Reorientation by Colin Kelly

Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?


Chapter 19 A Disclosure and a Presentation      Story Index >>

Jason stood in a hug with Ron and didn’t know what to do next. Ron had just kissed him. On the lips. In front of Ron’s mom. Jason glanced at Tammy Cantham and saw that she had a big smile. He guessed that they weren’t in trouble.

Ron knew exactly what he did when he grabbed Jason in a hug and kissed him on the lips. A long, sensual kiss on the lips. He did it for two reasons. First, when he read what Jason had written on the back of the poster Ron realized how much he loved his boyfriend and knew he wanted to kiss him to show his love. Second, he realized that his mom stood right in back of him, and he wanted to see her reaction when she saw him kiss Jason on the lips. After the kiss he turned around and saw his mom’s smile. That made Ron so happy that he started to tear up.

“Well,” Tammy said, “if someone had suggested that I’d ever see the scene I just saw, I would have told them ‘No way!’ and yet, here we are, and I just saw my son and his boyfriend kissing. Not some little peck, either. You kissed better than just about any passionate kiss I’ve ever seen in the movies.”

Jason blushed and looked scared, just a little scared, but still scared. “Are we in trouble?”

“Oh, good grief, no. Why should you be in trouble? You boys love each other, and that’s something that calls for a celebration, not punishment. However, you need to think about where you can — and where you should not — kiss each other. Anywhere in public, for example, is a ‘should not’ location. In your room, Ron, with the door open, is a ‘can’ location.

“Let me say something to the two of you. I’m so proud of you! You are both kind, generous, caring, and loving. Those are important attributes to have, and you should continue them into your adult lives.”

Ron and Jason grabbed Tammy and hugged her.

“Thanks, Mom. You’re the greatest.”

“I second that,” Jason added.

Ron suddenly remembered Leshawn’s invitation.

“Mom, Leshawn invited us to go to his house for a pool party Saturday afternoon. His dad’s going to barbecue and… Jase, what was he fixing for lunch?”

“Burgers, chicken, and maybe hot dogs. I don’t exactly remember, but burgers and chicken for sure.”

“Okay, you know the rule, Ron. I’ll need Leshawn’s mother’s name and phone number and I’ll call her.”

Ron pulled out his cell and opened up the contacts. “Her first name is… Jase?” Jason shook his head to indicate that he didn’t know her given name. “…then I guess it’s Mrs. Cross. Their phone number is 555-7821.”

“That’s not Leshawn’s cell phone number by any chance, is it?”

“No. Sheesh, I made that mistake once about three years ago, and I can’t live it down.” Ron smiled at his mother hoping that she’d take it as the joke that he had intended.

“Okay, thanks. And don’t be a smart mouth, Ron.”

“I was just joking.”

“I know, but don’t be a smart mouth when you joke around home. You, too, Jason.”

“Me? Here I am, just sitting and minding my own business, and I get accused of the heinous crime of smart-mouthing.” Jason looked up at the ceiling and shook his head. “Oh, the unjustness of it!” He looked at Tammy Cantham who was biting her tongue to try to keep from laughing, so he started to laugh which got Ron started, and finally Tammy as well.

“You too should become comedians,” she told them.

Jason looked at his watch. “Say, I’ve gotta get going. It’s almost five thirty.”

“Say hello to your mom for me, Jason,” Tammy requested.

“Will do, Mrs. Cantham. I’ll see you tomorrow, Ron. Let’s talk tonight about tomorrow. Your mom will have all of the info about time and what we’ll have to eat and so on.”

They arrived in the entry hall and Jason put on his shoes, then grabbed his backpack and portfolio. The boys kissed — a much more chaste kiss than what they’d exhibited in the kitchen earlier.

“Love you, Ron.”

“Love you, Jase.”

With that Jason headed home. He knew he’d have to describe his project and poster at least one more time to his family. Maybe he could put it off until after dinner when the entire family would be home and could be together. He could do it on the dining room table. In fact, he could bring his laptop downstairs and set it up to show all of the Photoshop layers he had to create.

