Congress and the Supreme Court still have some major decisions to make before June 30 rolls around, but probably the most anticipated decision has already been made. Gay marriage is now legal in all 50 states. How’s that for progress?
I have always been an advocate for same-sex marriage. In the past couple of years though, as more and more of my friends have come out, I have developed a personal stake in the matter. The following is the story of my best friend’s coming out, and how I was affected by it.
It’s scary for us to think that the people we believe we know better than anyone else may not be who we thought they were. In fact, these people, the ones we think we know best, are the ones that surprise us most often. People who we have spent so much time hating and loathing can turn into the ones we love most. People we love can do awful things to make us hate them. People we have shared countless, unforgettable moments with could be hiding entire parts of themselves from us. The list could go on forever, but my point is no matter how well you think you know someone, there might be something that remains hidden between the two of you. In time, you may end up sharing these deep inner thoughts and feelings that you have never shared with anyone else before, but there are things about yourself that you may never accept. There may be a part of you that you choose to keep hidden.
I thought I knew all there was to know about my best friend. He was tall, kind of a dork, he LOVED bridges and he always made his political views known. He was quiet when you first got to know him, much like me, but once he got to know you, he gradually opened up. He was the kind of friend who would take you to dances when you couldn’t find a date of your own and would come over to your house with chocolate when you got your heart broken because he really just didn’t know what else to do. He was the kind of friend that you could sit with for hours without saying anything, but, somehow, you felt like you didn’t have to. It was like you could communicate without the words. You felt comfortable putting your head on his shoulder because you were tired, and you didn’t have to worry whether it “meant something” or not. You loved him, and he loved you.
There was always something that I couldn’t quite place though. There was always a feeling that I didn’t know him entirely. No matter how many hours I spent with him, no matter how much we laughed or how much we cried, there was something that disconnected us. I felt like I could never be completely allowed into his life, and I never knew why I felt like that.
I’ve learned over the past year that college is the time where you figure things out. The person you thought you were in high school is thrown out the window, and you morph into the adult that you are going to be for the rest of your life, and that is really scary. Some people can’t deal with that, so they go crazy for awhile, and some people dive head first into this new identity. My best friend dove. He didn’t plunge straight down to the bottom, but, with time, he will get there.
Before Christmas break, I was ice skating with my roommate in front of City Hall when I got a text from him. He was freaking out, and I kept asking him what was wrong, but he wouldn’t tell me. He said it would be better to explain in person, but we still had a week left before we went home for Christmas break. I was worried, but I finally got him to say it. The message popped up on my screen, I dropped my phone and covered my mouth. The words, “I’m bisexual” were staring back at me. I couldn’t believe it. How could I not have known? How could I not have seen? I felt like an awful friend. All I could think about was how much harder his life would be, and it made me sad. I sat there, and I cried for him.
I was supportive as he was figuring it all out. I asked him how things were going with his girlfriend at the time, how school was, but there was still this sense that this wasn’t the end of the chaos. This was only the beginning. I was right. It was only the beginning because when we got back to school after Christmas break he dropped another bomb. We were having a conversation one night about my own love life, and in the middle of that conversation, he admitted that he was not bisexual, he was gay.
I still remember closing my eyes to try to make the words go away. I threw my phone onto my bed, put my hands on my head and took a walk down the hall, but the tears came anyway. I didn’t want him to be gay because I didn’t want him to have to think about what he was going to tell his friends and family. I didn’t want him to be afraid of people looking at him differently. All I wanted was for him to be happy, but I knew it would never be that easy for him.
The next couple months, I know, were hard for him. He started telling people, and he was on the road to acceptance. He had his dark days, and sometimes I didn’t know what to say to him. I wanted to make it all go away, but I couldn’t. All I could do was listen and hope that that was enough. Overall, he has come to terms with his homosexuality in a way that is completely profound to me.
I love my best friend, and I will continue to love him for who he is and what he will become in the future. The fact that he is gay changes nothing. I hear people every day refer to their gay friends as their “gay friends," and I hate that. My best friend is my best friend. His sexual orientation has nothing to do with that. He is going to have to deal with labels, negativity, hate, misunderstandings and stress for the rest of his life, and I never want to be a contributing factor to that.
Despite these hardships that he could potentially face, my best friend has embraced this part of himself head on, and I couldn't be more proud of him. He continues to tell people even though he gets nervous, and most importantly, he’s let himself accept it. I can’t even begin to imagine how hard that must be for him. People every once in a while ask you who the person is that you most look up to, and up until this point in my life I would say my brothers, my mom or my dad. From now on though, I think the person I look up to most in my life is my best friend. I have never met anyone with more courage or bravery than him. He has a thing about saying that he’s “not so great,” but, in my eyes, he’s everything that I want to be.