Yesterday we met for the first time face to face, despite the fact that we lived in same neighborhood for years. I knew he was gay and I am sure he knew that I am as well, yet we never engaged each other. I have a cousin that is his friend and she would often tell me he wanted to talk to me, but I just brushed it off because there is a 13 year difference between us. Considering what I know now, maybe I should have talked to him and NOT worry about people in the neighborhood talking about a 26 year old man being friends with an obviously gay 13 year old boy.
When we chatted and I said that to him, I saw a tear come to his eye then he hung his head as if to say yes. Something like this shatters my belief in the balance I've maintained all these years, the belief that I can’t save everyone, the belief that we all have to go on our journeys and see life for ourselves. But when that journey comes with meeting young men that NEVER had a boyfriend, families hating on them and dealing with HIV, how can I sit thinking I did the right thing?
I no longer believe that experience is the best teacher; I now believe that other people’s experiences are the best teacher. He made me see that I can’t sit on the sidelines while young gay men are trying to find their way in the dark. I and others like me need to reach back, lift up and lead those that come behind us forward. If he had taken his life to ease his pain, I am sure the tears I cried for him the other night would still be flowing. I might not be able to save him from most things that will come his way, but I will make sure he is not in the morgue as he feels will be his destination 5 to 10 years from now. How many more families will continue to play a role in the lives of their sons getting HIV by throwing them away? How many will keep men like me from trying to save boys like them from themselves?