After that Jason though about Ron. He realized that their relationship had moved to a new level, one where kissing had become more important. He grinned as he walked home, thinking about the way Ron had grabbed him and kissed him so… so passionately, right in front of Mrs. Cantham. And her reaction surprised him. She smiled as she watched them kissing. So, that brought up the question about how and when he should tell his folks that he and Ron were boyfriends. Or did they already know? If they did know, why hadn’t they said anything to him? He took a deep breath and let it whistle out through his front teeth. Why were things always so confusing?

It’s like that cute ad he saw on TV for Kaiser Hospital with a bunch of little kids talking about health care. At the end one of the little kids looks at the camera and says, in kind of a sad voice, “It’s complicated.” ‘That is so true,’ Jason thought. ‘Everything in life sure seems like it’s complicated.’

He got home and walked in the front door and dropped his backpack and portfolio in the hall near the stairs as he headed for the kitchen.

“Hi, I’m home!” He called out.

“Hi, Jason,” his mother answered as he walked into the kitchen. “Did you enjoy your last day before spring break?”

“Yeah, I sure did. You know, everything seems to be going so perfectly for me this week. That’s made me feel real happy. I’ve been smiling all day and people have asked me about that.”

“And what went so perfectly today?”

“Everything. We became friends with two sophomores, Doug Lin, he’s a starter on the varsity basketball team, and his boyfriend Mike Nakamura. They saw us in the quad before class this morning, and they came over and talked to us until we had to go to our Homerooms. It’s so cool to have a couple sophomores being friends with me and Ron.”

“You said they are boyfriends? So they’re gay?”

Jason’s eyes opened wide and he took a deep breath. ‘Oh, shit!’ he thought as he realized his slip of the tongue. Well, no getting around it now.

“Uh, yeah, they’re boyfriends and they’re gay. We met them at the GSA meeting yesterday after school.”

“Are they nice boys?”

“Totally.” Jason thought for about one second. He remembered what Mr. Lyon said in English 1 at the beginning of the semester: “It’s always better to take what’s given to you and make the best of it.” His slip of the tongue gave him an opening to tell… no, to ‘remind’ his mom that he and Ron are boyfriends.

“And they’re out to their folks, just like Ron and I are out to his folks and to you guys.”

Betty didn’t say anything for a few seconds. She recalled how she learned about Jason and Ron at the session with Doctor Byers. But she couldn’t recall that Jason ever told her or Tim this piece of news.

“Did you tell us that you and Ron are boyfriends? I don’t remember that.”

“Sure I did!”

“When did you do that?”

Jason sat quietly for a few seconds with the intention of having his mom think that he was trying to remember when he told them. Subterfuge could be complicated!

 “With so much going on right now I can’t remember exactly when I said that Ron and I are boyfriends. It could have been last night when I told you about the GSA meeting, or maybe the night before. It doesn’t actually make any difference because you and Dad knew about me and Ron already, right?”

“Yes, we know about you and Ron. Even though I don’t remember you telling us, you’re right that it doesn’t make any difference. Mr. Cantham told your father at the PFLAG meeting and I learned about it the next day. I suppose I knew that you and Ron becoming boyfriends would happen sooner or later. It’s just that it seems to have happened sooner.”

She watched Jason’s expression, one of relief that morphed into one of concern, probably because he didn’t know what she’d say next.

“Jase, I think that if you’re going to have a boyfriend then it’s definitely best that it’s Ron. We know him and he’s a very nice boy.” She smiled then shrugged her shoulders.

“Thanks, Mom. He is the best. You know, we really do love each other. He’s very important to me and I’m very important to him.”

Betty stood and held out her arms. “I think we both could use a hug. How about it?”

After they hugged Jason sat down at the table and took a deep breath. “Thanks for understanding, Mom.”

“You know, I was your age once so I understand better than you might think. Your dad and I aren’t quite the old fogeys you might think we are.”

Jason tried to suppress a grin but couldn’t. “Old fogeys? You and Dad aren’t old fogeys. You won’t be old fogeys for a long time, like maybe not until next year or the year after.”

Betty stood up. “Oh, I’ll get you for that, Jason Phillips!” She held out her hands and wiggled her fingers. “I know your weakness. You’re ticklish!

