The Anniversary

Today, April 6th, marks two very wonderful things in my life:

Six years ago, I embarked on a trip with my high school’s marching band to Walt Disney World, which was the trip of a lifetime. The fact I was even able to go while my mom’s daycare business was thriving and she was able to pay for it (as I was tragically unemployed at the time) is an enormously fortunate thing. Since that trip, I’ve never done anything for spring break, mostly because I’ve never had anything to do or any people to do things with. These people, for the better duration of my life in high school, were my second family, and the opportunity to go on a trip with them is more than I could have ever asked for.

But secondly, and a little more recent, is the fact that a year ago today, I made my anon account.

I was not a complete stranger to the world of anonymous accounts. For a good few months prior to when I made mine, I quietly stalked a gay guy who goes to Central Michigan University (back then he was known as Central Gay, but now is known as The High Gay) and followed along on a number of his…rather interesting adventures. I never quite got to the point of following him on my personal account, but still, the whole concept intrigued me. And then March 17th rolled around, and I came out, and I realized an overwhelming urge to find more gay guys to connect with and talk to and just get to know, and so he was the inspiration for me to create my anon account. I thought, if he can have one, why not someone like me? Plus, it fitted nicely at the time. Me and him come from rival schools, so it only made sense we would represent our schools in the form of anon accounts. Or something like that.

You can’t say my initial time was anything remotely boring, largely in part to this whole wonderful scenario I went through. But otherwise, it’s been an incredibly fun ride.

One of my first interactions was with The Northwest Gay. We had a brief conversation about our mutual dislike of having to place food orders over the phone and our preference to doing it online. Bonding over food, as one naturally would. The two of us later launched into a group message with Closeted Teenager, and that GM was certainly one of the highlights of my summer. One Thursday I swapped 100 Mean Girls quotes with Sin City Gay Boy. There have been countless episodes of drama, preferences, opinions, shady business, and everything in-between, far more than I could even begin to count.

This past summer was wonderful. I had people I could actually text and talk to. One, being the aforementioned Vegas native, the other being another anon from Arizona, The Angry Gay, who traded stories with me on a fairly regular basis. It made me feel like I legitimately had friends. Yes, through Twitter. They may not be physical, but they were still people willing to talk to me, and I truly loved it.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from having my anon and being immersed in the online gay Twitter community is that, much like any other person, gays, much less LGBT people in general, come in many different shades and varieties. There are the guys with the stereotypical feminine voices who obsess over fashion and love Beyoncé and so on, and there’s the guys who are more masculine (or ‘promo’ would maybe be a more accurate term). There are those who religiously watch Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and those who have a love for something other than pop and country music, such as All Time Low. Putting every single gay guy into the same category is as futile as putting every straight guy into the same category, something many girls are prone to do, and although it wasn’t something I verbally or physically did, it was something I mentally thought for quite a while prior to making my account.

Ordinarily, making a Twitter account and talking to people may not be the biggest deal in the world, but to me, that’s exactly what it’s been. Going back to the end of the last semester, I was in a pinch, as my mom wasn’t able to drive down to Kalamazoo to pick me up and bring me home, and few of my friends have cars or were available / still in town. By a stroke of luck, a guy I’d been talking to on Twitter for a while up to that point, @MotorCityGay, volunteered to drive to Kalamazoo and bring me home. As his Twitter handle may suggest, he lives in Detroit. Not only that, but he happens to frequently be extraordinarily busy, and on that Friday, he had a rehearsal he was scheduled for. What does he do the night before? He texts the director asking if he can reschedule, just so he can drive a total of 6ish hours between his house, my apartment, my house, and back to his house, for the sole purpose of ensuring I get home.

Even now it still gives me chills that someone would willingly do that for me, because as corny as this may sound, I’m not altogether used to being on the receiving end of good deeds and favors. Quite often, it’s the other way around.

I’ve also learned a lot about myself in the past year through this account. I’m a very nice person, perhaps to a fault, and I have supported, encouraged, and been there for as many people as possible, because I know first-hand what it’s like to feel alone, and just knowing how emotionally suffocating it can be, I don’t want someone to go through what I know all too well, and if there’s anything I can do to help someone avoid that, then I’ll gladly do it. It’s not an attempt for sex, or fishing for nudes, or anything of the sort more than trying to be a genuinely caring person. One of the most significant times this has come into play was when I helped a guy I newly followed, @northgayprince, avoid committing suicide, something he publicly thanked me for. I was not the sole reason, but I was one of the reasons, and I consider that a very significant thing to do for someone.

Through having this account, I’ve discovered the Internet can be your best friend or your worst enemy. You can meet as many wonderful people as you can encounter the…not so wonderful ones. People can and frequently do ignore you; one of my first tweets to one of the bigger anon complimenting him on the smile in his avi went ignored, signaling to me this may be the case from time to time. People a million miles away can make you feel worthless, and the power to not let them do that is a strength some people (no, nobody in particular, just a general statement) need to acquire.

