I’m From Greenville, SC.

by Blair Bryant Nichols

Satellite overhead image of South Carolina from Google Earth 2022

When he told me he loved me I said, “You do?” my voice trailing up at the end to accentuate my surprise. We’d only been dating for two weeks. We were in high school so I guess you tend to rush into things like this, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a declaration just yet. A careful survey of television and movies had taught me that the ‘L’ word was a big step and I felt like it should mean something. Nevertheless when he repeated the sentiment a week later I offered that I indeed did love him too.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that we met online. Back when XY was one of my only lifelines to other gays I would occasionally chat with guys from all over North America and then I met a guy who lived in my town. On our first date we went to see ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.’ There wasn’t much else to do in our town so we spent a lot of time just hanging out and hooking up in parking garages or lots. It wasn’t the danger or the thrill of having mall security kick us out that did it for me, we just didn’t have any other place to go.

When I think about it that was really what our relationship was about. I didn’t want to graduate high school without knowing what it was like to have one of those silly overly romantic relationships with someone that is completely wrong for me. I didn’t want to go to college without the cliché feeling of having left something behind. Don’t ask me why that was important to me, but I just felt that life was a series of steps that need to be completed and mine wasn’t going to be any different because I liked boys instead of girls.

We only dated for about six weeks. I wanted to be a lawyer at the time and he would talk about how I could support him and he would raise our Korean adopted babies. Even at 18 I knew I didn’t want to be a sugar daddy, coupled with the fact that I had five AP tests and finals on the horizon; I told him we couldn’t date any longer. I graduated high school, spent the summer exploring the local gay bars for the first time, and told him goodbye before I left for school.

I went off to DC for school. He went to Charleston and back in the closet. First semester he IMed me to tell me he was engaged to his high school girlfriend, the one he had broken up with before he met me. He told me that this is what was expected of him by his family. He said if things didn’t work out they could always get divorced. I told him I never wanted to speak to him again if he went through with it. I wasn’t jealous. I told him that he would ruin her life and he had to be honest with himself.

Several months later I heard from him again. He had broken up with her, come out to his family and though he told me it was the hardest thing he ever did, he was now so much closer with his mother and sister, it was great. He told me he never would have done it if it wasn’t for me. I didn’t know what to say other than that I was proud of him, and glad things had worked out. Months ago our relationship had prompted me to come out to my family, but that was about as exciting or unexpected as the ending of a Tyler Perry movie.

In DC I was trying to figure out who I was in the world. A boy at school had told me I had to Nair my chest, and I was starving myself to make myself into the twink I thought I should be. Back in SC my ex was falling in love and making mistakes all his own, stumbling down a path I had helped pave. I didn’t think about him often but as I shrugged off boy after boy I sometimes wondered if I would ever really fall in love.

A couple years went by, my parents had moved so I didn’t make it back to our town very often. But a debutante ball for my high school best friend brought me back one December. I didn’t intend on seeing him but fate had other plans. I got in his car, no longer the Ford Explorer I laid in back with him the night he asked me to take his virginity, a virgin myself, I declined. We drove to the top of my old neighborhood. Built on the side of a mountain the view of the stars was incredible at night.

We sat up there for a few minutes just staring at the stars. Then he started telling me about all of the ups and downs the last couple years had brought him. Whatever I had gone through at college seemed to pale in comparison to the twists and turns his life had taken. When it was time to say goodbye he stopped just outside my old house, the house he had never actually entered, and he told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to him.

I thought about saying, “I was?” my voice trailing up at the end to properly express my surprise. Instead I said nothing. I hugged him and said good night and haven’t seen him since. Sometimes when my heart gets stomped on, or my hopes are dashed, I wonder just how long it will be until another boy says those words to me and when it will be my chance to say, ‘I do.’


Blair’s previous storyA girl actually wrote on the playground equipment that, “Blair is a sissy” which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal right now but at the time of course it was very depressing for someone to just outright put that in public like that. And I found out later that my mom, who was a teacher at my school, went to the principal and asked that it be removed and she said that if we want it removed that we could do it ourselves. And my mom said it was ridiculous, why would you treat a student like this? And she said to my mom, “Well, some people think there’s a lot of truth to that…”

I’m From Yoakum, TX. This was the moment and the perfect man was the one I got to say “I love you” to for the first time. It was amazing. That is when I knew for sure, not all guys were horrible and I was going to be happy. I didn’t know until then what love felt like, but I was glad he was the one I learned it from. Matt and I later went our separate ways, but there is nothing like your first love.

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