The Best and Worst Day of my Life

by Victor Thomas

July-September 2017

I think I might be gay. The six hardest words I've ever spoken to myself. It's taken me forever to even think of the possibility, but in the last few weeks I have thought about it more and more. I hate that I might be gay but I can't seem to figure out a way to not be, despite my best efforts. I pray every morning as soon as I wake up and again right before going to bed at night. I pray even harder on Sunday when I'm at church, but nothing seems to work. No matter what I do I still think about boys rather than girls. 'Pray the gay away' sounds good, but it just doesn't work.

I'm Andrew by the way, Andrew Newman, and I just turned fifteen on June ninth. I've got black hair which my dad makes me keep cut short, black eyes, I'm five feet six inches tall and weigh a hundred ten pounds. I'm somewhat athletic, I played football in junior high and am planning on going out for the high school team in August, when I start high school. I'll never be a star player but I think I do alright despite everything I have to deal with in my life.

I start high school at the end of August. Finally! I can't wait to start so I can get through the next four years and get away from home. There's got to be something better out there than what I have now, at least I hope there is.

You see, my parents are ultra-religious and force me and my brother Brian to attend the Faith Bible Church with them every Sunday and Wednesday night. This is not just any old church, it's about as extreme as it gets, as far as I know anyway. I'm amazed that I'm even allowed to play football, but that was one concession I got from my father. I've never been to a movie, and won't until I leave home. I never get to go to a party with my friends, what few I have. I used to be invited but everyone knows I can't do anything so they stopped inviting me. Anything that normal people do for fun is pretty much frowned on by my church. You get the picture.

Which brings me back to the whole 'I think I might be gay' thing. I can't even imagine what my parents would do, especially my father, if they find out about me. Denouncing gays and other sinners is something our preacher does from the pulpit on a regular basis. Every time there's an incident anywhere in the country involving gays or people who just want to support gay rights, it's mentioned. The members of the church were ecstatic last year when Trump was elected president, and they still support him despite everything that's happened since he took office. Apparently, grabbing women by the pussy by someone running for President of the United States is acceptable for members of my church, but let someone like me just want to kiss another boy and they go completely ape shit.

I'm going to hell for being myself, despite all the praying I do. It's like god just doesn't give a shit about me or people like me. I've just come to the conclusion that he just doesn't give a shit about anyone, despite what his followers seem to think. I've kind of just given up on god, if he even exists.

As I mentioned earlier, I think I might be gay. I hate being gay but I'm starting to get more comfortable with it. There doesn't seem to be any way to get away from that fact so I might as well just accept it. Right? Easier said than done. I just wish I had someone I could talk to who would understand. The few friends I have at school probably would turn their backs on me if they found out. I'm sure my father would probably try and send me to one of those church camps where they would try and cure me. I don't think that's possible, it seems like it's biological to me, and everything I have read seems to confirm this, not that that would keep him from trying, assuming he didn't just kick me out completely. And that's what I'm scared of the most. I would have nowhere to go and no way to support myself even if I did.

I have an uncle up around Parsons, I think, who I think might be gay. I'm not sure of course, but my father hasn't talked to him for more than ten years and I've heard him denounce him more than once, calling him a faggot and other names like that. I don't know how someone can reject his own brother like that. I would never reject Brian, my younger brother, no matter what he might do. He might piss me off occasionally, but I would never just completely turn my back on him. But then I don't consider myself a Christian any longer, so maybe I just think differently. Even Jesus didn't reject people, ever prostitutes, lepers and beggars, and I'm sure he would have accepted gay people as well. At least in the bible I've read, but then again, I must have been reading the wrong bible.

But anyway, I don't even know exactly where my uncle lives, let alone his phone number or email address. I have no way to get ahold of him, and even if I did he might not want anything to do with me. Maybe I can snoop around and see what I can find out.

I hate to admit it, but there are times I get so frustrated with things, and hate myself for being gay, that I consider just ending it all. I haven't reached that point yet, but it has entered my mind on occasion.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't have many friends because of my home situation, but I do have a few. I've been hanging out with two of them this summer, Lucas and Trevor. They're both blond and very cute. Very cute! Did I say that? Well, it's true, damnit! I may not like being gay but since I apparently am I might as well embrace it. No sense in fighting what I can't change.

I first started noticing little stuff about them back in June. They seemed to be closer than I would expect most friends to be. I have to be imagining things, right? Yet, the thought seems very hot to me. I'm also disgusted with the thought of those two being gay, if they even are. I know that seems crazy to be thinking two completely different thoughts like that, but that's how fucked up my mind is.

The two of them went on vacation during the first week in July and when they came back they seemed even closer than before. Or, maybe I'm just seeing things. They may be sick fags or they may not be, but they are friends of mine, two of the best.

But enough about those two for now. Part of me wants to find myself a boyfriend and yet I'm scared. Finding a boy that I could hug and kiss, and make love to is a very powerful desire but It's something I'm afraid is not going to happen until I leave home at the earliest. I can't take a chance right now. Not that I know of anyone anyway. But I know there have to be other gay boys at school. There have been several over the last few years but most of them have graduated and moved on.

Football practice starts next week so maybe that will help to distract me from all my thoughts of being gay. Not likely! I mean, I'll be around all those hot guys for several hours every day in the locker room and showers and on the field grabbing and tackling each other. That's probably going to make things even harder on me, so to speak, then they are right now. But I'm still going to play. It's the one normal thing I'm allowed to do and I'm determined to make the most out of it.

Football practice finally started today and it was hard, I'm here to tell you, a lot harder than it was last year. This is high school football though, so I expected it to be harder than junior high. I like to think I'm in reasonably good shape, but it still wore me out. I know it will get easier as the season progresses and I'm sure I'll get better as well.

Seeing all those guys in their uniforms, especially the older boys was hard on me, so to speak. I really enjoyed the locker room and showers after practice, but I also liked grabbing and tackling the guys as well. I could touch the other boys and no one would get suspicious or accuse me of being gay.

It happened on the third day of practice. I mentioned earlier that I had noticed Lucas and Trevor seemed closer than just friends. Well, my suspicions were confirmed today. I just happened to be looking in their direction when Lucas leaned over and kissed Trevor. It was more of a little peck rather than an actual kiss. Despite the fact that they were my friends and I thought it was hot, I shot my mouth off before I could even think.

"What the fuck are you fags doing?" I yelled.

Both Trevor and Lucas looked over at me, and then at the rest of the team. Soon, everyone was looking at them as well.

"What are you yelling about, Andy?" asked Evan, a nice-looking senior.

"Matthews and Hansen," I said. "They were kissing. They're fags, dude."

"So, what?" Evan asked.

It didn't seem to bother Evan at all. I wondered briefly if he might be gay, but dismissed the idea, even if I found the thought hot. You don't have to be gay to support gay people after all.

"Yeah, what's the big deal, Newman?" asked Joey.

"But they're fags. They were kissing and shit. They're probably looking at us in the locker room and showers."

Like I didn't look myself, and really enjoyed it. I don't know what came over me but I just couldn't seem to keep my mouth shut. Trevor and Lucas were my friends but I was treating them like shit for no reason.

"They're not fags, dude," said Evan. "They're gay, that's all. Why are you so worried about something like that?"

I don't know. Why was I? part of me was disgusted by the display and yet a bigger part of me was also thrilled. I've dreamed and fantasized about doing the very thing both of them were doing and yet I was standing here calling them names and running them down.

Both boys looked at each other briefly and then looked over at me.

"Don't flatter yourself, Andy," Trevor said to me. "You're not all that good looking. I've got Lucas and he's ten times hotter than you."

That caused the rest of the team to laugh at me, and I could feel my face turning red with embarrassment. But, I still couldn't shut my mouth.

"I'm gonna report this to the coach," I said. "I'm not playing on a team with two faggots. Fuck that shit!"

Just as I was saying that, Coach Barrett walked up and asked, "what's going on?"

Before anyone else could say anything, I blurted out, "it's Hansen and Matthews, coach. They're fags. I saw them kissing."

I knew that Coach Barrett was gay and that I should probably just shut up, but I didn't. He's been denounced from the pulpit on more than one occasion at church, but nothing really happened. The preacher really went bat shit crazy a couple of years ago, when him and his partner adopted a little boy. The church even protested at a few games, but nothing ever happened.

The thing is, Coach Barrett has consistently had a winning team, including a state championship several years ago, so no one has been able to have him fired, no matter how hard they try. As long as he keeps winning that's not likely ever to change. Plus, there's always a chance that he could and would sue the school district for wrongful termination, and as everyone knows, money talks and bull shit walks. Something like that could end up costing the town a couple of million dollars.

The coach looked over at Trevor and Lucas for a second and then looked back at me. "First of all, we don't use that word on my team. The correct word is gay." Then he looked at Trevor and Lucas again and asked, "is what Andrew said true? Were you guys kissing?"

"If you want to call it that, I guess we were," Lucas said. "It was more like a little peck on the lips rather than a kiss, but yeah, I did kiss Trevor. Yes, we're both gay, and yes, we're boyfriends. Is that a problem?"

Most of the guys said no at the same time, all except for me and a couple of others.

"Not for me it isn't," the coach said. "We're here to play football. As long as you can perform on the field, your personal business is just that, personal. Does anyone have a problem with that?"

Again, most of the guys said no, except for me.

"Fuck that," I said. "I'm not playing with those fags." Even though Trevor and Lucas are my friends, and I knew I was wrong, and the thought of then kissing and doing other stuff was really turning me on, for some reason I just couldn't stop myself from shooting my big mouth off.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Andrew," the coach said. "You're a good player and we can really use you on the team. But I won't stand for gay bashing or other bullying on my team. Go get changed and turn in your equipment. If you should change your attitude, come and see me."

Damn! I've been kicked off the team. Why the hell couldn't I just keep my big mouth shut? I glared at Trevor and Lucas for a second and then looked at the rest of the team for support, but no one said anything. They weren't stupid enough to say anything after witnessing what had just happened with me. I looked at Coach Barrett again, but he just shook his head. I turned around and stormed toward the locker room. What the fuck just happened?

Shit! I really wanted to play football and my own stupidity had gotten me kicked off the team before I even got the chance to play in my first game. I wondered how dad would react to this. He hadn't wanted me to play from the beginning, and when he finds out about Lucas and Trevor, him and the whole church would be in an uproar. Is it any wonder I'm so fucked up in the head? Lucas and Trevor have been my friends, two of the few I actually have and I go and fuck that up. Maybe I can apologize to them and we can continue to be friends.

I started crying as I walked toward the locker room. I had really fucked up today. Why did my life have to be so screwed up? I hadn't even made it to the locker room when Ryan came running up to me. Ryan had been a good friend at one time, but we had drifted apart over the last year or so. I wasn't able to do a lot of the stuff he wanted to do, stuff most kids take for granted, and he, of course, had no interest in the things my church approved of, which wasn't much.

"Hey, Andrew, wait up," he said as he came up to me.

What now, I thought, but I didn't say that to Ryan. Instead, I said, "boy, I really screwed that up, didn't I?"

"Yeah, you did," Ryan agreed, "but the coach said that if you go apologize to Lucas and Trevor and come talk to him, you can be back on the team."

"Really?" I asked.

"Yeah, really," he said. "But you need to apologize first. You were wrong about Trevor and Lucas. They're good guys, and they're your friends. You really do need to talk to them."

"Yeah, you're right, Ryan," I said. "In fact, I need to go and do that right now. I just hope I haven't lost their friendship after what I said. I don't know what the hell happened out there. My parents, my church all that shit drives me crazy, you know."

"I know," Ryan said.

I quickly turned and ran back toward the field. I saw Trevor and Lucas talking to the coach over on the sidelines. I was still crying a little as I ran up to the three of them. I felt like shit for what I had said and done and hope I can make things right.

"Lucas, Trevor, I'm sorry," I said. "We've been friends since grade school. I don't know what happened with me earlier. I didn't mean any of that stuff. It's just that I've always been taught that being gay is wrong, that people like you are going to hell. I don't really believe all that crap, but that's what they teach us in church all the time. Can you ever forgive me?"

"Of course, I forgive you," Lucas said. "I didn't think you really meant all those things you said."

"And I forgive you as well," Trevor said.

"Thanks, guys," I said. Then I put my arms around both of them and pulled them closer to me. I still had tears in my eyes. "Maybe we can talk about this sometime. You guys are good friends and I treated you like shit." I then looked over at the coach and said, "Coach, I'm really sorry about everything I said to you and how I disrespected you. I really would like to play football with these guys if you can put me back on the team."

The coach looked over at them and they both nodded that it was okay with them, and he turned back to me and said, "okay, Andy, you're back on the team. Be here tomorrow morning for practice. Now all of you go get showered and go home."

With that he turned and walked toward his office while the three of us walked toward the locker room to get changed. I apologized again as we walked. Most of the guys had already finished up by the time we arrived so the three of us quickly got undressed and headed for the shower area. After what I had said earlier I was a little bit uncomfortable, but I definitely enjoyed myself. I mean, have you seen Lucas and Trevor? Both boys are cute as fuck blonds with nice bodies, and even nicer cocks. And their butts! Oh, my god! There's no doubt in my mind that I'm gay. I just need to deal with it. Maybe I can talk to these guys sometime and see how that goes.

Two days later, right after practice, I walked up to Trevor and Lucas and asked, "you guys think we could talk for a few minutes after we're through with practice?"

Lucas looked over at Trevor who nodded his head. "Sure, he said. "What's going on, Andy?"

"Not here, please, Lucas," I said. "I have something I want to tell you and some questions. I'll explain everything."

I noticed Trevor look at Lucas and mouth the words, "what the fuck?" he then turned to me and said. "We'll talk right after we get showered. We'll go out to the bleachers where we can have some privacy."

"Thanks, guys," I said. "I'm really sorry about the other day. I'm glad we're still friends."

"I'm glad we are as well," Lucas said.

The three of us entered the locker room together and went to our lockers. I had a hard time controlling myself from looking at all the guys in various stages of undress that were all around us. I tried not to be obvious, but I definitely enjoyed the scenery. I know most of the guys are cool as far as gay guys go, but they still might not appreciate me openly staring at them. But then again, they likely would do the same thing if they somehow managed to get into the girl's locker room. I mean, Jesus, some of the comments I hear when they talk about girls and what they would like to do with them. I noticed both Trevor and Lucas looking as well, and even though everyone knew they were gay, no one really seemed to care. I know they were trying not to stare as well, because they didn't want to make anyone nervous, but I know it wasn't any easier for them than it was for me.

Anyone who's ever been a gay, teen boy, and that's everyone reading this story, knows what it's like. It's like a kid in a candy store who's allowed to look but not allowed to buy anything. I was struggling not to get hard and finally had to turn on the cold water right before I left the shower. I think both Lucas and Trevor might have been in a similar condition. God, how hot is that?

The three of us quickly got our showers and dressed before heading back toward the football field. Rather than go all the way up to the bleachers, the three of us sat on the bench along the sidelines. I sat between both boys.

"So, what's up, Andy?" Trevor asked me.

I hesitated for several seconds before I finally started talkie. "I have something I need to tell you guys, but please, promise me you won't tell anyone else what' I'm about to say."

"We promise," both boys said at the same time.

I hesitated again before finally saying, "I think I might be gay. I know both of you are and I thought you might be able to help me understand all this."

Both boys looked at each other and smiled. They didn't seem all that surprised about what I had said. Damn, was I that obvious? I hope not.

"Sure, Andy," Lucas said. "We'll do anything we can to help you out, but you have to understand that this is all still new to Trevor and me as well. Yes, we are gay, and yes, we are boyfriends, and yes, we do have sex, but we're still exploring what all this means. Having said all that, Trevor and I will do anything we can to help you out."

I could feel my face turning red with embarrassment, even though I have nothing to be embarrassed about. It's just he thought of Trevor and Lucas having sex is so hot. Jesus, what I wouldn't give…

"How did you guys know you were gay?" I asked.

"Oh, boy," Trevor said. "That's a hard one. The truth is, I didn't really know at first. I guess deep down, I probably knew, but it was hard for me to admit it, even to myself. I really struggled at first, and I tried to like girls, but I just didn't, if that makes any sense."

"It sort of does, I guess," I said. "It's hard for me to think about, however. As you no doubt know, my parents are very religious and I've always been taught that being gay is a sin and that god will send all gays to hell. That's why I got so upset the other day when I say you two kissing. I know I overreacted, but everything just came out before I had time to think about what I was going to say."

"That's what I figured," Lucas said. "I know you're not a bad guy, Andy. So, let me ask you something. Do you think about girls, about what you'd like to do with them if you had the chance? When you're…" He made a motion with his hand, like he was jerking off. "… at night when you're alone, what do you think about?"

I could feel my face turning red again from embarrassment just from Lucas mentioning jerking off, even though I did it almost every night. I just wasn't comfortable talking about it, even though I knew all teenage boys do it. Even my younger brother has started doing it. He thinks I don't know about him, but I have watched him a time or two. And I'm sure he's probably seen me doing it as well since we share a room at home.

"It's okay, Andy," Trevor said. "All guys do it, especially guys our age. You know what they say, 'half the guys in the world admit it, and the other half are lying'."

"I try to think about girls," I admitted. "I try, but no matter what I try and think about, a boy always comes into my mind. All the guys I see in the showers everyday doesn't help matters. I even think about you guys. I hope that doesn't upset you when I say that."

