Title: Words of wisdom? (alternative version)
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. This is the alternative version of words of wisdom? and also looks a bit at how Jason came out and dealt with it.
First choice of posting date: April 17
Jason McCallister has seen 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 some 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.
Oh, yes, Jason remembers that feeling. His ‘old friend’ had been Dennis. Sweetest young man ever. Just as shy as Jason was and just as closeted, but they had connected and after two years of quietly 'hanging around' each other, Jason had gathered ALL his courage and asked him out on a date...
“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?”
Jason was only 20 years old then and he had dated girls, he had kissed girls, he had tried to be interested in girls. Even had sex with one or two. Oh, he had tried it all and it had always felt.. wrong. And then he had prayed and prayed, he had begged God to take this shame from him.
He had wondered for so long, what it was that he had done, that he was ‘punished’ with all these ‘unnatural’ feelings...But finally, after a long struggle, he had accepted it. And he had asked Dennis for his first date.
His first date with another man, his first clumsy kiss with another man, the first time he was touched by a another man.... It had been 7th heaven for him....It was like the entire world just shifted and everything fell into place. It wasn’t perfect, but it was right. Just right. As if, for one moment, he was exactly who he was supposed to be....
“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.
The day after his date with Dennis, Jason knew he was still in denial, afraid to admit his feelings for Dennis to others. Unsure if perhaps it would not be better to simply not have sex at all. Not ever again. But he was 20 years old. Could he really make that decision for himself? For the rest of his life?
He could live to be a hundred years old. Eighty years of not acknowledging his feeling? Of never again feeling what he felt like night when Dennis had hesitantly replied to his kiss? There was so much doubt still in his mind and then every decision got taken from his hands.
What Jason had not counted on was the paparazzi, eager to undermine the political campaign of his brother Robert. They took pictures of him, with Dennis, and Jason became front-page news. All he could be grateful for, afterwards, was that Dennis’ face was covered with black bar to make sure no one would recognize HIM.
But Jason had not been so lucky. With three clear pictures on the front-page the secret he had religiously kept and fought against for five years had blown up in his face. His brother, his mother, his friends, his church, his congregation, his sport-club, his swim-team.... everyone knew and the reactions had varied from person to person.
“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 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.
Jason had not been so lucky. His mother and Robert had been infuriated with the damage done to Robert’s campaign. And Jason had been devastated by how many of family-members initially turned their backs on him.... Though in the end most of them came back after they had gotten over the shock, Jason had never felt the same again with certain cousins.
And in all honesty he had also received support from people he had not expected it from. Like Brad, from the swim-team. Loud-mouth Brad had walked up to him and simply asked him if it was true. And Jason had admitted it, unable to deny it. And all Brad had said was “Good for you.” And he had supported Jason from then on.
His church had been less forthcoming. Jason was even told he was no longer allowed to teach the children in the small Sunday-class of his church... It had been decided that a man with his inclinations should not be allowed near impressionable children. That news had devastated him so much that he had no longer felt welcome in his own church....
“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.”
Yes, that is easy for HIM to say. But deep in his heart he knows why he joined another church. He knew he would never have a ‘normal’ life, but he wanted to belong somewhere. He wanted to do right and help people and he had believed that if only he would show abstinence, than he could pay for his carnal desires.
And he had prayed. A lot. But it did not help. The more he denied his physical desires, the more his feelings demanded to be satisfied. He had pretended to be someone other than who he really was. But in the end he was still Jason McCallister, religious, gay, and terribly lonely.
So he had his one-night stands with perfect strangers, the quick non-committal sex, the fast blowjobs that he paid for hoping he would not get recognized. They didn’t make him happy, they just served as a way to defuse the growing longing for a serious relationship with someone who would love him too.
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, 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...”
As did Jason. He lost the fight. He gave in to his desire to have a life like everyone else.
And after several ‘steady’ relationships lasting three months to two years, he found out that, his relationships would usually break up because his partner could not deal with the demanding tasks of a minister.
And then there had been Kevin Walker. He had been warned by his brother that Kevin could not commit and that he would not take the relationship serious, but it was easy to be with Kevin. He was one of the few who understood the importance to Jason to be a minister. To be there for others.
Oh, he would complain and sigh, but he never argued about it, just accepted it. Jason thought he had found happiness at last. And then he got sent on a mission to Malaysia. Although Kevin told him that he loved Jason, finally using the L-word, he heard others say that Kevin wouldn’t last, that Kevin would not seriously wait for him.
He was prepared to have his heart broken, but Kevin called him twice a day and left messages on his answering machine. And slowly Jason started to believe that Kevin would wait... One day he had simply seen that he had allowed himself to be led by others. OTHERS had told him of Kevin’s infidelity.
But he had known, deep in his heart that Kevin would remain faithful, if Kevin would be with someone he truly loved and who would love him in return. And so after 8 longs weeks, he called Kevin and he found out he was right....
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 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, who had a hard time admitting he was gay too. Jason could not fall back for support on Dennis 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....
Yes, he was right. Kevin ended up being faithful to someone he truly loved and who would love him in return. And Kevin entered in a committed relationship, a marriage with the man he loved. And the marriage was successful, with no signs of pending disaster. But the man Kevin married was not Jason McCallister and it had taken Jason quite a while to get over the pain.
But now Jason is happy with his life and he has a living example of how well a gay relationship can work and 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. And who knows? Maybe one day, God will grant him another chance on love as well.