My Christian Parents Try to Pray the Gay Away (It Hasn't Worked)
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Mom sent me outside to shoot hoops with Wes each time he asked if I was home, often interrupting my piano practice. Due mainly to my lack of skill, basketball bored me. I began hiding when Wes rang the doorbell. Mom would find me in the garage cowering next to the deep freeze, or behind the dryer in the laundry room. Finally, she gave up on forcing me to go outside, and began inviting Wes to come in. One afternoon he walked into the living room and found me sitting on the couch looping a slender, metal hook through a spool of silky string.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Crocheting,” I replied.
“Where’d you learn to do that?”
“My grandpa taught me.”
After 40 years of smoking ended in emphysema, my mother’s father had retired to his La-Z-boy recliner with an oxygen tank and a penchant for string craft. Papa spent hours cross-stitching elaborate pictures of a realistic Jesus above Bible verses rendered in complicated script while watching Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant on television.
Watching TV at Nanny and Papa’s was a big deal. Mom and Dad had gotten rid of our television at home when I was a little boy because I cried when they turned off the cartoons. “Cartoons are nothin’ but violence,” Mom would say. “All that hittin’ and kickin’ doesn’t please the Savior.” So, at the age of 4, I couldn’t tell you much about Bugs Bunny or the Road Runner. I could tell you how to crucify a man.
Wes crucified me at school the day after he saw me crocheting by shouting two words across the seventh grade boy’s health class: “Aaron KNITS.”
Even the teacher laughed, and I knew I was doomed. “You knit?” he said as if Wes had announced I had grown breasts.
“I crochet!” My retort was high-pitched with horror, but even as the words left my lips, I realized my mistake. It was fruitless to attempt this distinction in a group of young men who considered Funions delicious and flatulence funny.
The next day in choir when Wes called me a fairy, I felt the same hot frustration well up inside of me, and that night I cried as I told Mom and Dad what had happened. Dad decided it was time to take action. He straightened his tie and calmly announced:
“We’re going next door to pay the Greens a visit.”
“No! That will just make things worse,” I protested, realizing too late I had not thought this out very well at all.
Mrs. Green was startled to see me standing on her porch with my parents, but she smiled nervously and let us all in. Their whole house smelled like fried food, and Mr. Green appeared in his full beard and indigo work shirt, his name stitched across the front. Once we were gathered in the living room, Dad led us in prayer, asking God for guidance, while I tried not to throw up from anxiety. Telling my parents what was really going on with me had been a terrible mistake, I decided. Then, Dad said, “Amen,” and it got even worse.
“Aaron, why don’t you tell us all what happened at school today.”
I couldn’t look at Wes, but I could feel his eyes boring into me.
“Wes called me a fairy,” I said.
Mr. and Mrs. Green both begin to chastise Wes, but Dad held up his hand in a call for silence. “Is this true, Wes?”
Now it was Wes who turned crimson, and to my astonishment began to cry. “Aaron thinks he’s so much better than me,” he sobbed. “He’s always bragging about getting better grades than I do in science and English.”