Aida Zabidi
“You’re not the kind of boy that future girlfriends would want to bring home to mum,” I joked as he enthusiastically deliberated about the next tattoo or piercing he wanted to get. 

He laughed good naturedly at the time, but then a bit later asked me what my opinion of gays were, seeing my Malaysian background and the recent furore about a political leader’s sodomy trial. 

I shrugged. “You can’t help who you like. They’re people too. I’m Muslim, so according to my religion they’re forbidden to have intercourse with other males, but that doesn’t stop you from loving someone, does it?” 

“Well, I’ve been gay since I was 6.”’ 

“Do your parents know?”

“They do now. I’m Jewish – try breaking that to your parents! They eventually came around to it though, and they realize how much happier I am with them knowing. Mum’s very supportive.” 

That was the first time I had met someone who was that open and that comfortable about his sexuality, and we had many conversations about that over hot chocolate in the college drawing room. J was a philosopher and was constantly querying the state of life and the world, and we would become good friends over the year that I was a college student.

In the years to come, I would meet many people – some who were struggling with their sexuality, and some who had closeted it, and accepted them the same way I had accepted J many years ago, but I never forgot that first conversation I had with J. 

He had such conviction about things, and so little self-doubt about who he was and what he wanted from life. That security couldn't be bought.
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