Educating My Parents
Copyright © 2006, 2007 by Altimexis.
DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account of a teenage boy who is faced with coming out to Evangelical parents. There are no references to or descriptions of gay sex in this story, but the story does center around the difficulties faced by a gay teen and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities or attitudes of real individuals or establishments. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.
Please note that this story is the fourth in a series of short stories known collectively as Naptown Tales. The first, Broad Ripple Blues, was originally written for the Gay Authors Summer Anthology. The series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Slightly modified versions of these stories that are suitable for younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey’s World.
Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn! Damn!
Why the HELL did I agree to this? I could’ve happily stayed in the closet and my parents would’ve been none the wiser. Sure, I’d really like to be able to date boys and maybe someday have a boyfriend, but I’d also like to live long enough to graduate high school.
Safety.... Yeah, I like safety. I like feeling safe... and loved. I know my parents love me, but I also know they haven’t a clue their only child is gay. As far as they’re concerned, I’m going to grow up and marry someday, and give them lots of grandchildren. I’ll be a fine and upstanding member of the Hope Evangelical Covenant Church and live by the precepts of Christ.
Trouble is, it’s hard to accept the teachings of the Church when the Church tells you you’re an abomination. Thanks to what had been drummed into me since I can remember, I actually used to believe that people weren’t gay, but that they chose to be homosexuals under the influence of Satan.
Then I turned twelve and my hormones started to kick in. I started having fantasies about doing things with my best friend, Ryan. I knew that those feelings came directly from Satan — after all, that’s what I was taught in church — but no matter how hard I prayed to God, I still wanted to get naked with Ryan, to touch Ryan and to do... other things.
At first, I couldn’t understand why my prayers went unanswered. After all, I was a good boy, raised in the teachings of Christ, and I would never do any of those things that I wanted to do with Ryan, but the more I prayed, the stronger those feelings became.
Finally, things started to come together in high school. It was in my freshman year that I met John, an outwardly effeminate boy who made no bones about being gay. I wasn’t particularly attracted to him or anything, but some of the things he said got me thinking.
He said that he believed most gay boys are born that way and that Satan had nothing to do with it. Well in his case, I couldn’t imagine him being any other way, but if he were born that way, why would God allow an innocent child to be corrupted so thoroughly from birth? It just didn’t make any sense.
The thing that really got me to rethink what I’d been taught, however, is when he asked me to go back and read the bible for myself, and not to take what I’d been taught in church as gospel. When I did that — reading the bible, free of any bias, I was astounded by what it said, or rather didn’t say. If Christ was so opposed to homosexuality, why didn’t he discuss it even once?
What I’d been taught was a selective interpretation of the bible. Some things that weren’t considered relevant to today, such as God’s precepts on owning slaves, were simply ignored, while others, such as the church’s condemnation of homosexuality, were emphasized more as a matter of convenience than as an actual interpretation of Christ’s word. The bottom line is that all these years I’d been fed a load of crap.
With the revelation that everything the Church had taught me over the years was tainted, I came to accept that the feelings I’d felt for Ryan were not coming from Satan, but from my own heart. I was GAY.
Damn! Shit! FUCK!
Well if I really was gay, Ryan was a lost cause — that was for sure. He had a girlfriend and the two of them were constantly swapping spit in the hallways, so it was pretty obvious he wouldn’t be interested in me in that way. But how in the world could I ever find a boyfriend if I was in the closet. Well, I guess that was the answer — I wasn’t going to find a boyfriend. I’d probably just have to remain celibate, and maybe even date girls, at least until I finished high school.
Nope, coming out in high school was definitely not an option — not if I didn’t want to jeopardize the safety of my parent’s love.
Then in my sophomore year, I met a couple of guys who changed everything. Their names are David and Jeremy, and they’re freshmen, and an out couple. They’re so confident and self-assured. They hold hands all the time and don’t give a rat’s ass what others think about it.
