STONEWALL UPRISING – Rich Paschall

Fifty Years On, by Rich Paschall

It was much different then. 1969. There was a “counter culture” that opposed many of society’s norms. There were “love-ins” and music festivals.  Hippies made the scene wearing different clothes. Many wore flowers in their hair. Tie-dyed shirts and bell bottoms jeans were the fashion.

It was the summer of Woodstock. It was also the year the Beatles played their last live concert from a rooftop in London.

Woodstock

In the United States, Richard Nixon became president. NASA sent a man to the moon. PBS was established and Sesame Street made its debut. The US Air Force stopped investigating UFOs, having found none since Project Blue Book started in 1952.

It was a time of social unrest. Civil Rights protests. Protests for women’s equality. Students and others protested many political issues. The largest and most frequent were about the “police action” otherwise known as the War in Viet Nam. The Southeast Asian war, the first to be extensively televised, was very unpopular.

Protests at Columbia University in NYC

Homosexuality was illegal in 49 of 50 states. To be arrested meant your life was ruined. You could lose your home, your job, your freedom. To be a known homosexual could put your life at risk. A few gay groups, like the Mattachine Society, tried to depict gay men as just like everyone else in order to be more acceptable to society. Small protests were held each year in Philadelphia and Washington seeking equality. Men wore suits, women wore dresses. No one held hands.

New York had a few gay bars and clubs. Most were owned by the Mafia, who paid off the police. When the bars were to be raided, arresting a few gays, the clubs were tipped off in advance. The police generally came early in the evening so the clubs could reopen later and continue doing business. When the police arrived, the lights went up to tip off the patrons to stop holding hands, touching, and dancing. Men in drag were certainly going to be taken away. Policewomen checked them out to see if they were actually men. No further explanation is needed.

In June of 1969, there were frequent raids on local bars and clubs. Some were closed down. The Stonewall Inn had been raided on a Tuesday but reopened for business. Saturday of that week would be the day the tables were turned.

Stonewall 1969 (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Stonewall had tried to present itself as a private club. It had no liquor license and was raided periodically by police. It operated very much like a speakeasy in the Prohibition era.

The windows were covered with plywood so no one could see inside. The door had an opening where a bouncer could look out to see who wanted entrance. If he did not know you or thought you were underage, you would probably be turned away.

In the early hours of a warm night, around 1:20 AM on June 28, 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn.  It was to be closed permanently. There were perhaps two hundred people inside but only four plainclothes officers, two others in uniform and two detectives arrived. Gays usually put up no resistance, so the police thought they could control the situation.

On this night, they thought wrong.

The usual tactic was to arrest drag queens and anyone under 18, which was then the legal drinking age. The men were lined up and IDs were checked. Events, however, took a different turn from the usual protocol.

The drag queens refused to go and many men were refusing to show IDs. The police decided to arrest anyone who did not cooperate. Things quickly got out of hand.

The ones who had been released did not disperse. Instead, they waited outside. The crowd soon began to grow. The patrol wagons did not arrive and many were forced to wait in line. When a woman was taken outside to be put in a wagon, she fought back.

There’s one well-known picture of the event and virtually no video of what happened. It was before the era of pocket cameras and cell phones. Accounts vary but there are many personal accounts on which to rely.

One thing seems clear. In an era of social unrest, gays were fighting back. They were not going to have the Stonewall taken away, despite the fact that baseball bats were later used like in a Prohibition raid. Activism had come to the gay community in one spontaneous moment.

Only known image of the uprising (Fair use. Photographer: Joseph Ambrosini of the New York Daily News)

Battles with police raged into the night. The ones who had conducted the raid had to barricade themselves in the Stonewall against the growing crowd outside. When police arrived to free Stonewall, the crowd stayed and sang, formed a kickline, threw pennies, did other mischiefs. The people were pushed down the street, only to return behind the police.  Garbage was set on fire, some windows were broken.

The next night an even larger crowd returned to Christopher Street. The police tried to disperse them with nightsticks and tear gas. Again garbage was lit on fire and the crowd fought back.

Why are there gay pride parades?

Stonewall is the answer. On a warm summer night in New York in 1969, the gay patrons of Stonewall Inn decided to stop being pushed around. They wanted to be free to be who they were. They would no longer hide in the dark closets or recesses of dives like the Stonewall. They wanted to be proud and to live their own lives.

