How My Friend's Courage To Come Out Changed My Life For The Better
It was like any other Saturday night. My best friend and I were laughing at memories of the past: that one time we both fell from the stage at my sister’s prom; that other time we went out to Cancun’s largest club and lost track of time, returning to the resort just in time for the 7 am buffet.
It was typical for us to enjoy some homemade cocktails while we pretended to travel back in time, remembering past experiences together.
There was something about that night, however, that suggested a peculiar event was about to happen.
Maybe it was the pop playlist we were listening to, as opposed to the common Latino playlist my friend loves to play. Perhaps, it was the formal attire instead of the usual loose sweater he wears to our weekly “meetings.”
All of these variables were out of place, but none of them seemed to fit the mysterious something that kept me uneasy as to what it was that made that night as critical as it was about to become.
After a couple of sugary drinks, it came to me that this odd feeling didn’t come from any aspect regarding my friend’s outfit or music choice, but rather, from a spark of sincerity that originated from his deep, blue eyes.
A penetrating stare that is able to captivate anyone’s attention, a stare that served to predict the importance of the revelation he was about to introduce.
Ironically, the coming out of my best friend was not dramatic at all. It was as if his eyes took control of his words; he looked at me, and in his most sincere voice, he said he was gay.
It was one of those scenes anyone would appreciate due to the honesty of his words and the confidence of his delivery.
I immediately hugged him and whispered in his ear, “I have your back.”
Even though I was not surprised by the declaration he made that night, I was unaware the conversation we had was going to transform my perspective on life, or that his personal truth was about to become a life lesson for me.
I was even more oblivious to the simple realization that those two minutes of candidness were not only going to terminate his doubts, but simultaneously, my insecurities, which essentially ignited both of our freedoms.
Throughout my childhood and teenage years, I was well aware I was nurturing my passions -- or, better said, attempting to nurture my passions -- in a close-minded society, where stereotypes and prejudices fed the lives of our generation.
For this reason, my friend and I pretended to live out the profiles of individuals who fit the strict standards of society; individuals who struggled to satisfy everyone around them, only to end up as shadows of materialistic and superficial minds.
Day to day, we were being strangled by a community whose members were too close-minded to adopt external opinions and viewpoints; members of a conspiracy against any form of diversity, reformation, or change whatsoever.
A society that is “too good” for any foreign guest, a society that stands above everyone else. At least, this is what they strongly believed.
It didn’t take long, however, for us to encounter the understanding that this obsession for creating prejudices and stereotypes was only a layer to mask their internal insecurities and self-hatred.
For a long time, I was highly self-conscious about my body image; I woke up every day to a mental discomfort that prevented me from attaining any ambition, from even peeking outside my comfort zone.
I coped with a way of life that didn’t satisfy my cravings; I was hungry to achieve a number of purposes. I wanted to cross the obstacles imposed by the judging society that outlined my life.
Thus, I betrayed myself; I told myself every day I was living the life I had always aspired, when in reality, I was living the life I had always deterred.
Unfortunately, I was terrified to make a move that wasn’t in accordance with society’s principles; I was terrified to step outside my tiny box.
There is a time and place for everything. As cliché as it might sound, it is certainly true that the most valuable things in life will take long to come.
In my case, it took about two decades for my most longed gift to appear: confidence.
What did it take? It took years of self-destruction, self-disconformities and self-hatred. It took the complete guts of one of my best friends to stand solitary on a battlefield and face the myriad of individuals opposed to his ideals, to his pursuit for change.
Most importantly, it took courage to stand by his side and become an ally of what society feared the most: individuality.
The most amazing part of this transformation was not the actual physical results I attained, or the incredible moments my best friend lived beside his loved ones, but the mental strength we both collected along the way.
We reached limits that weren’t initially visible in our globe. We went from being impotent humans to becoming the heroes in our own book.
As Christopher Reeve suggests,
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
Indeed, it is.