I first met David and Jeremy at lunch one day when I was sitting at a table with Ryan and his girlfriend. Her brother, who’s a freshman, decided to join us and pretty soon, the whole table was overrun by freshmen. We were all munching on what the school called food and I was doing my best to ignore the giggling imps around us, when a couple of cute boys introduced themselves and sat right down.
David introduced himself right away — he was running for Freshman Student Council and he wanted to get to know the other freshmen at the table. I couldn’t help but notice how good looking he was, with his wavy brown hair and his golden hazel eyes. It totally blew me away when Jeremy introduced himself as David’s boyfriend. He said it just like that, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
As you can imagine, all conversation at the table stopped with Jeremy’s revelation. Some idiot of a freshman actually asked, “You mean you two are gay?” Well duh. Such brilliance I’d never heard before.
Anyway, David went on to say, “Yeah, Jeremy and I are gay, but that doesn’t have anything to do with my running for Student Council, and if you honor me with your vote, I want to assure you that I’ll represent all the students in the freshman class... not just those who happen to be gay.”
I had to admit, David was one really slick politician. In no time at all, he had all the other kids at the table laughing and having a good time. He just had that kind of personality that draws people in and makes them want to be his friend.
About halfway through lunch, one of the kids at the table suddenly said, “Wait a minute! Jeremy, aren’t you the kid that...”
The kid was cut short when Jeremy said, “Please! I couldn’t go anywhere last year without someone asking me about the infamous ‘gym incident.’ I’m sick and tired of talking about it. Yes, I’m gay, but that had nothing to do with what happened. It really was an accident. OK?”
“I can’t believe you heard about it,” David added. “You guys didn’t even go to our middle school. I guess word gets around about something like that. Anyway, Jeremy’s being kinda out made it a lot easier for me to come out to him, so even an embarrassing incident like that can have a silver lining.”
“The best silver lining in the world,” Jeremy said as his cheeks turned pink. After what Jeremy said, I couldn’t exactly ask what the ‘gym incident’ was all about, but I figured I could always ask someone else later on. I couldn’t help but notice, however, just how cute Jeremy was. He had the classic ‘California surfer’ look, with long, straight, golden hair, darkly tanned skin and vividly blue eyes.
One other thing I noticed during that fateful lunch is how the other kids at the table responded to Dave and Jer being gay. Or should I say, how they didn’t respond. All in all, the subject never even came up. I was particularly pleased that Ryan seemed to be cool with it — that bode well for the day when I eventually come out to him.
In the meantime, my gay friend, John, talked me into going stag with him to the homecoming dance. He even talked me into going to a pre-dance party hosted by the president of the GSA. I had no intention of joining the GSA, even though I knew most of the members were straight, but there didn’t seem to be any harm in going.
What I didn’t know at the time was that members of the GSA were planning to introduce same-sex dancing at the homecoming dance, which no one had ever done before. It blew me away to find that it was none other than David and Jeremy who had gotten the ball rolling on that. I guess I should have known.
At the pre-dance party, I got a chance to talk to David and Jeremy among a group of other kids. For some reason, I let the fact slip that I was gay and in the closet, thanks to having ultra-religious parents. After hearing my story, David had the idea of me inviting them to a party at my house.
Damn. Damn. DAMN!
Shit! Fuck! FUCK!
So tonight’s the night and I’m scared out of my mind. What if my parents figure it out? What do I do if they throw Dave and Jer out? What do I say when they question me about having gay friends? Will they take me out of our public high school and put me into a Christian School? Or as Dave and Jer hope, will my parents accept them as my friends? Will getting to know them help my parents accept me when the time comes for me to come out to them?
Damn, this is hard.
I felt like I’d never showered as I greeted the first kids to arrive — I was sweating like a pig. Dave and Jer were fashionably late and dressed conservatively in polos and khakis. They made it a point to talk to my parents and I could tell my folks were taken by David’s infectious personality. My parents were especially impressed when David told them he’d been elected to the Freshman Student Council and had been nominated for treasurer. So far, so good!