The following year on June 28, The Christopher Street Liberation Day was held with a march (parade) from Christopher Street to Central Park, an astounding 51 blocks. Organizers desperately hoped for more than a handful of participants to support the event. Thousands came, not just to watch but to march and celebrate. At one point the parade filled the street for 15 blocks. Events were also held in Chicago and Los Angeles to remember Stonewall.

It is likely many young participants in Gay Pride Celebrations do not know why there are such events or how they started. Nevertheless, it has become a worldwide phenomenon. On June 30, 2019 (today if you are reading this when it is first posted) organizations will come together in New York. There will be a 50th-anniversary celebration of the day the lesbian and gay communities battled for Christopher Street and won the right to seek equality in the open.

Stonewall today

Sources: This synopsis is a very condensed version, and you can read events in great detail on Wikipedia. PBS also recently reran the American Experience documentary Stonewall Uprising which you can find at PBS online. Below is just a small excerpt:

SNOW HATE – By Rich Paschall

A NO H8 story by Rich Paschall – Sunday Night Blog


The door bell startled Howard.  He was not expecting anyone on a snowy Saturday afternoon in January.  He moved quickly to the front door and opened it to find his teenage grandson.

“Hello grandpa,” the boy blurted, “I came to shovel your snow.”  At that Billy grabbed a shovel from just inside the front door and went immediately to work.  Howard closed the door and watched him through the glass in the door.  Billy attacked the snow like he was angry at every single flake that fell from the sky.  The look on his face and the force at which he threw each shovelful of snow concerned Howard.

75-BigSnowHPCR-9

He went directly to the phone and called Billy’s parents.

“Hello,” came the voice of Howard’s daughter-in-law.  Madeleine was sweet, nice looking and ultimately clueless.  Her small social circle was her main concern in life.

“Your son is here shoveling the snow,” Howard reported.

“That’s so nice,” Madeleine replied.

“What’s up with that?” grandpa want to know.

“What do you mean?” Billy’s mother inquired.

“I mean he has never done that before.  Why did he come today?”

“Perhaps he just loves his grandpa.”

“Perhaps,” Howard said with a great degree of skepticism.  “Is William at home?”

“No, dad, he’s not.  They both left in such a hurry I thought they might have gone out together.  I will tell him you called.”

“Please do,” Howard said.  “Goodbye,” and at that he hung up the phone.

Howard strolled to the front door and looked out to see Billy frozen in place on the front porch.  It was not the cold that bolted him down. Grandpa opened the door and called out. “Are you coming in?”

Billy looked around and said, “I guess so,” and shuffled through the front door. He kicked off his shoes and went to the front room sofa and sat down.

“Do you want some hot chocolate or hot tea or a Coke or something?” Howard asked.

“Yeah,” Billy mumbled.

“Yeah what?”

“Coke is OK,” the boy said and grandpa went to retrieve the soft drink.  As Howard was handing off the drink, Billy said, “Can I stay here tonight, grandpa?  Please?”  Billy looked like he was about to cry and Howard was completely caught off guard.

“Yes, of course, you can stay in the back bedroom, but how come?” grandpa wanted to know.

“Just because,” Billy shouted and ran from the room crying and went to the back bedroom and slammed the door.

Howard had plenty of adventure raising his own boy, but no teenage drama like this.  He did not know whether to follow the boy into his room or let him alone for a while.  The long indecision sealed it. He left the boy alone.

When the afternoon turned to evening and he had no return phone call from Billy’s parents or return appearance of the boy, Howard called the parents again.

“Hello,” Madeleine said sweetly.

“Hello, is William there yet?”

“No, dad, he isn’t.”

“Give me his cell phone number,” Howard commanded and Madeleine read it off from a sheet of paper.

“Thanks,” Howard said and hung up the phone. He immediately dialed his son.

“Hello,” William said. There was a lot of background noise as if William was at a party or bar.

“This is your father, where are you?” Howard demanded to know.

“I am at the Famous Sports Bar. Where are you?” William replied in a strange voice.

“I am at home and your son is here too. He wants to spend the night.”

“Fine, keep him,” William said without hesitation.

“What is going on?” Howard demanded.

“He didn’t tell you? He has made some bad choices, dad, and it is totally unacceptable.  He can come home when he straightens out.”

“What kind of choices? What do you mean? Explain yourself.”

