Posted by: CeCe | March 11, 2013

He’s funny!

When I was nine, my family and I made the move from South Carolina to California, because my dad was dying and wanted to die in the state that he considered his home.  We wound up living there, in a rural area of Yuba City, for a little under 2 1/2 years.  It was a miserable time for me; my dad was sick (though how sick, I didn’t know), and kids there were not exactly accepting of me.  I had a funny accent, wore glasses, was academically advanced, was (and am) overweight, and my clothes were weird, which made me excellent fodder for the school bullies, of which there were many.  However, I did have several friends who made my time there a little bit easier, and I’d like to write about one of them now.

At the age I was when we lived in California, boys just weren’t normally interested in girls.  So when there was a boy named Rickey who lived down the street from us who made it clear that he wanted to be friends, it was a very interesting new experience.  He would come over sometimes and we’d play with my Barbies, and I’d see him every morning when I caught the bus to school.  He was funny, sweet, and very cute.  I also felt kind of sorry for him, because like me, he was an outcast.  Despite the fact that the school we attended had over 400 students, he was one of only two black children, and the other one was his brother!  Of course kids can be cruel, and because of this, he was not very well liked.  

However, this was not the only reason that he was an outcast.  Kids teased him because he seemed effeminate to them, and they called him all kinds of horrible names.  I ignored them, because I knew what a great person he was, and I defended him constantly.

One day, after Rickey had come over for my 10th birthday party, my parents asked me why I was friends with him, and wanted to know if I realized that he was “funny”.  I said of course he’s funny, I laugh all the time when I’m with him!  Why wouldn’t I be friends with him?  The subject was dropped after that, but even after we moved from California up to Washington State after my dad had died, I thought of Rickey often, and wished I’d stayed in touch with him.

Now I’m going to go off track for a moment, but it does tie into this.  My parents were both vehemently anti-homosexual, though my dad was worse than my mom was.  When one of our cousins confessed to my parents that he was gay, he was no longer allowed in our house, and in fact, neither of my parents ever talked to him again.  Due to this, even though I spent many years as a non-Christian, I always felt that people who were gay were making the choice to be gay, and this seemed wrong to me.  Though I became more liberal in my senior year of high school and began thinking that perhaps I was mistaken, I still always sort of thought that homosexuality was a choice, and people who are gay are somehow abnormal.  I still had friends who were gay, and I loved them and love them now, but I felt that they were just not normal, and that maybe if they tried hard, they could be straight.  I tried to deny this, because it was so narrow-minded and wrong, but it’s how I felt deep within my unconscious mind.

Most people who are gay will tell people that they knew that they were gay long before they knew anything about sexuality.  Even before they developed an actual attraction for the same gender, they knew that they were different, and as they entered puberty, the differences between them and their peers became more and more pronounced.  This is extremely common; it’s the same thing that one of my other cousins, who is gay, told me (and I’ve come to realize that I always knew he was gay too), the same thing that several of my lesbian friends from high school have told me, and the same thing that other gay friends have said.  I believed them, but then I didn’t.

When I started to change my mind about what I’d been taught, I thought about Rickey.  I thought about the names that he had been called, and how he had been bullied.  We were only 9 when we met, and 11 when we parted ways, but there was always something different about him.  My parents knew it.  And I think deep down I did too, because it didn’t take me long to realize that although Rickey liked me, he didn’t like me.

A couple years ago, I looked him up on Facebook, and I found him.  Can you guess what I found?  Yes, he’s gay.  He was always gay.  He was gay even when we knew nothing about sexuality, when we played Barbies, when he came to my 10th birthday party, when we laughed and laughed waiting for the bus in the morning.  And suddenly something happened within me: I realized that yes, some people really are born gay.

I shot Rickey a message as soon as I found him, and he hasn’t written back.  I figure he either hasn’t gotten the message, or he doesn’t remember me.  That’s fine.  It was a long time ago, after all.  But he helped teach me a lesson all those years ago, and it’s a lesson that has continued to teach me and inform my views on human sexuality.  I owe him so much for that.

Partly because of Rickey, I’ve come to the point where I’ve stopped seeing those who are gay as being “abnormal”.  For them, being attracted to the same gender is just as “normal” as anyone else being attracted to the opposite gender, and often, the tendencies are there long before they know what they are, or what to do with them.  

Rickey, if you’re out there, I hope that your family and friends accept you for who and what you are.  Even though the last time I saw you was over 20 years ago, I’ll never, ever forget you, and I’ll never forget the lessons that you taught me.  Thank you, and thank you for being my friend when I so needed one.


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