Today I can't stop thinking about Mark. I just met him this semester and he immediately attracted me. He has an odd sense of humour and a sort of hidden vulnerableness that intrigues me. In any case I don't know him all that well, though I would like to get to know him better. I have two classes with him but I only sit with him in math. In the other class, OS, he sits with a group of his friends, whom I find intimidating. I am easily intimidated.

So, today I was chit-chatting on ICQ with him:

<Kitten> How was your spring break? Did you get to see old high school friends?
<Mark> I have no friends back home.
<Kitten> No friends back home? Why not?
<Mark> Because I am different.

Immediately I know he is referring to the fact that he is gay. But I am in denial. I grew up in an open-minded family and group of great friends. Surely his peers didn't hate him because he is gay? Of all the qualities a person could offer in friendship, what could be more insignificant than sexual orientation? It just blows me away. So in my stupidity I write:

<Kitten> Everyone's different. Didn't you go to kindergarten?

As if saying that I see him no differently than I see others would somehow make this painful fact for him go away.

<Mark> Different in different ways. It means that people hate me.

"NO!", I want to scream. "It doesn't mean people hate you. I don't hate you." The realization that I have led a sheltered life comes crashing down. I'm not stupid. I know prejudice exists out there. It's just that in meeting people from far away, who didn't grow up in my circle of life, that it really hits home.

<Kitten> I don't hate you. Screw the people that hate you. They don't know what they're missing.

They don't.

"Tis with our judgments as our watches, none go just alike, yet each believes his own."
Alexander Pope