“May I ask you a question?” she fidgeted with the charm bracelet on her wrist.
“Sure.” He picked up another stack of shirts.
“Have you always known you were gay?”
He looked at her side eyes. “I always knew I preferred males to females if that’s what you’re asking.”
“But how did you find out if you really were? I mean…how old were you?”
They worked quietly folding the t-shirts on the back rounder. It was her college summer job…it was his full-time job. He visibly sighed.
“Have you ever known someone gay?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Let me guess. You’re from one of those families huh?”
“One of what kind of families?”
“The perfect little kind that thinks all gays choose to be gay and are going to hell because of their choice.”
“Well…that’s how my father thinks, but not me.”
Laughing. “So you’re all liberal minded huh?”
“Don’t laugh at me. I mean…it’s not my fault my father thinks the way he does.”
“Yeah…I know. My father thinks the same way.”
“Really? Do you still live at home?”
“No. My father put me out when I was 15 years old.”
“What?” She dropped the shirt she had just picked up.
“He came home drunk one night and I was helping my mother make my sister’s prom dress. I was always better at it than she was.” He laughed.
“My father sat in his chair and stared at me and my mother got up and told me to go to my room because she knew he was about to start something.
Well, when I got up, I had to pass him by and he grabbed me by the neck and shoved me against the wall so hard a picture fell. I couldn’t breathe and I knew he wished he could kill me. He said someone told him they’d seen me over on 16th street near the gay clubs. I never knew there were gay clubs on 16th. My mother jumped on his back trying to get him to stop but he threw her off and kicked her until she couldn’t move. He broke three of her ribs in the process. Then…he turned back to me.” He picked up another shirt, the 10th one in his pile. All folded neat. Perfect. She kept her head down while she folded her shirts. Her stack big and messy. Like someone had already tried to pull out their size.
“He beat me until he was out of breath and then he threw me out of our front door. He told me to get my faggot ass out of his house and never come back. He wouldn’t let me take anything and he dared my mother and sister to move. He told me he hated the sight of me and that it was an embarrassment to know his only son was a fucking faggot.
I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t have anyone except my family, so I headed to 16th street where I was supposed to have been hoping I’d find someone to help me.
So I went and I couldn’t get in the clubs because I was only 15 and I looked even younger. A guy pulled up that was about the age of my father. He was nice. Kinda looked like he could be Santa Claus without the beard. I started crying when I told him what had happened to me and he said he understood because almost the same thing had happened to him by his father.
He told me that he wished he’d found someone to help him out when he went through it and told me that I could crash at his place until my father calmed down.”
He picked up her stack, because she was still on the shirt she’d been folding since he started talking. She kept folding one side and smoothing it and then unfolding it and repeating the same with the other side.
“When we got to his place, I started feeling better. He’d stopped at Burger King and got me something to eat since I’d missed dinner and I started feeling like everything was going to be okay. My father would sleep it off and I could go home the next day. He showed me where the guest bedroom was and gave me some towels and a pair of pajamas. I took a shower and on my way out of the bathroom…he slammed his fist in my face and raped me. Turns out he liked it rough…but he liked it clean too.” He laughed.
“Ironic huh? My father accused me of screwing strangers but it doesn’t happen until the night he throws me out of the house. My first time.
She found her voice. “Did you get to go back home?”
“No. When I called my mother she said it was for the best. She met me with some of my things but she never asked where I was staying. She’d always give me fifty dollars. Every time I see her…she gives me fifty dollars. I wonder if she goes to the bank after she gives me fifty dollars and gets another fifty to keep in her purse in case she runs into me. Fifty dollars.
I ended up staying with him for two years because I had nowhere else to go. Whenever he wanted to have sex…he had to beat me first because it was my fault he desired me. Sick bastard.”
He stopped folding shirts and looked at her. “I didn’t tell you my story for your pity Miss Thing. I told you my story so you’d understand that I didn’t CHOOSE to be gay. I am gay. I’ve always been gay. I used to wish and pray that I wasn’t gay. I mean…who would choose to be something they knew their own father despised when all I ever wanted was for him to be proud of me?
The next time you hear someone say some shit like that…you tell em what I told you. You tell em I said it’s not a choice. No way in fucking hell would I have chose it. Now…put these shirts over there and let’s get started on the second rounder. I’m not trying to be up in here all night tonight.”