DISCLAIMER: The following story is a
fictional account involving teenage boys who are gay and trying to cope with
love and homophobia. Sexual activity takes place in this story and
there are references to gay sex, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this
should obviously not be reading it. With a few very obvious exceptions, all
characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely
coincidental. Conversations with real individuals are strictly hypothetical and
not meant in any way to imply an actually conversation that has taken or might
take place. Although the senators in this story bear strong resemblances to
Senators Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh of Indiana, any references to their
beliefs are based on pure conjecture. Although the story takes place in actual
locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all
events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities
of real individuals or religious establishments, governmental nor school or
corporate policies. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of
stories based on these characters.
note that this is the twenty-first in a series of short stories known
collectively as Naptown Tales. The
series of stories can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown
Tales Page at Awesome Dude.
Slightly modified versions of some of these stories that are suitable for
younger teens can also be found on the Altimexis Page at Codey's World. Please see the Introduction for important background on
Tale in Twelve Parts
A Naptown Surprise - Brad
"I can't believe
the way they're crucifying your poor brother!" Kayla said as we both sat with
Cliff and Linda in the Kimball's great room, watching the Nightly News at 6:30.
She was right . . . it was awful. For
days now they'd been grilling poor David, Jeremy, Trevor and Kurt in front of
the select joint ethics committee on `The Hill' for allegedly running a gay
prostitution ring out of their dorm room. The whole thing was preposterous.
My parents along
with Jeremy's were in Washington with them, and I'd wanted to be there for my
bro, too, but Cliff's CD4 count had recently taken a nosedive and now he was
within a hairsbreadth of being classified with having AIDS. There was no way I could leave my best friend under
the circumstances, even if it was prolly his fault this had happened in the
first place. We were all praying the new meds he was on would do the trick.
David was my
brother, and the other guys were our friends. Anyone who really knew them would
have realized that it was absolutely impossible for them to have done such a thing. David was in love with Jeremy. He could no more have sex with someone else than
he could live without oxygen. He just couldn't do it. He was more likely to eat
a thick, juicy steak than to cheat on Jeremy, and David hadn't eaten a steak
since he was younger than I was!
"Too bad you're not on the committee," I told
Kayla, my girlfriend of the past month. Yeah, Kayla and I were getting tight .
. . really tight . . . and unlike the
fiasco I'd had with Charisse, the girl I'd tried to
bed earlier in the year, Kayla wasn't a homophobe. In fact, we'd met through my
attempt to establish a GSA in each of the district's three middle schools. I
hadn't gotten very far in recruiting many straight boys - something that was
essential to my strategy - but she was one of several straight girls that came
It turned out that
Kayla went to my middle school and had been in my grade level all along, but
with so many students in my class, we just never traveled in the same circles.
We did have one big thing in common, however - we both had gay older brothers
who'd had a rough time in middle school, and that's why we felt so strongly
about the need for GSAs in the middle schools.
The more we got to
know each other, however, the more we realized that our common interests
extended well beyond our brothers or the GSA. We genuinely enjoyed being around
each other, talking to each other and, well, making out, but we both agreed
that's as far as we were going to go for now. Kayla meant far too much to me to
even consider her as a conquest. Maybe someday we'd let things progress
further, but our friendship, and maybe, yes, love, needed to come first.
"David's doing a
good job of holding his own," I commented. "No one holds up better under
pressure than he does," I observed with pride.
amazing, too," Cliff added. "It's hard to believe he's only fifteen."
"Jeremy and Trevor
are hanging in there, but they sure look like they've seen better days," Linda
admitted. "I think the whole thing's wearing everyone down."
proved innocent . . . that's the way it works in the news," Kayla proclaimed.
"All everyone sees on TV is four gay boys being questioned about their alleged
prostitution. They don't hear the full answers, so it's only the questions that matter. The answers don't
particularly hard on poor Kurt," I agreed. "The fallen hero."
"If only there was
someone out there showing them their support," Kayla said, "showing the rest of
the world that there are people who know them and believe in them . . . people
who are willing to stand up for them."
Suddenly, it all
came together for me. Kayla was brilliant! I hugged her and said, "Kayla, you're a genius!" as I pulled her to her feet
and spun her around in a circle. I kissed her on the lips. I kissed her long
"What is it, Brad?
What did I say?" she asked.
"How many people do
you know who believe in those guys?" I asked.
"You mean people
who would go to bat for them?" she asked.
