This story by Emma Silvano is about dealing with prejudice and rejection due to your sexuality.
She knew so much about me. Hazel really seemed to care about what happened to me and wanted the best for me, as far as I could tell. I trusted her. She had kind, brown eyes. She knew about my alcoholism, as, she too, shared my addiction.
We were drinking “buddies.” I was at the stage in my drinking when the occasional “good time” was still a rare “pleasure” and the “fun” was usually destined to happen with Hazel by my side. She was my partner in crime. We’d take drunken risks together, buoying each other up and, naturally, laughing our alcohol-befuddled heads off together.
Always, though, much as she knew about me, a big piece of the picture, in my heart and mind, was missing. Hazel didn’t know everything about me. She’d twitter on about me “settling down” and even introduced me to her cousin – a tall dark handsome guy called Jonah, in the hope that we’d somehow hit it off and go forth and multiply. At the time I’d excused myself from this rather awkward situation by feigning the possibility of an oncoming, terribly contagious cold.
Hazel, one day, was extremely down with problems she’d had in her marriage to Paul and I sensed she needed to talk. She was scared and feeling insecure. I felt, rather selfishly, that this could be the ideal time to let Hazel finally know the “real” me, to come out to her as gay.
Well, if she was going to moan on about her “man” then I may as well drop it into the conversation that I’ve had the odd problem with Frances lately….The only difference beingthat Frances was female and my girlfriend.
My heart was hammering like a runaway train in my throat…..
“I know……” I heard a voice say, realising that the voice was mine….”I’ve had a few
hiccups with Frances lately too…..” I continued.
I raised my eyes from the bit of carpet pattern I’d been staring at, to meet Hazel’s gaze. She was looking back at me with a quizzical expression, her eyes searching mine.
“Frances?” she asked, curiously.
“Yep,” I replied, crisply. I could feel the heat of a furious blush rising up my neck towards my face….
“Um, you’ve never mentioned Frances before…..” Hazel trailed off. Her face looked weirdly different. I was frozen to the edge of my seat on the sofa. My legs had turned to stone and I couldn’t believe I was even finding it difficult to breathe. It was as if someone else’s voice came out of my mouth when I next spoke.
“Err, Hazel, Frances is my partner. She’s great. Erm, I’d love you to meet her. She’d like you.”
“LIKE me??” Hazel snapped back, a snarl-like expression on her face, her lip curling.
“You think she’d fancy me??!!” she added, half sarcastically but the other half I could tell was genuinely inquisitive.
“No, no, I erm….” I protested.
“NO??!” Hazel interrupted, “Why? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME??”
“NOTHING!” I continued, “Nothing…it’s just that she and I are together and, well…”
“But why don’t YOU fancy me though??” Hazel butted in, impatiently.
“Because I just don’t. You’re my friend. Hazel, I love Frances, she’s my partner.”
“I don’t understand,” Hazel stated resolutely. My mind rolled its eyes. Same old story, “Why don’t you fancy me?” from female friends or, worse, “I hope you DON’T fancy me!” from other female friends.
I could sense Hazel’s growing hostility towards me, a distrust combined with the annoyance of not having known this juicy bit of information about me until now. I could feel her slipping away, distancing herself from me, the friendship between us, souring. I didn’t know what to do or say, I just knew that I didn’t want to lose this friend.
“Well I can’t understand it,” Hazel exclaimed.
“Understand what? It’s just me, it’s who I am,” I protested.
“But it changes everything,” she continued. I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes were stinging with ready tears. I knew what was coming.
“I’m going to have to think about this,” Hazel started, her eyes noticeably not meeting mine.
“Okay but why?” I asked.
“I just need to,” she replied.
I could see when her eyes finally did rise from the skirting board level up to my face that she wore a stern expression, a look of almost disappointment in her eyes.
“I think we should have a bit of time to gather our thoughts,” she said, eventually.
“Urm, I don’t really need to gather mine,” I said a bit sharply. She looked at me with a wariness that I’d never seen before.
“I just don’t understand you,” she mumbled.
“I…” my voice trailed off as I felt a fat tear begin to roll away from my eye. I knew in my heart that Hazel had made her “decision” about me. She couldn’t cope, maybe, or she just felt uncomfortable with me being gay. I wasn’t sure.
I could be sure, however, of how painfully hurt I felt when I realised that we’d no longer be meeting up for our “jamborees” on a weekend (or whenever we could afford it.)
As she walked away from me after we’d both left the house, I couldn’t help feeling a glimmer of hope that Hazel would change her mind and accept me, as she had accepted me as a friend. I had always tried to cheerfully believe that Hazel would accept and never object to anything about me.
I had to accept now that I had been wrong. The ending of our precious, funny, close friendship caused my heart to weep. Our communications, here on, were strained and then dwindling. I heard through a mutual friend that Hazel had become a grandmother and I smiled that this would make her very happy.
I miss her. I always have, always will. The whole episode made me feel trepidation around coming out to people as a lesbian. It just goes to show that one doesn’t REALLY always know who one’s true friends are.
Prejudice can rear its ugly head even within what one perceives as an unshakeable, immeasurable friendship. I trusted Hazel implicitly, yet there were obviously “issues” which she couldn’t cope with.
We had been friends for four years but she couldn’t seem to see past my sexuality and just see me.