I hate writing serious things, but this is important. I met a man shopping for home decor today. I noticed him not because he was gay or well-dressed (he was both), but because he was a wounded soul. I don’t know if it was his posture or the way his face winced when he spoke, but I could tell he had been on the losing end of a few battles and was worse for the wear because of it.
He was redecorating a room in his home, and he was wondering aloud about a certain piece — he wasn’t sure if his “friend” would like it. (The same “friend,” I can only assume, that was responsible for the wedding band he was wearing). He seemed so anxious and uncomfortable that I wanted to drop everything and give him a hug right there. I didn’t, though. Instead, I made small talk.
We bonded over a shared love of Audrey Hepburn. I told him about the time I paraded in front of Tiffany’s in New York with a giant doughnut and a cup of coffee for breakfast, and his face lit up so much that he didn’t even wince or hesitate to tell me that he, too, had re-enacted the iconic movie scene.
“I made my partner take my picture!” he said in a rush of excitement. We exchanged high fives and went on to talk about other things. He didn’t talk about his “friend” anymore after that; instead, it was his “partner.” I felt like he had a wall up, but he decided to let me in.
As we spoke, I noticed the anti-bully rubber bracelets he wore around his wrist. The whole thing left a bigger impression on me than I can convey in words right now. I hate that he was afraid to call his partner his “partner.” I hate that it’s 2012 and people are still afraid to say “this is my partner, and I’m DAMN proud of it.” I hate that he’s been the obvious victim of close-minded cruelty. But I love that I earned his trust. I love we bonded over Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And I love that we both walked away with a smile.