"I mean people who
would be willing to drive, or jump in a car with someone, or jump on a bus and
stay overnight in a hotel, just to show their support for David, Jeremy, Kurt
and Trevor," I clarified.
Kayla's whole face
lit up as she thought about it and said, "Personally, I think I know of at least a dozen kids who'd do that, but
that's just off the top of my head. There might be many more than that."
chimed in. "David's the Junior Class President. The guy won by acceleration,
"The word's `acclamation',"
I corrected Cliff.
"Whatever," he said
as he rolled his eyes. "It goes without saying he's one of the most popular
boys in the high school. Jeremy, too. You could prolly fill a bus with kids
who'd wanna show their
support for those guys. And even though Trevor's a geek, he's President of the
GSA and he's pretty popular in the senior class, too. I think there are a lot
of kids in the sophomore class that would go to bat for Kurt, and beyond,
particularly now that he's won those medals. Our high school takes pride in
"Not just the high
school," Linda countered. "I think there's a lot of kids in the middle schools
who'd be interested, too. Some of the brothers and sisters of the high school
kids, and some kids who just feel what's going on in Washington isn't right.
It's time for us to show the rest of America that not all Midwesterners are
backwards homophobic racist hicks."
It was sooo funny, but
Cliff and I pulled our cell phones out at exactly the same time. We both ended up talking to our fathers simultaneously, who it
turned out were seated next to each other in a restaurant at that moment, so we
ended up in a four-way conversation about our idea for a caravan of kids to
Washington . . . a show of support for our brothers.
Our dads loved the idea. They thought the best
thing would be to use school buses to transport the kids to Washington - there
would be much more of an impact that way - but the kids would need to pay their
own way for the transportation and lodging. I was shocked by that, since
Jeremy's dad could easily afford to pay for it, but he explained how important
it was that people get the message that kids were willing to do this on their
own. It mustn't look like Jeremy's father was buying the kids' support, and I
could understand that. What Mr. Kimball could do was to guarantee a minimum payment for transportation costs, just in case
not enough people signed up, and he'd put his lawyer in touch with the school
superintendant to help get the ball rolling. Otherwise, this would be our project. That this was a kid-run,
kid-organized project was crucial to the public image, and to the project's
Cliff and I had
scarcely hung up our phones when the house phone was ringing off the hook. Later that night, Harold Warren, a reporter with The Star, came out to interview us on
what we were trying to organize and why. The next morning, ours was the lead
story on the front page of the paper! Fortunately, Mr. Warren had the
experience and the foresight to tell us to have folks call the paper with inquiries
about the trip. They set up a special line for us and charged us a nominal fee
- I guess this sort of thing happens at the last minute all the time - it's one
of the ways the paper makes money.
Going on-line and
with help from Mr. Kimball's lawyer, I reserved a block of fifty rooms at the
Hampton Inn in Germantown, some twenty miles north of Washington. With two
double beds in each room we never dreamt we'd come close to filling all fifty rooms. That was two hundred kids, after all. Even at the discounted rate of $129
per night for two nights, each kid would have to fork over a hundred bucks and
change, including the tax and their share of the bus fare, and even that was 'cause we got a local gas
station to throw in the gas for free at Mr. Warren's suggestion.
a little after 10:00, I got a call from the paper. Two hundred kids had
already signed up for the trip, and calls were still coming in like crazy. They
wanted to know if they could take back-up reservations, in case anyone dropped
out, and in the meantime asked if we could try to add more buses and rooms so
more kids could go on the trip. When I asked, it turned out kids were signing
up from all over the city - not just from our own school district. It was awesome.
Well, I got right
on the phone with Mr. Kimball's lawyer to see if we could get more buses, and
he just laughed and assured me we could get as many buses as we wanted at the
same rate per kid. I then got on the phone with Hampton Inn to see about
getting more rooms. I figured we'd need at least twice that many, and maybe
more. It turned out that getting them all in one place was gonna be an issue, and when I explained the situation, they sure didn't sound
thrilled with the idea of having hundreds of unsupervised teenagers running
amok in their hotel. I guess I could see their point. When I threatened to take
our business elsewhere, they suddenly `discovered' they had a Hilton hotel in
Gaithersburg that was even a little closer to Washington, with two hundred
rooms available if we needed them - not that I expected we would - and they'd
even give us the same price of $129 per night if we promised to have at least
one adult staying, too, for every forty kids on site. I wasn't sure where I was
going to come up with that many adults, but I knew I'd think of something.
