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    Drew Payne
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

His Story - 2. Park Life.

I was lying on the grass with Kay when I saw him. We were waiting for Nina, Kay's girlfriend, to join us. We'd decided to have a rest; we'd been wandering around the Pride Festival for hours. The sun was out, and everywhere I looked there were attractive people who all seemed to have shed items of their clothing, showing off their flesh.

Kay had bought some beers, and we were just lying there, watching the world pass by all around us. I loved it. I loved seeing the variety of people there for that day.

Kay was lying on her back, drinking her beer; I was half sitting up, my beer nearly gone, when I saw him. He stood at the back of some fast-food vans, just waiting. He looked in his twenties. He was attractive. His curly blond hair was short, only just touching the tops of his ears. His skin was turning a golden brown with the sun. His body was lean, though covered up with clothes—pale-blue shirt and casual, pale-khaki trousers. His body seemed all long legs and arms, all alive with energy, even though he was just stood there. He was on his own but gave off the strong impression he was waiting for someone. Then I decided he wasn’t. He looked like was on his own and just looking around, his body full of tight nervous energy.

Kay sat up.

"What's up?" she asked.

"Nothing, just taking in the view."

Kay looked over at him, obviously following my eyeline.

"The blond in the clean chinos?" she asked.

"Yes." I pulled my eyes away from him and looked back at Kay.

"He's nice," Kay said.

"I know; I've got good taste."

"Go and speak to him."

"What?"

"Go and chat him up. Its Pride, so go and try your luck. For God's sake, Chris, its ages since you did anything. It's about time you got yourself a proper boyfriend."

"I do all right," I said.

"Yeah? But with the same guy?"

"Okay, I give up."

"And bring him back here to meet Nina and me. Don't just go pissing off."

I needed the emotional push she gave me, and quickly, but not too quickly because I didn't want to seem desperate, I walked over to him. As I got closer, I saw he had really bright-blue eyes. Why I noticed that I don’t know, but I did.

"Hi," I said.

He looked around as if making sure it was him I was actually talking to.

"Hello." He blushed as he said it. His accent was soft but not far from South London.

"Enjoying yourself?" I asked.

"It's very, very different. I've never seen anything like it before."

"Yeah. I remember my first Pride. It was something else," I said.

"Oh, right." His face still blushed with embarrassment, but it only made him look even cuter, a flush of real emotions.

"I'm Chris," I said and held out my hand to him.

"I'm Lenny." He hesitated before shaking my hand, almost as if he didn’t know what to do. I wanted to hold his hand that fraction of a second too long, that gesture that implied attraction and much more, but I couldn't because he quickly let go of mine.

"Are you here on your own?" I asked, hoping he'd say yes.

"No. I'm here with my friends. We've been giving out leaflets."

"Yeah, there's a lot of it about. People giving out leaflets, I mean. Always is at Pride. Kay moans about all the wasted trees that go into making them, but going home with your pockets full of bits of paper is part of Pride for me," I said.

"Is Kay your friend over there?"

"Yeah," I said.

"Your girlfriend?"

"Shit, this is your first time. Kay's just a mate. She's a lesbian, and we're waiting for her girlfriend, Nina. I'm gay, so it really won't work with her," I said.

"Oh... So, you've got a boyfriend?" he asked.

"Not yet," I said as I tried to push a subtle message into my words.

"Oh..." He blushed again. I smiled back at him, trying to aim at a warm and encouraging smile.

"And you?"

"What about me?" he asked.

"Have you got a boyfriend?"

"Oh, no. No, that wouldn't be right." His body suddenly became tense with nerves, his back straightened, and his hands suddenly became animated, moving in small circles in front of himself.

"Why not? You're gay, aren't you?" I asked.

"Kind of."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm homosexual; well I have same-sex attractions," he said.

"Then you're gay. What's the problem?"

"Well, it's different. I don't believe being gay is right," he said.

A loud alarm bell started ringing in the back of my mind. At that moment I should have walked away, but stupidly I stayed.

"What?"

"I'm a Christian, and I believe that any homosexual expression is wrong. God doesn't want us going about having gay sex that offends him and his creation. Being homosexual isn't wrong, only an accident, but expressing your homosexuality, living the homosexual lifestyle, is wrong; it's a sin," he said.

"That's shit!"

"No, it's the truth of God. I have same sex-attractions, but I've never acted upon them. I'm celibate, and that's the way God wants me to live my life. I believe one day God will heal me of my homosexuality," he said.

"You're still a virgin?"

"Yes. I'm not ashamed of being a virgin. God has kept me pure," he said.

"God, you're so screwed up."

"No, Chris, God has opened my eyes to life as it should be."

"How can you know about life, you've not loved any one."

