The room was just a little colder than was comfortable. Set in a unique style, consisting of Aboriginal masks, Hopi sand paintings, and a Kandinsky painting with bright lights focused on it. The lamps were avant-garde and the chairs black leather and extremely plush and comfortable. Dominating the side of the large office was mahogany desk, which had been carefully made to be curvy, and thus was very appropriate to the kind faced lady who sat behind it.
Yet, appearances could readily be deceiving, and Jason was well aware of that. The kind faced lady was anything but a friend, she was the enemy. She was a representative of his parents who were determined to demonstrate his "illness." He'd only told them because they had a right to know that their son was a homosexual male. It seemed totally out of place, after all, he had been on the baseball team, played with friends, gone out with girls. Nor did he look gay, he was 5'11", 175 lbs., brownish blond hair, and blue eyes...the All-American kid. His father had yelled and screamed at him, and his mother had just said he was being "influenced by bad sources." Jason knew that he had been born the way he was, there was no way that anybody would voluntarily choose to be gay! Okay, there was Sarah who ran around claiming to be bisexual to get attention, but was no more interested in girls than....well...than HE was! He wasn't the type of person who would run around claiming to be gay to get attention! His parents ought to know him well enough to know that. Funny how just when you think you know your parents they do something to totally confuse you.
"Hello Jason, my name is Rita Carroll, and before we start, I want you to know right now that I am on your side," said the kind faced lady.
"Hahah, Yeah right, then tell my parents that there isn't anything wrong with me and put your money where your mouth is," he replied with a sarcastic laugh.
"I don't think I can do that, but I'm going to try and help you and your family get through this. You have a friend named Ben, correct?" replied Dr. Carroll.
"Yeah, I know Ben...he's my best friend. He knew that I was a fag since I figured it out, when was 14...man four years..." Jason said initially in an effeminate, lisping voice, and trailed off softly.
"Yes, he really does care about you."
"HA, that's why he hasn't spoken to me in a week, huh? Because he really cares about me."
"Well, I spoke to him about an hour ago. I video taped our conversation, would you like to see that conversation?" Dr. Carroll asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I thought you had a patient-client, I mean doctor-client confidentiality or something. I didn't know that you were allowed to tape conversations. You aren't taping this right?" Jason asked with a worried look.
"Yes, there is patient confidentiality, but first off, you are my patient, not Ben. Secondly, I asked Ben first. Hold on one second while I put in the tape." She got up quickly from her desk, taking out a tape from the top drawer. After putting it in the appropriate slot, she went and sat down next to Jason. Immediately uncomfortable, Jason tried to skooch to the furthest side of the small couch. Unfazed, Dr. Carroll took the remote, turned on the TV/VCR and began the tape.
The scene was of the same office, with Dr. Carroll sitting directly opposite Ben on the couch seat. Ben was about the same height as Jason, but with red hair and a very pale complexion. He looked very nervous about being in the office, but quickly calmed down as Dr. Carroll introduced herself.
"Hello Ben, I'm Dr. Carroll. I assume you know that I am Jason's psychiatrist. His parent's are very concerned about him, and they hoped that you would be able to support their claim. The reason that I have decided to interview you, is because I hope that you could give a more balanced view to what has been going on."
"Yeah, I know, you want to cure Jason of being gay."
"Actually, no. Homosexuality is not a disease. It neither can nor ought to be cured." At this, Jason looked startled. "My goal is to find some way to help Jason and his family to go on with their lives. Could you start with when you learned that Jason was having concerns about his sexuality?"
"Sure, umm, well I've know Jason since we were, gawd, little kids. We have always lived on the same street, and we used to play baseball on the same team." Ben was smiling. "By middle school, when people start looking at girls, ya know? Jason just didn't seem that interested." Ben started laughing softly. "I remember when a bunch of us were talking about Debbie Smith, hahah, man. Well everybody used to joke about this girl, because she had the biggest chest in the WORLD. Well, I mean we were kids and we used to sorta mess around talking about her and stuff." Ben, realizing to whom he was talking to began to blush fiercely. "Umm, well anyway Jason would laugh with us, you know, but he would never give an idea. Everybody else would, you know...anyway."
