Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash

How First Love Is a Hetero Privilege

Even when it’s innocent.

Dawn Downey
2 min readJun 19, 2023


My senior year at Santa Barbara High, I fell in love with Alonzo. Soft-spoken. Gentle. Soulful eyes. Wistful smile. There was a deep stillness about him. It’s safe to say, I mooned over Alonzo.

He loved me, too. We walked around school intertwined, my hand brazenly in his back pocket. (Brazen for two shy seniors in 1969.)

I didn’t know why we fizzled.

In my fifties, visiting the Vedanta Temple in Santa Barbara, I got to know one of the resident nuns, Vrajaprana. She told me we’d been high school classmates. She remembered Alonzo and me walking around school together.

Looking like steadies.

She was in love that year, too. She described the same tender connection with her beau that I’d felt with mine. Her love fizzled, too.

Her boy was secretly involved with someone else — Alonzo.

It took me a second. “You mean … my Alonzo … and … your boyfriend?”


“You mean … at the same time we were …?”


Vrajaprana and I had a great jolly laugh at our innocent teen-aged selves. How we never would have guessed. And did it make us somehow related, that we’d been in love with two boys who were in love with each other?

I walked around high school intertwined with the boy I loved.

Alonzo did not.