January 6th, 2012
Journal Entry: Friday, January 6th, 7:00AM
Dear Invisible Friend,
Today’s the day! Today I’m finally gonna do it! It’s been hanging over my head long enough! I’m just worried about what Dad will say. I wonder if he’ll kick me out of the house for being ’one of those people’. Now before you start assuming anything, Dad has never shown any prejudiced attitudes… ever. But he’s a Deacon in our church, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, here in town. He preaches more by example than by words, but he also has Leviticus 18:22 highlighted in red in his Bible.
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination.”
So you can see why I might be just a bit nervous about revealing my secret.
It’s not really a total secret; Mike and his mom know, and Alex and Jason and Jason’s dad know. But I think that’s all. I’m not out at school. Heck, a freshman in high school is already at the bottom of the totem pole. Why would I want to sink lower? I did have an incident with a junior earlier this school year, but Jason and Alex helped me out. Ron Conrad saw Mike and me holding hands and started giving me a really bad time. I don’t know what Jason and Alex did, but the problem seems to have gone away. I don’t think they threatened Ron. He still comes around, but now he’s friendly rather than hostile. It’s as though he forgot all about what he saw. That’s why I didn’t mention him as one of the people who knew about me. I really don’t think he does.
But back to Dad. I think I should stand next to Mom when I ‘fess up. I’m certain that she’ll understand. Mike told me that his mom said, ‘I could never hate you, Mikey; I love you too much for that.’ I think that’s what my mom will say too. Heck, after carrying me for nine months and raising me for fifteen years, I think she knows I’m a good person. What? You didn’t know I was fifteen? That’s not surprising; that’s because today is my birthday! So yeah, I’m giving Mom and Dad a present on my birthday and coming out to them at dinner tonight. Mike and his mom will be here for support, too.
I know exactly when I’ll do it, too. You see, right after I open my presents, blow out the candles and eat my cake, Mom and Dad always have me make a speech, and then I tell what I’ve learned and how I’ve progressed over the past year. This year I’m going to tell them that I learned that I’m gay. Well, not really ‘learned’, it’s more like I’ve finally realized it and accepted it.
And this is working out perfectly, too. Today is Friday and Mike is staying over tonight; I stayed over at Mike’s house last Friday. We’re on Christmas break and we don’t have any homework, so Mom, Dad, Mike, his mom and I will watch a DVD and have popcorn and soda. Dad, as usual, will probably have a beer instead of soda, but he never seems to want to share. Hehe. Actually, I had a sip of Dad’s beer once. I don’t know how he can even put it in his mouth! Yuck!
Wow. I’m getting way off topic. OK, back to tonight. I don’t know if I should write down what I’m going to say or if I should just ad lib it… maybe some notes to keep me on track at least; I tend to wander a bit. Hehe.
OK, time to get ready; Mike will be here soon. I’ll add more later.
I closed my college ruled notebook and put it back on the top shelf in my closet, well out of view of snooping eyes. Next it was time for my shower. I love a cool shower on hot summer days, but in January the weather is a bit nippy here, so I prefer a much warmer shower.
Like Mike, I’m an only child, but I have my own bathroom and shower in our house. Dad added it to the basement when he had it finished a few years ago, and for my thirteenth birthday I was allowed to move into my very own mini-apartment down here. Mom was against it, but Dad said that a guy, especially a teenager, needed his privacy. I wonder if he was remembering what he did as a teenager… But anyway, having ‘my own place’ for these last two years has been great! I have my own door into my apartment from the basement proper, so I just close the door and I’m free to walk from my bedroom to the shower naked, if I want to… which is most of the time. Hehe.
So far, Dad has walked in on me once, but I wasn’t doing anything, just walking to the shower with my towel over my shoulder. (Thank God I didn’t have a boner!) He averted his eyes as I wrapped the towel around my waist and then he asked me if I had seen his mini-screwdriver set. We both learned something that day. Dad learned to knock before entering and I learned to return things to where I got them. Hehe. Dad told Mom about it and they teased me for a couple of weeks, but at least Mom never walked in unexpected. (Thanks, Dad.)
After my showered, I put on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with a button-up shirt over it, which I left unbuttoned so the design on my T-shirt could be seen. That’s typical for me in the winter. I finished with a pair of Adidas basketball shoes. (You can never tell when you’ll come across a hoop in your travels.) And to top it off, a Phoenix Suns warm-up jacket.
