March 1998

As I write this it is the day after Valentine's Day (as usual I've missed the theme of the issue by a month!). While I don't have any great personal romantic story to share, I have been witness lately to one very special relationship.

My friend Tyler (not his real name) is 18 and he is gay. I was the first person to know this about him and still one of only a handful of people who do. When I found out about his sexuality, somewhat by accident, ten months ago. I told him that I wasn't going to ask him to talk about it. In fact, I decided I wasn't going to bring it up at all. When he was ready to talk he knew where he could find me. It turns out that I waited nearly six months for him to feel comfortable enough with himself and with me to say anything. One day he saw me online and asked a few questions. For him it was a whole lot easier to type what he wanted to say than to actually speak the words. I don't think we talked again about being gay for another few weeks.

Gradually, however he has opened up, becoming much more confident and comfortable with who he is. We talk about gay issues now the same way we talk about school or politics. Two months ago he couldn't even say the word "gay" out loud. So much has changed in that time and the transformation has been amazing to watch. As Tyler has come to accept that he is gay and been able to see the possibilities that exist for him in life, it's as if a giant weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He smiles a whole lot more than he used to and every once in a while we'll be driving around or having coffee and he'll just start giggling over something he's thought of.

Of course, the reason for all this happiness may be the fact that he has recently started seeing his first boyfriend. Sean (another pseudonym) is absolutely wonderful. He's sweet and kind and gentle with Tyler and when they are together they look totally happy. If I had set out to hand pick someone to be Tyler's first boyfriend, I would have been hard pressed to do better than Sean.

Which brings me back to Valentine's Day. Tyler surprised Sean (with a little help from yours truly) with a picnic on the beach where they had shared their first kiss, complete with candles, flowers and romantic music. It was a beautiful day for both of them and it renewed my faith in romance. I hope that many of you had a Valentine's Day that was equally filled with joy.

* * *

On a more personal note, I talked to my friend Michael the other day. You may remember him as the friend who had an entire column devoted to him a few months ago. While we were talking he said something that I thought was very cool. He started talking about how we always seem to do things that are "straight", whatever that means. So he suggested that when he and his girlfriend are home in a few weeks for Spring Break that we could all go out to a gay bar if I wanted to.

Now let's ignore for a second that I really don't enjoy the whole gay bar thing (and the fact that neither Michael nor his girlfriend is legal .... a minor stumbling block). I thought the whole idea that they would go there just so that I would have someone to go with was extremely cool. I told him that I didn't think they'd enjoy it but maybe we could all go to the mall together and check out guys instead! He said that would be cool, too.

Michael has been an amazing friend and in many ways we are much closer since he found out I was gay. Never underestimate the value of supportive friends in the coming out process. They can make a world of difference.

Comments can be sent to me at BCEagleguy@aol.com and if you're looking for a glbt support group near you, check out the directory on my web page.

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