Growing up in a town of less than 1500 citizens offered little or no diversity at all. I grew up around others that belittled people for their beliefs, color of skin, or sexuality. When I moved to downtown Grand Rapids one of the first people I naturally ran into was my neighbor in the house next door. Right away when I met David I automatically knew that he was gay.
Months went by without anyone in my household or me talking to our neighbors. After this long period of time I noticed one night that they were having a get together and I thought it would be a good time to say hi and finally get to know everybody a little better. This would be the first time that my friend and I have ever gone out of our way to party with a group of homosexuals. Coming from only small town experiences, going to this party was slightly a big deal to me. I have never been at a party where I was practically the only straight guy there. I really didn't know what to expect of this.
Were these guys all going to hit on me, would I freak out at the site of two males kissing, or would it just be a good time just like any ordinary party? These were some of the ideas that I was pondering but yet willing to deal with for I really didn't know what to expect by walking the 20 feet to my neighbor's house. It turned out to be an experience I would never forget. Prior to entering the house I could tell my friend was obviously nervous.
He even went out of his way to tell me that he was extremely homophobic and he wouldn't be able to deal with someone showing interest in him. I knew that I would be able to handle myself but my friend was slightly intoxicated and rambling on about how he didn't want to hang out with "fags". The only discrepancy that I had to make was the crazy techno music that was blaring out of the front door and onto the streets. After dealing with Brandon's bickering for about an hour we finally decided to enter the house at around 2: 30 AM. After we walked through the doors the first most obvious thing was that there were only 2 girls there with the company of about 20 men. Instead of trying to leach onto the only girls in the house I decided it would be a good idea to work my way through the crowd to find my neighbor David.
After a little searching and losing my friend I finally discovered my neighbor in his kitchen. He seemed shocked to see me at first but came out to say that he was glad that we finally decided to come by and say hello. At this point I was still feeling a little uncomfortable but I figured I'd use my time wisely and get to know my neighbor a little better. The whole time I was talking to David I kept thinking in my head "I wonder if he knows that I am not gay?" For one reason or another I decided it would be a good idea to let him know what I was thinking. He reacted in a jokingly matter saying how it was very obvious that I was straight and not comfortable at the party. This made me feel better immediately and I apologized for making it an issue.
We went on to talk about how things were living in my hometown and how I wanted to get away from all the closed-mindedness that I grew up around. After throwing stories around for a while we both heard a rather loud argument going on in the living room where people were dancing. Sure enough my friend that I had showed up with was arguing with someone else about the morality of being a homosexual. The argument was getting rather violent and I had decided it would probably be in everyone's best interest if my friend just left. The problem that he was having was that a guy at the party was hitting on him and he didn't know how to deal with it.
Instead of acting in a rational matter he got very defensive with this guy and almost resorted to fighting him. When we arrived back at my place my friend was on his last nerves not even realizing that he seriously offended pretty much everyone at the party with the words he was saying. Instead of trying to convince him further that he needs to go back and apologize I felt that I should just do it for the both of us. When I arrived back at the party I immediately felt the angry stares from everyone in the house, which made me kind of nervous. I found David and told him the situation about my friend. He found it hard to believe that he would actually go over to his place knowing the situation he was walking into and then further elevating his anger toward homosexuals when he got there.
It was a shame that we all couldn't just hang out together that night but at the same time I was meeting lots of new friends. Hanging out at this party was definitely a new experience that I would never forget for the rest of my life. Working in a bar I run into people of different race and sexuality everyday. To be able to comfortably talk to homosexuals now opens up new doors to current and future relationships with lots of good people who are very similar to me.
The only difference that was holding me back all this time was that they were gay and I am not. I can now say that this is no long an issue. Unfortunately my friend couldn't step out of his element to realize that my neighbors are just like anybody else that we run into in everyday life. We all need to reach out at some point and time in our life to everyone out there in this world otherwise we are truly missing out on meeting many beautiful people and experiences.