“It is just too embarrassing, dad. I’ve got to go.”  At that William hung up the phone.  He sounded upset and about to cry. The situation was just too strange so Howard marched into the back bedroom.  Billy was lying face down on the bed. Grandpa sat on the edge of the bed and studied the boy a moment.

“What’s wrong?” he said in his most compassionate voice.

Billy sat up and looked at the old man. Grandpa looked tired and a bit exasperated and Billy tried to speak. Tears rolled down the boy’s face and he choked on his words. He buried his face in his grandfather’s chest and cried. After several minutes the boy looked at his grandfather’s tired face and declared,

“They hate me. I can’t go home because they hate me.”

“I am sure they don’t hate you, Billy,” Grandpa said as nicely as he could.

“I just spoke to your mother and she sounded very nice,” grandpa said reassuringly.

“Dad hates me and when mom finds out, she will hate me too! Don’t you understand?” Billy shouted and got up and crossed the tiny back bedroom. Without turning around, the high school junior said, “If you don’t let me stay here, I don’t know where I will go.”

In 62 years of his life Howard had faced a lot of problems. His wife died of cancer, his job changed and evolved into different things over the years, his son wanted to attend an expensive college. He dealt with various moods and arguments from family members, but he was not quite ready for this challenge.

“Ok, Billy, what did you do that makes you think he hates you?”

Billy turned and looked sharply at grandpa, “Didn’t he tell you?” Without waiting for a reply he went on, “He said to leave and never come back unless I changed,” Billy cried.

“Changed what?” grandpa said.

“Change me.” Billy shouted.  “What is the matter with you? Don’t you get it? I can’t change and they will hate me forever.”  At that, the boy was hysterical, shouting and crying. Grandpa grabbed him and held him as tight as he could until Billy calmed down.

When the whimpering stopped, grandpa said, “OK, we will start over tomorrow,” and left the room.

In the morning at the breakfast table, Howard sipped coffee while Billy poked at some cereal. Finally, Billy broke the silence by saying, “I told dad I am gay and he said to leave and not come back unless I changed.” He reported all of this while looking at the floor. He never looked at his grandfather.

“I see,” grandpa said, even though he didn’t. Late that morning he drove over to his son’s house to discuss the situation. William said he was completely embarrassed and could not have a gay son. Madeleine chimed in that she was mortified and did not know how she would face her friends. After some pointless discussion, Howard left with some of Billy’s clothes and his school books. He made a few more runs at making peace between Billy and his parents, but to no avail. Over the next few months, Howard was handed all of Billy’s clothes, books and personal effects and William declared they were through with the boy.

After such a long period of time on his own, Howard once again found himself raising a teenage boy. He never once questioned why his grandson turned out to be gay. He did wonder, however, how he ever raised a son who could reject his own son. Howard hoped that whatever he did wrong the first time, would not be repeated this time around and that Billy would not grow up with hate in his heart.

WHO ARE YOU? FAMILY TO STRANGER, OVERNIGHT

A family of strangers story by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Russell was home from the university, perhaps for the last time.  He finally graduated after four and a half years and a double major from the School of Business.  He lived at school each year and came home for the summers.  Now his plan was to get a job, save a little money and move out.  His college roommate would soon become his roommate again, if they could arrange it.

Russell’s parents, now in their 50’s, never seemed to change.  To Russell they always looked the same and acted the same.  Russell’s father was a hard-working, quiet guy whom everyone liked. His mother was also hard-working and dependable.  They seemed to naturally know which household chores to perform without ever talking about it.  Russell sometimes thought they held secret meetings to plan out the details of their lives, Russell’s included.

After a few day’s at home, Russell decided it was time to have a talk with his father. He felt they had both reached an appropriate age for this sort of father and son talk. So he went into the kitchen where his mother was creating something that smelled good.

“Where’s dad?” Russell asked.

“Your father is in the basement fixing something,” his mother said as if Russell should automatically know that.

“OK,” Russell said and headed toward the kitchen door that led to the basement steps.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he saw his father at the familiar work bench.  He was re-assembling the vacuum cleaner which had sucked up something it should not have.  Dad never looked up so Russell just began.

“Dad, I have something I wanted to tell you.”     Taig_metal_lathe,_Drill_press_and_Workbench

“Russell, grab those pliers on the table there … bring them here, son”  There was no point in trying to start a conversation while dad was working. He still spoke to Russell as he had spoken to him his entire life, like a boy who needed instruction.

