Never one to waste time, in the ensuing months after losing my virginity, I proceeded to hook up with 17 men in a 30 day period. Now, if that sounds like a lot of people, that’s because it is. I went wild. With reckless abandon, but always using protection, I dove into the world of sex headfirst. I went from spending the first 23 years of my life as a virgin to becoming the town slut in a matter of weeks. It was an interesting experience. And I don’t regret it. Thankfully, since I was smart and I was safe, I was prescribed Truvada in order to not contract HIV, and I got tested so that I could know my status. I felt like I lived the plot to every season of Sex and the City in a matter of days. And then, as quickly as it began, it ended.
As I stated previously, I had no desire to be in a relationship. I did not want a boyfriend, I did not want commitment, and I did not want to be tied down. I just wanted to have fun. I wanted to meet fun people, hang out with cute guys, do what I wanted with my body when I wanted it. And it was all good and well. Most of the guys that I hooked up with were fun, positive experiences. A couple of times, I wasn’t as into it as I would have liked. It was probably because I was overdoing it a bit, which I will admit. But when have I ever been one to take things slowly?
At the end of the day, I decided, I did not want to be in a relationship with someone. I did, however, want someone who I was compatible with, who I could be friends with and intimate with, no strings attached. Someone I felt comfortable with, but did not have to devote myself to. I wanted a friend with benefits. So I continued going on dates, and hooking up, and living my life how I wanted to.
That’s when I met Wyatt. We met on Tinder, because of course. He had bright red hair, was gorgeous beyond belief, and funny to boot. He told me that my freckles were adorable. I told him that my mother told me I was kissed by angels, and that my father told me it was cancer. He told me I looked like a boy who should be kissed against a kale stand at a farmer’s market on a summer day. I laughed. I liked him.
We made plans to meet later that week for coffee, which turned into fries and soda water after I got off work one night. I was standing outside Carney’s on Sunset, marveling at a billboard for Ryan Murphy’s new tv show Feud with the incredible Jessica Lange, when Wyatt walked up. He was taller than me, and had a goofy grin on his face with a shock of red hair that matched his personality. We went inside and ordered, and sat at a table to talk.
The date went well, and there was an instant connection of excitement and humor. I forget exactly how, but somehow I brought up Milo Yiannopolous. For starters, I do not like Milo Yiannopolous. I think he is a racist, transphobic, conservative troll. He is someone I have to pray for on a daily basis to relieve my resentment against him. When I brought him up, Wyatt’s response was, “Oh, I love him!”
I was taken aback. Love him? That was a joke, right? It must have been a joke that I just missed both the setup and the punchline of.
“I just think it’s funny that you have someone arguing against trans rights while wearing makeup and a string of pearls,” Wyatt said.
Okay, that was something I understood. ‘I love him’ felt like a bit of a stretch, but at least Wyatt and I were in the same vein when it came to trans rights.
“You’re not a Twink for Trump, are you?” I asked jokingly.
“Well, I’m not a twink,” Wyatt said.
My heart stopped. What did that mean? I mean, it was obvious what it meant. But it wasn’t accurate, of course. ‘Ignore it,’ said my mind. So I did. We talked about other things. He made me laugh, and I told him about my experiences with ex-gays and my pilot. He was very interested. I liked him. I was a bit confused when he said things like ‘Ann Coulter is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,’ but I let it slide. Looking back, I’m not exactly sure how I managed to not pick up on everything he was saying. Perhaps it was because the thought of a gay Trump supporter seemed so ludicrous an idea to me that I didn’t think it possible.
After Carney’s, we continued the date at my place and he ended up spending the night. He was the first person to spend the night at my house since my previous relationship. That surprised me. The next morning, we were talking, and finally it started to dawn on me that I had hooked up with a conservative. Finally, it was so overwhelming that I had to ask the question.
“Who did you vote for in the election?” I asked.
“Isn’t it obvious?” he said. My heart dropped. “I voted for Trump!”
I stared at him, mouth agape. It was true. I had hooked up with a Trump supporter. Who was I? Who had I become?
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I didn’t want Hillary Clinton to win,” he said.
“But Trump? Really?” I said, incredulous.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “He’s going to burn through all the corrupt political institutions.”
“You don’t support the Muslim ban, do you?” I asked.
“I don’t think it went far enough!” he said.
I groaned in disbelief. He laughed.
“I love blowing your mind!” he said.
I walked him out to his car and he kissed me goodbye passionately. I have never been more confused in my life than I was in that moment. What had just happened? Who was this guy? What was I doing? What was I going to do? Was I a bad person? I immediately walked over to my neighbors house. I knocked on the door. He opened it and I walked in and sat down, silent.
