“Gay people never talk about sex in public, unless it’s just weird innuendos.”
Not only did it take me longer than it should have to officially come out but after I did, I felt that I had to balance a fine line of what was considered too gay and what others around me felt comfortable talking about. I could sit and listen to some graphic sexual encounter someone had but then there would become some weird disconnect in myself because what was I able to share without feeling that I had somehow crossed someone’s boundaries of how much of my own queerness they were okay with hearing; or what was I even comfortable enough to share of myself. As a teenager, my romantic relationships that I had built were mostly all closeted and because of that, they didn’t feel real. My views on dating were sort of butchered for a while because I hadn’t been with anyone who was comfortable enough to openly love me. I was never necessarily ashamed of myself but when you’re with someone for so long who is afraid to show you affection outside of the confines of your own space, it can rub off on you.
When I first happened upon Andrew Haigh’s Weekend in high school, it was one of the first unapologetically queer films I experienced. It actually sort of shaped how I viewed a fraction of the community itself and my introduction to hook up culture. The film follows two gay men, Russel (Tom Cullen) and Glen (Chris New), who meet at a gay bar and have sex that night. The two decide to spend the day together and ultimately the whole weekend with each other before Glen heads off to art school in the US on Monday.
The great thing about this is that it’s not your typical romance. Dating as a queer man and dating as a straight man are two completely different things and not only due to sexuality. From my own experience, dating has normally entailed hooking up before actually getting to know someone. Not to play in to the stereotype of all gay men being wildly sexually active and only wanting sex rather than relationships; but if you’ve been on Grindr at any point in your life than you’ve seen it first hand. This film taking place in the modern dating world is actually one of the most realistic portrayals of modern love and what it can look like. It’s not always such a clear cut moment that makes you realize, “I could see myself loving this person, being with this person.” Instead it can be a lot of small moments, conversations and looks over time that leads to a feeling of comfort.
It’s so rare to find a character in a romance that I can relate to as much as I relate to Glen. Whenever I say I don’t want a relationship or I’m not looking, a lot of people have related that back to my past toxic relationships; but that’s just not true. As Glen continues to fall in love with Russel over the Weekend, reluctant because he’s leaving the country on Monday, a conversation comes up where Russel seems to have pinpointed Glen’s want and need to be single on the fact that he’s been cheated on and hurt by someone he loved. Thus not wanting to let someone in again with fear of being hurt. However that’s not the case. Just because you have no desire for a relationship does not mean it correlates to you being damaged in some way. The truth is, you can still experience love without a need to be dating anyone. Love can be found in so many other ways with so many different people while still remaining happy and single, but it can be difficult for others to see that.
“Maybe it’s easier if I tell you I’m brokenhearted but I’m not.”
The tricky thing about “seeing” someone and being open about the fact that you don’t want to date, but also allowing yourself to experience these small and subtle romantic moments is that at some point or another, the other person is going to be looking for an explanation. A lot of the time, that explanation is never the one they want to hear. In the film, Russell believes he understands Glen more than Glen understands himself; he starts to push this narrative of Glen actually wanting to date and being broken but Russell can show him what real love is. This is ultimately just Russell looking for an easy explanation of Glen’s contentedness in being single and forcing a storyline that he can fix. He wants to be the man that breaks Glen’s enjoyment in being alone but that’s not how it works.
Like Glen, I relate to the fact that I have so much to learn about myself before I even want to allow someone to dabble in my mind and be a part of this path I’m paving for myself. This narrative of being lonely without a partner is so tiring at this point and sometimes there doesn’t need to be an explanation as to why someone wants to remain single. The fact of the matter is it’s okay to always want to be in a relationship. It’s okay to actively look for a partner and this fairy tale love we all at one point or another may want to achieve; but it’s also okay to not want that. To thrive and build on platonic love with your friends, to enjoy someone else’s company romantically or sexually if only for a little while, maybe even just one night. Just because you don’t date, doesn’t mean you’re not experiencing the joy and flaws of falling in love. It just looks a little different then what we’re used to seeing in these fictional stories.
Weekend is an epic romance without labels. Just like the character of Glen, I’ve come to terms with my past relationships. Could they have infiltrated my life negatively at some point? Absolutely. But sometimes those experiences build you up in a way that you always needed. I’ve thrived for so long on my independence that I can see the flaws in that. I’ve realized that there are clear times I have become too comfortable being alone that I don’t always allow myself the opportunity to fall in love. But in the bigger scheme of life, this will become an attribute to when I want to date. For now, I’m going to continue to appreciate my life as a single gay man and continue to enjoy all the love I have and receive from the people around me. Without having to ever really explain myself, sometimes that’s enough.