"I love God, and I love my friends, and God can love you, too, Chris. Let me show you." He quickly bent down and rummaged through the backpack at his feet. When he stood back up, he was holding a handful of brightly coloured leaflets. "Here, have these, Chris." He held out the leaflets.

I don't know why I did it, but I took those stupid leaflets. They were all about a thing called The Release Trust and Michael Hamilton, the guy who started it all, his plain face staring back at me from several of them.

"I'm here with some friends from The Release Trust. They're other men like me, and we've been handing out our leaflets to people here. We want people to know that God can save them from their sin and make them whole again. People don't have to be lost in the darkness of the homosexual lifestyle. People can be free to live a new life in God. All you have to do is repent of your sins and turn your back on homosexuality. It's easy. I know because I've done it," he said.

"God, you're so screwed up."

"No, no. Chris you're looking at this all wrong. You're looking with man's eyes not God's eyes. God wants us to be free from sin. We're here because God wants to save the lost and lonely homosexual. God has saved me from that lost and lonely lifestyle."

"Lenny?" Someone called out from behind me.

"Lenny, we're back," another guy called out, also from behind me.

"Look, my friends are back. Arthur and Colin can explain it all a lot better than me. They were both practising homosexuals before God saved them. I know you want to hear more, and you'll love their testimonies," he said.

"Sorry Lenny, you're really cute, but you're way too screwed for me. I know because I've been there. I've been where you are."

Before he could say anything more, I walked away. I had to put as much space between him and me, to get away from him now. I hurriedly returned to where Kay was sitting on the grass.

I hadn't lied to him. I had been exactly where he was but nearly ten years earlier. The scar it had left behind ran deep within me, and the pain was again stabbing away at me, suddenly real again.

When I got back, I found Nina sitting on the grass with Kay. Nina was taking swigs from a bottle of water while Kay lay with her head in Nina's lap.

Kay sat up when she saw me.

"That was quick," Kay said.

I sat down on the grass next to them.

"Not a fucking chance," I said.

"Did he resist your charms?" Nina asked as she smiled at me.

"Worse than that."

I dropped the handful of The Release Trust's leaflets in front of Kay and Nina. Nina picked one of them up, staring distastefully at them.

"Shit! What the fuck are those bastards doing here? It's our day, and they come and spoil it. I don't know how anyone can be so stupid as to believe all this shit," Nina said.

"Drop it, Nina. Chris was involved with that lot when he was a teenager, and they really got to him," Kay said.

Kay put her arm around my shoulders and gently pulled me into a hug.

"Oh, God. I'm sorry Chris. I'm sorry," Nina said.

I looked down at the grass I was sitting on.

"Why won't it all just go away?" I said.

Copyright © 2019 Drew Payne; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

1 hour ago, Parker Owens said:

I wanted to “love” and “anger” in reaction here. I settled on “sad.”  It makes me incredibly sad that some feel how love may be expressed means god cannot love them. That’s horrible. So much damage has been done with this thinking. 

Thanks for your feedback, this was what I was aiming for with this story.

It is all about the damage these beliefs do, and how the organisations that peddle them really do screw-up people's lives. Chris is a victim of that abuse and this is his story. In the following parts, I try to explore how screwed-up Chris is.

I really like that you were angry over this part of the story, it gives me such hope that people are still angry about how the ex-gay movement operates.

 

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2 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

I wanted to “love” and “anger” in reaction here. I settled on “sad.”  It makes me incredibly sad that some feel how love may be expressed means god cannot love them. That’s horrible. So much damage has been done with this thinking. 

I wholeheartedly agree with this. 

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The quackery of gay conversion and similar evils should be just as illegal as selling fake medicine or pretending to be a doctor. Only through shaming, shunning, and prosecuting these people can we rid ourselves of these perverted minds who poison and kill young LGBTQ people.

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Just now, Timothy M. said:

The quackery of gay conversion and similar evils should be just as illegal as selling fake medicine or pretending to be a doctor. Only through shaming, shunning, and prosecuting these people can we rid ourselves of these perverted minds who poison and kill young LGBTQ people.

Thank you so much for saying this, I completely agree.

I'm a healthcare professional and I could write thousands-upon-thousands of words about how dangerous and damaging these ex-gay cults are.

That is why I wrote this story, I wanted to write about how difficult it is to live with the aftermath of this type of abuse.

I am also a survivor of an ex-gay cult, and I feel I need to expose the damage they do.

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If there is one thing social media is good for, it's whipping up shit storms against these people. I wish there was more of it.

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Nice continuation of the story. I agree with the previous comments especially that ridiculing these conversion cults needs to be done as often as possible. I also hope that eventually they’ll be outlawed. We live in hope. 

I also like how you are developing the character of Chris, his optimism at finding a ‘him’, the small hints at a previous and painful existence, one he’s managed to escape from, but not without scars. Good that he has Kay and Nina looking out for him. Looking forward to reading more.

