Without this effort, the secret place is merely a dungeon in which the person perished; without this effort, indeed, the entire world would be an uninhabitable darkness.
James Baldwin, Another Country (1962)
My friend was in pain. All the things he held dear and cherished were slipping from his grasp. In naming his losses he named his desire to grab ahold of something, something to help him live, to help him cope. I wanted to comfort him, to hold his hand, make some kind of physical contact, to disrupt the isolation he was feeling. But I hesitated, unsure of an appropriate way, a manly way, to comfort my friend. Truthfully, I was paralyzed by the fear of what my touch might communicate about my identity as a man, my sexuality, and my connection to him.