My best friend is Chris. If anyone who doesn't know me well sees his picture on my desk at work, for example, and asks what our situation is, I simply answer, "Will and Grace." Most people understand immediately. We met in college, and the closest I can figure our friendship began in 1995. He was the only out gay male that we know of at our school of about eleven hundred students at that time.
He was really excited a few weeks ago when he told me that he'd been asked back to our Alma Mater to DJ a Spectrum Prom, put on by the school's gay/straight alliance. He asked me to come along, and I was happy to do so this past weekend. I had a ball dancing and hanging out with my friend, and it was great to see him in action again. I hadn't tagged along on one of his gigs in a couple of years.
Besides having fun, though, I really have to say I'm so proud of the progress that has been made since Chris and I graduated. The director of the program told us that there are forty or so out students, about half of them male and half of them female. This might not sound like much, but for our little school in the Midwest, that is a very big deal. They not only have an organized group, but also there is an LGBT center on campus, only the third of its kind in the state.
Chris never underwent any terrible bullying over his orientation in college. I remember some verbal stuff a few times that upset him, though, and that was bad enough. I'm really glad to know, in what can be a volatile atmosphere in our culture these days, that gay students at my Alma Mater have a place to go if they're feeling isolated or even abused. They don't have to stand alone like this one did all those years ago.