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…I’ll leave the light on…

October 7, 2012

I shall preface this with a warning. I am not going to pull punches. This may be graphic. I am very upset and tired and sick to death of people treating other people like they do not matter.

There is a young man I have known for…close to 15 years. He was only 18 when we met. He came to work for me as a temp on a project when I was working for Boeing in El Paso. I got to know him a little, and learned that he was trying desperately to put his life together after an incident that left him with limited mobility in his right shoulder/arm and a bit of a speech impediment.

It would take some time to to learn from him that the “incident” was when his father and uncle beat him, stripped him and sodomized him with a pipe in an effort to “teach” him that homosexuality was evil and disgusting. It was the night he turned fifteen. He was out with friends, with hours before his midnight curfew, when his father pulled him out of the restaurant and put him in the truck and drove him out to a field where his uncle joined them.

When the “lesson” was over this father and uncle put the bloody, unconscious body of this young man in the back of the truck, took him home and locked him in a storage room in the garage. To help the lesson sink in.

It was two days before his friends managed to get into the house to find him. They found him laying in his own excrement with rats crawling on him. They got him to a hospital where he spent the next month. His jaw was shattered. His right shoulder was dislocated to a degree his doctor had never seen, the arm twisted up behind him, the bones cracked, tendons ripped. They had to go in surgically to repair the damage done to him anally.

While in the hospital, his father was forbidden to come see him, though he wasn’t arrested. So his father sent the preacher from their church to come see him, and make sure he understood that he brought this on himself, that sin must be punished.

Of course, this only made the young man more confused and he asked over and over again, “What did I do?”

Now, he’d be the first to tell you that he isn’t the manliest of men. He has no taste for sports, his love is music. He played piano and guitar before the incident made it so he couldn’t. But he couldn’t understand why that was worthy of punishment, even in a Texas town.

For a very long time, he never did find out why it happened, what could possibly make his father believe that he was gay and needed “teaching”. You see, he’s very straight. He has never had a gay thought in his life. Had never “behaved gay”, whatever that might mean.

Tonight, getting caught up on emails, I found one from him and pleasantly surprised, since I haven’t heard from him in a while, I opened it. His father passed away back in June. He let his brother convince him to come home for the funeral (he lives in Nashville now, with a lovely wife and a daughter).

While he was home, his mother finally told him what had set his father off. The pastor of their church had seen this young man holding another young man in what he interpreted to be an “intimate way”. He, of course, informed the boy’s father, so that it could be dealt with.

His words, “I stared at her for a long time, trying to figure out what the fuck she was talking about. My memory of things just before and just after the beating are sketchy at times. Fucking fuck, I couldn’t figure it. Then Mom said ‘Ricky Stewart’ and it hit me.

Ricky’s mother had been killed by a drunk driver. He was a fucking mess. What was I supposed to do? Pat him on the back and tell him to man up? He was hurting. Yes I held him. I held him for almost a half hour while he cried. And then Joey did. And then, we got Pete’s brother to score us some beer and we got him drunk and let him crash at Joey’s place.”

This man died a homophobic dickwad who beat his own son into the hospital because his son was being a good Christian and comforting a friend and he was too twisted up in hate to see the truth.

How much must you hate yourself to inflict this kind of “lesson” on your own child without at least verifying that you know the truth? No, fuck that. What kind of person are you that you could do this to ANYONE for ANY REASON?

More than that, how can you hate someone this much in the name of your religion?  What god would demand this kind of sacrifice?  What god can condone this kind of behavior in his name?  

What mother stands by for nearly twenty years, holding her silence, while her son, who is so afraid of his own flesh and blood that he ends up moving thousands of miles away and changing his name, continues to live in fear?

What system of law lets a crime like this go unpunished because it’s a “family affair” (this is what he was told by the small town sheriff when he tried to find out why his father wasn’t arrested.  “You don’t want to be airing that dirty laundry, son, best just leave it be.  Go where your kind are welcome.”…that’s what he told me was said.)

Last I checked, his “kind” was human.  And last I checked, his kind is welcome anywhere and everywhere.

I am so sick to death of the vilification of what is different, of the lies to dress the offensive up in pretty packages, of the extremes in everything.  What the fuck happened to the middle, to finding out the truth before deciding, to not throwing people away because you disagree with something about them?

What the fuck is wrong with the human race?  So hung up on the stupid little shit that we can’t get out of our own damn way to address what’s really wrong.

I think this is where I opt out.  I’m done.


Except…I don’t know how to stop caring, to stop wanting to wrap my arms around people like this poor boy, and hold them and show them that all is not lost…it can’t be.  Not yet.


I have to believe that there is still good in this world, in humanity. I have to.

So, I’m leaving the light on.  For you.  For all of the hurting, desperate people who need to believe too, who need someone to believe in them, who need a safe harbor…

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Phyllis permalink
    October 7, 2012 9:55 pm

    Wow. I’m nearly speechless. I raised both a son and a daughter and I will love them and be on their sides no matter what they do or become. Nothing in me helps me understand how your friend’s father could have done that, or the uncle, or the minister could condone it. I hope he manages to find peace in life and in his heart.

    • October 7, 2012 11:06 pm

      Like you, I can not begin to understand the mentality. It’s a frightening world we live in sometimes.

  2. October 8, 2012 12:17 pm

    There are days when dealing with the everyday insanity is almost too much then something like this slaps you in the face. Like you, I sometimes want to wash my hands of of the mess, but then someone’s bright light will push back the darkness and I send a thought to universe that such horrific behavior is not repeated in the next generation.

  3. October 16, 2012 6:47 pm

    Frightening story, and one that I would like to share with some of my students in the future. You see, I wasn’t done quite as badly as this young man, but my own family turned away from me, they are Southern too, because I am an atheist. Not ONE of my siblings or my father has spoken to me in nearly ten years. I have one son who will not speak to me, but I have one son who is very understanding and we keep in contact. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad anymore, I’m mostly ashamed of my family for their own ignorance. I’m also very sad for this young man, and what he went through. Please don’t think I am comparing my situation with his, just confirming that in the South, there are those who make idiotic choices without much thought or reason. Peace.

    • myweightinwords permalink*
      October 16, 2012 8:24 pm

      Any time a family rejects one of their own it is a sad story.

      I have been fortunate myself. I have a family that often disagrees on many points, but we love and support one another anyway.

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