I loved him. I did not idolize him. But I may have idealized certain traits in my mind. This probable idealization or possible misperception of his traits which never had a chance to be validated or debunked does not mean my love was only a symptom of an inferior and illusory infatuation due to some developmental hiccup. I don't believe it was the result of the sexualization of masculine traits I wanted to possess for myself but wasn't manning up enough to acquire but instead lusted after through a copout sexual desire. I think it means I was...um...falling in love. And I knew it. And I knew the risks. And I'm certain nobody would question what I felt and expressed had he been a woman and I a straight dude. I'm pretty sure I saw him for who he was and was willing to explore "us", including the bumps I saw in the road ahead. Maybe I was nothing but a mirage to him, a symptom of a "problem", but he was much more to me: awkward at times, naive sometimes, inexperienced in certain ways, rebellious in others, yes, and other things which weren't entirely attractive, but so much more importantly, he was kind, sincere, fun, silly, sensitive, sweet, thoughtful, attentive, open-minded, humble, happy, bright-eyed, curious, playful, responsible, loving, family-oriented, affectionate, communicative, respectful, honest...not perfectly so on any of these, but a beautiful combination of them. Maybe I even idealized some of that, but I am so grateful to have had even a short time with him in that kind of relationship.
Having blinders or rose-colored glasses is a very real, explainable phenomenon associated with physiology like dopamine in the brain. Healthy hetero people have to keep it in check just like gay people, but when it's happening in a gay man, he's told by some that it's a symptom of detached masculinity or some horse manure along those lines primarily because it's directed at the wrong gender. I suspect most of those who buy into this idea find it easy to do so because they're still in their gay adolescence, learning the ins and outs of that kind of relationship far later than most people have. It's pretty easy to dismiss your first crush or fling as something silly, especially if you've never given it a chance to mature because you believed it shouldn't be allowed to in the first place, somewhat like neglecting a plant and then calling it weak because it dies.
Heteros have fumbling, unsatisfying, disappointing, or romanticized relationships too. They just usually get much of it out of the way and learn to identify them in actual adolescence. Yay for them. Head start. Those of us who say, "Oh crap, it's not a phase," in our mid-to-late twenties are starting a bit late, even if we've had relationships with members of the opposite sex in the past. I can't speak for anyone else, but even though my relationships with girls have often turned out to be meaningful for longer-term (probably partially because it's easier to maintain a friendship when one or the other isn't emotionally vulnerable, partially because I'm more often adept at choosing matching character when my hormones don't get in the way, partially because women are, I think, and for whatever reason, often better at the kind of intimacy I value), the vulnerability and emotional dynamic with guys has been a completely different ballgame, something much more intense, animating, and satisfying in additional ways, rather than friendly and respectfully attracted with flirtation and a hint of romantic affection.
Continue to Part 2...