Brady and Bryce, coming out, hanging out, stepping out, and making new friends.
I remember reading this when someone posted it on Facebook a long time ago:
“My mom has always said she supports LGBT rights, so I told her yesterday that I discovered that one of my best friends is gay. She said, ‘Wow, I feel sorry for his parents. Nobody wants a gay child.’ So now the question is how do I tell her he’s not just a best friend, but he’s my boyfriend?”
When I saw it I remember thinking how sad it was and how lucky I was to have truly loving parents. Parents who not only said they would support me, but meant it.
Well guess what, yesterday, in my lead-up to telling her I was gay and that Bryce and I were together, I told Mom that he was gay. And before I could say, “And guess what, he’s my boyfriend,” the mom who giggled whenever she saw two boys holding hands and would say, “Oh my, isn’t that cute,” said, “Oh my god, how could that be? I feel sorry for his parents. Nobody wants to deal with having a gay child.”
Yeah I know, like right off Facebook. All I could do was question in my mind, ‘how can this be?’ What happened to love is love, isn’t that cute, or how sweet? I’m sorry, but all I could think of was WTF? I didn’t know what to say or do, so I simply turned, went to my room, threw myself on my bed, and cried.
Thankfully when Bryce came over later that afternoon Mom treated him just the way she always had, joking with him, teasing him, and giving him a hard time. It was like I hadn’t said anything. And I think again, WTF?
So now I had a new dilemma. Do I tell him what went down? I mean, yeah we had talked about coming out, and yeah I wanted to surprize him by being able to say, “Mom knows and still totally loves us.” But I didn’t tell him I was going to do it today. So how do I tell him I didn’t get the reaction I expected? And how do I tell him that when I started to tell Mom we were a couple all I did was out him?
Well since Mom wasn’t making a big deal of it, I decided to leave well enough alone for the time being, and thankfully life went on almost normally for a few days. That is until we were sitting down for breakfast and Dad asked me if I was okay. He said he’d noticed that I was being abnormally quiet lately. When he asked me if it had anything to do with Bryce, I froze. Obviously Mom had given him the bad news that Bryce was gay.
I didn’t know what to say and I’m sure turned a few shades of red.
“It does doesn’t it?” he asked.
“Yeah, kinda,” I replied in almost a whisper.
Then he put his arm around me, pulled me in close, and said, “You weren’t just referring to Bryce were you? He isn’t the only one is he?”
Then after he gave me a few squeezes and ruffled my hair, I managed to squeak out, “No.”
Of course I didn’t realize Mom was standing in the doorway to the kitchen listening to everything we said. She immediately crossed over to us, wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.
All I could do was to look her in the eyes and say, “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry? Oh god honey. You have nothing to be sorry about. I love you more than life itself,” she responded, “You being gay isn’t going to change that in any way shape or form.”
“Then why did you say nobody wants a gay child?” I asked as the tears started again.
“Oh honey, because as parents we worry about our kids and their safety, and that gives us one more thing to worry about … a big thing … often a very big thing. The way so many in this ignorant world treat kids like you it’s enough to scare a parent half to death. Every time you go out together, every time you show affection towards each other … you never know,” she replied, as a couple of tears appeared.
I can’t even come close to explaining the relief I felt at that moment. I immediately turned and gave her the biggest hug I think I’ve ever given her.
“You know Mom, you really could have picked a better way of saying that the other day, right?” I said as we broke our hug.
“I think maybe,” she replied with a chuckle. “Sorry honey.”
“Just the same, I love you guys so much, and thank you for still loving me,” I said with a laugh.
I suddenly felt a freedom like I’d never felt before. Well since I’d realized I liked guys, and especially since I’d realized I more than just liked Bryce … and the feeling was mutual.
Breakfast was very good that morning. I didn’t know a bowl of Cheerios could taste that good, even with a few salty tears in it. And let’s just say, when he walked in the back door into the kitchen and received a quick kiss on the cheek and a hug from Mom, he just stood there, looking first at Mom, then at Dad, and then at the floor. And yes, I now know exactly what totally stunned looks like. In fact I think it took him a full minute to even start breathing again.
