I was done with it. I would not take it anymore. I would not take the slurs, I would not take the beatings, I would not take the yelling, I would not bare their hatred one moment longer. I took all the money I had and bought a bus ticket to Liberty Island. Sure, laws have changed so that gays have equal rights and the US Supreme Court even overruled more than half the state constitutions to force the bigotry out of the government, but you can’t force it out of people’s hearts and minds, and my parents were two of the most stubborn you could possibly imagine.
I wasn’t good enough for them. I wasn’t a good enough Christian, I wasn’t a good enough man, I didn’t obey them as they wanted me too and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let them run my life. I would have borne it through high school until I could move far away to college. I’m no fool, I knew college was my ticket out of this small miserable little cesspool of a town and I knew grades were the only way that would happen. I took the insults, I took the yelling, I took the complete invasion of privacy, I sat through countless hours of preachers telling me how evil and horrible a person I am and nodded in agreement with them to keep them from going into deeper details. I “prayed” for years with that malicious bastard of a pastor’s hand on my back for god to take the gay away, stuffing my anger, my bitterness down deep inside me. I took all of that in stride. I was the stoic. I would make it by. I let the insults glide right past me, let the beatings echo off of me and swallowed all the pain away. Pain is but information before the senses, after all. Recognize that, and choose to disregard it, and you can conquer that pain. I took it all in stride, until I overheard my parents talking on the phone one night and heard the words “Tranquility Bay.” Lucky for me I already knew what the place was, and what it meant.
My family, my good Christian loving family, had decided their godless fag of a son could no longer be tolerated in their home and as I packed what little I owned they were preparing to arrange for me to be abducted and taken to an offshore “facility” for “troubled” teens. There I would be indoctrinated on how to live a sexless, drugless, disciplined life by rules even a prison would frown upon, well below the standards set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If I showed any resistance I would be put into isolation and be made to lay naked face down on a concrete floor, unable to move except for a few minutes to eat or crap at predesignated times until I acquiesced to their authority. I would be regularly subjected to homosexually suggestive images and shocked with electrodes if I showed any response. People who come back from that place were never the same. And it would all be perfectly legal, as custody would be transferred, and then I would be removed to a nation with none of the regulations of my own.
I may be a stoic, but I’m not a masochist. I would not allow myself to be removed from this country to an offshore facility to be tortured. I loved my parents, I tried to make them understand, I endured their hatred, but I had enough.
Technically I’d be considered a runaway, if they reported me, but I didn’t run. With a few hundred dollars in my pocket I walked calmly from my house, and without looking back I left the place I grew up with no regret. I walked down the streets I’d played on as a child. I walked to the city bus stop and my dollar fifty fare to the transit station. I waited there for an hour without incident among a number of disinterested people, all more concerned with their own affairs than the sixteen year old queer. I took the next bus to the Amtrak station, and quietly boarded the first train to the only safe place there was for people like me: Liberty Island. I had no idea how much my world was about to be turned upside down.