|Runner-Up of the Written Category
"Love Knows No Gender"
By Courtney Neale - WI
2012 KarMel Scholarship Submission
Description of Submission:
"This is a personal piece about my boyfriend coming out to me. It deals with our relationship and the important
lessons about life and love that I learned from it." - Courtney
Why Karen and Melody Liked It:
It's great to see from the view point of an ex who learns about her boyfriend being gay. In real life, it's not always a
quick acceptance but something that evolves as one comes to understand it.
|Do you like this? Then feel free to send an email message to
Derek’s grip on my hand tightened as he swallowed nervously before he began to speak. I knew that something
was amiss because after knowing him since childhood, I could sense when he was upset. His eyes darted
nervously around the room and I became increasingly anxious. Despite it all, I knew that whatever it was we could
make it through, I had faith in us. I was not prepared for what happened next.
He looked me in the eyes and I will never forget the way his eyes pierced into my soul with a mixture of pain and
hope as he said, “I need to tell you something, something very important. I hate to do this because I know that it will
change everything between us. I love you and always will, and because of that I hope that you will understand. I
have been battling this and need to be honest. I think…I think I am gay.”
My heart sank as my head attempted to understand what he was saying. What does he mean that he thinks he is
gay? How could my boyfriend of two years realize overnight that he was not heterosexual? More importantly, I have
known him almost half my life. How did I not see any signs? We were intimate, up until that moment I thought we
were in love. How could I have been do wrong?
In those moments right after he told me, I felt as if my world has stopped. I felt my pulse quicken and my heart felt
like it was being ripped out of my chest. I was frozen in time.
I had always thought I was so intuitive to other people, especially Derek, because we had been nearly inseparable
since middle school first as friends and then more recently as lovers nearly half a decade later. I was at a loss for
words; they were literally trapped in my throat as a plethora of thoughts and emotions went whirling through my
mind at a mile a minute.
He begged me to say something as he continued to hold and caress my hand. I knew that he was waiting on baited
breath for any sign of my reaction towards his news.
I’m not proud to admit, but I panicked and my natural defense mechanism of flight kicked in. I dashed out of his
room without uttering a word. I heard him calling after me as I ran down the street to the train platform and quickly
sprinted onto an “El” car. The doors closed as I realized that tears were rushing down my face.
Looking back, this was my lowest moment. It was not realizing that my relationship was over, nor was it in the
aftermath that followed. My lowest moment was running away from Derek when I knew that he needed my support.
In those immediate moments I gave into selfishness.
I blocked out the world for a week while I went through a multitude of emotions. My phone exploded with voicemails
from Derek begging me to just listen to him. I knew that he was going insane not being able to talk to me, to
comfort me, or even to make me understand. In my head, I knew all of these logical things, but my pride and my
heart felt so wounded that I couldn’t talk to him. I will be honest; it took time to heal. I felt hurt, anguish, frustration,
fear, loss, and love. What bothered me most was thinking about how hurt and scared Derek was? I know that he
needed me, and I was not there.
I started to analyze our relationship from day one by looking at all the pictures we had taken, notes we had sent,
recollecting every touch, every kiss, every glance, and even listening to the piece that he had composed for me
when he first told me he loved me. It was then that it first hit me as I listened to the trill of the piano notes (we had
always been able to communicate through music, him through piano and me through dance) that I realized that this
new revelation didn’t change who Derek was. Derek was still Derek. He was still the best man I knew, the man who
knew everything about me and who loved me in spite of it. He was still my best friend. I began to panic as I realized
that he might mistake my silence as disgust and I needed to let him know that even though I was hurt I would
always support him.
I raced to his apartment because I needed to talk to him. I had waited too long already. I didn’t bother knocking,
used my set of keys and found him sitting on the sofa staring out into space.
My sudden presence shocked him as he called out my name. I interrupted him. I had been rehearsing what I was
going to say to him, how I was going to make him forgive me for my incorrigible actions.
“I’m so sorry, that I selfishly focused on myself. I’m sorry I left you. I know now that you need me now more than
ever and I love you enough to stay and help you. I’m hurt, but I need you to explain to me how this happened,” I
needed him to understand. He stood up and wrapped his arms around me as we cried together. Our tears mixed
as we let each other feel and let go of all the hurt and pain that we had been experiencing alone.
He eventually told me that it was subtle for him, the little things that he would notice about himself. It was a battle
for him as he tried to maneuver the treacherous waters of self-reflection. He made sure that I knew that it was no
reflection on who I was as a person or a woman or as a lover. We talked for hours and eventually I saw how
difficult it must have been for him. Derek had been so confused and the hardest part was not being able to tell me
about it. He wanted to be sure before he finally came out and became fully liberated.
After weeks and months of discussion, hugs, and more tears, we had finally told each other everything that we felt.
We officially broke up as a couple, but remained inseparable as we transitioned to a platonic relationship. I helped
him come out to our friends and we were there for one another every step of the way as we navigated in this newly
carved out place.
Ultimately, he came out to his family with me sitting by his side holding his hand. As painful as it was to rehash the
emotions that I had felt months prior, there was no place I would have been than supporting my friend, my best
friend, through the most difficult time of his life.
Years have healed old wounds and Derek and I are dear friends; we have mutual respect, admiration, and a deep
love for another that is everlasting. He has been in a relationship with his boyfriend for almost a year now and they
are blissfully happy. Sometimes when I think about that fated day when my world changed forever, I almost feel
that it was meant to be. It was that day that I truly learned that love can and will conquer all and holds no judgments
and no assumptions on its recipients. I support Derek in everything that he does and vice versa. To be honest,
he taught me the meaning of love.
I love Derek no matter his sexual orientation and loving him has truly opened my heart up to so many different
forms of love. I feel even more complete now. Not only that, but because of Derek I have discovered my passion in
being an advocate for equality in the LGBQT community. On my university campus, I have participated in events
encouraging open dialogues and fighting for equal justice for all. As I learned from Derek, love knows no gender. I
am working to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to learn and experience love.