"No, it doesn't," Lucas said. "I'm actually flattered that you consider me to be good looking enough to fantasize about."

"I feel the same way," Trevor said. "If you want to know the truth, I have fantasized about you a time or two as well, Andy. You are a very nice-looking guy, after all."

"Thanks," I said. "But even though we all do it, that's almost as bad as being gay according to my church. I don't mean that like it sounds. It's just that sex outside of marriage is considered a sin. Even lusting after a girl, or a boy in my case, is a sin."

"I know what you mean," said Trevor. "I went through the same things myself, and I'm sure Lucas did as well. Except we didn't have to deal with the religious stuff like you do. But even still, as much as I tried to deny who I was, I just couldn't. I tried lying to myself, telling myself it was just a phase, that I would grow out of it, all the usual crap you hear, but finally I knew I had to be honest with myself if I was ever going to be happy."

"That's pretty much the way I was as well," Lucas said. "I know it's going to be hard for you, Andy, a lot harder than it was for Trevor and me, but you'll never truly be happy until you admit to yourself who you are and embrace it. I know you won't be able to come out and be open, at least not until you leave home. I promise you that this whole conversation will go no further."

"And we also promise to listen to you anytime you have questions," Trevor said. "Or, if you just need to talk, we'll be there for you."

"Thanks guys," I said. "I was sure I could count on both of you. I'm gonna have to figure all this out I guess. I don't dare let my parents or anyone from my church know. I'm sure dad would probably kick me out or send me to one of those places where they claim to cure people of being gay, whatever that means. I can't let that happen."

"If something like that should happen, you call Trevor or me," Lucas said. "No matter what time it is, you call. We'll figure something out."

The three of us quickly exchanged phone numbers, and then I had to leave. I had a lot to think about and consider, but just knowing that Trevor and Lucas would be there for me was a big relief. After the way I had treated them earlier this week they could have just as easily told me to fuck off, and I wouldn't have blamed them. Those two really were good friends and I was happy they were boyfriends. Now if I could just find a boyfriend for myself. I knew that wasn't likely to happen until after I graduated and left home, but that's four long years from now. Besides, what boy would want to date someone like me, someone who had to stay hidden.

Why can't things ever go right for me? I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm gay, at least I'm starting to. Just by being able to talk to Trevor and Lucas I'm learning to accept myself. It's not easy and I'm not exactly happy with it, but, I've also figured out that I can't change who I am, no matter what my father or the church says. I've even got a little bit of a crush on both Trevor and Lucas, even though I know nothing can ever come of it. I'd like to find myself a boyfriend, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. I'm to scared of what my father might do to me if he were to find out.

I was hoping it wouldn't happen, but I suppose I knew that it was inevitable. As usual, I was dragged off to church on Sunday morning. It's becoming harder and harder for me to go to church, and I just can't take it seriously anymore. Both my brother, Brian, and I hate going, but what choice do we have. I can't wait until I turn eighteen and can move out on my own. That can't come soon enough.

I never know what to expect from Brother Fraser, the preacher, but I've noticed he seems to work something about gays into his sermons on a regular basis. I sometimes wonder why he seems so obsessed with gay people. Is he hiding something? It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. Either that or praising President Trump. It's always something bad about one group or another it seems. He's even preached against the Black Lives Matter protestors, criticized the NFL football players for not standing for the national anthem, and praises Trump for deporting all the illegal Mexicans, even the so called 'dreamers' who were brought here by their parents when they were children, and he's all for the Muslim ban that Trump keeps trying to implement, despite being rejected by the courts on multiple occasions.

Yet he's all for us bombing Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and now, North Korea. That doesn't seem like something Jesus would do, but maybe I'm just interpreting the scripture wrong.

Today, it was about gay people again, but not just gays in general like usual, but he specifically mentioned Trevor and Lucas by name. He's preached about other kids in school before, but not about people I personally know, which hit a little to close to home. Then he talked about something so shocking and outrageous I still have a hard time believing it.

After the usual songs, tithes and offerings, prayer request, and other announcements, Reverend Fraser started right in.

"My friends," he said. "I heard some rather disturbing news last week, something that affects not only our church, but our entire community, and especially our young people."

Oh brother, here we go, I thought. He must be referring to Trevor and Lucas. What else could it be?

"Satan has again perverted the minds of two of our young boys. I regret to inform you that both Lucas Hansen and Trevor Matthews both came out as gay last week in front of their football team. It seems like they were caught kissing one another."

There was a collective gasp from the congregation. I just shook my head, pissed off about him calling them out by name. I was so tempted to stand up and denounce all of them, but I knew I couldn't, not now anyway. Maybe in a few years I could do like Jeremy did last year. He had just disappeared and I noticed his parents hadn't been back since.

"Let us pray for these two boys, before it's to late," Brother Fraser said. I bowed my head. "Heavenly father, we are beginning another battle at Chouteau High. Satan is coming against us, disguised as the demon of homosexuality. We need your help in defeating the enemy. Please guide our steps as we gear up for war."

I looked up at the sanctuary, packed with so called Christians. The prayer visibly roused the bodies in the congregation. I felt a rise in energy and emotion as Brother Fraser prayed, buttressed by eruptions of 'amen' and 'hallelujah'. Though it made me feel a bit queasy to be among their ranks, I stayed glued to my seat throughout the rest of the service.

Brother Fraser talked about talking to the school board and having both boys kicked off the team, having Coach Barrett, a known homosexual, fired as well, and actually protesting at home games. All stuff that has been tried before. It never worked in the past, so what makes him think it might work this time? Why couldn't they just leave people alone to live their lives? And they wonder why people turn away from the church.

Somehow, gay people need to make people like this understand that we are not a threat to them or the way they lead their lives or practice their religion. We just want to love the ones we love. And in a democracy where there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, it is inherently unfair to burden the gay community with excerpts from the bible that some believe condemn us. All we want is equal rights in this country, not in their church. We just want our lives and our rights to be valued just like anybody else's. Like any straight body else's. But, I knew that no matter what I or anyone else said, there would be no changing people like this.

I furrowed my brow. Not wanting to be discovered, I remained silent throughout the rest of the service, despite how shocking and crazy it was today, more so than normal.

Brother Fraser looked up from the pulpit and gazed at us, making eye contact with as many of the congregation as possible before he spoke.

"I am sure you are all familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom was a city of evil and brought destruction upon itself because it allowed perversion within it's wall. I am speaking of homosexuals, the very men who came to Lot's home with the intention of performing unspeakable sexual perversions with his guests. These events took place over three thousand years ago, but such perversions still plaque us. They are here with us in our own wholesome town. The homosexuals have gained a foothold here, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah could well we played out in our very own Chouteau."

I knew the story quite well, having heard it on many occasions over the last few years, even before I really understood what it was supposedly about. But even assuming it's true, which I now have doubts about, especially the way the preacher tells it, I just can't get past Lot offering up his virgin daughters to be raped so he could protect two strangers. What kind of father, what kind of man, would do something like that to his own daughter? To me that's a far bigger perversion than men wanting to have sex with other men.

"Don't be fooled by the appearance of the homosexuals around us, these 'gays' as they call themselves. They hide among us, pretending to be normal. They appear as athletes in our schools, and as 'plain ordinary citizens' that live next door, but they are anything but normal. They are unnatural perversions. They are an abomination and we must do everything we can to encourage then to leave our midst before god sends down his angels to destroy Chouteau just as he did Sodom and Gomorrah all those centuries ago."

I thought of Trevor and Lucas. They seemed normal to me. They had been my friends for the last few years, ever since grade school. How could they be abominations? I thought about some of the other gay boys I had heard about the last couple of years. Most of them had graduated and moved on, but there were still a couple of more besides Lucas and Trevor, and I knew there had to be at least a few more that hadn't come out yet. And then there was Coach Barrett, and his partner. He had been nothing but kind to me despite the incident earlier last week.

As I sat there listening to the preacher, I grew more doubtful. Maybe they did pretend to be normal so they could lure in naïve boys like me. Was I being naïve? Was I falling for an act? Was the preacher right? He was a preacher after all, a man of god. But the more I listened, the more I thought about it, I knew what he was saying was all bullshit. I was gay and nobody had recruited me for anything. In fact, Coach Barrett seems to go out of his way to avoid being in any kind of situation where he could be perceived as exploiting the boys on his team. He never came into the locker room before or after practice while we were dressing and showering, and if one of us went to his office to talk he would leave the door open part way. He didn't even want the appearance of anything going on.

"I cannot suggest or condone violence against these perversions of nature, but I can recommend constant vigilance. I assure you the danger is quite real. We must not allow ourselves to forget that these homosexuals are not like us. We are the righteous. They have chosen to forsake the path of god and all that is holy. Do not be lulled into acceptance by their seemingly normal behavior, for they are sinners who will lead you into sin. They will turn you if they can. They will recruit you. We will not be safe until the last of them are gone.

"But what can we do?" Pastor Fraser asked, looking out upon his congregation. "How do we remove these evil ones, these abominations from our midst? They deserve death. There is no doubt of that. If we were back in the days of the bible, we could deal with this menace even as the angels of god were sent down to earth to do. We live in more complicated times now, my friends, and therefore cannot bring justice to those who might very well destroy us all.

"But there is a solution. There is a way to exterminate homosexuality from the world without harming those who have descended into sin to practice their unnatural way of life. It is for god to punish these sinners, not us. We must love the sinner, even though we hate the sin.

"Homosexuals do not, and cannot reproduce. If they can be isolated and left to their own perversions, they will die out naturally. No one need raise his hand against the in violence. President Trump should order the roundup of all these homosexuals and place them in camps surrounded with electrified fencing to keep them separate from those of us who are normal and follow god's path.

"Some of you may think this is cruelty, but it is not. I am not talking about cruel concentration camps, but comfortable, pleasant living places where even these sinners may live out their lives. Once they are rounded up and separated from us, we may safely minister to them and seek to turn them from their evil ways. Some can doubtless be saved. Those who refuse to leave their evil ways behind can remain in the camps and live out their days in peace until the lord's judgement come for them.

"It is our duty to protect ourselves from these abominations, but as Christian, it is also our duty to do all we can to save them from themselves. By placing them in camps, we can save many. Those who have turned their back on god will eventually die. Either way, society will be rid of this menace once and for all, for once the homosexuals are contained, their evil influence will be at an end."

I sat there stunned. Concentration camps for homosexuals? I'd read something about the concentrations camps during world war two. It was the holocaust when millions of Jews were murdered in the name of racial purity, there were camps for homosexuals and other so-called undesirables then as well. I felt uneasy sitting there in church as I never had before.

I noticed some of the parishioners looking at each other uncomfortable. Others, like my father, had determined expressions, as if they would give their last breath to make Brother Fraser's dream of a homosexual free world come true. The pastor spoke of kindness and comfortable living arrangements, but concentration camps.

So many times, I wanted to speak up and help myself and others like me, but I remained silent until the service was over and quietly went home with my parents and Brian. How can two people being in love cause so much hatred? I just don't understand. I knew I had to do something, but I had no idea what that might be.

Dad didn't say anything during the drive home, but he started right in as soon as we sat down for lunch. I knew that was coming. Bite your tongue, Andrew, I kept telling myself. Don't open your mouth or you'll regret it. It wasn't easy, believe me.

"So, is it true what Brother Fraser said?" dad asked, looking right at me. "Are there two fags on your team?"

I cringed when he used that word. "Well two guys did come out as gay last week," I said.

"And why the hell didn't you say anything?" dad demanded.

"I didn't think it was that big a deal," I answered. I knew as soon as I said that, that I had fucked up.

"Not a big deal," he yelled. "Two perverts on your football team and you say it's no big deal. They're probably looking at you and all the others and thinking all kinds of perverted thoughts. They're probably trying to recruit others as well, the sick bastards."

I so wanted to say something back, to tell him I was gay as well, but I just sat there looking around the table at Brian and my mother.

"If I ever found out one of my sons was a fag I'd beat him to within an inch of his life and then toss him out on his perverted ass," dad continued. "They have places to send people like that, places where they can be cured. I entirely agree with Brother Fraser on this. President Trump should just round up all the fags in this country and lock them up in those camps like he was talking about earlier. Take them out of decent society. Maybe they would die out after a few years since they won't be able to recruit new members and can't have kids of their own."

"That seems a little extreme, don't you think, dear?" mom said.

"No, I think that's being to lenient actually," dad said. "They should just round all them up and kill them. Why waste the money to feed and house them? Just get rid of them."

Oh my god, I thought. My own father is talking about killing gay people. He's crazier than even the preacher. I saw both my mother and Brian shaking their heads. Even they were surprised by what dad had said. Maybe mom isn't nearly as bad as I have always assumed, she clearly doesn't appear to agree with dad, but she dropped the subject after that.

I thought again about what Brother Fraser had talked about in his sermon today. Rounding up all the gays and sending them to concentration camps. That sounds like something out of Nazi Germany. I always thought my father was a little nuts but I had no idea he was actually that bat shit crazy. I've got to figure something out or I'm gonna go crazy myself, or end up doing something even worse.

Dad just kept ranting. "Aren't those two boy's friends of yours?"

"Yes," I said. "We hang out sometimes and they've been here a few times and I've been to their houses as well."

"Well, that stops as of today," he shouted. "You're not to see either of those little queers again. They're not welcome here and you are not allowed to go over to their houses. Is that clear?"

"But dad…" I started to say, but he cut me off."

"Is that clear, Andrew?" he shouted again.

"Yes, it's clear," I said.

I'll be damned if I'll stop seeing and talking to them however. Just in the few days since 'the incident' I've talked to them a couple of times and they are really helping me to figure things out.

"In fact," dad went on, "I think you need to quit the football team altogether. I can't have my son exposed to two perverts like that. That faggot coach is probably the one who recruited them to begin with, and I don't want him to try the same with you."

"But dad, I like playing football," I pleaded. "Please don't make me quit the team. I like those guys, and I like playing football. I promise I'll watch out for them. I won't let them do anything to me."

"My mind is made up, Andrew," dad said. "Tomorrow morning you go to practice and tell the coach you're quitting. I won't have my son exposed to those deviants."

"Yes sir," was all I could say. I had no intention of actually quitting the team, at least not right away. Mom and dad would be at work tomorrow and every day after that so they wouldn't know that I was going to practice. I'd deal with dad when the time came.

I just had to keep Brian from saying anything, but I didn't think that would be all that hard. He plays football as well, and I know he wants to continue through high school. Luckily for him dad hadn't thought about him yet or he would probably force him to quit as well.

I needed to find someone I could talk to besides Lucas and Trevor, someone older who might be able to help me. I know I can talk to Coach Barrett, and I will tomorrow, but I needed someone else as well. I thought of someone, but I didn't know how to contact him. My Uncle Robert, dad's younger brother. I haven't seen him for years, ever since him and dad had a big fight when Uncle Robert told him that he was gay. Mom and dad never talk about him. It's almost like he's dead as far as they are concerned. I don't understand things like that. Sure, Brian irritates me occasionally, but he's my brother and I would never just completely disown him, no matter what he may do.

I just had to find out his phone number and where he lives and then I can call him and just talk. Maybe he could help me figure things out.

After eating lunch, I decided to go for a long walk. It was the middle of August and rather hot, but I didn't even consider that. I needed to think about what the preacher had said in church this morning and how dad seemed to agree with him.

I had gone to church all my life. I loved god. I tried to follow the teachings of Jesus, but lately… what I heard in church today was not love. How could Brother Fraser propose to round up a group of people and force them into concentration camps behind electrified fences? He made it sound as if they would be treated to a luxury resort, but 'rounded up' meant 'removal by force' and the electric fences meant imprisonment. I'd expected someone to stand up and challenge the idea, but no one did. Some looked uncomfortable, but that was the extent of the opposition.

Had there been preachers in Germany who proposed concentration camps for the Jews? I knew that before and during the civil war there were pastors who stood up for slavery and condemned those who opposed it, calling them the enemies of god's plan. Even during the civil rights marches during the 1950's and 1960's, African Americans were still oppressed by so called Christians. Even today it still went on, especially since President Trump had been elected. True, he had never came right out and said it, but he just kind of gave the impression he wouldn't really oppose a lot of things either.

Then there were the crusades where thousands marched to kill others who did not share their beliefs, and again, it's still happening today against the Muslims in this country and other countries as well, and of course against the Christians and Jews in the middle east by the Muslims. Reverend Fraser has talked about that as well, agreeing with the president trying to ban them from even entering our country.

It seems like more and more over the last year that I have doubts. Wasn't being a Christian supposed to be all about love? Where was the love? Hate the sin but love the sinner. The key word there was 'hate'. What kind of ignorant bull shit is that?

I thought about all the kids who killed themselves because their parents threw then out for being gay, or they were relentlessly bullied in school because the authorities would do nothing to stop it. It seemed like hardly a week went by where I didn't read or see something on the news about that, or gay people getting beaten or killed. Where was the so called Christian love in those situations?"

I kept picturing Brother Fraser making his pitch for concentration camps for homosexuals. He stood behind the pulpit, a man of god, preaching imprisonment and death for those who were different. As I walked I realized he was no man of god at all. How could he be if he preached hatred?

I was confused and alone. All my life I'd held onto my religion and let it guide me, but now… the very source of goodness in my life had gone bad. If I couldn't trust my pastor or my church, who or what could I trust?

