My son told me about a conversation he had with one of his female friends (he's very careful not to call her his girlfriend...) the other day. It went something like this:
Friend: What would you do if one of your best friends told you he’s bi?
Son: …Congratulate him?
Friend: No, seriously.
Son: What? Seriously.
Friend: It wouldn’t…freak you out a little?
Son: Why should it? He’s coming out and accepting himself and wants his friends to accept him. That’s awesome.
Friend: I don’t know…
Son: He’s one of your best friends, right? Being bi or gay doesn’t change who he is or what you liked about him. Really, it’s like…part of who he was all along, part of what made him the person you liked to begin with. Why should telling you make you feel any different?
As a parent, I've tried to raise my kids to be open-minded, good people. I'm so grateful that some of what I've tried to teach them has made a difference. He told me that, after they talked, she agreed that it shouldn't be a big deal and isn't going to change how she treats her friend.
I only know a little about her and even less about the boy she was talking about, but I do know that they both attend the same church and I know that church doesn’t exactly embrace the LGBT community. I hope he has an easier time of it now, and that her example opens the door for other people to support him.
My heart goes out to him, and all the other kids out there, treading water and waiting for a helping hand out of the deep end. Maybe if there are more conversations like the one my son had with his friend, there will be fewer tragedies.
One can hope, at least.