A friendship cut off by judgmental parents
Jamie was my childhood best friend. We spent every single day together in our mutual hometown of Larchmont, playing our own made-up movies like “FartMonster Versus The World.”
My beloved friend and I were inseparable from fourth grade until the first year of high school. Even then we’d play “FartMonster” every so often, just for old times sakes.
But one day in the late autumn of ninth grade, Jamie suddenly stopped speaking to me.
Even at the locker we both shared, Jamie wouldn’t utter a word. I begged Jamie to say something — anything — but nothing came out of his mouth. He wouldn’t even look me in the eye.
As if his brain had been operated on by aliens, Jamie refused to even acknowledge my presence. For weeks, as frost began to crisp the fallen leaves of Larchmont, I begged Jamie to speak to me, to say something, even the time of day. What the hell had I done to deserve this silence?
Finally, Jamie left a note in the locker we both shared. Words scratched on a piece of notebook paper read:
“John, I’m forbidden to be your friend. I can’t talk to you. My father saw us playing the other day. He said you were ‘flittin’ around like a goddamn butterfly’. Sorry. Jamie.”
My fourteen-year-old body shaking, I held the note in my hand and felt a cavernous black hole open up inside me. It might have been right at that moment that Winter stomped out Autumn, because everything in my young life froze and my horizon darkened way too early. I was a boy, as Sir Elton John wrote, “too young to be singin’ the blues”.
I had never before cursed my “flittiness” but I cursed it now — with venom. I was an effeminate boy. And by the way, so was Jamie. Big deal, right? Yes. For Jamie’s parents (who also happened to be Quakers), it was a very big deal.
Terrified of “the butterfly effect”, Jamie’s parents moved their family to Maine in the hopes, I suppose, that their son would develop into a masculine, heterosexual lobster fisher.
My depression, in the meantime, had gotten so bad that I felt a desire to end my life. I didn’t do myself in, though, but for the burning ember of hope that one day I’d have a new best friend, another gay soul safely beside my own.
And today, thank God, I do.
But right now at least one adolescent boy is getting abused, tortured, neglected or ejected for exhibiting effeminate behavior. He might not live to experience gay friendship in adulthood, because he might not live to adulthood.
He might kill himself the way I did not. Gay adolescents who kill themselves are blinded by their self-hatred, the same self-hatred I felt when Jamie was taken from me by his parents.
“John, I’m forbidden to be your friend”
If you go to any Gay Dating Site right now, it won’t take long before you will spot at least one personal ad that says “no femmes need respond”. I humbly submit that when anyone in this so-called gay community of ours writes “no femmes” or “no sissies” in their personal ad (or anywhere else) that they are enabling the heartless actions of Jamie’s terrified parents.
If any one of us desires to have a friend or partner who is one-hundred percent masculine all of the live-long day and night, trust me there are other ways of conveying this desire. To simply write “no femmes need apply” or “no sissies” is tasteless, discriminatory, and dangerous.
Dangerous because it lets the world-at-large know that effeminate men can and should be discarded, just as I was discarded way back when.
I don’t know when it was that I became more masculine, and I don’t know when it was that I became less effeminate. And I don’t care. I don’t care if I “queen out” and I don’t care if I’m the most butch man on the planet. Sometimes I’m both and one thing I know: my best friend doesn’t give a damn and neither should anybody else.
I found Jamie on Facebook recently. We reconnected. Jamie told me he that knows how painful that must have been for me, being cut from our friendship so abruptly at such a tender time in my life. Jamie told me that things didn’t get much better in his family after that.
I didn’t even bother to ask about his Dad.