Smiling, Dr. Carroll said, "Yes, I understand what you mean."
Ben looked up from his shoe, grinning, "TRUST me, you don't. But anyway, that didn't make sense to me, until about a year or two later. He was sleeping over at my house, and we played a game of Truth or Dare. The first question was horrible, he asked me which girl I liked, and I didn't want to say. So, I took dare...well, he had me streak across the yard. It's funny looking back, but at the time I was really embarrassed. I asked him the same question, and he said no girl. I was like, 'okay'. Then he asked me if I had ever had thoughts about messing around with guys. I said no. I asked him the same question back, and he took a dare. Of course, I made him streak across my yard and across the street to his house, and back. It was so funny. Well, when he was done, he asked something like 'what's your favorite color'. Something stupid and easy like that. I answered. Well, the next question I asked was, "Are you gay". I figured he would just answer, so it would amount to another stupid question. He surprised me by asking for the dare. I didn't make him do anything, I was just startled. He finally told me that he had known for a while, but was scared that I'd hate him and never talk to him again."
"Were you scared or nervous around him?"
"Not really, it was more like, ummm, I don't know..."
"Well, he was Jason. It was weird, but not like 'get away from me you piece of godless shi-feces'." Ben looked embarrassed. "You know? He was still my friend. Besides, I don't think I understood everything about it. Like I had no idea of how you would like...DO anything with another guy. I mean...I wouldn't have thought of that." At this point, Ben looked truly uncomfortable.
"So did this change your friendship?"
"Sure, I guess, a little, but we were still friends. We still talked about everything...well no, I guess we didn't. We really didn't talk about his 'guy' crushes. He went out with a lot of girls and stuff, and we talked about that a lot, but not about guys. I still knew that he was gay, but it never really became an issue. At least not until..." He trailed off again, staring at his shoe.
"Until about four months ago. No, five months ago, just before Valentines day. He told me he was going to tell his parents. We had talked before, once about a month before about coming out, and whether or not he ought to do it. I thought we had decided to wait until after we were in college and away from home most of the time. I guess he changed his mind."
"Did you try and change his mind?"
"No, it was his decision, I don't have the right to tell him what to do."
"Well, he told his parents. Man, I could tell when he did it too. His dad was screaming so loud, that I noticed it while I was getting out of my car across the street! About ten minutes later, Jason came out and got into his car and drove off. I didn't see him for about two days. I still don't know where he went."
"Did you ever ask him?"
"Yeah, but all he said was that he had met some gay friends on IRC, and they were the only people who really understood him."
"Sorry, it stands for Internet Relay Chat, it's a way people can talk over the Internet."
"Oh, like a chat room."
"Exactly. After that, he stopped talking to me. Okay, that not entirely true, we stopped talking like we used to. He changed."
"In what way?"
"He flamed out. It was like, Jason was always Jason, he was my friend, and he was gay. It became like, he was Gay, and he was Jason second...or not at all. I don't know if I'm being clear..."
"So he began to become more like a gay male, rather than your friend?"
"No. He was always gay. He was always like a gay male, he was like himself. He stopped being himself."
"I am not sure I understand."
"Okay, Jason, the real Jason, would never walk into the library and shout, 'Helloo!'" Ben said imitating Jason's feigned high-pitched feminine voice. "He stopped being my friend and became some sort of freak. He got his right ear pierced and everything. When I tried to tell him he was being obnoxious, he just goes 'I'm just being myself'" Ben said with the voice.
"Are you sure he wasn't just being himself?"
"Doc, I've known this guy since I was a baby! He was at my first birthday party, and I was at his. I was the only person who knew he was gay, for four years. I know when he began jerking off, and when he kissed his first girl...and he knows the same stuff about me. Trust me, I know who he is." Ben was almost shouting, and had a sound in his voice like he was actually going to cry. After sniffling once, he went on, "I just wish Jason would figure out that he isn't being himself. He isn't being himself, he's being what his," indicating the quotation marks with his fingers, " 'friends' are like."
"Why did you say 'friends' like that?" imitating his gesture.