As more and more kids arrived, I started to relax and enjoy myself. People were eating the munchies my parents had set out and drinking soft drinks and just having a good time. I had my iPod hooked up to our stereo system and we were all grooving to the tunes playing in the background as we chatted with each other.
David and Jeremy were sitting with a group of kids when one of the guys asked, “David, when we were in grade school together, you were my friend, but then in middle school, you suddenly became shy and withdrawn, and didn’t mix with anyone. Now your cool again. What gives?”
One of the other kids said a little too loudly, “It’s because he met Jeremy, doofus!” and everyone laughed. I hoped to Hell my parents didn’t hear that. I wanted them to get to know David and Jeremy first before finding out they were gay.
“Seriously, Jake, being in the closet was the reason I became withdrawn,” David answered. “I’m sorry I stopped being your friend and I hope you’ll let me be your friend again, but when I realized I was gay, I felt so abnormal and alone. I literally thought I was the only gay kid around and I became really depressed. I thought there was something seriously wrong with me.
“Coming out changed all that. I no longer worried about being abnormal, and I discovered I wasn’t alone. Coming out allowed me to be myself again... and of course meeting Jer did have a lot to do with it, too.”
Damn, my parents were definitely within earshot. I sure as Hell hoped they weren’t listening. I wanted to turn around to see the expressions on my parents’ faces, but I didn’t dare. All I could do was to listen in on the conversation and to try to steer it to safer ground.
“So who do you all think’s gonna win the World Series?” I interjected. Not the best move in a mixed crowd, but sports is a guaranteed topic to keep a group of teenage boys occupied in deep thought and conversation for hours. I could almost hear the groans from the girls, however. Oh well — it wasn’t like I was trying to impress any of them, or anything.
Little did I know how that move would backfire. I’d expected the girls would put up with it for maybe fifteen minutes, tops, before drifting away to go off in another corner to gossip. Instead, one of them got up and turned the stereo up — way up. She then marched straight up to me, pulled me up on my feet and started dancing. What the Fuck? Well, at least it did keep the focus off David and Jeremy’s relationship... or so I thought.
It didn’t take long before most people in the room were dancing — after all, no one could really hold a conversation with the music so loud. But then I noticed Dave and Jer dancing. Dancing together. What the Hell were they thinking? Holy SHIT! What the FUCK was I going to do?
I must’ve stopped dancing, because Marcie, the girl I was dancing with, touched me on the shoulder.
“Trevor, you afraid of what your parents are going to think?” She asked quietly as I started to dance again. I didn’t answer her — I just sort of nodded my head.
“Are you afraid of what they’ll think when they find out about you?”
Whoa! I stopped dancing again. “Wha... Wha... What do you mean?” I asked as my heart seemed to stop beating for a time.
“Trev, you couldn’t have thought your dance at Homecoming wouldn’t go unnoticed, could you? The whole school knows about it. Like it or not, you’re out,” she said.
HOLY FUCK! Did she just say what I thought she said? My face felt like it was on fire. GOD DAMNIT!
“What are you talking about?” I stammered.
“I’m talking about when you danced with David at Homecoming, silly.”
“But... but... it was just one dance ... not even. The rest of the evening, I danced with girls!” Realizing that I’d raised my voice, I quieted down and continued, “I don’t know what came over me, but I had a sudden impulse and so I cut in on Jer.
“It’s not like I was the only boy who did it. Look at Gary Phillips... he’s straight as they come.”
“Gary has a girlfriend,” Marcie countered.
“And I don’t,” I dejectedly realized.
“Besides, the way Gary danced with David, it was obvious it was a joke.”
“I cut in on a slow song,” it dawned on me for the first time. “What was I thinking?”
“Trev, it’s OK,” Marcie gently said as she touched me on the arm.
Regaining my composure, I said, “No it’s not. You don’t know my parents.”
“They may be more accepting than you think. Your dad’s talking to David right now.”
