Hey everyone, it's Primal here. I have a sad story to share in the hopes that it might strengthen anyone who reads it, as well as help anyone who may learn from or relate to it. It involves a former friend of mine who made a one-time appearance in a behind-the-scenes video titled "A Lesson in Wrestling."
When I met this friend, he was 19 years old, about to turn 20. We met at the last part-time restaurant job I worked at before I moved to the southern USA. He had an impulsive, ADHD personality that I found entertaining, and he also had a very competitive side to him that I related to, so I asked him for his number and we became friends. After initially coming to my house to do an ab workout together, we started meeting up to play basketball. Our competition on the court was fierce at times, and it was a lot to fun even though he won every game.
Around this time during 2022, one of my No Deo Hero patrons asked me if I had any new friends who would want to participate in a wrestling-themed video commission. This patron had already commissioned K2 and Draco for wrestling commissions before this and was looking for another person to see me compete against, so I asked this competitive friend if he'd want to take part. At first he asked me why someone was asking for a video of us when there were plenty to watch online already, but I explained to him that I allowed my fans the opportunity to commission videos that they liked to see and he understood after that and agreed to come by to film it.
He ended up coming to my house not too long after that and I pulled my mattress away from the wall to use for the video and positioned the camera over it. He suddenly got uneasy and asked why we were using the bed, and I told him it's because it was a lot softer than the floor and that I didn't have actual wrestling mats to use. He made an uncomfortable joke about two guys wrestling on a mattress together but I told him it wasn't like that, and we took our shirts off and filmed the commission.
He wore a hat during the entire match because he thought that his hair was greasy and didn't want it to be seen on camera, which made it entertaining whenever the hat got knocked off his head from grappling around and he'd have to quickly find it and pull it back on. I laughed and told him to take his socks off since I wasn't wearing any, but he said "no, the socks are staying on. It's only gay if your socks come off." I laughed at his innocent insecurity and explained the script of the video to him, then we filmed it.
The commission was two-part: first we took turns demonstrating several wrestling pins on each other (grapevine, guillotine, spladle etc), then we had an actual match where we tried to win by using one of those holds. Just like in basketball, he ended up eventually winning the match, and he told me that he had been on the wrestling team in school, which made sense. He seemed guarded and more quiet than usual during the long match, but everything seemed fine for the most part, and he ended up leaving after that because he had somewhere else he had to be.
Not too long after he left, he sent me a text asking me not to upload the video to my YouTube channel because he had insecurities about being seen with his shirt off as well as "other insecurities." His text also told me he was an athletic coach for middle schoolers and he didn't want this video possibly affecting that. I was hurt and confused by his message at first, but it was similar to what a previous featured friend who had been struggling with his identity (Nightwolf) had said to me when he claimed he didn't want to be in videos anymore because it might affect his future career as a musician. Nightwolf had later admitted this had been a lie and it was clear it was an inner identity struggle he was having instead.
Regardless, I replied to the friend who asked me not to post the video on my channel and told him I respected his concern and would keep the video behind the scenes, and he replied that this was okay and thanked me for it. The video is detailed on this website at the bottom of page 18 of behind-the-scenes extras and is only available to watch if access to it is purchased. I would continue to be confused and disappointed about his reaction until the day I got around to editing the video.
I hadn't noticed while we were wrestling since I was busy trying to pin and submit him, but while watching the footage of the match I saw a few times where he was visibly enjoying himself. One part in particular was where I was laying across his body trying to put him in a grapevine hold, and he had ceased fighting back for a moment with a passionate look on his face with his eyes closed as my body kept making contact against his. Suddenly I understood what he meant by "other insecurities" -- he had been getting aroused from wrestling me shirtless and had been trying to hide and contain it as best he could, but he must have realized that it would be seen on camera so he freaked out and asked me not to publicly post the video.
This friend had grown up in a well-off family and was raised to be very religious. Though he openly did things his religion forbade, like having sex with his girlfriend before marrying her, he believed everything his religion told him, including that same-sex romance was a "sin." Even though this experience he had was perfectly natural, harmless, and normal, he was left feeling ashamed and insecure about it because of his upbringing and outdated social stigmas. I was reminded of when I was in high school and had a 15-year-old friend who I started wrestling with for fun in my parents' swimming pool, and he had suddenly pushed me away and uncomfortably swam to the end of the pool and looked down at the ground in shame while holding his hands around his crotch area. How many generations of guys are going to continue to allow themselves to be so negatively affected by harmless things like this?
This really hit home for me since identity and acceptance is something I openly stand for on my No Deo Hero show. One day while we were texting, I tried to assure him that there's nothing he should feel ashamed of. I reminded him that everyone knows he's dating a girl, he prefers women, and that one day he'll get married and have kids with a woman, so there's no reason for him to feel insecure. He chose not to respond to that but I figured he at least read it and I hoped it made him feel better.
One day while playing basketball after this, we were talking trash to each other in a friendly competitive way when I challenged him to a wrestling rematch someday and told him I would win this time. He hesitated and declined the match, and when I asked him why he didn't want to give me a rematch, he replied in a half-joking manner with "I'm playing hard to get." The patron who commissioned it had enjoyed the wrestling video we filmed for him and asked me if he could commission a rematch between us. I asked the friend if he'd want to be in anymore videos on my show with me since we had a lot of fun in the last one, but he said he didn't and added that "he didn't want anyone jerking off to seeing him on camera." This bothered me to hear because it came off as insulting to my show and my fans.
