If you really must know, a million years ago, when I was a first-year law student, a woman I was dating off and on asked me one night, jokingly, if I was gay. It’s worth noting that the question was posed moments after I told her, yet again, that I was tired and not in the mood to have sex. It’s also worth noting that I was stressed out, studying for finals and dating someone else at the time. Anyway . . . .
Two days later, after about 40 consecutive hours of studying torts, my mind began to drift—and I began to wonder if maybe I was gay. Until this precise moment in time, the thought had never entered my mind. Not for a millisecond. But somehow, after being trapped in a library for what seemed like a decade, I began to question everything and anything—especially if it was unrelated to law. Did I believe in God? Was The Godfather Part II really better than The Godfather, or is it just one of those trendy things to say? Is it possible to actually hear color?
So anyway, there I was, studying “foreseeability” when a handsome blond man walked past. No big deal. But then, my so-called girlfriend’s words began to echo in my mind. “Are you gay?” Bored and sensory deprived, I stared at the lad and wondered: if I were on a desert island, could I possibly imagine . . . Oh my God! I could. Kind of. I guess. Imagine it. In a theoretical, desert-island kind of way. Maybe. Then again, I could also imagine eating raw bison if I was on a fucking desert island. Nonetheless, my mind began to race. Was I really gay? And if I was, how come it never occurred to me before? And how come I like women so much? Thankfully, a moment later, another man walked by. Fat, kind of bald. No interest. Then another. Athletic, reasonably attractive. Nope. As I was trying to process all this, a not-so-attractive woman walked by and my sexual orientation was instantaneously—and unequivocally—restored. If she were on the desert island too, I’d go with the not-so-cute woman. No brainer. The blond guy was officially dead to me. Desert island or no desert island.
For about twelve seconds, I was convinced I might be gay—not because I was gay, but because I’d been so goddamn deprived of any and all external stimulation for weeks. Not to mention sleep.
Gayholm Syndrome (a riff on Stockholm Syndrome) is a law-firm dramatization of the cruel jokes your mind can play when you’re trapped in a windowless conference room for three days straight. POWs fall in love with their captors even though they hate them, so why can’t first year associates fall in love with gay co-workers even though they’re straight?