I chugged up stairs and headed for the kitchen and, on arriving, I kissed Mom on the cheek and wished her a good morning. After I put my jacket on the back of my chair, Mom set a plate of pancakes in front of me.
“What? Are we out of cereal?”
Mom swatted me in the back of my head and said, “Don’t be such a tease! Happy birthday, Glenn!” And then she hugged me around the neck and I was sure my head was coming off. Hehe.
“Thanks, Mom. Where’s Dad?”
“He’s at church.”
“But I thought the obligation for the Epiphany was changed to the following Sunday if it wasn’t on a Sunday.”
“It is, honey, but you know your dad. He’s been going to mass on the Feast of the Epiphany since he was old enough to remember. I can hear him now, ‘If the feast is on January 6th, then that’s the day I’m going to mass!’”
“Yeah, he still doesn’t eat meat on Fridays. Hehe.”
“I know! I had to get Father Jim to tell him he had a dispensation for today or we wouldn’t be able to have the roast pork you asked for.”
“Oh yeah! Today’s Friday! How could I forget that? Thanks, Mom!”
“You’re welcome, honey. What do you and Mike have planned for today?”
“I think we’re gonna ride our bikes over to the mall and just hang out with the kids from school. I think this will be the first time I’ve seen a lot of them since Christmas vacation started on December 23rd.”
“Hehe. That’s only two weeks, Glenn. You make it sound like a lifetime. By the way, what time are Mike and Ms. Whelan coming over tonight?”
“I told them that dinner started at six sharp and to get here at least thirty minutes earlier or I’d be in trouble with you.”
“Oh Glenn, you would not!”
“Hehe. OK, you would. What time are you and Mike heading out?”
“The mall opens at nine, so we’ll leave about that time. No sense being the first ones there.”
“Do you have enough money?”
“Yeah, and Mike said my birthday present was gonna be him buying lunch for me today.”
“Aww… that’s nice of him. Don’t order anything really expensive; just get what you usually do, OK?”
“I’ll be on my best behavior, Mom. I won’t embarrass you, promise.”
Just then the doorbell rang.
“That must be Mike. I’ll get it.” And I ran to the door.
As I opened it, Mike was in in a flash and yelled, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GLENN!!!” Then he picked me up and spun me around in a huge bear hug.
“OK, you two! Any damages are coming out of your allowances!”
“Good morning, Mrs. Taylor!”
“Good morning, Mike. Have you had breakfast yet? I still have plenty of pancake batter and they don’t take long to cook.”
“That sounds great, Mrs. T, thank you.”
We walked back to the kitchen and Mike grabbed a plate out of the cabinet and then got a knife and fork from the drawer. Does it sound like he’s been here much? Hehe. Within minutes, Mom was serving him four pancakes, and as he put butter and syrup on them, she brought him a glass of milk.
“Mike, I’ve been talking with your mom and we can’t figure out where you guys put all this without gaining weight. If I ate what you guys do I’d need a crane to lift me off my chair.”
“But Mrs. T, we do a lot of physical stuff, too. You know, we either walk or ride our bikes everywhere and when we get to where we’re going, we walk some more. When was the last time you or my mom had to give us a ride anywhere?”
“Yeah, that’s what Glenn says, too. I suppose it could be true. If I gave up the car and walked, I guess I could shed a couple of pounds… of course that’s not very likely to happen.” And she smiled at us. I had a couple of comments to make, but Mom can really hit hard when she wants to.
Fifteen minutes later Mike and I were on our way to the mall. It’s about a twenty minute ride and the weather was OK. It was around 60° and sunny. Not bad for early January in southern Arizona. As we locked our bikes at the bike rack, we scoped out the other bikes to see who else was here. Then we entered at the Sears door. Mike and I definitely have the ‘man gene’. We had to look through the hardware department and we checked out all the mechanics’ tool sets and dreamed about what we’d do once we had them.
Once we fed our tool craving, we headed for the second floor and the Food Court. On the way I reminded Mike. “Today’s the day, Dude. Today’s the day I tell them. I’m as nervous as heck!”
“I know! But wait until you’ve got that weight off your shoulders!
“Sure, that’s easy for you to say. You’re looking back on it, not forward to it. Then, even after I come out to them, we still have to hide who we are from our friends. That kinda sucks.”
“Yeah, Glenn, but think about it… how many of our friends have come out as gay to us? Answer? Two: Alex and Jason. Yet we know there have to be others. We have fifteen hundred students in West Side High School, so at least one hundred and fifty are gay. Assuming we have about a 50:50 boy-girl ratio, that means there are about seventy-five gay guys. We only know of four of them; the other seventy-one are out there… hiding… and doing a good job of it. Why are they hiding?”