I'd always had faith, but now…

I thought of Lucas and Trevor again, and the looks on their faces when I had called them fags and all those other disgusting things. All they'd did was to kiss each other and I'd went off on them. Thankfully, they had forgiven me and we were still friends. I thought about it again. What was so bad about them being gay? I just didn't know what to do anymore.

I woke up the next morning and started getting ready to go to practice when Brian came up to me.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"I'm going to football practice like usual," I told him. "Shouldn't you be getting ready as well?"

Brian plays on the Junior High team, in fact they practice on the opposite end of the field from the high school team.

"What about what dad told you yesterday?" he asked.

"What about it? I said. "He's going to have to go to Coach Barrett himself and pull me off the team. Until then, I'm still gonna practice. Maybe he'll change his mind. You never know."

"Yeah, maybe," Brian replied. "But I wouldn't hold my breath if I was you. You know how he is about this shit. It's total bullshit if you ask me, what he's doing. So what if Trevor and Lucas are gay. How does that matter to anyone but them? I mean, you're gay and it doesn't matter to me. You're still my brother and I still care about you."

I was shocked for a second when Brian said that. "What makes you say I'm gay, Brian?"

"Oh, come on, Andy," he said. "You remember what happened a couple of months ago, the night I saw you looking at pictures of shirtless boys on the internet. Remember that?"

How could I forget something like that? I thought back to what had happened that night, how scared I had been that Brian would tell dad what he had seen.

I didn't hear anyone coming. If I had, I would have turned off the computer. Brian was standing there before I knew he was in the room we shared. My face turned red. I was looking at shirtless pictures of cute boys. It wasn't like the site was pornographic or anything, but I knew he had to be wondering what the hell I was doing. He could see what I was looking at clearly. There was no denying it. I was screwed.

"What the fuck?" he said as soon as he saw what I was looking at.

"Shit," I exclaimed as soon as I noticed him. I thought about trying to explain what I was looking at on an internet site of shirtless boys, but I knew I couldn't explain it away. "Please don't tell anyone." It was all I could think to say.

"I won't, Andy, I promise. I would never do that to anyone, especially my own brother. But you need to be more careful. What if I had been dad instead of me? You would really be screwed."

"You're right," I said. "Thanks." I quickly closed the site and turned off the computer. The boys disappeared and I stood and looked at Brian for a second before quickly leaving the room. That was a close call, too close for comfort.

My mind quickly came back to the present. "Thank you for not saying anything, Brian, especially to mom and dad. I would really be fucked if they ever found out."

"Don't worry, Andy," he told me. "Your secret is safe with me. But just for the record, I like girls. Boy, do I like girls! I know what dad would do to you. I don't have to tell you he can be a real asshole at times. Being pulled from the football team would be the least of your problems if he even suspects."

"That's what I'm afraid of," I said. "I don't want to quit, but I'm afraid he's going to force me to, and he's going to be beyond pissed off when he finds out I'm still going to practice."

"Maybe he'll calm down in a few days," Brian said. "Maybe he won't make you quit."

"Not likely," I said. "You said it yourself, he's an asshole. I'm surprised he didn't make you quit as well."

"I am too," Brian admitted, "but I think it's only a matter of time until he does. He just hasn't thought about it yet is the only reason he hasn't. Maybe he'll forget about me."

"Maybe," I said, "but doubtful. Now, we need to get going if we're gonna be at practice on time."

We quickly went down and got our bikes out of the garage and started peddling toward the football field. We only live a little over a mile away so we were there twenty minutes later. We both quickly went into the locker room to put on our practice uniforms and other equipment.

The whole practice seemed like one continuous screw up on my part. Everyone noticed, especially Coach Barrett, who called me out several times. I knew I needed to talk to him and explain what was going on with me, but I wasn't sure how. I finally decided to just tell the coach exactly what was going on and go from there. He'd probably kick me off the team afterward, when he found out what my dad and my church were saying, but so be it. I wouldn't blame him.

Finally, about three hours later, Coach Barrett announced that practice was over and everyone should go get showered and go home, and be back tomorrow morning at eight o'clock. I hesitated for a second, but decided it wasn't going to get any easier by waiting.

I walked up to the coach and said, "Coach, can I talk to you for a few minutes?"

"Sure, Andrew," he answered. "Why don't you go get showered and dressed and meet me in my office in say, thirty minutes."

"Okay," I said, before turning and walking toward the locker room and showers.

As soon as I walked into the locker room everyone started talking to me, yelling, cussing, telling me what a fuck up I had been. You know, all the usual bullshit. Fortunately, that only lasted for a few minutes before the others finished getting undressed and heading to the showers. There's nothing like a nice naked boy to take my mind off my other troubles.

"Are you okay, Andy?" asked Trevor. He startled me for just a second before I turned around. Both him and Lucas were standing there, shirtless and in just their jocks. "You seemed a little distracted out there today."

Oh my god, talk about a wet dream. I quickly pulled my shirt and shoulder pads and other equipment, and soon I was standing there like them. The three of us finished undressing and headed toward the showers, me following behind both boys so I could admire their hot butts. I was really struggling not to get hard, but it wasn't easy.

"I've got problems at home," I told them. "I need to talk to you guys afterward, but first I have to talk to the coach. I'll tell you what's going on afterwards."

"Sure, Andrew," Lucas said. "We'll wait for you. I hope it's nothing to serious."

"I'm afraid it is, guys," I told them. "I don't know how it might affect you, and hopefully it won't, but you need to know. But let me talk to the coach first, okay. Maybe he can help me figure out what to do."

Lucas and Trevor looked at each other and I could see the looks of concern on their faces. They really were my friends, which made me even more ashamed of the things I had said last week.

I quickly finished up my shower, got dressed, and headed toward the coach's office. I didn't know how to begin, but I knew I had to talk to him. I knocked on the door and he told me to come in. I walked in, and went to close the door, but the coach told me to leave it part way open.

"Sit down, Andrew," he told me. "What can I do for you?"

I had to force myself to start talking, but I finally worked up the courage. "First of all, I'm sorry about how I acted last week, and I'm sorry about practice today. I wasn't exactly my best, as you probably noticed."

"Yes, I did, Andrew." Coach Barrett agreed. "I can tell something is on your mind. You want to talk about it?"

"Well… it all started last week as you probably know. You also probably already know where I'm going with this, or at least you have a pretty good idea. I know you've dealt with this before, so you'll know what to do."

"I think I probably do," he said, "but let me just take a wild guess. It has to do with your church, right?"

"Yes," I answered, looking down at the floor as I answered. "And it's all my fault."

"How is it your fault, Andrew?" Coach asked. "You're not responsible for how those people act."

I thought about that for a moment before answering. "Maybe not, but if I hadn't opened my big mouth about Lucas and Trevor, none of this would have ever happened. No one would have even known they were gay."

"Maybe not right away," he said, "but they would have been found out soon enough anyway. They likely would have come out on their own eventually."

"Yeah, I suppose," I said. "But I still feel bad. I know this is not going to be news to you, but the preacher denounced both of them from the pulpit yesterday, and of course, you know they talk about you on a somewhat regular basis. You know all the usual bullshit. Sorry, Coach, I didn't mean to use that kind of language."

"That's alright, Andrew," he said. "It is bullshit and everyone knows it. But I've dealt with this before. They'll move on to something else sooner or later."

"Probably," I agreed. "They always do, but they always come back around to this same topic eventually. But this time it was a lot worse than in the past."

I then explained what the preacher had talked about during yesterday's sermon, the concentration camps and rounding up all the gays and all the other stuff. The coach was visibly shaken when I was telling him about what was going on.

"And dad agrees with all that," I continued. "He's trying to make me quit the team. He says you recruited Lucas and Trevor and will try and recruit me as well. I'm really worried about them and you, Coach. I just don't know what I should do."

"That's complete horseshit," the coach yelled. "You can't recruit people and make the gay. They're born that way. What is wrong with those people?"

"I know," I said. "That's something else I want to talk to you about, but you have to promise me you won't tell anyone."

"I promise," he said. "Anything you tell me stays in this room."

"I'm… I'm… I'm gay myself, Coach," I finally managed to say. "That's why I feel so ashamed about what I said to Lucas and Trevor last week. I just don't know what to think or do, or how to deal with it. And I know damn good and well that you didn't recruit me. I was gay long before you even knew me, even if I couldn't bring myself to admit it."

"It's never easy, Andrew," he said. "Especially for someone in your situation. It was hard for me back when I was your age, but I didn't have to deal with all the religious crap on top of all the other crap like you do. It is easier for kids now days to come out, but it can still be difficult. What you just told me took a lot of courage and I admire you for it."

"Thank you," I said. "I wish I had it as easy as Trevor and Lucas. I told them by the way, just so you know. We're still friends despite what happened."

"I'm glad to hear that," he said. "I've talked to them and they seem to be having a fairly easy time. It helps if you have parents who are supportive. And Chouteau does seem to have more than it's share of out gay boys, and probably a few lesbians as well, but I don't know about that. Probably no more than any other high school in the country I suppose, but this school and town just seems more accepting than a lot of places. It's just too bad your parents can't support you instead of treating you the way they do."

"Yeah, no shit," I said. "Dad actually told Brian and me that he would beat us if he ever found out one of his sons was gay. Beat us and then throw us out on the street. Can you believe that?"

"Unfortunately, yes, I can," Coach Barrett said. "That happens all the time in this country. Not as much as it used to but yeah, it still happens. I remember a boy I dated briefly when I was in high school got kicked out of his house his senior year. In fact, I think you might know him. If I'm not mistaken, he's your uncle. His name was Robert Newman."

"Uncle Robert!" I exclaimed. "I barely remember him. I haven't seen him since I was like five or six. Dad hasn't talked to him in years. He won't even speak about him, without calling him 'that faggot brother of mine'. I was going to try and contact him so we can talk, but I don't even know where he lives exactly. Up around Parsons I think. And I don't have a phone number or email or anything."

"I think I might have that somewhere," Coach said. "Robert and I are still friends and we see each other occasionally."

"You said you two dated?" I asked. "What happened, if you don't mind me asking?"

"His father, your grandfather, found out about us. He beat Robert up and threw him out onto the street. We were both seniors at the time. All this happened in April, I think, and we graduated in May. Robert had already been admitted to Pittsburg State University so he survived by moving around among his friends, staying a couple of days here and there until he left to go to college. We had been dating as I said, but we drifted apart after we both went off to college. I still see him occasionally and we're still friends."

"I thought about calling him, but like I said, I don't know his phone number or even where he lives exactly. I think in Parsons, or somewhere up around there, but I'm not sure. His name is never mentioned in our house."

By now the coach had his phone out and was scrolling through his contacts looking for the number.

"Here it is," he finally said.

He quickly read off the number while I programmed it into my own phone.

"I think I'll call him later," I said. "He may not ever want anything to do with me after the way he was treated by his own family."

"I doubt that, Andrew," he said. "He was very bitter about his father and his older brother, but he knows that has nothing to do with you. He's got a partner, you know?"

"No, I didn't," I said. "But then again, I haven't seen or heard of him for almost ten years now. But I'm glad to hear that."

The two of us sat there just talking for another twenty minutes or so, about football, growing up gay, and other stuff. Finally, I had to go.

I stood up and said, "I told Lucas and Trevor that I would meet them so I guess I should go and let them know what's going on. Then, I'm going to try calling Uncle Robert later. Thank you, Coach. You've been a big help to me, more than you know. I feel so much better just being able to tell someone about me, someone who has gone through something similar and is able to explain things to me. Thank you so much."

"You're very welcome, Andrew," he said. "I'm happy I could help you even a little. You're always welcome to come and talk to me about this or anything else. I told Trevor and Lucas the same thing, but you can remind them if you want. And good luck contacting your uncle. Tell him Brendan said hi when you talk to him. See if he remembers me. And I know things are likely going to get rough at home, so take my phone number as well. Call me anytime, day or night if you have any problems or just need to talk. I'll always be available to you."

"Thanks, Coach," I said. "I'll be sure to do that."

"And just hang in there, Andrew," he continued. "Things will get better, soon. It may not seem like it at times, but it will. You'll just have to trust me on that."

"I will," I told him. "And, again, thanks for everything. I hope I don't have to quit the team, but who knows what my dad will do."

"I hope not either," he said. "I think you can be a good player with a little experience and practice. Good luck."

With that, the coach stood up, reached over and shook my hand and I turned and walked out to meet up with Trevor and Lucas.

Lucas and Trevor were sitting on the bench outside the locker room waiting for me. I quickly walked up to them and sat down. I hated to tell them what was going on, but they needed to know what to expect. Hopefully nothing happens, but with the crazy people at my church you just never knew.

"So, what's going on, Andy?" Trevor asked as soon as I sat down.

"I have something I need to tell you guys," I said. "And it's not good, not good at all."

"What's wrong, Andy?" Lucas asked. I could hear the concern in his voice.

"Thanks to me and my big mouth," I began, "my church found out about you guys. The preacher actually called you out by name on Sunday morning, called you all kinds of shit! I don't have to tell either of you how those people feel about gays."

"No, you don't," Trevor agreed. "I think we both have a pretty good idea. But we've heard it all before."

"Yeah, but they're going to try and have both of you kicked off the team, and the coach fired. They actually think that he recruited you into the gay lifestyle, whatever the hell that means."

"That's fucking bullshit!" Trevor exclaimed. "Nobody recruited us. Who comes up with this crap? Recruited? You can't recruit someone. You're either gay or you're not. Or bi I guess. Or all that other crap I keep reading about, transgender and all that shit. I don't even know what the hell all that means. Jesus!"

"I know, I know," I said. "Believe me I know. I used to believe all that crap myself until I figured out that I was gay myself. And no one recruited me. I was just born this way."

"Exactly," Lucas said. "But haven't they tried all that shit in the past? It never worked before, why do they think it will this time? I just don't get it."

"I think they know it won't work," I answered, "but I think they just think they have to try again. I guess they're hoping that it might actually work one of these days."

"I seriously doubt that," Trevor said. "But it shouldn't actually affect us."

"Probably not," I said. "But they have protested at games before and I think they're planning to again. I just wanted you guys to be aware of what's going on."

"Thanks for telling us, Andy," Lucas said. "We'll be careful until all this blows over. I'm sure it will eventually."

"I'm sure it will," I said. "It always has in the past and I'm sure this time will be no different."

"I hope it does," Lucas said.

"That's not even the worst of it," I said. "If I hadn't heard it with my own ears I wouldn't believe it. It's just so crazy what the preacher talked about yesterday."

I quickly told them what he had said during his sermon yesterday, about rounding up all the gay people in the country and locking them in concentration camps.

Both boys were clearly shocked at what I was telling them and even looked like they were a little scared. I couldn't blame them. I was scared myself about what might happen if people like those in my church got their way. I didn't think something like that would ever actually happen in the United States, but then again I'm sure the people in Germany thought the same thing back in the 1930's, until it did happen.

"Wow!" was all that Trevor managed to say after I finished telling the what had happened.

"Yeah, I know," I said. "There's something else as well."

"More?" Lucas asked.

"Yeah," I told them. "Dad is trying to force me to quit the team. He doesn't want me around all you deviants." I laughed a little. "If he only knew, I'm as gay as you two. Maybe I should tell him. It might cause him to have a heart attack or stroke or something. And I'm not allowed to see either of you either. But fuck that! You guys are my friends and I'm going to see you every day at practice and afterward if you want. And I'm not quitting the team until he forces me to. He works every day, so he won't even have to know."

"What do you think he'll do when he finds out you haven't quit?" Trevor asked. "He will eventually, you know."

"I know, I answered. "I guess I'll worry about that when it happens. But the coach gave me his number, and I have an uncle who I'm going to call later as well. He lives up around Parsons. And get this. Uncle Robert and the coach actually dated in high school. Can you believe that shit?"

"Wow, no shit!" Lucas said. "That's so cool."

"Yeah, it is," Trevor agreed.

"I haven't seen him since I was maybe five years old," I told them. "He got thrown out of his house during his senior year for being gay. He'll understand and know what to do."

"I hope so," Trevor said. "But just in case, you call me or Lucas if you have any problems. You can stay with me while you figure out what to do. I'm sure my dad won't mind."

"Mine either," Lucas said.

"Thanks guys," I said. "The coach told me the same thing. Between all of you I think I'll be alright, even if something happens at home, which I can see happening. It was all I could do yesterday to keep from standing up and denouncing the church, and then telling my parents that I'm gay as well. I'm afraid I'm gonna end up saying something if I'm not careful."

"Well, just remember, you have friends who will help you," Lucas said. "And your uncle I'm sure will help you as well."

"And don't forget Coach Barrett either," Trevor said.

"I won't," I said. "And thanks again. By the way, Brian knows about me."

"How did he find out, if you don't mind my asking?" Trevor asked.

"He busted me a month or so ago looking at shirtless boys on the internet. He's promised he won't say anything and I trust him."

"That's good to know," Lucas said. "I bet you were scared as hell when that happened, weren't you?"

"You have no idea," I told them. "And embarrassed as hell also."

"At least they weren't totally naked pictures," Lucas said. "I look at those on occasion."

"I do as well," Trevor said. "I can't help myself sometimes."

"I'm the same way," I admitted. "I'm just a little more careful when I do it now, however. As Brian pointed out at the time, what if he had been dad. Now I make sure I'm facing the door so I can see anyone coming into the room."

