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World AIDS Awareness Day

December 1st, 2006

My freshmen year in high school (I may have told
this story at some point, I guess we'll see.) I had this huge crush on
this really sweet guy. He was blond with bright blue eyes and pale
skin, which was totally out of character for me. I've always been all
about dark and mysterious. He was in my grade and he was so incredibly
full of life. Smiling and laughing almost all the time, friendly,
caring… everything I was not. He had a girl friend and she and I were
sort of friends so I tried to avoid letting him know about my crush.

It
came time for the homecoming dance and I was dating someone but my
parents didn't approve of him. Lee (my crush) had just broken up with
his girl friend so I asked him to go to the homecoming dance with me.
That's when he decided to drop the bomb.

Sara had been very discrete about their break up.
He had asked her not to tell anyone why he said he couldn't be with her
anymore promising he'd tell everyone as soon as he felt comfortable.
You see, Lee was a stage actor. And back stage one night during a
rehearsal, while waiting for their cue, one of his coworkers kissed
him. One of his male coworkers. And Lee was smitten. He was gay.

I
cried. Not because my friend was gay. That was fine with me. I already
knew at that point that I liked both boys and girls. I cried because my
crush would never return my affection. So instead, Lee and I made it a
point to expand our friendship. We started doing everything together
when he wasn't working. We loved each other with a fierceness that only
close friends who know there will never be the threat of sexual
interest can. And looking back, he was probably the best friend I had
growing up.

Lee joined a group for gay teens to help raise
AIDS awareness in the community. He firmly believed everyone should be
aware of what they were facing, especially the rebellious teens in our
school, both gay and straight, and so he preached to everyone who would
listen about AIDS and HIV statistics. He tried desperately to get me to
join but to date I still haven't come out to my parents. That would
have forced me to do just that and I didn't want to. But because of his
encouragement, I started getting tested for HIV every six months from
the time I became sexually active. Thankfully, through all my risky
behavior and my cavalier attitude, I've managed to avoid any incurable
diseases.

I don't know what ever happened to Lee. Last I heard
he was making his way to Broadway… his dream. My ex was jealous of
our friendship and frightened by his sudden interest in the same sex
and refused me access to my friend, convinced that he was "catching
homosexuality by association". He knows he's bisexual now and is still
completely homophobic for the fear of someone finding out.

I've
no regrets regarding our friendship. I'm glad I knew him and even
happier that we both moved on from my crush. There would have been much
more hurt involved had I found out after starting a relationship with
him that he was gay. But I saw a few journals and news articles about
AIDS Awareness Day and I thought of him.

So this is my tribute to a loving friendship lost. I've missed you, Lee. I hope you're doing well.

 

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