I recall he had a shaved head and tribal tattoos. He was over 6 foot, really lean with a hard looking jawline. Basically, he looked like a gangster. You wouldn't wanna cross his path in a dark alley because he looked dangerous.
For some reason, he singled me out at this party and asked if he could have a moment? I nod a little nervously because looking around, I realised we were completely alone on the outer balcony.
He asked me point blank "can you keep a secret?" I nod again even more nervously because I feel he's under pressure. Like a bottle of uncorked wine about to burst open spilling its red contents everywhere.
There was a myriad of conflicted expressions on his face like he was in pain or was suddenly weighing up whether he should tell me or not.
"What is it?" I ask him. "It's ok. You can tell me" I'm not even sure why I used the tone a soothing mother uses on her terrified son but that's what he drew out of me. I was genuinely concerned and more than a little disturbed because he looked like he was about to have a nervous break down.
And that's pretty much what happened. His head was in his hands. He said he'd been carrying a burden which grew heavier by the year and that he couldn't take it anymore. The secret was eating him up, destroying his peace of mind. He was tired of putting up a front and being someone else every day. He was so exhausted by the lie (I was wondering who he was pretending to be but didn't dare stop him. It was all starting to flow out like therapy)
He went on to say that he was the ring leader of a gang of guys who were all "alpha" males. His best friend was also in this gang and he'd been hiding something from him which was becoming unbearable.
He goes on to say "I'm in love with my best friend and if he ever found out, he would probably spit in my face, maybe even kill me" I gasped because it was so unexpected. There was no trace of anything remotely gay about him so I didn't see it coming.
He said he tried being "normal" He even went out with a couple of girls but he couldn't bring himself to sleep with them. He knew there was something not quite right or missing but he just kept quiet. He suppressed all urges thinking they would go away. They never did.
After all, he was in this gang of blokes that even made fun of gays and he would laugh along with them and their "poofter jokes" with the gang never knowing he was a closet case.
I asked him (J)
J: "have you told anyone about this?
He said (H)
H: "no, never"
J: "So why are you telling me?"
H: "because it doesn't matter anymore"
J: "how can that be? Aren't you worried I will tell someone about you?"
H: "of course I am. It's a burning secret I've carried for so many years. I've not told a soul. My Dad would even disown me. I know it"
J: "I promise I won't say anything. There's no one who you know I know. You're safe. We're total strangers"
H: "I probably won't be around tomorrow anyway"
OMG. My heart started to race. I felt helpless because he could see no way out of his situation. Sadly, he was NOT going to be accepted by his parents nor his male gang of friends but what he was planning was not a solution. He couldn't be serious surely? Could this guy be planning his own death? He was shaking. I was so frazzled. I told him he could call me if he was thinking about doing anything really stupid.
I went to get a pen to write down my phone number for him. When I got back to the balcony, he was gone. I asked everyone about him but no one even knew who he was! He must've gate crashed the party which is why he was extra safe there baring his soul to a complete stranger in a roomful of strangers. He knew no one there!
I was deeply troubled by this strange meeting (one of the most disturbing in my life) but there was nothing I could do. I said a prayer for him but I never ever heard or saw him again.
Over the years, I find my thoughts flicking back to that night and I have so many unanswered questions.
"Did he do it?"
"Was I the last person he spoke to?"
I can only hope he found a way to live with himself. Somehow.
It's sad how we pigeon hole people and put them into boxes so confining sometimes that they split open under pressure.
I really feel for this guy and for everyone like him. Be careful not to bottle up your own identity to a point of a total meltdown. By then, it may be too late. I know we can't expect others to accept us if we don't wholeheartedly accept ourselves first. At the end of the day, you must be able to live with yourself. Be comfortable in your own skin.
I truly believe that we are all God's creation, God's children. However we may come.