From Your MAMMA

When James Leaves

By Carrie

When James leaves Fallbrook, what memories will he retain of our “friendly village”? He likes to say that he hasn’t been taught the three Rs in school, but, instead, the three Ks — Klu Klux Klan. I know I’ve learned that if tolerance is a Christian virtue, Fallbrook is not a Christian community.

When James leaves, we no longer will need a trace on our phone to stop the incessant calls that jar us awake in the middle of the night.

“Is James there? No? Well, tell him Big Mike called. Big Mike with the big dick.” Screams of laughter before the phone hangs up.

We will no longer have harassers calling again and again while we’re eating dinner, not saying anything, or moaning.

When James leaves, we won’t have to wash the car everyday. We are tired of wiping off the words “Die faggot,” “Queer,” “Fudge-packer” and “Butt-pirate,” written in felt marker or dust on the car. We won’t have to alternate which car he drives, to keep it from being keyed, to protect him from being ambushed.

When James leaves, my younger son, Mark, might have an easier time at school. Perhaps the student body will suffer memory loss, and he will no longer be tripped, called names and asked if his older brother comes into his room at night and screws him.

When James leaves, I will not have to go to the sheriff’s office with death threats that have been left on our car. Notes that read “Die, you fucking queer. We don’t like yo’ kind ‘round here. I’m going to kill you and shit on your face.”

I won’t have to watch the officer, smelling of body odor and alcohol, look up at me and ask, “Why do they think he’s a fag?”

“Because he is — gay, that is.”

I won’t have to watch the cop straighten his shoulders with a macho shake and say, “Well, I don’t have a problem with them, as long as they don’t come on to me.” As if anyone would come on to this smelly, unshaven officer of the law.

I won’t have to listen to reassurances by him and others that I needn’t worry about it, because, after all, they’re just kids, just messing around.

When James leaves, he’ll attend a university in a metropolitan area with a greater mix of ethnic and social groups than in this little town. He’ll escape a school system where he was beaten up and knocked unconscious in gym class; held down and punched repeatedly on the arm until he repeated ten fruits; told by his teachers that his “odd” voice could be corrected by a speech therapist; called names between each of his classes and during assemblies when receiving awards.

I’m not saying that when he leaves Fallbrook he won’t be harassed again. Homophobia is too rampant for that. But at least in a larger, dare I say more liberal, community, he’ll find more people who will support him, who will accept him.

When James leaves, perhaps lost friends will acknowledge me again. Maybe I’ll be able to walk by people I’ve known for fifteen years and not see them avert their eyes. Not that I want to know them anymore.

I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive this town for making me look forward to when James leaves.