Friendships have not always come easily to me. When I was growing up, my family moved around a lot. While this provided me with many opportunities to meet new people and make new friends, it made developing long-term, meaningful friendships nearly impossible. It seemed that every time I started to make connections, my family was off to a new place on a new adventure. Because of my upbringing, those that I call my friends tend to be few and far between.
Growing up this way has caused me great reflection in my life; it has left me with a desire to have friends with whom I can connect and share personal experiences—friends I can call “lifelong friends.”
Today I can honestly say that I have found such a friend. Ricardo and I worked together for quite some time before we made a connection. Gently persuaded by the promptings of the Spirit and, later, the more compelling promptings of my wife (who is very social), I decided to ask Ricardo if he wanted to get our families together. It took what seemed like a couple of months to get the details down and set a date when both our families could meet.
Prior to this social family gathering, my wife asked me about Ricardo. I told her the few things that I knew about him: he was from Mexico, he was the creative director at work, he was friendly, and he had children roughly the same age as ours. Then, somewhat jokingly, I said to my wife,
“If he didn’t work at the Church and have a family, I would think he was gay.”
I remember this conversation specifically because later, when Ricardo confided in me, as you can probably imagine, it challenged the way I viewed a lot of things, such as my understanding of LGBT people and my assumptions about others. It wasn’t difficult to accept him for who he was; he was my friend, and that wouldn’t change.
What bothered me was that I assumed that a “good Mormon” couldn’t be dealing with same-sex attraction.
It quickly occurred to me, “Why shouldn’t a good Mormon be allowed to deal with this and still have a testimony and faith and live worthily?”
After Ricardo confided in me about being gay, we became even closer friends. We have gone to lunch several times since and had many great conversations. We share many similar interests and viewpoints. The trust Ricardo gave me with his “secret” only increased my trust in him.
I am honored that he felt comfortable enough to share that part of his life with me; it could not have been easy.
On occasion, Ricardo has struggled with navigating how he perceives himself and how he perceives others’ views of him. Some days are harder for him than others. As his friend, it’s visible to me and difficult for me to see that he is struggling to sort things out. Sometimes people are less than nice when interacting with the LGBT community. On one occasion, Ricardo seemed particularly distraught. We talked for a few minutes about how things were going. He began to apologize for being such a needy friend and for being so “broken.” That surprised me. I do not believe that people can be or are broken.
Sure, some of us deal with different things, and sometimes we may feel that way, but we are not broken.
I reassured Ricardo of that, that he was my friend, and gave him a hug.
Ricardo claims that I have helped him in many ways. It’s probably more true that I have learned from him and that he has helped me in more ways than I have helped him. I am grateful to have Ricardo as a friend in my life and will stand true to that love and friendship for as long as he is willing to have me stand by him.