“G’ mornin’,” I said with a grin as he finally looked at me.
“Uh yeah,” he replied.
Mom then stepped over, gave him another hug and said, “Welcome to the family Bryce.”
“Oh my God, you are such an asshole,” were the first words I heard as we walked into my room.
“I try,” I responded with a grin.Of course I was then committed to telling him the whole ‘our coming out’ story.
I finished up with, “Well that was the plan right, to come out to our folks?”
At that point he basically repeated, “Yep, you’re an asshole,” followed by, “So we still going to the pool?”
I replied, “Hell yeah,” and within a minute, trunks and towels in hand, we were out of my room, on our bikes, and on our way to the pool.
Later, after a totally awesome afternoon of swimming and just soaking up the sun, we made our way to Cheeky’s Burger Joint. Then as we were sitting out on the patio, munching on the best burgers and onion rings in town, coming out to his parents came up. He wasn’t totally scared of their reaction, but he was definitely a bit nervous. However, we had made the decision to come out and I’d actually done it, so now he felt committed. I told him several times he didn’t have to just cause I did, but he insisted.
As it happens, coming out to his parents was a bit different. Even though my parents were totally cool with it, it took Bryce a few days to build up the courage. Then, after school on Friday we, as diplomatically as possible, came out to them as we were sitting in the kitchen having coffee and biscuits.
His dad didn’t say a word. He just got up and walked out the front door. His mom, on the other hand, hugged us and told us she still loved us and always would. After talking to her about everything from realizing we were gay, to getting together, to deciding to come out, we were finally able to escape to Bryce’s room. He was very quiet and as I put my arm around him there were instant tears.
“What am I going to do if Dad hates me?” he asked.
“He won’t hate you,” I replied, “He probably just needed to go for a walk and have a think. Trust me. As soon as he does he’ll be totally cool with you … with us.”
We didn’t say much else or do much for the next hour or so, just sat cuddled up on his bed thinking. Then we heard the front door open and close. That meant his dad was back, and Bryce just froze. When we heard him coming down the hall Bryce actually began to shake.
Then there was a knock on his door.
“Come in,” Bryce kinda squeaked.
His door opened and his dad just stood there looking at us. It took a few seconds before Bryce burst into tears, jumped up, ran to him, gave him a huge hug, and got a huge hug back.
Why? Well his dad was wearing a bright red t-shirt that said, “Some people are gay. Get over it.”
“Oh god Dad, I love you so much,” Bryce exclaimed.
“Love you too kiddo,” his dad responded as he gestured for me to come over.
When I did, I was immediately included in the hug. After standing there for like a minute or two, his dad gave us an extra squeeze.
Then with a chuckle, he said “I suppose my coffee’s bloody well gone cold by now.”
His mom’s voice quickly announced from the kitchen, “Not to worry, I made a fresh pot, and dinner will be ready in five.”
Over dinner we had pretty much the same conversation with him as we did with his mom. His dad did say he was, well not shocked, but definitely taken aback. He laughed and said it wore off almost before he got to the end of the block, at which point he began to feel like a complete ass for just walking out on us. He said that’s when he remembered Jamie’s, the clothing shop across from his office building that displayed what was now his new bright red t-shirt in their front window.
Thankfully we had the weekend ahead of us because neither of us was in the mood to do homework. As we were cleaning up after dinner, Bryce gave his dad a mischievous glance, leaned over, and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.
His dad’s simple response was a laugh and, “I suppose I’m gonna have to get used to that now am I?”
Bryce’s reply was, “Just for you Dad, we’ll keep it to a minimum. Outside my room of course.”
“Okay, I think I’m going to need to go for another walk,” his dad said with a chuckle.
“Well if you do, Jamie’s has some of the coolest toys,” Bryce said laughing, as he grabbed my hand and we both ran for the back door.
