October 1997

On August first of this year, I came out for the first time to my best friend.

It happened in the middle of the night as the two of us were coming back from our day-long trip to San Diego. We had decided to take some time off together just to get away from all of our responsibilities and have some fun. This trip had been the first I had taken with my best friend of seven years.

That is something, considering that we have become as close as brothers over the years, have spent a great deal of time together, trust each other completely -- and, consequently, are totally honest with each other.

Because we had grown so close, I was feeling increasingly guilty for hiding the truth from him. It really felt bad to have to lie about such a fundamental aspect of my being. I didn't want to. But I had to.

After all, I really value our friendship, as does he, and didn't want to jeopardize it. I trusted him, but I didn't know how he would react to such news. I had hidden it from him since ninth grade, when I knew for sure. Back then, we had been friends for only three years, so it wasn't a big deal to lie. But now, as we were about to begin our sophomore year in college, I just didn't want to lie anymore.

It was well past midnight, as we were driving back. We had decided not to spend the night in San Diego, but instead to go back home -- there wasn't much left to do there.

Sure, we had a good time. We always have a good time together. Not because we party, but because we talk -- a lot. Mostly, we talk about our lives, but often he would want to talk about relationships (his really), sex, and all else that comes with it.

Of course, I would dread this, because it meant I would have to lie to him yet again. And often, my steadfast lying and lack of desire to discuss the subject of relationships and sex would temporarily alienate us from each other.

I knew I couldn't go on lying to him. It wasn't fair. It meant that our relationship was based on a lie, and I hated myself for that. Often, I got so repulsed by the situation that I was ready to break off our friendship to keep myself from having to lie anymore. I respected him too much to continue doing that. But, I valued our friendship too much to end it; and I was afraid of his reaction, of his repulsion, of his hatred too much to tell him the truth.

My concern was that if I told him, it would, if not ruin our friendship, change it forever and for the worse. What if he isn't comfortable with me anymore? I thought. Worse yet, what if he is so scared of what he says that he watches every word and no longer speaks his mind? What if he is no longer honest? What if our friendship ends?

I dreaded all these questions, but they were legitimate ones. Every one of them and more were possible outcomes to my confession. But I knew that I had to tell him the truth. Whatever follows I will deal with then, I thought.

Needless to say, I was incredibly nervous during the whole San Diego trip. My mind kept thinking back to the task that still awaited me. I couldn't believe that I was actually going to tell him. My God, it would be so final.

Once I say the words "I am gay," the lying will be over and the truth will stand on its own merits -- no going back.

As our ride back began, my nervousness turned to utter fear. I decided that it would be easier to let him guess what the "big secret" was. I had told him that I had a big secret which I couldn't tell him, and he had gotten upset that I didn't trust him enough. Now, I thought, I would let him guess.

It wouldn't be long until he guessed that I was gay. After all, he had asked me before -- though at times jokingly -- if I was indeed gay. He knew me too well not to have at least wondered about it. I always brushed off the question or comment, ignored it, or lied. But this time it would be different.

So, as he was driving, I told him that I needed to talk and to turn the music off. Usually, he wouldn't listen to me, but he sensed it was something serious and did it immediately.

I said that I was ready to tell him my secret, and asked him to guess what I was going to say. I was terrified as I said these words and waited for his reply. What I was doing was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life.

After a few tries, he jokingly said, "You're gay." I said, "That's it."

He turned around and looked at me, waiting for my laugh. His eyes widened during a long pause, as he realized that I was serious.

(More to come in the next issue)

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