Making something & coming from nothing
My childhood best friend knew he was gay at age 12 but still denied it in fear of being teased or worse. I remember him telling me that his mom made comments about him sleeping with the whole football team. His mom was an alcoholic and sometimes said inappropriate things. He was scared in junior high because kids are mean. When his best male friend started wondering about it, he punched him in the face. Let's call this friend of mine "Joe." Joe always wanted to be me. He did everything I did. He even talked like me. He would make me so mad but I did not understand back then why he did that. I always thought it was to annoy me.
Joe became homeless when we were 12 so he moved in with my family. My mom called him my sister. It hurt me to have a mother like that. It hurt me every time someone would call him gay or joke about him. It hurt that my mom read his diary and made fun of him. Joe's mother came by after a few months and got him and sent him to another state to live with family because she could not provide for him. I went to visit him a year later and he was so torn because everyone in his school was calling him gay and making fun of him and his aunt (hardcore Christian) had found out. He lied to her and told her it was not true and they were just kidding around.
When Joe moved back home he was different. He was drinking, smoking and doing drugs. He was 15. I started drinking with him. We went and got piercings illegally. The guy charged us double for being minors. Soon we could not be around each other much because I hated him doing drugs and he made it clear he would not stop. I did not want to be the "bad" kid any more.
Eventually he moved to Florida with his mother and he "came out" to everyone. I remember how brave I thought he was. When he called me to tell me he was gay I told him I always knew. He asked why I always fought for him and I told him that was my job. (Even though I had to beat up the boy I had a crush on for him.)
Today he has his own website. He fights for his rights, for our rights. He takes everyone he knows to get tested for aids every week. He just posted a video telling everyone that he cares about them and to get tested. He has always lived in fear. He has been beaten up multiple times and even hospitalized, but he is still out there fighting for what he believes in. He does not know this but he will always be my hero.