On one hand it was a bit comforting that his father always treated Russell in a polite, helpful dad-like manner. On the other hand it was a bit frustrating because Russell wanted to be considered an adult.

“Now, stand over here, so you’re not in my light. Oh, grab that bolt. Hold it real tight and don’t let go,” his dad said. Visions of helping dad when he was a little kid came rushing into Russell’s brain. Everything about his childhood grabbed him and held on tight, just as tight as Russell held the bolt for his father. When the project was done, Russell gave it another try.

“Dad, I came down because I wanted to tell you something.”

His father looked at him as if to say, “Go ahead and tell me what you want to say.”  Dad did not actually say a word, it was just that Russell knew his father’s looks. He did not expect to get much talk, so he had to read the expressions. Neither man was good at expressing emotions, so Russell swallowed hard and started talking.

“I wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything you’ve done, the sacrifices you made to send me to school. When I get a good job, I will pay it back to you.”

“Now son, you don’t owe us a thing so don’t worry about it,” was the fatherly reply, as if the conversation had concluded. Dialogues with dad didn’t last long.

“But dad, there’s something else I want to say,” Russell interjected before his dad could put away his tools and leave. So his father gave him another “go ahead” look and Russell said, “I’m gay.”  At that, his father said nothing. His expression did not change for a minute or possibly two. Then he looked a little sick, like he had a bad case of indigestion.  He stumbled back a few steps and sat on the bench.

“Dad, are you alright?  Can I get you something?  Water, or something?”

Russell felt a little panic until dad said quietly, “No, I’m fine.” Nothing more was said,  Dad put away the tools and Russell stood there like a boy who did something wrong and his father was just going to act like nothing had happened.

As the week went on, it was apparent that Russell’s father had not said anything to his mother. If he had, he knew she would have had a comment before very long.  Everything was fine with mom, but dad looked at him every day since his announcement like he was a stranger in his home. He gave Russell puzzled looks about everything and responded to everything with one-word answers. As Russell’s dad was a quiet guy anyway, no one else seemed to notice, but Russell felt odd. He wished his father would say something, anything, but there was no reaction.

When the week was finally over and Russell’s friend came to pick him up to go out for the evening, Russell declared, “I am going out for a while. I’ll be back late.”

“OK, have fun Russell. Be good,” his mother responded. Dad looked up but did not say a word.

When he got in Joel’s car, his boyfriend said, “Well Russ, how did it go with the parents?”  Russell shook his head.

“Mom doesn’t know and dad looks at me like I am some sort of stranger in his house.”

“You are,” Joel told him matter of fact-like.

“Huh?” Russell said, quite surprised.

So Joel explained, “For twenty-two years your father thought you were one person, and you just told him you are really someone else.”

Photo credit: By James Bastow (Workbench) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

ANGEL COMES OUT

It was not just the recent passing of the 20th anniversary of the brutal murder of Matthew Shephard that made me think back on the story that we first published two years ago (below).  It was also the rise of hatred we have seen in the recent political climate.  Prejudice and hatred can also lead to violence and even to death for some.  What causes someone to hate so much that he is willing to beat up a stranger, a friend or even his own son for being gay?


Based on the story that is sad, painful and true  
Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Angel was a handsome boy who had a secret he desperately needed to keep. By the age of 13 he knew what he liked and by 16, he had a boyfriend. He spent a lot of time with his boyfriend and his cover was always that he was working on his homework. No one knew that his homework included kissing another teenage boy.

When Angel would return home from his after school “homework sessions,” he would have his boyfriend drop him off 2 blocks from his house so his father would not see him kiss his boyfriend good-bye. One day, however, his father was behind him on the street and saw the boys from a short distance away. When Angel realized his father was watching he told his boyfriend to leave immediately.

“Are you going to be OK?” the boyfriend asked.

“I don’t know but you won’t be if you don’t get the hell out of here,” Angel cried. He grabbed his guitar and got out of the vehicle. His boyfriend sped away. He knew his father hated gay boys. When he was 13 the father told him if he ever found out he was gay, he would put him in the emergency room. He feared that might include his friend too.

