I remember the first time someone "came out" to me. Because this is more their story than it is mine, I'm going to try to tell it without giving away this person's identity. I'll use the name "Jordan" for gender-neutrality and won't give as many details to the timing of this. At the same time, this is also my story. I've been debating for awhile as to write this or not. This will only be posted after approval from Jordan.It was all beautifully said and you figured anyone who really loved this beautiful girl would give her their love and support. But no.“I want you to leave this house,” the grandma says coldly. “I don’t ever want to see you again. You made your choice, now I have made mine.”
While I don't want to disclose too much information about Jordan, it's important to know that Jordan is one of my very best friends. Jordan knows so much about me--Jordan knows my fears, my worries, my doubts, things I get excited about, my family, my background, my dreams. And I know all of that about Jordan. I know Jordan's past. I know Jordan's family, I know where Jordan grew up, I know the relationships within Jordan's life, I know what Jordan loves and hates, I know Jordan's worries, fears, doubts. I know Jordan really well and Jordan knows me really well. I deeply love Jordan and I know Jordan seriously loves me.
There was a day when Jordan needed me to leave work early so s/he could talk to me. I knew this had to be urgent, because Jordan knows how important work is to me and that I couldn't easily leave. We went to the place where we often go to talk and we sat there. Jordan then shared something that s/he had been struggling with for awhile. And then Jordan buried his/her head on my lap and I just held Jordan.
I told Jordan that I loved him/her and reminded Jordan of our friendship. I told Jordan that I loved how much s/he was willing to share with me.
And then Jordan lifts his/her head and looks at me and says, "I know we have a strong friendship. I know I've told you almost everything about me and I know you love me, which is why there is something else I need to tell you. There is still one thing you don't know about me."
After a few deep breaths and repositioning so we could look at each other, Jordan tells me that s/he has been seeing someone...and that person is the same sex.
Jordan tells me how they identify and that they have been wanting to tell me that for awhile, but didn't know how. Jordan was afraid of how I would react, afraid that our friendship would be gone, afraid I would be judgmental and hateful, afraid that I would stop being there and stop being supportive.
This was my best friend. My best friend who trusted me with everything, except for their identity. My best friend who I trusted with so much of myself with. My best friend who knew my heart.
As soon as Jordan told me, Jordan looked at me and asked me if I hated them. I could see the fear in Jordan's eyes, fear that I would say "Yes, I do. We're no longer friends. Leave." Jordan also told me that we did not have to ever talk about it again, it could just be something they tell me once, I know about it, and we don't discuss it.
This was my best friend.
I hated that my best friend didn't want to trust me with their identity. I hated that they thought I would just throw in the towel and walk away. I hated that it took so long for them to share that with me. I hated that they thought they needed to give me an option to not talk about it. I hated that they hid that part of themselves from me for so long.
What I really hated though, was that those were all understandable.
This is kind of a side story, but it helps prove the point. I have gotten hooked on Glee, and while this can be another topic for another time, below is the written scene of when Santana comes out to her grandma:
“I have to tell you a secret, a secret that I’ve kept from you for a very long time,” she tells her grandmother at her kitchen table. “Abuelita, I love girls the way that I’m supposed to feel about boys. … I want you to know me, who I really am. When I’m with Brittany, I finally understand what people are talking about when they talk about love.”She went on to tell her grandmother that being in the closet makes “every day feel like a war … I don’t want to fight any more. I’m just too tired. I have to just be me.”
Just terrible. But also realistic. It’s reactions like this from parents that results in so many LGBT teens being homeless or being filled with pain and self-loathing. It’s no way to treat someone you profess to love.
I loved my best friend. And I still do. I didn't take Jordan up on the option of not talking about it. I didn't tell Jordan our friendship was over. Because Jordan is my best friend. We talk about the people Jordan dates. We talk about our hopes, dreams, fears, and struggles.
Admittedly, it did take me a little bit to really understand. But more because I knew the person they were dating and had to grasp the relationship I thought I knew into what it was in reality. Just like when any of my friends tell me they started dating someone, even of the opposite sex. It takes me a little while to adjust, to understand and figure out the relationship. It took me a bit because no one directly in my life had intentionally told me how they identified before Jordan. Since Jordan, three others have intentionally told me how they identified.
It took me some time and Jordan understood. But I tried not to (and I hope I didn't) ever make Jordan feel belittled or second-guess the decision to tell me.
I know Jordan struggled in telling me. But I hope I responded in a way that reminded Jordan how loved and supported and strong our friendship is. I don't know if I responded the way Jordan needed to me or wanted me to or not. I hope I did though. I love Jordan, no matter what. No matter how Jordan identifies, Jordan is worthy of love.
Jordan is worthy of love. Jordan deserves kindness and respect. Jordan is one of my best friends and I love them so very much.