I had my first
boyfriend when I was sixteen. He'll always be there, like that first
boyfriend should be in a framed black and white photo in my mind. He
was sweet, sensitive, smart, not to mention heavenly. His lips were
pouty and I can still feel them against my skin whenever I imagine
Thomas has been my friend for fifteen
years; he's been my best friend for ten. He was the typical clean cut
boy next door, I was always the wild one, the controversial one.
Despite the nasty rumors we never fell for each other, and I
preferred it that way. Thomas was my closest friend and I couldn't
continue keeping secrets from him. It felt wrong. Today was the day
I'd tell him I'm gay.
you think I didn't know?" he responded.
was puzzled, "Well I thought it could have been a little of a
"Dude we've known each
other how long now?"
"You did not
know when we were like twelve."
feel his smirk, "Yeah...right," he said and hung up his
After I hung up I started on my
afternoon jog. Running along the busy city street I wondered how easy
was it to know who I really was. I thought my act was good enough to
pass. I had had two girlfriends; one in high school, one in college.
Neither were that serious. Sure I had loved them and sure I had sex
with them, but I mean that's not such a huge impossibility is it?
Marriages have been based on less truth that that. And it wasn't as
if they suspected. But still that one thought echoed through my mind:
how the fuck did Thomas just know? I couldn't concentrate on anything
I returned to work from my lunch break
freshly showered. Staring my co-workers down I thought, did they know
too? Have they been putting me on all this time? Would they act as
nonchalantly about it as Thomas did?
my voicemail when I sat at my desk. The first message was from my mom
telling me about so and so's single daughter I should call up and
take out sometime. Well, at least mom was still buying the act. I
thought about this various daughter, was she keeping a secret? A
lesbian? A man mom wouldn't approve of? A desire not to marry? Who
can ever know what someone else is actually thinking, actually
The second message was from Thomas. Him
and his gentle reassuring voice told me not to worry. He said we both
know he knows me better than I do sometimes, so stop worrying, and
staring at your co-workers like that.
collapsed under the insurmountable pressure it was under. My open
palms caught it effortlessly. He was right of course, he always was.
I couldn't expect anything less from him. It was obvious he figured
it out, how else would he be so immediately accepting?
A couple of months passed. Nothing changed. Nothing. Thomas and I
still hung out in the same bar, drinking the same Coors Light, with
both of us ending up alone at the end of the night. The life we'd
lived for six years. I guess I thought something would happen after I
came out to him...anything. I was angry about it.
"I want to go to a gay bar," I proclaim, hoping to shock
some sort of emotion out of him.
He just shrugs
and says, "Ok, it's kind of late tonight."
I am furious and I give him my best death eyes.
"What?" he exclaims, "It is."
I couldn't believe how ok with it he was. I expected an argument or
at least a few awkward moments. Instead I got fucking gay pride in a
man living behind a picket fence wearing a Ralph Lauren polo shirt.
After a while it became less about making sure he really accepted me
and more about finding a way to make him not.
"I've had sex with men before," I state, staring at him
"And women. You've had all there
is haven't you, you fiend," he responds sipping his beer and
smiling that stupid fucking genuine smile.
try harder, "A lot of men."
are you trying to prove? You're gay. I get it. We all get it. Stop
acting so childish."
A ha, I finally had
him, "I knew you'd react this way."
"What way?" He stood up, grabbing his coat from the empty
barstool it sat on, "You've been trying to get a rise out of me
"Because I want to know
how you really feel."
because you want to feel sorry for yourself. I don't care if you're
gay, don't try and act like I hate you for it."
He pulled on his coat and stormed out.
me too long to realize he was right. He was always right. And I
already knew that because he hadn't changed...and neither had I.
That's what he knew that I didn't. That's why I was alone right now,
because I didn't figure out I was still me and telling him hadn't
changed that. Thomas wasn't embarrassed of his gay best friend Alex,
but I think I wanted him to be. So I could have someone to blame for
all of the hiding, for all of the deceptions, for all of the walls I
had to put up: I had to lie because no one would take me as I was.
The next day when he didn't call I knew that
we would eventually reconcile, but that weird rift would always be
there. But it wasn't his fault, it was mine. And not for the reason I
thought it would be.