I never learned whether the boy I lost my virginity to was struggling with his sexuality. I think, when I look back now and occasionally find myself tumbling through his Facebook page, that he wasn’t. I believe it was just sex, or at least that’s what I have tell myself now to avoid slipping into a memory induced k-hole. I realize I fell into that old gay adage of placing my feelings on a person who, for whatever reason, was never going to invest them back in me. Worst of all, though, the shame attached to the memories of those first times marred how I would approach sex for years.
It was listening to Years & Years’ new song “Sanctify,” and seeing the band’s out gay singer Olly Alexander talk about how the song was inspired his sexual trysts with straight men, that I realized that these feelings are way more common than people let on. Sure, I know all about gay guys having sex with straight guys, but it felt reassuring to see him describe the “saint and sinner role” he embodied during those experiences, and to hear the uncertainty and melancholy weaved into the song.
More than anything though, was the repeated lyrical mantra of “I won’t be ashamed.” Because as queer people, we’re buried in lifetime’s worth of shame so vivid and searing that oftentimes it’s crippling. Bursting through that shame is our badge of honor, our beautifully united experience. And maybe, like the song says, that does sanctify our sex lives and makes us just a little bit holy.