Chapter 20
A Delicate Situation
When I met Seth, Sydney and Jade for breakfast, I informed them about my
encounter with Joseph. Seth and Sydney had attended a movie the night before, so I
didn’t get a chance to talk to him about it.

He warned, “I don’t think this is a good idea, Dorian. I think you’ve already pushed
your father to the limit now. If he finds out you’re going to participate in a march that
Avery has forbidden, you could be in a lot of shit.”

“I have to,” I insisted. I told him about Joseph’s concern for young gay and lesbians
who were facing problems because they were gay. He shook his head worriedly when I
told him I thought I could make a difference.

“You possibly could,” responded Sydney. She looked over at Seth. “But he’s right,
you know. If this thing get out of hand, it could really backfire on you.”

I asked, “How can it get out of hand?”

Jade added, “It’s just a small protest march. Most students probably won’t even
know what we’re doing.”

Seth sat back in his chair and looked at me. “Let’s put this in perspective. You’re
Dorian Gale.” I nodded my head, wondering where he was going with his comments.
“You’re gay. Your father is Senator Jonathan Gale, who just happens to be running
for vice president of the United States.”

“So...” I started to object, but he quickly interrupted me.

“He’s a homophobic prick, who has advanced his career by bashing gay rights every
chance he gets.”

“He’s not that bad,” I insisted. “He just opposes gay marriage, is all.”

Seth continued, “That may be true, but most people think he represents the party’s
anti-gay agenda.” I nodded my head because Seth was right. Anti-gay and Senator
Gale were synonymous. Seth leaned forward and stared into my face. “Do you really
believe for one minute that you’re going to participate in a gay march here at school
without the news media finding out? Look what you went through last week when
they discovered you were working at Panera Bread.”

“But that’s why Joseph wants me to be involved,” I attempted to explain. “If I’m
there, then maybe people will more concerned with our cause.”

Jade grabbed my arm and squeezed it. “I’m with Dorian. Sometimes you just can’t sit
back and let other people make a statement.” She looked at me and smiled,
“Sometimes you have to take your own stand.” She kissed me on my cheek and said,
“I’m proud of you, Dorian.”

Seth looked at her worriedly. “And will you be proud of him when his father pulls him
out of school?”

“He won’t,” I replied angrily. “If he does, then he’s going to really have a fight on his
hands. I’ll tell everyone how he’s treated me since I was a boy. With one phone call,    
I could schedule a press conference and tell them what a horrible father he’s been.     
I could ruin him, and he and Leo know that. Why do you think he hasn’t pulled me
out already?”

Jade remarked, “He’s right. Dorian is holding a royal flush.” She took my hand and
squeezed it. “And right now, I think he’s got the balls to up the bet.” I smiled and
started laughing.

“I’m scared as hell right now,” I confessed, “but I know this is something I have to
do. Joseph made me realize I can’t sit back and watch while others are getting hurt.  
If I can save just one life, then I’m willing to face my father’s wrath to do it.”

Seth shook his head and asked, “You really want to do this? You know what it
means?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “I want to do this.”

He held out his hand, palm down. “Then I’m with you.”

“Me, too,” replied Sydney as she put her hand over Seth’s.

Jade looked at me and smiled. “Me, too.” She placed her hand over Sydney’s.

“Thanks, Guys,” I responded as I choked back tears. I then placed my hand over  
Jade’s. I looked at each of them and said a silent ‘thank you’ for having such devoted
friends.

It was difficult to concentrate in my classes. If I wasn’t thinking about Wes, then I
was worried about the upcoming march. For someone who had lacked any drama in
his life for nineteen years, it seemed that I was now becoming overwhelmed by it.

However, in spite of everything that was happening to me, I felt alive for the first time
in my life. I was now living my life on my own terms, and I realized that meant I
would have to suffer the consequences of my actions. I also knew that I would have
to suffer the consequences of my inaction. Therefore, I was resolved in finding a way
to break through Wes’s insecurities and make him understand that I would never hurt
him. I was also aware that by not participating in the march could mean that I would
feel regret every time a gay student was harmed because I hadn’t taken a stand.

Even though my life appeared outwardly complicated, I was inwardly gaining a self-
confidence I had never experienced before in my life. For the first time, I liked being
me, and no one was going to take that from me- not even my father.

