From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Jasper)
Subject: Update on XX
Date: 23 May 1995 15:12:18 GMT
I'm going to call him "Bill" for this posting. Even though that's not his
name, it's better than XX.
* Recap *
He's an Emory person, 20 years old, out on campus, involved in a student
GLB group, actively online. Jeremy and I got friendly with him online,
after having met him once in person, and then got to know him face to
face. Eventually we went to bed together and a couple of weeks later we
went out together one night.
Bill was spending the weekend with his parents, who live here in Atlanta,
and was worried about staying out late without having told his parents
when he would be home. It didn't seem like a big deal to me--it never was
with my parents--but I figured he would live with whatever decision he
made. His decision was to come home with us and crash rather than going
back to his parents' house at 2 a.m.
At 7 a.m. the phone rang and a male voice asked, "Is Bill there?" I
mumbled, "Yes," and handed the phone to Bill. It turned out to be his
father, who, because Bill's mother had stayed up all night worried about
Bill's non-return, had taken it upon himself to go through Bill's
telephone file and start calling friends. That's how he called us.
Bill shot out of bed and went home immediately. Follow up email indicated
that there had been a tearful scene and that in the midst of it Bill had
come out to his father, a religiously conservative well-to-do Republican;
Bill had previously come out to his mother, who he described as not being
as religiously rigid as his father. The upshot, Bill said, was that his
parents wanted him to live at home, to not have gay friends, to not take
part in the gay "lifestyle," and so forth.
We heard from Bill a couple of more times while he was finishing up
classes (he came out to his father on Sunday and had three finals over
the next three days) and then...
Nothing. No return e-mail, no telephone calls. Eventually Jeremy called
Bill's parents house. His father answered, asked who it was, and then
said that Bill wasn't going to be leading a gay "lifestyle" any more and
to not call again.
* * *
I had an online talk request from Bill today. He's now back on campus,
working in a student position for the summer, and once again has e-mail
access. What he told me I found very disturbing:
A friend invited him to go to church with him at First Baptist of
Atlanta, the largest and one of the most influential churches in the
city, as well as one of the most conservative and homophobic. Bill did so
and before too long he found his "true self," which isn't gay. Now he
goes to church and a college student group and a bible study group and a
one-on-one bible study on a regular basis. He says that he's happier now
than he's ever been, that he's "cast out" the depression, suicidality,
and tendency toward alcoholism that permeated his "former" life, which
was a "mask" to hide "anger and frustration," among other things.
And so on and so forth.
One concern he had was that Jeremy and I not turn away from him now that
he's found his "true self," that we not be judgmental in that regard. I
told him that we would love him, whether he is gay or straight. He's
still Bill and loving him isn't predicated on his behaving in a certain
I'm hoping we'll have a chance for coffee or lunch after Jeremy and I get
back from our trip to Oklahoma City and Pensacola.
* * *
Hearing his words was like having someone pound nails in my heart. I feel
intensely frustrated because there's nothing, or next to nothing, I can
do to change the situation. I feel deeply sad because I know that it's
not going to work for him in the long run, because it doesn't have to be
this way. I feel horribly angry that society and Christianity and parents
set up such overwhelming pressures that the steps Bill and others come to
this conclusion--of his own free will, as he points out.
Please keep in mind that where I am emotionally right now is NOT where I
am going to be 24 hours from now and that as a general rule I do NOT act
on my emotions. Externalizing these feelings is, for me, a way of dealing
with them. If that offends you, I am sorry.
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