In my first week back at university after the Christmas break, I went to the LGBT society for the first time. I’d been offered a column in a queer Canadian magazine and therefore I needed to go along so I could find stuff to write about, right? I still wonder if I’d have gone along otherwise; I wanted to be part of the queer world but I was scared I wouldn’t be accepted or that I didn’t belong there, so I was glad to have an excuse.
It was a really really good move. I made a bunch of friends that first night. One of them was #28. We were in Route 66, the first gay bar I’d ever been to, now known as Planet Out, and I saw him at a nearby table just kind of glowing at me. Seriously, he just has a winning smile. We started hanging out a lot. He and the other gay boys I was hanging out with didn’t pressure me to choose a label, and neither did the queer women; everyone was perfectly happy to accept me as whatever I was. I was really lucky to come out in such an environment.
#28 and I lived together for four years. We were really good at being flatmates. I referred to him as my wife. I didn’t realise how much he sang and danced until we moved in together. He was very cute and pretty much every boy in town had a crush on him. Some of them would come home for tea with me in hopes of catching a glimpse of him. I went straight to see #28 when #30 broke up with me and I was a mess. There was a period when #28 and I spent our time getting very stoned and watching Jerry Springer all the time and laughing at #42 dropping plates of toast when she was visiting. #28 and #79 constructed a seven-foot phallus in our hallway made from a temporary bus stop and some polystyrene sperm; they worshipped at it while I stood around making disparaging remarks. Everyone gave #28 their free absinthe shots when I organised a group of us to go see Watercress playing the Bongo Club; he and I jumped around in our own delightful world before he passed out and I got off with #96. One night, #28 and #98 drunkenly hauled the extra furniture out of the big windowless cupboard in our last home together and turned it into a disco, before we started letting secret flatmates live in it.
We kissed a few times: a few months into our friendship when I complained about my recent lack of action; Hogmanay 1999; and Valentine’s Day 2000 just after #80 and I had won a fridge full of Metz and everybody was filled with glee. (The first time we kissed was mentioned in my interview with Now magazine for a fluff feature on women with gay male best friends. It made it sound like it was some sort of crushtastic defining moment in my life. We got fifty quid for taking part, and people recognised us for the next year. I couldn’t believe how many people read this publication.)
I moved out eventually, needing peace and quiet and instead getting into an abusive relationship, but that’s a whole other story. #28 and I remained friends but grew apart somewhat. Still, it’s nice to catch up with him once in a while, and encouraging to find that I’m not the only person in town who’s a drunken wretch. Like, a few years ago he was heading up Leith Walk in the daytime, having taken I don’t know what combination of drugs, and every time he passed by a bollard he leaned on it and sort of kicked his legs out with glee, until one of them started to cry because he’d mistaken a small child for a bollard. Or there was the time when he was so drunk he was crawling up North Bridge on his hands and knees, pushing his chips in front of him. Oh #28. I have such fond memories of him.