He Became Homeless And Met A Gay Man At The Shelter. He Could Not Have Asked For A Better Outcome
November 13, 2015
This is a story written by a redditor about his life that we thought was a great read and had to share.
The author, a straight male, became homeless a year ago and met a gay man at the shelter. The two quickly became best friends, beat homelessness together, and now share a nice apartment. This is what he wrote...
I didn't really think of this as being a neat story until I thought about it today, so I thought I would share with you all. About 14 months ago, while battling a pretty disruptive health condition, I was facing homelessness, after a brief familial conflict. After a couple grueling days, I faced the music, threw my backpack and pillow over my shoulders and walked to the city's homeless shelter.
If you've never experienced homelessness at a shelter, it's a bit of a culture shock. There are all types of people you encounter - drug addicts, those battling mental illness, some who have had just an unfortunate set of circumstances, and yes, there are a handful of those that milk the system and make a choice to be lazy. Keep in mind, arriving at this particular shelter didn't get you a room or cozy stay, right away. No, you were placed in the emergency shelter, which consisted of dirty people, a giant room that smelled like feet, people who wanted to be badass, and some that were relatively normal. We had a curfew and evening bed reservations, and if you didn't comply, guess what? You were sleeping outside, somewhere.
And rightfully so. I figured in that situation, you have to do what you have to do. Rules don't bother me. There needed to be strict rules for a homeless shelter. We were getting three square meals a day and a roof over our heads. That is much more than any third-world country receives. And, of course, you had those that abused it and got kicked out.
Now, there was this place on the property called "The Smoke Box" which all males were permitted to congregate and loiter. Of course, females also had their own "Smoke Box." I spent most days here, even though I didn't smoke. Being the new guy, I felt the need to make friends quickly, as a survival instinct. And as much as I hate to say it, there were very few people that I felt like didn't have this massive skeleton in their closet, waiting to jump out at any given moment - or some crazy bit of information that would be a complete dealbreaker for a friendship. And while I may be accused of being insensitive, I didn't particularly care about political correctness. I cared about graduating and getting my life on track. I remember coming to the Smoke Box one day, plopping down on the bench, and seeing a newcomer, with his leg over his other knee, chatting away to some others about his situation. There was a gentleness about him, (and a slight flamboyancy), and kindness in his eyes. I knew right away that this was the friend that I needed. So, I approached him, introduced myself, and shook his hand.
Now, everyone shares on the surface "what brought them here." But, there is kind of an unwritten rule about prying too much, with respect to the privacy of others. So, I didn't pry too much. I could immediately tell that this was a good guy that caught a bad break. And that was all I cared about.
Keep in mind, during the day, in between mealtimes, there was no shelter for newcomers. So, much of the day was spent scouring the city. And yes, we had to carry our bags and "homeless" status with us. We did our best to conceal it, but there wasn't a day that went by that didn't feel completely embarrassing.
Ray was out of the area, so I quickly offered to show him around the city. And we just started talking. He told me his story and I told him mind, and we were both completely cool with it.
Keep in mind, there was a rule that "out-of-county" visitors were only given a maximum of like 3-4 days to get a job, otherwise they would be required to leave. Apparently this had something to do with government funding. And, to move into the residential (more permanent) type of living, an income was required.
Would you believe it that this guy landed a job within 36 hours? And somehow, right around the same time, after spending a month in the emergency shelter, I landed a job at the exact same time.
We had a very reasonable life-coach (the staff member who oversaw our cases). After Ray and I both landed our jobs, I went to our life coach and asked him if we could please share a room together, as residential rooms always had two occupants. It just felt right. He was gay and I was straight. And it didn't matter. We were both homeless, cared for one another, and became really good friends. It was a pretty humbling experiencing. As an active supporter of LGBT rights, even I was taken back by the strength of our relationship.
And by the days end, guess what? We got our room. It was tiny, but it had heat, a place to put clothing, and a bed. We were both extremely grateful. He and I went to work every single day, came home, hung out and talked for a while, and went to bed. There was never any weirdness or awkwardness. We both knew quite well our own sexuality, but we were both completely fine with it. I joked about sneaking girls into our room while he was away, and he would cringe when I talked about a vagina. It was awesome and quite comical. Him and I never fought about a single thing. We were both just very happy that we were safe, warm, and moving forward.
Then one day I came back to the Smoke Box and several people asked me, "Hey what happened to Ray?" or "Did you hear what happened to Ray?" My heart sunk. I quickly sought out answers, and much to my dismay, my good friend had been arrested... but was so cordial to the officers, that they didn't even handcuff him. LOL, that's my Ray. So much kindness that even police are okay without cuffing him.
That was Ray. He was the kind, gentle soul that nobody felt any kind of hatred for. Even the tough guys took a liking to him. He just had that warmth to him that was very attractive to everyone. His arrest was extremely minor, and while I would gladly share what it is, he isn't home right now, and I don't want to be disrespectful.
Ray ended up being kicked out of the shelter, due to his arrest. But, like that ever stopped him. He quickly found a place for rent uptown, several miles away, and lived his life out of a tiny room, which was the most affordable option, at the time.
Of course, he quickly became friends with all of his neighbors and the landlord. He was able to smoke in his room now, and possessed the freedom I didn't have. It was pretty impressive. He didn't let anything take him out. Oh, and did I mention he beat brain cancer and a violent mugging?
While staying at the shelter, I met him at the local cafe several times a week, and often visited him on the weekends. He fit a twin bed in his room, gave me a pillow and we both slept at opposite ends of the bed, while his space heater kept the small room quite toasty at night. On work mornings, we walked to work together, as both our jobs were within the city, even if they were both a mile or so away.
We continued the trend for months. He had a steady job through a temp agency, and I was still 40 hours a week at minimum wage - hardly enough stability to take on a life of our own. But, then he got hired by his company, directly.
Not much time later, I received a promotion in my store. After almost a year of struggle and an absolute humbling fight to not only keep our head above water, but actually come to shore, we began apartment hunting. Ten months, and about six apartment visits later, we finally signed a lease on the 2-bedroom apartment that I am typing this post from now.
We have been here for 5 months, still both working our jobs, paying our rent on time, and leading pretty good lives. We both have our own bedrooms. I let him decorate the place how he pleases, and let me just say, "Wow." This guy's got it.
The apartment before Ray decorated /via imgur
The apartment after Ray decorated / via imgur
And did I mention he is an outstanding cook?
To this day, we have never fought and have never stopped looking out for each other. And guess what? I just bought a car that we finally got to take to the grocery store a couple days ago. It was an awesome experience, even though my car is a beater. We have central air and an awesome cable package, on top of the great looking, roomy place. I have girls over on the weekends, and he has guys over... and we talk about our experiences every single time it happens.
I could have never predicted that me, as a straight guy, would have met a gay guy, who would turn out to be my best friend, through a homeless shelter.
I simply could not have asked for a better outcome.
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