“I guess because, like us, they don’t want the hassle from the haters that we were getting.”
“Right! So we hide… so what? We can come out to the rest of the world when we start college, or we can wait for others to ask us, but doing it in high school could be a disaster. By the way, are you still nervous, er, more nervous, about telling your dad?”
“Yeah. I still can’t read him. But I keep coming back to him having Leviticus 18:22 highlighted in red marker. What if he wants to kick me out and Mom can’t convince him to accept me?”
“Dude, you know my mom said that she’d take you in. Heck, you spend half your time at my place as it is. Look, your dad doesn’t preach to me and Mom for not attending church, does he? So he probably will accept you as his gay son.”
“I hope you’re right, but I still have a bit of doubt.”
“Do you want to hold off on your revelation?”
“Nah… I just want to get it over with and take what comes.”
As we walked up to the food court, we saw a few of the other guys and girls hanging out and steered over to them. The girls were in one cluster and the guys were in another, with only a few intermingling. Those who did usually were holding the hand of another, displaying that they were girlfriend and boyfriend. I’d have loved to hold Mike’s hand and walk over to that group, but it will never happen while we’re in high school. We learned that the hard way with Ron Conrad.
As we walked up, Mike yelled out, “Let the games begin!” and he grabbed Mattie Sandoval’s wrist and raised it to the sky.
Mattie joined in the fun and started cheering just as a security guard stopped by and said, “OK, hold it down or I’ll have to throw you guys in the Mall Jail!”
We all cracked up and Mike asked if there really was a Mall Jail. Now the security guard started laughing and said, “I don’t know. I saw that on King of the Hill and thought it was great. Have fun, guys, but do it a little quieter, OK?”
“Sure thing, Carlos,” Mike replied.
“Thanks, Mike. Thanks, Mattie.” And he continued on his rounds.
I don’t know how Carlos does it! I think he knows everyone who comes in the mall by name… including the parents. We know that if he has to call our parents that they’ll take care of the problem when we get home, so Carlos really has it easy most of the time.
We talked with the other guys for about an hour and caught up on what everybody got for Christmas (and what they returned it for). Hehe. Then Mike, Mattie and I walked around the mall’s lower level and checked out all the stores that we could get into. For some reason, we couldn’t get into Victoria’s Secret. Hehe. After the pass through the lower level, it was coming up on noon and Mike asked me if I was getting hungry yet. I told him I could go for some Chinese food, so we walked back up to Panda Express. I had fried rice, string bean chicken breast and chicken mushroom, with a root beer. Mike had a couple of chicken things too, along with fried rice and a Dr. Pepper. I think Mattie got both beef and chicken and steamed rice, with a Pepsi.
When we got to the register and Mike paid for mine, Mattie made a comment about how cute that was that Mike was buying lunch for his boyfriend. We just laughed it off and Mike said it was a birthday present for me. When Mattie heard that, he set his food down on the table with ours and ran off saying he’d be right back. When he returned he had a Mrs. Fields bag with a huge cookie in it for me!
“Wow, Mattie! Thank you! You didn’t have to do that!”
“No, but I wanted to. Happy birthday, Glenn! I think you’re the first one of us to hit fifteen. How’s it feel to be an old man? Hehe.”
“An old man at fifteen? You gotta be kidding me! Actually, it feels kinda cool.”
And so it went for the next half hour. Then we walked around the second level and did some window shopping. We stopped in Radio Shack and looked at all the cool remote control cars. The guy even let us try out a couple, even though he knew we weren’t going to buy anything. I guess it was a slow day and he did it to keep busy. Whatever, it was still nice of him. When we left, we thanked him.
Next we went to Sears to check out the electronics. My parents always get the latest stuff, so it’s up to me to tell them that we need to trade up. Hehe. Sometimes it actually works! After drooling on the new music systems and game consoles, we went into the TV department and watched the eighty-inch set that they had. That was AWESOME! I didn’t even think about looking at the price tag… not in this lifetime.
When we finished, Mattie said he had to be heading home. We told him we had to get going as well. We walked out to the bike rack together and Mattie took off in one direction and we went in another. We made it to Mike’s place about 3:45 or so and I went in with him just so we could make out a bit before I had to go home. I wasn’t due until 4:15. No sooner had we walked in the door and closed it than we leaned against each other and started to dance to a song that we hummed into each other’s ear… Greyson Chance’s “Waiting Outside The Lines”.
