There’s a guy I have known for around 25 years. We had been close friends as teenagers, close enough that my family considered him one of us, and he thought of my parents as his. In my early 20s, when I left our small town and moved to Toronto, we lost touch. After a couple of years, there was a knock on my apartment door one evening – it was him! My old friend! We spent a few weeks visiting each other, but things were different somehow.
One night, he phoned me. “You’re a good guy, but we’re different now. I’m uncomfortable with the ‘gay thing’, and don’t think the relationship is really worth working past it.” That was it, the big fuckyou. I wasn’t particularly upset, I don’t regret losing bigots from my life. I went to sleep, I woke up the next day, I went on with my life quite happily.
Around a decade later (after I had come out as bisexual, not gay, and married a woman), he tried to get back in touch. He was lonely, his life hadn’t succeeded like he’d expected. I kept him at arms length, but politely. I agreed to meet for drinks once or twice a year, but the plans always fell through. This went on for around 5 years.
When my mother died this past winter, I phoned him. I felt it was important that he know, as she had been an important parental figure to him. He was really upset, I think he was even more upset than me. Maybe he also had the ‘surprise’ factor as he didn’t realize how quickly she was dying. After the funeral, a few close friends of the family went to a pub. He came with us. He managed to be completely creepy, and offended at least ½ the table. Still an ignorant bigot, but I don’t think he even realized that he was in the wrong. At various points in the evening, he was telling me how bad his life was. His family life is a constant fight, he has no friends, etc etc etc…
In some ways I feel bad for him. But there’s another side of me that wants to say “get fucked – you can’t do what you did and come back thinking nothing’s wrong!” I have even less time in my life these days than I did 15 years ago, and many more people I’d like to share that time with. So I don’t want to be his “pity friend.” But I’m also not interested in being combative and reminding him of what he did to me so long ago.