What Having A Gay Best Friend Taught Me

What Having A Gay Best Friend Taught Me

For a while, he was my only friend at school, but he never made it feel that way.

It's amazing to see the amount of change and acceptance our world has been making in the last decade. No, not everything is perfect and we have a long way to go until the world is a completely accepting place, but we are trying to get there.

Growing up, I was always taught to love everyone for who they are and where they come from. God placed each one of us on this earth for a specific reason, and he created us in His likeness and image. When He created us, He made no mistakes. We are perfectly imperfect, but we are exactly who God wanted us to be.

When I met Thomas, I looked at him no differently than anyone else. We met in our anatomy class and I thought he was one of the most outgoing and genuine people I had ever met. We became friends, but we didn't become close until December. I had recently gone public and published the story of my illness online and his response to it brought me to tears. To have someone that didn't know me very well read my story and then reach out to me with the most heart warming message I've ever received was overwhelming.

Our friendship developed really quickly after that because we bonded over similar struggles, interests and a fondness of life.

But, Thomas has given me a lot more than a best friendship over the last year. In February I was going through a very difficult time, I had lost a majority of my friends I had made first semester and I felt alone. I was half way across the country from home and was overwhelmed with emotions due to the stressful situations I was dealing with.

Thomas knew a little bit about what I was going through, but not much. At least, not for a while. When we got back to school second semester, Thomas asked me to go to brunch with him that Friday. And, it turned into our weekly tradition. We had brunch every Friday at 11 am and talked, laughed and enjoyed each other's company.

Every week I had been stressed or sad about something new that I was dealing with. But, every week Thomas treated me with love, kindness, respect and brightened my day. I looked forward to brunch every week because I knew I had a friend that loved me, flaws and all, I had a friend who accepted me for me and made our friendship a priority.

My family and my boyfriend definitely helped me get through this rough time, but it was Thomas' loyal friendship that made all the more difference.

Thomas has been presented with so many challenges in his life, but he tackles them head on and he doesn't look back. He is assertive in his goals and he has a heart that loves people who have hurt him. His smile can seriously light up any room and his presence is a joy to be around.

Having Thomas as my best friend has taught me how to be a true, genuine, loyal and accepting friend. He has taught me the true definition in friendship. For a while, he was my only friend at school, but he never made it feel that way. He didn't look at me with pity or sympathy, he just went above and beyond because that is who he is. He is one of the first friends I have had in life, where I can say with certainly, he would never speak ill about me behind my back.

If Thomas can look at me with love and respect, out of the goodness of his heart, can't we love our neighbor the same?

No, Thomas and I don't look like the typical pair of best friends, and that is what I love about it.

Thomas has always seen me for who I am in my heart and for who God created me to be. And I have always seen Thomas for the phenomenal man who has been resilient all his life to prove, every single day, that he deserves the respect he isn't always given.

If he can wake up every single day, with a smile on his face and exude joy upon everyone he encounters, we can do the same.

"Above all, love deeply. Love covers a multitude of sin." 1 Peter 4:8

Thank you Thomas, for teaching me to love deeply. Thank you for demonstrating what a brave, sincere and accepting heart looks like. I strive everyday to follow in your footsteps to make this world a world full of love, rather than a world full of hate.

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.

It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Me Vs. Food: My Secret Battle With Eating Disorders

Shedding light on a silenced issue

Eating disorders around this country are spiraling out of control, but not all disorders are able to be seen. Sure, you may be able to tell that someone is underweight or someone is eating too much, but by looking at my own picture, would you be able to tell that I switch between restriction of food and purging? I don’t think so.

Since February of this year, 2018, I have had a silent battle with food. In the beginning, I would restrict myself from eating at all and would limit myself to no more than 500 calories per day. That battle persisted until everyone started noticing I wasn’t eating and was losing weight, so that’s when my battle with a different kind of disorder began.

I started eating more so that everyone around me would stop asking me questions and forcing me to eat when I clearly didn’t deserve that. Therefore, I began eating and engaging in purging activities to eliminate that food from my body. I still maintained my weight, but I stopped losing weight like I had been before, and that was my only goal.

No one ever knew about this secret battle of mine. I consistently told others that I just wasn’t feeling well, it was a side effect of a medication, or I’d just completely lie and tell them that I had eaten that day. The reality is that there is a reason why I began this battle with these difficult eating disorders.

At first, I struggled with eating because I believed I didn’t deserve food. I believed that the pains of hunger from not eating for days was what I had deserved for being who I am. I can’t lie and say that this still isn’t a partial reason why I still struggle with this today, but that reason has gone behind another very strong, loud one.

In the middle of April, as I started leaving the past behind me, I met a guy that I thought was going to make my life so much better. This was the truth until I started finding myself becoming an entirely different person because of him. The only real reason I even started seeing him was because I believed that that’s what I needed to keep other things off of my mind; a man.

The reality is that after only a couple of weeks, I started receiving messages from him telling me that I should only ever find myself in public if I looked “good” and that whenever I had time off work I should find myself only with or talking to him. Nothing else. He’s told me directly something that I will never be able to take off of my mind for as long as I live. He said to me:

“Look, I don’t feel like claiming you. Maybe if you just lost more weight, wore different clothes, or changed your body more, you’d be more attractive to me and then I’d claim you. But right now, you’re not good enough.”

When I got this message, it was a sure sign to me that I clearly needed to do something about my body. This is when I started engaging in purging behaviors, though I kept eating to ensure no one would ask me questions. In addition to this, I tried buying and wearing different clothes, engaging in other behaviors and even started acting very out of my normal.

My point in sharing this information that no one knows at this point, is that I know what it’s like to have to hide feelings and emotional abuse because of a fear of questions or judgements from others. More importantly, I understand what it’s like to have to hide entire disorders because of a fear that others will always have something to say about it. My belief now, though, is that even though this is a battle I still deal with daily, others can say all they want.

My reality now is that I still do speak to this guy and I still do struggle with these harmful eating habits. But what I can’t do anymore is try and pretend like it’s not real because of a fear. My hope is that someone reading this knows that there are other people out in the world with these issues, fighting the same battles.

During this battle, my self-worth is determined entirely by your acceptance of me.

Cover Image Credit: Brianna Gavin

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