“Bonjour, ça va?”
These were the first words I had learned in any language other than Spanish or English at that point in my life. It was September of 1999 and I remember being so excited about finally having made it to high school, but I was especially excited about taking a French class.
It’s pretty safe to say that up to this point in my life, I had been more or less asexual with a very slight tinge of heterosexual. I was terrified of any gay inclinations. I knew I felt something for other guys, something funny and it scared me, chilled me, even embarrassed me, but I still couldn’t help looking–no, staring at–other guys as they changed in the locker room. I tried as much as possible to kill these fantasies, and it worked for a while.
Then one day several months into my classe de Français a new student arrived. My eyes popped out of my face and I felt my stomach drop to my feet while I heard a chorus of gay cupids singing a symphony for the ages.
There he stood, about 6 feet tall, with gorgeous brown hair, a semi-muscular physique and the most radiant honey colored eyes I had never seen. I can’t remember his name for the life of me, but I do remember his voice with a slight accent, an accent that only drew me nearer to him, wishing I could find him in the locker room: that guy with the stunning honey colored eyes and that bewitching accent. He later told us that he was from Lebanon and that he spoke fluent Arabic and English, and that he had learned some Spanish and French after his family moved to the U.S. His story set my soul soaring through fantasies and daydreams and, for a time, I was indeed seeing la vie en rose!
My fantasy love affair continued to play in my mind and invade my dreams. I saw myself traveling the world with him, I saw him whispering sweetly in my ear with his accent begging me never to forget why I first fell in love with him, yearning to take me deeper into his world. I was lost in a Lebanese love fantasy, hoping intensely that the universe would somehow, magically arrange things for me and allow my fantasies to become realities.
Then one day, I walked into my French class and Monsieur Dabourd informed us that my Lebanese guy had moved back to Lebanon. I felt so sad, I felt myself bursting into tears at any second. I felt ridiculous for having had so many fantasies about him and for waiting for the universe to arrange our paths and bring all my fantasies to fruition.
But always being one to search for the positive and thus learn a lesson from every experience in life, I came to accept myself as a gay man. Here I had solid proof to show to myself that my fantasies for other men were not some mere disturbing and embarrassing phase, but were in fact a rope by which I could hold on to and fully accept that I am gay and that absolutely nothing is wrong with me.
I’m so thankful to my Lebanese classmate, not only for inadvertently helping me realize and accept my being gay, but also for allowing me to realize what kind of man I’m really attracted to: intelligent men with a good sense of humor who speak more than two languages. It is thanks to his presence, which led me to have such vivid fantasies that cleared a lot of confusion in my life that I would later go on to study and learn French, Italian, Portuguese, ASL, and some German, in addition to improving my Spanish, which is my first language. Through these languages I have come to meet some amazing people who constantly push and expand the boundaries of my world and always help me realize how extraordinarily beautiful and diverse life really is.
So, wherever it is you now are my Lebanese friend, I want to thank you very much. Had I never met you in that high school French class, who knows who or what I would now be.
Every time I remember this story, I’m reminded of what Saint Exupéry’s fox reveals to the Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Maybe the universe does have a funny little way of arranging some things for you.