A short run to the community park and a game of soccer with the guys was in order after that. And a trip to Tasty Delight afterwards was also in order, and I’m pretty sure they love it when twelve to fifteen guys show up half an hour before closing, but then again, when we’re all sitting out on the patio they can still close up on time. And yes we put all our garbage in the garbage cans or recycling.
It was close to midnight by the time we headed home. Since Bryce figured his dad would be sleeping by now he laughingly assumed he was safe. A nice goodnight kiss on his doorstep and I was making my way home to bed too.
As it happens, there was no mention of toys the next morning over breakfast. Although it does right hurt when your dad flicks your ear from behind when you’re not expecting it. Well maybe even if you are expecting it, I guess. And of course, since it was Saturday, Bryce’s first fun activity of the day would be mowing the lawn. And not to be left out, that was a me-too activity. Our lawn was smaller than theirs though, so I did get to spend about fifteen minutes laying on their deck watching him work.
Just as Bryce was finishing up, Ryan came running down the alley and yelled, “Football … the park,” and he was gone.
After putting the mower away Bryce grinned at me and asked, “Football … the Park?”
“We’re sweaty and probably stink already so yeah, why not,” I replied laughing.
Five minutes later we were chasing a ball around the football field at the park. Shirts kicked it west and skins kicked it east. An hour later, and to celebrate our 24 to 11 victory, it was time for the shirts, that would be us, to buy drinks and ice cream for the losers, that would be the skins. That also meant eighteen sweaty, possibly smelly, guys descended on Tasty Delight on masse.
The reaction we got from Charlie, the owner, as we walked in was, “Oh god, you lot again,” accompanied by a big grin as he pretended to hold his breath.
“Hey we don’t smell that bad,” Jonny remarked.
“Yeah, uh huh,” was his response.
About $70 worth of ice cream and drinks later and we were on our way back to the park. This time laying around soaking up the sun was in order.
As we were laying there, two of the guys, Matt and Greg kept glancing at each other, then scanning the rest of us.
Finally Matt said, “Uh guys. There’s something Greg and I kinda wanna tell you.”
His tone sounded pretty serious, so he immediately had everyone’s attention.
“Uh guys … long pause … uh, Greg and I are together.”
“Together?” Leo asked.
“Like you’re a couple?” Ron asked.“Yeah,” Matt replied.
“Ewww. Like you play with each other’s dicks and stuff?” Dave questioned.
“Well yeah, what do you think they do if they’re together?” Ryan asked with a laugh.
“Sorry,” Dave responded, “I didn’t mean to make it sound gross.”
“Good cause it’s not,” Ryan stated.
“And you know that how?” Jerry asked him, laughing.
“Fuck off,” Ryan replied with a well-known hand gesture.
“Uh guys?” Greg kinda asked.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but hey, what the fuck. If you like dick, so what,” Jonny said.
“Besides, I bet you’re not the only ones,” Ryan stated glancing at me.
“What?” Jerry asked.
I just looked at Bryce as if to ask, “Should we?”
He gave me a grin and then said, “No Matt, you’re not the only ones.”
At that point Ross sat up and asked, “What is this, national coming out day?”
“Apparently,” Ryan replied grinning.
“So what? We’re surrounded by fags? Paul asked looking around at everyone.
“Don’t be a fuckin’ asshole,” Ron said.
“But that’s sick,” Paul stated, “They’re all going to hell. And if we’re okay with them, we will too.”
“You better hope they’re not. Cause if they are, you’re gonna have a lot of friendly company when you get there,” Jerry said with a chuckle.
“Fuck you,” he replied as he stormed off.
“Oh shit,” Matt said.
“Don’t worry about him,” Jerry said, “He’ll come around. He’s just repeating what his ignorant old man’s taught him. Just give him time to think about it.”
“Yeah, and if not, I think maybe he and I’ll have a bit of a chat later,” Ryan added.
“So the rest of you guys are cool with us?” Greg asked looking around.“Well what is, is, and I know you didn’t wake up one morning and decide you were going to like dick,” Rodney remarked, “So yeah, as long as you don’t decide you like mine, yeah I’m okay with it.”
