to midnight and Cory quietly slips out of the party. After they left, Eva suddenly starts acting brand new like we’re best friends again. I brush it off my shoulder. Around 1 am, Eva & Iris are heading to leave, Iris also acting brand new, pretends to have never seen me enter the party, and says “Hey --! I didn’t know you were coming tonight!?” I respond to her fakeness. “Yeah, I came in at 10” “Oh… okay” *fake smile* *slight eye roll* *walks away* So yeah, to recap I rejected my former best friend’s current best friend and now the mutual friends are acting shady around me and I’ve decided to distance myself all together from the bunch; I just don’t feel right around any of them anymore. Am I upset with them. Yeah. Should I have cut up, made a scene, call them all out. Probably --- Yeah. I’ve got a bunch of mixed feelings toward the situation, Ideally i should be talking about this with them and not posting on the internet, but nobody's talking; just being distant, slick, and shady. I’ve ultimately decided that I don’t want to be around people like that, so I have been keeping them at arms distance. So that’s basically where things lie right now. Am I an asshole? maybe. Do I regret telling the truth? No. I don’t know if it’s better to push a confrontation or to just leave it alone. There’s a part of me that feels that I’ve ‘left this alone’ for too long already and should have gotten real with them. I regret giving them a ‘pass’ just cause I respected them so damn much. It sucks cause outside of the 4 people mentioned here, the others mutuals I’m still ‘cool’ with; even though I feel awkward dealing with them even. So yeah, that’s all folks. If you've read up to this line you're awesome.