Episode 03: Friends For Life

Written by: Buttertoes

Good friends. Bad friends. Weird friends. Friends our parents ask us to stay away from. School friends. College friends. Friends with benefit. Friends who keep secrets. Friends who cannot keep secrets and it’s not their fault. Facebook friends. Long-distance friends. More than friends. Just friends. Best friends. Friends for life.

Friendship is like jello. It’ll take whichever form you let it. We hardly ever know when someone stops being just a person we know and starts becoming a friend.  My friends have always been an important part of my life. When I was growing up, I never really became friends with my siblings. There was always this gap that never got filled in. Even then I did not feel lonely when I was a kid. Thanks to the never-sinking ship called friendship.

Growing up, I had a crazy bunch of friends at primary school. The latest fad then was being detectives and suddenly all of us loved to put on our deerstalkers and be Sherlock Holmes. We investigated empty rooms, trees, toilets and staircases’ looking for clues of God knows to what. We investigated pieces of papers and looked for hidden meanings in illegible scribbling on tables. When I got home, the investigation continued with my friends from the apartment. We spent a lot of time on the rooftop and in the garage just running around for no reason. The Eids were just as exciting with these friends of mine; we exchanged cards, visited all the flats, and got our small bags filled with big notes. And in the evening when I was alone, I took up imaginary roles of imaginary characters and saved people from burning houses and shipwrecks. I had friends there as well (trying not to come off as insane).

I discovered I had feelings for girls at a relatively early age and it did not matter much to me. I took it quite normally and did not hesitate to share it with my friends. As children, we are more accepting and less judgmental. My friends teased me about me and my crushes rather normally; the idea that I’m a girl who’s crushing on other girls did not seem to bother them. I remember the first woman I fell in love with. Like many people, it was a teacher. I used to stare at her in awe, scribble down mushy words on the table, and background music played in my head when she entered our classroom.  When she used to take our classes, my friends threw me paper balls with small teasing notes written on it. I wonder what happens as we grow older when we start becoming so critical and judgmental. I’m not in touch with those friends of mine but I’m pretty sure if I go up to them now and express my deep feelings for a female teacher, most of them would be horrified.

My high school was a different one and I met new friends. The initial years went well with me being me, without raising many questions. I had a close set of friends; almost all of them were weird and crazy to a varied extent. Puberty represents a very confusing time in our lives. It may sound I’m gloating, but I have had a few girls hitting on me that time, and all of them claim to be straight today. (This reminds me of the term “bisexual until graduation” :P) As the years rolled, most of my friends started dating guys and I started to feel awkward. On one hand, the peer pressure in teenage years is always tough, and on the other hand, I did not want to date guys. From time to time I slipped and tried dated guys, but none worked out, especially due to my lack of interest in them which was very visible. Those years were quite difficult, and the fact that I was falling for a close friend of mine did not help much. Anyways, to keep a long story short, I came out to another of my close friends, and it was the first time I came out to anyone. She thought I was kidding. It took me almost two months to assure her that I was not. When I did, she responded, “I’m not sure if I’m against homosexuality or if I’m okay with it, but know that whatever you do, you will always have my support”. And she did. We have been friends for around 12 years now and although we have stupid fights every now and then, she has always been there for me. The other friend I had a crush on is still my friend. Although it has been on and off (things got really awkward when I professed my love for her), today she is one of my closest friends who gives me invaluable relationship advice.

However, as a personal note, I would like to advise my readers, especially the younger ones, that if you ever have a crush on your straight same-sex friends, it’s better to not to tell them. Your friendship may get ruined. Not all relationships last, and that is the truth. Even if you think that there might be a teeny tiny possibility and your friend might like you back, ask yourself what if it doesn’t work out? Do you want to risk your friendship for a fling?

 Anyways, I’m done with being murobbi. Moving on.

My university life has been great. What people say about this being the most special part of your life, is completely true. No one knew about me during the initial years and it used to bug me a lot. There was a different side to me that I kept hidden from them and I felt like I was betraying their trust. I tried to stay honest with them as much as possible, but since I was dating, I had to lie at times to cover my tracks. After two years, I knew I couldn’t continue like this. And so I started to come out to my friends, one at a time. Now if you are in the closet and you want to come out to your friends, make sure you know them well enough and that they love you enough to accept who you are. I developed a simple method to ease the news in. Here it is step by step-

  •  Talk to your friend about homosexuality and their opinion about it. Also add how you would like to date a girl just to see what it would be like.
  • Note their reaction to it. If it’s negative, stop here and forget the whole thing. If it’s positive, move on to the next step. 
  • After one week, follow up on the previous conversation and admit that you once dated a girl for two months. (Use the word “date” rather than relationship and a trifling time period to lessen the seriousness of the whole thing)
  • Note their reaction to it. If it’s negative, stop here and forget the whole thing. If it’s positive, move on to the next step.
  • After two weeks, follow up on the previous conversation and say that you actually dated twice, and both of were girls. This usually starts a long talk and you can go on giving further details about your other life. Sometimes even they share their secrets; stuffs they have never said to anyone. This acts as a seal to your bond of trust. Believe me, there is only a few things better than having trustworthy friends in your life.

Right before the fifth step, I always go through this terrible fearful phase. What if they don’t take it as my “research” says they will? What if they cut me out of their lives? What if they keep away from me because they don’t want to be associated with the label I carry with myself? Every time I go through this phase, and every time people surprise me. Love is a strong emotion, and we see it in every relationship that matter to us. Not all my friends are liberal or comfortable with the idea of homosexuality, but they still accept me as I am.  And as much as they might try to deny it if questioned, it’s only because they love me. When people know you well enough, they understand that this single dimension of your personality does not change who you are. I have taken the liberty to compile a few statements of support from my friends (some parts of it is a bit self-bragging; but this is what they said!) –

“You will never be banished by your friends. That’s stupid! I won’t say I never discriminate; I hate it when guys give little hearts in their statuses but that doesn’t mean I will not like that person ! You are a wonderful girl; a very self-less, caring, smart and intelligent one. You are a great friend and a beautiful human being. The fact that you prefer girls doesn’t make any difference. So stop being in the fear that your friends will banish you. Fear is such a strong word. You have to come out of that fear! We all love you and you have to except who you are and be proud of it!”

This statement came from one of my best friends, who takes a lot of shit from me. I don’t think she has much idea about what her kind words meant for me. I literally had tears in my eyes.
      The next one comes from another friend of mine who was in utter disbelief when I told her about me. She thought I was kidding and it took a lot of effort on my part to convince her that I was not. When she did believe me, this is what she wrote to me-

“I’m sorry if have been acting weird that day. I was a bit shocked, and it took a long while to dawn upon me… Anyways, please know that learning about you in no way affects our friendship. It requires a lot of courage to admit something like this I know, and I am glad you could confide in us. No matter what, you’ll always remain the same person in my eyes, the most helpful friend I have known, and somebody I can always count on. I know you have been through a lot, and it worries me to think about the future. But I will always pray to Allah so that He makes everything right for you. Love you!”
I’d wish all people who have been through this, or will be going through what I have to read what they said to me. Because your friends, the precious few ones who truly love and care, will say the exact same things. The going might get tough and life might seem like an endless journey to nowhere, but the light at the end of the tunnel? Well the crazy lot you call friends would do anything to light it. If you let them, they’ll make sure to light up so bright that you never have to face darkness ever again. They’d do that, for you.  A thousand times over.

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