Growing up in the heart of the Silicon Valley, I was surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds, delicious restaurants and powerful companies. The Silicon Valley overwhelmed me with innovation, wonder and opportunity. But given all that, there is one important thing my small hometown lacked, diversity. From preschool to high school, I only ever saw the same people. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I hold many of those people dear and near to my heart. Nevertheless the truth is we lived in a bubble. It wasn’t until college when I was forced out of the bubble. It wasn’t until college that I met you, and that is where this story really starts.
I still remember the first day we met, orientation. I begged my Dad to sit at any open table, anywhere but a table filled with a bunch of faces I did not recognize. He ignored my wishes and ended up choosing a spot next to you. You introduced yourself, and the rest is history. I had never really known an openly gay person before I met you. In fact, I remember discussing with friends whether or not certain individuals may be gay because they talked or dressed a certain way and looking back on the situation I’m a little ashamed at my close-minded, naïve view of the world. But, you loved me regardless. You taught me to understand that there was nothing to understand. You’ve taught me acceptance, you’ve taught me confidence, and that’s what I love the most about you. I am so very proud to say that my best friend is gay, that I love you with all my heart, and that you are one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever met. And, I hope you know I feel very privileged to have you in my life.
As we’ve grown through college, I would say almost everyone at this small, private university is open-minded and accepting. But, I am consistently surprised with the ignorance and disgust in the world. Friends calling each other gay or faggots, insults being thrown around on social media, comments filled with derogatory terms and hatred. The fact that my best friend will not always have the same opportunity, may struggle for equality, acceptance and basic human rights makes me physically ill. This makes me sheltered in yet another way. Because of how open and accepting my group of friends are, I have greatly underestimated the struggles of openly gay men and women in other parts of the world.
I do not understand the challenges you have to face, and I never will. I will never understands how some people have so much hate in my heart. I will never have to put my physical safety, my family, my reputation or my job on the line merely for being that I am. I know, in some cases you have, and you may have to just by pure chance, just for being who you are. But, just like the pure chance my Dad selected to sit at your table, I will always be for friend, just as you have always been mine.
So, thank you. Thank you for being your absolutely flawless self. For making me a better person, for knowing me better than anyone else in the world. Thank you for knowing my worth, reminding me when I forget and not letting me settle for anything less than I deserve. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on, for being my almost never boyfriend and for never saying no to a sushi date. Thank you for telling me when I look ugly, and for always making me feel beautiful and loved. But most importantly, thank you for being you. Cause, who knows where the hell I’d be without you.