I need to tell ya’ll the story about me and my best friend.
So Kye Guy, my very best friend that I’ve ever had in my entire life except my husband, came out to me when I was still a Fundamentalist Christian. To this day, I’m not sure why he thought that was a good idea, but he and I have always been weirdly connected, so it’s whatever.
We both lived in a tiny community deep in the Ozarks of southeast Missouri, culturally more similar to Arkansas and Alabama than any other place I know of. It wasn’t a nice place for gay people to be back in the mid 2000’s. It still isn’t today, really.
Kye opened my eyes to how SMALL my world was. He helped me to grow and understand and empathize with things I’d never experienced. I in turn told him about my past of being abused, and after that we were pretty much stuck with each other.
Our friendship was further solidified when I divorced my first husband. I was, for all intents and purposes, kicked out of my Fundamentalist Church *cough cult cough.* I remained friends even when we both moved to separate states after he graduated and I needed to put some distance between myself and the world that I now considered a prison.
It was during this time that I began my deprogramming from Fundamentalism. I was actually at a Christian College at the time, but it was in Kansas City, and culturally upside down from what I had just come from. It was also during this time that Kye and I would attend DragonCon (a nerd convention) together. Kye had introduced me to the world of SciFi and fantasy, in particular a series of books about dragons.
No, not Game of Thrones. I was MUCH nerdier than that back then. No, our series was by Anne McCaffrey, called The Dragonriders of Pern. That series got me through my through divorce, and meeting her son and Co-Author Todd McCaffrey was one of the highlights of my entire life. I’m still friends with people I met my first year there, and I consider them to be some of my very truest friends.
I would also drag Kye with me to Doctor Who events at the Con, as I am a HUGE fan of the character River Song, who has crazy curly hair, like myself. I even met John Barrowman, who plays a major character in the series, at that first Con.
A few years later, Kye would be a part of the wedding party when I married the man who would help me deprogram even further, who is now almost entirely responsible for the fact that I’m a (somewhat) sane human.
A little over a year after I remarried, I was diagnosed with cancer when I was eight weeks pregnant. That year, DragonCon’s charity drive went to The Leukemia and Lymphoma society. It wasn’t planned that way, but…holy fuck, right?
Kye shaved his head when I lost my hair. He recorded it and shared the video online, and I vividly remember sobbing hysterically as I watched him go bald whilst grinning mischievously. That bastard knew exactly what he was doing, and exactly how much I would cry while watching it. I was losing my curls, which have been my most distinctive feature for my entire life, and my very best friend in the world was doing the one thing he knew better than anyone else would cheer me up in the midst of all that.
I am now two years in remission, with a healthy toddler who ADORES her Uncle Kye.
I have not been able to attend another DragonCon for three years, but Kye has still been able to every single one. This Halloween, he came to spend the weekend with my family. While here, he presented me with this picture.
And he didn’t just hand it over to me. No, he went through this elaborate story. He told me how he had seen that Alex Kingston (River Song) was going to be at the Con, and he double and triple checked the times that she would be signing autographs. Kye knew exactly how much I adore this woman, how she is my hair idol. He knows how much I have fought with my curls my entire life, how they are weirdly connected to my evangelical past, how integral a part they play in my personality.
And he got to that signing early. He saw her over by herself with no one around her, and he marched himself right up to her, and asked her for two signed pictures, telling her about his best friend who couldn’t be there.
He told her our story, and in particular the story of me losing my curls because I was pregnant with cancer. He told her how we’d become best friends, and that that was why he had shaved his head in solidarity with me. He showed her his hair length and explained to her that I’d been in remission for THAT long.
And this FANTASTIC woman actually asked this bastard more and more questions. I know Kye’s “Story Time” tales (yes, we’ve named them) better than anyone, and doing that takes a patience that I no longer have with the boy (kidding).
Kye is now friends with me after me having been suicidal earlier this year. He knows I had a psychotic break. He knows how much my conversion to Wicca has helped me restore my sanity even after almost destroying my sanity because I am THAT fucked up. And he still shows up.
He and I, along with THOUSANDS of others, are all deprogramming from an upbringing that taught us that true friendship like this cannot exist outside of the fold of Evangelical Christianity. He and I only escaped because we had each other to lean on. If you hear stories around the internet of others like us who are still trapped, just remember that every story is different.
Not everyone has a friend like this. In fact, growing up as so many of us have, most of us don’t HAVE friends like this at all. Remember that the next time you wonder why people stay in these insane fundamentalist cults for so long.
And if you are out there and don’t have a friend like this, there are thousands of us just one or two search functions away. Search hashtags like #Exvangelical, #EmptyThePews, or #ChurchToo. Follow blogs like John Pavlovitz, Rob Bell, or Chris Stroop.
And of course, though I am nowhere near the league of others, I also discuss this and topics like these on my blog here at ***THE WITTY APOTHECARY***
I will soon also be starting a podcast of my own, discussing everything from Spiritual Abuse to Wicca, Donald Trump to figuring out how the fuck I’m gonna make music again with all the fucking baggage I have now.
Just remember, my friends: I’ve been through a LOT of shit. But the worst thing I’ve ever felt was ALONE.
Blessed be, ya’ll.