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.
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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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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

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Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that.

I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions.

After everything life has put you through, you have still remained soft.

This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did.

You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself.

You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away.

Remember that it is OK to say no.

You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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Finally Getting Into A Gym Routine In College Has Helped My Body And Mind

Being active in college is extremely important for both your physical and mental health.

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In high school, I played volleyball in the fall and ran track in the spring, meaning that for the most part, I was pretty active and worked out almost every day. However, ever since I graduated and came to college, I've been slacking on staying active. Throughout my whole freshman year of college, I told myself every day that I would start going to the gym again. Surprise — that never happened. This became a habit for the rest of my freshman year and into the summer. Although it was something I thought about doing a lot, I always made excuses that would prohibit me from going to work out. Whether I had work, an exam the next day, or would rather hangout with my friends, there was always a reason as to why I didn't have time to go to the gym. In the back of my mind, I know it was just me being lazy, which I recognize is an issue that many college students have.

This year, as a sophomore who has settled into a routine and become more comfortable with the lifestyle of college, I have found that in reality, I do have time to go to the gym at least a couple times a week. Just recently, I've gotten into the routine of working out three times per week, and I've noticed a huge difference not just physically, but mentally as well. I'm not someone who focuses on losing weight but on building muscle and simply having a healthy body and mind in general.

After getting back into working out, I feel stronger and observe that I have more endurance — even if I'm performing a simple activity like walking up three flights of stairs for class. I've noticed that my muscles already look more toned as well. Other than the obvious physical differences in my body, there have been a lot of positive effects on my mental being too. I've noticed that I get to bed at a more reasonable time and get better sleep after working out during the day. I'm also much more productive during the day when it comes to finishing homework and maintaining a set schedule. These are all things that have been proven to happen when you exercise.

According to Heathline, exercising even just for small amounts of time during the week is proven to make you feel happier, improve your mood, help with getting a good night's sleep, benefit your muscles and bones, increase energy levels and productivity, help your brain health and cognitive functions, and reduce the risk of illness and disease. These are just some of the proven benefits of maintaining an exercise routine, and I've definitely noticed a lot of them in my own life. The best part about it is that you can do whatever sort of exercise you're comfortable with. Whether it's going on a run outside, lifting weights at the gym or doing less intense exercises in your room, all physical activity will have a positive effect on your body and mind as a whole.

Even though it can be a little intimidating walking into a gym filled with muscle-y guys and experienced fitness people, working out can help to boost your confidence in so many different ways. After being so active during high school, it's something that I have come to enjoy very much and almost crave on the days I don't go to the gym. I've found that it's a very important part of striving to be the healthiest, best version of myself in college. Getting into the routine of going to the gym can take some work, but I hope this can motivate those of you who have the thought in their head. You can do it!

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