There’s a moment in the final episode of the second season of Hulu’s masterful cringe comedy PEN15 that successfully made me, well, cringe. Then, much later, it left me completely reeling. Maya (Maya Erskine), one of the awkward 13-year-old best friends the show follows, is holding hands with boyfriend Gabe (Dylan Gage) at an afterparty for their school play when she compliments his hair. “Your hair looks different,” she says, shuffling nervously. “It’s hot.”That word “hot” seems to prompt a Pavlovian response from Gabe, and he jerks his hand away from hers, leaving her silently heartbroken. “Thanks. You too. Your hair is…hot,” he manages to reply, hesitating on that final word as if it were from a foreign language.A day after I first watched it, I was interviewing another queer man around my age about the scene and he recalled similarly freaking out at the advances of a girl when he was young. He recounted going to a school dance and then running away — literally running away — when a girl tried to grind on him. “Oh my god,” I interrupted. “The exact same thing happened to me.”I haven’t thought about that year 8 dance in what feels like… Read full this story
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