When he joined a fraternity, Troy Hallisey never expected that he would find love from a brother, or how it would happen.
Like many other college students, Troy Hallisey joined a fraternity to party and hang out with friends. He connected with one brother who seemed particularly troubled, but lost touch with him after graduation.
Years later, they would meet in an unexpected place.
In his words:
My name is Troy Hallisey, I’m from Westerly, Rhode Island.
I went to college at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. My sophomore year somebody that lived on my floor, that I became friends with, he decided to join a fraternity that somebody from his hometown was in and I knew. So he invited me to a party one night at that fraternity house, and I decided that I would go and check it out to see what it was like. We were playing beer pong and in walks in one of these brothers and he had long bleach blonde hair and was wearing his cool clothes like, he looked like one the Backstreet Boys, but it was like you know the year 2000 and so that was cool, and I was really interested in meeting him. So I was talking to the bleach blonde-haired guy and his name turned out to be Henry, which I thought was kind of strange because it was like a really old-fashioned name but he was like this really contemporary dude. He told me that everybody was really, really, really great and he wouldn’t have joined if they weren’t, so on his recommendation I decided to go ahead and do it.
And then we lived together in the fraternity house for a semester and, I don’t know, I noticed some things about him that I wasn’t sure about. He would often disappear at times for extended periods of time, and I noticed he wasn’t really looking well and at the time I suspected that he had a drug addiction, but I didn’t have the courage or the wherewithal to confront him about it or talk to him about it or help him in any way because, I mean I was like a depressed person myself, and I was drinking too much and what, you know, what right did I have to say anything about it.
So ultimately like I ended up graduating, I moved back home to Westerly, Rhode Island, and I decided to kind of finally be myself, like I learned in my fraternity that I should be myself, but I didn’t really practice it because I was afraid of how people would react and I came out to my friends and my family, I decided to go back to school for a do-over. Because I got kind of bad grades while I was at UConn. And I studied Art, I got my first boyfriend for two years, and I had a lot of gay friends and it was just like a really awesome positive experience.
It was my last semester, it was Thanksgiving eve 2006, my last semester at URI. I was kind of getting excited, I was working at a restaurant at the time. And I was working that night and I remember my friend Brian and I were both working and I was exhausted, and he kept nagging me that he wanted to go out after work and I was like, “No, no, no, I can’t go it’s like a 25-minute drive” and in the end he finally convinced me and I went and we got to the bar just before midnight. And as soon as I walked in, I saw this guy. And I was just instantly attracted to him and I was like, “I think I know him. I don’t know how I know him, but I know him.”
And I was thinking about it for about five minutes and then I finally said to my friend Brian, “Brian. Go up to him and ask him if his name is Henry.”
He’s like, “No, I can’t do that,” and I’m like, “Come on, just do it.”
So he finally agreed to do it, and we turned around to go do it and he was like gone, he had like disappeared. I was like, “Shit.”
So I was like, “Oh, you know, he probably walked out with the back entrance” because the bar had this back patio and some stairs that went down into the street.
And so we decided to go out and see if he was out there. Brian and I were standing out there talking, and it was cold so we decided to go back in and right before I did I turned around to look at the staircase, and there he was just standing there and there was this spotlight lighting him up, lighting up the patio, but it was lighting him up. He saw me and looked at me and said, “Brother Troy.”
His friend Tia said, “Are you gay?”
And he answered for me, “Yes, he’s very, very gay.”
I think I replied something to the extent of, “Oh, it takes one to know one.”
And then we laughed and smoked a cigarette, and we were chatting and he gave me his phone number and I gave him mine.
A couple of days later, we went out on our first official date, and I got to know him better than I ever could have imagined. It turned out all of the times in college that he would disappear, he was actually going to visit his boyfriend that he kept in secret. And it turned out he did have a drug addiction, and that was the reason why he was even in my area in the first place. And he went to rehab there, and had gotten out, and decided to stay.
After a couple months of dating though, I realized something was going on. He started to not look well again, kind of like how he did when we were in college and it was becoming just really obvious that he had relapsed. And, you know, I couldn’t help him before, but now I had this new courage and I felt like I could help him. And I made it my mission to do so. Just one day I had enough, and I was like, “You know what, Henry, we’re done. This is it.”
And I broke up with him. He ended up in rehab after that, and it turned out to be a really positive thing, and I would go rehab and visit him once a week, and became an active part in his recovery.
We’ve been together now for ten years almost, and we got married six years ago, and we’ve had our ups and downs, but, you know, all in all we kind of stick to the basic strength of our relationship, which is a lasting lifelong friendship. The process of the ten years of our relationship has been such a learning experience for me, it’s tested all of my limits, and I know who I am more now than I ever have before.
Originally published at ImFromDriftwood.com. I’m From Driftwood envisions a world where every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer person feels understood and accepted, and every straight person is an ally.