“Happy birthday, Glenn. I love you more today than the day we met.”
“Thanks, Mike. I can’t put into words the love I have for you.”
We were still dancing as we held each other close and rested our heads on each other’s shoulder. The music was in our heads. We leaned back and looked each other in the eyes. No words were spoken, but we each knew what the other was thinking. Finally I spoke. “Mike, I have to move away from you or my boner will never go down.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I don’t want to have to explain it to Mom.”
“Hehe. Yeah, that could be a bit awkward…” And we separated. I reached in my pants and repositioned myself. I looked up and saw Mike doing the same and we laughed. Slowly, but surely our ‘problems’ were clearing up. When it was safe to walk outside without attracting attention to myself, I hugged Mike again and kissed him on the cheek. “Don’t forget, be at my place by 5:30 or Mom’ll go ape-shit.”
“We’ll be there. My mom hates to be late. I better take a shower before she gets home so she has the bathroom to herself to get ready.”
Reluctantly, I opened the door. Mike hit the garage door button and followed me out. As I rode home, I looked back and saw Mike disappearing into the garage with his bike. I put my bike away and entered the house at 4:12 – three minutes early.
“Mom! I’m home!”
“I’m in the kitchen, Glenn. How was your day?”
I walked out and gave Mom a hug. “It was a fun time. Mike took me to Panda Express and Mattie bought me a giant cookie!”
“That was nice of them. You remembered not to eat all of Mike’s allowance, I hope.”
“Yeah, I was good. I have to be or in May when his birthday comes around it’ll be payback time. Hehe.”
“Well, I’m glad you boys had fun. Go and get ready. I know it’s your birthday, but someone still has to set the table, so hurry up.”
“Yes ma’am.” And I ran down the stairs and into my ‘apartment’, closing the door behind me.
= = =
At 5:30 on the dot, the doorbell rang and Dad answered it.
“Hi, Maggie! Hi, Mike! Come on in. Let me get your coat, Maggie.”
“Hi, Dave! How have you been? It seems I see Amy a lot more often than you.”
“Things have been going well. Are you still using your whip and chair on the sales guys?”
“Yeah, but they’re getting better. They’re actually a great group of guys and girls. I think the worst problem we have is leaving an empty coffee pot on the burner. Hehe.”
Mike walked over to me and gave me a present and another birthday hug. I smiled and took his jacket and hung it up in the hall closet with Ms. Whelan’s coat. I set the present on the end table with the one from Mom and Dad. Dad, being the good host that he is, poured a glass of wine for Mom, Ms. Whelan and himself. He had me get a soft drink for Mike and me. We sat in the living room and just talked for a few minutes. The adults were gushing about how much I’d grown in the last year. Mike was sitting quietly, trying to hide the grin on his face. He knew that this scene would be repeated on May 4th for his birthday. He was sitting next to me and I gave him a friendly elbow to the ribs.
Finally, Mom and Ms. Whelan went out to bring supper out to the table and Mike, Dad and I took our places at the table. Mom rolled out a cart with the roast on it and, upon seeing it, Dad said, “Today’s Friday. We can’t have meat.”
“Oh Dave, stop teasing. You know Father Jim gave us all a dispensation for the feast day.” Dad laughed and started cutting the roast. While that was going on, Mom and Ms. Whelan brought in the potatoes, gravy, vegetables and the rolls. When Dad set the platter of meat on the table, we sat quietly and waited for him to say grace.
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen. Bless us, Oh Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord, amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, amen.”
Mike and I were sitting next to each other, with Mike nearest to Dad. Ms. Whelan was across the table from Mike and Mom was across the table from me. Next we started passing the bowls of food around the table. Mom was getting compliments from all sides and loving them. Hehe. As we were eating, Mike and I were grilled about what classes we were taking in the second semester and how many classes we had together. We only had three classes together; the same ones we had together the first semester. All of our other classes were the same, as well. We even had the same teachers.
When supper was over, Mom brought out coffee for the adults and hot cocoa for me and Mike. Once we were settled in, she brought out a cake with fifteen candles on it. When the candles were lit, the birthday song started. Mike was purposely loud and off key. He even tried to make me laugh when I was blowing out the candles. Hehe. We ate our cake and sipped our coffee or cocoa and had a really good time. Next came the presents. There were only two; one from Mom and Dad and the other from Mike and his mom. Mom and Dad got me a new West Side High School jacket! I loved it! If I ever earn a letter in any sport, I hope it still fits so I can have it sewn on. Hehe. Mike and his mom got me a heavy weight Phoenix Suns sweatshirt and beanie hat! Mike and I looked at each other and I almost started to cry. What a great gift! I made sure to thank Ms. Whelan profusely! I put the gifts back in the boxes and set them out of the way.