Our friendship wasn't the same after that wrestling match. He started being a control freak about everything we'd do whenever we hung out -- it was always what he wanted to do, on his side of town, and where he wanted to do it. In fact, the only thing he ever reached out to do after that was play basketball or go to church with him, and he either ignored or declined any other plans like working out or hanging out at each others houses. He had asked me to start going to church with him, and even though I'm not religious, I started going because I knew it would make him happy. Sometimes you do things for other people instead of just yourself. I wasn't worried about what other people would think if they saw me in a church knowing I'm not religious; I was there for him and to be his friend.
His comments about my fans and his behavior since the match had been bothering me so I eventually told him I didn't want to go to church with him anymore. He texted back and pleaded with me to keep going, telling me he "wants and needs me to go." I offered him an opportunity to make it up to me for what he said about my show -- film some non-wrestling videos with me and I'll continue to go to church with him. He's not a video-filming guy, but I'm not religious, so that way we would be doing something selfless for each other instead of being selfish and being negative about something I'm so passionate about. I assumed his agreement meant he understood where I was coming from and why I felt that way.
Unfortunately, he continued to only allow me to either go to church with him or meet up for basketball and he made no effort to follow through on his word to be on my show with me. One day I brought my GoPro on the court and went to film a basketball video after our game, since he had proposed a basketball video when we had that conversation, but he suddenly said he had to go and left. It became clear to me that he had lied to me to get his way, and this of course was more hurtful and disappointing. Even after I had explained my unhappiness and that friendship is a two-way street, he still only thought of himself and reached out to me only when he benefited from it -- because his other friends had already changed churches or stopped going to church with him and I was the only one left, and because he enjoyed the close competition of basketball with me.
Next Sunday when he reached out to see if I'd be going to church with him, I told him no. When he asked why, I told him it was because he had lied to me to get me to continue going with him and that hadn't been cool. He didn't apologize or even reply, and he went on as if nothing happened when I saw him at work next.
He started having issues with other people from the restaurant. I began to notice that he was "that guy" that other employees said negative things about behind his back, to the point where it gave me the impression that he was the least liked person there. He also made waves when he went to a mutual friend's apartment where a few co-workers were partying, and he got drunk and said some really disturbing things that upset everyone. I wasn't there, but I was told that tasteless jokes about murdering people and having sex with dogs were among some of the disturbing things he was saying, and he was eventually asked to leave and not come back because of it since he was killing everyone's vibes with his crazy words. He also had rumors going around he was cheating on his girlfriend with a female co-worker he started spending a lot of time with, and this caused the co-worker to distance herself from him and made him angry and defensive.
The last day we played basketball together before I moved south, he brought up how much he hated being at the restaurant and said he was going to be leaving soon because of people like the employees who started rumors he was cheating on his girlfriend. I told him it was a learning experience, then I asked him about the night he got drunk at my friend's apartment, and he instantly got bitter about it and claimed the people there just hated him and that's why they made him leave. I reminded him that he had apparently been saying some really crazy things, but he shot that down and said "I don't care," and he ruined the rest of the basketball game we and a few other guys were having by acting angry and hurt the entire time. He had a look in his eyes of someone who was ready to snap and take his anger out on society, and it was honestly unnerving to see. The basketball game suddenly got quiet due to the hostile energy he was putting out.
After the game, I tried to send him some uplifting messages once I got home. I told him it was hard for me to see him like that and he shouldn't let other people make him feel so bad, and he should also learn from experiences instead of getting mad about them. He didn't reply, and he didn't end up replying to me again until after I moved out of state, eventually saying the reason for his silence was that he had taken a "phone cleanse." I again tried to offer him helpful advice on how to be a better person and learn from mistakes and experiences in life, and was sure to remind him that I was doing it out of love, but he again stopped replying.
In my mind, real friends let each other know when something needs to be said. For example, he was honest and would tell me that he could smell me at work sometimes and that I stunk on the court whenever we played basketball, and I loved and respected him for it. He enjoyed teasing me about my hygiene and I liked when he did it. He liked to dish it, you see, but apparently he wasn't able to handle whenever someone was real with him.
I teased him back about how bad his work shoes smelled. He even admitted that his own shoes made him gag. I asked him after I moved south if he would send me those shoes since he was quitting the restaurant industry soon, and he replied with "WTF? No." I told him I wanted to use them for a video where I would react to their smell on camera and he again said "no." I used this opportunity to again try to talk to him about being judgmental about people and only doing things for yourself, and he once again didn't bother replying.
After not hearing from him for a while, even after trying to occasionally text him a few times to keep in touch, I tried calling his phone one day and it kept going right to voicemail. Wondering if he may have blocked me, I dialed *67 to make my number private and called him in order to bypass the block, and this time it rang and he answered the call. I asked him if he had blocked my number after I was trying to be a friend and give him advice, and he hung up on me, confirming that he had.
Overall, it's unfortunate that I lost a friend due to his insecurity and his refusal to talk to me about the issues he was having. After I moved out of state, he wouldn't be able to hang out with me anymore anyway so he must have figured I wasn't worth keeping in touch with after I tried a second time to reach out as a friend and help him in what I say was clearly a time of need.
It's always hurtful to be the host and operator of a show about being comfortable in your own skin and having good times with close friends, bonding and making connections in special ways, only to have another of my friends turn out to be the exact audience my core message strives to strengthen turn his back on me.