Back when AOL Instant Messenger was still something people used, she and I would occasionally chat while I was at BYU and she was back in Pennsylvania. And it was during one of these conversations when she explained to me that, in addition to being attracted to her fiancée, she also liked girls.
I was proud of the way I handled it because I was still a pretty big believer in the church at that point. I'd recently chosen not to serve a mission because I didn't want to devote two years of my life to something I wasn't completely convinced was the truth, but I was more than 50% convinced of the gospel's legitimacy. So, naturally, I wasn't too big on tolerating the whole same-sex-attraction thing. But this girl was a friend of mine, and even though her admission made me uncomfortable, I remember telling her that it didn't affect me, so it wouldn't change our friendship at all.
But after the other day, I got curious. I used to save a lot of my AIM convos, so I did some hunting on my hard drive (in a folder of a backup from a previous computer, which contained another folder with another backup from a previous previous computer) and I found it. It was from October of 2006. And I read through it.
And I felt so ashamed.
My memory wasn't entirely accurate:
Friend: yeah and there is one more thing that i didnt say that is pissing me off about work but i am not sure u would like what i have to sayUgh. It's a miracle we're still friends.
Me: how would it affect me?
Friend: not sure it might make u look at me different
Me: okay, now you have me curious
Friend: i am bi
Friend: and o came out to my mom and everyone and they all bithc about that
Me: the people at work?
Friend: yeah they all stay away from me and act all strage
Friend: and then dont talk to me anymore
Friend: u think u will look at me different
Friend: oh ok
Friend: that is whati guessed
Me: but it creeps me out much less than [flamboyantly gay coworker] did, so I doubt it will make much of a difference
Friend: oh ok well sorry i creeped u out
Friend: i guess i will be going
Friend: well i am sorry that u feel that way about me but u know what i cant see how it changeds anything i am the same way i was in the summer it is just i dont hide it anymore. so i am not different at all!!!!!
Me: I know exactly what you mean
Me: and I agree
Friend: oh ok just asking
I mean, I was honest, which I guess is a good thing, but I was really surprised to see that I wasn't as gracious and as accepting as I thought I'd been. I certainly could have given her a worse reaction, but I wasn't magnanimously elevating friendship above dogmatic prejudice in the way I'd chosen to recollect.
In one sense, it's disheartening to see how much time I wasted believing in the small-minded tenets of a manipulative and prejudicial religion. In another sense, it's reassuring to see the philosophical distance I've placed between my current position and that of my former Mormon self.
It's also noteworthy that remaining friends was much easier for the girl being unfairly judged for her sexuality than it was for the kid doing the unfair judging. That makes it pretty clear to me which one of us was the bigger person.