Ben | 31 | Edinburgh, Scotland | Administrator
So my best friend in all the world texted me to say he had developed a website where people could talk about their experiences of coming out. Then he said it was also for stories from people whose friends had come out and would I write a small piece about my experience of him coming out to me. “I’d love to, would be an honour” I said. “Leave it with me and I’ll send it to you shortly”. That was about two weeks ago and I am only just getting around to writing it. It turns out that writing this is not as easy as I thought it would be. I have started it a few times, got stuck and given up. It has actually caused me a little bit of stress trying to think of what to write.
You see Wayne is my best friend and always will be and I want this to be good. Really good.The problem is this: I can’t remember him coming out to me!! I’ve been worrying and feeling like a terrible person for the last two weeks because I cannot remember this huge moment in my friend’s life. How bad is that? Actually don’t worry I have a plan! You see Wayne just uploaded his coming out story from his own perspective so all I need to do is have a quick read of that, it’ll jog my memory and voila! It’s like school again, copy your friends work, make it slightly better and wait for the merit points!
Oh deary me. So I just read it and he states in detail the first moment he told me he might fancy boys and not even a tiny part of me remembers it. Now I aint got much going on upstairs I’ll admit but you would think that after reading an exact account of what happened that I’d remember it slightly? Oh dear, sorry Wayne. The worst thing is I have just texted him to say I’ve nearly finished and I’ll send my story over later today! Well that’ll be a good story eh?
“Once upon a time my friend told me he was gay but, like, I can’t remember it ‘n’ that. The End”.
So apparently he told me he might fancy boys when we were both 19. Apparently we were on our way back to our respective universities and both had to change trains in Derby so we stopped off at a pub before we got our connections. We used to do this a lot and I remember it well. It was the Crown and Cushion (oh yeah, classy joint) and it was about a 4 minute walk from the station. We were lazy and slightly overweight in those days (not the Adonises you see before you today) so the closest pub always won. I remember it so well. The crappy lager that I don’t think either of us liked but we drank “to look manly”, the terrible 1970s decor, the bigger boys that looked like they’d beat us up, that pub smell that you just don’t get since the smoking ban and the juke box. Oh the juke box! We used to put on Mya’s “Case of The Ex” all the time. I think we put it on seven times in a row once. My word I bet we were popular! You see I remember it all so vividly and I remember it very fondly. I remember it with a smile and every tiny detail is still engrained in my mind but I genuinely and honestly cannot remember Wayne telling me he might fancy boys. You know what? I shouldn’t worry. I have been looking at this all wrong. The reason I cannot remember it is not because I am a bad friend or I have some kind of brain deficiency. It is far more simple than that.
"The reason I do not remember is because it clearly was no big deal.
It didn’t matter!"
I remember every single thing, good and bad, that I have done with Wayne, in fact my entire senior school life was one big Ben and Wayne love in (we were often called gay at school). And if you split these memories up they must fall into the two categories of “pre coming out memories” and “post coming out memories”. But the thing is, and the thing I think anyone thinking of coming out should take note of is that both sets of memories are exactly the same to me. The fact that half of them are “straight Wayne” and half are “gay Wayne” makes absolutely no difference.
Wayne was and is my best friend and when he came out to me it didn’t change anything. It is Wayne as a person that I love as a friend and it could not matter less that he happens to be gay. It made no difference to our friendship or to the way in which I perceived him. It wasn’t as though it suddenly became a big issue or his defining characteristic. It is just one tiny facet of everything that makes him Wayne. In the same way that he happens to have dark hair or happens to have a big nose (sorry mate but it is a corker!) he also happens to be gay. And that is not to belittle the importance of one’s sexual identity but simply to state that it should not be THE defining thing about a person. I remember asking him years later why he took so long to come out as he should have known I wouldn’t have minded and his reply? “I was waiting for you to come out first! I was sure you were gay!” Sadly no, I was just so darned pathetic and geeky I never even kissed a girl until I was 18. Obviously I’m a massive stud these days and hench. Very hench.
Reading Wayne’s story made me a little sad. I don’t think I realised (even after over ten years) how difficult it had been for him or how much of a big deal it was for him when he told me that he might fancy boys. Part of me wishes I had reacted more strongly or given it more credence but to be honest, I’m pretty proud of my 19 year old self. I am proud that even back then, as a teenage boy, it made no difference to our friendship. I would never profess to be able to give advice to anyone as I am a massive loser but I will say that if anyone reading this is struggling with the notion of coming out then I think it is worth remembering how little difference it made to our friendship.
"I think Wayne would agree that it is probably
"I also firmly believe that it is up to the individual to decide how and when they
choose to come out and that for some people waiting can be a positive thing."
I know that in a way Wayne was very fortunate that he had a very large yet very close network of friends all of whom were wonderful and open minded and that not everyone is as lucky but I still truly believe that those closest to you will still see you in exactly the same way as they do now. I will not “advise” any more as I think that one of the things that makes this site so amazing is that it is all about sharing experiences and not about lecturing or offering patronising guidance. Instead I will simply relate to you one of my favourite ever memories. It does not involve 'dark haired Wayne', 'big nosed Wayne” (Jesus sorry again mate!) or 'gay Wayne'; it involves Wayne. Simply Wayne, who happens to be gay.
When we were about 14 we were right sad little geeky losers and loved The X Files (of course these days we are pretty much the perfect specimens of manhood). We decided to go over to the school fields one day and try and make our own UFO video using some sort of dustbin lid of frisbee or something. Now I wont go in to detail but as you can probably imagine the end result looked less convincing than Mickey Rourkes 'face'. But that wasn’t what mattered. The important thing, and the thing I still remember, is that it really was an amazing, slightly nerdish, losery, funny, wonderful day and just one of thousands of memories I have of my best friend Wayne who just happens to be gay.