"Probably a good idea," Trevor said. "Either of you guys hungry?"

"Foolish question," Lucas said. "I'm always hungry, especially after we finish practicing."

"Hornet's Nest?" I said. "Dad shouldn't be home from work for about three more hours so I should be okay. I want to call my uncle as well before he gets home. I don't want him or mom knowing anything about any of this."

The three of us jumped on our bikes and rode to the Hornet's Nest, which is only about a block from the football field. We sat there for over an hour, talking and laughing, before I finally decided I had to head for home. I promised both guys I'd see them tomorrow morning. I wanted to call Uncle Robert before mom and dad got home. I didn't know what I was going to say, but I knew I needed to call him.

Mom had told me once about my Uncle Robert, my dad's younger brother. Uncle Robert was in his mid-twenties and wasn't married. I never thought much about him since I hadn't seen him for nearly ten years. Mom had told me why and warned me to never mention anything about him to dad. Uncle Robert was gay! It kind of shocked me, but I really didn't understand what that meant at the time. All I knew was that he was very rarely mentioned and when he was he was always referred to as 'that faggot brother of mine'.

Not that I was older and understood what being gay meant and even thought I was gay myself, I knew Uncle Robert was probably someone I would like to meet and talk to. If my dad hated him then he must be okay, at least to my way of thinking.

I don't understand how my dad could hate his own brother like that and want to keep me and Brian away from him. Maybe he though Uncle Robert would molest me or my brother or would make us gay as well. That was pretty stupid, but it seemed to fit with my dad's way of thinking.

Now that I knew for sure where he lived and had an actual phone number I decided I needed to call him, if for no other reason just to reconnect and let him know what was going on with me, and to just talk to him about being gay and growing up in a home like the one I lived in. According to the coach, Uncle Robert had been kicked out of his own house when he was just a few years older than I am now, and I had the feeling I was going to be kicked out of my home in the near future as well. I just don't know how much more I can take of all the crap at church and now at home and I needed somewhere I could go, even if it was just temporary. He was the only person I could think of who I thought might be able to help me. Sure, Lucas and Trevor had both told me I could stay with them, but I couldn't do that for more than a few days, and while the coach had also said he would help me, again that couldn't last for more than a few days at the most. Knowing my father, when he found out, he would end up calling the police on the coach and accusing him of all kinds of stuff, and I couldn't allow any of that to happen. No, I needed a more permanent solution to my problems.

After I got back home from eating with Trevor and Lucas I checked the house to make sure no one was home and then decided to call Uncle Robert. I just hope I don't disturb him at work and that he's able to talk to me right now. I pulled out my phone and put it back in my pocket several times before I could make myself dial his number. I made myself do it. I needed help and waiting would only make it worse. Uncle Robert's voice was cheerful when he answered. That put me at ease a bit.

"Hello," he answered.

"Hello," I said. "Is this Robert Newman?"

"Yes, it is," he answered. "Who may I ask is calling?"

I hesitated for just a second before answering. "Uh, this is Andrew. This is your nephew, Andrew."

"Andrew," he said, clearly surprised to hear my voice. "I never thought I'd hear from you after your father cut me out of his and your life. What can I do for you?"

Him and I began talking, and soon I began to feel a little better about the fact that I might be gay. Uncle Robert seemed cool. I hadn't seen him for over ten years and I had only vague memories of him.

"Um, Uncle Robert?" I said, when we'd been talking quite a while. "Could I talk to you about something?"

My stomach churned. I'd been talking about anything and everything, except what I'd called about. I didn't know where to start, or what to say.

"Of course you can, Andrew. You can talk to me about anything."

"Well, um, dad told me about you."

"About me?"

"Yeah, about you being, um… gay. Only he didn't say it like that. He very rarely talks about you, and when he does he just refers to you as 'that faggot brother of mine', or something along those lines. It took me a few years to figure out what he was referring to when he said that."

"So, he's still as big an ass as ever?" he said. I could hear the bitterness in his voice when he said that.

"Pretty much, but probably even worse than when you last talked to him," I said. "But that's not why I called you."

"How can I help you, Andrew?" he asked.

"Well, uh, I kind of… I need to talk about me."

I felt a little frightened at that moment. It was so difficult talking about something like this, especially to someone I basically knew nothing about. Sure, I had talked to Trevor and Lucas, but they were my friends and they were my age which made it a little easier, and the coach I knew from practice, but Uncle Robert I knew nothing about. But I knew I had to do this and I was determined.

"Andrew, you know I care about you. Even if I haven't seen you since you were five years old. Nothing will change that. You're my favorite nephew after all."

"Actually, I have a younger brother named Brian that you probably don't even know about," I told him. He's thirteen now."

"No, I didn't," he said. "I wish that stupid brother of mine would stop being such an asshole and let me see both of my nephews."

"I know," I said. "Unfortunately, I don't see that changing. Which brings me to the reason I'm calling. I had to search high and low to even find your number. I finally ended up getting it from my football coach. He said to say hi to you and see if you remember him. Brendan Barrett. He said you guys dated in high school."

"Oh, my god, Brendan. Yes, I remember him. We still see each other occasionally. We did date for about a year in our junior and senior years, before he was discovered by his father and kicked out. How is he now?"

"He's fine," I said. "He's been helping me out here lately with a problem I'm having. Not really a problem I guess, but something that's happening with me. Something I need to tell you, Uncle Robert, and I want to ask you some questions as well, if I can."

"This sounds serious," he said.

"It is," I said. "I'm not even sure where to start or how to tell you what I need to, but I need someone to help me with this, someone who's family, someone I know will understand."

"I'll help you however I can, Andrew," Uncle Robert said.

Again, I hesitated, before I finally started talking. "I… I think I might be… um, I think I might be gay, Uncle Robert. I'm not really sure what all that means, or whether I really am gay, but I thought maybe you could help me out."

"I'll be glad to help you, Andrew," he told me. "But let me ask you a question. Does your father know anything about this?"

"Oh, hell no," I responded. "I can't even imagine how he would react or what he might do if he ever found out. I'm sure it wouldn't be good."

"You're right about that," he said. "Between him and that damn church there's no telling what might happen to you. But, what makes you think you might be gay?"

"There's these boys at school who I'm friends with. You know I don't really have any friends, what with my situation at home. I'm not allowed to do anything; therefore no one wants to hang out with me."

"Believe me, I know," he said. "It was more or less the same with me and your father when we were in school, although he's ten years older than me. If it didn't involve church then we weren't allowed to do anything. I was allowed to play football, but that was about it. That's how Brendan and I got together. He was quite the player in his day, you know."

"That's what I've heard," I told him. "Dad has allowed Brian and me to play as well for the last couple of years. But he pulled me off the team when two of my teammates and friends came out as gay. Said he didn't want them trying to recruit me, whatever the hell that means. I really screwed up, Uncle Robert. I outed both boys in a fit of stupidity, and that's how all this crap started."

I then explained briefly what had happened with Trevor and Lucas and how I had denounced them on the field last week, and how the church had found out and all the shit that the preacher had talked about.

"Fortunately, both Trevor and Lucas have forgiven me and we're still friends. But I still feel bad about what happened."

"Yeah, I've been reading about your team for the last few years," he told me. "It seems you have had several out gay players in the last five or six years. Probably no more than any other team or school in general I suppose, but the ones in your school are mostly out. Plus, there are probably more that aren't out yet."

"Yeah, they denounce them from the pulpit on a regular basis," I told him. "They've even protested a few games in the past and are planning on doing the same again. The people in the church are completely nuts, and even dangerous I'm beginning to think. You should have heard what was preached at last Sunday's service. It actually scared me a little, especially with our president talking all the crap he talks."

I explained what all the preacher had talked about in church last Sunday, the concentration camps, killing gay people, all the other crap. I could tell that Uncle Robert was upset just by the change in his voice when I finished.

"I know," he said. "You forget, I was forced to attend that same church when I was your age, but the preacher never got that extreme that I remember. You need to be very careful, Andy until you can get away from that crap. Fortunately, I was able to get away from that shit, but it still bothers me on occasion, and now it seems it's getting even worse."

"You should have been there last year," I told him. "I swear to god, a boy named Jeremy actually stood up in front of the entire congregation, announced he was gay, told the whole church to kiss his gay ass and dropped his pants right in front of everyone. It was so funny. You should have seen it. His parents haven't been back since, and Jeremy has completely disappeared."

"I wish I could have been there," Uncle Robert said. "I'm sure it was funny as hell. But please, go ahead and tell me what makes you think you might be gay."

"Okay," I said. "There are these two boys, Lucas and Trevor, the ones I told you about. They're really good looking, Uncle Robert, and I think about doing stuff with them, every time I see them. I mean… sex stuff. I also think about that stuff when I see the other guys on my team in the locker room. I've never done anything with a girl, and I don't even think I want to, and I have these feelings about boys, especially Trevor and Lucas, but others as well. I've never done anything with a boy either, but I want to. Does that make sense to you?"

"It makes perfect sense to me, Andrew. There was a guy I knew in high school," said Uncle Robert. "It was your coach, Brendan Barrett. The boys you're talking about sound a lot like him. I used to kind of follow him around. He was gorgeous. He was built and had muscles everywhere. I thought about him a lot. I had fantasies about him. I jerked off thinking about him. He was my teammate, but he was so popular, and all the girls wanted him, and I'm sure one or two boys probably did as well, besides me, of course. I know I sure did. Imagine my shock when he told me he was gay and asked me out on a date."

I had never discussed such things with anyone before, not even Trevor and Lucas, and I was nervous. It was helping though.

"He is still nice looking for an older guy," I said, kind of laughing.

"Hey, he's my age, and I'm not that old," Uncle Robert teased. "I'm not even thirty yet."

"Yeah, I know," I told him. "But anyway, I, um, I think about other guys a lot, too. I imagine us wrestling or playing football, and they have their shirts off. I enjoy being on the field and tackling and being able to touch all my teammates. It makes me… hard. I just… I'm just so confused."

"It's okay, Andrew," he told me. "It's okay to be confused. Things like this aren't easy, especially for someone your age."

"I kind of think I might be gay, but I'm not sure. I mean, I've never done anything with anyone. I've got all these feelings inside me and sometimes I just feel like I'm gonna explode. I don't think about girls the way I do about boys, but It's not like I don't like girls. I've heard all this stuff about boys my age experimenting and going through stages and stuff. Not to mention all the shit they talk about in church. I can't decide what I am. I mean, am I straight, or gay, or bi? It's just all too much."

"Andrew, adolescence is a difficult time. Everything is changing and so much is expected of you. You aren't a little boy anymore, but you aren't yet a man either. Things can get really confusing and frustrating. I don't think you need to worry about it so much. Don't try to label yourself. No matter what you do, you are going to be what you are going to be. Maybe this attraction you are feeling for other boys is a passing thing, or maybe you'll discover that you are gay. Maybe what you feeling for other boys is just a strong feeling of friendship. Only time will tell you about these things. I know it's confusing, but I suggest you just sit back and let nature take it's course. It will all work out just as it's meant to work out, whether you worry about it or not. I know I can't tell you just to forget about it, but don't worry about it so much, okay. It sounds like you have a good relationship with Trevor and Lucas, whether it's as a friend or just lust. Either way, it's okay."

"What about mom and dad?" I asked.

"Now that, I'm not sure what to tell you. Knowing my brother the way I do, I think you need to be very, very careful and discrete. I have no doubt he would probably kick you out if he finds out that you might be gay, or send you to one of those centers to be cured, or both."

"I have no doubt he would," I said.

"Here's what I want you to do," he told me. "Keep my number in your phone and call me immediately if anything happens. I don't care if it's three o'clock in the morning, you call me and I'll come get you. You can come stay with me and Josiah if you have to. Don't do anything rash. Call me. We'll figure something out. Promise me."

"I will, Uncle Robert, I promise," I told him.

I wish there was some way I could hug Uncle Robert over the phone. I had tears in my eyes. It felt so good to have someone care about me that much. It felt so good to have someone who understood, too.

"Well… uh… I don't know what else to say, so I guess I'd better get off here before dad gets home. He wouldn't be very happy if he found out I was talking to you, you know."

"I know, Andrew. Someone needs to take that man and slap some sense into him. I don't know what the hell his problem is. Now you remember what I told you, Andrew. You call me or Josiah anytime if you have any problems. In fact, I better give you his number as well. I'll talk to him tonight and let him know what's going on."

"I sure will Uncle Robert."

"And call me if you just want to talk, about anything. I'll always be here for you, Andrew."

He quickly gave me Josiah's number and I programmed it into my phone.

"Thanks, Uncle Robert. For everything. Goodbye."

"Goodbye, Andrew. Try and keep in touch if you can."

I hung up and lay back on my bed. I had a lot to think about and a lot to consider. I had a feeling I would be seeing Uncle Robert soon.

Things weren't any better the following Sunday. During prayer I prayed again for god to change me, even though by now I pretty much knew doing so was a complete waste of time. Then Brother Fraser started in again. I was hoping he might preach about something else this Sunday, but no such luck. I still can't get over his sermon last Sunday.

"God created Adam and Eve. He created man and then a woman to be his companion. This is how nature was meant to be, one man and one woman. There are those among us who would pervert god's law by flouting tradition. Two men or two women together was not god's plan. Two men cannot procreate, neither can two women. Such unions are obviously unnatural, so why are they tolerated? I will tell you why, because homosexuals have infiltrated every level of our society. Homosexuals are in our schools teaching our children, and coaching our young, impressionable boys and girls. They are running day care centers and leading scout troops. They have so successfully integrated their selves into our society that some have begun to accept their perverted lifestyle as normal. Even our military is being taken over by the homosexuals, and our own courts, including the Supreme Court have ruled that they should be allowed to get married, just like normal people. Marriage is a sacred institution, instituted by god to be between one man and one woman, not two perverts."

How sacred can it be, I thought, when over half the marriages in this country end in divorce, and maybe half of those who remain married do so for the sake of their children, or other reasons, not because they still love each other. Even my own parents I sometimes wonder how they stay together. And don't even get me started on the military. As long as someone can qualify to serve that should be the only requirement. Gay or straight or anything in between, as long as they can meet the requirements. And now our president has banned transgender troops from serving. I really don't understand the whole transgender thing myself, but again, as long as they can meet the requirements, so fucking what. I refocused on what the preacher was saying again, trying to sit still and keep my mouth shut.

"We the good Christians of not only this church, but all churches, must combat this threat to the very fabric of our society. Last week, I talked about camps to isolate the homosexuals. How do we bring this about? By voting! We just elected President Trump and a Republican majority in both houses of congress, which is a good start, but the godless Democrats are fighting him every step of the way. Even some in his own party are opposing some of his ideas. The midterm elections are coming up in a little over a year, not to mention the various state and local election coming up. It is the duty of every good Christian to register to vote and to vote his conscience. At the end of the service today you will find the voting records of our local, state and federal representatives, as well as information on new candidates. I'm not here to tell you who you should vote for, but we'll provide more information as the election gets closer next year. What I ask is that as candidates announce their intent that you take a long, hard look at them and their records and vote for who you know is right."

I almost laughed out loud at that. Vote for who you know is right. Like Dewayne Walker last year. During last year's campaign for the House of Representatives, it came out that Walker liked little girls. We're talking about a man in his thirties hitting on girls as young as fourteen. Talk about being a pervert. But apparently that was okay since he claimed to be a god-fearing Christian. And yet, two men or two women wanting to love each other and get married and just be left alone was the end of the world. Thankfully, Walker had been overwhelmingly defeated by the people in our congressional district. The church was disappointed, but I just wonder how many of the people in the congregation actually voted for him. At least they got Trump, which made them happy.

"We must take other steps as well and some of those steps are close to home. We must weed out homosexuality before it has a chance to gain roots. Homosexuality is a choice. It is a chosen lifestyle. Many claim it is not, but do not let yourself be fooled. Those who practice this deviant lifestyle do so because they have chosen to follow the path of depravity. Look to your own children. Watch then with a critical eye and be ever vigilant for signs that they might be setting foot on the wrong path. Effeminate toddlers must be taught to be tough. They must be taught to learn to withstand pain. I know such measures are difficult for soft hearted parents, but if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. In this case the stakes are much higher. You are fighting for the immortal souls of your sons. A black eye or a cracked wrist is a small price to pay for salvation. Some rough treatment now from the hands of loving parents we prevent your sons from being bashed later by those who do not possess Christian attitudes.

"Girls too are at risk. Butch girls must be made to soften up. They must not try to be boys. They should not play sports and they should, at least in church and at formal events, wear dresses.

"God designed us to be male or female before we were even created. When anyone expresses gender dissatisfaction in words or deeds, they are sinning against god. Boys who are feminine and girls who are masculine are as guilty of sin as those who commit adultery. Do not tolerate such in your house. You must be strong so that your children will be as god intended them to be. If it takes force, then so be it.

"Men ought to act like men, and women ought to act like women. Living out gender distinctions glorifies god. The homosexuals fly in the face of this. Those god hating abominations need to be wiped from the face of the earth. Be vigilant. They will come for your children. They will seek to turn them. Sometimes the attack will be direct. Sometimes it will be more insidious. Some teach what they call 'toleration'. Do not be fooled. It is nothing but a recruitment tactic. Beware of even thoughts. Thinking sinful thoughts is the same as sinning. Thinking about committing a sin is a sin committed. Make no mistake, we are in a battle for the hearts, minds and souls of our children."