I could hardly wait for my math class to end. The professor droned on forever about
solving quadratic equations by factoring or taking square roots. I might as well have
been taking a Latin class. Sydney appeared to be falling asleep, so maybe she was
bored because she already knew the material. I would have to ask her later if she
would go over it before the next class. The professor enjoyed giving pop quizzes at
the beginning of the next class to make sure that students paid attention during
lectures. So far, I’d only failed one. Jade and Sydney were batting 100%.

When class ended, the girls asked me if I wanted to go to the bookstore before
meeting Seth and Amanda for dinner. I told them I wanted to visit Wes. Jade asked if
I would like her to go with me, but I told her it was something I had to do alone. She
understood, and she kissed me on my cheek before leaving. “Good luck,” she said as
I turned to leave.

I wasn’t sure if Wes would talk to me. In fact, after the way he reacted the day
before, I was sure he wouldn’t. I was hoping his mother had talked to him and made
him realize that I had no intentions of hurting him. I wasn’t going to just walk away
because he had some childish fear about being rejected.

When I entered his room, there was an elderly woman lying in bed. She appeared to
be asleep. I turned and left before she noticed me. I went to the nurses’ station and
asked where Wes was.

“He’s been released,” one of the nurses informed me. “His doctor released him to go
home this morning.” Dejectedly, I made my way toward the elevator. Like before in
the café, I had no way of contacting him since I had forgotten to ask for his phone
number.

When I joined the others for dinner, Jade immediately sensed that something was
wrong. She rose from the table, kissed Amanda on the cheek, grabbed my hand and
led me from the restaurant.

“What happened?” She asked when we were safely away from the others.

“He’s been released from the hospital,” I informed her. “I don’t know how to contact
him.”

I shook my head sorrowfully when she asked, “You didn’t get his number?” We went
into a nearby McDonald’s and grabbed a sandwich and fries. I wanted to pay, but Jade
handed the cashier money before I could pull out my wallet. “My treat,” she insisted.

“What am I going to do?” I asked sadly as I nibbled on my sandwich. I didn’t feel like
eating, but I knew Jade would be mad if I didn’t eat the hamburger she’d purchased
for me.

Suddenly, Jade’s eyes lit up. “Do you remember when Cameron told us at the meeting
about Wes getting hurt?” I nodded my head. “He said a guy from what dorm got
hurt?”

“I don’t remember,” I answered. “I was too upset when he said it was Wes who got
hurt.”

“Maybe you can call Cameron and find out what dorm he’s in,” she suggested.

“Yeah,” I replied smilingly. I got up, kissed Jade on her cheek. “You’re a sweetheart,”  
I said before hurrying from the restaurant.

I immediately called Cameron, and he informed me that Wes was assigned to
Newcombe Hall. I had to find the directions on my cell phone. It was only a couple of
blocks from my dorm. Cameron didn’t know Wes’s room number, so I waited in the
lobby and asked several students entering and leaving the building if they knew him.  
I had been in the lobby for about twenty minutes when I saw him emerge from the
elevator.

He quickly stopped when he saw me. “What are you doing here?” he asked with a
scowl.

“I wanted to talk to you,” I replied.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” he said as he brushed past me and headed for the
exit. I ran to catch up with him.

I grabbed his arm, turned him towards me and shouted, “What is wrong with you? I
thought you liked me?”

A sadness appeared on his face as he looked down into my eyes. “I do like you,” he
said sorrowfully. “But you and me will never work?”

“Why?” I was trying hard to fight back tears.

“Because you’re who you are,” he said as tears appeared in his eyes. “And I’m
nobody. There is no way I can live in your world.” A tear fell from his eye and rolled
down his cheek. “I’m sorry, Dorian.” I stood silently and watched as he walked away.

I returned to my dorm and curled up on the sofa. I pulled a grey comforter over my
head and tried to hide myself from the world. I had endured a lot of emotional pain
over the years, but nothing hurt like the feeling I had inside my chest.

“There is no way I can live in your world,” he had said. My world? What world? My
world of sorrow and rejection? My world void of love? For a brief moment, my world
finally came to life. Now the person who had breathed life into my world said he  
couldn’t live in it.

Hours later, I was still curled up in bed when I heard someone unlock the door.          
I buried my head under the covers so Seth wouldn’t see that I had been crying.         
I jumped slightly when he sat down on the bed.

“Are you all right?” It was Sydney’s voice instead. She attempted to pull the cover
from my head, but I held it tightly. “Dorian,” she said sternly. “Let me see your face.”
I didn’t resist when she pulled the cover away. “Oh, Dear,” she cried out when she
saw my tear-stained face. She reached out and pulled me into her bosom.