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13 hours ago, lomax61 said:

Nice continuation of the story. I agree with the previous comments especially that ridiculing these conversion cults needs to be done as often as possible. I also hope that eventually they’ll be outlawed. We live in hope. 

I also like how you are developing the character of Chris, his optimism at finding a ‘him’, the small hints at a previous and painful existence, one he’s managed to escape from, but not without scars. Good that he has Kay and Nina looking out for him. Looking forward to reading more.

I'm so glad that you're getting the themes I wanted to write about here.

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I like the way you describe people and small moments like this ...wanted to hold his hand that fraction of a second too long, that gesture that implied attraction and much more, ...

 

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5 minutes ago, aditus said:

I like the way you describe people and small moments like this ...wanted to hold his hand that fraction of a second too long, that gesture that implied attraction and much more, ...

 

Thank you.

I wanted to get over Chris, the narrator's expectation and his attempt at subtle seduction, which he isn't very good at.

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Marty

Posted (edited)

Well, that wasn't just a waste of time on Chris' part, but it seems as though the experience may actually have negative effects on him in the future. :unsure2:

Another well-written chapter. I could certainly sense Chris' feeling of disappointment when he found out that Lenny was a member of The Release Trust (a Google search leaves me suspecting that's a made up name). And his "Why won't it all just go away?" question right at the end of the chapter makes me wonder about what actually did happen to him all those years ago. Hopefully he will eventually find a way to consign the past firmly into the past; but I suppose I shall just have to keep on reading to find out (no spoilers, please! :)).

I also get the impression that Kay might well turn out to be the sort of good friend that will help Chris move forward...

+++++

Interestingly, here in Ireland there is a bill that earlier this month passed through its second reading in the Seanad (the upper House of the Irish Government) that proposes to ban Gay Conversion Therapy. It's early days yet, and even if it does get passed by the Seanad, it will still have to be passed by the Dáil (the lower House). I reckon, particularly considering that we have an openly gay Taoiseach (Prime Minister), it stands a good chance of becoming law, although the minority Government may fall before it passes all final stages (it's only really the worry about the possible fall-out from a Hard Brexit that is preventing the opposition parties from collapsing the Government at the moment).

https://www.thejournal.ie/seanad-conversion-therapy-bill-3991347-May2018/

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While I have not actually come across examples of individuals giving out "anti-gay" literature at pride parades here in Ireland (although I suspect that may happen in Northern Ireland), I have seen individuals holding up large signs with religious quotes on them. The participants in the parades generally just ignore them.

Here's a photo of some of some of the demonstrators and their placards that I took at a pride parade in County Mayo two years ago:-

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Edited by Marty
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This was the first part of the story I actually wrote (With some of the text in it from the next part), as a single short story, until someone else read it and suggested I expand it into a longer story.

I have re-written it so much since then, but it was based on an original encounter.  Many years ago (decades actually), at London Pride, I saw a group of men handing out ex-gay leaflets. Some people were laughing at them, others getting angry at them. I didn't approach them but I felt really uncomfortable that they were there, they'd invaded my enjoyment of Pride.

The Release Trust is a made-up name, to stop me from getting sued, but it is very much based on a real organisation, and I've used it in several pieces of fiction.

In 2014 I got involved in a Private Members Bill in the British Parliament to make Gay Conversion Therapy illegal here too. It was sponsored by a straight MP, but he had a gay assistant. Unfortunately, it didn't get anywhere because of the 2015 election and because neither of our two main parties supported. We now have a government throwing our country away on Brexit, and only being able to focus on that, and a Prime Minister, who is also a Christian, wants Christian Values protected and wants to scrap our Human Rights Act. So I don't see  Gay Conversion Therapy being banned here any time soon, and as a Healthcare Professional I am disgusted.

P.S. I love the picture.

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Fair play to you for getting involved, and trying to affect change, anyway. :thumbup:

Sometimes change can be extremely slow, just one small step at a time; and it all too often seems to be a case of one step forward and two steps backwards at times. But if no-one is prepared to at least look for change, then the likelihood is that nothing ever will change. But often, as in the case with the Private Member's Bill you mention, allies can sometimes be found in the most unlikely of places.

Keep up the good fight, my friend. In whatever way you can. Whether it is by being involved in seeking change (as in the case of the Private Member's Bill), or by highlighting what needs changing by writing about it, as in this story.

I really wanted to give both a Like and a Sad response to your last comment. As only one was allowed, I chose the Sad one, because of the fact that the Private Member's Bill not getting through.

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Back in 2015, there was a big ex-gay conference in London and they were trying to paint themselves as a caring-and-sharing organisation. I wrote an opinion piece for a British nursing magazine about my experiences in an ex-group group. I was so surprised at all the support I received from that piece, all those straight women and men denouncing the ex-gays.

I have learnt the power of words and stories, and it's wonderful.

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