By Nick Daley

Back in March of 1996, a friend of mine went to NYC and saw RENT. He loved it and somehow or another became acquaintances with Anthony Rapp, who plays Mark Coen in the original cast on Broadway.

I was extremely excited to know a person who Knew Anthony Rapp!! I started listening to RENT non-stop every morning on my way to school for 6 months or more. I was still not out to anyone and I was hurting inside because I couldn't show anyone my true emotions and feelings. Listening to RENT helped me relate to the world around me. I started seeing myself in the character Mark Coen because in the show, Mark is different from the rest of the cast.

Most of the time he's alone... striving to make a living, Mark is the only character that is not gay, so again.. he is alone or different. Mark is also the only character without AIDS. In the end, he will be left healthy, but alone. Listening to Tom Collins, a character who is very much into electronics and programming, talk to Angel, a drummer in a sidewalk band and a drag queen, was truly magical to me. Understanding that a same sex relationship can be as wonderful as a heterosexual relationship helped me a lot. I saw that I was not alone in the world. I could see that others wanted the same things I did and there were others just like me. I was so amazed at the love shared between Angel and Tom... I had never heard such sweet words exchanged between two people, let alone two people of the same sex.

Another part of the show that brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it is in the second act. The song from Roger to Mimi. Roger is a songwriter who fell in love with a girl named Mimi. Mimi is an exotic dancer at a club who finds her way into Roger's apartment in search of a light for her candle, which is for the drugs she is on, although she doesn't tell Roger that. On the CD, the song is Disc 2, track 16. The title is "Your eyes." Mimi is dying and Roger and her had a fight and both pretended that they didn't really like each other through the whole play. Both of them secretly longed for each other though. As Mimi is dying, Roger pulls out his guitar and says he has written a song for her... one that took all year to write. In the song he says there is something he should have told her, and he would die for one more day with her, because he should have told her that he loves her.

It's that very song that symbolizes most of my secret crushes on people. I would love to tell them how I feel about them but I'm afraid to.. and I wonder, will it take someone dying for me to tell them how I really feel? RENT helped me come out. As a matter of fact... I came out right after I'd heard the whole show twice. I just wanted to be able to talk about what has been hidden deep down inside me for many years. I told one person, then another... and my parents. Now I have 17 people that know, but they are all my VERY close friends and 5 of the 17 are immediate family members. I'm not sorry that I came out. But I do advise all youth to be cautious as to who you come out to. But, please.. tell someone, you can't keep your feelings locked up inside you, it hurts too much.

If you want to tell someone but don't know who.... Tell me. You can E-Mail me through my web page (http://members.aol.com/beatman2u/index.htm) or send mail directly (ReelTimeFX@aol.com), I will always respond and I'll always be there for you to talk to.

Now, as a result of my friend meeting Anthony, I am good friends with Anthony Rapp. We talk on the phone and through E-Mail... He is truly an amazing guy and has been extremely helpful. He has brought me through some of my worst emotional times, and for that I am so grateful.

So I say to all gay youth of the world, rock on and keep your heads up. Life is about facing the obstacles and getting around them. Never give up. Remember, Love isn't love until you give it away, YOU have to give it away to get it back.

Oasis editor Jeff Walsh would love to hear your feedback at jeff@oasismag.com