I cried out, “Why can’t I ever be happy?” She rocked me until my crying subsided to
sniffles.

“Want to tell me what happened?” she asked as she continued to hold me. I
emotionally mumbled what Wes had said to me. She lifted me from her body and
stared into my face.

“I understand what he’s going through,” she said gently, “But I’m not sure you’d
understand.”

“Why?” I asked.

She laughed nervously. “I feel just like Wes,” she replied.

“I don’t understand.”

“Of course not,” she said. “Look at me.” She sat erect and placed her hand on her
face. “I’m not the prettiest girl who ever lived.” I started to say she was, but she
stopped me. “Every day I wonder what Seth sees in me.” Tears appeared in her eyes.
“He could have any girl in this school, and he loves me.”

“He does,” I stated as I hugged her. “He’s told me how he feels about you.”

She asked, “But why?”

“What do you mean, why?”

She took my hands and held them. “That’s my point.” She laughed when I gave her a
puzzled look.

“What point? I don’t get it.”

“I don’t either,” she said. “I stopped questioning why, and I began to accept that it
happened. I thank God every day that Seth loves me.”

“What does this have to do with Wes?”

“He’s like me,” she replied. “He’s wondering why a guy like you would love a guy like
him.”

“What do you mean, a guy like me?”

She smiled and put her hand to my cheek. “You’re so innocent. You really don’t
understand, do you?”

I shook my head and muttered, “No.”

“When you first told me who you were,” she said, “I was afraid of being your friend.”

“What?” I said excitedly. “Why would you feel like that?”

“Because you’re who you are.”

“That’s exactly what Wes said,” I replied.

“You have to understand that people are going to initially react that way to you,” she
continued.

“It’s not right,” I replied. “I’m no one special.”

She started laughing. “How many of us will ever meet a millionaire’s son whose father
is also a famous politician running for vice president of the United States? Even my
family can’t believe I personally know you.”

“That’s stupid.”

“Stupid, yes,” she laughed. “But we’re only human. It’s natural for us to feel
somewhat intimidated.”

“Do the others feel like this?”

“They did,” she responded. “But we’ve gotten to know the real you. You’re just one
of us now.”

“Thanks,” I replied as I gave her a hug. I looked at her sadly. “What about Wes? How
do I make him understand?”

She took my hands and held them. “Give him some time. Let him get used to the idea
that this really great guy is in love with him. Once he realizes that, he won’t care who
you are.”

“I really do think I love him,” I said.

She squeezed my hands tightly. “I know you do. He’ll see it too someday.”

I reached out and hugged Sydney. “Thanks,” I whispered in her ear.

After a minute, she pulled away and stared at me. “Can I tell you something? You
have to promise me you won’t tell a soul what I’m about to say?”

I crossed my heart and said, “I promise.”

Sydney started giggling. “I think Seth is going to ask me to marry him before we
graduate.” I tried to act surprised so she wouldn’t know that Seth had already
confided to me about marrying Sydney.

I laughed and said, “Maybe Seth will ask me to be his best man.”

I slapped her lightly on her arm when she giggled and said, “Maybe you can be my
bridesmaid.” We hugged again before she rose from the sofa. “Don’t tell Seth I
dropped by. This little conversation will just be between us.” I nodded, and she left
the room.

Sydney, Jade and I were sitting in our World Civilization class listening to the
professor discuss medieval Europe and the Muslim world. Everyone was busy taking
notes because we knew anything she said would be on our midterm exam in a few
weeks. Suddenly, cell phones began beeping throughout the lecture hall.

Jade and Sydney glanced worriedly at me after reading the warning from the
university:

The protest march tonight on campus has not been sanctioned by university
officials. Anyone participating may be arrested for unlawful assembly.

“Shit!” hissed Jade. Dr. Beck continued lecturing as if nothing had happened. Jade,
Sydney and I continued to look at one another as we took more notes.

Five minutes before class was to end, we received a text message from Seth:

meet me at starbucks when class ends

“What is this all about?” Sydney asked worriedly when Dr. Beck dismissed us. We
could hear other students talking about the alert. Most, it seemed, weren’t even
aware of a march.

Jade responded, “Avery is just trying to scare us. There is no way he’s going to
arrest students.”

“What if it’s not a threat?” I asked as we walked to meet Seth. He had probably
received the same alert we did. “What if we do get arrested?”