Angel’s father drove his car across the road to where Angel was standing, got out and shouted at the boy. “Who the F is that?  Are you a faggot?” Angel said nothing and this angered his father. “I’m going to ask you again, are you a faggot?” the dad repeated. Angel could not deny being gay, but he knew admitting to it could actually be deadly. So his father hit him full force in the chest and asked again.  Angel said nothing and took a beating right there in the street. No one came to stop the father as he punched the boy over and over. Finally, the father threw Angel’s guitar in his truck and ordered the boy to get in. It seemed he drove 100 miles an hour the two blocks home.

Once inside the kitchen, Angel was backed up against the stove as the father again demanded to know if he was gay. Angel remembered the emergency room threat of three years earlier and said nothing. That did not save him. His father wailed away on the boy’s face and chest and arms and stomach. Angel became sick from the pain as the father kept it up.

“How can you do this to me?” the father shouted in extreme anger. At that Angel had to respond.

“How can I do this to you?” Angel cried out through his pain. “Look what you are doing to me right now.” The boy had suffered through a beating that mere words could not adequately explain as the father continued to batter him on his handsome face and anywhere else he could reach.

Angel then started inching his way toward the sink while he was being hit. He knew his father would demand his phone and there were definitely pictures he did not want his father to see. There was a bucket of water in the sink and his plan was to drop the phone in the bucket. He did not get there. The father demanded the phone. After he took it from the boy he sent him up to his room. Soon the father arrived in the room and declared in an angry voice, “You will stop this. I did not raise a faggot in this house. Is that understood?”

Angel swallowed his pride. He was sick and bleeding and could not take another punch. “Yes,” he cried. At that the father left the room but warned he would be back soon. He had not seen the phone pictures yet, and had to go with Angel’s stepmom to pick up the step sisters.

The boy cried. He cried like he had never cried in his entire 16 years. He was in pain, he was bleeding and he was called a “faggot.” To Angel, being called a faggot was as bad as the beating.

He knew he had to get out. He could not call the police. His father was a cop. So he searched frantically for an abuse hotline number he got at school. He stumbled down the stairs and called. Shaking and in fear, he tried to urgently explain what happened before his father returned. The hotline operator sounded like an angel to the boy and asked if there was somewhere safe he could go. Angel mentioned the parents of a person he recently met. They got the mother on the phone and explained the circumstance.  Angel was instructed to pack some clothes and leave.  The friend’s mother would meet him a few blocks away on the corner.

Angel threw a few items in a bag and ran for his life.  His face was bleeding.  His stomach and chest were in severe pain and his legs were weak.  He tried to run but his legs did not seem to want to go.  It was the longest journey of his life. He wanted to go faster.  “Please get me there.” he thought.  When the corner was in sight, Angel willed himself forward.  He had to make it.  He truly felt his life depended on it.  But when he got to a liquor factory parking lot, he stumbled and fell to the ground.  Battered, bruised and bleeding, Angel could fly no further. There he lay wondering what would become of him.

His friend and her mother spotted him from the corner and ran to his aid. They helped him to her car and took him home. There she did what Angel could not. She called the police. They came and took one look at Angel and called for an ambulance. Angel’s father had successfully carried out his promise. He put his gay son in the emergency room.

The story does not end there. Angel recovered from his injuries. Things got better for him. In future years he was able to forgive the father who could have beaten him to death if there had been a little more time. Eventually, the father realized what he had done to a son he thought he loved, and asked for forgiveness. Now as a young adult, Angel has the courage to tell that painful story, because there is a lesson in it for teens facing danger just for kissing someone of the same-sex.

Note:  I did not know Angel or speak to him in advance.  After this story was written, I found him and asked him to read it.  He had not thought about it for a while so I felt bad for bringing it to him.  He said it was OK, and liked it.  “You captured the day pretty on point.” If you wish to see Angel tell the complete story himself, you can find it below. For more thoughts on A Coming Out Story and the Trevor Project, check out this past article.

WHEN YOU HAVE NO HOME

Hope for Homeless Teens, by Rich Paschall

Yesterday we presented a fictional story about a gay teen tossed out of his home.  The story is based — in part — on elements I know to be true. Many other true stories of teens exist; kids tossed out by parents or who leave home in fear for their safety.

Where do they go?  What happens when you are a teenager and homeless?  Where is there hope?

Corey Nichols, a 15-year-old, became sick and was ignored by his parents who suspected he was gay.  He became desperate and suicidal. A friends’ mother rescued him, and she and her husband nursed him back to health.  When the boy returned home after the absence, he admitted he was gay but the episode took a scary turn.