Now he was telling parents to beat their sons if they weren't masculine enough. That's the meaning I received from his comments about a 'black eye' or 'cracked wrist'. Force girls to be feminine? The pastor seemed to think he was god. I could not wait to get out of coming to church. It seemed like it was getting more and more crazy every week.

As the service continued I thought about what the pastor said about thoughts and sin. When I lusted after the guys in the showers at school it was the same as having sex with them. How could that be true? It seemed to me there was a big difference between thinking about having sex and actually having sex. If what he said was true then thinking about killing someone was the same as killing them. That made no sense at all. If I thought about killing someone his or her life continued. If I killed them they were dead. There was a big difference between dead and not dead.

The pastor ranted on about the homosexuals and how they had to be stopped and controlled now because they were demanding more and more rights. It seemed to me that rights didn't have to be demanded. I'd looked up the word 'right' n the dictionary very recently for some school work and one of the definitions was 'morally good'. Gay people had to be stopped before they could demand what was morally good? He also mentioned tomorrows big solar eclipse, which he called a sign from god that the country needed to turn back to him before it was too late.

The preacher rattled on for a few more minutes before finally winding down. As we stood for the prayer to be dismissed I thought about what all I had heard today, and previously. I just didn't know how much longer I was going to be able to stop myself from saying anything.

I was quiet on the ride home. I felt as if my world had been turned upside down. Mom even asked if I was feeling okay, and Brian kept looking at me and shaking his head.

I took off my good clothes and hung them in the closet, then we sat down at the table for lunch. I knew it was pointless to say anything, and for once even dad didn't have much to say. I knew he agreed with every word the preacher had said today, but so far, he had not mentioned it.

After finishing lunch, I decided to go for a walk like I had the previous Sunday. I used to come home from church feeling uplifted. I felt as if god was a part of my life and I'd just touched base with him. Now…

God was supposed to love everyone, but our pastor preached hate. It wasn't just him either. I'd seen the parishioners nodding and agreeing with everything he said. Pastor Fraser whipped up the congregation into a homo hating frenzy. Were gay people really that bad? Compared to rape and murder, having sex with another guy seemed kind of tame, and yet Pastor Fraser ranted about homosexuality as if it was worse than both.

I thought about Lucas and Trevor. I was supposed to hate them? They were my friends who had stuck with me even after all the stuff I had said about them. I could never hate them. Hate was wrong.

A tear ran down my cheek. I couldn't make sense of any of it. I felt lost and alone. I'd always trusted that god was with me. I'd always believed that god loved everyone, but it seemed it wasn't so. Didn't god create everyone? If he created everyone, he created gay people. How could he create us and not love us? The pastor said homosexuality was a choice, but I wasn't so sure about that. When I looked at guys like Lucas and Trevor in the showers my whole body reared. I didn't want to desire them, but I did. I closed my eyes for a moment; half fearing lightening would strike me for acknowledging my lust. I didn't want to desire other guys. I'd even prayed to god to take my unnatural lust away from me, but it wasn't gone. I tried to fight it, but it wouldn't go away. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't be ignored. How could god do this to me? I'd always gone to church. I'd always tried to be a good Christian. How could he make me feel these feelings and then hate me for it?


My breath caught in my throat for a moment. I thought someone was yelling at me, but no. I was walking in downtown Chouteau and the voice came out of an alley. In a few seconds Tristan Walton came tearing out of the alley. He hid himself behind a display of clearance garden plants in front of the hardware store. My eyes met his. Tears ran down his cheeks and he trembled.

Tristan was a bizarre emo, or goth. I guess that's the correct term. He usually wore only a black tank top or t-shirt and black skinny jeans which hung low on his butt and had holes in the knees, along with a big silver belt, and a wallet with a chain. His hair was black, too, with a blue streak through it. He sometimes had a blond streak or red on occasion, and it reached down to his shoulders. He seemed to change it on a regular basis so I never knew what to expect. He wore a leather collar with spikes and studded leather bracelets around his wrists. He also wore lots of chains and necklaces, too. He had an earring dangling from his left ear and black makeup lining his eyes, along black rimmed glasses.

Tristan didn't smile, at least not much. He has this ultra-serious, angry look to him most of the time. Some kids, including me, are afraid of him. Kids like him were another of the groups of people that the church preached against.

If you can get past all that however, he's actually kind of cute, in a weird sort of way, at least I think so. I didn't really understand people like Tristan, but who am I to judge. I see nothing wrong with it, it's just not my thing.

Cody burst out of the alley. His chest heaved. He panted. He looked up the street in one direction and then the other with narrowed eyes. Then, he noticed me.

"Did you see that little faggot? Did you see where he went? I'm gonna kick his ass!"

If what Pastor Fraser said was right then as a good Christian I had to turn Tristan in. I had to let Cody beat him up and should probably join in myself. If I didn't tell the truth… if I didn't tell Cody where Tristan was hiding… if I didn't help him beat Tristan up I'd go to hell for it.

I looked at Tristan for a moment. He'd drawn his knees up to his chin and was rocking back and forth silently sobbing. He looked at me with tear filled eyes and pleaded with me to protect him. I made my decision. I'd go to hell.

"Yeah, he tore down the street that way, then cut back to the left," I said, pointing south.

"Thanks, man!"

Cody took off. I looked down at Tristan again. I started to speak, but no words came. Our eyes met and we just gazed at each other. I turned away from him and walked away.

My eyes filled with tears. I knew what I'd just done, but how could I have done any differently? My religion taught me to love others, but then demanded that I allow a boy to be abused. The two demands were incompatible and I was caught in the middle. In my heart I felt I'd done what was right, but Pastor Fraser would not agree. I didn't want to go to hell, but what else could I do? My very faith demanded it. I felt betrayed by that faith. I'd been set up for a fall and I had fallen. It was a trap from which there was no escape.

I walked to the football field. I sat down on the bleachers. A slight wind blew over the empty field, carrying with it the scent of recently mowed grass. The football stands felt lonely and too quiet. I'd sat in the stands when they were filled with screaming, yelling fans, and the band blaring out fight songs. Now, there was only the sound of the wind, like a lonely wail, pleading for companionship.

"I don't want to go to church anymore."

I don't know why I said it out loud. Maybe it was because I needed to hear something besides the wind. Maybe I just needed to say it out loud to make the thought real.

I thought about Tristan, his eyes full of tears, hiding behind the display in front of the hardware store. I thought about Lucas and Trevor and how magnificent they looked when they stood in the showers, naked, rivulets of water streaming down their bodies. I thought about all the other guys on the team as well. I thought about my pastor standing up in front of the congregation, his face contorted with hatred as he preached against gays. My mind was spinning. It was so filled with images I wanted to scream.

August 21st, 2017, my first day of high school. I was excited to start because I knew that once I started high school it would be only four more years until I graduated and could leave home. Four long years, to be sure, but I was so looking forward to it. Assuming I can survive that long, that is.

I was a little nervous, of course, as high school is a whole different world than junior high, and more was expected of me. But I wasn't so nervous that I couldn't wait to start. Today was to be a special day in more ways than one as it turned out, and tomorrow would be even better, although I didn't know it at the time.

First, today was the big day for the total solar eclipse which would be able to be seen across North America, mainly the United States, on a diagonal path from Washington State through South Carolina. It would be able to be seen here in Chouteau, but not nearly as well as in other parts of the country, mainly a little farther north of us, which is why some people drove out to the northwest to get a better view. Of course, the school was providing special glasses needed to safely watch everything and planned on letting school out early. Why they didn't just delay the start of school until tomorrow I have no idea. I mean, this eclipse has been known about for over thirty years so it's not like they didn't have enough notice.

One other significant incident happened today as well, at least it was significant to me, although it wasn't apparent until several days later, and tomorrows incident was just as significant, maybe more so than what happened today. But more about that later.

My classes weren't all that difficult to find. Chouteau High School is a small school, in fact all twelve grades are in the same building, elementary school on one end, junior high on the other end and high school right in the middle. Probably less than five hundred students total in all grades. I had around twenty-five in my freshman class.

I had the usual classes that freshman are required to take, like algebra, English and science. There were a variety of other classes I could take, but those three were required for everyone. Science always seems to stir up the people in my church, but what else is new, right. If they had their way, science would be completely thrown out and the bible would be taught instead. After all, the earth is only about seven thousand years old and was created by god in seven days, not millions of years ago, and dinosaurs walked around with people back in the beginning. God created one man and one woman and somehow, we managed to populate the entire earth in less than seven thousand years, and somehow there are all these different types of people, everything you can imagine, black, white, brown, and everything in between, and yet evolution is a myth made up by godless scientists. Yeah, right! All that other stuff scientist tells us is bullshit as well, right? I used to actually believe all that nonsense, but the older I get the more I've learned to think for myself.

And, of course, gym class. A lot of kids hate gym class but since I started playing football a couple of years ago I don't mind so much. Gym is where I first started noticing the other boys, although I didn't really understand what I was feeling until recently. Now I kind of look forward to it, even though I could barely bring myself to admit it until just recently. That was my last class before lunch.

I entered the locker room and looked around. There were a few older guys along with the few freshmen like me. Not everyone took the same classes at the same time.

As soon as I stepped into the locker room I saw several guys in various stages of dress. This looks promising, I thought to myself. Of course, I see naked football players every day at practice, but a lot of these guys are different. Just as cute, naturally, but just not necessarily as athletic. You don't have to be a jock to be cute. There's an endless variety of boys out there, some very nice looking, some not so nice looking, and most in between. I think I fall into that last category.

I also heard the words 'faggot' and 'cocksucker' among others coming from the other side of the room. It was Cody again, and him and several of his friends had Tristan surrounded and were threatening him for staring at them. Like I mentioned earlier, Tristan can be a little intimidating to me and the guys in my classes, as well as the younger kids, but not to the older boys like Cody, who was two years older. Tristan was looking scared when he glanced over and noticed me. I feel guilty, but I just ignored everything and found my locker, number 51, and started to open it up to put my stuff away and change for class.

As I was sitting on the bench taking my shoes off I heard what sounded like someone banging on one of the lockers in the same aisle as me. I listened closer and sure enough, someone was pounding from the inside of one of the lockers pounding and yelling. I quickly walked over and opened up locker number 62, and sure enough there was Avery Preston, one of my classmates. When I opened the door, he flipped me off and then I guess he realized that I wasn't one of the bullies who had stuffed him inside so he smiled at me instead. I quickly helped him out of the locker and he sat down on the bench. I sat down beside him and looked him over. Avery had brown hair and brown eyes and was probably five feet five inches tall and weighed a hundred pounds, if that much. Clearly no match for the older guys like Cody, who I suspect are the ones who put him in the locker to begin with.

They were still over harassing Tristan when Tom noticed that Avery had gotten free.

"How the hell did you get out?" Tom yelled across the room.

Avery quickly ran out of the room before they could grab him again, and Tristin was able to get away as well when all of them turned their attention my way.

"Did you let that little faggot out, Newman?" Steve asked.

I was a little scared because Cody, Tom, Steve and the others are all bullies I've heard about. They're all juniors and seniors. Like I said, I was scared, but at the same time I knew they wouldn't dare mess with me too much. I was a football player after all, and they weren't. Say what you will about high school athletes, and I know they can be arrogant assholes at times, but they also wouldn't stand for one of their own to be beaten up or anything like that.

"Yes, I let him out," I said. "Why would you stuff someone inside a locker like that?"

"Because Walton and Preston are both cocksucking little faggots," Cody said. "Besides, it's none of your damn business what we do. You should just get changed and get the hell out before we stuff you into a locker."

Just then I heard someone clear his throat and I looked up to see Robin and David, two of my teammates, looking over at the group of bullies.

"If anyone's going to get stuffed into a locker, Cody it's going to be you," Robin said. "Right now, you and your friends need to fuck off and get out of here before we get mad."

While Robin and David might not be able to take care of things by themselves, they could get the rest of the team to take care of business, and the bullies knew it. They quickly turned and walked out of the locker room without saying another word. Both boys then turned and looked at me.

"Are you alright, Andy?" David asked. "What was that all about, anyway?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," I told them. I quickly explained what had happened with Tristan and Avery.

"Tristan's that little freak with all that shit in his face and that weird collar around his neck, right?" Robin asked.

"Yeah, that's him." I said. "Him and Avery are friends, but Avery looks normal."

"What's up with all that shit anyway?" David asked. "I mean, why the fuck does that kid dress like that?"

"Who the hell knows," I answered. "I don't get it at all, but whatever."

"Yeah, I suppose," Robin agreed. "It just freaks me out when I see kids like that. I don't know why, but it just does."

David looked at his watch. "Shit, we better get out onto he gym floor. We're already late. It's a good thing we don't have to get dressed out today."

"Oh, yeah, we don't, do we?" I said.

I had forgotten that the first day the gym teacher would just inform us of what to expect for our daily classes. I quickly put my shoes back on and headed out with David and Robin.

Mr. Flynn looked up at the three of us as we walked toward the bleachers. "Don't be late again or I'll have to assign detention," he told us. "Sit down and I'll explain what all of you can expect in my classes, starting tomorrow."

I saw Tristan and Avery sitting by themselves. I had known both boys since kindergarten but it was only within the last year or so that Tristan had started this whole emo thing. I really don't understand all that crap, but to each his own, I suppose. They both smiled and gave me a little wave when they saw me. I looked over at them and kind of waved back and then sat down with Robin, David, and a couple of other members of my team.

Mr. Flynn droned on for about thirty minutes, telling us what we already knew. We would be doing different games every week and everyone was expected to participate. I heard several of the kids groan when they heard that, but that wasn't surprising. Not every kid is athletic, and some are just downright clumsy when it comes to any kind of sports. Some kids are super smart and some are not. It takes all kinds to make the world more interesting. Now, if only my church could understand that. To them if you're not a white, English speaking American than you don't really matter. What the fuck, right, but that's the way they seem to think.

Finally, it was time for lunch, and damn, was I hungry. I quickly got my meal and made my way over to the football table. Everyone who's ever been in high school knows that there are certain things that are just not done, and sitting at the wrong table is one of them. Each little group has their own area and it is unheard of to sit in the wrong place. For example, the football table. No matter who you are, if you aren't one the football team, or one of the cheerleaders, or a girlfriend of one of the players, then you don't belong there. It's just been an unwritten rule since the beginning of time. There's also the nerd and geek table, one for the druggies and other burnouts, and even a table for those who don't necessarily fit into any category. This was where I noticed Tristan, Avery, and a couple of their friends sat.

The real excitement was the next day, however. At least I thought so anyway. I was sitting at the jock table with all the other players, along with all the cheerleaders and a few other girlfriends of the players, as well as two boyfriends. That would be Lucas and Trevor. I hadn't seen most of them, other than the football players since May, and didn't even know most of the older kids at all.

The news about Trevor and Lucas had spread all over the school by now, but no one seemed to really give a damn. They were just one more couple, the way the Robin, the quarterback and Sandra, one of the cheerleaders, were a couple. It just didn't seem to matter.

Cameron's girlfriend, Melissa, started asking some of the other guys if they had girlfriends. Several of them said yes, but most of them said no, but that they were looking. She then looked over at Jason.

"So, what about you, Jason?" she asked. "You got a girlfriend?"

I saw him look over at Brent, who just nodded his head and smiled.

"No, but I have a boyfriend," he announced, like it was no big deal, which I guess it wasn't.

I swear the whole table went silent for several seconds.

"A boyfriend?" she asked. "Who is he? Is he cute?"

"I think he's very cute," Jason said. "The cutest boy in school as a matter of fact. He's…"

"He's me," Brent said, before Jason could finish. "Actually, I'm the second cutest boy in school. Jason is the cutest."

Both boys are cute, no doubt, but as far as being the cutest boys in school, well, that's a matter of opinion. I think Trevor and Lucas are cuter, and there are others who are just as cute, including Tristan, despite the weird way he dresses, and all the piercings and other shit. And his friend Avery is cute as well. I sometimes wonder about them. They are best friends apparently, and maybe more. Or maybe not. Just because they are always together doesn't necessarily mean anything.

I looked over and saw Trevor and Lucas smiling, and they both gave Jason and Brent a thumbs up. I just smiled at them but didn't dare say anything. God, I wish I could have a boyfriend and be open with him like those guys. I don't suppose that will happen however, at least while I'm still in high school.

Needless to say, those two were the topic of conversation for the rest of lunch and then for the rest of the day as well. That will all die down by the end of the week as someone else will be put in the spotlight. Couples are always getting together, fighting, breaking up, getting back together, over and over. That's just part of the drama that's high school, I guess.

That was all the excitement for the week, and before I knew it the first week of high school was over. Normally I would look forward to the weekend, and I still was, except for church on Sunday. Somehow, I just knew that this news would make it's way to the pastor and we would get another sermon on the evils of gay people. I really wasn't looking forward to that at all.

I didn't want to go to church. I felt guilty for not wanting to go but my church had turned on me. What I'd always thought was the house of god… wasn't. Every Sunday for the last two weeks the pastor had been preaching hate against gays and most of the congregation seemed to agree. I was sure that today would be more of the same since the big announcement by Brent and Jason on Tuesday. Time and again the pastor talked about perverts choosing to be gay, but when I was near Lucas and Trevor, or Jason and Brent, or any other attractive boy, there was no choice to be made. My body reacted in no uncertain terms. I did nothing to make it happen. I'd fought it with everything I had and yet it was still there.

