The Paris Review

Re-Imagining Masculinity

“No homo,” says the boy, barely visible in the room’s fading light, as he cradles my foot in his palms. He is kneeling before me—this 6’2” JV basketball second stringer—as I sit on his bed, my feet hovering above the shag. His head is bent so that the swirl in his crown shows, the sweat in the follicles catching the autumn dusk through the window. Anything is possible, we think, with the body. But not always with language. “No homo,” he says again before wrapping the ace bandage once, twice, three times around my busted ankle, the phrase’s purpose now clear to me: a password, an incantation, a get-out-of-jail-free card, for touch.

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