Memories of a first love are now only words printed on a page.
By Simon Chavez, Photograph by Reynaldo Rivera
It's weird how I can still see images of my first love, Martín, in my mind, yet I really can't say I remember what it was like to hold him in my arms. I know that we shared our bodies-the proof is there in my journal and in the pictures we took together. I know that I felt love for him, although, somehow it doesn't seem real anymore. Sometimes it feels like a story someone told me or something I read in a book-nothing more than foggy images of a few sexual encounters and an ache in my heart. Yet, I can't see myself with him anymore. I don't remember the taste of his lips, the feel of his body up close against mine, or the warmth of his breath on me. These memories have only become words printed on this page.
I guess you could say it was the first time I really fell in love. Even before I knew of Martín's sexuality, I knew I was attracted to him. He was funny, smart, attractive, did what he wanted and never gave a shit about what anyone thought. Although I found myself drawn to him, I never considered that he might be QV, too. I didn't necessarily want him to be QV because even though the word QV is a small word, it carried a lot of weight. I guess I was hoping he might be curious, but I never thought he was. As for myself, I knew I wasn't ready to come out so I knew nothing would happen between us. Still, I felt that we shared more than just friendship. We had the kind of relationship that men allow themselves to have without having to be physical. Martín and I talked on the phone almost daily, sometimes just to hear the silence on the other end of the line.
About a year after we met, I moved out of Los Angeles. I was sure that we would keep in touch, but he became one of those casual friends you leave behind and only talk to once in a while. It wasn't until the rumors of my homosexuality circulated within my circle of friends at home in LA that I began to talk to Martín again. He decided to visit me, and at the time, I remember thinking that he would be the cool and supportive straight friend. To my surprise, he confessed that he also had "homosexual encounters" in the past. We talked for a long time that night-then we slept together, and I fell in love.
For the next year, we saw each other every few months whenever we had the chance. Looking back, I see things were doomed from the beginning-you know, "amor de lejos, amor de pendejos." But it wasn't even that. I was so in love that I couldn't even see straight (no pun intended!). I figured that because I was QV, young, and sleeping with this guy whom I was very attracted to, that it must have been love. I never considered his point of view or the possibility that sometimes people just sleep together for sex, and that love doesn't have anything to do with it.
Needless to say, things did not go well for me. I realized too late that it wasn't the right time or place for love. I fell in love hard because I was looking for someone to love. I expected to follow a pattern I set up in my mind: leave home, exit the closet, fall in love, and get into a long and happy relationship. Having been in the closet for so long, I wanted to know how it really felt to love a man, and so I gave Martín my heart, without even being sure if he wanted it, or what he would do with it if he got it. I blurted out my feelings for him in letters, on the phone, and in person. He became silent and told me he needed time to process everything, but I suspected I'd never get a response from him.
I became angry with him. I couldn't understand how he couldn't want all this love I wanted to give him. I mean, we slept together, we were good friends, and yet he never told me how he felt-not even to tell me that he didn't want me. In a poem I wrote, at the time, I said, "I realized I hated you (Martín) for not wanting me, for allowing me to love you, but for not allowing yourself to love me. That hate carried me a long way. It consumed me more than you did-more than what you had ignited inside of me. Because of you I became desensitized to love and emotions. All I wanted was satisfaction-quick and easy. No ties, no emotions-just anonymous sex. I didn't want to look inside, scared that nothing was there. After I gave my all to you, I was empty. There was nothing there for anyone to claim, not even me. The hole in my heart had let it all out. I was way off course."
Later, I began to blame myself for allowing things to go so far. Gradually, I came to a few realizations: I realized that there was a difference between sex and love. I learned to take responsibility for my role in the situation, but to also realize that he had a lot to do with how I had felt. I also realized that I was looking for someone to give my love to. This experience definitely made me more mature. I guess it would be easy to stay bitter, but I prefer to learn from what happened and move on. The most important things I learned were that most friends are better off as friends because some people make better friends than lovers, and that in the future, I'll be a lot more careful about who I give my heart to. No more love on a one-way street.
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