When the internet was young and the notion of a blog was alien to the zeitgeist, I had a site. It focused mainly on issues of skepticism but the fact that I was a gay man wasn’t hidden.
One day I got an email through the site from a gay kid. He was brought to mind recently during the movie Milk, and has been on my mind ever since, but I’ve thought about him off and on for years. In the movie a kid calls Harvey just as he’s about to be sent off by his parents to be ‘cured’, and Harvey tells him to run away. Unfortunately, the kid was wheelchair bound. The kid in the case here was in a very similar predicament; he had severe cerebral palsy, but I was no Harvey Milk.
Simply that tiny subplot really struck a chord in me, and some regret.
IIRC, the kid started off upset about an article by Oaks, a LDS leader. I just looked and I still have the printout of the link he sent me in my file cabinet, marked up by the hand written comments I’d eventually type and send back. Oaks' text may be found online here, without my 2 cents after each line :-).
We went through that, but he still had several serious practical problems with his family and church to get through. I didn't tell him to run away, and actually hoped to get the Bishop to step in and help within the family... Again, I'm not Harvey Milk. Happily, though, after a couple months he seemed to be doing much better.
At about this same time I was corresponding with this young man, I was a new father and the site (well, I...) started getting death threats, because that's what Jesus would do, right? :-) After talking to Rob, I decided to take the site down, and sure, maybe I was cowering but I had no time and two babies to take care of. Honestly, I don’t know how to deal with people who threaten physical harm to me or my family, especially for faith. How do you talk them down from the "word of God"? I know it's 99.9% hot air, and I fear backing down only makes them stronger, puts the problem onto the next generation (which of course includes my children), but what if?... So sure, I had other excuses but I also backed down. Call me a coward, but, eh, at least I came back with some extra precautions.
All that is beside the point, though. There's another reason I'm in the confessional here.
After I quit the site, I kept getting emails from this kid. He was doing better and better. He found a way to move out into a home for people with disabilities and seemed upbeat and comfortable with his orientation. Eventually it got to the point that his emails came less and less frequently, about once a month. But that was a good sign too; he was doing well, had friends, and didn’t have much more to talk to this stranger about.
One day, though, I went to check the email and found myself locked out of the account. We had been busy with the kids and out of town and it seems the account I was using had an expiration after a month of inactivity. I tried to reregister the same address but was told it was already in use, and I was just responding to his emails, without ever paying attention to his address.
So I’m ashamed to say the next email this kid sent to me went unanswered. I hope he knows it wasn’t by choice. I always answered his emails and so I hope he knew it was uncharacteristic and knows he wasn’t ignored.
Now that I know so many gay LDS, though, I’m wondering if he may still be online somewhere? Does anyone around here know a person who fits the bill? I’ll give the details that he knew would be put up on my public site: LDS, Californian, involved in computer access for the disabled, came out around 2002. I have more to verify if that gets anyone close. Alternatively, just ask any possibilities to look at my blog; he'll recognize my habit of using microscope images.
I’d just like to know if things turned out as they seemed they were turning out. That he was okay, and to be sure he knew I didn’t ignore him. (In fact, I kind of started this blog holding a hope he'd still be searching online and I’d run into him)