This morning Brent Bailey, perhaps the main inspiration for this blog, tagged me and two other great gay Christian bloggers on Twitter, asking us to write our variations on a theme: his latest post about Christians who’ve handled his sexuality with grace.
It’s a lovely piece and so necessary. Bleak and brooding describes most of my writing here, which unjustly ignores the dozens of friends, professors, and pastors responsible for most of my joy and all of my confidence in my faith. Enough people have gotten it right in their dealings with me and my sexuality that I could start another blog purely devoted to gushing about them. I should, because it isn’t fair to single one out. Even resolved about the friend I decided immediately to discuss, I want to describe Claudia, Joy, Laurie, Jason, and way too many others to squeeze into a post. I will eventually, I promise.
But on to Michael:
My best friend growing up was the product of a friendship our mothers had formed before we were born. They were Air Force wives stationed in Abilene, Texas, united in faith, happy dispositions, and pregnancy. Michael was born two months before me—a petty victory I would envy for years, like his growing chest hair first and reaching six feet before I did. We looked nothing alike. He was lanky, bespectacled, and olive-colored on account of Armenian ancestry. I was always shorter and paler and always fat. Ours was a Frog and Toad friendship, but even so, by the time we entered elementary school and for years after teachers would call me Michael, him David we were so inseparable.
I’ve been heartbroken twice in my life—that sleepless, nauseous broken heart in all those songs. It was never because of ex-boyfriends. Most recently this happened last November after the loss of my closest friendship from college. The first time was in high school as a result of my dissolving friendship with Michael.
It’s a long and uninteresting story, typical to how many high school relationships end. I’ll say quickly I wasn’t in love with Michael, but there was a girl who came between us, and really: How many childhood friendships end when disparate identities emerge? Probably most. By the time we graduated high school, Michael and I hardly said a word to each other. But I remember a moment during one of our many attempts at reconciliation (over AIM chat, it’s worth noting) when I asked sarcastically what he would do if I was gay. This was shortly after my replacement friends said they would never talk to me again if I ended up being gay, and I had no plans to ever come out of the closet. Michael responded immediately: “I’d be okay with it.”
Growing up where we did, hearing preached what we did, that was one of the bravest things any friend has ever said to me. I love Michael for it, and for so much more. Halfway through college he and I started talking again and grabbed dinner or beers whenever I came home for holidays. I vouched for the fact that he never smoked pot during his applying to be a police officer and was his best man in his wedding and hope someday we can live near each other again, because I want to engineer a friendship between our kids, like our mothers did for us.
A few months ago, after I created this blog, Michael sent me a message on Facebook. It remains one of the most encouraging responses I’ve received and one of the clearest expressions of God’s love and grace. “The way we grew up,” he said, “really left no thought or discussion for being gay and when I think of you and how much you mean to me and our friendship it really helps me think outside of the damn box we grew up in. I find it comical how many times I have found myself being more of a ‘gay rights’ advocate than anyone would ever think of me. I guess it’s just that knowing someone I care about who is in the same situation forces me to actually think about it instead of just swim with the rest of the fishes.” If this blog touched no other lives, that message made the whole endeavor worth it.
I love you, Michael.