There was no way I was going to pass this up.
With a new plan in
place, I called the paper back and told them we could now accommodate up to
eight hundred kids. The woman I spoke to was delighted. She said she'd already
taken close to 350 back-up reservations, so we were well on the way to filling
even that number.
In the end, we
didn't fill two hundred rooms at the Gaithersburg Hilton, but 177 was still an
impressive number. We ended up filling fifteen school buses. About half the students were from our school district, and the
rest were from all over the metro area, which was a very impressive showing
indeed. It seemed that attitudes toward gays had changed substantially in our
city from what they'd been in the past. We had kids as young as twelve years
old, and kids who were in college, and more than enough adult chaperones,
'cause a lot of the kids' parents wanted to go to show their support, too. All
the TV stations came out to film us as we headed out for the long trip to DC.
Wouldn't David be surprised to see us? Unless someone had tipped him and the
others off about our plans, he wouldn't have a clue.
There was a real
spirit of camaraderie on the bus I rode on. I really missed Cliff, but his
doctor said his counts were still too low for him to go. I knew he was in great
hands with Carlotta, his nanny and housekeeper, but the trip wasn't the same
With frequent stops
for food and restroom breaks, the trip took nearly all day, and even then, we
were still an hour outside of Washington by the time we arrived at our hotel.
Getting checked into our hotels took forever, and I was sure glad I had all those adult chaperones. Without them, things
would have probably deteriorated into complete chaos.
That evening in our
hotel rooms, we gathered together and assembled signs. There was no way, after
all, we could all fit inside, so Jeremy's father made arrangements for us to
obtain a permit to hold a peaceful protest rally outside the Capitol building.
With nothing more than white poster board, magic markers and wooden posts, we
constructed signs with slogans like, "Free the Gay Four", "The only Pimps are
on the Committee", and my personal favorite, "Bury McCarthy back in the 50's".
With our pickets
ready to go, we hit the sack.
The one thing I
didn't realize when I agreed to the switch from the Hampton Inn to the Hilton
was that, whereas at the Hampton Inn, breakfasts are free, at the Hilton,
they're not. Thank God I'd told everyone meals were at their own expense, or I'd have been on the
hook for thousands of dollars out of my own pocket. I did complain to the
manager, however, and although he didn't give us all a free breakfast, which is
what I'd wanted, he did point out that the breakfast buffet we were getting for
$13.95 was a whole lot nicer than the continental breakfast at the Hampton Inn,
which was worth maybe six dollars at best. He therefore gave us the buffet for
$7.95 a piece, which was really, really nice of him. Wow! It really pays to
It was quite a site
as our fifteen buses drove down I-270 during rush hour, and then around the
Capitol Beltway, across the American Legion Bridge, along the George Washington
Parkway, back across the Potomac and onto the National Mall. The buses paraded
themselves in front of the US Capitol before finally lining up along the Mall.
The buses then disgorged their passengers and the parent chaperones organized
us into peaceful columns as we held our pickets high in protest, preparing to
march up to the steps of the Capitol. Mr. Kimball's lawyer met us there and
pulled aside a number of us, myself included, whom he
felt would be particularly good speakers to testify before the Select Ethics
Committee. He also selected fifty `spectators' for whom he had tickets to sit
in the gallery inside. The rest would remain outside for an organized, peaceful
protest. This was gonna be
security with all the other kids was a chore, but it was nothing I hadn't been
When we got to the
committee room chamber, we were all seated behind a wooden railing, with those
of us who planned to speak being seated in the front row. David, Jeremy, Trevor
and Kurt hadn't arrived yet, nor had the members of the committee, and so we
sat, and we waited, and waited.
When David entered
the chamber and saw me, he was utterly shocked. At first Jeremy didn't see me,
but then he saw David staring at me and a look of complete surprise took over
his face. Soon all four boys were looking at me, and then noticing several
other familiar faces in the crowd in total disbelief. Before they had much time
to contemplate what was happening, however, the members of the Committee
arrived and we were all asked to rise.