Now for the event that has been driving me crazy for the last six months or so. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a short stack of ruled index cards with my notes on them. I cleared my throat and began.
“This past year has been exceptional. I’ve progressed from middle school to high school. I’m halfway through the first of four years of discovery and realization. First the obvious changes; I’ve grown three and a half inches, up to five feet eight inches tall. My weight has increased proportionally to one hundred forty-five pounds. I hope I keep growing; I want to get to at least six feet tall. The NBA doesn’t have many five-eight forwards.
”Mom and Dad, I know I haven’t really changed that much on the outside, but I feel as though my mental abilities are being challenged in high school. I’m being driven to meet or exceed the standards that have been set for me. For the first time, my teachers have higher expectation for me than I had for myself coming into freshman year.
“There is one other thing that has been happening to me this past year, although it didn’t start this year. It started over three years ago, but it’s taken all this time for me to realize and recognize it. I finally have, and this last year I’ve come to accept and embrace it. After all, it’s who I am. Let me tell you what it isn’t before I tell you what it is. It isn’t a phase; I won’t grow out of it. It isn’t a choice; if it were, there would be very few people like this, if any at all. Most of all, Dad, Mom, it isn’t an abomination. I’m still your son, but I’m your gay son. If you want me to leave the house, I will. I don’t want to, but I will.”
And I sat down, looking at Dad to see what his reaction was going to be, but I saw Mike flinch and heard him yell, “Glenn! Duck!” But it was too late. Mom slapped my face with her open palm. I instinctively backed away and Mom missed with her second attempt.
“You will NOT remain in MY house if you are gay!”
I was horrified! I couldn’t believe that Mom would act this way! As I was coming to the realization, I tensed up. If I was a turtle I’d have been in my shell. Then I heard it…
“Not so fast, Amy. I get a say in this, too. After all, Glenn is MY son too.” My head snapped to the left and I saw it was DAD who said that! “Amy, have you any idea of how difficult it must have been for Glenn to tell us this? Would you rather that he hide who he is from us?”
“Dave! How can you agree with him, even for a moment?!? You even have the passage highlighted in red!”
“Amy, I highlighted all of the hateful passages in red. I went through all seventy-three books of the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible, the one I marked. The only four books that matter are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Those books hold the words of Jesus. He died so we could live. He released us from the covenant of the Jews, including ALL the laws of Leviticus. A law written from hate is a bad law.” Then he turned and looked at me. “Glenn, you are welcome in my house, your house, for as long as you wish to live here. Your mother will come around eventually. Until then, she will remain silent in this matter and she will treat you with the respect that all people deserve. Why don’t you and Mike clear the table and start the dishes? Maggie, could you help them, please?”
Without a second thought, the three of us started to clear the table and take everything to the kitchen. Once we were in there, Ms. Whalen closed to door so we wouldn’t hear what Dad had to say to Mom. About the time we were finished, the door opened and Mom entered the kitchen. She walked over to me and said, “Glenn, I’m so sorry that I interrupted your birthday party. Please forgive me.”
I hugged her and said, “I love you Mom.”
Then she went to Mike and Ms. Whalen and said, “Maggie, Mike, please forgive my outbursts. They were uncalled for.”
Ms. Whalen gave Mom a hug and said, “Let’s just forget this ever happened, Amy.”
Then Dad called out from the living room, “Which DVD are we watching tonight, Glenn?”
Mike and I went into the living room to help Dad sort it out while Mom and Ms. Whelan made some popcorn for the movie.
= = =
I don’t know what Dad said to Mom, but the incident was never mentioned again. That’s twice I’ve seen this happen… first with Jason and Ron Conrad, and now with Dad and Mom. I don’t know what it was, but I’m sure not going to question it. Just like with Ron, for Mom it never seemed to have happened.
= = =
A few minutes earlier while Amy was apologizing in the kitchen, Dave takes out his cell and makes a call to Michele Johnson.
“Hello, sir. Do we have any new assignments?”
“No, I just wanted to log an incident. I had to reprogram my wife due to homophobia.”
“When was that, sir?”
“Less than five minutes ago. I have to go now.”
“It’s logged, sir. Goodnight.”