"They aren't his friends. There are a bunch of faggots." Ben said angrily. Dr. Carroll looked perplexed, "How do you mean?"
"They run around, wearing dresses, and talking like girls, hanging on to each other while walking down the street, they are just weird.... I don't know...they are just....you know...weird."
"Do you have a problem with them doing that?"
"...not really, I don't know, I think it's sorta funny...but Jason was different. Now he runs around doing that. You can't hang around him in public...or even in your own house!"
"Why is that?"
"Well in public, he's a flamer, just loud and obnoxious. He won't let anybody forget for even a second that he's gay. I couldn't take him home. He tried to give decoration advice! He told my parents to change the color of the carpet to lime green and paint the walls pink. Jason didn't get the gay fashion and decoration sense." Jason began to laugh.
"So, he is trying to fill the role?"
"Yeah, exactly. He is trying to be gay. I don't know if that makes any sense to you...but I don't know. Before it was like being gay was like him having teeth, it wasn't that big of a deal. Now, its like the only thing there is to Jason is his gayness. Is that a word?"
"Gayness? Yes, it is. I think I see what you are saying. He is trying to conform to the stereotype he perceives, right?"
"Right. I don't know, I don't like Jason like he is now. He is too obnoxious, and not really that fun to hang out with. I miss my friend. It seems like when he came out, my friend died...and this freak took over his body. I know that isn't very PC, but its true. I don't like Jason the Fag, I just want my friend back. I want to tell him about Calculus class, about my sucky love life, about prom...just about life. Jason the Fag, isn't my friend."
"But Jason the Fag, as you put is, is still Jason your friend. He hasn't died..."
"Yes he has, or he's gone or something, because I don't see anything of my friend in this new guy. This guy's a freak, he's mean, and he isn't somebody I have anything in common with. I've known my friend was gay since he was fourteen, why in at least the four years between then and now, did he never act like this?"
"Maybe he just found himself?"
"No. I don't buy that, I think he just lost himself. If you could help him see that..."
"I can try. Ben I want you to know that I really appreciate your coming in today, I know that it was awkward for you. I think you have really given me something very helpful to work with...." At that, Dr. Carroll hit the STOP button, and the screen went blue.
"Like I said, your friend really cares about you."
Jason looked really sad. "Yeah."
"Why did you change the way you acted?"
"I don't know. I'm proud of being queer." He said with enough sass to sound irritating.
"Why did you just do that?"
"Say, "I'm proud of being queer" like THAT?" asked Dr. Carroll imitating his voice.
"I'm proud of being queer too."
"Huh?! You are gay?"
"Yes. And not many people know that. I tell anybody who asks, and there is always that." She said pointing to the rainbow flag sitting on her desk, next to both the Illinois and US flags. "But for some reason, not many people catch on."
"You act normal...I mean straight. I guess because you seem like my grandmother or something. Oops, not that you look old enough or anything." Jason looked abashed and the doctor looked tremendously amused.
"I am a grandmother. My daughter has two children, one a little older than you. They have known for about fifteen years."
"Did you have any trouble?"
"With being gay? Of course, but once I dealt with those, I went on with my life. I'm Rita, a grandmother, a mother, a doctor, I have brown hair, brown eyes, and I am lesbian. How do you think you would order yourself?"
"I don't know."
"Are you a Fag named Jason? Or are you Jason, the friend, who is homosexual?"
"I just don't know. I feel like I ought to act like a queer, to be who I am."
"Does it feel natural to you?"
"Huh? What do you mean?...I don't know.... I guess not. But, that's how they...I mean we act."
"Hmmm...I guess not. I don't know."
"Would you be willing to try something?"
"I guess I don't have a choice..."
"Could you act straight again for a week?"
"Why? I can't go back into the closet..."
"I don't want you to. Just act like you used to act in January."
"Let's call it an experiment. Lets set your next appointment seven days from now. Okay?"
Shrugging, "Okay, whatever."
"Hi, Doctor Carroll."
"How is the experiment going?"
"Well, I thought about it. And I decided to give it a try. Ben and I had this great talk. I think I know what's wrong. I'm not acting straight anymore."
