Finding true friends can be tough Luckily, I’ve been extremely fortunate in my life to have found some keepers. Some of my friendships started as far back as Kindergarten, others in high school, and more continue to appear in my life through various other scenarios as I get older. It truly doesn’t matter how long you’ve been friends with someone, as I believe it’s the feeling that says it all. Now, I’m not talking about those surface-level friendships you might have, I’m talking about the type of friendships that your mind wanders to whenever you hear Toy Story’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” or Aladdin’s “You Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me”.
Finding a good friend is more like finding a scratch ticket than winning the lottery – you have to peel back the layers and hope for the best. But, not all of them are going to be winners. what happens when you’ve established such great friendships and yet you start to second guess them all because you’ve been hiding who you really are? Will they still love and treat you the same when they find out the truth you’ve been hiding? Will video games and sleepover nights turn into awkward glances in the hallway? Will FaceTime calls turn into text messages that receive no response?
I’m not going to lie, my friend group has always felt a bit like the cast of High School Musical, in the best way possible! We all have various different talents and personalities, but when we come together it’s usually a blast. Although I wish I could say that I’m the Troy Bolton of my inner circle (because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be Zac Efron?), I’m well aware I’m the Ryan. I was in all the school plays, was co-president of my high school, and am still to this day a bit dramatic. Basically, if you just subtracted the obscure hats, Ryan and I are pretty similar.
In case you didn’t know, the director of High School Musical, Kenny Ortega, confirmed that the character of Ryan was indeed in the closet. Growing up I disliked my similarities to the character. I know now that this feeling was deeply rooted in the fact that I was terrified of coming out to my friends. Looking back, even though I dated girls in high school, I think it was pretty obvious I was gay. Luckily, my friends never pushed or asked questions about my sexuality and that to me was very comforting. Yet because we went to Catholic school I felt this insecurity with coming out in fear that the people I’ve labelled to be true friends would vanish quicker than Spider-Man after that Thanos snap (SPOILERS SORRY!)
The weird thing with coming out is that it’s so different for every queer individual. Some people have the best coming out experience, others not so much. You just have to hope that you’ve hit the jackpot with the people in your life. If they can look beyond your sexuality and just see you as a decent human being then they are a true friend. At the end of the day, it should be the quality of your character that defines you, not who you’re attracted to.
Anyways, once I graduated high school and was getting ready for University I knew it was time for me to have my Demi Lovato moment and tell my friends that “This is Me!”
I was very into poetry at the time and I had written a poem titled “Sweater”. The concept behind the poem was about how we all have our favourite sweater that makes us feel comfortable in our own skin, but I’ve been keeping my sweater in the back of the “closet” as I was too scared to take it out for the world to see.
In my poem, I ended up referencing Disney (because of course I would!) I wrote “like any Disney movie, love makes you believe in happy endings and it reminds you that it gets better”, and to this day, I believe truly that. Those movie moments you see on TV do and can exist in real life; especially when you stay true to who you are and live life authentically. After I read my poem to my friends I was welcomed with the warmest embrace of acceptance. It’s a moment I’ll cherish forever.
Real friends are the ones who will love you for you – no matter what. I am thankful to be able to stay true to who I am amongst such outstanding friends. I came out 5 years ago, and I’m still close with every single person I came out to the day I read that poem. Some of my friends have moved to faraway places, while others are working hard to chase big dreams, all I know is that at the end of the day your best friends will always have your back no matter the time or place. As my favourite Disney character once said, “Some people are worth melting for” and that applies to true friendships.
Should you wish to watch my full coming out story, feel free to watch this video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CGNYKbeBzqv/
Special Thanks to Brett B, Carolyn M, Chelsea L, Darrell D, Daniel M, Eddie Q, Erik G, Jodie T, Julie K, Kaylee M, Lucas C, Quinton L, Samantha C, & many more who have always loved me for me and who’ve shown me that those Disney Channel friendships really do exist in real life.
A scholarship inspired by the friendships of Mickey and Friends
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.