My first, openly gay pal was a guy called Mark. We worked together at an Advertising agency in Johannesburg. I was 19 and the Creative Department secretary. Mark was a budding art director. I was fascinated that he only ever wore shades of grey. He was amused that I said anything that came into my head – and knew how to pronounce Tao correctly (he was a huge fan of ‘the right way’).
We had lunch together every day – sitting in the sun outside the ugly concrete building that housed our agency. And imagined our futures. I would travel all over the world and be rich. He would find someone who loved him, get married and have a gracious home – filled with his delicate watercolours and sunlight. We would tease each other about the role reversal, and plan what we would wear to his wedding. Then he would laugh and say ruefully: “as if …”.