When she made that threat Jason started to laugh and jumped up, ran out of the kitchen, grabbed his backpack and portfolio, and ran upstairs, the entire time shouting, “No tickling! No tickling!” over and over again.

Betty shouted as she watched him escape, “Wuss! You just wait. I’m telling Ron that you’re ticklish!”

She grinned. ‘Yes,’ she thought, ‘this is my son, the same boy who I’ve always loved and who I love even more every day.’

Jason ran into his room and threw his backpack on the floor next to his desk, then more carefully stood his portfolio between the side of his desk and the wall. He flopped down on his bed, not worried that his mom would come upstairs to tickle him. He was ticklish, very ticklish, and Ron already knew that. Of course, Ron was extremely ticklish too, so that balanced out the risk of Jason being tickled by Ron. But his mom would only use the threat of tickling him as just that, a threat. This time he assumed that she had been kidding.

The topic of showing his project hadn’t come up, nor her usual question about a pre-dinner snack, so he decided to go back downstairs and discuss both of those items with his mom.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs he called out, “Truce?”

“Truce,” Betty replied.

Jason sat down at the table and waited for the snack question.

“Did you want a snack? It’s getting close to dinner time, though.”

“No thanks, I’m fine. Maybe just a glass of ice water, please.”

His mom seemed surprised. “Don’t you want some juice?”

“I don’t think so. I’ve been drinking a lot of orange juice, and today Mike, that’s Mike Nakamura, the sophomore I told you about, anyway today before class he told me that there are eight teaspoons of sugar in a twelve-ounce glass of orange juice. Did you know that? I think I drink two glasses that size in the morning and sometimes another glass when I have a snack. That’s twenty-four teaspoons of sugar. I checked and six teaspoons is the max that I should have per day. If I keep getting twenty-four teaspoons every day I might get fat or I could come down with diabetes.”

“Don’t forget you need vitamin C, and orange juice is a good source of vitamin C.”

“True, but so are most vegetables. We eat vegetables with dinner every night, and I get my vitamin C from them. So if I cut back to one glass of O.J. in the morning and continue eating my veggies I’ll be just fine.”

“How much sugar did you say is the maximum that you be eating per day?”

“Six teaspoons. I’ll get more than that from one glass of O.J.”

“Well, speaking of sugar and vitamin C, here’s your glass of ice water.”

“Thanks, Mom. Say, I gave my presentation in Photography today and showed my poster. I’d like to show it to everyone tonight after dinner. Is that okay? Will everyone be home?”

“Yes, that’s a great idea, Jase. Jen went to the mall with Evelyn right after school and she should be home in a few minutes. Thea is next door helping Mrs. Evans with her cat. It’s having kittens, again. She should be home by now, and I made sure that she understands that she is not to bring a kitten home with her.”

“Okay, I’ll set up for my presentation so we can start right after dinner. I’ll bring down my laptop so I can show how I placed the pix onto my poster.”

“Picks?”

“Uh, yeah. Pix, spelled p-i-x, is short for pictures, plural. Pic, spelled p-i-c, is short for one picture, singular.”

“You should consider your audience when you use shorthand terms like that. I hope in your presentation at school today you said the words and not the shorthand terms.”

“I did, and I will tonight too.”

“How long will you need?”

“We had five minutes each today, plus time for questions. I got a lot of questions, mostly technical stuff about how I used Photoshop. I don’t think there’ll be many questions like that tonight. So, say fifteen-minutes?”

“I thought you might need an hour.”

Jason laughed. “An hour? Good grief. I’d have to give my presentation twelve times in a row to fill an hour.”

“Whatever time you need is fine, fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, whatever you need.”

“Okay, thanks. Say, what’s for dinner?”

“Chicken pot pie and salad. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, that’s fantastic. I love your chicken pot pie. Say, that reminds me. Leshawn Cross invited me and Ron to a pool party at his house tomorrow afternoon and evening. His dad’s going to grill burgers and chicken for us for lunch. Mrs. Cantham is going to phone Leshawn’s mom to get the details, so you can talk to her about it after dinner tonight. Anyway, is it okay if I go?”

