Friday, May 19, 2017
My Nephew Tries to Turn a Boy Gay
One morning in March 2003, just after I got back from visiting West Hollywood and San Francisco for spring break, my mother called -- at 6:00 am! "Your nephew is in jail!" she exclaimed.
"Wait -- ?" I asked, confused -- that's not the sort of thing you expect to hear first thing in the morning. "What did he do?"
"He's accused of breaking and entering and sexual assault."
Sexual assault? That's a very serious charge, the Illinois equivalent of rape. "Who did he...assault?"
"It was a boy -- a college boy, one of his classmates," Mom said, the accusation barely hidden in her voice. She thought it was my influence, that I somehow encouraged my nephew to 'turn' gay and commit....
"Hey, in no way do I condone assault! No means no! Besides, how much influence could I have on him? I barely see any of Kenny's kids, and I haven't told them that I'm....you know."
I wasn't out to Kenny's kids, although Joel, the youngest, had figured it out. I lived on the other side of the country, and saw them only briefly, with their parents. We never hung out or went places alone. I gave them Christmas but not birthday presents. We weren't at all close.
"Well -- that's what happened. That's what the other boy is saying, anyway."
Maybe it was a misunderstanding, a hookup that went wrong, a college boy experimenting who got cold feet. "What does Joel say happened?"
Kenny had three sons and a stepson, but the only one who gave me a gay vibe was Joel, age 17, a punk rock singer with green hair and a nose ring. He was kind of androgynous, and he asked me to "teach him about gay sex" three years ago. But Mom said, "It wasn't Joel, it was Ethan."
"Ethan! But he's...a..." I stopped myself from saying "a good kid," but Ethan, Kenny's oldest, was, in fact, "good": quiet, gentle, polite. No one you would ever think of as capable of a violent crime.
He was 21 years old, in his junior year at Olivet, the Nazarene college, majoring in either nursing or computer science -- I didn't remember which. Tall, big-boned, with a barrel chest, thick arms, and big hands. Scruffy dirty-blond hair, a little fuzz on his chin, blue eyes.
He was a troubled kid.
He suffered from panic attacks, paranoia, and depression. He was seeing a counselor, and taking some kind of medication.
Once he ran away from home and was gone for five days.
Once he ran out of church screaming that he had committed the Unpardonable Sin, and couldn't ever be saved.
Maybe it was caused by the trauma of his mother dying when he was ten years old, or bullying from his brothers and stepbrother, or the overcrowding in that rambling house downtown. or overzealous Nazarene discipline.
Or internalized homophobia. Was Ethan gay?
No way -- I kept a close watch of all of my nieces and nephews, actually all of my relatives, hoping to find someone who was gay. Ethan was always obsessed with girls, and never had a significant male friend.
Then what happened that night? What did Ethan do to his classmate?
The district attorney dropped the burglary charge and offered Ethan a plea bargain: from criminal sexual assault (with a mandatory minimum of four years and registration as a sex offender) to aggravated battery (with a one year prison sentence and five years of probation). His sentence was to begin in July 2003.
I flew out to Rock Island that summer to visit my brother and his family, and especially to see Ethan, and hear his side of the story:
Kankakee, March 2003
Ethan was in his third year at Olivet, but only a sophomore -- his parents didn't know, but he had failed some of his classes, and had to take them over. He couldn't understand the math required for computer science, so he changed to nursing, then business. Still, his grades hovered around the D level -- quite a feat at Olivet, which had very low standards. He was on academic probation.
Nazarenes weren't allowed to drink, dance, or go to movies, but he was doing all of those things, which made him feel guilty. He told everyone he was saved and sanctified, but was he? Could he even be saved? He still worried that he had committed the Unpardonable Sin.
The one bright spot in his life was his girlfriend, Susan. They had been together since their freshman year. She was perfect in every way -- attractive, athletic, smart, and very devout, going to church three times a week, following every one of the Nazarene rules -- she would kiss, but she wouldn't let him touch her breasts.
Ethan didn't understand how he'd ever gotten someone like her -- he wasn't an athlete, he wasn't smart, he wasn't very spiritual.
Then one day out of nowhere Susan sat him down and said "I didn't mean for this to happen, but I found someone else. It's God's Will for us to be together."
The other guy was Paul, a senior, and everything Ethan wasn't -- a thick-muscled wrestler with a amazing bulge in his pants, an A-student, a future minister -- holy, beloved by God, and rewarded by God. He was even named after the Apostle Paul, who Jesus chose to start the new Christian church. Perfect in every way!
"Wait -- an amazing bulge in his pants?" I asked.
Ethan shrugged. "Perfect in every way."
During spring break, everyone else went home, but Ethan lay on the bed in his dorm room, drinking smuggled-in beer, listening to bootleg rock music on his headphones, and ruminating. He had lost the only thing that gave his life meaning. There was nothing left in his future but darkness.
If only they would break up, Susan would come back to him.
But why would they break up? They were both perfect in every way.
Paul wouldn't want her if she was imperfect. Maybe Ethan could convince her to sin.
No -- when they were together, he asked her to go to a movie, to go to a dance, and to have sex. She refused all three. She was sanctified holy, incapable of sin.
What other reason could Paul have for rejecting Susan?
Suddenly the answer came to Ethan: if Paul was gay, he wouldn't want her anymore.
If he was gay....
He wouldn't turn gay deliberately. Nazarenes thought that "homa-seksuality" was the worse possible sin.
"You can't turn gay," I protested. "You are or you aren't."
"At Olivet they told us that you can turn gay against your will, by going to a gay bar, or reading a pro-gay book, or by having gay sex."
This is what I get for not being out to Kenny's kids, I thought. They grew up knowing nothing about gay people.
Drunk, bleary-eyed, depressed, Ethan looked up Paul's address in the student directory and drove to Mendota, about 100 miles from Kankakee. It was about 3:00 am when he found the house. He walked in the back door -- they don't lock their doors in small towns. A dog saw him and started to whine, wanting to be petted.
Carefully he pulled down the covers. Paul didn't stir. He was wearing white underpants that gleamed in the starlight.
A dog padded into the room and whined.
Ethan felt his cock and balls through the underwear -- enormous, of course -- Paul was perfect in every way.
The idea of putting a man's cock in his mouth was disgusting -- but it was the only way to win his girlfriend back.
He pulled down his underwear and went down on him. Paul moaned and started to get aroused.
Then the dog jumped up on the bed. Paul woke up, and all hell broke loose.
"You'd think, if Paul was perfect in every way, he'd forgive you, and not press charges," I said.
"He would have, no doubt." Ethan hung his head. "But it wasn't Paul. I went to the wrong house, and went down on a complete stranger."
See also: the Catholic Boy's Bulge at My Niece's Wedding; Nephew Sausage Sighting #1: Ethan.