As I uttered the words, ‘I’m gay’, I saw the way he looked at me and felt my heart crush. He looked at me not with disgust nor contempt, but discomfort.

Things changed, instantly.

It was never a matter of blatant homophobia; he still loved me, I knew that. But there were subtle differences.
He averted eye contact, wouldn’t hug me anymore, or even smile at me like he used to.

A few days after my coming out he and I ended up in the middle of a group conversation about homosexuality.
I heard him talk about how his platonic relationships changed when those around him come out; how it’s normal and justifiable for that to happen; how it’s big news and he occasionally struggles to see them the same; how it takes him a while for things to be normal again; how it’s something hard for him to come to terms with.

He knew I was listening, but tried to act like I had nothing to do with what he was saying, even though the conversation was so fitting to our own situation.

I sat there realising that what he said was not hypothetical, but an answer to why he wasn’t talking to me anymore.
Why he wasn’t making eye contact with me anymore.
Why he wouldn’t touch me anymore.
Why he now wanted to simply ignore my existence.
I made him uncomfortable.
Perhaps it’s temporary, an adjustment period of sorts?

Although I understand that this may be necessary, it is still hurtful. Why does he need time to come to terms with who I am?

I’ve been called a walking sin before. I’ve been told I shouldn’t be allowed to marry the person marry I love before. And I’ve even been told that my very existence is a godforsaken abomination before. But none of that has ever cut as deep as this.
I understand why: it’s personal.

For the first time, it isn’t some preacher in the street, it’s someone I love more than anything else in the whole world. It’s someone I thought loved me no matter what, avoiding me because of something as minuscule as my sexuality. Our relationship was platonic. So why does it need to matter at all?

Someone with good intentions said to me, ‘it’s because he likes you’. Whether true or not, that doesn’t make it any less painful.

I cried a lot. I mourned the loss of our friendship and for the first time came to terms with the fact that my sexuality can make the people I care about stop caring about me. Maybe I’m reading into this way too much, but the whole coming out thing is so new and foreign to me, that every response I get matters deeply. I needed support more than anything. I needed him to look me in the eyes and tell me that it didn’t change anything. But he couldn’t do that, because it did.

I need to learn to get used to the fact that not everyone will receive the news well, no matter how much I want them to. Another friend asked me if I need more time to come to terms with myself to make coming out easier. But I don’t think that’s necessary. I already accept myself, but he and many others will not.

Article by Author/s
Nyah Shahab
Nyah Shahab is a seventeen-year-old student and social activist. She spends her time outside of school doing human rights and environmental activism. As a progressive Jew, she acknowledges the importance of Tikkun Olam and strives to make a difference.

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