BY FA ABDUL
I would like to tell you a story about my friend, Adri. I met Adri for the first time at the theatre. I found him gentle, intelligent, sensitive and amazingly friendly. We clicked so well on our first meeting that we decided to keep in touch.
Within the first six months of our acquaintance, we went out often, visited each other’s homes and even cooked for each other. Our friendship blossomed within a short span of time.
However, in the weeks that followed, Adri seemed a little preoccupied and kept his distance – as if there was something on his mind, something troubling him. I tried to coax it out of him – but he remained clamped up.
Finally, after a couple of weeks, Adri had a change of heart. He called one night from out of the blue – it was past midnight and I was getting ready for bed. I heard his voice breaking on the other side and sniffles soon followed.
“I got dumped,” he said.
I was somewhat surprised at first as I did not know he was actually seeing someone. But I kept my mind focused on Adri and did my best to calm him.
“It’s difficult not being able to tell…”
Adri kept speaking in short, incomplete sentences.
“I don’t have the guts, Fa…”
“It’s easier to be in the closet.”
“I am afraid people won’t look at me the same way if they knew.”
My mind was in total chaos. I wondered if he was telling me what I thought he was telling me. But it couldn’t be. Adri seemed like a regular bloke, he was like a brother. I couldn’t imagine him being a—
“I’m gay, Fa.”
I had to say something in return. I knew the longer I took, the more hurt he would get. But what do I say when I was raised to believe that homosexuality has no place in society? I bit my tongue. I was confused.
“He wants someone who isn’t afraid to step out of the closet.”
As our conversation grew more intense, I managed to say a few positive words, hoping to settle my dear friend’s restless heart. However, with Adri bidding me goodnight, it was my turn to feel restless. My mind was having a battle of its own.
I have never had a gay friend. I do not know how to behave around a gay person. I fear how I will be portrayed by a third party if I am seen with a gay. But Adri wasn’t just any gay person. He was my friend.
I began recollecting our eight months together. And I could not think of any moment when he appeared ‘gay’ to me. Adri has always been Adri – my silly, bubbly friend who would feast on buffets of ice cream whenever he felt stressed. I realised then that Adri’s sexuality did not matter to me – his personality, his quirkiness and his friendship did.
A week later, I met Adri for coffee. I have to admit I was a bit nervous to meet him face to face after the confession. But amazingly, as soon as we began chatting, he became the same old Adri to me. The fact that he preferred men to women made no difference to our friendship at all.
Adri and I have been friends for four years now. He has been in and out of a few relationships. And I have had the pleasure of meeting some of his boyfriends – he has good taste in men, I have to say. But Adri is still hiding in the closet. He still is afraid of facing society who endlessly discriminate against homosexuals like him. I do not blame Adri for wanting to protect himself.
I hope one day Adri would not have to hide anymore. I hope Adri will meet his soul mate and begin a committed relationship. I hope Adri will get the opportunity to be a father – I know he will make an amazing dad. And above everything, I hope Adri will be happy.
Having a gay friend made me reassess my ideas about homosexuality. If only everyone was fortunate enough to have an Adri in their lives, they would too.