Welcome to ¡Hola Papi!, the advice column where John Paul Brammer helps people work through their anxieties, fears, and life's queerest questions. If you need advice, send him a question at [email protected]
So I have this friend I’ll call Eva. I had a massive crush on her. We liked a lot of the same things: the same musicals, the same jokes, and we even had similar childhood issues. She was the first person I confided in when I started questioning my sexuality. She heard me out, but also reaffirmed her straightness. I secretly pined for her for months, but I never told her how I felt. She went abroad for a semester, and distance cooled off my feelings.
Recently, though, Eva got a girlfriend. I recognize it’s 100% my own issue that it stirred up feelings in me, and even though I was really upset when I found out I’m still happy she found someone.
But the reason I’m writing to you is that now it seems Eva wants me to be her queer mentor, and I don’t think I can do that. She asked me to help draft a speech to come out to her very conservative Catholic parents. She asked me for pointers on lesbian sex. I know she was there for me when I needed someone to confide in, but I don’t know how to hold her hand through her coming out journey when I’ve fantasized so much about literally holding her hand.
Right now, she expects me to be her queer Yoda. But Yoda never lied awake at night thinking about Luke’s soft lips (outside of fan fiction). Papi, what do I do?
Hey there, QD!
Oh dear. What a mess. This is the kind of melodramatic situation I launched this column for, and for that, I thank you. Things were getting a little too Queer Theory around here, and I must admit, it feels nice to get back into forbidden love triangles and good old fashioned resentment, the building blocks upon which our community was founded.
So, first of all, and I think you know this, none of this is going to work out unless you tell Eva how you feel. No one outside of niche gay Twitter communities actively enjoys being bitter, QD. But bitterness does have its role in our lives. It’s there to tell us that we have something to work out. It asks us if perhaps we are being wronged or taken advantage of. Looking for the source of that feeling can help us take stock of ourselves and our relationships.
But if left to fester, bitterness turns to resentment, and resentment leads to hate, and hate leads to the Dark Side, and the Dark Side leads to Force lightning shooting from your fingertips. And who wants that? I do. I do every day. Still, if you go on being her crutch through this process while you yourself have a knife sticking out of your heart, all that will happen is you’ll both collapse.
You should ask to talk. Tell her you’re happy she found someone and you really appreciate how she was there for you during your coming out process, and you want to return the favor, but you’re finding it hard because you had feelings for her that are resurfacing. She might be more understanding than you think.
The other part of this is that, right when people come out, they tend to think of LGBTQ identity as a series of precise steps they have to take. I mean, I definitely thought that way. I wanted to learn all the lingo at once. I wanted to have a lot of sex right away, and then loudly talk about that sex with other gays so that they knew that I, too, was a gay-sex-haver. I wanted to go to all the gay parties and I wanted to come out to my entire family tree, living and dead.
Mentors are real and important and it’s great when you have someone who can take you under their wing. But when it comes to this stuff, there’s no greater teacher than running through it like you’re running through hell in gasoline soaked pajamas (thank you, America’s Next Top Model, for that enduring visual) and letting life smack the ignorance out of you until you eventually settle into your gay routine where you can’t remember the last straight person you even saw and you’re mostly defined by which podcast you’re presently glued to.
Also, on the whole, we need to get better at saying “I don’t know.” Imagine how much more we could get done if we simply admitted we don’t know everything. You can straight up say, “I don’t know how you should come out to your Catholic parents, but I’ll support you when you do.” I personally don’t answer letters asking me how to come out to homophobic parents. Why would I risk getting someone kicked out of their home for content?
Well, that does sound like something I would do. But not in that context. I care too much about our community and about not getting canceled via NewNowNext article for ruining someone’s life with this column. The point is, none of us are perfect mentors. There are things we don’t know. That’s OK. You’re not Yoda. You’re not Dumbledore, Mr. Miyagi, Auguste Gusteau, or any of the other characters that popped up on the first page when I Googled “famous mentor figures.” You can’t do it all.
Tell Eva how you feel. Tell her you want to support her, but that you also have emotional needs to tend to. Tell her that the only way your heart will mend is when you learn to love again, and it won’t make sense right now, but you hope she’ll still be your friend.
And then you let her down easy.
I think I got the roles mixed up there. But you get the gist! I’m rooting for you, QD, and if things don’t go well after your conversation, send another letter my way.
Con mucho amor,