Old essay; new venue.
OK... this took alot of self-persuasion to actually post, but to tell you the truth, I don't feel that there's anything here to be ashamed of. I wrote this essay over a year ago for the first assignment in my English 1110 class; the autobiographical essay. This was right after Christman when my best friend Garrett came out of the closet. OK, maybe a better word would be "pushed out", but that's another story. No one's read it except the lady in the English Help Centre, and my English prof at the time. I wouldn't even let Coleman read it, which says alot.
I actually hung out with Garrett for the first time in about a year this past wekeend when I went home, so that's what made me want to post this. He moved to Montreal, so I haven't seen much of him lately...
And hey, Gare -- If you read this and next time we talk you want to pretend that you didn't, then that's fine with me. It'll b one of those "glaze over it" topics. And if for some reason you don't like what I wrote for whatever reason, then just email me and I'll take it down. Seriously.
Mhen... here goes:
“Being gay is not as uncommon as most of you guys probably think. Believe it or not, estimates tell us that one in every fifty people is, or will end up being, gay.”
The classroom remained as silent as could be, not one of us pre-pubescent sixth-graders having the nerve to disagree with Mr. White, though most thought this stat had to be wrong. “Gay” was just an adjective to us, something we placed without reserve before a person, place, or thing to describe how stupid it was. Though we had some idea of who the actual word referred to, there was this juvenile understanding that these people didn’t actually exist.
“That means that there’s a good chance that one person in this class will be gay.”
I caught a few people pointing and heard some giggles, as would be expected at this news, but I myself was only astonished. I couldn’t picture any of my friends or classmates as fitting the childish misconception of the mythical homosexual that I had in mind at that time.
Flash forward seven years, and here I am, sitting on a couch in my basement, talking about anything and everything with one of my two best friends. The music is pumping dully upstairs, making any silences that creep into the conversation that much less awkward. I get the impression that he understands where I’m going with it all, but my palms are still damp. Finally, I get out those four words that have been in the back of my mind since I first became aware of the beginnings of a friendship five years before: “Garrett… Are you gay?”
I never would have believed the answer could have been such a relief. It put me in a situation that I’d been prepared to deal with for many years. I told him that I didn’t care, and that it made absolutely no difference in our friendship; that I would always be there for him and that he would always be my best friend. I realized later that I was basically trying to reassure him of anything I thought he might doubt. We talked awhile longer but soon went up to join everyone else and have some more drinks.
Our friendship has been a little bit of a coaster ride. We’ve been closer on some occasions than others, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought of him as anything but one of my closest buddies. It’s strange when I think back on it, because Garrett’s something of a closed book that pretends to be open — always putting on an entertaining show for the crowd, but seeming to hide part of himself half behind the curtain. This always made those bonding moments when he actually opened up that much more, for lack of a better word, “rewarding”. I learned things about him all the time, but it was learning those real things, those that were not part of the act, that strengthened our friendship.
Though I know I can never fully comprehend why he chose to hide it for so long, I see enough from my perspective to understand the underlying reasoning. Though he wasn’t open, artifacts of his homosexuality were visible for all to see, and some of the lower circles in my school used them to their own twisted social advantage. There was one time when, while he was walking to his locker, I saw this large guy following him and calling out “fag” every so often. I was disgusted with both this guy, lacking that basic human decency that so many of my classmates do, and myself, for not having gathered up the guts to stick up for him. I remember Garrett walking through the crowd, standing tall and showing no humiliation, pretending not to hear him though I and everyone else around knew he could. It’s this type of situation, which does not by any means sit alone in my mind, that gives me such a great respect for this kid.
I can only hope that Garrett will eventually find who and where he wants to be, because I know he is still searching for both these things. I have a feeling that he’s gotten through the worst of it that is high school but it kills me that there’s still so many ignorant people in the real world. If I could leave all my inhibitions at the door and tell him one thing, it would be, “Be yourself, be strong, and BFFF: Best Fucking Friends Forever.”
Feel free to comment should the need grip you.