True Stories: My Gay Ex-Boyfriend

I knew the truth — why did I go out with him?

By Avatar Koo

My high-school boyfriend, Gustav, recently confessed to me: "I was so horny as a teenager, I would have had sex with a vacuum cleaner. But when we were having sex, I was thinking about… dicks."

This was last summer. I was in his Times Square hotel room, on the bed. Gustav was ironing a fluorescent green shirt, the least flamboyant article of clothing he had in his suitcase. "I should have told you I was gay. Sorry."

I don't know why he apologized. I had always known he was gay, even when he had insisted he was straight. But then I wondered: if seventeen-year-old me had always known Gustav had dick on his mind, then why did I pursue him? Make out with him? Have sex with him? Become boyfriend-girlfriend with him?


There's a whole mythology around the undying platonic love between a straight woman and gay-and-fabulous man. A few months ago, the Sundance Channel wrapped of the first season of a show Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys. The title more or less sums up the new, post-Bravo-channel zeitgeist, where the BFF relationship is a cuddly, cinematic PG-13. They meet in the bloom of youth, perhaps in the drama club or while working retail at Hot Topic. On a starlit night, he comes out of the closet, to her. They embrace. And now she never has to worry that he will hug her and get an erection. The ultimate Prince Charming is the gay BFF. Another man (but a safe, nurturing man) to hide behind.

When I think about dating Gustav as a teenager, I think, of all people, of Paris Hilton, who once said, "I am sexy but not sexual." Is that me?


A decade before teen magazines started to refer to gay BFFs as the ultimate prom accessory, I was just another girl in suburbia. The first time I saw Gustav, he was a Finnish exchange student registering at my high school. I couldn't see his face, but as I watched his willowy figure slink away, my teenage ennui was replaced by the pulsating beat of L-O-V-E. He was wearing a backwards newsboy cap, suede kicks, and a t-shirt that clung to his angular shoulders. In the late '90s, when flannel still refused to die and a popular song gave shout-outs to girls in Abercrombie & Fitch, this boy was exotic.

When I came into school the next morning, I walked up to him, hooked my arm through his and said, "We're going to be best friends." And instead of backing away from the pink-haired Asian girl with the safety pins in her ears, Gustav laughed aloud and squeezed my hand.

In retrospect, some part of me must have known. I would never have been so flirtatious with a straight boy. Are you kidding? Back then, a straight boy with movie-star looks would have looked at my blue nail-polish and the weapon-grade chain jingling from my wallet to my belt, and turned to stone.

Or at least that was, I think, my fear as I stared with awe at the other girls in the high school, the ones who knew how to effortlessly perfume the air with fuck-mes. These girls sauntered past me, their hips and asses and long hair swinging like rope over a secret summer watering hole. The boys were mesmerized, limping after these goddesses. I felt invisible. I felt safe. I felt alone.   

Within a whirlwind week, Gustav and I traded notes that pledged eternal romantic love to one another (my note included a stick figure with long-ass arms: "I love you THIIIIIS much!")

The next day, his host family's minivan dropped him off at my house. Gustav was enthusiastically oral and hard as a rock. But, even after he had come in three condoms, something led me to question him.

I asked him about his previous girlfriend. He told me, "She put yogurt on her pussy and I licked it off." Very cool.

I asked him about other boys. "You know what would be hot, Gustav? You fucking Paul." Paul was another European exchange student who wore a black suit everyday to school, and I was in lust with his corporate-emo-glam style. Oh, and of course Paul was gay as well.

Gustav giggled, "No, I don't think so. That would be weird."


I know Gustav doesn't remember the last time we fucked, which was more than a decade ago — he chugged a large bottle of mint vodka and then promptly fell into "drunken sexual amnesia." (He gets wasted and then ends up sticking his dick in the nearest warm body.)

Now, when I ask him if he will ever sleep with a woman again, he says, "Maybe. Every three or four years. If I'm really drunk."

Commentarium (33 Comments)

Apr 01 11 - 12:39am

And I am in love with my asexual best friend. At least Gustav will fuck girls if he's drunk enough. Haha

Apr 01 11 - 8:56am

Could've written these exact words.

Apr 01 11 - 2:47am

This is good. Nerve should hire the author.

Apr 01 11 - 8:07am

yes they should, she sure can write.

Apr 01 11 - 9:12am

Amazing piece, the best yet

Apr 01 11 - 9:47am

Great piece. By far the best article nerve has had in a long time.

I think almost everyone can relate to the "gay ex" scenario. I spent 2 years with a guy who magically switched teams soon after we broke up. We both believe we were very much in love (and still are to some extent) It's funny though, I feel like whenever we're nostalgic about our relationship I still get that comfort of a romantic relationship without it REALLY being one. Taking physical attraction out of the mix is oddly comforting.