I turned around and, sure enough, my father was engaged in conversation with David. It wasn’t an animated conversation, but it wasn’t a heated argument, either. If I had to use a word to describe it, it would be ‘thoughtful’. My father was having a thoughtful conversation with an openly gay teenager. Suddenly, they both laughed. Was it possible that my parents hadn’t noticed him and Jer dancing together?
As the evening wore on, I became increasingly apprehensive. What did or didn’t my parents know, and what did they think about it. At one point, David actually winked at me — that was really weird. Maybe he was trying to let me know everything would be OK, but it sure didn’t make me feel any less anxious.
Eventually, the party wound down and my guests said their goodbyes. As I closed the door behind the last of them, I heaved a great sigh of relief. But the anxiety came upon me anew as I realized I would now have to face my parents.
“Oh no you don’t,” I heard my mom say from behind me. Panic-stricken, I slowly started to turn around to face the inevitable confrontation. “Don’t you dare think you can just go to bed and leave this mess for us to clean up.”
Relief washed over me as I realized my mother was talking about cleaning up after the party and not about David and Jeremy’s sexual orientation.
“Why I would never think of shirking my responsibility, Mom,” I said with a grin on my face, knowing we were both teasing each other.
I went about picking stuff up and stuffing the plastic plates, cups and silverware that were strewn about the house into the trash. I straightened up the furniture and put the extra chairs away. As we finished cleaning up, my father came up to me and said, “that’s sure a diverse group of friends you have there, Trevor.”
Here it comes, I thought to myself as the panic started to take over.
“Black, white, Asian, Indian... gay and straight....” he continued. There it was. I was left waiting for the other shoe to drop.
“I was really impressed with David,” he said. “He seems like such a nice boy. Jeremy seems nice, too. At first, I was really shocked when I heard David talk about them being in a relationship, and it floored me when I saw them dancing together, but they’re still very nice boys....”
Yes! Maybe there was hope after all. I was afraid to push it, but afraid not to say something at the same time, so I said, “Yeah, David and Jeremy are cool.”
“They’re good kids who’ve made a bad choice in their lives.”
“Jesus doesn’t love them any less for it,” my father added, “and of course he’ll welcome them back to his fold with open arms once they see the error of their ways.”
He turned to me and put his hands on my shoulders. “Trevor, you’re going to meet all kinds of people when you go out in the world... good, bad and indifferent. Some of them will be good Christians, and some of them won’t. Whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, a businessman or something else, you’ll have to treat them with respect, regardless of what you may believe in your heart. That’s actually part of being a good Christian, too.
“Now I know that our church may give you the impression that we’re intolerant, and I don’t want that to drive you away from the church as you come into contact with different beliefs.” Too late, Dad.
He continued, “Although David and Jeremy’s relationship may be wrong, Trevor, that doesn’t make them inherently evil. You’re at an age where you’re old enough to make your own decisions, and your mother and I are going to have to trust you, even as we try to guide you in the ways of Christ.
“It’s fine if you want to be friends with David and Jeremy. I can imagine how worried you were about how your mother and I would relate to them, and I can honestly say we like them, even though we don’t condone their sins. In other words, we like them in much the same way I’m sure you like them.” How wrong you are, Dad.
“There, you feel better?”
“Ye... yeah, Dad, and thanks,” was all I could muster. FUCK!
That Monday, I cornered David and Jeremy at lunch and relayed my conversation with my father to them.
“Well, on the bright side, your dad seems a lot less bigoted than most Evangelists I’ve met,” Jeremy offered.
“Definitely,” David agreed. “There’s certainly something to build on,” he added. “At the party, we spoke about the fact that Jeremy and I are gay, and although he told me he disagreed with my lifestyle choice, he was nothing but respectful when I told him it was a part of who I was and not a choice. We agreed to disagree, which is more than I can say for the other Evangelists I’ve met.
“I’m sure he’ll be the same way with you, once you come out to him,” David offered in consolation.