The Gaily Grind reports “Corey claims when his parents and brother tried breaking down the bedroom door, he took refuge in the bathroom. After they had gone to sleep, he slipped out of the house, never to return again.”  The friend’s parents took him in and adopted him.  Corey’s biological parents did not contest the adoption.

“I want the world to know that Corey is a beautiful human being,” Mindy, Corey’s new mom, told Out In Santa Cruz. ”I want the world to see Corey’s pain and know it is not necessary.”

In the fall of 2014 The Huffington Post reported the story of Georgia teen Daniel Ashley Pierce.  He came out in 2013 but last year the parents tried to intervene, and it became violent.  The episode was caught on this shaky home video here.  Daniel stated on his Facebook: “to add insult to injury my step mother punched me in the face repeatedly with my grandmother cheering her along.”  Warning:  The video contains graphic content.

A friend posted the video and a Go Fund Me page to help with living expenses.  The video went viral, and there was an outpouring of support.  Daniel got his start and has since directed donations to Atlanta’s Lost N Found, a not-for-profit agency that help homeless LGBTQ youth.

In September 2014 Rolling Stone reported on the rising number of gay teens being tossed out by “highly religious” parents. The article states: “The Center for American Progress has reported that there are between 320,000 and 400,000 homeless LGBT youths in the United States.”  The figure may reflect (partly) youth coming out at an earlier age, encouraged by social media success stories.  Unfortunately, many coming out stories do not turn out well.

This “hidden epidemic” of homeless gay teens is quite troubling to Carl Siciliano, founder of the Ali Forney Center, the largest organization dedicated to homeless LGBTQ teens. “I feel like the LGBT movement has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to this,” he told Rolling Stone. “We haven’t been fighting for economic resources. How many tax dollars do gay people contribute? What percentage of tax dollars comes back to our gay kids? We haven’t matured enough as a movement yet that we’re looking at the economics of things.”

So it is a variety of organizations across the country that are dealing with this growing problem. Since gay is “unacceptable” in so many communities, we literally have a generation of gay children without homes.

Point Foundation:  The largest organization dedicated to providing scholarship money and support to LGBTQ students.  The need is great. However, they can only offer scholarships to 2 percent of the students who apply.

The Trevor Project: “The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”

It Gets Better Project: “The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.”

For more on any of the organizations mentioned above, just click on the name of the organization in the article.

Read more about the “hidden epidemic”: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/the-forsaken-a-rising-number-of-homeless-gay-teens-are-being-cast-out-by-religious-families-20140903#ixzz3WOcsK0WI
Follow: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

WE INTERRUPT THIS PROGRAM

When You No Longer Have a Home, Rich Paschall


Jimmy knew it was not going to be easy.  He had put it off for weeks, but after a while the delay was just as hard as what he perceived the actual event to be.  So the high school senior marched home, mustered up all his courage, and prepared for the inevitable battle.

Born of a rather dysfunctional family, Jimmy’s parents were divorced when he was just 4 years old.  His biological father remained marginally in his life.  His mother introduced a new “step-father” when Jimmy was 5.  He was raised by ultra conservative parents to have values of the ultra Christian right.  Unfortunately for the family structure, Jimmy did not adopt the “family values” of his rather right-wing parents.  Nonetheless, the 17-year-old boy was prepared to take a bold step forward and challenge the strict guidelines he had been given.

When he arrived home near dinner time on a cool fall evening, his parents were already watching television and absorbed in some crime drama.  At the first commercial break, Jimmy made enough noise to be noticed.

“Well, boy,” the step dad began, “you are a bit late, but you can still grab some dinner in the kitchen.” The mother just smiled and went back to watching the television.

The teenager had already called up all his courage and was not going to back down.  The moment had come, and even though he was shaking, he began a speech he prepared all day.  “I had something important to say,” Jimmy stated rather meekly.

“Well spit it out, boy, the commercials are almost over.”

Without launching into his well rehearsed speech about each man having to be his own and so forth, a nervous Jimmy did indeed just spit it out.  “I’m gay,’ he declared.

“What?” the middle-aged, balding, flannel-clad stereotypical alpha male shouted. At that the mother turned down the television volume.

“What did he say dear?  I don’t think I heard him correctly,” said the middle-aged, middle class, middle intelligence woman.

“I think he said he’s a damn faggot,” the man shouted in a loud and disgusted voice.