“I don’t see why not. Remember, you have a meeting with Father Darcy tomorrow at eleven. Your Dad will drive you there and pick you up after.”

“How long is that going to take?”

“Father Darcy suggested an hour, or perhaps less, depending on how much you two had to talk about.”

“How will Dad know when to pick me up?”

“You’ll phone him when it’s winding down. It’s at St. Stephen’s Church, that’s about ten minutes from the house. What time is Leshawn’s party?”

“All he said is that it’s in the afternoon. Mrs. Cantham should have the details from Mrs. Cross.”

“You know, Jason, I need to talk to Mrs. Cross as well.”

“Oh?”

“How else would I warn her about your bad habits?”

Jason smirked. “What bad habits? I don’t have any bad habits!”

“Oh? How about your table manners or lack thereof? I remember that time when you had juice from your hamburger running down your arms and it got all over the tablecloth.”

“Mom! I was like nine, and we were at a picnic in Heather Farms Park, and we were at a picnic table with a paper tablecloth and the salsa that someone put on my burger was very juicy.”

“Hmm. Who put the salsa on your hamburger?”

“I guess it was me, but it was a picnic. And I was nine.”

Betty laughed at Jason. “Alright, alright! I’m just pulling your leg. Nevertheless, I still want to talk to Mrs. Cross and say hello and find out who else will be there and if you can bring anything and to let her know where we’ll be while you’re there.”

“Okay, got’cha. Here’s her phone number.” Jason wrote Mrs. Cross’ name and number on the pad next to the telephone.

“Do you have any homework or projects to work on during spring break?”

“I have a couple chapters to read for my World History and Geography class, and a story to write, from scratch, completely in Spanish.”

“How will the teacher know if you write it in Spanish or write it in English and translate it to Spanish?”

“I guess it’s because the way you think and write in Spanish is so different from the way you think and write in English. If you translate from English it’s hard to make sentences and paragraphs read like they were written in Spanish. Ms. Grimbauer says she can tell, and I believe her. So it’s better to just go ahead and write the whole story in Spanish.”

“How many words do you have to write?”

“The minimum is five hundred and the maximum is twenty-five hundred. We get extra points for longer stories. We get points off for incorrect accent marks, too. I’m glad I have a Spanish language keyboard and that the software is built into Windows. I can plug in the Spanish language keyboard when I need it to write something in Spanish, and go back to my English keyboard for everything else.”

“She allows you to use a keyboard that other students might not have?”

“Yes. Anyone should be able to afford a Spanish language keyboard. Dad got mine online for about fifteen dollars, so it’s not a big deal money-wise. Ms. Grimbauer says the school district should make them available for students to borrow, but they never seem to have that in the budget.”

“Do you know what you’re going to write about?”

“Yup. Some of the interesting things that I did and that happened while I was taking pictures for my poster project. I think it’ll be easier to write something in Spanish that I already know real well, instead of having to make something up as I write.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Was that a pun?”

“What?”

“You said a pun. You said ‘I suppose you’re right.’ That could be r-i-g-h-t or it could be w-r-i-t-e. See, that’s a found pun, one you didn’t intend to say, but it came out as a pun anyway.”

“I get it now. Pretty clever, if I do say for myself.” Betty grinned. She turned and looked at the clock.

“Jase, your sisters should be home by now. I need to get my chicken pot pies in the oven. Would you do me a favor and phone Jen and remind her that she needs to be home in twenty minutes, and then go next door and tell Thea she needs to come home now. And remind her, no kitten!”

“Okay.”

Jason pulled out his smartphone and called Jen as he walked to their next door neighbor’s house. She said she was five minutes from home.

He rang the doorbell and Danny Evans answered.

“Hi, Jase. I guess you’re here to collect Thea, right?”

“Yup. That’s my assigned duty.”

“Come on in and I’ll take you back to the cat hospital nursery wing.”

The laundry room had been converted to exactly what ten-year-old Danny had described. The mother cat lay in a cardboard box lined in the bottom with several bath towels. Five rambunctious kittens scrambled around unsuccessfully trying to scale the inside walls of the box so they could escape and go exploring.