“You don’t know my father,” I countered. “It’s one thing to be respectful when talking to your son’s friend, and quite another when talking to your gay son. He’s going to try to change me... I know it. Maybe he won’t send me to one of those church camps, but he’s certainly going to do everything he can to try to get me to see the error of my ‘choice’. He’ll let me know in no uncertain terms that homosexuality is a sin.”
“Trevor, you don’t know that,” Jeremy chimed in. “If there’s one thing the party should have shown you, it’s that your father won’t stop loving you when he finds out you’re gay, but the one thing you have is time. As your father sees you with us, he’ll have time to accept who you are.”
“I may not have any time,” I countered and then filled both of them in on my conversation with Marcie. “It’s only a matter of time before it gets back to my mom. She’s a mother, after all, and she hears things.”
“That could be a problem,” David admitted, “but there’s still probably time to lay some groundwork. The party was the start of that.”
“True,” I acknowledged, “but I’d still rather they hear it from me than from some nosey neighbor.”
“I see your point,” Jeremy agreed.
“The question is, how much time do I have to lay more groundwork before my mom hears about it from someone else. The longer I wait to tell them, the more of a gamble it becomes.”
“And you don’t want to gamble with your life,” Jeremy realized.
“Trevor,” David began, “It sounds like you need to give your parents a crash course in having a gay son.”
“What?” I asked in surprise.
“There’s an old song my grandmother used to sing to me when I was little. It’s called Teach Your Children, and the last verse fits your situation perfectly. It goes:
- Teach your parents well, their children's hell will slowly go by,
- And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by.
- Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
- So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.*
“You may be their son, but they don’t have a clue when it comes to dealing with a gay teenager. All their lives they’ve been taught that homosexuality is something people choose, and that it’s a sin. You have to teach them that what they’ve learned is wrong. They may never fully overcome their bias, but if you can get them to accept that there are multiple viewpoints, you’ll have won.”
“But how do I do that?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” David admitted, “but there’s a ton of stuff out there on the Internet. If you search for it at home, however, be sure to clear your browser history and cache, unless you want your parents to find out about you that way.”
“Give me some credit!” I replied. “I’ve been covering my tracks for years.” But then I started thinking. “You know, having them ‘find’ stuff I plant for them to read might not be a bad idea.”
“But won’t that be tipping your hand. If they read one word about coming out to your parents, they’re gonna know you’re gay.” Jeremy definitely had a knack for stating the obvious.
“Not about coming out, you doofus. About dealing with gay friends. The first step is to get them to open their minds. They’re much more likely to read it if they think I’m looking stuff up on you guys.”
“Ohhh...” David and Jeremy both said in unison. It was so funny.
That night after finishing my homework, I set about carefully implementing my plan. First off, I searched the Net up and down looking for sites dealing with the religious, ethical and medical aspects of being gay. I already had a good idea of where to go with this, since I’d already been down this path myself last year under John’s guidance. I wanted my parents to think I was struggling with understanding my friends, or maybe helping them to ‘see the error of their ways.’ Later on, I could claim I was looking this stuff up as I was coming to terms with my own sexuality.
The next step was to search for stuff dealing with having a gay friend. There was more than enough stuff on that, so my parents should have no trouble believing I was having trouble accepting David and Jeremy, even if they did hear about me from someone else.
Finally, I searched for material on converting gays to make them straight. Of course, I knew this was impossible, but I wanted my parents to understand how I came to that conclusion. A balance of web sites should serve that purpose, while making them think I was searching for a way to help my friends. Once they realized it was me that was gay, they’d think I was trying to help myself.
Armed with just the right information, I cleared my browser’s history and cache and then set about loading in just the sites I wanted them to visit. Finally, I made sure that typing in just about anything would cause the auto-complete feature to lead to a gay site. That would pique their interest enough to get them to look at my history. I’d been doing this sort of thing ever since I discovered porn on the Net. Leaving a cleared history and cache would have raised suspicions, so I’d become a pro at leaving a carefully crafted and legitimate appearing Internet trail before I went to bed each night.
