My father was standing to the side of Mrs. Edwards’s desk. He was reading a paper that he was holding in his hand.
Mrs. Edwards rushed over and snatched the paper and placed it back inside a folder. “You shouldn’t be reading this,” she admonished him.
He glared at me and asked, “Why didn’t you tell me you were doing poorly in chemistry?”
I hung my head and responded timidly, “I don’t know.” I may have appeared embarrassed outwardly, but inside me I was feeling subdued rage. I was angry that my father had picked up the file on Mrs. Edwards’s desk and read it. Obviously, it must have contained my grades from last quarter. My mother had confronted me about the grade when my report card arrived in the mail. However, she decided that she would not discuss it with my father only if I promised to do better. I had readily agreed.
“Well?” he barked at me. He looked at Mrs. Edwards and stated angrily, “Why wasn’t I informed of this?”
She sat at her desk, pointed at a chair and asked my father to have a seat. “Report cards went out several weeks ago. You should have been aware of Jacob’s grades.”
He shouted, “Well, I wasn’t!”
Mrs. Edwards shuffled the folder on her desk. “You shouldn’t have pried. These records are confidential.”
My father responded loudly, “He’s my son! I have every right to know what’s going on.” He glared at me and once again asked angrily, “Why am I here? What did you do, Jacob?”
“Nothing, Father,” I replied as I looked pleadingly at Mrs. Edwards. The last thing I wanted her to do was tell my father what had happened to my locker.
She shook her head sadly, looked at my father and informed him, “There was an incident this morning. I thought it was best that you heard it directly from me rather than some rumor.”
He glared at me again and asked, “What in the world is going on?”
I hung my head and looked down at the stained green carpet as Mrs. Edwards explained how someone had vandalized my locker by painting the word ‘fag’ on it. I could hear his breathing become more labored as she informed him that she would do a thorough investigation to find the student who was involved.
When she finished, he sat forward in his chair, glared at me and asked angrily, “Is this true?”
“Yes,” I replied without looking up. “I don’t know who did it.”
“No!” he shouted as he rose and stood before me. “I’m not asking you that. I’m asking you are you a homosexual?”
“Pastor Long!” interrupted Mrs. Edwards as she looked down at me. “That is not the issue here.”
My father’s began to growl, “It is the issue here! No son of mine will be a homosexual.” He grabbed me by my shoulders and began to shake me. I looked into his eyes and saw the hatred that filled them. “Are you a homosexual?”
Mrs. Edwards rushed around her desk and grabbed my father’s arm. “Pastor Long! Stop it!”
My father stepped back and stared down angrily at me. “If you are a homosexual, Jacob,” he spat, “Then I never want to see you again. I will not have a pervert living under the same roof as me.”
I wanted to remind him that I was no longer living at his house, but Mrs. Edwards was trying to calm him down. I had seen him angry before, but I had never witnessed the rage in his eyes as he stared down at me. It was as if he was completely possessed by hate.
He moved before me and ordered, “Stand up, Jacob. I want you to look me in the eye and tell me you are not a homosexual.”
When I refused to stand, he shouted, “Stand up, Jacob! Tell me to my face you are not a homosexual!”
Mrs. Edwards stepped between us and ordered my father from the room. He pushed her aside and barked down at me, “Be a man and tell me the truth!”
My legs trembled as I rose to my feet. Mrs. Edwards stepped once again between us. She turned to me and begged me to leave the room.
I stepped around her and stood defiantly before my father. I trembled with fear as the words, “I’m gay,” escaped from my mouth. To the side of me, I heard Mrs. Edwards gasp.
For a brief second, I thought my father was going to hit me. I looked down as he balled his fist. But then, he stepped back and glared angrily at me. His eyes went from anger to a blank stare. “In Leviticus my God warns, ‘You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.’” His eyes narrowed as he bitterly uttered the words that would change my life forever, “You are not my son.” He then headed for the door. I jumped when he slammed it behind him.
“Oh, Dear,” exclaimed Mrs. Edwards as she grabbed my arm and squeezed it. “Are you alright?”
My legs still trembled as I fell back into the chair. “I think so,” I muttered. I still hadn’t quite accepted the fact that I had just outed myself to my father. It was beginning to sink in that my life would no longer be the same. When my father vowed that I was no longer his son, I knew he meant it.