But the positive effects, they’re absolutely there. You can help someone going through a rough time from the comfort of your own couch with a series of 140-character messages. That to me is incredible, that I can impact someone’s life from so far away. And that’s what more people, I believe, should do. I realize there’s stereotypes against gay guys out there, that all of them are bitchy, manipulative, only interested in sex, the list goes on, and the number of times I’ve seen tweets and comments similar to this is far more than I can bother to count. It’s all the more reason why I actively try and dispel those beliefs as much as possible, not only because who I am on Twitter is virtually the same person I am offline, but because, like I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe putting thousands of people into the same personality category is a great move for anyone. Not just with gay guys, but with any person in general. Generalizing people can be a harmful thing.

The greatest gift this account has given me, however, is friends. It’s given me people to talk to, and relate to, even when 99% of them are basically on the other side of the world. For someone like me that’s had a very minimal social life, friends are a wonderful thing to have. I know for many people it’s second-nature to go to the movies, or go shopping, or go on road trips, or anything like that, but to me, those opportunities and moments are incredibly few and far between. The friends I’ve made through this account truly mean the world to me. 16 out of the 50 or so contacts in my phone are from people directly from Twitter. I’ve actually had people to text, and call, and FaceTime, and add to Snapchat. For one of those extremely rare moments in my life, this account has made me feel like I’m not as alone as I’ve believed for so long.

Some of these, people, in turn, helped me realize one of the biggest lessons I could ever learn about myself: When I want something bad enough, I’m willing to wait it out to see what happens. One of the first people I became friends with last summer in June I subsequently ended up falling for…in a way, because I don’t know how much you can truly fall for someone over the Internet without meeting them face to face. He eventually became aware of this and didn’t say yes or no, only that waiting on him was 100% my decision, which I decided to do. I wanted to see how far I could push these feelings, if they’d ever change, what would I feel months from then. I drove a few people nuts with my talks about him, and discussing him with the mild obsession of a science experiment. But by communicating my feelings about him to other people, it really helped me sort out my thoughts and get some opinions, and these people are as supportive as possible, which was a very nice thing to have. And my feelings, little to my surprise, didn’t change at all; in fact, they only grew stronger. My game plan for the past several months was to see him this summer, finally hang out, and then, when I can truly verify my feelings, come clean, and see if he felt the same way. While me visiting him may still happen, I realized last month that he would never develop feelings for me. The closest thing I can think of to describe this is being heartbroken, because you spend so long willingly letting yourself believe you have a shot with someone, and spend 9 months talking to them every single day only to find out you’re not exactly his type.

And honestly, it sucks. It’s a horrible feeling, knowing that you can literally give your best effort to someone and still be rejected. But that’s life. Me and him are still good friends. Nothing there has changed, and above all else, I cannot imagine my life without him in it in some way. And the people I talked about him to, they were sympathetic, but none of them were as disappointed and crushed as I was. But that’s to be expected, because there’s only so much you can feel for someone on the outside. On the inside, it’s a completely different story.

Have I gotten over it? Am I fully ready to admit defeat to myself, that it’s a 100% lost cause? Part of me still wants to hang on to that one last shred of optimism. But the rational part of me knows I need to move on, for my own sanity. It’s a huge question mark if I’ll ever find someone like him though.

I can’t even begin to name all the people I’ve interacted with and talked to through this account that I’ve gotten to know, and gotten to love. For the first time in my life, I have people I’ll be visiting in the summer, and I’m beyond excited for it. I don’t want to leave anyone in particular out because there’s been so many, but so many of the interactions I’ve had with people have, in turn, brought a smile to my face, particularly on some of my worser days. Some of these are people who have seen me at my worst and are still friends with me, and I can’t ask for much more than that.

Everyone has their own reasons for how they end up on Twitter, and how they end up in the anon world. Some of these reasons are perhaps a little better than others, but we’re all here searching for something. Or in some cases, simply enjoying what we have. Despite the anonymity, there are all very real people on the other side of the computer screens, reading these messages, replying, tweeting, and interacting, and the words exchanged with these people, as I’ve noticed, sometimes don’t exactly reflect that, such as some of the more harsher words said to a 16-year old gay kid struggling with being gay (as an example). The Internet can be amazing, but depending on how you use it, it can also be dangerous.

But overall, I am beyond thrilled for what this account has brought me, both physically and mentally. I need to be a more happier person at times and not be so negative. Sometimes it’s okay to care less about people and a little more about my well-being. Caring about others is not a bad thing to have at all. And quite often, those times when you feel the worst about yourself, there can always be someone somewhere to remind you you’re a lot better than how you feel.

I can’t wait to see what happens over the next year.

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