It had started when Steve was just a little boy.
He had always thought girls were "icky," as all young boys do. His parents told him that he would get married to a fine young woman, and he'd laughed and said, "Eww, that's gross."
When Steve was about eight years old, he had proudly announced to his parents that he was going to marry a boy instead of a girl, because girls were scary and gross. His parents had gaped at him, telling him he shouldn't say such a thing. Steve had been confused. What was the problem? Couldn't he marry whoever he wanted? His parents had pulled him close and spoke to him in slightly worried, but gentle tones. They told him that God didn't like people of the same sex to get married, that it was a sin, that it was unnatural. Steve had been horrified. He hadn't realized it was such a bad thing. From then on he forced himself not to look at other men for too long. On the other hand, though he didn't realize it, he hardly spared attractive women a second glance.
Then he met Bucky.
James Barnes was everything someone could want from a man. He was kind, caring, stood up for the weak, and was pretty easy on the eyes as well. Steve admired him from the beginning. They became the best of friends. Bucky would protect Steve when he got into his many fights, and he was always there to talk if Steve needed to. In a way, he became like a father figure for Steve in place of his own father, dead a few years from the first World War. It was only natural Steve would feel a special connection, something stronger than friendship, for Bucky.
Steve was about fifteen when he realized he might be in love with Bucky. The thought scared him. Hadn't his parents warned him against this? Wouldn't being in love with a man make him a sinner? He tried to force the thought out of his head. Of course he wasn't in love with Bucky. That was absurd. They were just like brothers, nothing more.
He was seventeen when he accidentally admitted it.
Steve and Bucky were lounging around Bucky's bedroom, just talking about things. They had hit a silence in their conversation when Steve let slip, "I love you, Bucky."
Bucky had just chuckled and smiled at Steve, saying, "I love you too, Steve," He meant it platonically, of course, and thought Steve did too.
Steve's eyes had brightened, "Really? You mean that?" He asked, thinking he meant the same thing he meant himself.
"Yeah, of course. You're like a little brother to me," Steve's expression dropped just a bit, and he turned his face just enough that Bucky couldn't see it. Of course he didn't mean he was in love with Steve. He couldn't mean that. It was wrong. So Steve put a bright smile on his face, ignoring the slight ache in his heart.
He probably wasn't in love with Bucky anyway. Bucky was just like his brother. That was it. That had to be why Steve felt so close to him.
Or at least, that's what he kept telling himself.
Steve kept his romantic feelings completely to himself after that. He tried to look at girls the same way he looked at Bucky. But girls intimidated him, and he found it so much harder to talk to them than other men.
Then he'd met Peggy, and it finally felt like he was normal. He had finally fallen in love with a girl. He wasn't a dirty sinner; he was just like everyone else. And when he fell for Peggy, he fell hard. He was completely, unconditionally in love with her.
And then he "died." And he woke up seventy years in the future.
Everything had changed. The cars, the buildings, the weapons used in war...
And the lovers.
Saying Steve had been shocked at the changed attitude toward same-sex couples would be an understatement. Here was something he'd been told specifically was sinful and wrong, and it was being displayed proudly, fought for, and supported.
At first, Steve wasn't sure what to think. Wasn't this wrong? But the more he thought about it, the more he began to accept that it wasn't so horrible. He thought about maybe letting go of his old fears, embracing the fact that he seemed to prefer men over women. (Aside from Peggy, but she would always be an exception.)
And then he found the other side of the coin. The people who thought that those proud, happy people were going to burn in hell.
He realized that, whether it was more widely accepted now or not, Captain America simply could not be a part of something so controversial. So he locked his feelings away once again, denying his emotions for the sake of the image that people held of him, that people took comfort in.
If it was for the American people, who he loved so dearly, it would be worth it.