Ask JT! Dealing with a Closeted Crush

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Hi JT,

I’m 16 and out in high school. My problem is I believe one of my friends (I’ll call him D) is gay but in huge denial. Back in middle school, D was dating a girl, but apparently would fool around with my now ex-boyfriend with the idea that it was just guys “helping each other out.” No kissing, nothing gay. When my ex realized that he was, in fact, gay, he tried to talk to D about it, and D completely rejected him.

Since then, D hasn’t gone out with anyone. He’s become conservative (bible, Republican, etc) and is uncomfortable when talking about gay things. Any time his friends have brought stuff up to him, he hasn’t reacted well. Almost everyone at our high school has heard that D and my ex did stuff and thinks that he’s gay. Somehow, though, he has no idea that anyone knows.

I’ve recently become friends with him, and I must say, I’m interested. I want to ask you whether you think it would be appropriate for me to approach him as a friend and offer my support. Lately, since we’ve been friends, he’s become more accepting of gay things and I think potentially starting to come out of his denial. While I would like to potentially go out with him, I’m more concerned about him. I’m currently thinking of saying something like this:

“Hey D, I hope you won’t be mad at me for bringing this up, but I just want to let you know that I know about what you and [my ex] did. Obviously, I don’t know what’s going on with you exactly, but I’m here for you.”

Hopefully you can provide some insight?

Thanks!

It always amazes me when teenagers are able to somehow maturely traverse the non-stop drama of high school relationships, because I’m pretty sure every time someone even looked at me twice in high school, I’d start screeching and throwing poo at the walls. So if everything you’ve told me is true, well done, dude, you win at adolescence. But there are a few things we should take a look at.

I know you’re interested in this dude, but it seems like you’re instincts are telling you it’s more important to be a friend to him now than potential boy toy. Guess what? Good instincts. What this guy needs is a non-threatening, non-scary, non-groin-y presence in his life.

Your pitch to him is good, but make sure you stress you’re not hitting on him. Also, I know this will be kind of sucky to hear, but you should prepare yourself for the very real possibility that he might totally reject your offer to be even just a sympathetic ear. Remember, right now, even though he’s showing cracks in his resolve by hanging out with you and lessening his anti-gay discomfort, he’s still in the closet.

Will he be in a few years? Oh, hell no. This sounds like the kind of dude who will be all stifled and awkward in high school, playing the straight man as much as thinks he can, and then two weeks after getting to college will be jumping around in a pink tank top screaming, “HEY, GURRRL! PRIDE!!!!” Then by junior year he’ll have calmed down and found his true identity, somewhere in between the two.

But right now, you’re dealing with him at the very beginning of his personal journey, which means the road will probably be a little rough. I say go in with the expectation that nothing romantic will come of it, but you’ll be racking up good karma points by doing a good deed and being a true friend. And if along the course of your friendship he gets a little pants-happy? Hey, bonus. But don’t hold out for it, because he’s got a whole mountain of issues to deal with first.

One last thing I just want to make sure of. I’m not saying this is what’s happening, but if – if – there is the slightest possibility that one of the reasons you like this guy is that he used to go out with your ex, and somewhere in the bowels of your dormant evil subconscious that we all have you want to use him as a pawn in your wicked game of revenge … don’t do that.

Other than that, you’re good to go, sport.

Hey JT,

I have a question for you. I’ve talked to all of my friends about it, and have got conflicting answers, so I thought I’d turn to you. It’s about writing. Right now, almost all of my writing has been fanfiction set in a variety of universes. What I’m concerned about is not developing my own style, and that if I get used to ripping off the creations of others, I’ll never know how to create anything original myself.

I’m about to graduate college now, and almost all of my writing has been fanfiction. I’m starting to think I’m a total hack. Help!

Literate Lass

Take a deep breath. You’re not a hack.

Have you heard about that new movie, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones? It’s based on a book by an author named Cassandra Clare. What you  might not have heard is that before she was a published author, she was well-known on the web as the creator of some apparently pretty awesome Harry Potter fanfiction. What’s more, the shadow of this fact is blatantly obvious if you read the book, because most of the characters feel like stand-ins for the major Potter characters. (But hey, she’s a millionaire and I’m not, so what the f**k do I know?)

Writers, like any other creative artists, learn by example. Playing in other people’s sandboxes – ie, writing fanfiction – is how many writers actually learn to write. And sometimes your thinly-veiled fanfiction will actually establish your career. For example, you can look at the aforementioned Clare, or whoever that super pervy chick was (I’d Google her name, but … why?)  who wrote 50 Shades of Grey, which began as nothing more than erotic Twilight fanfiction.

And in case you haven’t noticed, there’s also a ton of people profiting off of what’s basically fanfiction for works in the public domain. How many projects have popped up in the recent past about Sherlock Holmes? Or fairy tales? Or the Wizard of Oz?

And sometimes, instead of adapting a whole world, writers just take what they like and make up everything else. If you look at the vampire mythos on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you realize Joss Whedon owes a heck of a lot to Anne Rice. But of course she was really just riffing on earlier works by people like, oh, I don’t know, Bram Stoker.

And that’s exactly what it is: “riffing on” as opposed to “ripping off.”

So should you feel bad that you’re sources of inspiration are external? No way. Every author steals a little bit. The trick is learning to find your individual voice. Take all the creative energy you have for your fanfiction and write, write, write. Figure out why you like the stories and characters you do, and then work on putting your own unique spin on them. Most importantly, try your best to take these borrowed characters and write them into totally new, original situations that you haven’t seen them in before. It’s a good way to find your inner original storyteller.

Nothing creative goes to waste as long as it’s good, and no doubt when you are writing original stories you’ll revisit your fanfiction and mine it for good material. But don’t feel about about borrowing. Every artist in every medium in every time period before you has done it.

Hey JT,

Quick etiquette question. I’m somewhat new to the gay dating scene, and believe it or not my mom asked me a question that stumped me. And that question is … *drum roll* … “Who pays?”

I honestly didn’t know how to answer her since I’m far from an experienced dater. Is there an answer?

Whose Wallet

I think that’s a question that comes up a lot, WW. Traditionally, the person who did the asking out usually pays. But if you’re the askee and not the asker, remember that it’s always good manners to offer to split the bill.

If the guy you’re with insists on paying (and the date is going well), then a very polite/flirty thing to do would be to agree to let him pay on the provision that you get to pay next time. Hey, see what you did there?

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