WRITTEN FOR THE lgbtfest
Title: Words of wisdom?
Fandom: Brothers & Sisters
Pairing/characters: Jason McCallister/Sean Barton (Own invention)
Disclaimer: B&S doesn’t belong to me, written with love, not for money
Prompt: 294 - Brothers & Sisters, Jason McCallister, Jason helps a member of his congregation deal with their sexual orientation/gender identity.
Summary: Do you admit or stay quiet?
Author's Notes: Unbeta’d, all mistakes are mine.
First story: posting date: April 17
Jason McCallister saw the boy in his church before. Last week, he was in prayer, but once he saw Jason approach him, he quickly left. Then again two days ago. Same pew. When he saw Jason this time, he got up, seemed to hesitate, but then turned away and left quietly. Jason wondered, then if the boy was seeking help, but was too scared to ask.
But now Jason takes as better look at him. Well, it’s hardly a ‘boy’. He must be around 18 years old, blond, blue eyes, tanned, athletic built, perfect beach-boy and the sort of boy who should be having a party on the beach with a girl on one arm and the other arm around a surfboard. And not sit here, in this church, looking miserable.
Jason does not make the same mistake again. This time he pretends the boy doesn’t exist and he calmly sweeps the floor and rearranges the flowers.
“Reverend McCallister?” The boy’s voice is careful. Jason smiles.
“Can I talk to you?”
“Sure. What is it about?” They sit down and the boy looks at his hands for a moment. Jason waits patiently. The boy obviously needs to gather his thoughts and Jason understands that he could be nervous about talking to him.
“My friends say that you’re gay. Is that true?” his voice is just a little whisper. Jason freezes. Not only is it a very personal question to ask from a minister, it is also something he doesn’t discuss too openly with a stranger.
“Why do you ask?” Jason tries to buy some time.
“Are you?” is the immediate return question. The boy looks at him with big, expecting eyes and Jason realizes the reply is important to the boy.
“Yes, I am.” He eventually answers. The boy sighs, nods to himself as if he got the answer he anticipated.
“Then maybe you will be able to understand.” He says and though he relaxes physically, the look in his eyes is a haunted one. “I think.... I might be gay too.” He starts to tremble. “And I don’t want to be. I don’t want to different. My dad’s gonna kill me and ... I can’t do this...” His eyes fill with tears as he stammers his words.
Jason puts aside his immediate feeling of compassion and asks practically:
“What is your name? I don’t recognize you as one of my congregation?”
“Sean Barton. And, I do belong to your church, but I usually talk to father Jackson. But I was hoping you’ll... help me?”
“Don’t worry. I’ll listen to you.” Jason says in a soothing voice. “But not here. This is not going to be an easy discussion and I don’t want to be interrupted all the time. Or have someone else listen to the conversation. Come with me.” He takes Sean by the elbow and guides him through a door and a corridor to his own small room.
“I fear I only have coffee here at the moment.” Jason says apologetic and Sean nods. Coffee is fine. And it feels good to grab that hot mug and have something to hold on to.
“Alright, first things first. How old are you?”
“And why...? What... makes you believe you may ... or may not be gay?” Jason carefully asks, not sure what it is Sean is doubting about himself.
“I always liked men more than women. And I’ve been through all the denials. That I had not met the right girl yet, for instance.
I quit playing for our team, I said it was because I preferred to get good grades, denying that one of the guys actually turned me on and that I was embarrassed about it. Or that I love looking at the male body, for artistic purposes. I am very good in drawing and I may want to be a designer. I held on to all these excuses until two weeks ago.
I met an old friend of mine again, Michael, and he is gay. Openly gay. And he thought I was too. I denied it at first, but he and I ... we got along great and.... something shifted... and now, I.... I think I might be in love with Michael, and he and I.... We kissed the other night and ...” Sean nervously looks up at Jason.
“I’ve had girlfriends before.” Sean continues. “Kissed them, touched them, but it wasn’t the same as how I felt with Michael. And I know I am wrong to have those feelings, that it is unnatural,...” he holds up his hands apologetic as if he expects Jason to hit him for admitting his feelings. “but I ... I can’t switch them off.”