“These kittens look like they’re older than newborns,” Jason commented.

“Yeah, they’re about two weeks old. They’re starting to figure out how to use their claws to get up the side of the box. My dad’s gonna move ‘em to the back bedroom where we can keep the door closed so they can’t get out and get lost.”

“Sounds like a plan. My mom asked me to come over and get Thea. We’re going to be eating dinner in a little while.”

Just as he asked that question, Mrs. Evans came in from outside.

“Hi, Jason. If you’re looking for Thea she went home.”

“Without a kitten, I hope.”

“Without a kitten.”

“Okay, thanks. I’d better get home too. I have homework to do. I want to get it done so I don’t have it hanging over me during spring break.”

Mrs. Evans chuckled. “Would you like a kitten to take home, Jason?”

“No, thank you. My mom would not be happy. Jen is allergic to most animals, so a kitten wouldn’t be a good thing to have in our house. But thanks anyway.”

“Okay, so long. Come back and see the kittens from time to time. It’s always fascinating to see them grow up so quickly.”

“Thanks, I’ll do that. See you later, Mrs. Evans. See you too, Danny.”

Jason got home, relayed the message from Jen, found out that Thea had arrived a few minutes earlier, and went upstairs to get the project materials together for his show-and-tell after dinner. Remembering how Ron’s mother brought the poster close to her eye and stared at it, he got a magnifying glass in case anyone in his family wanted to see the headshots up close. He brought the magnifying glass, his laptop, the jump drive with the Photoshop files, and his portfolio to the dining room and set them up on the table.

He positioned and opened his laptop so when his family sat around the end of the table they could see the screen. Trouble was, from where he had to sit near the center of the table he couldn’t see the screen or reach the keyboard. If he moved the laptop further toward the center of the table, it made it harder for his family to see the screen. In fact, even in the original position he saw that the images on the screen were too small.

Too bad that he didn’t have the school’s video projector that Mr. Hunter used for the presentations. ‘Wait a minute!’ he thought, ‘The LCD TV in the family room has an input for hooking up a PC.’ No one had ever tried it, or even thought of trying it. He could connect his laptop to the TV with an HDMI cable so he could sit anywhere. Anything on his laptop screen would be on the fifty-inch TV screen.

Jason got up and went into the family room. He pulled out the user manual and the remote that came with the TV, then sat down to read the user manual. He looked in the table of contents and found ‘Connecting your home computer’ and opened the book to that section. The TV had several different ways to connect a PC, including three HDMI inputs. Now, where could he find an HDMI cable that would connect to his laptop? He looked on the back of the TV. It had one unused full-size HDMI connection; his laptop had one mini-HDMI connection. That’s what he needed, a standard-to-mini HDMI cable. That would do the job. But he didn’t have one, and he didn’t think his dad had one. Maybe Ron had one. Ron was a packrat with a couple boxes with different kinds of cables in his closet.

He pulled his smartphone out of his pocket and pressed the 6 key when the dialer screen came on. That’s the key he had programmed as the shortcut for autodialing Ron. Jason giggled again. He’d originally picked that number because ‘six’ sounded like ‘sex’. Now that he had a smartphone he’d never considered changing it. Why change it? It was perfect. After a few rings Ron picked up.

“This is the automated servant for Ronald Cantham. May I know who is calling and what this call is about, so I know whether to have him pick up the line or to have me hang up on you forthwith?”

“This is Jason Phillips, and I need to draw on a level of technological expertise that only Mr. Ronald Cantham would have. May I please speak with him?”

“Gonna cost ya.”

“Okay, how much is it gonna cost and what is the mode of payment?”

“I haven’t decided. But it’s sure to be mutually enjoyable. Just a hint…” Ron switched to a whisper, “we can’t do it at my house ‘cause my parents require that I leave my bedroom door open.”

“Oooooo! Sounds wonderful.”

“So don’t leave me hangin’ out here Jase, what kind of exper-teezz are you looking for?”

“Well, it’s more a thing that I need. I need a standard-to-mini HDMI cable, as long as possible as long as it’s at least eight feet long. As long as my request isn’t too long, I wondered if you have one of ’em.” Jason laughed.

