Mystery box

Naked Brunch

Neal Lawrence_online

I have a circular scar on the small of my back, about the size of a water glass, from getting fucked on carpet. I consider it a battle scar from the Flanders Fields that was my oversexed, self-destructive underclassman years. Gold star, my ass — there’s a whole generation of Unity House boys whose “never have I ever” games are ruined because of me.

In high school, I had a reliable boyfriend, and the few gay boys who were around seemed like they would rather watch Glee reruns than fuck. When I got to college and saw the other young gay boys with their fearless bathroom sex and their flexible legs and the way they spun older men through their revolving bedroom doors, I was furious with jealousy. I wanted to be that valuable of a commodity. I wanted the dandy ideal of silver cigarette cases and rakish hats. I said to myself, “Don’t half-ass this.” If I’m a twink now, I might as well be a twink fatale.

I joined Grindr because I had something to prove.

Even when the initial thrill of strangers wanting to have sex with me wore off, it wasn’t all bad. I drank very expensive scotch with an honest-to-God monarchist who insisted on calling me by my pseudonym, Bosie (girl, please, as if Oscar Wilde would live on Southside). I still have a fantastic collection of screenshots of “shit gay guys say to trans guys on Grindr.” It’s truly astounding how you can list that you’re 5 foot 3 inches and trans and still get asked for your dick stats.

After a particularly harrowing experience with an older man whose emails got more and more threatening after I started ignoring him, I supplemented my sexual diet with ill-advised residence hall group sex and cis boys at parties. I lied to myself and said that I didn’t feel like a last resort. That I didn’t mind just dancing. That being the only one in the foursome without a dick wasn’t uncomfortable.

Searching for something a little classier, I dropped Grindr entirely in my sophomore year and gave Tinder a shot. But if Grindr felt like a sweaty meat market, Tinder was a goddamn wasteland. Everyone had a much more efficient option for their instant gratification. The only things I got out of Tinder were nosy medical questions and a sense that I was both unfuckable and undateable.

I found myself missing the poor reading comprehension of grey-icon strangers asking if I “like 2 get sucked.” At least they were interested.

And when gay boys were scarce and my self esteem was lowest, there was always my old standby: lying to cishet boys, just to borrow 20 minutes of their warmth and affection. I’m not transitioning medically, so I can still get away with shit like this.

This worst, most enduring habit took the longest to kick. At my most desperate, I’d go to parties where I didn’t know anybody, in black pumps and a red lip. On the edge of a co-ed service fraternity’s bathroom sink, I told a Colorado State lacrosse player that my name was Lydia. He had a great body and he was fucking awful at sex.

I needed validation so bad that I put myself in stupid, unhealthy, dangerous situations for two years. I learned the hard way that, for a femme little slip of a trans boy like me, Grindr’s nothing but tech twinks and chasers and down low douchebags in Hayward. And the boys who settle for you in a pinch aren’t going to make you hate yourself less.

At best, I feel like a flavor of the month. At worst, I feel like an imposter. Even if things are alright at first with cis queers, they’re going to tell their friends afterwards that I “was a mystery box” with unknown contents. Eventually they’re going to see me in the light and ask me, “How do you identify?”

I know trans people who manage this sexual quagmire by finding romance at queer support groups or maintaining a complicated hookup network among their friends. A common workaround seems to be only dating other trans people. And maybe there’s a cis boy out there willing to give me a shot and let me top, but I haven’t met him.

I can’t go through life depending on the dicks of friends, acquaintances and strangers to fill the hole in my soul. It doesn’t work, and it never has. I don’t hitch my confidence in my gender to whose head I can turn on a scuzzy app.

So I’ll leave the party alone. Who cares? I don’t have a damn thing to prove anymore.

Neil Lawrence writes the Friday column deconstructing gender and sexuality. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @tronsgender.