About seven years ago, I lay curled up in the corner of my closet crying softly and whispering into the phone. I loved the man I was talking to so fiercely at that moment, I was probably the closest person in the world to him. I wanted to reach in and hold him, protect him from what was to come. This man had stood by my side during some of the happiest and saddest moments of my life. Over the years, I had watched him with so much love, gratitude and confusion.
I cried as he told me what I had suspected for years. As he whispered his journey, I thought of how afraid he must have been to tell me his secret. Me. Loving, admiring, me. Prudish, uptight, cautious, me. Why else would his voice tremble as the words tumbled out, finally making real what he had fought for so long...
"Are you crying?"
"Yes.", I whispered.
"Where are you?"
"In the closet." And the moment I said it we both burst into hysterical laughter.
"I just came out and you went in? Must you always do the opposite of what I think you will?! Now why are you crying? It's not like you just figured out what's been out of place for most of your life. "
"I'm crying because you woke me up early on a Saturday morning and I love you.", which was partially true. I did love him, and he did wake me up. So much, that I was crying for judgments that would be passed on him, the attacks he would hear, the cruelty that people would inflict on him, and strangely enough--I cried because unlike me, he would never have a wedding. I was sad, confused and angry.
Many years have passed. I took him to his first gay bar; I woke him up one August morning to tell him I'm getting married later that day; I introduced him to my husband; I tried to set him up with cute guys and listened to his misadventures in dating. I can't say I haven't worried or occasionally judged, but I have always loved him protectively. This year I asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said a husband would be nice.
And today, I kept checking the news for him and learned that he can have one in California.
Congratulations, my friend. I'll start working on your birthday gift. Please give me more advance notice for your big day than I gave you on mine.