Mrs. Edwards continued to pace back and forth across the room. Occasionally, she would stop to stare at me. I could tell that even she was confused by my sudden revelation. If you had asked her moments earlier who would be the student in school who would most likely not be gay, she would probably have responded that I was that student. Well, perhaps she might have said Darryl Standifer first.
Mrs. Edwards finally sat down at her desk. She looked over anxiously and asked if she wanted me to call for Mr. Downing, the school psychologist. I replied, “Why would I need to see him?”
“I don’t know,” she stammered nervously. “I just thought you might have problems dealing with... um...”
I crossed my arms defiantly and asked, “Being gay?” She gave me a puzzled look when I started to laugh. “I’m not even sure if I am,” I informed her.
“Then why did you tell your father you are?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Because I may be,” I replied. “So if I am, he should know.”
She leaned forward and asked worriedly, “Weren’t you aware of how he would react? Everyone in this town knows his views on the subject.”
“You know, Mrs. Edwards,” I responded as I stood and looked down at her. “I have reached a point where I don’t care anymore what my father thinks. You and I both know he’s wrong. He calls himself a minister of God, but he’s nothing more than an advocate of hate.”
“Jacob!” cried the principal. “He is your father.”
“Not anymore,” I replied sadly. “He just rejected me as his son.” I turned, opened the door and left. Mrs. Edwards came out into the hall and called my name. I rushed to a side door and hurried down the sidewalk.
It was only a little past eleven when I looked at my watch. I had never left school early, so I didn’t quite know what to do. Most businesses in the community wouldn’t let students enter because of an agreement they had made with the school board a few years earlier. They thought they could reduce truancies if students wouldn’t have anywhere to go. Most students just stayed home and slept all day.
Fortunately, I had taken my book bag with me to Mrs. Edwards’s office. I felt a need to write, so I made my way to the field. I found a spot out of view of the street, just in case a truant officer would drive by looking for me. I was sure Mrs. Edwards had notified them by now of my leaving school.
I took out my notebook and began to write.
Dear God, I don’t know what to do. I really, really need to know what is going on. It feels like you have cast me out on a raft into the middle of raging storm at sea. I’m afraid the next wave is going to engulf me and fill my lungs with water. I know people go through trials and tribulations, but this is more than a test of my faith. It feels like a breaking of my soul, a challenge of my complete being. I’m not who I was yesterday, and I don’t know who I will be tomorrow. I would say I’m confused, but that would be understating how I really feel. You have stripped me of everything, and I am now standing naked before You. I am begging you to give me a sign as to what You want me to do? What do You expect of me? I don’t know anything anymore, and I’m really, really scared. Please help me. Bobby
Tears stained the page, and the ink was becoming blotchy when I closed the notebook. I looked out onto the field where boys had excitedly played baseball just days earlier. Now, a slight wind was blowing dust across the barren field. I laughed slightly and wiped the tears from my eyes. “What a metaphor of my life,” I thought to myself.
I lay back, closed my eyes and fell asleep. I was suddenly awakened when a slight shower began to fall. I jumped to my feet and ran to a picnic shelter nearby. I wiped my face and hair dry with some tissue in my backpack. I then noticed a car pull into the parking lot. When the doors opened, Mrs. Edwards got out. I was surprised when Colton got out of the passenger’s side.
“Colton told me he thought you might be here,” remarked Mrs. Edwards when she stepped into the shelter house. I glanced quickly at Colton, but he looked away.
She stepped over to the table and sat beside me. Colton walked to the edge of the shelter and peered out over the baseball field. “You really shouldn’t have left the school,” admonished the principal.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, “but I just couldn’t stay.”
“You can’t just run from your problems, Jacob,” she insisted. For the first time, Colton looked over at me.
“But you don’t understand,” I replied. “I’ve lost everything.” Colton gave me a curious look. It was obvious that Mrs. Edwards hadn’t said anything to him about my running away.
As if reading my mind, she placed her hand gently on my arm. “Colton came to me because he was worried that you hadn’t shown for any of your classes. He said you weren’t at lunch.”
His face reddened as he mumbled, “Sorry.” I nodded my head and looked away.