Pastor Fraser looked so sanctimonious standing behind the pulpit as we entered the church. My eyes narrowed. He'd made me feel guilty about something I shouldn't have felt guilty about at all. He'd harmed me with his words and he had been trying to harm others like me. There had been two boys who had gone to my church until just recently that had left, Jeremy and Mason. Jeremy had told the church off and just disappeared and Mason had done more or less the same thing after being kicked out by his parents for being gay. Brother Fraser was inciting the congregation to commit violence against gays. He would deny it was violence, but concentration camps for gays, and encouraging parents to beat their children. That was violence to be sure.

I wasn't to pleased with god at the moment, either. I thought he loved everyone but he'd stuck me with desires for members of my own sex and he was going to send me to hell for it, for something that wasn't my fault. How was that fair? I began to suspect that god wasn't good and kind and loving. Maybe he was sadistic. A sadistic god made more sense than a kind and loving god. The world was filled with pain, suffering, sickness, and despair. Cruel acts were committed daily, a lot of times in his name. The strong trampled the weak and few seemed to care. If god loved everyone there would be no such things as sickness, sadness, grief, or pain. Such things could only be the creation of a cruel god.

What about me? I felt like god had set me up. I was coming to understand that being gay wasn't a choice at all. I didn't try to get turned on by guys like Lucas and Trevor, or Brent and Jason, or even Tristan for that matter. It just happened. I'd even tried hard not to get turned on by them, but there was no stopping it. God made me gay and he made being gay a sin, so I had definitely been set up. It wasn't fair. I had no choice in the matter. I didn't even understand why being gay was a sin. It didn't make any sense.

I took my seat in the pew by my parents and brother, sitting where we always sat. The congregation began to sing a hymn. I'd always loved singing the hymns but now it left me feeling empty. It was as if all the meaning had been drained away. I'd lost my faith in god and with that went everything. After that we took up the tithes and offerings and did the prayer requests before singing two more songs.

Then Brother Fraser stood up and walked to the pulpit to begin his sermon. As I suspected, it was another diatribe against homosexuals, specifically Jason and Brent. No surprise there.

"I have some more disturbing news," he began. "I heard that two more of our young boys came out as homosexuals earlier this week at school. It seems that Jason Bolander and Brent Saunders just stood up in the lunch room, right in front of everyone and announced their perversion. We need to pray for our school and our young people, especially these perverts as well as the other two as you'll recall I mentioned a couple of weeks back."

I really wanted to say something but I didn't. I wanted to see where this would go today. At least now I had somewhere to go if things should turn bad for me, which seems more and more likely all the time. Just from talking to Uncle Robert I knew that I would be able to go live with him if it became necessary.

"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. These are not my words, but the words of the bible, Leviticus 18:12.

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. Again, these are not my words, but the words of the bible. Leviticus 20:13.

"A few weeks ago, I suggested that camps be created to separate homosexuals from normal members of society, but as you can see from Leviticus, I have erred in my kindness, for what the bible says is quite clear, 'they shall be put to death.' Homosexuals should be put to death here as they were in Israel. If this was done, there would be none of this 'coming out of the closet.' Homosexuals would either remain hidden from the view of good Christians or they would be executed. And that should apply to the so called transgender people, whatever that is, as well. Does anyone even know what that means? Men should be men and women should be women, as god created them.

"You may be asking yourself if I'm telling you to go out and kill homosexuals. No, I am not, but President Trump and the government should. They won't but they should. I know such violence is detestable, but it is god's idea, not mine, and I'm not ashamed of it."

"Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22: 37-39."

It was not Pastor Fraser who spoke those words. It was me. I've had all I can take from this so-called man of god and I wasn't going to remain silent any longer. I've just been beaten down all my life by the bible and at this point I have no more cheeks to turn and no more fucks to give. I've read the entire bible on several occasions over the last few years, and took a few notes here recently to try and help me understand what was going on. While I don't claim to be an expert, I do know enough to say what I'm saying.

Many people cling to their religion as an excuse to withhold our rights, blacks and other minorities in the past, and now gays. But biblical arguments just don't make sense. You can't pick and chose which parts of the bible you want to adhere to and then ignore others because it doesn't fit your mindset. Working on the sabbath, eating shellfish, wearing clothing of mixed fabrics, all these are sins worthy of death if we are to take the bible literally at it's word, and yet the preacher never talks about stuff like that. It's always about gay people or some other group.

"We love god because god first loved us. If someone says 'I love god', yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother whom he can see, cannot love god, whom he has not seen. Whoever loves god must also love his brother. 1 John 4: 19-20."

A gasp ran through the congregation as I stood up. My breath caught in my throat but I was done listening to this self-righteous asshole. Pastor Fraser glared at me.

"Sit down and be quiet, or leave," he said.

"What's wrong, Pastor? Can't you refute my words? You stand behind your pulpit and preach hatred and murder and claim it is not your words, but god's. The message of god is one of love and only love."

"The bible clearly states that homosexuals are to be put to death."

"The bible nowhere mentions homosexuals. The word did not exist until recent times," I said. I had done some research on this to make sure I was right before I said anything. "If you knew your bible like you say you do, you would also know that there are many other things that are forbidden, but I never hear you preach against any of that. In fact, most of the people in this church, including you, are probably guilty of violating many of the things god mentions in Leviticus. Should everyone here be put to death? Of course not, but according to the bible they should. There are certain people in this congregation, and everyone knows who they are, who have committed adultery, and yet I never hear you preach against that. And that's one of the ten commandments of god. Should they be put to death? Of course not.

"The bible commands many things that are no longer acceptable," I continued. "Do you stone rebellious children to death? Do you sell you neighbors into slavery? No, you do not do these things, and yet you condemn gays to hell for just wanting to love someone."

" 'Justice shall you pursue.' Deutermony 16:20," Pastor Fraser said.

"Yes. 'Justice, justice shall you pursue.' Discrimination against gays is injustice and therefore also in violation of biblical law. Imprisonment and murder are both injustice and therefore also in violation of biblical law, and yet you stand there and preach both. You resemble more the Pharisees than the one you call lord."

The congregation was speechless. No one had ever dared to argue with Pastor Fraser, much less a fifteen-year-old boy.

"The devil can site scripture for his purpose. Be gone, devil!" Pastor Fraser shouted.

"Scripture is filled with love, but you have practiced hatred. Christian religion commands you to love your neighbor, and it imposes an extra obligation on the strong to protect the weak and work for their welfare. Gays are god's lambs. You were charged with protecting them, instead you have persecuted them."

"Remove him!" screamed the preacher. "Remove him and his blasphemy!"

A handful of men in the congregation stepped from their pews and moved toward me, but I held up my hand to stop them.

Don't bother," I told them. "I'm leaving now. You'll never have to see me again, Mr. Fraser. None of you will. I suspect I'll be homeless here shortly anyway, so I never have to see any of you again either."

With that I turned and walked toward the door to the church. I listened as the congregation exploded. Everyone was talking at once. I smiled. I had not wanted to come to church today, and I had certainly not expected to react the way I had, but enough was enough. Even though I knew it would cost me, I'm glad I said what needed saying.

I sat in the back of the car with Brian as dad drove us home from church. I noticed that my parents weren't talking and dad was glaring at me in the rearview mirror. He was clearly pissed off and I knew there would be hell to pay for my outburst.

As soon as we got home, I ran up to my room to change clothes and Brian was right behind me. As soon as we got into our room and closed the door, Brian looked at me.

"What the hell were you thinking, Andy?" he asked.

"I just got tired of listening to all that bullshit, week after week, nothing but gay bashing."

"I know what you mean, Andy," Brian said. "But you know dad is not going to stand for this. What do you suppose he'll do now?"

"I have a pretty good idea what he's going to do, Brian," I told him. "I expect him to kick me out, or try and send me to one of those special camps to be cured."

"But gay people can't be cured, Andy," he said. "I'm not even gay, but I know that. You are what you are, and nothing can change that. That's just a scam. Being gay is not a disease or something."

"I know that, you know that, and most reasonable people know that, but we're not talking about reasonable people here," I said. "The people in the church are completely brainwashed by the preacher, including mom and dad."

"So, what will you do, where will you go?" he asked.

"I expected this would happen eventually so I prepared," I told him. "You may not even know this, but dad has a younger brother named Robert. They haven't spoken to each other for almost ten years because Uncle Robert is gay. He got kicked out of his house back when he was a senior in high school.

"Wow, no shit!" Brian said. "I never knew that."

"I didn't think you probably did," I told him. "But anyway, I was able to get his phone number and called him a few days ago and explained what was going on. He told me to call him if something like this was to happen, so that's probably what I'll do."

"That's good to know," Brian said. "But suppose dad doesn't actually kick you out. I expect he probably will, but maybe he won't."

"I don't think there's much doubt that he will," I said. "I want to give you Uncle Robert's number, but don't tell mom or dad about it. Me and you can stay in contact, unless dad decides to turn my phone off, but they don't need to know, at least not yet. We'll see what happens. Now, I guess I better go down and face the music. Wish me luck."

"Good luck, Andrew," Brian said. "Let me know if you need anything once you get settled in. Where does Uncle Robert live anyway?"

"Him and his partner live up near Parsons," I told them. "I really don't know a whole lot about him, but I'll keep you informed."

I tried to put on a brave face in front of Brian, but I could feel myself trembling slightly and I could feel tears welling up in the corners of my eyes as well. I think Brian could probably sense all this but he didn't say anything. He really was a great brother, even if he did occasionally get on my nerves. I just hoped I would be able to see him again soon.

As soon as I got back downstairs mom and dad were both waiting for me in the living room. I noticed that Brian didn't follow me back down which is probably a good thing. No need for him to get dragged into all this mess.

"What the hell was that all about?" dad started yelling as soon as I walked into the living room. "How dare you say the things you said to Brother Fraser. What the hell were you thinking?"

"I was thinking that I'm gay, and I'm sick of hearing his hateful lies week after week. He's supposed to be a man of god, but he's nothing but a bigoted asshole. Every word that comes from his mouth is a message of hate."

"What did you say?" my father demanded. "Tell me I didn't hear what I thought I heard just now."

"Calm down, dear," mom said. "Let him speak."

"Don't tell me to calm down, Allison," dad yelled at her. "Your son just caused a big problem in church, so don't tell me to calm down."

He glared at me again. I trembled as I stood there, but I was tired of living a lie, of listening to all the bullshit coming from that church.

"You heard me right, dad," I told him. "I'm gay and there's nothing you can do about it. I'm gay! All Mr. Fraser ever talks about is hate, not love. I refuse to call him Brother Fraser, because he is no Christian, and certainly not a man of god. Every human being is created in the image of god, it says so right in the bible if he would bother to actually read it. There are no exceptions! Jesus commanded us to love all others, not all others except the blacks, the Jews, the Muslims, the gays, or any other group of people you care to name, yet he stands there and preaches hatred and abuse. I mean, seriously, concentration camps, beatings and even executions for being how god made us."

"Maybe he's right, Mitch," mom said. "He has been a little extreme here in the last few weeks. I can't believe that god actually wants all that stuff to happen."

Damn! I looked over at mom for a second and smiled. Maybe she's not as bad as I had assumed. There might be some hope for me after all.

Dad was clearly upset with her for saying something. He just glared at her for a second then turned back to me.

"Nobody asked your opinion," he said to her. Then he said to me, "how dare you say something like that about god. God did not make the faggots. He hates faggots and all the other perverts like them."

Since I already knew what the outcome of all this would be, I felt like I didn't have a whole lot to lose, so I was gonna say what I needed to say.

"I thought god made all things," I said. "I sure as hell didn't make myself, and I sure as hell didn't ask to be born gay. In fact, I prayed, begged and pleaded for god to take these feelings away, but he didn't do it. So, what kind of loving god makes someone like me gay, and the condemns me to hell for it? Certainly not the loving god you seem to think he is. If that's the kind of god you worship, I want nothing more to do with him."

"Andrew, please don't say something like that," mom said. "You know…"

I don't know what she was starting to say because dad cut her off again. She can't seem to get a word in edge wise.

"How dare you blaspheme god in this house," dad shouted again. "I will not have a little faggot living under my roof. You can just get the hell out you little cocksucker. You're no son of mine."

"But dad…" I started to say.

"Don't call me that!" he yelled. "I'm not your dad any longer. You can rot in hell as far as I'm concerned, and that's where you're going if you don't change. Now get the hell out of my house. I never want to see you again."

With that he turned and stormed out of the room. I looked over at mom, pleading with my eyes for her to do something.

She looked at me and said, "I'll go talk to him, Andrew. I'm sure he'll change his mind once he calms down. But maybe you should leave, at least for now. I'll call you when it's safe for you to come back home."

I nodded in agreement and decided to leave, but first I quickly ran up to my room, told Brian what had happened, grabbed all the money I had and just left. Maybe he'll calm down eventually like mom seems to think, but I doubt it. At least I have somewhere I can go. I could feel myself starting to cry as I walked down the stairs and out the front door.

I stood on the side of the bridge, looking down at the river, and began to cry again. I couldn't remember having ever felt so miserable before. It had been several hours since I had been kicked out of my house and my mom still hadn't called. In fact, the sun was starting to go down. I hadn't been able to think straight for several hours, but I hadn't called Uncle Robert yet. I guess I was hoping against hope that mom might talk some sense into dad, but that looked more and more like a complete waste of time.

"Hey, Andrew? Are you okay?"

"Shit!" I said, turning around and holding my hand over my heart as I backed away from the dark figure who had slipped upon me. "You scared the crap out of me!"

"Sorry. Are you okay?"

I peered into the darkness and gazed into the concerned eyes of Tristan Walton. I wiped the tears away, but there was no denying I was crying. Tears still flowed from my eyes, even as I fought them back.

"I'm just… I just…"

Another sob broke out. My body shuddered. I wiped the tears from my eyes again. I looked toward the direction of my house, before quickly looking back at Tristan. I'd always feared meeting him in a dark alley or, in this case, on a dark street. He probably carried a knife or some other weapon.

Tristan sure didn't look like he was about to attack me or anything like that. His liquid brown eyes were filled with concern. I bit my trembling lower lip to keep from crying, but I felt so miserable right then that I couldn't help it. I hid my face in my hands and began to sob again.

"Shh, shh," he said.

I flinched when I felt his hands on my shoulders, but he drew me in close. He wrapped his arms around me, and I cried into his shoulder.

"I know, man. I know. It's going to be okay. I promise."

I was confused by Tristan's words and his actions, but I was so miserable that all I cared about at that moment was his arms around me and his soothing voice. I needed to be held so badly right then. I clung to him as I released the pain in my heart.

After I'd quieted down, I pulled away and wiped my eyes on my sleeve yet again. I was still a little fearful of Tristan. I had heard all kinds of rumors about him, and even though I knew they were all bullshit, I was still a little intimidated. But I had also seen the frightened Tristan in school earlier this week when the bullies had been messing with him, so I knew I had nothing to fear. I had always felt safe enough near him when others were around, but him and I were alone. Tristan looked dangerous with his spiked collar and all those piercings, and that chain that hung from his waist. But what did it matter? I had been all set to jump into the river anyway, so if he killed me it would be the same. But as I thought all that I realized that if he intended to hurt me, he sure wouldn't have hugged me. Maybe I'm just paranoid after all that happened today. Tristan has shown me a side I'd never seen before. I'd never guessed it existed.

"You know?" I asked. How could he possibly know what I was going through?

"Yeah, man… Andrew, I know," he said.

I swallowed hard and gazed at Tristan. My heart pounded with fear. Tristan smiled at me. I know I mentioned earlier that he was cute despite his freaky appearance, but I hadn't realized quite how cute he really was. But, then again, had I ever truly given him a moment's thought? I'd sure never thought of him in that way.

"I know what you're thinking about doing," he said. "Things will get better, Andrew."

My eyes widened. Tristan knew. Somehow, he knew what I had been thinking about doing.

"Don't be afraid, Andrew," he said. "I'll help you get through this. I promise."

"So, you know I'm…"

"Gay," he finished for me.

I trembled with fear, but Tristan smiled at me again. I'd seen him smile more in the last few minutes than I had in all the years we'd gone to school together. He gazed at me with hunger in his eyes. He took a step forward. I forced myself not to take a step back. I had an irrational fear that he was going to bite my neck like a vampire. Instead, he reached out and gently grasped my chin. He moved closer, pulled me to him, and kissed me on the lips.

Tristan pulled back after that one, brief kiss and gazed into my eyes. I wasn't sure what to feel at just that moment. I just stared at him in wonder.

"I'll walk you home," he said. "I don't think you should be alone right now."

"I don't have a home," I said, bitterly. "My dad kicked me out earlier today after he found out I'm gay."

"Then you can come home with me for tonight," he said. We'll figure something out tomorrow."

I nodded. I couldn't speak. We walked side by side down the street, so close our arms touched now and then. The moon above cut through the darkness, casting a bluish light. I couldn't think at that moment because I didn't know what to think.

When we reached Tristan's house, he turned to face me under the shadows of a large oak tree. He leaned in and pressed his lips to mine again. He kissed me lightly and stepped away. I gazed at him for a moment in a state of utter confusion. He turned and led me up the sidewalk to his house. He turned to me again when we reached the front porch, before he opened the door and I followed him inside. Neither of us had spoken a single work on the walk to his house.

