Wednesday, September 29, 2010

For a Friend

Aerial view of Mercer Island, public domain by Derrick Coetzee

I would like to thank a blogger I know from Pretoria for bringing to mind the events of many years ago. This is a story I believe everyone needs to hear.

To protect my friends privacy, I will call him Seth. He was someone I wish I had gotten to know better, and earlier, and someone whose story would enlighten all of us today about the most important side of morality: love.

Seth is gay. And no, this story does not end with him being killed by armed KKK brutes, nor does it end with him taking his own life, he is far more resilient then that. It ends with something more common, and for most of us, more true. Yet without the story, the ending means nothing anyways.

Seth was bright, intelligent, healthy, and in no way or manner effeminate. There is nothing about Seth that would seem less of a man, that would make him any less male than I or any man that you know. He was civilized, and never rude, and always spoke softly and carefully, every word that came out of his mouth, something he learned from his own life, and yet he still had a sense of humor. He is one of those rare people who can keep himself totally disciplined and still be open to everyone and everything around him at the same time. He was strong-willed and frank, saying exactly what he means and doing exactly what he intends. He had a strong work ethic and a sense of responsibility for himself that too many people are missing today. Seth was a talented actor and singer.

He had grown up on an island of 13 square miles with 19,000 people (since then the population has grown to 22,000), two miles from Seattle. You could ride a horse along a short section of the main drag of town. There were many beautiful cliffsides and views from out across the lake, and he lived on a one-lane road that wound up the hill with no guard rails and a 300 foot cliff on one side, from which you could see the tops of the trees. He was the only son of his wealthy father, a careless, neglectful single father who would rather spend his time with 15 egotistical mistresses who all thought they were the only one then take care of his only child.

Seth was called many names at school, and ridiculed, even though he was hardly a homosexual stereotype, and even in the place, the Drama Department, that one would least think such abuse would occur. The actors in the Drama Department were a very dog-eat-dog bunch, never caring for their own, always set on themselves, and when abuse occurred, they would not stand against it, lest they anger someone. The only person who seemed to care at all was the teacher, and since most people knew this, they simply waited until she was away, then recommenced their behavior.

I don't remember entirely what happened, but somehow one day I told Seth a joke I really shouldn't have, something very offensive towards gays. Realizing what I had done, I quickly apologized for it. What happened next I don't believe I will ever forget. He looked me straight in the eye and said "do you honestly think that would offend me? I've heard so much worse then that." He paused, sighed and then concluded: "What you would think if you heard what I've heard."

I spoke to Seth many more times, and before the school year was over, he told me he was consulting his boyfriend about moving to Houston, Texas. We were out among the fallen chestnuts, speaking after school, him alone waiting for over an hour to be picked up before I found him after Track practice. He seemed very at peace, but also very anxious to get off of our island. He was only a junior, had not graduated from high school yet, but when I met a friend of Seth's next year, and asked him why I had not seen Seth, he told me he had moved to Maryland - while his father was still here on the island. I doubt very much that he completed high school there.

Regardless of what you think about homosexuality morally, no one, in their right mind, will say that my friend Seth, my kind, civilized, open, disciplined, honorable, thoughtful, and honest Seth, was treated justly.

No comments: