Love that reaches beyond the surface

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2005

A picture paints a thousand words, but in the face of a young man seated across the desk from me earlier this week, it did more than that.

He told me had been enduring harassment from other students at his high school because he was openly homosexual and had recently been suspended for defending himself against a physical attack.

His story reminded me of similar attacks my best friend endured when we were in high school.

It wasn’t uncommon for us to be walking down the hallway and hear piercing comments about his perceived sexuality (I say perceived because he didn’t even consider the gay lifestyle until those seeds were planted to that effect) or jabs at my character for associating with him, but the price was worth the ridicule.

Mike was my best friend. He was the only one who knew the song in my heart and could sing it back to me when I had forgotten the words and despite the verbal abuse he sustained, he always seemed to maintain a positive outlook.

Looking back I wonder whether the people slinging those snide remarks had any idea of the deep wounds their words would inevitably inflict.

Mike was never one to complain, but he would on occasion confide in me his innermost desires to be accepted by his peers, have a closer relationship with his father and be treated with the kind of respect he was so often denied.

Being as close to him as I was and knowing him as intimately as I did, it was incomprehensible to me how other people would so readily write him off as a lost cause, when all I could see was a remarkably talented, genuinely compassionate, loving individual with one of the most intoxicatingly beautiful smiles known to mankind.

Sitting across the desk from this young man, I wondered if anyone had taken the time to look beyond his sexuality long enough to see the other dimensions of who he was and all that he was capable of giving.

I wondered if the people harassing him had any idea of how immature and shallow their perspective was to attempt to define another person solely by their sexual preference.

How much would I have missed out on if I had thought that way. Mike is still one of my most precious friends and to this day, he continues to enrich my life beyond measure. Sexual preference wasn’t the foundation for our friendship, nor will it be a reason to end it.

Similarly, it should not be something that prevents us from loving and reaching out to others. You never know, you just might find you have a friend for life.