Tristan led me into the living room where both his parents and older sister were sitting and watching television. I don't know what I was expecting as far as his parents go, but they were completely… normal looking. They were both probably in their mid-thirties and looked just like any other couple anywhere. I wonder what they thought about their son. They must be very accepting considering the way he dresses and the fact that he's gay.

"Mom, dad, this is Andrew," he said, introducing us. "Andrew, this is my mom and dad and you probably know my sister Kathy."

"I think I've probably seen you around school," I said to her. "It's nice to meet you Mr. and Ms. Walton.

"It's nice to meet you as well, Andrew," they both said.

"Is it okay if Andrew spends the night?" Tristan asked his parents. "I'll explain it all to you tomorrow, but he needs a place to stay tonight."

"That's fine, dear," said Ms. Walton. "But you know the rules. Your door stays open."

"Yeah, I know, mom," he said. "Thanks, but it's nothing like that, at least not yet anyway. But I understand." Turning to me, he asked, "you want to get something to eat before we go to my room. You look like you're probably hungry."

"I'm starving," I said. Then I looked over at his parents. "Thank you for letting me stay tonight, Mr. and Ms. Walton. I really appreciate it."

"You're welcome, Andrew," Ms. Walton said.

Tristan and I then walked into the kitchen where he grabbed some leftovers from the refrigerator and heated it up in the microwave, before we sat down at the table.

"What did she mean when she said, 'your door stays open,' I asked.

Tristan looked at me and smiled again. God, he really is cute, especially when he smiles like that.

"They both know that I'm gay," he told me. "So, the rule is that whenever I have a boy spend the night, my door has to stay open. They don't want anything going on. But the only boy who has ever spent the night with me is Avery, and he's not even gay, so nothing is ever gonna happen with him, not that I would want it to anyway. He's too good a friend to let something like sex interfere with our friendship. You're the first gay boy I've ever had in my room, but don't worry, I won't try anything. Unless you want me to that is." He kind of laughed at that.

Actually, that might be fun, I thought. Tristan was the first boy to ever kiss me and I had really enjoyed it. I wouldn't mind some more of that anyway, and maybe eventually more.

I just looked at him, smiled, and said, "I did enjoy the kiss earlier, and I wouldn't mind more. And well, we'll just see what happens after that."

Holy shit! I can't believe I was brave enough to say something like that to someone who I barely knew, but somehow, I just knew that things would be okay. After all that had happened over the last three months, and especially today, I was ready for something like this. I really wanted to experience what being gay had to offer.

"So, Avery isn't gay?" I asked. "I thought maybe you two were…"

"No, he isn't, but he's been my best friend since we started school, even before that when we were just little kids. My parents and his parents are friends as well, so naturally we have known each other since we were little babies. Oh, and thank you for saving him the other day and helping him out of that locker. And thank you for saving me as well from Cody, and then from the other bullies the next day. I really appreciate it."

"You know, it's strange that you should say that," I said. "I don't know how much you know about me, but my parents are real religious, especially my father and we attend the Faith Bible Church."

"Yeah, I've heard stories about that place," Tristan said. "I don't believe most of it though."

"You should believe it, because most of it is true," I said. "They really are bat shit crazy. That day Cody was chasing you, that very morning the preacher had talked about gay people and how us as Christians should allow them to be beaten or even killed. He actually suggested that the government should put all of us in concentration camps. He actually said that."

"Really?" Tristan asked.

"Yes, really," I told him. "The reason I mention it is because he also said gays are going to hell. If I had listened to him not only should I have let Cody beat you up, I should have joined in. I just couldn't bring myself to do something like that. That's when I decided that I had to get away from that place."

"Wow!" was all Tristan managed to say.

"Yeah," I said. "And it was just as bad today."

"So, what happened at home, if you don't mind my asking?" he asked.

"No, I don't mind," I said. "That's what led you to find me down at the river. I just couldn't take any more of the preacher's bullshit, so I stood up and told him off, quoted a few scriptures, and left."

"Shit, I wish I could have seen that," he said.

"Yeah, it was a relief to get that off my chest," I told him. "When we got home, me and my parents had a big confrontation, and I announced that I was gay. That's when dad told me to get out. Mom argued with him and said she would talk to him, but I haven't heard anything from her, so I don't know what's going on. I know I do not want to go back to living with that man again. I'm hoping my mom will come around at least."

"Hopefully," Tristan said. "What are you going to do in the meantime? Mom and dad might let you stay here for a few days, but they won't want you for very long."

"I know," I said. "Fortunately, I have a plan. I have an uncle who has said I can come stay with him. He's gay as well, and was kicked out of his house just like me. I just need to call him and let him know what's going on. In fact, I should probably do that right now, now that things have settled down a little."

"I'll leave you in here to make the call," he said. "I'll go and explain what's going on to mom and dad."

"Thanks, Tristan," I said. "It shouldn't take very long."

I looked over at him and motioned with my finger for him to lean over, and then I gave him a kiss, right on the lips. It just felt so good, and so right. I could see Tristan becoming my boyfriend, if he wanted to that is. He just smiled, licked his lips, and left the room so I could make my phone call.

As soon as Tristan left the kitchen I pulled out my phone and hit Uncle Robert's number. He answered it on the fifth ring.

"Hello," he said.

"Hi, Uncle Robert," I said. "This is Andrew. I really need to talk to you."

"Are you alright, Andrew?" he asked. "You don't sound like you are alright now. How can I help you?"

I quickly explained what had happened in church today, and then afterwards at home.

"I wish I could have been there at church today," he chuckled. "I'm sure it was funny as hell watching his reaction. God, what an asshole that preacher is. And your father is an ever-bigger asshole for throwing you out. I have half a mind to come down there and tell him off. Motherfucker!"

"I'd love to see that," I told him.

"So, what happened?" he asked. "Where are you now? Do I need to come get you?"

"No, I'm fine right now, Uncle Robert," I said to him. "I'm at Tristan's house right now. I'm going to spend the night here. But maybe after school tomorrow you can drive down and we can talk."

"I'm glad to hear that," he said. "Who's Tristan? Is he your boyfriend or something?"

"No, at least not yet, but I wouldn't mind if he was," I said. "He's just this boy in my class. He actually stopped me from jumping off the bridge into the river earlier."

"What!" Uncle Robert shouted. "You were going to kill yourself. Please, let me help you, Andrew. Please, please don't ever think about doing something like that. Things will get better, I promise you."

"That's what Tristan told me," I said. "He told me things would get better as well. And then he kissed me, right on the bridge. Told me he completely understood. It was the first time I've ever been kissed by anyone. It was… wow! There's no doubt I'm gay, Uncle Robert."

"Well, thank god for Tristan," he said. "I'd like to meet this boy."

"Maybe you can, tomorrow, Uncle Robert," I said. "I'll tell you now, so you won't be surprised tomorrow. He's kind of, I don't know, I think EMO is the correct word. Or goth. Or both, or whatever. I don't really understand all that. He's got piercings in his lips and ears and a little stud in his nose, as well as a ring in his left eyebrow. And he wears a collar around his neck. And he's got jet black hair with a blue streak through it."

"Won't that be a kick to your dad's ass when he finds that out," he laughed. "Not only is his son gay, but he has a boyfriend with face piercings. That ought to freak him out and piss him off at the same time. I'd love to see the expression on his face."

"Yeah, me too," I laughed. "Despite all that, Tristan is really cute, Uncle Robert. God, do you know how nice it feels to be able to say something like that to someone? Only two of my friends even know I'm gay, but I think that may change. Now that I'm away from home I feel so much freer. You have no idea."

"Actually, I do," he told me. "I remember how scared I was when I was your age and how much better I felt when I got away from that mess. Fortunately, I had good friends who helped me out or I imagine I might not have survived. Like you, I actually considered killing myself. Thank god I didn't, and thank god Tristan stopped you."

"Yeah, he really saved my life tonight," I said. "I don't know if I would have actually did it or not, since I knew I could call you. But don't worry, I'm not thinking of killing myself anymore. I'm spending the night with him and I'm sure we'll talk about this and other things. The thing is, I think I'm really going to like him, and we might even become boyfriends. If not that, at least we'll be friends hopefully, so, we can go out and do stuff together, normal stuff, if you know what I mean."

"I know exactly what you mean," he said. "I'll tell you what. If Tristan wants to, I'll take him and you out tomorrow evening. We'll come back here and you can meet your Uncle Josiah and the four of us will go out to eat and see a movie or something. How's that sound?"

"That sounds fun," I said. "You know, I've never actually seen a movie in a theater before. It should be interesting."

"I think you'll enjoy it," he said.

We talked for a few more minutes before hanging up. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and meeting Uncle Robert. I'm also looking forward to being with Tristan tonight. I don't expect anything to happen, but I could go for some more kissing. I walked back into the living room where Tristan and his parents were sitting and talking.

Ms. Walton indicated one of the chairs and told me to sit down. I quickly took a seat and looked at them and then started talking.

"Thank you for letting me stay here tonight, Mr. and Ms. Walton," I said.

"You're very welcome, Andrew," Mr. Walton said. "We're always happy to see one of Tristan's friends."

"Or more than friends, maybe?" Ms. Walton hinted, smiling.

I could feel myself blushing, but that was alright.

"Mom!" Tristan said, but I could see him smiling as well. Tristan seems to have a very loving relationship with his parents, something I wish I had.

"Well, I don't know," I said. "Tristan and I are going to talk about that tonight. We'll see what happens. This is all so new to me that I just don't know what to think or what to do."

"You'll figure it out in time, Andrew," Mr. Walton said. "Just from what little Tristan has told us I can understand why. You just take your time and know that we'll be here if you need us."

"Thank you both," I said. "That was my Uncle Robert on the phone. I told him what's going on and he's going to meet me after school tomorrow and I will be able to go live with him. And, he told me that if it's alright with you that he'd like to take Tristan and me to dinner and a movie tomorrow night. He's going to introduce us to his partner, Josiah."

"That sounds like fun," Tristan said, looking over at his parents.

"Yeah, it does," Ms. Walton agreed. "Of course, you can go, honey. Just don't be out to late. It's a school night, you know?"

I saw Tristan roll his eyes, but then he smiled at his mother. "Yeah, I know mom. Don't worry. I'll be home at a reasonable time."

"Speaking of school nights," Mr. Walton said, glancing at the clock over the TV, "it's almost ten o'clock. You boys need to hit the bed. I know it's been a long day, especially for you, Andrew."

"You're right about that," I said, "but I think I'm going to be okay now. Thank you again for letting me stay here tonight."

With that, I followed Tristan back to his bedroom. He pointed out the bathroom and then led me into his room. I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but his room was surprisingly… normal, considering how he dresses and all. It was probably typical of most teenage boys, except for pictures of girls, he had pictures of boys on his wall, including other EMO boys like himself. I know I've mentioned it before, but that shit kind of freaks me out a little, but they can actually be quite cute if you can look past all that. Tristan certainly is.

He had a double bed and a dresser with a mirror, along with a chest of drawers and even a desk with a bookshelf holding several books, mostly fiction and science fiction, including several Star Trek books. He had a laptop computer sitting on the desk and several school books and notebooks laying beside it. Like I said, a typical teenage boys room, except for maybe all the books. He must like to read.

"You can sleep in the bed if you want, and I'll sleep on the floor," he said. "Or…"

I thought about it for about a second before I said, "or, we can share the bed, if you want."

I knew he wanted to and I wanted to as well. I don't expect anything to happen tonight, other then maybe some more kissing, but I just wanted to be able to share a bed with another boy.

"Yes!" he exclaimed, looking at me and smiling. "I have some pajamas in one of these drawers, if you want. I usually just sleep in my boxers."

You can sleep naked if you want, I thought, but I didn't say it. But damn, that would be hot.

"I usually sleep in my boxers as well," I told him.

Tristan then walked over and closed his door, and the sat down to take off his shoes.

"I thought you were supposed to leave the door open?" I said to him.

"Yeah, I am," he said. "But I think we'll be alright for now. We can talk and no one can hear us. If mom insists, I'll open it, but otherwise…"

"Sounds good," I said, sitting down on the edge of the bed to remove my shoes as well.

Tristan then pulled his t-shirt over his head and I was able to see his bare chest. I've seen him in the showers at school a few times, but now I was able to openly check him out without fear of being discovered. Tristan really does have a nice body, not really muscular like the boys on the football team, but nice and smooth. Just like most fifteen-year-old boys I suppose.

I quickly pulled my shirt of as well and soon we were both standing there in just our boxers. Tristan took the comforter off the bed, folded back the sheet and the two of us crawled under and sat back to talk.

"I want to thank you again for helping me last week," he started out. "And for helping Avery as well. He's my best friend and I would hate to see anything happen to him."

"You're welcome," I said. "What's Avery going to think about the two of us now?"

"Like I said, he's my best friend, and he'll be happy for me. He's known I'm gay since I first figured it out myself and he's always supported me. He's even cool with all this," he said, indicating all the piercings in his face and ears. "I just wish he could find himself a girlfriend."

I wanted to ask him what was up with all that crap, but I didn't know what to say and I didn't want to take a chance on offending him. I don't understand any of it but that doesn't mean I can't accept it. If only my dad and the people in church had that same attitude things would be a lot better.

"I'm sure he will sooner or later," I said. "Avery is a cute boy. I'm sure some girl will snag him up. I also want to thank you for helping me tonight. I don't think I would have actually jumped, but I did think about it. You may have saved my life."

"I'm glad I happened to be walking down by the river tonight," he said. "I wasn't expecting to see you there, but I'm sure glad I did. And now, here we are in bed together."

"Yeah, here we are," I said. "But let me ask you something. How did you know I was gay? I've been struggling with that for several months now and I still have problems sometimes. Today was the worst day of all, well until now. Now it may actually turn out to be the best day of all. Go figure."

"Hopefully it will be the best day," Tristan said. "But to answer your question, I didn't know for sure. I just… I don't know, I just decided to take a chance. You looked like you needed someone right then. I'm certainly glad I did take a chance, however."

"I'm glad you did as well," I said. "You're the first person to ever kiss me. I really, really liked it, Tristan. Can we kiss some more?"

"You're the first boy I've ever kissed as well," he admitted. "And yes, we can kiss as much as you want."

I could feel my dick getting hard at just the thought of kissing Tristan again. The two of us leaned toward each other and then we were kissing. I'm not talking about just a little kiss on the lips, however, but a full make out session, with tongue and everything. Jesus fucking Christ, I could not believe what was happening. What had started out as the worst day of my life was turning into the best day of my life. I had never dreamed that something like this would ever happen to me. Well, I had dreamed about it, but I never thought it would actually come true, at least not for several more years.

As we were making out my hands began to roam, as did Tristan's. I could feel his hard cock rubbing against my leg and my hard cock as well, and I thought I was gonna bust my first nut with another boy, but I didn't give a shit. I wanted it to happen. Tristan was rubbing my chest and I was rubbing his and I slowly lowered my right hand down his belly and over his crotch. Then, I don't know what came over me, but I reached in and touched his hard cock. The first time I have ever touched anyone other than myself down there. I got an immediate reaction out of Tristan. I felt his cock swelling and his whole body started trembling, and I felt a hot, sticky wetness shooting out of him. His whole body shuddered and he just lay there, shooting shot after shot. I couldn't help myself, there was no stopping it. And I didn't want it to stop. I felt Tristan reach over and grab me as well and I started shooting all over his hand and even up on his stomach and mine as well. Oh my god, that was so fucking hot!

The two of us just lay there for a few minutes, trying to catch our breath while we still had our hands in each other's boxers. Finally, I pulled my had out and saw it was covered in hot, sticky cum. Again, I don't know what came over me, but I quickly lifted my hand to my mouth and licked one of my fingers clean. I didn't know what it would taste like, but it surprisingly wasn't really that bad.

I think we both wanted to go further, at least I did, but I also knew I wasn't ready for something like that just yet. I knew all that would come eventually, but for now I just wanted to enjoy the moment with Tristen.

"Damn, that was hot," said Tristan. "That's the first time I've ever did anything like this with another boy."

"Really?" I asked. "That was my first time as well. So, you're a virgin?"

"Not anymore, I guess," he answered back. "Or maybe. I don't know. Does this count?"

"Probably not," I acknowledged, "but who the hell cares. It was fun and I definitely want to do it again. That and other stuff…"

"Such as?" he laughed.

"I think you know," I said. "The same stuff you probably want to do. And we will, believe me. Just not tonight. I just want to lay here and think about all this, and what it means. But I do have one question for you."

"What's that?" he asked.

"Does this mean we're now boyfriends?" I said.

"Yes!" Tristan exclaimed loudly. "Sorry, but yes, I would love to be your boyfriend, Andrew."

"Then we're boyfriends," I said. "Now kiss me again."

The two of us continued to talk, make out and talk some more, until we finally fell asleep around midnight. Damn, what a night!

Nothing much happened at school the next day. Tristan and I had decided we would hold off on telling anyone about us until my situation was fully resolved.

I ran into Brian during lunch and he informed me that mom and dad had had a big argument after I left yesterday. Mom was threatening divorce and all kinds of stuff, but dad refused to give in. He had been adamant Brian said, he would not have a fag son living in his house.

I decided to tell Brian about Tristan and me, but asked him to not tell anyone just yet.

"Dad's gonna have a cow when he finds, out," Brian said to me, grinning. "Tristan huh? I never would have guessed you'd go for someone like him. You must like bad boys, don't you? You sure he didn't cast a spell or something on you? Tristan is scary sometimes the way he dresses."

