2011, I’m 15 and living in bleak suburbia. My best friend is a Raging Homosexual (RH), and most of our friendship is based around affirming each other’s manhood. I don’t know that I too am a raging homosexual man. It’s a confusing time. I’m attracted to people of the same gender but don’t feel like a lesbian, I’m attracted to men but don’t feel straight. My RH friend and I hold hands, kiss, and flirt, a generally homoerotic relationship.

Multiple Stealth Acts to Get There

My RH friend and I plan a surreptitious night at Mardi Gras, performing multiple stealth acts to get there; we meticulously flirt with older boys so they’ll buy us alcohol, hide bags of our “sleepover clothes” in the park and lie to our parents about sports excursions to secure cash.

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On the big night we arrive so ridiculously early we spend hours drinking vodka cruisers out of plastic bottles and people watching. Something about our party invites attention from many colourful older characters who invite us to after-parties. Being naïve and 15 we truly believe our night will be spent party hopping.

2am, only one of our many texts is answered and we battle our way through the busy streets to a tiny apartment on top of a kebab shop on Oxford Street. By a pure stroke of bad luck, the host opens the door holding a balloon and excitedly welcomes us in a nitrous oxide deepened voice, “we’re all nanging!”.

The tiny apartment is filled, almost everybody present is sitting in a human centipede-like circle, there’s lots of massaging and stroking, sometimes a soft moan.

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At 15, I have no idea what ‘nanging’ is and try to endure, sitting stiff and tight behind this domino of humans. They inhale and exhale sinking further into the body holding them, and occasionally someone laughs, but the joke is unheard by the rest of the party, adding to the already ominous vibe. 

Eyes Wide Shut Scenario

My body tells me this is an Eyes Wide Shut scenario, and we are the bait, but first, they are doing very hard drugs and soon enough it will be offered to me. 

We steal their alcohol and dash out before we even see the host again. To this day I believe that party could have been a pleasant experience had we arrived at a different time, but instead for years I lived with the anxiety that to be gay you must do drugs, a trepidation that was somewhat sadly cemented once I turned 18 and attended the night clubs on Oxford Street. 

My RH friend and I spent the rest of our Mardi Gras with a group of boys around our age. They insisted they were straight, and all their clothes matched. We shared our alcohol, them their weed, and we all shared stories as we laughed and walked for hours and hours. We all cuddled in the comfort you often find in strangers on Mardi Gras, and watched the sun rise over the beach.

For a while after my RH friend and I would joke that we had a very straight Mardi Gras, but we both knew how homoerotic and affirming it was to be seen as a man, through the eyes of men more certified than us.  

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