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My Ex Came Out To Me As Gay—And Now We're Best Friends

'No boy, yours or mine, could come as close to who we are to each other,' he wrote.
PHOTO: Nick Onken

Finding out your boyfriend is gay is one of those horror stories women often throw around, right up there with finding out he’s married or that he wants to be a priest. But listen, it happened to me. And my ex admitted it to me himself after we broke up. And while obviously I don’t love him the same way I used to, I love him even more now.

My first encounter with Don* was in college, where we were enrolled in the same course. When I first met him, I wondered if he were gay because he had a sweet demeanor not common among men, and conversely, he could also be a bitch the same way girls can be. But I had heard talk in our circles that he was actually kind of a playboy who had dated pretty girls at the same time, so I thought that maybe he was just effeminate. Either way, it didn't matter to me at first, because I never would've guessed at the time that he would turn out to be such a big part of my life.

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Then came our fourth year in college, we became classmates in one subject and ended up being really close. During that semester, we would often hang out on dinner dates and movie nights. Since I was in between apartments, he even let me live with him in his house for a few months. Other people assumed we were dating, but back then we were both hesitant to admit that we were because we often just ragged on each other when we were together.

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That is, until one night when he kissed me.

But instead of it being the sensual experience most first kisses are, mine involved Don laughing while his lips were on mine. Offended, I stopped kissing him and was about to walk out when he grabbed me and sat me down. He put on some music, lit a cigarette, gave me a flower, and asked me to be his girlfriend. I took a long pause, and then I said yes.

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Everything was fine for a few weeks; I was a supportive girlfriend and he, a sweet boyfriend. While we continued to live under the same roof, he was always busy with school and his extracurricular pursuits. I didn't mind at first because I was busy with schoolwork, too, but along the way, I began to feel like we were drifting apart.

When Don returned from a trip three months after we became official, he texted me and said he wanted to talk to me. I knew what was coming, but I stayed calm. When we met, he gave me a monthsary gift—yes, it was our monthsary that day—then proceeded to break up with me. He explained that I was becoming more of an obligation to him, an inconvenient baggage that he needed to unload.

I was on the verge of tears, I wanted to break down, but I kept the deluge of emotions in because I didn't want to cry in front of him.

I was stupid enough to still want to join him for dinner right after the breakup, as if nothing had happened. But once he had gone, I cried to the point of hyperventilating. Our relationship wasn’t that long—just three months—but I was still devastated because I had thought and hoped that this one would be different.

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Later, a friend close to us both told me the truth about Don's sexual orientation. He told me that Don had a sexual encounter with a guy I also knew named Keith*. The revelation left me feeling shocked; I felt like Don had used me to cover up his sexuality. But still, I kept his secret because I cared for him.

Don and I eventually reconnected and became friends again. I even ended up living with him again for a while when I had nowhere to go, and he welcomed my company. It was just like old times between us.

One night when we were both drunk, Don finally told me everything.

He told me about his history with Keith, and admitted that he was in love with him. He was an open book to me that night; we talked well into the morning as if we were just two friends having a heart-to-heart. And in that moment, I understood him completely. I was not mad, nor did I feel betrayed; instead, his revelations brought us closer together. I felt like one of the lucky people to whom he truly let himself be vulnerable.

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Today, almost three years since we became a couple, we’ve grown into best friends. When we shared an apartment again earlier this year, it was easier living with him because I already knew what he had kept secret from me in the past. Our relationship is more fluid now; we even freely joke among friends about our romantic involvement gone wrong, and it no longer causes me hurt to laugh along.

Don and I have a running deal that we'll marry each other if we both end up still single in the far future. It was supposed to be a joke, but along the way we realized that we wouldn't mind if it actually happened. Marrying your best friend—that sounds like a recipe for lots of love and laughter in your life.

Recently, Don sent me a letter in which he poignantly captured the essence of our relationship.

“Even after all these years, after coming out of the closet, I still think of you as a part of my future home,” he wrote.

“What we have is more than love and no boy, yours or mine, could come as close to who we are to each other.”

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That's the kind of connection we share. I don't expect everyone to understand, but it is ours, and it is real, and it is as beautiful as any romantic love.

* Names have been changed