The one remaining obstacle was coming up with a way to get my parents to look at my computer in the first place. They trusted me, which is why they let me have unfiltered access to the Internet in the first place. The answer came to me in the middle of the night. I sat bolt-upright in bed when I thought about it. I got up and quietly fired up my computer, launched my browser and typed in the address of our router.
Sure enough, my dad had never bothered to change the default login name and password — they were ‘admin’ and ‘password’. How original. I guess he figured our WPA encryption would be enough to keep someone from getting in and modifying the settings. What he didn’t count on was an ‘inside’ job. And of course there would be no need for enabling access control with WPA, right? Wrong! I enabled access control and set the router to deny all access other than from my computer’s MAC address.
Now, the only way to access the Internet in our house was from my computer. Sure, my dad could eventually figure out what I did, but I’d change the settings back long before he had a chance to.
The next morning, when I came down for breakfast, my dad was at the table with his laptop open and an obvious look of frustration on his face.
“What’s wrong, Dad?” I asked him.
“Our access to the Internet seems to be down.”
“That’s funny... I was just on it looking up some stuff for class,” I told him.
“That’s weird,” he said. “Well, there’s no time to deal with it now. I’ll figure it out when I get home tonight.”
“You’ll need to,” my mother added. “We have some bills that are due that have to be paid tonight.” Perfect! Everything was set.
That day at lunch, I told Dave and Jer about what I’d done. When I mentioned turning on access control so that only my computer could access the Internet from our house, Jeremy said, “You can do that?”
“Sure, it’s easy,” I replied. “It’s part of the NAT standard. It provides an extra layer of security for private local area networks. Most people don’t know about it, but it’s easy to set up. All you need are the MAC addresses of the computers you want to grant access, and you can get that by looking at the access list from your router’s status screen.”
Seeing the dumbfounded looks on their faces, I said, “I guess I sound like a geek, don’t I? OK, I admit it, I’m a geek”
“I guess we know who to go to when we want our grades altered,” Jeremy said with a sly smile.
“Hey, I said I’m a geek... not a hacker.”
“But a cool geek,” David said with a genuine smile. What a politician — no wonder he got elected to the student council. I had no doubt he’d be his class’ president some day.
When I got home that afternoon, I set about doing my homework, being careful to use my computer as little as possible. I didn’t want to upset the apple cart of the carefully crafted history I’d left for my parents to find.
My mom got home first and immediately asked to use my computer to pay a few bills. Bingo!
“Go ahead,” I said as I picked up my books and carried them downstairs, leaving her alone in my room to explore my browser’s history in private.
Usually, she would have paid the bills within a few minutes and then started dinner, but she was still up in my room when my dad arrived home.
“Where’s Mom,” he asked.
“Up in my room, using my computer to pay the bills,” I answered. He headed right up. Perfect. This was going even better than I’d expected.
Another hour passed and they were still up there. I was afraid to go disturb them, but I was more than a little hungry, and curious. Slowly, I crept up the stairs and knocked on my closed bedroom door before opening it and entering. My parents were both huddled over my computer, startled that I’d entered my own bedroom.
“It’s 7:30,” I told them. “I’m starved!”
“Oh, OK,” My father answered. Inwardly, I smiled at his reaction. He and my mom were so absorbed in what they were reading that they’d completely forgotten about me and about dinner. My father handed my a couple twenties and said, “Your mother and I need to access the Internet a little longer. Why don’t you order a pizza and we’ll be down in a little while.”
“Any luck figuring out why the other computers aren’t working?” I asked. It was a bit mean, but I didn’t want them thinking I was in on it. Asking was the perfect way to throw them off track.
“N... No,” my father answered. “Frankly, I forgot completely about it. I’ll have to work on it tomorrow, I guess.”
“OK,” I said as I turned and closed the door behind me. I smiled the whole way down to the kitchen.
