I remember thinking in high school that the friends I had there would be my friends forever. We were inextricably bound at the hip. If you saw one, the other was sure to be nearby. When I went off to college my interests changed & I began to dream a bigger dream while my friends from home seemed to be stuck. Whenever I went home to visit it felt like someone had pressed "PAUSE" on their lives. Everyone was seemingly the same and I was often accused of changing because I no longer carried the infamous Baltimore accent where words like leather become "levah" or dog becomes "dug".
In college, I garnered friendships with like minded people & quickly began to think we'd be friends for life, but the people I was closest to in college I only speak to once, maybe twice a year because "life" happens and people lose touch even though you promise not to.
Once I moved to Atlanta, those high school friends predicted I wouldn't last one year in Atlanta. To this day, I'm not sure why that surprised me because they didn't think I would last a year at Hampton University because "it's expensive to go there." They predicted I would fail at every major step I took. One even said, "what makes him think he can just go to Atlanta and write? He'll be back in a year." I thought, "people will tell you, 'you can’t' because they’re afraid of what you’ll become if you do."
After living in Atlanta about three years, my core friends were gay people. We met at a time when we were all discovering who we were and embracing it. We were trying to find our place, our niche in the gay community. For the first time, I connected with friends on every level. We did everything together from partying to travelling to eating. If one knew it, we all knew. There was no such thing as a secret among us because gay men talk as much, if not more than, women.
We believed we were cut from a different cloth. We weren't the typical group of gay boys. We didn't sleep together, date each other's boyfriend, do any of the seedy things like sex in the park, bathhouses etc. Nor did we participate in illegal "stunts" because we all were gainfully employed; some of us were entrepreneurs even.
We vowed, in our 20s, not to be the old gay men in the club trying to fit in with the young boys by dressing young. We decided we would do & be something different, but I began to see some of the group becoming who & what we said we wouldn't which ultimately caused us to become more & more estranged. Initially, I thought it was because our schedules had changed or because we would be involved in relationships, but our lifestyles changed. There were secrets built on lies, deception and an array of untruths. I felt how toxic the relationships were becoming and realized I was growing in a different direction. Breaking off those friendships were just as painful as any break up, but I knew there was no other option because if I can't be honest with someone, we can't be friends.
I resolved that I had to let go to make room for healthy friendships in my life....