“Okay, lemme check my warehouse and I’ll be right back.”

Jason heard Ron yelling for Jason’s benefit while standing some distance from his smartphone. “Hey, minions, get out here and conduct a warehouse search for a standard-to-mini HDMI cable, and as if you don’t already know, that is the large-to-tiny kind. Hop to, hop to, guys!”

Jason heard Ron chuckling and sounds of his retrieval and search of the boxes from his closet.

“Got it. This sucker I guess is about six feet long. Will that work for you?”

“Yeah, that’ll do. Can I pick it up right now? I’ll walk over and be there, like, in a few minutes?”

“Sure. See ya then.” With that Ron ended the call, leaving Jason’s “Bye….” hanging in space.

The trip to the Cantham household took about five minutes. Ron met him at the door, stepped out onto the porch, grabbed Jason in a hug, kissed him on the lips, handed him the cable, and grinned.

“Hi, Jase.”

“Anybody on your street could have seen you kissing me.”

“I don’t care. Do you?”

“I guess not. But some homophobic bully from school might be walking by and see us. Everyone would know about it when we get back to school after spring break. We’ll have the bullies lined up just waiting for a chance to smash us.”

“We’ll sign up for Tai Kwon Do classes. My dad’s already talking about how that would be an excellent idea for the two of us. Then we’ll beat the crap out of those nasty homophobes.”

“Whatever. I have a piece of information for you. I made my big disclosure today by telling my mom that you and I are boyfriends. And you were right, my mom and dad already knew. Your dad told my dad when they were at the PFLAG meeting.”

“Oh, man, that is just freakin’ wonderful, Jase! See, I told you so!”

“Yeah, that’s what I said. What’s even better, my mom said that if I’m going to have a boyfriend then it’s best that it’s you. How about that?”

Ron smiled. “Really? That’s so excellent. You know my mom and dad think the same about you, Jase.”

“Yeah, I do.” Jason looked at his watch. “It’s getting late, so I gotta truck. Thanks for the loan of the cable. Tonight after dinner I’m going to show my folks the poster I made for my Photography class project and give my full presentation. My laptop screen is way too small for the five of us sitting around the dining room table and squinting to try to see how I arranged my headshots. So I’m going to hook my laptop to our TV in the family room.” Jason waved the HDMI cable.

“Oh, you mean your fifty-incher. Like I always say, size does matter.” Ron grinned. “Say, could I come over with my mom and dad? That way all three of us can hear the official presentation like what you gave to your class today.”

“It’s okay with me. Like I always say, the more the merrier. Have your mom call my mom and set it up.”

“Will do. Later.”

With that Jason pulled Ron outside onto the front porch and kissed him, on the lips.

“Sauce for the gander is sauce for the other gander. See you later.” Jason ran down the walk to the sidewalk and from there ran home. It took him three minutes to get there, and the run made him feel energized. ‘Gotta run like that more often,’ he thought to himself.

When Jason got home he hooked up his laptop to the TV using Ron’s cable, then turned both on. He had a picture on his laptop but nothing on the TV. He remembered that Mr. Hunter pressed a couple keys on his laptop to make it display both on the laptop and through the video projector. He looked at his keyboard. On the F7 key had a symbol in blue that looked like two screens overlapped. He held down the blue Fn key and pressed the F7 key. Still no picture on the TV. He remembered there was a key on the remote marked Input that he had to use to watch a DVD. He clicked it twice and the TV displayed his laptop’s contents, but his laptop screen went blank. He pressed Fn and F7 on his keyboard, and his laptop screen came on and the TV continued to display the laptop’s contents.

“Cool!” he said out loud. He turned off the laptop and TV and set the laptop on the coffee table. Then he retrieved his portfolio and the magnifying glass from the dining room and put them next to his laptop.

Jason went into the kitchen and sat down at the table. His mom looked up from where she was washing lettuce for their salad.

“Mom, did you have a chance to call Leshawn’s mother?”

