Sunday, October 7, 2007

Friendship Means the World...

I was also introduced to a guy during my sophomore year in college, let's call him MBA Man (since he later went to grad school for that) who would become a close friend and, unbeknownst to me, the first person to come out to me after having known me for a while--As opposed to me knowing he was gay to begin with.

He'd gone to the U and come back to school at our university to take business classes. At first I never would have expected we’d end up friends—I misjudged him as a typical jerky, preppy fratboy, and we didn’t really socialize.

About mid-winter, we began to become friends. I don’t know exactly what happened. He was going through a rough time: his brother was very ill (cancer, has since recovered, thankfully) I did my best to reach out. We just hit it off as friends, better than I ever imagined. Maybe we unconsciously knew that the other was hiding the same secret? By the time he left in late April, we were much closer, and I continued to communicate with him through the summer.

By this point it was the fall of 2004. A couple of days into the school year, I received an email from MBA Man, which was pretty normal. However at the end, he asked me to read his blog and gave me the address, stating it was really personal but that I should read it and ask questions if I had them.

I realized upon reading that it was his way of coming out to me. I was quite surprised, but nothing changed between us. Following is an excerpt of the email I sent him the day I read the journal (edited to remove names):

"...I had the opportunity to read your LiveJournal last night. Clearly you have had much on your mind and have been under a lot of stress of late. Yes, it was quite personal, but I want you to know that you can trust me...you need not fear judgement from me, and what is private will stay that way. You can talk to me.

Very simply, you are awesome!! (In [Chair] terms, a guy worthy of
many "Gold Stars") I have a great deal of love and respect for you as a friend, leader, and most importantly as a person. You are one of the kindest, most generous, caring people I know. You've always been extremely good to me, and treated me like I imagine a big brother might. I feel thankful and blessed to know you and have you in my life. The love and respect I have for you is unconditional. Nothing you tell me will ever change that. You are the same [person] I have always known...the person that makes me laugh. The person that always lended me a hand on [committee] when I needed one. The person who brought me out of my shell more than I have ever been..."

I met him for dinner a few weeks later when I was in the cities for a conference. We talked about a lot of things…life, his coming out process, his new relationship… I wanted to say something to him right then, let him know that he was not alone, but the time wasn’t right. I wasn’t ready.