Page 30

An Unlikely Ally Written by: LFA Turppa

I truly believe in the equality of the human spirit, and that “equal rights” means “human rights”.

I’m gay. I’m out and I’m proud. I go to OutRaleigh events, I march in Gay Pride Parades, I voted against Amendment One, and on occasion I even participate in drag shows, just for the hell of it. I wasn’t always this way. When I was younger, I lived under the oppressive boot of my father. My mother did nothing to curb his behavior; I suppose she enabled him. I was too sensitive, too scrawny, too brainy… each of these things he tried to beat out of me after drinking a fifth of Jack every night after work. I got into trouble at school-fights, bullies picking on me, kids calling me names because of my sensitive disposition and the fact that I actually cared about my hygiene. He had his say about that, too. He said it with his belt; his belt and I became very well acquainted. Sissy. Fag. Homo. The names still haunt me. Sticks and stones, I know; try explaining that to an eight year old who heard it at school, then came home and heard it there too. When all he did was try to explain the fights weren’t his fault, he was only defending himself? Against what, you little fag? Damn sissy… ! THWACK with the metal business end of the belt across any part of my body unprotected by cloth. Before I go any further, you must remember, this was the 90s, when kids were committing suicide for being hassled about their sexual orientation. Even the suspicion of being gay could land you in a locker for a couple classes, if not worse.

30

www.connextionsmagazine.com

I grew older, stronger. I took up sports, and because I was fitting into a societal norm, the kids at school quit picking on me. The name-calling stopped, despite the constant aberrations from my father; in fact, he was the only one who still bothered. When I was sure my jock buddies were nowhere around, I snuck into and sat in on anything having to do with the Arts. How I longed to be a part of that crowd. To express that inner intelligence, that wisp of creativity that had so long been beaten into repression. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying only gays are into the Arts, nor am I saying that you have to be gay to be accepted into the Arts community. What I’m saying is that for me, being gay, and a jock, was unappealing. In fact, two of my teammates were gay- one, peeking out of the closet, while the other was hidden so far inside it he may as well have been in Narnia! At any rate, the repressed homosexuality, the repressed creativity? It began eating away at me, carving out scars, deep in my soul. My father still tried to beat me, but because I had become bigger and stronger than him, he was less successful. He still made strides, adapting new forms of abuse. He threw things or, whipped his belt, at me, even going so far as lunging his own body at me. There ‘of course’ was the psychological abuse, which was on a daily basis; name calling and putting me down. Sports, as well as my clandestine Arts indulgences, helped me keep my head on straight. In my sophomore year, my mom died. Car accident. I wish I could say I was upset about it, but I wasn’t. The fact that she stood by, for so

long, while my father abused and harassed me, without stopping him, and her general feeling of indifference towards me, was abuse in its own right. The only thing I had to contend with, after that, was my father. Thankfully I was coming of age, and could emancipate myself from him, something I would have done whether or not she had died. You also might be asking why I didn’t go to anybody for help… Social Services perhaps. Back in my day, they didn’t have such a thing, except for extreme cases of neglect; the one area of my life where I had no cause for complaint. I had a roof over my head, food in my belly and clothes on my back. All I needed was a lawyer. I’d had a job since I was fourteen; helping the neighbors with yard work. This led to a job offer from one of them; he was the owner of a landscaping company and had been impressed with my work ethic. Obviously there was only so much I could do because of Child Labor Laws, but it was more than enough for me. I saved every cent, putting it into an account my grandfather opened for me when I was a child; my parents had no access to it so I knew it would be safe. The only reason I even knew I had an account to begin with is because I’d gone into the bank, at fourteen, to open one, and the woman assisting me told me I couldn’t have one without an adult co-signer. She then proceeded to tell me, with a confused look, that I already had one. Allow me to tell you something about my grandfather. Because of my father’s domineering nature, I didn’t get to see him. Ever. My grandfather was my father’s dad,

Profile for Connextions Magazine

Connextions Magazine - Issue 8 DC  

Travel highlights in our nation's capital, Washington DC. Click to www.connextionsmagazine.com to subscribe or purchase the print edition.

Connextions Magazine - Issue 8 DC  

Travel highlights in our nation's capital, Washington DC. Click to www.connextionsmagazine.com to subscribe or purchase the print edition.