“Yes. You’re all set for tomorrow. She suggested that you arrive between noon and one o’clock. Besides lunch, they will grill enough for dinner for you guys too. Ron’s mother called, and she said Ron had some chores and would be finished by noon. Because your appointment with Father Darcy is at eleven, your dad can pick you up at the St. Stephen’s rectory when you’re finished with your meeting around noon. Then he can pick up Ron and take the two of you to Leshawn’s house.”

“Did Mrs. Cross say how many others would be at the pool party?”

“Let’s see. I wrote the names down.” She wiped her hands and got a sheet of paper off the desk. “Two of Leshawn’s cousins, Art and Larry Grant, they’re twins and are younger than the rest of you, twelve years old, and several other boys from your school, Jayden Allen, Todd Brooks, Marcus Benson, Doug Lin, and Mike Nakamura. Are Doug Lin and Mike Nakamura the two you mentioned who are boyfriends?”

“Yes. Doug is a starter for the basketball team.”

“Do their parents know that they are gay?”

“Uh huh. They also know that they are boyfriends, and they’re okay with that.”

“Thea’s boyfriend is Darryl Lin. Are he and Doug Lin related?”

“They’re brothers. Darryl knows that Doug is gay. Darryl isn’t.”

“Do you know the others who are going to be there?”

“You know Jayden. I’ve known him since first grade. He’s been over here a bunch of times. Marcus and Todd I know from school. I’ve never met Leshawn’s cousins, the twins. Did Mrs. Cross mention Leshawn’s cousin Kevin?”

“No. Will he be there as well?”

“Yes.”

“The name is familiar. Have I met him?”

“Remember, you met him when you picked us up at Stanford’s last Saturday and took Leshawn and Kevin home.”

“Oh, yes, I remember him now.”

“He’s staying with Leshawn’s family while his parents are in New Orleans taking care of his grandmother’s estate. He’s a nice guy. He’s from Portland and transferred to Hillcrest through the end of this semester. Leshawn likes having him stay with them. It’s like he has a twin brother since they’re in the same grade. They work on their homework together.”

“Does Leshawn know that you and Ron are gay and are boyfriends?”

“No. We’re going to tell him and Kevin tomorrow.”

“How about any of the other boys who will be there?”

“Marcus, Doug and Mike know, and we’re going to tell Jayden and Todd tomorrow.”

“Marcus knows you’re gay?”

“Yeah. He writes a sports column for the school newspaper. It’s the most read part of the newspaper. When we get back from spring break we’re going to tell our other friends, the ones who sit with us during lunch.”

“And you think that’s okay?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“What about the stories we hear about boys who are bullied at school, or are attacked physically? Aren’t you concerned that you and Ron have exposed yourselves to that kind of problem?”

“No. We have lots of friends who will know and three of them are athletes. So if anyone starts hassling us then we’ll tell those guys and they’ll have our backs. Then we’ll tell one of the vice principals or a teacher who it is who’s hassling us, and finally we’ll tell you and Ron’s folks when we get home from school the day we’ve been bullied. Besides, there are other kids at Hillcrest who are gay and out and they don’t get hassled. Nobody seems to care if you’re gay or straight.”

“I hear all the time that the kids that are being bullied won’t tell anyone because they would be considered snitches, and they don’t tell their parents either. That doesn’t worry you?”

“That so-called snitch rule is totally bogus. Ron and I would be all over whoever started messing with us. If any others at school have a problem with that, it’s their problem, not our problem.”

“Have you been bullied?”

“No, we haven’t. Like I said, we never hear about it happening at school.”

“And you don’t think that will happen now that a lot of other kids will know about you? You know how rumors spread in high school.”

“If it does happen we’re going to tell the nearest adult, a teacher or someone from the administration, or even a custodian. If there’s no one around, we’ll start yelling at the bully. When we had an assembly about bullying that’s one of the things they suggested.”

“What if someone attacks you physically?”

“I’m pretty strong. In my PE Weight Training class I’m building up my muscles. Ron’s dad wants us to take Tai Kwon Do. I think that’s a good idea.”

“That teaches you to…?”