After the committee
chair had gotten some preliminaries out of the way and was about to resume
questioning, Jeremy's father's attorney asked to approach. After talking
quietly to the committee chair for a minute, the chair nodded and then the
attorney returned to his seat and the chair said, "Very well, you may make the
"If it pleases the
members of the committee, we have a large number of visitors in the gallery
today, and an even larger number of visitors outside who have organized a
peaceful protest on behalf of the four subjects of this investigation. The
visitors present in the gallery have asked to speak directly to the committee
on behalf of the subjects today. We would like to see as many of them have an
opportunity to speak as possible, but in the interest of time, I would like to
propose that we limit it to twelve individuals who
know the subjects personally, each speaking for ten minutes. If there is time
after that, perhaps we could allow an additional twelve individuals to speak
for five minutes apiece. I'm bringing this up first thing because we are taking
about at least three hours of testimony, or more if the committee members wish
to question any of these individuals. These people have all come from the
subjects' home city. They know them far better than any of the other people in
Damned if it didn't
take the members of the committee more than an hour to argue the merits of
allowing us to speak, and the amount of time we should be given to speak. In
the end, the committee voted to allow six of us to speak for up to fifteen minutes each, and an unlimited number of those present to speak for up to five
minutes each. With the committee free to ask questions as they saw fit, it was
likely we'd be there the rest of the day doing this.
lawyer then introduced me by saying, "First to speak will be Bradford Reynolds,
the organizer of this whole thing. Young Brad is the thirteen-year-old brother
of David Reynolds, but when you hear him, you'll realize how much alike the two
brothers really are. When he thought of the idea of bringing a bunch of friends
to Washington as a show of support for his brother, he thought he might get a
busload or two, but then the local press got wind of the story, and he ended up
with fifteen school buses full of
kids, all of them willing to use their own hard-earned money or allowance to
pay their way. That goes to show you how much their community values these four
boys under investigation.
"Brad, come up here
and tell the members of the committee how you feel about your brother and the
other three boys you call your friends."
I could see the
tears running down David's face as I approached the `hot seat'. The message of
his love was clear and I almost lost it too, but I kept myself composed.
Beginning my speech,
I said, "Ladies and gentlemen of the committee, I want to thank you for the
opportunity to address you this morning. I do not dispute the severity of the
crimes that have been alleged, and I emphasize the word, `alleged', nor do I
challenge the need to investigate, but I cannot help but compare what is
happening here today to the McCarthy era of the 1950's. Going after my brother,
going after Jeremy Kimball, going after Trevor Austin and particularly after
Kurt DeWitt, a boy you recently honored for his selfless acts of bravery,
simply because of a rumor started by a tabloid is unconscionable.
"For days now, you
have been grilling these boys about their alleged activities and yet they have
been unwavering in their testimony, no matter what you have thrown at them.
Where are the people who actually made these allegations in the first place?
Sure, a reporter may not be obligated to reveal their sources, but that doesn't
mean you can't bring them before the committee for questioning. You can force
them to answer, under oath, if they even have a source in the first place. Is the source reliable? Is there more than one
independent source? Can the committee even verify the validity of any of the
claims of wrongdoing? This is basic detective work. The committee owes my
brother and his friends that much.
"And where are the
witnesses? Being seen entering the same hotel as a
congressman is hardly a crime . . . it's a coincidence. We've heard testimony
that they had lunch there and nothing more, so why does this keep coming up?
Unless you can produce a witness that can place them with the congressmen, you simply have no case."
dramatic effect, I continued, "But I'm not here to tell you how to do your jobs
. . . what do I know? I'm only
thirteen, after all. I'm here to tell you about my brother and his friends. I'm
here to tell you about the remarkable young men whose lives are being
thoughtlessly destroyed in the name of political expediency. These are young
men with enormous potential who have so much to contribute to society.
"Growing up, my
brother was always my hero. Although I was always his `bratty little brother'
being three years younger than him, he never looked down on me. He always
treated me with respect. We grew up in a house with adjacent bedrooms and a
shared bathroom, and I always knew if I had a problem, I could walk through the
bathroom and knock on his bedroom door. No matter how big the problem, no
matter how big his own problems might have been at the time, he was always
there for me.
"When David started
middle school, he started to change. He'd always been one of the most outgoing
kids in school, and he slowly became shy and withdrawn. He spent a lot of time
holed up in his room, so I knew that something was wrong, but he didn't want to
talk about it . . . not even with me. I was really worried about him. And then
one summer day he showed up at our house with a friend from school, Jeremy
Kimball, and David's whole disposition had changed. He was happy and he had a
goofy grin on his face, and then I knew.
"Suddenly the past
three years made sense. My brother was gay. He'd probably just been bummed out about it. To me, it didn't matter whether my
brother was gay or straight. I was just glad to have the old David back. I
always figured he'd eventually get a girlfriend, but Jeremy's been, like, a wonderful boyfriend to my brother. I
couldn't be happier for the two of them. Jeremy's foster brother, Cliff, is my
best friend, and Cliff's girlfriend and my girlfriend have become close."
