For almost a month we spent every free moment we had together. I never brought him home with me for obvious reasons, but I was always welcome in his home. I never really told his parents about me, but I’m sure they figured it out, and they were always kind. I always felt comfortable in Dan’s house. Sometimes I never wanted to leave.
But then, tragedy struck. One day Dan never showed up for school. Halfway through the day there was an announcement. There’d been an accident. Dan’s parents had been driving him to school when a larger vehicle ran a red light. The entire family was killed on impact.
I lost it. My friend, my lover, the only person who truly knew me, was gone. I broke down and left school. This puzzled everyone I knew because no one knew that I’d even known Dan. But I had, better than anyone else around that town, and I was devastated.
The details of that day are foggy enough, but I remember what happened well enough. It was Nicky who found me. I was such a wreck, and he, being the best friend that he was, took me to his house and tried to figure out what was wrong.
I broke down and told him everything. Nicky said he understood and he didn’t even care if I was gay. He really was my friend and he said that nothing would change it. Others were less understanding. There was someone else that day, at his house, listening in. Anna.
Honestly, I don’t think that Anna would ever intentionally hurt me. We really were friends, but she had heard everything--my entire confession to Nicky. She, too, came from a family where being gay was not acceptable within the family guidelines. She was afraid for me. She thought that I was sick, or in trouble. Maybe she only wanted to help me.
She went to my parents with the information she had, and that night, my parents confronted me. I was such a wreck. I’d lost Dan. Nothing mattered anymore, and I told my parents that I was gay, none too subtly.
I don’t know how I expected them to react. I figured that the worst that could happen was that I could be thrown into the street. I was wrong. I never knew that my father could be so violent. The entire scene was so surreal.
I’m not as big as my father, but I wasn’t small. I was a complete jock; at seventeen I was standing at five eleven and a hundred-and-seventy pounds. I was no lightweight. I wasn’t out of shape either and I knew how to throw a punch, but something about the idea of striking my own father sat wrong with me. I couldn’t do it. I wish I had.
I vaguely remember feeling like a punching bag. My body ached until it went numb. I could hardly stand by the time he stopped, and then I sat there, bloody and broken, as my father announced that he was going out for a drink and I’d better not be queer when he got back. When he was gone my mother went on to lecture me about sinners and hell in her most motherly voice, all the while commenting on the mess my blood was making on her floor.
I took that time to reflect. Were these really my parents? It was so hard to believe. I mean, I know that there are people out there who can’t accept their own children, but why did my parents have to be those people? After meeting Dan and his family, it seemed natural that a parent should accept their child, no matter what.
But mine didn’t. I didn’t have my parents. I didn’t even have my friends. Sure, I had Nicky, but how long would it be before he thought I was sick, like Anna did? Somewhere in the back of my mind and in my heart I knew that Nicky would never do that, but I couldn’t trust it, not anymore. My world as I knew it was gone, and I didn’t feel like I had time to grieve for it.