“I don’t think you are wrong for feeling the way you feel.” Jason smiles friendly. “I know what you might be feeling. But I have to ask you this: Are you sure you’re not confusing your desire, with the excitement of doing something you are actually not supposed to be doing?” Jason tries.
“No. I am not. Everything was different. Kissing a girl was a chore. Something I had to do, because that is what is expected. I knew what I was supposed to feel, but I didn’t feel anything. It was just ‘no big deal’. But with Michael, it was different. It was everything I thought it would be, it was .... right?”
“Did the thought of being with him arouse you?” Jason now asks.
“Yes.” Sean whispers. “He’s all I can think off and I want .... things.... with him.” He waves his hand about and looks mortified at the thought that he might have to explain these ‘things’ more explicitly... to a minister, of all people.
Jason bites his lip to not laugh. ‘Things’? He tries to put himself in the shoes of Sean and imagine how he would feel if he would have to talk about his feelings with his minister, when he was 18. It fails, because his minister, of the Roman-Catholic church his family attended, would not even have wanted to know.
His minister would have preached about the hell and damnation that would be his fate if he would only entertain the thought of the possibility that he might have considered showing interest in another man. He sighs, not sure how to proceed.
“What is it exactly you need from me?”
“I don’t know.... Someone to talk to... Who won’t judge me... Who will not tell me I’m bad, doomed or sick. Someone who will HELP me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to talk to. Michael says that I’m in the closet so deep, that I will take me forever to get out and he is not sure he wants to wait that long.
And then I got scared, because if he leaves me, I’ll die. I just know it. I... He means everything to me ... I have to do something, but I’m so scared.” Sean’s voice becomes higher pitched as confusion and fear seeps through and Jason looks at the lonely young man before him.
“So, you are sure this is not some over-the-top reaction to a strong feeling you have for an old friend?” Jason now asks. “Someone you cared for once and that you confuse love and admiration or something? You are sure, that you are in love with him?” Jason has to know, he needs to know if this is not a case of hormones running amok
For this young man has no idea what rollercoaster-ride can hit him if someone finds out. Deep in his heart Jason knows that not everyone’s coming out is as painful as his was. Kevin, for instance, had issues with his dad, but was quickly accepted by the rest of his family.
“I think so, maybe, .... I’m sure.” Sean stammers, then he is quiet for almost a minute and then, suddenly he jumps up and starts pacing the floor.
“What am I talking about? I cannot be in love with him. It would be wrong. Wrong! Wrong!!!” Sean wrings his hands.
“I don’t want to be gay. I want to be normal.” His voice turns into a whine.
“I’m gay and I’m pretty normal.” Jason interjects.
“You know what I mean. I don’t want to be different.” Sean’s voice is rather condescending and irritates Jason. Jason shrugs indifferently.
“Well, that’s easy. Then forget about Michael. Forget your kiss. Forget how he makes you feel. Just switch it off. Let him go. Leave him to find someone who does want to be with him.” Sean looks at Jason as if Jason just grew two heads.
“But I want Michael.” Sean now whimpers and, unnoticed by Sean, Jason rolls his eyes.
“Then you will have no choice but to pretend that there is nothing going on between the two of you, that you are straight and he is ‘just a friend’ while you sleep with him in secret. An openly gay friend of mine tried to live like that with a closeted actor, I can tell you, it tore them apart in the end.
And it sounds to me, that Michael would find this sort of relationship unacceptable. You will have to make a choice in the end, Sean. Especially if you want to keep Michael in your life. He deserves someone by his side who is honest and supportive, not someone who pretends to be someone he is not.”
“What do you mean?” Sean asks.
“If you are unwilling to admit that you are gay, if you feel you cannot come out with this, if you feel unable to deal with not falling within the norm of what others consider to be ‘normal’, then you’re only option is to be someone you are not...
And I can tell you right now, that if you chose that path you will not make you happy. Because being ‘normal’ in everyone else’s eyes mean get the girl, the marriage, the 1.8 kids, the white house, with flowery wallpaper and a white picket fence, and don’t forget the family-car in the drive-way and a dog and a cat.