David's head shot up when I mentioned I had a girlfriend. I guess I hadn't been
doing a good job of keeping in touch. "Kayla and Linda are right over there, by
the way," I said, pointing to the gallery.
Continuing, I said,
"So David and Jeremy have been together for two years now. They came out to
both sets of parents the day they got together. I guess you could say they fell
head over heels for each other. They came out at school, too, and are both on
the Student Council. David was the Freshman Class Treasurer, and then he ran
for Sophomore Class President, and won by a landslide, trouncing his two
opponents. No one even bothered to
run against him for Junior Class President. He and Jeremy are, like, two of the
most popular boys in the school, as I'm sure you'll hear from some of the
others here today. People don't care that they're gay . . . they're cool, but
they're just good kids.
"They've had their
picture on the front page of the local paper three times. They're the face of
gay youth in our community, and we're talking about a very conservative,
"The thought that
they could be running a prostitution ring is laughable. David and Jeremy are so much in love. They only have
eyes for each other. Ask anyone who knows them. They spend all their weekends
and their summers together. The thought of either of them being with someone
else is impossible to conceive. As the expression goes, they're like yin and
yang. I love them both. They're my
brothers, and my best friends.
"Another thing you
seem to be overlooking," I added, "is what could possibly be the motive for
prostitution? "These boys have loving relationships, so why would they look
elsewhere for love or sex? The have great expectations for their future. David
has ambitions in politics and dreams of getting a Law degree from Harvard, so
the last thing he would want to do is
get messed up in something like this. Jeremy also has his sights on Harvard
Law, and he has more than enough money for the both of them to live off for the
rest of their lives, so why would he need to resort to prostitution?
"Trevor is the
president of his school's GSA. He's a devout Christian who's helped many gay
youths come to terms with their sexuality. In some cases, I'm sure, that has
meant saving lives. He built the GSA's website from scratch and already it is a
top-ten resource for gay teens nationwide. He, too, has more than adequate
means, coming from a background of affluence, and certainly has no need to
stoop to prostitution. His boyfriend, Kurt, was just awarded the Congressional
Gold Medal. He plans to dedicate his life to the study of Religion and to the
Ministry. He is as ethical a person as I have ever known. How can this
committee even question his
willingness to resort to prostitution? Trevor and Kurt have been in a
monogamous relationship for a year, and they plan to marry next summer. For
them, there is no one else but each other.
"In here, there are
fifty children from our community who have come to speak to the members of the
Select Committee today on behalf of my brother and his friends. Outside this
building, there are more than six hundred more, and some fifty of their
parents, who dropped everything they were doing this summer to show their
support. That should tell you something. It should tell you how much the
children of my community value the four teenagers who are before you today,
accused of crimes in a witch hunt that more than likely has arisen, let's face
it, simply because they are gay, and because some people took exception to a
gay teen receiving a Congressional Gold Medal.
"Thank you for your
time, and for listening to me."
The chairman of the
committee didn't waste any time in getting to the bottom of my little
excursion. "Brad," he asked. "Not to belittle your accomplishments or anything,
but it seems rather amazing that a thirteen-year-old could pull something off
like this . . . coordinating getting fifteen busloads of teenagers all the way
from the Midwest to Washington on your own. In fact, it's preposterous. This
committee takes a very dim view of people using kids for their own bidding and
I for one intend to get down to the bottom of who's really behind all this.
you're under oath here, so tell me the truth. Whose idea really was it to
organize a caravan of buses to bring all these kids here today."
Smiling back at the
senator, I said, "You're looking at him, Senator. My girlfriend did play a bit
of a role . . . she said words to the effect that there needed to be someone
out there to show support for David and our friends, and that's when the idea
came together in my head. I realized then and there that we all knew kids who
would be willing to give up their time and money to travel to Washington on their
"My initial thought
was to get some older teens with cars to help and form a caravan of cars, but
Jeremy's dad thought that would be too risky in terms of liability issues . .
"So you admit
Thomas Kimball had something to do with this?" the senator interrupted.
"Mr. Chairman," I
said, "I couldn't organize something like this without contacting my parents.
At the minimum, I had to get their permission. My best friend, Cliff, called
his parents, who are also Jeremy's parents. It's unfortunate that Cliff
couldn't come with us, but his CD4 count is too low."
