2 min

Don’t mind the gap

I'm in university & he's in high school - so what

Credit: Xtra files

I am 20, in my second year in university, and in a 10-month relationship with the 16-year-old love of my life.

The five-year age difference might have attracted weird looks from my friends when I told them, but it hasn’t stood in the way of the genuine love we have for each other.

Growing up from small town Ontario, I hid my gay feelings in fear of persecution. The only time I could safely be gay was on the Internet. The June before I started my first year of university I happened across Patrick’s personal ad on the web. He said he was a 14-year-old aspiring actor looking to talk to other gay teens. I was 19 at the time.

Also listed in his personal ad was the city where he lived – the city I would be moving to for my post-secondary education. The main reason I started corresponding with him was his location, not his age.

In the beginning I never expected to gain much by talking to someone via the Internet. And I never expected to meet a boyfriend that way. But as time went on, Patrick (not his real name) and I wrote each other regularly, our acquaintance growing into a trusting friendship.

So I moved to the university city and Patrick and I continued to talk in cyberspace. The main obstacle to our meeting was my belief that a 14-year-old kid wouldn’t want to meet up with a 19-year-old guy. But after seven months on-line, we finally decided to meet in person.

My concerns proved wrong. We were both coming out of first-time relationships and weren’t expecting much. We definitely weren’t expecting to fall in love with each other. Yet we did.

We talked about our age difference, but it isn’t the only difference between us. He wants to be an actor, I a doctor. He enjoys performing in front of an audience, whereas I nervously shy away from it. Celebrity wise, he looks more like Ben Affleck, where as I look more like Seth Green. I burn in the sun, he doesn’t.

Underlining all of these differences, however, is the common ground we share. We value friendship, honesty, maturity and kindness. We both enjoy watching movies, reading fantasy, writing and talking.

Two weeks after our first date I drove home for the weekend. The first thing I did was tell my parents I am gay. After their initial disbelief and questioning – Couldn’t I change if I prayed to God? – I told them that I was seeing someone, a 17-year-old.

I lied about Patrick’s age to my parents to protect myself from their judgment. Still, 17 was a problem and they harassed me about whether our relationship is lawful (it is), and about issues of maturity and morality around dating someone younger.

My close friends, on the other hand, didn’t give me a guilt trip. Patrick’s age usually got an “Oh!” and a look which shows somebody doing the math in their head.

The usual next question – “What is he like?” – is easier because I get to explain the things that make our relationship work.

Patrick’s close friends know about me and once they meet me in person, they see that I’m not a scary old person. His friends have become mine.

Even though Patrick has a curfew on weekends and is not permitted to stay overnight with me, there really aren’t many restrictions keeping us from going out as a couple. Licensed venues like nightclubs aren’t an option. But we still go see movies together, go out for romantic dinners and have fun playing glow-in-the-dark mini golf.

The age difference might worry some people, but it doesn’t worry us.