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Deaf, Dumb and Blind
Room for Squares
by Philip Wong on Sep 19, 2008
A few weeks ago in this column I wrote a piece about the effect that our coming out has on our straight friends. More specifically, it discussed how our heterosexual friends had to readjust their thinking in a way not totally unlike how we had to reevaluate ourselves. This week, I’m going to examine the flipside of what happens when our friends refuse to accept the fact that we’re gay.
When we decided to tell our friends we were gay, we essentially gave them two options. They could either come along for the ride, or they could have said, “So long. Farewell". Realistically though, things probably weren’t so black and white. I’m sure lots of friends were left on the fence, unsure of what this new turn of events would entail and unsure of how to reconcile their feelings for us with their values, their knowledge. In everyday discourse with new people that I meet, I’m always interested to hear how they reacted when their friends came out to them.
I always laugh when I meet people and see that they feel somehow compelled to tell me that they know other gay people, that they have this one gay friend who does this and that and knows so and so. I guess we all do that when we meet new people though; we try to make connections. Well, this past weekend, I was doing some sightseeing around the city with a visiting friend who also brought along a travel companion. Now, I had never met this girl, so it’s only understandable, for the reason I mentioned above, that she’d feel the need to connect with me via a story about her gay friend.
She explained, “When I first met this guy, I had no idea that he was gay. We had so many things in common. I mean, we had the same tastes in music, movies, books. I was in love!” Well, imagine the poor girl’s surprise then, to find out one day that in addition to sharing a love for Dylan, Godard, and Proust, she and her friend also shared a common love for men. She lamented, “I was crushed. I’d never met someone I had so much in common with. Too bad we even had the same taste in men!”
At this point in the conversation, I thought to myself, “Okay, this girl realizes now how foolish she was, and she probably is best friends with this guy cos, you know, even if they can’t have sex, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be friends.” Right. What I should’ve realized was that I was being the foolish one, foolish to assume that when it comes to unrequited love, people might have their heads on straight and be able to see the forest for the trees.
Not only did this girl refuse to accept the fact that her friend was gay (and hence, uninterested in the type of relationship she was seemingly after), I later learned that she was even going to visit him in New York once her trip in San Francisco was over. Talk about clueless. She was blatantly ignoring everything this guy had told her. When I asked her whether she was looking forward to her trip to New York, she confessed that she was a little bit nervous. “Why are you nervous?” I asked. She responded, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to convert him.”
Wow. I didn’t say this to her, but I wished her good luck. I wished her luck not in her quest because I knew that was pointless, but luck in what I knew was destined to be a long journey for her. You see, she has some coming out of her own to do. Not the kind of coming out that her friend had to endure, apparently, without her support. But rather, she’ll eventually have to come out of the hole she’s stuck her head in all these years. And when she does, I wish her luck in finding supportive friends, cos God knows she’ll need them.
by Philip Wong on Sep 19, 2008