"Because, I'm acting like myself. When you asked if I was comfortable acting gay, I really started thinking, and I realized that I always had to force myself to act like that. It was fun sometimes, making people look at me, but that gets old. I didn't realize how much I missed just hanging out."
"You couldn't hang out before?"
"Not really, because the waiters would like rush you off, and everybody would stare."
"So what do you plan on doing?"
"Nothing, I just wish my parents would find something else to worry about. They think you have 'cured' me, and are trying to fix me up with some girl."
"Well, they are outside, lets get them in here. Okay?"
She stands up, and goes to the door.
"Sally, could you send Jason's mom and dad in?"
"Sure Dr.," replies Sally.
After a few moments, Jason's parents walk into the office.
"Please, have a seat. Can I offer you a drink? I have Coke, diet, and Sprite." Asks Dr. Carroll.
"None thanks. We just want to thank you so much for helping our son." Says Jason's dad.
"You are welcome. Well, to start off, I want to tell you that you have nothing to worry about. You have a perfectly normal, son. He was having some problems figuring out what it meant to be gay and out..." Jason's mother cuts in.
"But you said he was normal!" exclaims Jason's mother.
"Mrs. Peters, there is nothing abnormal about being homosexual. Your son has known he was gay for more than four years. It is as much a part of him as having blue eyes. There is no way to change that, nor is it something that ought to be changed. The problems you were experiencing were the result of Jason feeling a need to conform to the stereotype of what he perceived a gay male is supposed to act like. I asked him last week to act like he used to act. He did not do that. He did better than that. He acted as he felt was natural to him. He acted like the son you know. You are right to consider that a cure. But I had little to do with it. It came from your son. Your son isn't changing, and nobody else will tell you otherwise. You are simply going to have to reconcile yourself to accepting your son for who he is if you want to continue to have a relationship with him. It would be a real shame to see you miss out on the beautiful depths of this child."
Both parents look at their son, and at the doctor. Mrs. Peters begins to cry a little, and goes over and hugs her son. Mr. Peters asks with a slightly desperate sound to his voice, "Why? Why Jason?"
"Nobody knows for certain," Dr. Carroll answers. "But we do know that it is natural, and that it had nothing to do with how you raised him. Nor is it something to be ashamed of. It isn't easy for kids to grow up knowing that they are different from all of their peers, and I can promise you that Jason didn't have an easy time with it. Can I ask you if you really have a problem with your son being homosexual, or is the problem his behavior?"
"I don't think we made a distinction..." says Mrs. Peters.
"My problem was with him behaving like a girl, I raised my son to be a man," says Mr. Peters.
"I guess that if he is ... gay ... we won't be grandparents," says Mrs. Peters sadly.
"Mom, I can always adopt, you know. That sorta sounds cool. Not now though, too much stuff to get done...later maybe, after college..." Jason trails off staring intently at his shoe. Both his parents begin to laugh at the look of total concentration on their son's face. Upon hearing the laughter, Jason's reverie is broken, and looks abashed.
"We love him, and we are proud of him. But, this is going to take some getting used to. Our biggest problem was the way he was acting. He changed so much. Now, I think we can live with it. I just wish he had come and talked to me, before," says Mr. Peters. "I think we just need a couple of hours to talk this over, but I think we will be able to get through this."
"I think that things will work out, but if you have problems, feel free to call on me. That is why I am here."
"Thank you Dr. Carroll, we really appreciate your help," says Mrs. Peters.
"Glad to help. Have a good day," after seeing the Peters to the door, she sits down, and smiles. It is a rare occasion that things work out as well as they did for the Peters. It gives enough positive energy to get through the hard times, when things work out not so well. She tried to deal with at least 8 or 9 homosexuality identity cases at a time, and they came in all degrees of difficulty. One of her not-so-good patients had committed suicide last night. She had seen it coming, and had tried so hard to save her, but the poor child could not accept being gay. It's such a waste when a child kills herself. Life is so transitory, so fleeting, there is no need to speed up the process that God puts in motion, the steady march towards His Place. .....Enough melancholy thoughts, more work to be done, more patients to see, more lives.
She closes her notebook, and asks Sally to send in the next patient.