I looked into Mrs. Edwards face and pleaded, “Do I have to go back?”
“Yes, Dear,” she smiled warmly as she looked at her watch. “The law states that I’m responsible for you until 2:30.” I glanced at my watch and it was almost one.
“Can’t I just go to Mrs. Oliver’s home?”
Mrs. Edwards shook her head. “I called her house, but no one answered.”
I suggested, “Maybe she’s working in the garden and didn’t hear the phone.” I glanced over at Colton. I’m sure he was puzzled why I was talking about going to someone else’s home rather than my own.
Mrs. Edwards climbed off the table. “Why don’t we go back to school,” she suggested. “I’ll write a pass for you and Colton to go to the library for the remainder of the day.”
Colton laughed and said, “Works for me. I get to skip biology.”
Mrs. Edwards frowned and insisted, “You don’t get to skip biology. You’ll be responsible to make up any assignment you missed.”
“Yeah,” smiled Colton, “But at least I don’t have to listen to Old Man Guthrie lecture.”
“That’s Mr. Guthrie,” admonished Mrs. Edwards.
“Yeah, sure,” replied Colton as he looked over at me and smiled. “Mr. Guthrie.”
The car ride back to school was quiet. I sat in the back seat of Mrs. Edwards’s car, and occasionally, Colton would look back at me. I knew he was curious what was going on. I needed to talk to someone about my situation, but I wasn’t sure I could trust him. He was becoming a good friend, but what was happening to me was extremely personal. You just can’t tell someone you hardly know that you are gay, and that is the reason you are no longer living at home.
It’s ironic that many people confide in their pastor when they are facing life’s problems or moral dilemmas. Mine were just the opposite. My father, a devout religious man, was the source of all my problems. It also didn’t help that my mother was blinded with devotion to my father. Or perhaps, she just feared him. Whatever the case, she was willing to accept his rejection of me from the house. Not once to my knowledge had she called Mrs. Oliver to ask how I was doing.
When we arrived back to school, Colton and I followed Mrs. Edwards back to her office. He walked closely beside me, and occasionally our shoulders would touch. After getting a pass from her to remain in the library until the end of school, we headed down the hallway.
On our way, we passed by the boys’ restroom. “Hold on,” said Colton as he headed for the door. “I gotta take a piss.” He held the door open for me. Reluctantly, I entered.
I had to use the restroom as well, but I was afraid. The urinals have no partitions, so if I did, I might expose myself to him. When he stepped before one, I watched as he unzipped his pants and began urinating.
He let out a satisfying sigh as a steady stream began to hit the bowl. “Oh, Man,” he exclaimed. “This feels good.” He looked back at me and asked, “Don’t you have to piss?”
“Yeah,” I said, “but I’ll wait until you finish.”
He gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Why?” He then laughed and added, “You afraid I might see your tiny weenie?”
I rolled my eyes and replied, “I’m not afraid you’ll see my tiny weenie.” I hesitated before I stepped up beside him, unzipped my pants and began to urinate. It took about fifteen seconds to go because I was nervous. I could see out of the corner of my eye that Colton was looking down at me.
He laughed and remarked, “Not bad.”
I turned and looked at him. “What?” When I did, my eyes looked down. He was holding his penis and shaking the remaining drops. I looked back up into his eyes, and he smiled. He then looked back down at me. I was embarrassed because I could feel my penis begin to enlarge as a result of watching him.
I looked down as he stepped back and tugged on his. It began to grow. Within seconds, he was fully erect. I couldn’t pry my eyes away from what he was holding in his hand.
When he looked down at me, I realized that my erection was fully on display to him. He smiled and once again murmured, “Nice.”
I was horrified. I had never imagined letting another boy seeing me with an erection. My heart was pounding, but not from fear. It was more a sense of excitement. If I had questioned my sexuality before, I had received the answer. Staring at Colton’s erection, there was now no doubt that I was gay.
I quickly pulled my erection into my pants and stepped away from the urinal. When I walked over to the sink, I looked in the mirror and watched as Colton pushed his erection into this pants, sucked in his stomach and zipped up his pants. My face was red with embarrassment when he stood beside me and looked at me in the mirror as he began to wash his hands.