Of course Jerry very quickly got a smack upside the head when he looked at Rodney, grinned, pushed his tongue against the inside of his cheek a few times and said, “Mmmm.”
And given about five or so minutes of discussion it seemed the consensus ranged from, ‘I can deal no probs,’ to ‘fuck yeah why not,’ to ‘thank you for trusting us,’ so yeah, I think things were quite obviously cool. Then Ryan announced it was time to head home for some food or be in shit for being late for said food.
As Bryce and I were heading back, he looked at me and said, “Holy shit. That was intense.”
“Yeah,” was my simple reply.
“Oh and I think we’re out now by the way,” he added.
“Ya think,” I said laughing.
“And how the fuck did Ryan have us figured out?” I asked.
“He does live two doors down from you,” Bryce replied.
“That’s true,” I said, “He could have seen your dad wearing his nifty t-shirt, or he saw you molesting me on our deck yesterday, ha ha.”
“Molesting you?” he replied, “I was just making sure you were wearing your boxers.”
“Yeah, uh huh,” I responded.
Then several sandwiches and a couple of glasses of juice later, we were on our way to the pool. Apparently so were several of the other guys, including Paul. And not that we hadn’t done this five hundred times before, but after his earlier outburst I had to wonder, ‘was he not concerned about being in the changing room and getting naked for ten seconds in front of four gay guys?’ Well apparently not. In fact when the wrestling, dunking, and usual antics got under way, he was right in there like usual. He even grabbed Matt around the shoulders and pulled him underwater. It seemed I guess he hadn’t needed all that much time to think about it. And yeah, it was cool.
Of course Tasty Delight was on the agenda, and none of us smelled bad this time. I guess eleven guys with wet hair might have been a hint and Charlie simply remarked, “Pool? The usual?” and we quickly had our ice cream and drinks. Oh, and there was no breath holding this time.
So despite some rather intense drama, all in all it was a pretty great weekend. That said though, tomorrow was Monday so back to school, and how was that going to go came to mind. Friday, Matt, Greg, Bryce and I were just four of the guys. Now, thanks to the high-speed high school news network, although we were still going to be just four guys, we were going to be four who ‘liked’ guys.
Although we got some stares and some giggles from some of the girls, things went well until lunch break. That’s when Bryce and I got cornered by three of our best known, ‘I’m failing every course I’m taking but I own a big truck,’ losers. As we were preparing for a fight, Jonny, Ryan, Leo, Ron, Rodney, Dave, and yes, Paul surrounded them. Ryan then made it very clear that if they so much as touched us, or Matt and Greg, anytime, anywhere, ever, they would be occupying hospital beds … if they were lucky. And that included any of their butt fuck friends as well.
Oh, and did I mention Ryan, Leo, and Ron, were on the school’s football team? Oh yeah, and Dave and Paul were on the rugby team? Well they were, so big truck or no big truck, no one was messing with them and needless to say, other than the odd ‘faggot’ remark, we were left alone from that point on.
Life in school had always been totally cool. I got along with nearly everyone and they got along with me. I generally just ignored the ones I didn’t get along with, and they ignored me. But this was different. That little episode triggered something in me. If it wasn’t for the guys, we would have been bullied and beaten up simply because we were different.
It made me take a look around. Yeah there were the people I got along with and a few that I didn’t. But there were also those who I basically never noticed. Many of them were loners, maybe because they were shy and quiet, maybe because they were new to the school, maybe because they felt they couldn’t fit in, I don’t know. I then began to wonder ‘were they loners by choice, or like we could have been, were they being bullied and just trying to survive by avoiding people?’
So I decided to say hi or even just smile at them in the hallway. I got some seriously weird looks at first. After a bit though they started to smile back. I even got a few HI’s back. Then, after a couple of weeks, this totally skinny nerd boy came over to where we were having lunch under ‘our’ oak tree. He didn’t say anything, just kinda stood there.
When I said, “Sit, join us,” his smile was a mile wide.
