All is High

“After the Storm: There is Hope”

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Author’s Sidenote: ANY CONSTRUCTIVE feedback ANY OF YOU can offer me would be wonderful. This is the beginning of a novel I’d like to write and I am interested to hear what you all think. The “mystery” of Julian is meant to be revealed later in the text.

 

She waited by the receptionist’s desk for almost three hours now. Hildy felt the sweat on her forehead begin to accumulate like soldiers ready to go to war; however, the only war that she was focused on was the battle of her thoughts in her head. What’s going to happen now? Why did this have to happen to our family? Is he going to be okay? Will he be able to build a future for himself? She rubbed her finger tips together in a circle motion, feeling them get more moist with every movement the second hand made on the clock. Her right leg began to fidget, ready to create a hole in the ground.

 

She wasn’t alone in this ordeal – her husband Santiago, or Santy, had helped Hildy keep it together but Santy had absolutely no patience whatsoever and waiting was not an option for him. Wanting to avoid having even more to worry about, Hildy looked at Santy and said, “It doesn’t look like he is coming out anytime soon.” She felt the roots of her golden brown hair begin to curl with every sweat drop that formed with every anxious thought. Santy got frustrated, tightening his eye lids over his large eyes, “This is an injustice…having to wait so damn long.”

 
Hildy shook her head. She was not in the mood to deal with his lack of patience, “Santy – go home. When I hear something, I’ll call you and have you come back.” While Santy wanted to be by his wife, he also knew that his patience was incredibly limited. He nodded his head and kissed her on her forehead lightly, “The minute you get word of anything, call me. I’ll be waiting.” He smiled in a way that made Hildy feel safe.

 
At about ten thirty that night, a tall man came from behind the glass door. It was hard to see his face, but his complexion matched Hildy’s lighter skin when it typically matched Santy’s darker shade. He was looking down the entire time, wearing a navy blue Hawaiian print t-shirt and black shorts. The young man’s attire did not match his mood whatsoever – he looked broken. As he was walking head down, he looked as though he were muttering something to himself. As he got closer to Hildy, she heard him whisper, “In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.” It took everything in Hildy’s power to not cry; it wasn’t the time for that. It was a time for her to be happy that her son came out.

 
Julian saw his mother and embraced her tighter than he ever had. I’m so stupid. Why did I make her suffer? What am I going to do now? His arms went around her shoulders and they walked to together in unison, “Nene, I am so happy to see you,” Hildy declared, her green eyes glistening with tears being held back by her lower eye lid. Julian gave a light smile, “Ma, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Because the day had been difficult for Julian, it was very difficult for him to show more excitement to his mother. He wasn’t sure she understood that.

 
They began to walk towards the front doors that would lead them outside, and to his father who was waiting in a 2005 White Dodge Durango – the car that had belonged to his older brother, Josue. Julian and Santy did not necessarily have the best relationship; it always bothered Hildy. Hildy claimed that they had always acted more like strangers than father and son – however, she was excited to see Julian lunge towards his father to hug him and give him a kiss. “Bendicion,” said Julian, a phrase that displayed reverence and one that Santy made sure his son said to all of his family members. Santy didn’t smile too much, but was clearly happy to see his son, “Que Dios te Bendiga.” May God Bless You.

 
Julian had let go of his father so that he could open the door to sit in the back seat. He wanted both of his parents to sit up front because Julian knew that he was bound to be emotional at some point. And Julian was right – as the car began to drive back to his parent’s house, he was staring at his reflection through the door window, watching the rain distort the image he had of himself. Each time his image became more destroyed, the harder he would cry in the backseat. Julian was trying his best to be quiet, but it became such a loud and ugly cry. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” is all that could come out of Julian’s mouth. Hildy looked forward to avoid looking at her son and replied, “This will all pass with time. I am just happy that I am able to see you.”

 
Hildy’s phone blipped as they turned a corner to get onto the freeway, “It’s your Titi Sonny. She’s been worried about you,” she explained. Julian thought about his Titi Sonny being worried and became preoccupied himself – Titi, or Aunty, Sonny suffered from anxiety and depression. All he could think about was Titi Sonny throwing herself across the floor and being so worried about Julian’s condition. Hildy gave Julian her phone, “Call her. Let her know you’re okay; it will be a lot better coming from you than from me,” she inferred.