The pizza was nearly cold by the time I was able to pry my parents away from my computer, which was fine by me. The longer they stayed up there, the more time they had to read the carefully selected sites I’d laid out for them. I was glad they were still up there — it meant they were taking the time to digest what they read, rather than just finding out what surfing I’d done.
When they finally did come down, my heart started racing as I wondered if and how they’d confront me. At first they didn’t say anything as they ate, which in and of itself was weird — usually my parents at least asked me how my day at school had been.
Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore and I asked them, “Is everything alright?”
“Son,” my father answered, “we need to talk to you about the sites you’ve been visiting on the Internet.” There it was. Everything now depended on how I reacted and how natural I made it sound.
“What?” I exclaimed. “You mean you spied on me? How could you?” I ranted on and on about my privacy and their lack of trust in me. Man, I was good.
“Trevor,” my mother finally interrupted, “I didn’t spy on you. I had no intention of spying on you. It’s just that when I went to pay our bills. OH SHIT!”
“Huh?” I said. My mother never cursed.
“I’m sorry, Trev, I never should have said that. I’m afraid I still have to pay our bills.
“When I started to pay our bills and typed in the address of first web site, the first few letters I typed in brought up a list of gay web sites.”
As she said this, I realized I was about to come out to my parents. Sure, I could have continued to pretend I had visited all those sites because of David and Jeremy, but that would only accomplish half of what I needed to do. Eventually, I’d have to tell them, and it wouldn’t get any easier than it would be right now at this moment, and I certainly didn’t want them hearing about my dancing with David at Homecoming from anyone else. But first I would have to do some acting. Maybe not, as I really was petrified, but my coming out had to seem like an accident.
My heart seemed like it would beat its way out of my chest as I answered my mom. “Yu... yu... you... Gu... Gu ... Gay sites? It must’ve been someone else.”
“Trevor, who else in this house would be looking up gay sites? Who else would be using your computer?”
I just sat there, letting the seconds and then the minutes tick away. After what seemed like forever, my dad asked me, “Trevor?”
“I... I’m sorry, Dad. I know how disappointed in me you must be. Believe me, I didn’t want it to be this way.”
“I told you after the party that I don’t mind you’re having gay friends,” my father answered me. “In fact, it was rather noble of you to have been looking up information to help David and Jeremy.”
“Oh, you thought I was looking it up for them?” I asked with a sense of elation in my voice. I watched as their expressions slowly changed. Their reaction was one of utter shock. My reaction to them was to let a look of utter horror take over my face. The sense of horror was real enough — for bettor or worse, I knew I was now out to my parents.
I dejectedly looked down at the floor and said, “I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry, Dad. This isn’t your fault. I’ve been fighting this for a while. You raised me to be a good Christian, but no matter how hard I prayed, the feelings I’ve been having have only grown stronger.” This much certainly was true. “Until David and Jeremy came along, I thought it was Satan trying to grab my soul, but they seemed so happy.”
“Satan can make you happy,” my father countered. “But he’ll still have your soul.”
“But I’m a good kid, Dad. I’ve done everything you ever asked me to. I attend Church every Sunday and read the Bible. I believe in the teachings of Christ. Why would God desert me when I’m doing His will?”
“Come here,” my dad asked and he hugged me tightly as I cried on his shoulder. “We’re going to do everything we can to get you help.” That was not what I wanted to hear!
“But I don’t need any help, Dad. I’m sorry.... I know how disappointed you must be, but I don’t believe it’s Satan who’s making me this way. I’ve read the Bible extensively, and can only conclude that Christ wants me to live my life as God made me. Not once did he speak on homosexuality. There’s almost no mention of it in the entire New Testament.”
“But you know what the Bible says about the man who lays down with another man.”
“Yes, I know, Dad, and I can only hope that section of Leviticus is no more valid today than the prohibition on eating pork, or on wearing a red dress, both of which are also abominations.” Fortunately, my mother was wearing a red outfit, helping me to make my point.