“What’s wrong, honey?” he said.
“I hooked up with a Trump supporter,” I said.
“Oh dear,” he said.
I was still in shock. “What do I do?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” he said.
“Do I see him again?”
“Well, do you want to date him?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t want to be in a relationship with anyone,” I said.
“So what’s the problem?” my neighbor said. “You can have different political beliefs from someone.”
“But a Trump supporter?” I asked.
“They’re people too,” he said. “Shocking, I know.”
I still didn’t know what I was going to do. I couldn’t stop thinking about Wyatt. I ended up texting him a few days later. We made plans to meet that Friday night. On Friday, my curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up stalking his Facebook page. Boy, was that a mistake. Almost every post was a political one, and every one was something I vehemently disagreed with. When I got to his post about how he liked Azealia Banks, that was when I had to stop.
I went over to my neighbor’s. I asked him what to do. Wyatt was coming over in an hour, and we were going to get dinner. I didn’t know if I would even be able to be in the same room as him, let alone get dinner with him. “Just be kind, clear, and direct,” my neighbor said. “Tell him kindly that you don’t think you’re a long term match.”
“Should I bring up politics?” I said.
“No,” said my neighbor. “The reason why doesn’t matter. You’ve only been on one date. Just have it come from a place of kindness. How would you want to be treated?”
I went downstairs and waited nervously for Wyatt to arrive. He got to my place and I went outside to help him find parking. He kissed me. He was going to make this difficult. After we parked the car, we walked back to my place. It was a little chilly. “You must be freezing,” he said.
“I’m fine,” I said.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said as he took off his sweatshirt and put it around me. He was going to make this REALLY difficult.
We got to my door and sat down on the couch. “Where do you wanna get dinner?” he asked excitedly.
“Well…” I said. “I need to tell you something.”
“Okay,” he said.
“I’ve been thinking, and I really like you, and you’re really funny, and I really like hanging out with you, and I’m so attracted to you,” I said, losing my train of thought.
“Uh huh,” he said, smiling.
“But… I don’t think that we’re a long term match. And I don’t want to be in a relationship.”
“Okay,” he said.
“But I really like you,” I found myself saying. “And I wanna keep hanging out with you.”
“Great!” he said.
“What are your thoughts?” I said.
“I mean, I’m not really looking for a relationship either,” he said. “Let’s just hang out and have fun!”
“Okay, awesome!” I said. “I’m glad we’re on the same page. And one more thing- we can never talk about politics. Or Trump. Or Milo Yiannopolous. Or Ann Coulter.”
“Okay!” he said.
We ended up going to Whole Foods and then he spent the night. What had I done?? This was the exact opposite of what I was supposed to do! I was supposed to dump him! But I didn’t! What did I do!
“It’s okay,” I thought. “We’ll just be friends who hook up. It’s not like we’re dating. I don’t want a boyfriend anyway. What does it matter what his political beliefs are?”
We hung out a couple more times after that. We didn’t talk about politics. I didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell. For a week, we made plans to see each other and then found we couldn’t wait that long and ended up seeing each other a day earlier. We were together every other day. There were small moments of intimacy. We held hands for a moment after sex one day. Then when he left we stood there and hugged each other close. It felt very intimate. It scared me. It was strange- here was someone I was sleeping with, and yet hugging him felt like the most intimate of acts. I wanted to know more about him, but I was terrified of what I might find out. I certainly didn’t want to know whatever political beliefs he had. So I started with the small stuff.
I asked him when he came out. Right before I asked, I realized I might be assuming he was gay when he could be bisexual. Thankfully, I asked which he was and he told me he was bisexual. This threw me for a bit of a loop. I guess my first thought when I’m dating a guy is that he’s gay. I typically just assume. But I realized that’s not always the case. It certainly wasn’t the case with Wyatt. He told me that he’d come out the previous summer, and that he was from Fresno. That explained a lot to me. He told me that he wasn’t seeing anyone else, which shocked me. It’s not like we were exclusive. We weren’t dating. Why was he only seeing me? Did I want to only see him? I had no idea.
We still stayed away from politics, although little bits began to sneak into our conversations. I still treated him as just a sex partner, but found myself being drawn to him more and more. As the week went by, I wanted to see him more and more. What was going on with me? Why did I feel this way? I never felt like anyone the way I felt about Wyatt. We made plans to meet on Friday night for dinner. This was clearly becoming more than just sex. And it scared me.
Again, I decided to do a little digging, and I found his blog shortly before we met for dinner. Again, it was highly political, and was everything that I had been trying to avoid. I found myself becoming frustrated again. But then I stopped. I paused, and I thought. Who was the man that I was seeing? What did I know about him? I knew that he was funny. I knew that he was nice to me. I knew that he was sweet, and that I liked him a lot more than I cared to let on.