If you wish to be ‘normal’ you’ll spent the next years of your life pretending to straight and be
miserable, because you are gay and you live a lie. And you will live with someone who is not allowed to know why you cannot love her as she deserves, because that will lead to divorce and everyone finding out what it was that you tried so hard to hide.”
Sean looks miserable and his shoulders sag.
“I don’t want to lose Michael.” He nearly whispers. “I don’t want to pretend.”
“Then you have to be honest about who and what you are. And you won’t be that different from many men in America, you know.
Even if you would be with Michael you could still have your dreams and ambitions, the white house, the picket fence, the dog, the cat, the family-car. I’m sure, in time, Proposition 8 will be overturned and then gay couples can be married here, just like straight couples, and you and Michael will be able to adopt your 1.8 children. Until then...”
“Praying is not going to help, is it?” Sean asks and Jason leans back in his chair.
“As a minister I’m supposed to tell you that it can, but, in all honesty, I’ve prayed until I was blue in the face and at the end of it all, I was still as gay as I when started. Sorry. God didn’t “fix” my homosexuality and I doubt he’ll do for you or anyone else.”
Sean hangs his head.
“What am I going to do now?” his voice sounds broken and scared.
“I don’t know. That is not my decision to make. It is your choice. I think that, deep inside, you know that you are gay. You are still fighting it, but you are losing...
If you truly want Michael and he wants you, then why waste your precious time any further? It is no longer a ‘crime’ to be gay. This is Los Angeles, not some backward village somewhere in the middle of nowhere. You have options, possibilities, an easier acceptance. Can you talk to your family?”
“No. My father. He hates queers. My mother is against homosexuality. Punishment from God and the rest....”
“So that’s where the “doomed” and “sick” part comes from.” Jason deduces and when Sean nods, he knows that Sean will have big problems on his way.
“I could talk to my aunt, she is one of the nicest persons around, she might want to help me and my dad listens to her. She has money, he hopes to inherit.” Sean explains practically and Jason covers his mouth to not show his smile at how calculated that sounds. “My aunt is very open-minded, she’ll give me a place to stay, if I get kicked out.”
“Then my suggestion would be to go talk to Michael first. Tell him how you feel and see if he is willing to commit to you and give you time to come out. And wait until you are SURE you ready. Please, don’t let your desire for Michael push you into something, that deep in your heart you are not ready to admit....”
“But I think I am... I’m just afraid of how people will react....”
“Yes, that can be unpredictable, I’m afraid.” Jason sighs with a sad look as his own memories come back to him. “Sean, I’m not going to lie you. It will not be easy, but if you are sure of Michael’s love and you feel you belong with him, then fight for him and yourself.”
Sean looks at his watch.
“I have a date. With Michael. I should leave.” He clearly doesn’t want to go, but has no choice. And Jason understands that Sean needs to think about what he said. He can only hope that Sean will not shy away again.
“ Sean? You both deserve happiness... I cannot force you to do anything, but maybe next time you can bring Michael as well, so I can talk to the both of you. And you are free to come and talk to me anytime you need someone to listen to you.” Jason’s voice is warm and caring and Sean feels comforted by his words.
“Thank you, Reverend McCallister.” He says, enthusiastically shaking Jason’s hand and as Jason shows him the way out, he is amazed by how much livelier Sean looks, now that the lines in his face have softened. But once Sean has left his sight, Jason returns to the small chapel, worry on his face.
He wonders how Sean will do. If he can talk to Michael, if he will talk to his aunt, if .... So many “ifs”. Somewhere deep inside he knows that their talk has not brought a real solution. Sean could still go back into denial, because it seems easier to pretend. That is what Jason thought as well, when he was 18 years old.
At the same time he realizes that he should not compare. Sean is not him. Michael’s being openly gay was different from how things were with Dennis, Jason's first boyfriend, who had a hard time admitting he was gay too. Jason could not fall back on Dennis for support, like Sean could with Michael.
He sits down and starts to pray that his words to Sean were the right ones and that God will look after Sean and Michael and keep them safe, so that they can be happy together, because that is what he wants that for Sean and Michael, and for all those others who are still struggling with other people’s concept of what “normal” is.