The other guys kinda gave me a questioning look but it didn’t last long. He introduced himself as Jeremiah but said he preferred Jer. The guys all introduced themselves and we started to wolf down our lunches. As we were doing so, Jonny asked him something I can’t even remember anymore, and his response had half the guys almost ready to pee themselves they were laughing so hard.
Then when Robert came over with a soccer ball, Jer was right in there with us. Of course he ended up on my team, and to our amazement, he had some seriously wicked soccer skills. Talking to him later, I found out he had learned and practiced those skills alone in his back yard. In fact almost everything he did he did alone. It turns out that he had been isolated and picked on throughout his junior high school years. Nobody had wanted to associate with the skinny nerd boy with the thick glasses and big buck teeth. By high school he had given up trying … until I smiled at him and said hi.
And bullying, yeah it was happening. About a week into my new awareness program I saw our truck driving losers corner one of the younger guys and start pushing him around and taunting him. Bryce and I headed straight for them. As soon as they saw us coming they fucked off. I guess they didn’t want to come up against the rest of the guys. Anyway, when we got to him he just slid down the wall and sat with his head on his knees. I knew from the sniffles he was crying so we just sat down beside him. Nothing was said. Then he lifted his head and looked at us.After a lot of persuading, we were able to get him to talk to us and this was not the first time he was bullied. In fact daily might have been more accurate. You see Kris had a serious stuttering issue. One that most of his classmates, and particularly the fucktards, found amusing. Over the years, speaking had become an ‘only when absolutely necessary thing,’ and he decided trying to make friends would be close to impossible. Well needless to say he now had some friends he wasn’t afraid to talk to. And I’m not sure if it should be considered surprising or not, but the more time he spent with us, the less he stuttered. Oh, and yeah, the bullying stopped too. Our third addition to the group was Eb, and yeah his parents had named him Ebenezer. Going by his middle name wouldn’t have been an improvement either, Ichabod. Seriously, some parents should be locked up and the key thrown away. Eb was a newcomer to our school and to Canada. I guess, he was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, in the UK, the same place Charles Dickins was born. Why his parents couldn’t have named him Charles instead of Ebenezer though, I don’t know. Eb was definitely not a loner. On day two after his arrival, he approached us and said, “Oi, got a soft spot for me to rest me arse while I eat me nosh?”
Of course we didn’t hesitate to let him join us. His accent had us and, if nothing else, just listening to him was reason enough to have him sit with us.
His second question was, “Who are those dodgy wankers,” pointing at our trucker boys, “That one gobby tool needs to be locked up. Talks naught but tosh.”
We did explain who the dodgy wankers were and he responded by asking if we thought they’d be needin’ their arses kicked. When we replied, “Probably,” he just grinned.
We did occasionally need a translation, but for the most part we understood him, I think. Of course he did make an effort to use his more formal English most of the time.
Later as we were heading back to class, he looked at Rodney and said, “He’s a tad switched on in’ he?”
I wasn’t sure if I needed a translation or not with that one, but I did make it clear that if he was saying what I thought he was saying, don’t even think about it.
He just shrugged his shoulders, said, “Oh well, t’were a thought,” and laughed.
Now I had known most of the guys in our school since grade school and had no idea if there was anyone beside Bryce, me, Greg, and Matt who were gay. In fact I didn’t know about Greg and Matt till they came out, so I’m not sure what special powers Eb had, but in less than two weeks he plunked himself down beside us for lunch with Jesse McClintock at his side. I had known Jesse since preschool so all I could think was, ‘Jesse? Seriously?’ He looked just a tad nervous when they first sat down, but the guys put that to rest real quickly and he was immediately comfortable with us and fit right in. So now new member four.
Oh, and did I say Jer had some serious soccer skills? Well Eb put all of us to shame. He did things with the ball that, as far as I was concerned, weren’t possible using your hands, never mind just your feet, head, and chest. When we started playing though, he toned it down to kick the ball and run after it, just like the rest of us. And of course Charlie at Tasty Delight now had twenty two of us invading his space after a Saturday afternoon of soccer or swimming, but I don’t think he minded.