 
Julian unlocked his mom’s phone with the password she used for everything, which was her birth year. He opened up the address book on the device and searched for Sonny’s name. When his eyes found the target, his right thumb pressed on her name and he lifted up the phone to the right side of his face as he awaited his aunt to pick up the phone.
It rang about three times before she answered, “Buji!” which was the nickname everyone called Hildy in her family, “Julian? How is he? Is he okay?” Julian smiled – it was comforting to know that family cared about his well-being, “Titi, Bendicion.” Sonny was never good at hiding her emotions and this time was no exception. Sonny was crying very loudly on the other hand, “Julian! Que Dios te Bendiga! I was so worried about you. I am so happy to hear you voice,” her speech was interrupted by tiny gasps and loud cries, “Everyone was worried, pero, I am glad to hear you’re okay.”

 

As Julian was talking to Sonny, the phone dinged: it was text message from his Titi Mery asking Hildy how Julian was. Julian tuned the cries from his Titi Sonny out as he responded to his Titi Mery: Hi Titi, this is Julian. I am okay. Thank you for being there for my mom and helping out.

 
After about six minutes, Julian realized that he was at home, “Titi, we just got home, so I’m going to go ahead and let you go. I love you so much and thank you again. Bendicion.” Bendicion typically marked the beginning and end of a conversation in a Puerto Rican family. “Que Dios te Bendiga. Tell my sister I love her.”

 
As soon as she said sister, Julian thought about his own siblings. Because Josue, his oldest brother, was in prison, he knew that his father probably didn’t tell Josue what had happened to avoid him being worried. Santito, who was his youngest older brother, lived in Puerto Rico with their oldest sister, Minerva, probably had no idea either because his father did not want to worry them. He didn’t even think about Jasmine, who was Julian’s older sister by a year and a half – Santy was too proud to allow other family members to worry about anything he could handle on his own. The sibling that probably had any idea what was going on with him was Tino, his brother from his mom’s first marriage. Tino was younger than Josue by a few years, but older than Santito.

 
He used his mother’s phone to call Tino. When Tino answered, he immediately said, “Bendicion.” Julian began to talk to his brother with tears gushing from his eyes, “Tino, it’s me, Julian. I am so sorry that you were worried and are going through all of this. I am so sorry.” Tino’s voice got very serious – this was the perfect opportunity for him to lecture Julian, but instead he said, “I’m glad to hear your voice. I’ll be up to see you all in a few weeks – we’ll talk then.” Julian agreed and hung up the phone.

 
After he had finished his phone calls, he entered his parent’s house. He stared at it; there was so much history in this house and here, he added yet another chapter. Julian walked into the kitchen and Santy looked at his son, “Are you hungry?” Julian shook his head and looked at his mom, who was smiling at him. “I am just so happy to see you,” she announced. Julian gave another light smile but you can tell that he was exhausted. Hildy noticed his demeanor and led him to the room behind the kitchen, “We put all your stuff in here, so if you want to sleep on your bed, I hope you won’t mind this room for now.” Julian nodded his head and spoke in a groggy tone, “Yeah. That’s fine.” Hildy moved from the sink and led Julian to the back room.

 
Julian had made eye contact with his bed and immediately jumped back into it. He looked across the room and noticed his sectional was in the room, as well as his dresser – all of these items organized in a very neat manner. Julian chuckled, being the first time tonight he had done anything that displayed happiness, “Ma, you always have a way of making the impossible possible.” The room was tiny, but all of the furniture fit comfortably with ample walking space. Hildy really had a knack for making impossible things happen, including saving Julian from his current situation.

 
Hildy smiled, “Well, you know me.” She laughed lightly and sat down on the edge of his bed, laying her right hand on top of his legs. “Listen, I know that things are hard right now, and they will be for a while, but I need you to promise me that you’re going to be strong throughout all of this,” she requested. Julian sighed, “That’s a difficult promise to make.”

 
Nene, If I can get through difficult times, so can you,” she explained. Julian had heard about his mother’s past a few times but did not really know why it was so difficult. Hildy was a very reserved individual – she wasn’t one to dwell in the past or think about how other people have wronged her, making her the paragon of forgiveness. Hildy felt different that night: her son was home and her heart was as open as it could be. Due to her newfound mood, she sat down and began to look around. She had noticed that Julian had a dry erase board with a cork board and the only thing attached to that board was a picture of Julian’s aunt and Hildy’s oldest sister, Franny.

 
Yo pase por mucho, Nene. I’ve gone through a lot in my time.” Before Julian got an opportunity to ask how, Hildy allowed her son to see into her past through her anecdotes.

