My name’s Logan. I’m fourteen years old. And I’m gay.
I have this hope that living near a liberal mecca like Seattle will make coming out a lot easier. But boy, am I wrong. My parents freak out. Mom cries a lot. Dad gets angry. Like, really angry. There’s a lot of shouting. And finally, an ultimatum.
“Stop with this gay shit, or find someplace else to live.”
As if I chose to be gay.
With tears streaming down my face, I load up a backpack. My dad screams at me and slams the door on my way out, yelling something about me never coming back.
My best friend Jesse’s house is a half-hour walk. He’s the only other person who knows I’m gay. So I have nowhere else to go. When I came out to him a month ago, he was totally cool with it. It’s part of what gave me the confidence to come out to my parents.
I tap on his bedroom window. “Hey, Jesse. You in there?”
A minute passes, then I tap again.
The window creaks open. Jesse’s somber look is the first hint that something's up. “Jesus, Logan. What did you say to your parents?”
My stomach clenches. “I came out to them. Dad kicked me out.”
“I need to talk about it. Can I come in?”
“I’m sorry Logan. You can’t.”
“Your parents called my parents about ten minutes ago. I’m not supposed to see you anymore.” His pained expression puts a lump in my throat.
“Why not?” Tears are welling up, but I won’t look weak in front of my best friend.
“My mom says you’re going to hell.”
My sadness morphs into shock. Then anger. “What a fucked up thing to say.”
“My mom said it! Not me!”
“But you repeated it. And now you won’t even let me in.” I walk away, fuming.
“Logan! Stop!” Jesse’s holding a wad of cash. “Look, I’m sorry. This is all my savings. You can have it.”
“Keep your damn money!” I turn around with my gaze fixed forward.
There’s no way I’m taking charity from my ex-best friend who just betrayed me. No matter how desperately I need it. I’ve only got twenty-five bucks in my wallet. And that won’t last long.
I walk down the street, my head spinning. In the course of an hour, I lost my parents, my home and my best friend. I have nowhere to go. But at least I have a bus pass. So I hop on the 425 from Lake Stevens to Seattle. To Capitol Hill. I barely know anything about Seattle, but I know that’s the queer part of town.
On the bus ride down, I check for messages on my cell phone. Nothing. Not from my parents, or from Jesse. I lean my head against the glass and watch the world go by in a blur. How did it go so wrong? I don’t remember my parents ever saying anything too homophobic. But come to think of it, the topic never came up. Or maybe I avoided it. My parents are kinda religious. They go to church every few weeks and for Easter and Christmas. But they’re not like zealots or anything. We don’t even say grace. I guess I took them completely by surprise. I should have dropped some hints. Put up some posters of boy bands or something. But I was too afraid to show that side of myself. Maybe, subconsciously, I always knew this would happen.
I ride the bus all the way to the end of the line in Downtown Seattle. Skyscrapers loom above me. Wherever there’s a gap, a large yellow crane is building a new one. I check the map on my phone. Capitol Hill is east, up a steep road that goes right over the freeway. I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get there.
We’ve lived in the little town of Lake Stevens my whole life. I’ve only been to Seattle a handful of times. My parents don’t like the big city. But I’m taken by how much energy there is. Broadway Avenue is the heart of Capitol Hill and it’s bustling with activity. People everywhere.
On the sidewalk in front of me, two guys are holding hands. And they’re cute. I turn my head to watch them as they walk by. One of them looks back and shoots me a smile. “Take a picture. It’ll last longer.”
I snap my head back and stare down at the sidewalk, feeling the blood rushing to my cheeks. The two guys laugh as they walk away. When I’m sure they’re not looking, I peek back. They’re a block away now, with their hands around each other. It makes me feel warm inside. That’s what I want. Somebody to hold me.
The wafting smell of burgers makes my stomach grumble. I haven’t eaten since breakfast and it's now mid afternoon. Above me is the marquee of an old 50s style burger joint. Dicks Drive In.