"What do you mean, his CD4 count is too low?" Jeremy screamed
"We didn't want to
worry you," Jeremy's dad called out to his son. "The new drugs will probably
help, so there's no need to worry."
Jeremy was actually
crying, and David took him into his arms. I knew just how he felt, 'cause I
felt the same way.
In the meantime,
the chairman was pounding his gavel and yelling "Order! Order in the chamber!"
resumed his grilling by asking, "Once again, Mr. Reynolds, explain Mr.
Kimball's roll in helping to set this whole thing up. How much of this was his
idea, and how much of it was yours?"
"Making the trip to
Washington with as many kids as we could as a show of support was entirely my
idea. Getting some of them to testify before the committee was my idea once I
realized that was a possibility. Using school buses instead of a caravan of
cars was Mr. Kimball's idea. He explained that if one of the cars was involved
in an accident, there could be liability issues. He said the school could
charge us a flat rate per seat for the bus and driver, and he had his lawyer
contact the school superintendant on my behalf and make the arrangements, for
which I was grateful. I could have done that myself, but Mr. Kimball just saved
"You have to
understand, Mr. Chairman . . . Mr. Kimball could have paid the entire cost
himself. He didn't do that for precisely the reason you're alluding to. This
was entirely my idea, but I'm only thirteen and I've never done something like
this before. Mr. Kimball just pointed me in the right direction and got me
"For the hotel, I
went on-line and checked on some rates and went with Hampton Inn, but a kid
can't make a reservation for such a large block of rooms without the help of an
adult, so I again had to use Mr. Kimball's lawyer to set things up.
Unfortunately, the initial response was overwhelming and we quickly needed a
larger block of rooms. When I called, they weren't exactly thrilled to have
their hotel overrun by a bunch of kids. We eventually worked things out with
the Hilton in Gaithersburg for the same rate so long as we agreed to bring at
least one adult for every forty kids. Actually, it wasn't `we'. I did that all
on my own. The only thing is, I didn't realize that breakfast wasn't included,
so when we got there, I spoke to the manager and got him to knock six dollars
off the price of the buffet."
The chairman looked
kind of impressed and said, "You sure you're only thirteen?"
"How in the world
did you manage to get so many kids?" the chairman asked.
"The local paper
found out about what I was doing and asked to interview me. Of course I
agreed." Smiling with pride, I said, "It was the lead story on the front page
the next morning. You have to understand that this whole charade of a hearing
has been front-page news back home. With so much interest in the story, the
reporter who interviewed us warned us we could get a lot of phone calls. He
said the paper could set up a call-in line for us. The cost was really
reasonable, too. Boy was I glad we did that. The paper took care of everything
. . . getting names and addresses, verifying payments and so on.
"So we drove in the
buses all day yesterday, we stayed overnight in the Hilton, four of us to a
room, and here we are."
I guess the
chairman couldn't think of anything wrong with what I'd done, because he didn't
ask any more questions. He asked the other members of the committee if they had
any questions, and none of them did, either, so he told me I could step down.
As I did, I could see by the looks in my parents' eyes that they were proud of
me, and loved me. Hell, I'd only done what David would've done if the situation
When I got back to
my seat in the gallery, Kayla gave me a quick hug and a peck on the cheek and
whispered in my ear, "You were awesome."
The next person to
speak was Barry Smith, the vice president of the GSA, who was straight, but who
had a gay brother, and who lost his own parents due to homophobia. Barry was
best friends with my brother and Jeremy, and was really an amazing person. In
his testimony, he described what had happened to his family, and how David and
Jeremy helped him get through a very rough period in his life. He talked about
how much he looked up to Trevor and how he considered him to be a mentor.
McLaughlin addressed the committee. She and her wife made the trip, even though
they were newly married and her wife had just been through an hysterectomy. Debbie spoke of how Trevor and Kurt had done so much to help them
through the ordeal of coming out when their parents discovered their
relationship, and how Trevor had prevented her from committing suicide. The
committee chair tried to make a big deal of how they'd snuck behind their
parents back all those years, but Debbie quickly put him in his place by
saying, "If you'd been told as a little boy that if they found there was
something you were born with they didn't like, what would you have done? Given the choice of being thrown out of your house
to live on the streets, being sent away to a school where they torture you
until you pretend not to be the way your are, or sneaking around behind your
parents backs, what would you do? I lived in constant fear from the time I was
eleven until I decided to take my own life. Thank God Trevor Austin came along
and helped me find my way home." Man, what a powerful answer.