And speaking of Jer, one day after being off school for a week, he came wandering across the playing field to our tree. The first thing we noticed as he got closer was that his glasses no longer made his eyes look all big and blurry. He had these new kind of thin lenses that made him look like any other guy wearing glasses. And the frames were cool too. Then after he sat down, he smiled for a second, and then grinned, displaying a set of perfect whiter than white teeth. He instantly teared up as the guys told him how good he looked. Ryan even gave him a hug. His dad had sprung for the glasses, and I guess he had been saving his allowance and any money he was given since junior high. Then, with a little help from his grandpa, he had spent the last week having dental surgery and getting caps. To say he was happy would have been an understatement. He was ecstatic. And as we were chatting he said, aside from grinning at himself for an hour in front of the mirror instead of having breakfast, the best part of getting it done was knowing he actually had friends who would care.
And last but not least was Jaden. He was just a little guy born in the Philippines who moved here with his family when he was eleven. He was also a loner … and he was deaf. Now if you think that didn’t make him a target for the lowlifes, you’re wrong. Even guys who wouldn’t normally do ignorant stuff thought it was funny to sneak up on him and scare the crap out of him or send his stuff flying. This time it was Rodney who came to the rescue. As he was getting ready for lunch break, Jaden had an armload of books and papers he was putting into his locker. One of the guys pointed him out to his buddies, laughed, then walked over and flipped everything he was carrying all over the hallway. I mean, everything. Then looking at Jaden’s shocked, then dismayed, expression as he scanned his stuff spread all over the floor, he and his buddies pointed at him and laughed their heads off. I mean what could have been funnier, right? Then again maybe seeing the guy who did it pressed up against the lockers, hand around his throat, and feet dangling in the air was. Or maybe watching him pick up and reorganize every single item of Jaden’s stuff was. Depends on your viewpoint I guess.
Anyway, the clean-up done, a warning to the guys leave Jaden the hell alone done, Rodney motioned to Jaden to follow him. He did. Then once they were sitting under our tree, Rodney explained what happened and made us all promise to watch out for him. About halfway through his explanation Jaden poked him. He signed something, pointed to his lips and then to his eyes. Yeah okay, lip reading was a bit difficult when the guy talking wasn’t facing you. Rodney laughed and said sorry. Jaden signed something else, shrugged, and grinned. Then we all introduced ourselves. I’m not sure he got all our names but after Jaden introduced himself by writing his name in the dirt by the tree and then pointing at himself we all did the same. And yeah, he never stopped grinning the whole time. And from that day on Jaden’s life became a lot less stressful as at least one of us was always close enough to be looking out for him, and it only took a couple more incidents for everyone to figure out it was healthier for them to, as Rodney said, leave him the hell alone.
Jaden quickly became part of our group. And yeah, we all started learning to sign. He taught us the alphabet first, and all the best signs. Like touching the P sign to the tip of your nose and bringing it out to the F sign means piss off, or taking both hands, fingers forming a V, tapping them twice then waving the top one away means fuck off. So yeah, all the most useful signs. Of course you should never sign fuck off to one of your teachers who knows ASL. Jerry found that out the hard way. Oh yeah, and Jaden knew how to play soccer. Well he knew how to kick a soccer ball and then run after it kinda like the rest of us, well except for Jer and Eb.
Anyhow, that’s kind of about it for semester two of grade eleven. Of course that doesn’t mean we didn’t spend most of the summer hanging out. Playing soccer, rollerblading, skateboarding, swimming, and of course visiting Charlie at Tasty Delight or Roger at Cheeky’s Burger Joint were regularly in order.
Then one day, after an awesome day of rollerblading and swimming, Bryce and I were just cuddled up soaking up the last rays of the sun on our back deck when we got talking about how things changed this last semester. Like most guys in high school, we’d too often been totally wrapped up in our own lives and seldom thought much beyond our little circle of friends. But this year we did. We learned that you never know what others may be dealing with, and we learned that reaching out to someone being bullied, or giving someone something as simple as a smile or a ‘hi’ could make a big difference, not just for them, but for us too. And it had earned us some really great new friends.
A special thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.
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