by Brian Moniz
The biggest nightmare for any gay/lesbian/bisexual person growing up and coming out of the closet is the unfortunate realization that doing so can cost you some solid friendships. While anyone who dumps you over being gay is someone you do not want as your friend anyway, the sting still hurts. If you come out of the closet, and your heterosexual friends abandon you, the last thing you want to do is tell anyone else about your sexuality. It’s a move that shoves you back in the closet and makes you think that anyone you tell is doomed to not want to be your friend.
So, when I told you and you did not go running for the hills, it reminded me that there are still good people out there. You encourage me to keep being myself and not give a damn about anyone else. You laugh when I order a pina colada instead of a beer, and it is not a “what a stereotypical gay” thing to do laugh, it is a “you’re awesome for not giving a damn that the waiter made a confused face when you ordered a frozen tropical drink at this brewery full of jocks” laugh. When we go to sporting events or restaurants and you hear someone else use the word “fag” or describe something as “look how gay that is!” you speak up before I can clear my throat and scold them for using those kind of ignorant, hurtful words.
When co-workers at work first found out I was gay, they couldn’t believe it. They said things like “but you don’t act gay, you don’t talk gay, you know a lot about sports, and you don’t dress gay” and you jumped in right away and told them, “your ignorance is showing,” and respectfully let them know that those are gay stereotypes that straight people have about all gays, and that even if someone does talk or dress or act a certain way, so what? Humans are allowed to be who they are, how they are. Some co-workers even accused you of being gay too, just because you hang out with me, which believe me was enough to get former friends at my last job to avoid hanging out with me anymore. You replied back to them, “hanging out with a gay person does not make you gay. If you go out of your way to avoid being friends with gay people because you think it makes you gay, then you are the one with issues.”
When I texted you last month about a potential new friend who found out I was gay and suddenly stopped hanging out with me, you apologized to me and told me sorry on his behalf. I texted you back “It comes with the territory, sadly.” And you replied, “It shouldn’t have to.”
You’re the same friend who wishes me “Happy Pride Month” every June 1st and listens to my every word when we sit down at our favorite brewery and I tell you about my weekend at San Francisco Pride.
I also remember that you were not always this way. When you first met me, you were a little ignorant (respectfully) about gay culture and had many questions. If you accidentally asked anything that might have been a little offensive, I stopped you and explained how that could be hurtful, and rather than argue, you apologized and absorbed what I had to say and really learned from it. It was a learning experience that I think most people who have not been around a lot of gay people could use. You and your girlfriend love going on double dates with me and my boyfriend, and we always have the best time. You protest anti-gay legislation with me over social media and at marches, and it doesn’t just feel like you are pandering for politically correct “street cred.”
You will go to gay bars and restaurants with me and never get freaked out about it, and if someone hits on you, rather than do what most insecure straight men do and ask, “can we go somewhere else,” you simply laugh and politely decline their advances and take it as a compliment that a gay man finds you attractive. Truly secure people find being hit on by someone of the same sex to be flattering, not “gross.”
Most importantly, I’m not just a label or the token gay friend. Many people at work or in our social circle joke around and refer to me as “the gay guy,” and you are always the first person to correct them and say, “his name is Brian.” It is these little nit-picky corrections and things you say and do that are a constant reminder that you are a very respectful ally to me and the LGBTQ community, and you never hesitate to ask me something LGBTQ-related that you do not quite fully understand. You know that you can ask me anything and I won’t rip you to shreds for not already knowing it. Respectful dialogue is the best and only way to teach someone to help them improve on their understanding of the LGBTQ culture and become a better ally.
Because of people like you, I can feel that much more confident in myself and have a more positive outlook on the world, knowing there are more people like you who are allies. I’m lucky to have you and thank you for always being such a good friend to me and my community. This letter is for all of you who are heterosexual and cis gender, but still vocal and consistent in your support for those of us in the LGBTQ community who need all the allies we can get. It is people like you who help us rise higher in society and protect our rights as humans whether it be for same-sex marriage equality, or fighting against those who want to pass laws that make it okay to fire or discriminate us in the workplace.
We are a strong, resilient community of people, but having straight allies like you are what make us keep our faith that the world is good, and people can change with the right education on things they do not know or fully understand. Thank you Patrick, Kevin, Tyler, and Josh for being such good friends and for not seeing me as gay or queer, but as your friend for life.
About the Author:
Brian Moniz is from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner.