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 stepdad 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.”
“The 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.”
That prompted the step-dad to pick up an ashtray 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.
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.
Note: This is a work of fiction, but there are many true stories of teens tossed aside. What do they do?