“Jesus changed all that. I know what our church says about homosexuality,” I admitted, “but I just can’t go along with it. The medical community is mostly united in agreeing that being gay is normal. Most studies indicate trying to change a person’s sexual orientation is wrong. Not even the Church can agree on condemning homosexuality. Many denominations will even ordain gay ministers. I used to believe like you do that it’s wrong and a sin, but that still didn’t stop me from... from being gay.
“I know you’ll probably never agree with me, but I hope you’ll still trust me and trust my judgement... and love me.”
“Of course we still love you,” my father said as he hugged me tight. “We’ll always love you, no matter what. Nothing will ever change that.”
My mother joined my father in hugging me, and we all cried.
“After what we read on the Internet this evening, we have a lot to think about,” my mom said. “I’m not sure we’ll ever accept homosexuality as normal or that it’s not a sin, but I think your father and I both understand that being gay is your decision to make... not ours, if it even is a decision you can make, from what we read.”
“I guess I’d better go pay those bills,” my mother said as she headed to the den.
“Don’t forget that you’ll have to use my computer,” I called out.
“No,” my dad said, “she shouldn’t have any trouble now that I’ve disabled access control.”
I looked up at my father as my eyes flew open wide. He laughed as he said, “when you reminded me why we were up in your bedroom in the first place, I made a quick check of the router settings, and that’s when I discovered what you’d done. You’ll never be able to guess the new user name and password I gave the router, by the way,” he said with a sly smile.
“You mean you knew?” I asked in amazement.
“Trev, I’ve known for the past couple of years that you’re gay.” I was shocked. I thought my father was just talking about me accessing gay sites for tonight, but apparently he’d always known.
“It’s not that I don’t trust you,” he continued, “but there’s a software firewall installed on each of our computers. It logs all attempts to hack into our systems and sends a report by e-mail to me every day. I wasn’t trying to spy on you, but I did want to know if anyone was making a concerted attack on our computers. You can imagine my reaction when I noticed that quite a few of the attempts to get through the firewall on your computer traced back to gay web sites.”
“But if you knew, why didn’t you say something?”
“Son, I believed I was engaged in the fight of my life... the fight for your soul. I was fully prepared to enroll you in one of those church programs to make you straight, but when I read about what they actually do to kids like you... it’s just barbaric. How can these people justify fighting one sin with another? I just couldn’t do that to you, so I read everything I could find on the Internet about homosexuality and being a gay teen.”
My dad smiled at me and laughed, and then continued, “I’d already visited all the sites you planted for us to find on your computer. Son, don’t get me wrong... I still see homosexuality as a choice, and a sin, but I’m not willing to take a chance on losing you forever, or making you unhappy for the rest of your life, because of what I believe.”
“But if you knew, what were you and mom doing up there for so long?”
“Well, Trev, just as I didn’t want to confront you before I’d figured out what to do, I didn’t tell your mother, either. Even after I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to confront you, I kept my revelations to myself... I just wasn’t sure how your mother would react to it. Most of our time in your room was spent letting Mom absorb everything and helping to guide her into reaching the right conclusions.
“Please understand, this is all much fresher to your mother and she’ll undoubtedly need some time to come to grips with it all, and please don’t tell her what I told you tonight. It could all backfire tremendously if she knew I’d been keeping it from her. Don’t ever doubt her love, though.
All I could do was to sit there, dumbfounded.
“And Trevor, never forget that I love you, too. I’ll always love you no matter what.”
I hugged my dad tightly once again as I cried on his shoulder. I couldn’t help but laugh inside at the irony of it all. Here I thought I was pulling one over on my parents, when my dad had been one step ahead of me all along. It may not have amounted to complete acceptance, but my dad supported me, and probably my mom did, too, and that was more than I’d ever hoped for.
* Lyrics from Teach Your Children, by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Déjà Vu, 1970, song and lyrics by Graham Nash.
The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of Rigel as a beta-reader and David of Hope as an editor.