“Don’t sweat it, Jacob,” he said as if he knew how embarrassed I was. “All guys like to look at other guys.” He chuckled and added, “They just want to see how they compare.”
“I’m sorry,” I apologized.
“For what?” He turned, looked at me and grinned. “From what I saw, you got nothing to apologize for.”
I didn’t even bother to respond as I turned and rushed from the room. He followed behind me laughing. He grabbed my shoulder and stopped me. “Okay,” he apologized. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to come on too strong. I should have known.”
I asked, “Known what?”
He laughed and stated, “You being a preacher’s son and all. You probably think we’re both going to hell now because we saw each other.”
I smiled and responded jokingly, “We’re not going to hell because we saw each other.” I took a deep breath and added, “Besides, I kind of liked it.”
An astonished looked appeared on his face. “You did?”
I didn’t reply as I turned and headed off down the hall. He stepped beside me and pleaded with me what I meant by my last statement. I tried to stifle a laughed as we walked toward the library.
We had one and a half hours to kill, and neither of us had brought any work with us. I was going to ask the librarian if I could go to my locker to get a couple of assignments I could catch up on, but Colton insisted that I should just ‘relax.’
We sat in a corner of the library far from other students. By the way he was looking at me, I could tell he wanted to ask me what was going on that would have caused Mrs. Edwards to go out in search of me.
Finally, he asked, “You going to tell me what’s going on?”
I hesitated a moment before answering. I didn’t know him well, but I felt I could trust him. Besides, after what happened earlier in the bathroom, I was beginning to think that perhaps we might become more than just friends.
Now that I wasn’t under my father’s strict supervision, I thought that I might be able to come out of the deep closet I had been hiding in for the past few years. I had only been kidding myself that I may be just going through a ‘phase’ that I had read about online. The only problem I feared was that if I did begin to explore my sexuality further, then what would happen if someday I did return home to live with my parents again. Once I begin on this journey, will there be no turning back?
“Well?” I looked over and saw the expectant look on Colton’s face.
I sighed and replied, “It’s complicated?”
He appeared disappointed as he asked, “So, you don’t want to talk about it?”
“No,” I insisted. “I do want to talk about it.” I sighed and continued, “It’s just hard to explain what is going on.”
He asked, “Is that why you’re not living at home? Where are you staying?”
I took a big step and began to explain to Colton what was happening. He listened intently and never interrupted. I told him about the disagreement I had with my father over his unrelenting homophobic remarks about Tiffany. I told him how I had been sent to live with Mrs. Oliver until I had changed my wicked ways and could again see the wisdom of my father’s views. He laughed when I told him that Mrs. Oliver was the grandmother of Tiffany, and how we had shared dinner the night before.
Colton giggled and said, “So he unwittingly sent you to live in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah?” He giggled again, winked seductively and asked, “Are you a sodomite?”
My eyes widened as I shrieked, No!” I looked around the library to see if any had heard me. Colton could hardly contain his laughter. The librarian stood from her desk, looked back and admonished us for making too much noise.
I whispered angrily, “You’re going to get us thrown out of here.”
“I’m sorry,” he replied as he stifled another laugh. “I just couldn’t resist that.”
“Well,” I huffed, “It’s not funny.”
“Come on, Jacob,” pleaded Colton. “I was just playing. I didn’t mean anything by it. Besides, you need to loosen up.”
I frowned and replied, “You’re not the one who has lost everything.”
“You’re right,” he responded apologetically, “I’m not.” He reached over and touched my hand. My first instinct was to pull away, but I didn’t. “Tell me how I can help,” he urged.
We spent the next half hour discussing my situation. Colton offered several good suggestions, but I insisted that none would be reasonable. He thought that I should just sit down with my parents and have a similar discussion we were having.
“You definitely don’t know my father,” I said after he suggested that I should sit down and tell him I was gay. The thing that surprised me the most was that I didn’t even deny that I was gay when he made the suggestion.
“He can’t be that bad,” replied Colton.
“He is,” I insisted. “If he had to choose between following what he believes is the word of God, or getting rid of a perverted son, he would tell me to pack my bags.” Tears welled up in my eyes when I said, “He’s already made that choice.” I didn’t pull my hand away when Colton reached over and squeezed it gently.