Three other people
spoke from the high school that I didn't know really well, but they sure
couldn't say enough about how fantastic David and his friends were and how much
they meant to them in their lives. Finally, it was time for anyone else that
wanted to, to speak, and just about everyone else in the gallery wanted their five minutes worth. There were even kids from other
schools who just wanted to say how much the stories they read on David and
Jeremy in the paper had meant to them in allowing them to come out.
When we broke for
lunch, there were still a majority of kids who had yet to speak, and Mr.
Kimball's lawyer made it clear that everyone who wanted to speak would be
heard. I practically ran to my brother and he engulfed me in a bear hug, right
there in the committee chamber.
"I can't believe
you did this for me," David said as
he lifted me off the ground.
"You'd have done
the same thing for me," I countered.
"Yeah, but you're
only thirteen. I'd have never had the balls to pull something like this off at
your age," he said.
"I learned it all
from you bro," I replied with a
"I'm never, ever
calling you `squirt' again," David said with tears in his eyes. Looking deep
into my eyes, he said, "You're not just my bro, you're my friend . . . my best friend . . . right up there with
Kurt and Trevor. I don't know what I did to deserve such a wonderful brother .
. . just know that you're the best."
At that point I
totally lost it and I was crying, too.
"We need to get
going if we're going to get back here in time for the proceedings to resume,"
Mr. Kimball's lawyer reminded us.
As we started to
head out of the chamber, I noticed that Kayla had been standing next to me the
"David, I'd like
you to meet my girlfriend, Kayla," I said introducing her. "Kayla, this is
David, but I think you know that." I then introduced her to Jeremy, Trevor and
Kurt. My parents, of course, already knew her.
As we walked, David
whispered into my ear, "You being careful, bro?"
Feeling myself turn
red, I whispered back, "David, please, we haven't gone beyond making out . . .
at least not yet, and we don't plan
to for a long time."
"Wise move, my
man," David agreed. "You'll know when the time's right . . . there's no hurry.
"Easy for you to
say," I whispered back.
David replied with a snicker, and I couldn't help but laugh, too.
When we exited the
Capitol building, the sight that greeted us was amazing. All the students that
came with us for the trip were holding their picket signs high, and they were
surrounded by a large crowd of people who'd gathered around them, some curious,
but a lot who seemed to be adding their support. There were camera crews and
reporters from the news media all over the place filming the whole thing. The
publicity we were getting was great!
When we got closer
and people started recognizing us, a loud cheer erupted from the crowd. I could
tell how much this meant to David and the others. Finally it was evident that
there were people out there who were on our side. The feeling at lunch reflected the change in everyone's mood. I could
just sense the feeling of hope around the table.
Back in the
committee chamber after lunch, kid after kid got up once again to speak on
behalf of what David and Jeremy and Trevor and Kurt meant to them. Some knew
them quite well and told anecdotes of the things they did at school to make it
a better place. Some didn't know them at all, but told about what an
inspiration they were. Some of the kids were gay, but a lot of them were
straight. I was amazed at the outpouring of support from our own hometown. That
afternoon there were another 40 teenagers that got to speak for five minutes.
The support in that chamber was overwhelming.
I hated to return
home the next morning with everything still unresolved, but committee hearings
have a life of their own. Still, I could tell that the tide had been turned. We
got off the buses to a hero's welcome and I was even interviewed by all the TV
stations. A picture of me testifying in front of the committee was on the front
page of The Star that morning, and a
picture of me getting off the bus made the front page of The Star the next morning. Wow! I was a real local celebrity.
Even though the
hearings continued for a few more days, it was evident the committee was trying
to find a way to save face and make a graceful exit. There was a big editorial
in our local paper about how ridiculous the whole proceedings were. The New York Times was even more direct in
their editorial, shaming Congress for carrying on an investigation with no more
evidence than an unsubstantiated report in a tabloid. Not only that, but the
letters to the editor ran more than two-to-one against the committee. In the
end, it was the committee that got
dragged through the mud, and my brother and friends came out of it smelling
like a bouquet of roses.
Not This Again - Will
What a summer this has been! I've
spent it as an intern at the White House, met four, cool gay teens who actually survived a major political scandal, and I
managed to come out to my own parents. Still, I don't think I'm ready to come
out of the closet in general and there's still the matter of my girlfriend . .
. her drug habit, her political connections and what was going to happen when
we return to Chicago.
