Thomas' Column

By Thomas Gerald Jean
December 1995

My life as a gay youth representative

My name is Thomas and I am the Central Texas Gay Youth Representative. I have been out at school since eighth grade and I came out to my parents my freshman year.

I never really planned to tell my parents I was gay but my plans took an alternate course. I was scared when I started my freshman year, because the previous semester I had been in and out of a psych hospital for major depression and several suicide attempts. I tried to kill myself more than 25 times. After the last attempt and my last week in the hospital, I decided there must be a reason God kept me alive.

I now know that reason -- to be the voice of gay youth in my area and fight for equal rights.

My freshman year I officially started dating guys. My first boyfriend really opened my eyes to the gay community. After he moved away, I was very distraught. I thought I was the only one left. Then I opened the Killeen Daily Herald newspaper and saw an article about a lesbian at Fort Hood that was fighting for equal rights right here in Killeen and she also ran a chapter of GLACT. Through her I met my soon-to-be boyfriend and another good friend.

We met for the first time at Bonanza Restaurant. I was then active at a local Baptist church, so I told my family that we were having a dinner at Bonanza. I hid some papers that I had in my coat and my dad dropped me off. The other two guys then showed up and we left. We spent the day getting to know each other better, then they dropped me off at Bonanza and I called my dad.

When my dad came I didn't hide the information. He asked me what it was and I said it was a confidential list of the members of the groups and some other information. When we got home, he took the stuff from me and began to read it. That is when they found out.

Needless to say, they weren't too happy. You see, my dad was a preacher before he became a doctor. They cried and questioned it, then denied it, blamed it on things they did, then cried some more. They dropped the subject pretty quickly. My parents seemed to show support but I was still living in fear.

With the help of a drug and alcohol counselor at my school, I formed the first LesBiGay Student Union. Since then, I have been the president of the group. Our group has continued to grow and become very well known. I thought my problems would end right then but they did not. I went through several unhappy relationships and more depression than before.

School let out for the summer and everything was coming back to normal. Then normality came to an end. My one sister's husband was being stationed in Germany and she and her two daughters could not go. They moved in with us. For the past couple of years, it was just me and my parents. My other sister and her husband had moved to nearby Waco, TX. I was spoiled rotten. My oldest sister is really bossy and she tries to run everything.

In December, my world came crashing down again when my mom and I got in a huge fight over the phone bill. Members of my family were calling me trash, and my sister was bossing me around. I got so fed up I slammed the door behind me and went to an ex-boyfriend's house. We had dated for a month. He was 24 and I was 15. He still had feelings for me so I knew he would take me away.

When I got to his house, we sat around with a friend and watched movies. My ex-boyfriend had a lot of money so he bought me everything I wanted. He suggested we go to San Antonio, so we went. We were going to come back that night, but I figured I was already in trouble so we stayed the night and had a great time the next day. We spent a lot of money. We went to Austin on our way back to Killeen.

The entire trip I talked about how I wanted to go live in Canada, because I had made several friends there on Fidonet's GayTeen and GayLink echos. I was, and still am, very popular there. We dropped our friend off at his house and then my ex said, "You can't stay here. Where do you want to go?" I told him I really wanted to go to Canada but I will settle for my sister's house in Waco. We then got on the road and headed for Waco. Almost to Waco he said "You really want to go to Canada, don't you?" I said yes. We stopped at a gas station and got a map. We planned the entire trip. He said that we had to go back to Killeen first.

We came back to his house in Killeen and he packed everything. We had to go to Houston first so he could pay his probation. He was on probation for driving while intoxicated. Don't worry, I had my permit then so I never let him drink and drive. We went to his sister's house in Houston and stayed there a week. I decided to come home because I missed my friends and family and I got tired of him. I then came home and my life returned to normal.

I went through the same normal abuse from my peers but it soon began to dwindle down. School once again let out for the summer and my life really went for the better.

I moved to Waco to live with my brother and sister. I then went to a P-FLAG meeting and met two gay guys and their straight friend. We went back to their apartment and I met the one guy's boyfriend, Kevin (not his real name). It was love at first sight. The guy figured Kevin, who was 21, would fall for me. Well, age didn't matter. He fell for me just as hard as I did for him. I was there all the time so Kevin and his roommate invited me to move in. I did.

I loved every minute of it. Me and Kevin fell even deeper in love with each other but thanks to his boyfriend, we never got to be alone. I got a phone call one day and it was my sister from there in Waco. She told me that our mom called and she wanted me back in Killeen for at least a week. I followed her instructions and came home for a week. Kevin then called me and asked me if I could move back in because he was about to break up with his boyfriend.

I said sure and to my surprise, he and his roommate picked me up within an hour. Kevin and his boyfriend got into the planned fight and his boyfriend moved out. His roommate then got arrested for writing bad checks.

Kevin and I were finally alone. I cleaned the house and washed clothes. He came home from work, and we went out to eat every night and spent the rest of the evening in each others' arms. I work up every morning to a note on his pillow. Every time it said: "I will be home around noon for lunch. Can't want to see you then. Love Always, Kev." I was in heaven.

His roommate then got out of jail and we had to hide everything. Kevin then dropped out of college and moved back home to Houston. I moved back to Killeen.

My freshman year soon started and me and Kevin saw each other once a month for two months at the P-FLAG/Waco meetings. Then came Waco Pride '95. I was elected to be the Central Texas Gay Youth Representative and to be the first youth to speak at Pride '95.

For the past two years, though, I had been trying to open a LesBiGay office here in Killeen and one weekend in November, my dream came true. A old friend donated office space and meeting space and on the 18th, we held our first meeting. I'll let you know how it went next month.

Thomas Gerald Jean, 16, is a high school junior in Killeen, Texas. He can be reached online at oasis-thomas@oasismag.com.

You can also read Thomas' Gay Pride Speech, which he delivered at the June 1995 Waco Gay Pride.

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