Dicks. I laugh to myself.
But oh man, are they delicious. I have a Dick’s Deluxe Burger and fries with a chocolate shake. With my stomach full and my wallet lighter, I explore Broadway. Walking by a restaurant, I catch a glimpse of some stage lights through an open door. I peer in to see a drag show in full swing.
I’ve never been that into drag shows, but seeing the unabashed expression of queerness makes me smile. As I stand at the entrance, a bouncer at the door gives me evil eyes. She’s a short but thick woman with tight cropped hair.
“In or out,” she booms in a husky voice.
“In?” I say, not having any idea what I’m doing.
“Ten dollar cover.”
Ten dollars? Dang. “Oh–um–I guess out then.”
“Then move it.”
While I was loitering by the door, a line formed behind me. Patrons glare at me as I scurry away.
I get a text message from my mom. Logan, we’re worried about you. Come home.
A mixture of hope and anger courses through me, as my thumbs tap out a message. Does dad want me to come home?
I stare at my phone. The three dots appear and disappear. At least a minute goes by. We want you to come talk to Pastor Jim.
That’s it. I turn off my screen and put it on silent mode. What? Do they want me to pray the gay away? I don’t need somebody telling me I’m going to hell for who I am. Almost as in answer, I pass by a church with a large rainbow flag above the entrance. All are welcome here, its sign promises. It makes me smile. So religion by itself isn't the problem. Just small-mindedness.
But, seeing my mom's texts makes me painfully homesick. I love my mom dearly, and she loves me. But things aren’t always great at home. My dad has a bad temper. In fact, the only two emotions I’ve ever seen from him are anger and apathy. And he can switch between them in a heartbeat. He’s never physically violent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t inflict a different kind of pain.
I wander around Capitol Hill until the shadows get long. When it’s dark, I find a coffee shop and order a cup of hot chocolate. There I sit, watching people and contemplating my life. The whole running off to Capitol Hill thing sounded like a good idea at the time. But now I’m wondering where I’m going to sleep.
A woman with long brown hair and a kind face walks up to me. “Hey hon. We close up in a few minutes.”
“Everything alright? You look kinda young to be out this late on your own.”
“I’m fine.” I get up and head out. Last thing I need is somebody calling the cops and bringing me right back home.
My eyes are getting heavy. It’s a warm night out, so when I pass by a sprawling park filled with massive old trees, I turn into it. I find an enormous bush surrounding an ancient maple. There’s a gap in the bush that I’m able to crawl into, and I lean up against the trunk. As I sit there, waiting for comfort that will never come, I think of my warm bed at home. I take my cell phone out and look at the last message my mom sent. I type out: Please come get me.
Then I think of how angry my dad will be. How they’ll try to sit me down and convince me to not be gay. That I’m something that needs fixing. I delete the message before I send it, and turn off my phone.
When I wake, the sun has come up. But I quickly realize it’s not the light that woke me. A man with long, disheveled hair and dirty clothes is going through my pockets.
“Hey!” I yell at him and grab for his hand. But he shakes me off with surprising strength. As he’s running off, he shoves me into the tree. My head hits the trunk hard enough to see stars. By the time I run out of the bush and head after him, he’s already out of sight. I frantically check my pockets. My cell phone and wallet are gone.
The events of the last twenty-four hours overwhelm me. And the mugger broke my last ounce of resolve. I crumple into a heap in the middle of a field of grass and start sobbing. How could my parents and my best friend reject me so completely? And now I’m stranded in the middle of a city I barely know. Even my bus pass is gone.
Strangers walking dogs through the park stare at me. They must think I’m some crazy homeless person. And maybe that’s what I am.
A hand touches my back, and a young guy’s voice calls out. “You okay?”
I lurch back from the contact, expecting the worst. The sun shines behind him, silhouetting his face. But his posture is relaxed and calming. I don’t think he means harm.
“I’ve been better.” I wipe my cheeks with the back of my sleeve, drying the tears.