“No, sir,” the boy countered. “I said I am gay.”

“Same thing,” the fake dad declared.

“I am appalled.  No son of mine is going to be a sinner.”  The mother was as much angered by the “sinner” as having to miss her TV program.

The step dad marched right up to the boy and shouted in his face, “You will stop that right now or you will get out of this house, do you understand me?”

“I am sorry sir, I can not change,” the teenager said in a trembling voice.  At that the step dad pushed him as hard as he could and the boy went flying over a living room chair and crashed into the dining room.

The mother then began shouting at the boy, telling him he would go to hell, that God would never forgive him, that such behavior was forbidden in the Bible and that God hated him.  The boy rose to his feet and stood there staring at the shouting parents.

“If you are not going to take back that sinful statement, then you are not staying under my roof.  Get out sinner,” the pretend dad shouted.  With that he gave a menacing look as if he would hit the boy again.  Before long, he started after the boy and shoved him, knocking him to the floor.

“OK,” the terrified teen said.  “I’ll go, if that’s what you want.  I don’t want to be here either.  I will get my school books and leave.”

“I paid for those books,” the man shouted.

“Like you are going to read them,” the teen retorted.

At that the boy hurried to his room, he put his books, a few items off his dresser and whatever items of clothing he could stuff in his backpack and headed toward the front door.

“God hates faggots, son,” his mother said with great disdain.

“I don’t know that God hates anyone,” the boy countered, “but he does not hate love.”

At that the step dad picked up an ash tray to throw at the teen, but the boy was out the door too quickly.  The angry parents resumed watching television as the trembling senior high school student walked aimlessly down the street.  Tears filled the eyes of the handsome youth as realized he had no home, no parents, and nowhere to go.

Attribution: BookCrossingBefore at the English language Wikipedia

He struggled forward, step by step, as the night air began to chill his bones.  Was he shivering because of the night air, or because of the sad situation he found himself in?  When he arrived at a major intersection, Jimmy took a seat on a wooden bench by the bus stop.  He was not planning on taking the bus.  He had no plan at all.

After many moments filled with crying, Jimmy pulled out his cell phone and called the one person he thought could help him, his real dad.  He located the number, dialed, and got a quick answer.

“Hello dad, it’s Jimmy.  I have been thrown out of the house.  I have nowhere to go.  Can I come and stay with you a while?  I promise I will not be a bother.”  The teen was not ready for adulthood, and certainly not this.

“Why, what happened son?  What would cause them to do that?”

“I told them I am gay.  Can I come there?”

There was a long silence on the phone.  Neither one spoke for what seemed like minutes.  Jimmy finally spoke up again.

“Please.”

 

Note:  This is a work of fiction, but there are many true stories of teens tossed aside.  What do they do?  Read more tomorrow.

A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

A family plus one holiday tale

by Richard Paschall

72-Christmas Eve_013Kyle was coming home for Christmas. He was bringing with him his college roommate. The boys met during freshmen year and became fast friends. Somehow they maneuvered the dorm manager into assigning them to be roommates for sophomore year. There was no one on earth Kyle would rather spend time with than Michael.

So, he was glad Michael agreed to come to dinner on Christmas Eve. This was in exchange for Kyle agreeing to go to Michael’s parents’ house on Christmas day for dinner. Michael was going to make a big announcement to his parents and of course Kyle had to be there.

Kyle’s father had slipped into a den on the east side of the house. All of the family noise was a bit more than his reserved nature could take. Kyle’s sister, Mary, who was 8 years younger than Kyle, was louder than usual, and no matter how many times grandma told Mary to “quiet down,” things didn’t get quieter.

The threat of Christmas carols by Mary and Uncle Roy was enough to drive dad into the den. There, he immediately made haste to the bar where a glass of sherry seemed to be in order. Dad only drank a sherry on special occasions and this certainly was one of them.

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It was dark now and the neighbors across the street had turned on their Christmas lights. Almost everyone on the block had a nice display so the street was well-lit. Kyle’s dad was drawn to the window to see the lights, look at the gentle snow flurries and enjoy a moment of peace. As he stood there sipping his sherry and waiting for Kyle to appear, he finally spotted his only son walking quickly down the street with another young man right behind. As they got to the walkway that led up to the house they stopped to exchange a few words. Then a sight took dad’s wondering eyes totally by surprise. Kyle kissed the other boy. It was not a short kiss, but long and passionate which they both seemed to enjoy.

