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When I was living off of 181st Street a few years ago (thank God for the Express A train), I found myself on Squirt during a restless night.

After messaging all of the boys with sharp jawlines and sharper bios (to no response), I got a message from a blurry torso asking, “Can’t sleep?” I couldn’t, so I decided to respond.

Niceties lasted about a minute before he asked if I wanted to “come over and suck (his) cock,” which, I mean, I wasn’t doing anything else, so… I put on a pair of sweatpants and marched up to 190th Street.

“I’m downstairs,” I messaged him. He told me to be quiet so I wouldn’t wake his roommates, and buzzed me inside.

He met me at the door and led me down a dark, narrow hallway into his bedroom. After I did the deed, I asked if I could use the bathroom. He paused, looking around the bedroom as if a more convenient option might present itself. Reluctantly, he led me back into the dark hallway and into a doorway.

When I turned the light on, I immediately knew something was wrong. The floral shower curtain looked like something my great-grandmother had in her home; it was particularly clean for a bathroom shared by 20-something roommates; and, finally, there was a framed photo on the wall of Blow Job Guy, three siblings and his parents.

I was in their family home.

Suddenly, it all made sense. The torso photo, not messaging me until after everyone was asleep, keeping all the lights out, not wanting me to use the bathroom. Not only was he still living at home with his family, he was still in the closet.

It reminded me of my boyfriend when I was barely 18. We worked at A&F together in Iowa, and would spend our days watching YouTube videos on his laptop. One day, during a particularly captivating cat video, a car pulled into his driveway: His dad was off work early.

I didn’t realize he was totally in the closet. We waited for an hour, in silence, to see if I’d have a moment to escape. When it didn’t come, he opened his first-floor window and made me crawl out of it to get to my car and drive home.

When I told my dad what happened, he looked so concerned for me. “I’m sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry he made you feel ashamed, or like you had to hide.”

It was a sweet moment between us, but honestly I didn’t feel ashamed. I felt bad for him, just like I felt bad for Blow Job Boy. Even in New York City, there are people in the closet, afraid to be their true self.

After gargling with his dad’s mouthwash, I let him walk me to the door. I have no idea what he’s doing now, but whatever it is, I hope he’s happy, and I hope he doesn’t need to sneak boys in after dark.

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