Trapped in the Closet

Not R. Kelly’s Closet…

I don’t really like to bring attention to the fact that I identify as gay – not because I’m ashamed, rather, there are more attributes that make up my personality than just my sexuality. Aside from the fact that I am a man who is attracted to men, I’m pretty “normal” (mind you, there is no such thing as normal) as far as gender expression is concerned. There is a story, though. It’s a difficult one to share, so if you’re triggered by any violence, this may not be the post for you.

I remember making sense of the word “gay” when I was in sixth grade. I always knew I was different from the rest of my peers when it came to attractions – hell, I was attracted to my best friend’s older brother, who was in high school. I thought he was a beautiful man. When I came to make sense of my identity, I really wanted to share it with friends, but I was terrified because I wasn’t normal. There was no such thing as being “gay” in the community I was in.

I did have a friend who was a girl. I thought it would be easy to tell her because she also likes guys and I felt she would keep quiet about it. When I called her on the phone, we talked for a while and I told her, “yo, I think I like guys.” There was silence for a few seconds and I thought to myself, you fucked up. She then proceeds to say, “I’ve always wanted a gay friend!” I smiled – this went a lot better than I went. We talked for hours about everything. Hell, I even told her that I had a crush on my best friend’s older brother. We got off the phone and I went to bed feeling great about myself.

The next day, I went to school feeling great; however, the demeanor was really weird. I felt that people were staring at me like I had done something wrong. I walked up to my best friend and smiled, “People sure are acting weird today.” He blinked at me and quickly turned his body back towards his locker, “I don’t speak to faggots.” (side note: Ironically, based off of what I’ve seen on his Facebook, I am SURE he is gay). That one friend had spread to the entire 7th and 8th grade class that I was gay. I was shocked, but I was more shocked at how I was treated.

7th grade was a year of hell – it was when I really first started seeing my depression play out. People would call me names: faggot, pussy, queer, bitch, cocksucker, booty muncher. They would yell these so loud in the hallway and would throw pencils, erasers, and any object they could find as I would walk down the hallway. If we were outside and we were going to gym, people would throw sticks, rocks, dirt, and anything else at me. I was truly baffled.

TRIGGER POINT: There was one day where I had asked my teacher to go get a book from my locker because I had forgotten it in there that morning. She nodded and I left – the hallways were empty. I opened my locker to get my book and as I was looking towards the direction of the locker, I felt something behind me; it was that sixth sense when you just knew someone was right behind you. When I went to look back, I looked down next to my neck and saw a knife. The knife was thrown into the locker as soon as I looked back and the owner ran away. I, to this day, still don’t know who it was. The school had no way of figuring out who it was, so it was neglected. I also didn’t want to bring too much attention to it because I didn’t want my parents to figure out I was gay. It’s something that haunts me every now and again.

When it was time to go to high school, I decided to go to the high school where no one went to so that I could start over. It went great for a while, until people started suspecting that I was gay because I didn’t have a girlfriend. I pretended to be madly in love with this one girl, but her and I both knew that it wasn’t real. Rumors started again.

Then, my parents decided to move (not because I was gay, but because they were tired of cold weather). I was cool with it because it was an opportunity for me to start over. I am glad that I did – I changed for the better. I became more social, I started becoming involved in more programming, and I learned how to love myself.

As far as coming out to my parents is concerned, I came out to my mom in my therapist’s office when I was in 8th grade. She was very affirming and she said, “as long as you are an upstanding citizen, I have no problem with what you are.” That made me feel great and it was a secret we kept from my dad for so many years.

I didn’t want to tell my dad until I lived on my own and I was able to support myself. I always thought that he would be the type to kick me out. When I told him, it was the year after I graduated from undergrad – hell, I told him on a Sunday after I was inspired by a church service, and I called off work on Monday and TOLD my supervisor why I was calling off. It was time. I’m glad I did it, but he wasn’t thrilled. Actually, he still isn’t very thrilled and he doesn’t get it – but he’s also old school. I don’t think he’ll ever get it.

With that, I would like to close by saying that I admire and love ALL types of people in the LGBT community, but I love those who go beyond their gender expectation and express themselves in an “atypical” way. You all are SO BRAVE. My heart extends to you and I will do whatever I can to support all types of people: from the “flaming,” to the drag queens and kings, to the studs, to the trans-everything and anything – the bravery you all have is immeasurable. Continue to be strong – it’s people like you all that allow me to walk in my truth.