The guy crouches down, and now I can see him. He’s maybe a year or two older. Piercing blue eyes gaze at me. A lock of wavy light brown falls down his forehead and he pushes it away. He’s wearing ripped jeans, a Hurley t-shirt and a backpack. He’s got a skater punk vibe, and it’s totally cool. And really cute.
He crouches down closer, and my stomach flutters. “Wanna tell me about it?”
I let out a sad laugh. “Where do I start?”
“Lemme guess. You came out to your parents, and they kicked you out of the house.”
My jaw drops open. “How did you know?”
“I wish it was a unique story, but it's not. It’s my story too.”
He laughs and smiles. “Yeah. Names’ Daniel.” He has the nicest smile.
“Nice to meet you, Logan. So tell me your story.”
We get up and walk to a park bench. I tell him about everything that led up to today. He listens intently. When I’m finished, he pauses for a moment.
“You’re a brave guy, Logan. And you’re right to stick to your guns. Don’t let anybody tell you who you should be. I’m sorry your parents and your friend aren’t more accepting.”
“Me too.” I stare blankly at the ground. “And I have no idea what I’m going to do now.”
Daniel’s eyes light up. “There’s a place for people like you and me. And it's just a few blocks away.”
“Seriously. Just head down this road about ten blocks. You’ll see an old house with a pink triangle painted on the outside. It’s a gay youth center. They can help you out. They helped me. I volunteer there now, sometimes.”
“I didn't know a place like that even existed.” A smile finally cracks through my drawn out face. “I don’t know how to thank you.”
“You can thank me by calling when you're settled. I want to be sure you’re okay.”
My heart flutters. “I—ah—don’t have a phone anymore.”
“Give me your hand.”
I hold out my palm. He takes a pen out of his backpack, grabs my hand, and writes his number on it. The feel of his warm skin on mine sends blood rushing to my cheeks. He sees this and smiles.
“Make sure to write this down before you take a shower.” He laughs.
“I gotta run. But it was nice meeting you, Logan.”
“It was nice meeting you, Daniel.”
“And thanks for sharing your story with me.”
“Felt great to finally unload it. Thank you for that.”
He nods and walks off. Despite everything, maybe I’m gonna make it. Maybe life will be okay.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
I loved this so much <3
The tension in this story really builds but I am glad it had a happy ending. Stroke of luck he ran into the right person with the right answers, but I'm sure real life is not quite that easy for young gays who are homeless. Can't imagine kicking one's own kid out of the house at 14. The kid will be alright; wonder if the Mom will.
Thanks for the great comments. Yes, I agree, this story could have easily ended with a much less happy ending, and in real life this is probably more often the case. And I hope my story doesn't make light of the underlying problem. But I feel like there is so much bleak LGBTQ+ fiction out there, that I want to always make sure my stories are infused with hope and optimism.
Very noble and much needed.
Intense. Reminded me so much of my own first walk through the gayborhood. Definitely evokes realistic emotional responses!
Thank you. Yeah, people from Seattle will certainly get a bit more out of this, since Logan clearly walked up Olive St, stopped at Dicks, went north on Broadway past Julias, and All Pilgrims Church, finished at Victrola in 15th, slept in Volunteer Park and was guided to Lambert House. But hopefully the themes carry to those who don't know Seattle.
I love this!!! :D
Yay! Thank you!
i love it so much! the ending has me thinking of so many possible things that happened after he left.
Thank you! Glad you liked it. Yes, the ending leaves a lot of narrative possibilities. I like to hope Logan finds family stability and somebody to love him.
that was actually the first ending that i thought of
That’s a powerful story Paul. It was so sad that Daniel’s parents made it impossible for him to live with them and accept him. It could so easily have gone the other way especially once his phone was taken. Thought provoking
Thanks for the comment. Although this was fiction, the underlying problem is not. As many as 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+ and many were forced out of their homes.
I didn’t know that. That’s very sad.
Wow 🤩 What a great story! Great work! I love it!
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it.