“It combines combat techniques, self-defense, and exercise. Besides, it’s a sport with competitions and stuff like that. I’m not interested in that part. It’s the combat and self-defense parts that will help us if someone tries to beat us up.”

“You should talk to your dad about that, and he and Mr. Cantham can decide if it’s appropriate for the two of you.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to Dad about it this weekend.” Jason smiled. Going to Tai Kwon Do classes would be fun.

~~~<<>>~~~

When Jason and his family finished their dinner, and after the Canthams had arrived, Jason gathered everyone in the family room.

“I’ve set up my laptop to display on our TV. What I’m going to do is talk about what I did to design and build my poster file, then I’ll pass it around so you can look at it in detail. Before I start, are there any questions?”

Ron raised his hand like this was one of their classes at school. That made Jason grin.

“Yes, Ron?”

“I just wanted to let you know that I brought the poster you gave me so we’ll have two copies to hand around.”

“Thanks, Ron. That’s excellent. Are there any other questions?”

Since there were no additional questions, Jason turned on the TV and his laptop and toggled the function key so his screen displayed on both his laptop and the TV. He spent a few minutes describing the idea behind his poster. He told how he had been interrupted by the mall security guard, whose last name is Phillips, and when he explained why he wanted to take pictures from the top level of the garage he promised to give him a copy of the poster and made him a friend. He told where he took over six hundred headshots and pictures of the “Shh…” sculpture in the library.

There were questions and he spent about five more minutes answering them. Then he told how Ron helped him with a great idea about how to position the images using Photoshop onto his poster file. He showed the file, and zoomed in so several of the headshots could be seen in detail, and described how he created a separate layer for each headshot so he could move them around without disturbing any of the other six hundred images. He talked about adjusting the opacity of the “Shh…” image so when he placed it on top of the headshots it was just barely visible.

This part of his presentation proved to be rather technical, so there were fewer questions, most from his dad and Ron’s dad, and a few from Ron.

Then he passed around his poster and the copy Ron brought with him. Of course, everyone ooo’d and ahh’d about his poster. Jason’s mom picked up the magnifying glass, and the other adults gathered around to see what the “Shh…” image looked like on the printed copy.

Jason noticed that Thea had flipped Ron’s poster over and showed Jen what Jason had written on the back. Jen looked up at Jason and smiled, gave the poster back to Thea, got up, and came over and hugged Ron then Jason. Jason saw that Jen had tears in the corners of her eyes, and that surprised and pleased him.

She whispered, “You are the best possible brother, Jase. And Ron, you’re the best possible boyfriend for my brother. I love you guys, and so does Thea.”

“I agree, and I love you Jen,” Ron said out loud.

“Thanks, Jen, and ditto what Ron just said,” Jason told her, also out loud.

The adults were still busy inspecting Jason’s copy of the poster and didn’t pay attention to what either Ron or Jason said.

Ron bumped shoulders with his boyfriend. “Jase, I don’t see how our lives could be any better than they are. Except maybe if I retire and you work your butt off supporting me in the way that I should be accustomed to but haven’t been.”

Ron had his back to the adults, so he couldn’t see them looking at him and listening to what he’d just said to Jason. He realized that he’d been overheard when the adults started to laugh, and Jen and Thea did as well. Jason just shook his head and cleared his throat, loudly and on purpose, to get his presentation back under his control.

Eventually he achieved his goal, and he asked, once again, if anyone had any questions. They didn’t, but they did offer congratulations and praise for how well he had done on his project.

After apple pie and ice cream, the Canthams left for home and Jason collected his laptop and portfolio, and the cable which he forgot to return to Ron, and took them upstairs to his bedroom.

He got ready for bed and lay there with many thoughts going through his head. He thought about how he disclosed that he and Ron are boyfriends to his mom. She had lots of questions, but she seemed to be okay with his answers so he had to say that it went very well. Then he thought about the presentation about his poster project to the two families, and it also went very well. Finally, he thought about his meeting with Father Darcy the next morning, followed by Leshawn’s pool party. Both, he decided, would be very interesting though very different. The first one probably would not be very entertaining, the second one undoubtedly would be entertaining. With that thought he drifted off to sleep.

[Continued]


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