Sydney suggested, “Let’s wait until we talk to Seth and see what he thinks.”

Fifteen minutes later, we were sitting at a table in Starbucks. Darlene and Amanda
were waiting with him when we arrived. “Do you think he means it?” Amanda asked as
we sat down.

“Yes,” replied Darlene. “I talked to my class advisor a few minutes ago. He assigned
me to cover the march, but he just told me not to get involved. He said one of our
reporters was doing a story on a security officer, and she was suddenly called away to
attend an emergency meeting. Jerome thinks that Avery is serious.”

We discussed if the march was still being planned. There had been little organization
other than putting up a few signs around campus. Avery had prevented Darlene from
mentioning it in the school newspaper article she had written about me. Suddenly, I
received a text message. It was from Joseph. It stated:

fuck avery! meet at six outside library march to founders square

I passed my phone around the table and let everyone read Joseph’s message. Seth
grabbed Sydney’s hand and announced, “We’re not marching. I’m on a scholarship,
and I can’t afford to lose it. Sorry, Guys.” Sydney nodded her head and muttered,
“Sorry.”

Jade said, “Well, I’m in.” Amanda also agreed to march.

“Me, too,” responded Darlene proudly. Everyone turned to me.

I was faced with making the biggest decision of my life. I knew there would be serious
consequences if I attended the march. However, if I didn’t stand up now for what I
strongly believed in, then I could never look at myself in the mirror again. My life
would once again have no meaning.

I glanced at Seth. He was my rock. He gave me direction. I looked at Sydney. She
was the sister I never had. She was smart and grounded. Perhaps, they were right to
refuse to attend the march. They realized what was at stake if they were arrested. It
could be the end of their college careers.

Then I looked at the expectant faces of Jade and Darlene. We were united in a cause.
We understood the meaning of the march. We weren’t just marching to protest the
injustices on campus. We were marching to protest the injustices of every gay man
and woman, boy and girl who had ever experienced prejudice, discrimination, sexual
harassment or hazing. The march symbolized everything that is wrong in our society.

Jade and Darlene smiled when I announced, “I’m in.”

Seth looked worriedly at me and asked, “Are you sure, Dorian?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I’ve never been more sure about anything.”

It was four-thirty when we left Starbucks. I was to meet Jade and Amanda in the
lobby at five-thirty, and we would walk together to the library where Darlene would
meet us. Seth and Sydney kept asking me if I knew what I was getting into. I
respected them because they didn’t try to talk me out of going. Instead, they just
wanted me to be aware of the consequences of participating in the march.

By the time I headed out the door to meet Jade and Amanda, my stomach was doing
somersaults inside my body. I was extremely frightened. However, I felt a burst of
adrenaline as we approached the library. Joseph had already arrived. About a dozen
students surrounded him as he gave them instructions.

“Hi!” he said cheerfully when he saw me. “I wasn’t sure you would show.” He thanked
Jade and Amanda for participating. We listened as he instructed us how to react if we
encountered trouble. He said that not only did we have to worry about campus police
preventing us from marching; we also had to be aware of students who might object
to our march. I had never considered that we might encounter danger.

“Watch out for tomatoes and eggs,” he warned. “They may come out of nowhere.”

I was becoming increasingly worried as six o’clock approached. A large crowd was
beginning to gather to observe us. The alert had made them aware of our march.
Many, I’m sure, had come to observe us being arrested.

Darlene arrived and immediately started taking pictures. Besides myself, I counted
twenty-one other students. There must have been over two hundred students milling
about waiting for the action to start. Many were taking pictures of me, probably to
put on their Facebook page or post on Youtube. I noticed that Darlene was taking
numerous pictures of the crowd. I assumed she was doing it just in case something
happened and she would have evidence of someone being in the crowd.

At six, Joseph called us together. “This is it,” he said. “If you have any doubts, back
out now.” We looked at one another to see if anyone would leave. No one did.

“Remember,” he reminded us. “Keep it peaceful, but don’t take any shit off anyone.”

I looked over Joseph’s shoulder and noticed a figure step out from behind the large
mob of students. It was Wes!

He stepped up to me and said meekly, “Hi.” He stared into my eyes and then looked
down at the ground. I reached out and took his hand.

“I’m glad you came,” I said.

“Me, too,” he replied nervously as he firmly gripped my hand.

In the background, I heard Joseph holler out, “Let’s march!”


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