"I'm sure," I said. "And I know he can be scary, but there's a whole other side to him that people don't see. No one seems able to look past all that, but he really is a very nice guy underneath. And he's a good kisser as well. And he also…"

"Oh my god!" he said. "Too much information for my straight ears."

We both laughed at that. The two of us talked for a few more minutes before we both had to get to class. I know I'll see him around, at least in school, if not at home soon. From just the little bit he mentioned it looks like thing might change soon.

Uncle Robert was going to meet me at the football field and stay for practice and then I would be able to introduce him to Tristan. Then we were supposed to go out and do something. It took me a second to recognize him when I arrived. Him and another man were standing there talking to Coach Barrett. I figured that must be Josiah with him.

I walked up and asked, "Uncle Robert?"

"Andrew!" he exclaimed, the grabbed me in a hug. "It's good to see you after all these years. Boy, you sure have grown. You'll be a man here in a few years. How are you?"

"Considering everything that's happened here, I'm actually doing pretty good," I told him. "I even got myself a boyfriend!"

"Tristan?" he asked. "Oh, Andrew, I'm sorry. This is my partner, Josiah. Josiah, this is my nephew, Andrew."

I held out my hand, but Josiah took it and pulled me into a hug as well.

"It's nice to finally meet you, Andrew," he said. "I just wish it was under better circumstances. And you can call me Uncle Josiah if you want, or just Josiah."

"It's nice to finally meet you, Uncle Josiah," I said. "And thanks for agreeing to let me stay with you. I didn't know how much more I cold take from that damn church."

"I know what you mean," Uncle Robert said. "But that's all over now. You're welcome to stay in our home as long as you need to."

I looked at the coach and said, "I guess I better go get ready for practice."

"Yeah, you probably should," the coach agreed. "Our first game is this Friday and we need to be ready for it." He then looked over at the other two, held out his hand and said, "It was nice seeing you again, Robert, and it was nice meeting you as well, Josiah. I'll have to invite you two over sometime and have you meet Michael. I'm sure you'll like him.

"I look forward to it, Brendan," Uncle Robert said. Then he looked at me. "And we'll be back in a couple of hours to pick you up, and then you can introduce us to Tristan. I'm really looking forward to meeting him."

"You talking about Tristan Walton?" the coach asked.

"Yeah, that's him," I answered.

The coach shook his head and smiled. "He's a strange one, but I'm glad you two got together. Nice seeing you both."

With that I turned and ran toward the locker room and the coach walked toward the field to get ready for practice.

Practice was a little more intense today, but that was to be expected. Our first game was this coming Friday and we needed to be ready. I was more than ready to play in my first high school game, even if only for a couple of minutes.

I was dying to tell Lucas and Trevor about Tristan, but I didn't. I wanted to wait a few days to see what happened with me. I think they knew something was up just by the way I acted and I promised I'd tell them in a few days what was going on. I'm even tempted to announce it like Jason and Brent did last week, but I'm not sure if Tristan is ready for something like that. We'll see what happens.

I saw Uncle Robert and Uncle Josiah sitting in the bleachers watching me and as soon as the coach let us go they came down to talk to me. I yelled over at Trevor and Lucas and motioned for them to come over. I wanted to introduce them.

"Uncle Robert, Uncle Josiah, this is Trevor and Lucas, the two guys I told you about," I said in introduction. "Guys, this is my Uncle Robert and his partner, Uncle Josiah.

"So, this is the famous Trevor and Lucas," Uncle Robert said, laughing. "I've heard a lot about you two from Andrew." Then he looked over at me and smiled. "You were right, Andy, they really are a cute couple."

I could feel my face turning red and I could see that both Trevor and Lucas were blushing as well. I don't think either of them knew just exactly what to think or how to react to that.

Finally, Trevor held out his hand to shake Uncle Robert's and said, "It's nice to meet you as well. Andy has mentioned you a time or two."

Uncle Robert laughed, and said, "I'm sorry to embarrass you guys. It's nice to meet you as well."

The four of them shook hands and we stood there talking for about five minutes before we went to get showered changed. They told us they would be waiting for me in the coach's office.

I quickly ran into the locker room, stripped, and headed for the showers. I always enjoy showering with the other guys but today everything seemed so much better. Just seeing all those naked guys and knowing that I had actually had sex with another boy seemed to much nicer. Well, I guess making out and giving another guy a hand job is not really sex, but you know what I'm saying. Things are just so much better now, just twenty-four hours after they were at their worst.

"What now?" I asked as soon as I walked into the coach's office.

"Josiah and Brendan are going to stay here and visit while you and I are going to pick up your stuff, and then I'm going to have a talk with that asshole father of yours. Then we'll come back here, and then pick up Tristan and I'll show you your new home. Then we're all going out to dinner tonight."

"That should be interesting," Uncle Josiah said. "You just be careful, Robert, you hear?"

"I will be," he said. "But this shit needs to be said. We won't be long, I promise. I'm going to say what I need to say, we're going to get Andrew's things, and we'll be back."

"What the hell are you doing back here?" dad yelled as soon as I walked in the front door. Then he noticed Uncle Robert with me. "And what the hell are you doing here, Robert? I thought I made it clear you're not welcome. Now get the hell out, both of you."

"Nice to see you too, Mitch," Uncle Robert said. "And don't worry, we won't be here long. Andrew just came to get his stuff and then we'll both be out of your life forever."

Just then mom walked in from the kitchen. "What's all the yelling about?" she asked. Then she noticed me and walked over and hugged me. "Andrew, are you coming back home? Then she glared at dad. "Robert, it's nice to see you again."

"Nice to see you too, Allison," Uncle Robert said. "Andrew is going to be living with me for the time being."

"Get your stuff and go, Andrew," dad yelled. "I told you I won't have a fag son living in my house."

"What the hell kind of man are you, Mitch?" Uncle Robert exploded. "What kind of father kicks his own son out for something like this? You're an asshole, you know that?"

"I'm telling you," my father screamed, "that I will now allow a freak to live in my house. If he won't give up these unnatural and unholy tendencies, and behave like he's supposed to, like a real man, then he's not my son any longer. Boys do not love boys. They fall in love with girls. If he doesn't come to his senses and start doing what is right than I want nothing to do with him. He's dead as far as I'm concerned."

"He didn't choose to be gay, Mitch," Uncle Robert yelled back. "Just like I didn't choose to be gay. We just are and nothing you or that damn church say or do can or will change that. And just what exactly do you mean that it's unnatural? Even if, even if, which I disagree with, but even if it is unnatural, why the hell do you care. How does it hurt you?"

"You think I can change who I am?" I pleaded. "Dad, could you have chosen not to be straight?"

"No, and I wouldn't have wanted to," he said, while glaring at me. "You'll end up going to hell if you keep this up, you know."

"So, you say," I countered, "but I was born this way and there is nothing I can do to change it. I'd like to date a girl, but it doesn't feel right. I'm not attracted to them and I don't get excited thinking about kissing or touching them. It's not like I have a choice in the matter…"

My father cut me off. "You do have a choice and you'd better make it, if you know what's good for you," he screamed.

Knowing there was no way I was going to win this argument, I bit my tongue and stormed up to my room. I hurriedly started packing my clothes in a small bag while my parents and Uncle Robert sat in the living room and continued to argue. I could hear them all the way upstairs, and I saw that Brian was listening as well, not looking to happy either.

"I won't allow that type of behavior in my house," dad yelled. "I can't believe my son is a fag!"

"Mitch, it may be only a phase he's going through," I heard mom say. "Maybe he'll grow out of it."

"I want that pervert out of my house," dad yelled back. "I never want to see him again!"

"He doesn't have a choice," Uncle Robert said. "He was born gay. I was born gay. We can't change who we are. Why can't you see that, Mitch? What the hell is wrong with you?"

"You're wrong," my father insisted. "The boy does have a choice. He doesn't have to choose to be gay."

"Do you truly believe that?" Uncle Robert asked. "Did you choose to be straight?"

"No, because we are all born that way," dad stated confidently.

"Are we?" Uncle Robert countered.

"Yes, and the bible condemns homosexuality."

"Did it condemn the act itself or was it only passing along the attitude of the person interpreting god's message?" Uncle Robert asked, "Did the bible also not tell slaves to obey their masters and women to be totally obedient to their husbands? Times change and so must we. When Jesus was born he ushered in a new way… one of love and understanding.

"Why is it that you, and others like you, condemn homosexuality so strongly?" Uncle Robert continued, "when it is only referenced in obscure verses of the bible. You tend to show less anger and outrage against those who break god's commandments. Shouldn't adulterers, those who take the lord's name in vain, those who fail to keep the sabbath, those who don't honor their parents, along with liars, be condemned with the same vigor as you do thieves and murderers? Why do you consider the latter far worse offenses, when they have each broke the laws of god as set down in the ten commandments? You have shown you are willing to forgive adulterers, both other religious leaders and members from your own congregation, and instead have chosen to spend your time focusing on something as trivial as whom someone loves."

"But god destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of that very sin," dad insisted.

"Was it because of the homosexuality or because the people there were trying to force sex upon an unwilling partner?" Uncle Robert countered. "Wasn't it because the visitors were going to be mistreated and not shown any hospitality, as Jesus himself pointed out? And what kind of a father was Lot, offering up his own daughters to be raped by a group of thugs. That's okay, but being gay isn't? If anything should be considered an abomination, it's something like that."

Dad hesitated before he answered, like he was trying to remember what the bible said about those events.

"No, it was because they wanted to sleep with other men," he stated adamantly.

"So you say," Uncle Robert said, "but I believe that is only one interpretation, a misguided one at that. Wasn't it that they planned to force the men to have sex with them, even thought they didn't want to?"

"It was because they wanted to commit a sinful act," dad insisted.

I continued to pack my bag, and looked over at Brian who just rolled his eyes and shook his head. Like me, he clearly couldn't believe what he was hearing from downstairs.

"If Jesus was totally against all sinful acts an all sinners," Uncle Robert continued, "then why did he befriend a prostitute and forgive others who had committed far worse sins?"

"He did," dad agreed, rather weakly, "but not if they repeated that sin…" Uncle Robert cut his answer off, abruptly.

"But did not god tell us in Matthew 7:1 to 'Judge that ye be not judged.' Isn't judging the actions of mankind god's job, not yours? Even though he asks you to inform others about him and his love and forgiveness, does he not still give each person a choice as to whether he chooses to follow him? Jesus didn't command anyone to follow him, but instead gave each person an opportunity do to so. If they choose not to accept his message, are we commanded to force them into submission? No! When the time comes, it will be god's job to judge their actions and we shall answer for our own deeds on the day of reckoning. It is not our job here on earth to do the judging for god, he will do that in his own time."

"But… but…" dad began to stammer, but Uncle Robert continued speaking and ignored his feeble attempts at a response.

"If it is true, that we are born with our sexual orientation already intact," Uncle Robert continued, "do you think god would only allow heterosexuals to know the love or enjoy an affectionate, caring and intimate relationship?"

"But he condemns homosexuality," dad insisted.

"If the gays are born with a natural attraction to members of their own sex, do you truly believe that god would fail to love or accept them just because he created them differently than the others? Wouldn't that be the same as him hating certain groups of people because he created them a different race, made them left handed instead of right handed, or gave them a different color hair or eyes from everyone else? How could god possibly hate anyone for traits he'd given them and that they have no control over."

Dad clearly wasn't going to be convinced and finally he said, "I don't care what you and others like you say. Being gay is an unnatural act, condemned by god. I will not have something like that in my house. You and that boy need to get the hell out of here."

"You can just get the hell out," I heard mom yell. "I'm not going to sit here and listen to you talk about our son like that and throw him out of his own home. I've put up with your crap for sixteen years, mostly for the sake of the boys, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let you toss your son out of his home. You can find somewhere else to live."

"Finally!" I heard Brian say. "It's about damn time."

I looked over at him and he was smiling.

"I agree," I said to him.

"But Allison," I heard him saying.

"Don't Allison me," she yelled at him. "You need to leave." Then she asked Uncle Robert, "Robert, do you mind keeping Andrew and Brian for a few days. I'm talking to a lawyer tomorrow morning, but until we get this issue resolved, I want the boys to be safe."

"Of course, Allison," Uncle Robert answered. "Both boys can stay with me as long as they need. They're always welcome."

Brian immediately jumped off his bed, grabbed another bag and started packing his clothes as well. Hopefully this won't be for long, but I could tell he was happy about mom finally doing something she should have done years ago, in my opinion anyway.

"Thank you," she said. "I should have done this years ago, but now I finally am. Mitch, you can go stay in a motel or something, or go stay with one of your friends, if you have any. I don't care, but you're not staying here."

"We'll see about that," he screamed.

"Yes, we will," mom yelled back. "When my lawyer gets through with you, you'll be lucky if you have a penny left. And if you give me any crap I'll see to it that you end up in jail. I don't think a judge will look to kindly on a man throwing his fifteen-year-old son out on the street. You think about that."

I didn't hear anymore from dad, but I heard the front door slam a few seconds later. I guess he decided he better leave before mom got any more pissed than she already was.

I looked at Brian and we both headed downstairs and into the living room. we both looked at mom and smiled at her.

"Thank you, mom, for standing up for me," I said.

"You're welcome, Andrew," she said. "I should have put my foot down years ago, but I always told myself that staying with him was the best thing for you two boys. But I just couldn't stand any more of that crap. What kind of man doesn't love his own son. I just don't understand people like that."

"I don't understand it either, mom," I said, "but I know it happens. I read about it all the time. But the important thing is, you did the right thing. So, what are you going to do now?"

"I don't know for sure, but I'm talking to my lawyer tomorrow morning. I plan to file for divorce and get as much from your father as I can, including child support and anything else I can get."

"I hope you clean him out, mom" Brian said. "But what are we going to do in the meantime?"

"I've asked your Uncle Robert to take you guys for a few days until I can get this straightened out, and he's agreed. So, I guess you'll be staying with him."

"Yeah, we heard," I said. "Brian has already got his bag packed, so we're all set."

Uncle Robert pulled his phone out. "I'm going to call Josiah and let him know what's going on," he said. "Allison, you're more than welcome to come with us tonight if you want. We were planning on taking Andrew and his boyfriend Tristan out to dinner, and then going home."

"Your boyfriend?" mom asked. "When did this happen? I'm not sure I want you to have a boyfriend, Andrew. I'm not completely comfortable with you being gay. I know I'll learn to accept it in time, but you'll have to give your mother some time to get used to this, and figure things out."

"I will, mom," I told her. "And I think you'll like Tristan once you get to know him. I'll warn you though, he's a little weird looking, so don't be surprised when you see him."

She looked right at me and said, "I'll try, Andrew. I promise you that I'll try. And yes, Robert, I would love to go out with you guys tonight. I'm too wound up to stay here by myself, at least for now. I'll be alright later."

So, to paraphrase Mr. Dickins, the last two months had been the best of times and the worst of times. The best of times because I had finally figured out that I was gay, learned to accept it, met my Uncle Robert and Uncle Josiah, and my mother and brother had accepted me as well, even if my mom was a little hesitant, and her finally deciding to stand up to dad. And best of all I had Tristan as my boyfriend. The worst of times because of what I had said to Trevor and Lucas, all the crap I had to put up with at church, and being kicked out by my own father, even if it was just for one night.

Overall, however, I think things will finally turn out for the best. I don't know if Tristan and I will stay together or not, we're only fifteen after all, and a lot can happen during high school, but I intend to make the most out of it. I can only see things getting better now.

The End


If you think this story is just too crazy to be real I happened to see this article on the internet back in December. I wasn't sure what this story was going to be about but this just scared me enough that this crap still goes on in the United States, and I'm sure other countries as well, so that is where I got the idea. It's 2018 for god's sake, when will it ever end.

Conservative Christian Pastor Calls For All Gays to be Killed by Christmas

Instinct Staff | December 2, 2017

Conservative Christian Pastor Steven Anderson is back at it again, this time around calling for an execution of all gays by Christmas of this year. How lovely.

He echoed something similar three years ago, saying that it would be an AIDS Free Christmas if all the gays were killed.

Steven is a pastor who resides in Tempe, Arizona, where he delivered a sermon at his church stating that gays need to be put to death in the name of God by Christmas Day in an effort to wipe out AIDS, although it's a very well known fact by now that AIDS is not gay-exclusive. Here's what he said:

"Turn to Leviticus 20:13, because I actually discovered the cure for AIDS. If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. And that, my friend, is the cure for AIDS. It was right there in the Bible all along — and they're out spending billions of dollars in research and testing. It's curable — right there. Because if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn't have all this AIDS running rampant."

He then went on a tirade about how gays would never be allowed in his church (Not really sure any would want to).

"No homos will ever be allowed in this church as long as I am pastor here," Anderson declared. "Never! Say 'You're crazy.' No, you're crazy if you think that there's something wrong with my 'no homo' policy."

Steven has been an incredibly controversial figure over the years, especially in the rising anti-LGBT movement. He was banned from entering South Africa in late 2016 because of his hate, as well as calling the massacre at Pulse Orlando "good news."

Why hasn't he been arrested for his incredibly hate-filled speech as of yet? That's the question many of us want answered.


This story is part of the 2017/2018 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Locker". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 3 to 24 February 2018 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2017 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - Locker

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