Soon Kyle rang the doorbell just to announce their arrival before he put his key in the lock and opened the door. Off the entrance way on the left was a door to the den. Kyle’s father was standing in the doorway just staring at the two. Kyle’s mom came through a big archway on the right that led to the living room. Mary was close behind and eager to see her brother and his friend. Uncle Roy and grandma did not vacate their seats. They knew the rest would join them soon.

First Kyle walked over to his father and said, “Dad this is my room-mate, Michael.” The roommate held out his hand and the father shook it. “I am pleased to meet you, sir. Kyle says such wonderful things about the family.” Kyle’s dad just sort of nodded at that, while studying this stranger in his home. The silence was out of character for the head of the household and a bit of a surprise to everyone except Michael, and that is only because Michael did not know him.

Then Kyle introduced Michael to his mother and his “little brat sister” Mary. Michael held out his hand to each in turn but the little brat held out her hand instead as if he was supposed to take it and kiss it, so he did and she squealed and ran from the room. At that Kyle’s mom offered to introduce Michael to the others. Kyle’s father then announced to all, “We will join you in a moment.”

With a more serious tone, father said, “Kyle, would you step in here for a moment, please?” This was not a question but rather a command of the type Kyle knew was not good. As the father retreated into the room Kyle followed. Before turning around dad said, “Close the door.”

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Kyle only took a few short steps in before his father turned around. He looked at him as if he had never seen him before. It was the strangest look Kyle had ever seen from his father. “Kyle, is there something you should be telling me?” the “official business” dad said in an odd businesslike tone. Kyle figured it was some sort of trick question but knew he should answer it anyway.

“No, dad. I don’t think so.” This clearly was the wrong answer. His dad did not say a thing but his body language spoke volumes and Kyle became as nervous as a first grader who has been caught stealing Oreos from the kitchen. Now the master of the den, the commander of the car keys and the payer of his tuition walked slowly to the window, looked around the outside and turned to Kyle.

“You know, son, that there is a great view of the neighborhood from this window. You can see all of the beautiful Christmas displays across the street. You can see a nice Christmas snow flurry. You can see everyone walking down the sidewalk and turning up the walkway toward the house.” At that Kyle’s father fixed his sights squarely on Kyle and said, “So now is there anything you should tell me?”

Kyle stood motionless as his dad threw a stare at him that went right through and hit the door behind. It took Kyle almost an entire minute before he realized what his father had seen from the window of the den. All the while, that whole long minute of time, Kyle’s father stood there waiting.

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Kyle wanted to begin “I’m sorry dad…,” but nothing came out of his mouth. He was so nervous and so afraid of his father’s reaction that he could say nothing. It is not that he wanted to be silent, he just couldn’t speak. Fear of saying the wrong thing paralyzed his tongue for the moment. Finally Kyle’s father just nodded that same nod he gave Michael when he was introduced, walked around Kyle, opened the door and walked across the foyer to the living room.

Kyle was knocked off his spot when his mother’s voice came floating into the room. “Kyle, don’t be rude. Come join your guest.” Kyle shuffled across the hall and searched around the room for Michael. He did not look at anyone else as his eyes avoided everyone but Michael. At that moment, with a room full of family, he had no way of telling his mate that he needed a hug and he thought he might need to cry. After a little small talk by grandma and Uncle Roy, Kyle’s mom asked them all to go to the dining room. Christmas Eve dinner was ready.

“Michael, you sit right there next to Kyle and Kyle will sit next to me. I have this end of the table and Kyle’s father will carve things up at that end of the table. Uncle Roy will be there next to you and grandma and Mary will be on the other side.” At that the little brat sister ran around the table and dropped herself on the chair opposite Kyle. She looked at him with a smirk as if she knew his little secret and was going to blurt it out if he did not stop calling her a brat.

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Everyone sat in silence until Kyle’s mother looked down the length of the table and said to her husband. “Sweetheart, will you say grace for us?” There was a long, awkward pause before he said, “No. Tonight Kyle will lead the prayer.” At that instant Kyle prayed that something, anything that made sense would come out of his mouth. All eyes were on him as he began, “Bless us, oh Lord…” The words that fell out of Kyle’s mouth were for blessing and thanksgiving, but in his heart he was praying for acceptance. That became the only gift he truly wanted for Christmas this year.