Somehow I misplaced what I consider a couple of the most important emails that passed between us. So I'm going to do the best I can to tell you what happened.
It was quiet around the dinner table as usual. Like I said, they hardly said a word to me when we were together. Breaking the silence was intimidating. Finally, I just blurted out. "I'm not gay."
I was expecting to see a look of relief on their faces, but instead they glanced at me and kept eating.
"Did you hear me? I said I'm not gay."
My dad looked up. "Just like that, you're not gay. One day you're gay, and another you're not?"
He frowned. "What do you mean Kinda?"
"Uh. Uh. When I came out two years ago I was still young and was going through a rough time and I thought I was gay. It was a mistake. I realize I'm not gay and don't want to be gay."
My mom patted my hand and then looked at my dad. "Maybe we should give him a chance?"
"It just seems odd to me. So you're saying you were never gay?"
"Yes. I thought so at the time because, like I said, I was confused and mixed up. Would you rather me be gay?"
That kinda stopped my dad for a second. "Well, no. But this is a lot for us to take in, just like the day you told us and the world you were gay. Can you understand that?"
Then out of the clear blue my dad drops a bomb on me. "What about James?"
I played ignorant. "What about James."
"Didn't you do things with James? Sexual things?"
It caught me by surprise. How in the hell did they know anything about James.
"Who told you I did things with James?"
"Never mind who told us. We just know."
Frank had kind of prepared me for this, but I didn't think they knew.
I did my best to remain calm. After all a Chameleon doesn't change color in an instant. "Like I said, I was young and confused. We just did some fooling around like a lot of boys do. It was nothing."
My mom didn't say a word, but she had a hopeful look on her face.
My dad gave me a stern look. "I never did anything like that."
"Dad, that's you. But guys experiment. It doesn't mean they're gay."
"How do you know this?"
"The Internet. I checked it out. That little bit of fooling around made me think I was gay and now I realize it's normal, and I'm not gay at all."
My dad glanced at my mother and then me. He looked like he didn't know what to say. "Uh. Uh. We need to talk to the pastor."
My parents took me to church every Sunday, and to be honest I liked going except that I didn't believe in the narrow minded God my parents, the pastor, and most of the congregation believed in.
My mom finally said something. "Willy, we were so worried about your soul. We couldn't live with the thought of you going to hell. Can you understand that?"
"If this is true, I'm so relieved," she said.
"It is true, Mom."
She gave my dad a hopeful smile. "I think it's a good idea to call the pastor and talk with him."
"I agree. I'm going to call him now."
To be honest, I thought the interrogation would go on much longer. It probably would have if they weren't so hopeful and happy that I might not be gay. My dad called our pastor and he told us to come right over. I guess he was so excited about my new straightness that he was happy to give up his time in hopes that he'd saved another soul.
The pastor and his wife lived in a three bedroom home next to the church. He greeted me with a big hug after opening the door and giving my dad and me a big smile. Hell, things seemed to be changing fast.
I basically told him the same thing I told my mom and dad. He nodded through it all with a big smile on his face. "I'm so happy that you've seen the way. Your parents and all of us have been worried about your soul. You know how they say hate the sin and love the sinner. We've never stopped loving you, but we still hate the sin of homosexuality."
I wanted to tell him to fuck off because during the whole two years since I'd come out, they'd shown little love. They tolerated me and my gayness, but I never felt loved by my parents or the people in the church. On Sunday, they'd give my parents smiles of sympathy and give me stares that said "there's that gay kid. Too bad he's going to hell. I sure feel sorry for your parents."
But I have to tell you, Pastor Todd's excitement began to show in my dad. He smiled for the first time. He put his hand behind my neck and shook me back and forth like I was his son again. He hadn't really touched me in two years. "So what do you think we should do with this saved soul?"
Pastor Todd surprised me with his answer. "I think he's had too much time on his hands and that's why he stumbled for a while. We need to keep him busy. There's still a little bit of summer left before school starts and I think he should come here and work around the church. We have plenty that needs to be done."
No one gave me a chance to answer. "Sounds like a great idea, Todd," my father replied
I wanted to protest, but didn't want to screw up the situation. They appeared to still have doubts about my story, but everything seemed to be heading in the right direction. If I was going to have to work to convince them, then I'd work. I wondered what Frank would think.
My dad acted like I was a different kid on the way home. I hadn't seen him smile this much in a long time. He asked me about school and my plans after I graduate as if I'd never mentioned the Army. He said we'd have to go fishing and camping before school started. The whole world began to change just like that.
When we got into the house, he told my mother what happened and told her, "Call your parents. Let them know the prodigal son has returned."
Prodigal son? What the hell, I hadn't run off and lived a sinful life, even by our church's standards. I hadn't been having sex with boys or squandered the family fortune, which wasn't much, but I sure wasn't a prodigal son. But I kept my mouth shut.
My mother hugged me. "You can't imagine how happy this makes me."
I could. Too bad it was all a lie. I felt a little guilty, but what the hell, they'd treated me like shit for two years and now it was time for a little payback.
"I'm glad mom. It makes me happy too."
My dad hugged me as soon as my mother let me go. "Welcome back, Son."
In the end, it seemed easy because they wanted to believe my story so badly and were so happy to have their son back, even though he was a prodigal one. I suppose in their own way, they had forgiven me, although there really was nothing to forgive.
I was so exhausted after everything that happened with my parents and Pastor Todd that I didn't write Frank. Frank sent me an email to make sure everything was okay.
frankf4321s <email@example.com> Sat, August 9,
I'm concerned because I haven't heard from you. I know this was a rough day and I'm hoping everything has worked itself out, but I'm concerned that maybe they took your cell phone away.
I've prayed on this all day and for some reason feel things are going to work out, but the fact I haven't heard from you really concerns me.
Hope to hear from you soon and find out everything worked itself out for good.
I wrote Frank a short email and have his reply. If my memory is correct, I gave him a quick rundown of what happened with my parents and the pastor. I know I complained about having to work at the church until school started. He replied. "Do what you have to do to change your colors."
He was right, and that's what I intended to do.
frankf4321s <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sat, August 9,
I'm anxious to hear the rest. I'm headed to bed but will be up for at least another hour reading. I can't believe your parents brought James up. Did you tell them he started it? After all, you may have liked the idea, but you didn't take any action, James did. Temptation isn't a sin in the eyes of the religious fanatics. I wonder how they found out about it. Did your parents give you any idea?
My biggest prayer and hope is that things went well with your parents.
God loves you and so do I. I love you and worry about you just as I do my own children.
The minister gave a sermon on the evils of sin on Sunday. At least he didn't glance over at me like he used to. My dad and I went fishing with my uncle in the afternoon and I had such a great day I believe I only wrote Frank a short note about it that night.
On Tuesday, I headed to the lion's den to work and things got so screwed up that I didn't write Frank until late Tuesday night to tell him what happened. I finally found some emails.