I knew her parents
would be counting on me to keep her clean, but she had refused to go into rehab
and I often came home to our Watergate apartment to find her using, in spite of
my attempts to get her to stop.
Soon, the summer
would be coming to an end and we would be returning home. I would be returning
to my high-rise condo on Lake Shore Drive and we would both resume our studies
pre-Law at the University of Chicago.
Sherrie had her own
place and by all rights should return there, but I had the distinct impression
she intended to move in with me, and I had a feeling both her and my parents
would approve of the arrangement, as it would allow me better control in
helping her to kick her drug habit. The reality, however, was that I had
absolutely no control. The only way
she would ever get off drugs was if she wanted to. I was no substitute for actual rehab.
In the end, it was
Sherrie herself who made the matter irrelevant. I came home one day to the all-too-familiar
smell of vomit in my apartment at the Watergate. Inside, I found Sherrie laying
face-up, passed out on our bed. Her eyes were open and at first I thought she
might be dead, but I checked her neck and found a very weak pulse.
In contrast to what
we had found the last time, when I arrived with my four charges in tow, this
time Sherrie's pupils weren't the tiny little pinpoints common to someone on
drugs. This time they were big round saucers, and they remained so when I
turned on the lights. Having read enough books and seen enough medical shows on
TV, I knew that fixed and dilated pupils more than likely meant she was already
brain dead and there was therefore nothing I could do for her.
My political career
was probably already ruined - her parents would see to that - but the one thing
I could do was avoid a felony drug
conviction. There was still a chance I could salvage something of my life. Much
as I wanted to search for her stash of coke and get rid of it right away,
however, Security had already logged the time I'd entered the building, and any
delay in calling 911 would look suspicious, so I dialed as I searched.
Fortunately, it didn't take me long to find the stash and flush it and the bag
down the toilet.
When the 911 operator came on the line, I explained the situation, and
when he tried to explain about clearing the airway, I said it looked like she
might have hit her head, so he told me not to do anything and just hold on
until the paramedics arrived. In reality, I sure as hell didn't know how to do
what Jeremy had done the last time.
I needed to buy a
little time, so I dropped the bedroom phone and stomped on it. It wasn't long
before the 911 operator was calling back and I could
hear the kitchen phone ringing, but that was all the time I needed to flush the
toilet a second time, adding some chlorine bleach to remove any residual
cocaine traces from the toilet bowl.
I ran to the
kitchen and answered the phone, apologizing that in my panic, I'd accidentally
dropped and stepped on the bedroom phone, breaking it. It was only a few
minutes later that the paramedics arrived. Those might have been critical
minutes that could have made all the difference to Sherrie's survival, but
Sherrie brought this all on herself. It was a shock to admit to myself that I
didn't even care if she lived or not - it was probably better for her if she
In truth, I should
have never let my parents talk me into taking her back the first time. This is
my life, after all - not theirs. They may think they know what's best for me,
but look where that thinking had gotten me. The contrast between my life and
Jeremy Kimball's couldn't have been starker. We might have grown up with very
similar backgrounds, but his parents never resorted to using political bribes.
They'd kept their business in the family and ended up making just about as much
money in the end.
The Kimballs raised Jeremy to be a great kid. They accepted his
being gay, right from the start. They encouraged him to come out, or more correctly, embraced his coming out when it happened.
They've been supportive of his relationship with his boyfriend, stood behind
him all the way, and in the end, it looks like he's found a way to enter the
political world, even though he's openly gay . . . and in the Midwest, no less!
And when the shit
hit the fan and a scandal ensued for Jeremy and his friends, it was like they
were all coated with Teflon - the shit just slid right off them and stuck to
the very people who tried to smear them. Through it all, his parents stuck
right by him, as I suppose mine would, too, to be fair, but the honesty of
having a loving boyfriend and best friends seemed to have made all the
difference in the world.
In doing it my
parents' way, the only ones I could count on were my parents - not that that
was a bad thing, but I was learning all too clearly that the political
connections I was building through my parents were like a house of cards, the
foundation of which had just been pulled out from under me.
I was lucky indeed
to have met David, Jeremy, Trevor and Kurt. It was clear they were going
places. I didn't have to be in the political limelight . . . in fact, that was
no longer a possibility . . . but they would always be there for me as my link
to the political world. As David suggested, I would become a legal scholar -
well known in political circles, but safe from political vendettas. And who
knows, maybe someday . . .
The authors gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance of Alastair in proofreading our stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Codey's World for hosting them.