Apr 01 11 - 9:59am

awesome piece

Apr 01 11 - 10:11am

Definitely one of the most interest stories that has been posted in awhile.

Apr 01 11 - 11:12am

Yep. Good writing. So good that you almost buy that she doesn't know the explanation for this phenomenon. She just kinda sandwiches her realization right in there.

Apr 01 11 - 1:30pm

so well written. more from avatar koo, please!

Apr 01 11 - 2:01pm

This is why I hate people.

Apr 01 11 - 5:01pm


Apr 02 11 - 1:17pm

FuckYou is a bitter ol' troll. Don't bother.

Apr 01 11 - 4:52pm

I really liked this. Thanks for writing it!

Apr 01 11 - 11:37pm

I feel like I know the kid in the picture. But I can't place him.

Apr 02 11 - 3:33am

Ahhh. This reminds me of the Nerve I fell in love with back in the early aughts. More like this, please.

Apr 02 11 - 11:44pm

Well-written piece. Among other interesting notions presented, the "yaoi as 'safe' sexual encounters for heterosexual girls" point is one I haven't heard discussed much. The end was slightly heartbreaking.

Apr 03 11 - 12:08am

I thought we like yoai because we have gender confusion. lol that was the last "scholarly" opinion I heard on the topic.

Apr 03 11 - 12:42am

Fabulous writing.

Apr 03 11 - 1:26am

Well written and hit a huge chord with me. Awesome piece.

Apr 04 11 - 11:17am

I agree, great story, thank you for sharing!

Apr 04 11 - 8:12pm

"It was only when I went to Tokyo and saw yaoi, also known as Boys' Love — sexually explicit homoerotic comics marketed to teen girls — that I realized that I wasn't the only young woman who felt safer exploring her sexuality by totally going outside her own body, and maybe even her own gender. I still prefer to watch gay porn. The carnal gaze of the camera on these young, beautiful men, is safe. No one will reach from inside the screen and drag me inside. "

holy fucking shit yes that is exactly how i've always felt and have never been able to articulate. excellent piece. thank you.

Apr 05 11 - 10:35am

Holy cunt. This is the first nerve article I've read that makes me feel completely normal. I'm not the only one who has to get wasted to have sex the first few times.

Apr 05 11 - 11:57pm
Secret Character

Very well written indeed. I myself am coming off the heels of a longstanding, from what I understand, "fag hag", infatuation; borderline limerence. I on the outside looking in, but I didn't find out until recently about her affinity towards gay men. I liked her for who she was. It wasn't enough. Perhaps because she thought she wasn't enough? This article definitely helps me peer into the translucent window of this kind of heart that I will never understand. Thank you.

Apr 06 11 - 3:13pm

Very well written but I can't relate to this at all, even though the author and I are around the same age (I graduated HS in 1992).

The whole fag-hag thing just doesn't do it for me. My gay friends are just that - friends. When there's no passion, WTF is the point? But then, I cannot at all relate to the author's feelings of 'safety' with a gay BFF.

Apr 06 11 - 7:28pm

great article. good to know i'm not the only one!

Apr 06 11 - 8:22pm

i dunno. i feel like the whole "straight girl crushing on gay guy to feel safe" thing is becoming a untrue cliche in and of itself. same exact thing was said on glee about mercedes and kurt. this isn't the first time i've heard it. i wonder if we're just using that because it's easier to explain than what happens when we fall in love outside of the categories of sexual orientation. he's gay but really had feelings for her and she had feelings for him.

Apr 10 11 - 2:42am

Agreed. Also I hate that female attraction always has to be intellectualized like this. If a guy fell for a hot lesbian friend of his, people would just say he fell for her because he was attracted to her. But when a girl falls for a gay guy it's some complex about safety and taking yourself out of sex and obviously she always knew deep down inside. Uh-huh.

Apr 13 11 - 2:04am

I think that is is because love, like anything gendered, is still terribly binary. Romantic love has to be absolute, it can't be convoluted and fluid according to a lot of what we're told. The same with our sexuality. It makes me kind of sad, that we can't just be attracted to one another and fall in love with one another regardless of any of the other trappings.

Apr 06 11 - 9:46pm

Am i the only one that doesn't think this piece is anything out of the ordinary? This reads like a teen lit piece in one of those magazines that no one actually reads. It's not bad by any means but I'm not sure why we're kissing her ass.

Apr 07 11 - 7:05pm

Maybe I don't read enough about sex but for me this article was the first time this perpective was presented so I enjoyed it, both because it's new and because I greatly emphasize with it. Two thumbs up! One of the few longer pieces that I felt was worth my time (I have a very short attention span).