We went out for dinner at Jones’ on Santa Monica. On the walk from the car to the restaurant, he held my hand. Who was I kidding. This man was not a friend with benefits. He was far more than that. As we sat down at the booth, I knew what had to happen. I couldn’t deny what was going on between us. I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t know how it happened, but I was absolutely head over heels for this guy. So we needed to talk.
I put an end to the silence on politics. I wanted to hear it all. Did he hate the environment? Trans kids? Muslims? Was he a psychopath who didn’t care about anyone besides himself? How could he think these things and support these people and still be an empathetic human being? More importantly, how could I be with him and still be an empathetic human being? So I asked him. I asked him all of these questions. I was emotional, I was afraid, I felt very vulnerable. And he smiled. He laid out his thoughts to me in a calm and objective manner. And I was surprised. I was surprised at the man that was in front of me. He was intelligent, he was thoughtful, and he was not the caricature of a conservative that I had in my mind. We disagreed on many things. I thought my way was the more effective, compassionate way. He thought his way was the more effective way. But what I realized was that we both wanted the same things. He didn’t care about transgender people any less than I did. He didn’t hate the environment. He just had a different opinion than me on how the law would best tackle these issues. And although we disagreed on the politics of it all, our heart was in the same place. And in that moment, I finally saw him as a person. I saw Wyatt as a smart, kind, funny, caring, flawed, beautiful man who I was so intensely drawn to.
I told him that I didn’t know what was going on between us. I didn’t understand the things I was feeling, or why I was feeling them. I had told him that we weren’t a long term match. But I didn’t feel that way anymore. I didn’t know how I felt, but I knew that I had never felt about anyone the way I felt about him.
The next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I was so excited, so full of joy and happiness at the thought of being around him. He dominated most of my thoughts and my conversations in a given day. I friended him on Facebook, even though I knew that his posts were not going to make me happy. But we were growing closer every day. We continued to hang out, and I was infatuated. I was riding the wave of infatuation, trying to stay above water and not get dragged under. I googled infatuation, to try and gain some sort of control over the things I was feeling. Surprisingly, it didn’t work. Instead, I read about all the negative sides of infatuation, like jealousy, and fear, and obsession. That terrified me. What was I putting myself through? I didn’t want a boyfriend! I didn’t want to not be in control of my feelings! Anxiety and fear began to creep in. Could this even work? How could I date someone so different? What about the trans kids?
I confided in him all of these things I was feeling. I told him about my fears, about the things I was holding back, about these feelings I was afraid of. And he felt the same. We were both so passionate for the other person, it scared us. I was surprised by this connection we had. It was strong, it was powerful, it was completely out of left field, and I was totally under its control. But I wanted to be smart about things. I didn’t want to let my head run away with the things my heart was feeling. He told me he was grateful to have met me, that I came into his life at exactly the right time. I felt the same way. It was funny, this was the one time in my life I actually felt like I absolutely did not want a relationship, did not want to date this guy, did not want to be tied down. But I literally couldn’t help it. I couldn’t help feel about him the way I did. I liked him so much, even though he liked Ben Shapiro.
We joked about me going to the NRA charity ball. He told me about his mentor, Andrew Breitbart. He talked about his desire to change the media, to have his voice heard. He had conservative ideals that I admired, and even when he tried to rile me up, I knew that behind his love of controversial humor, he had a good heart and sincerely cared. I ended up seeing a TED talk from a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, and she talked about engaging in dialogue with people who have opposing points of view from you. The first thing she said was, “don’t assume bad intent”. I realized that that was what I had been doing this whole time. I had assumed that everyone who had voted for Trump was a bad person, that conservatives were bad people who didn’t care about anybody but themselves. I had never stopped to think that perhaps humanity isn’t as black and white as all that. We are complex people, and we are neither entirely bad nor entirely good.
Wyatt’s conservative ideals don’t make him a bad person any more than my empathy for trans kids make me a saint. We are neither as good or as bad as we think. And it wasn’t until I started listening, without judgement, without assuming bad intent, that I started to see the humanity in the other side. It took falling in love with a conservative man to help me realize the prejudice I held in my own heart, and I grow more and more each day that I continue to date this wonderfully complex, beautiful human being. Who knows what the future holds? Who knows if this is a forever relationship? It doesn’t matter. I have never felt more in the moment or more connected to others and to my higher power than I do right now. And loving Wyatt plays a large part in the man that I am becoming. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now, but for now, I am in love, and I am happy. Who would have seen this coming?