We went back to Cameron’s apartment after getting our tattoos where we lounged on the sofa for so long that I actually lost count, watching old movies from his extensive collection. Among the half dozen movies we watched were some black and white horror movies, some 80’s or 90’s rom-coms, heck he even had an old 90’s Disney movie about 3 lost pets trying to find their way home. That last one was so sad but really sweet at the same time. It made me cry at several parts but Cameron teared up a little at those part too so I didn’t feel so bad about being so emotional.
“I used to watch this with my mom” Cameron whispered somewhat sadly near the end of the Disney movie. I tensed up slightly, I really wasn’t sure what to do or say in this sort of situation. Cameron’s mom had only been in her early 50’s when she finally passed away, the illness that she’d battled with finally defeating her. Cameron said that he’d been prepared for it and that he was fine but even from just spending a day with him it was blatantly obvious that he wasn’t okay. He was hurting real bad and I didn’t know how to stop it or make the pain go away. Saying I was sorry for his loss seemed so awkward and inadequate so instead I wrapped my arms around his waist and hugged him tightly. At least this way he’d know that I was there for him, that I cared and that I was genuinely sorry for his loss, or I hoped he would anyway. Cameron’s arm dropped down and leaned against my own in an effort, I think, to hug me back. We sat like that, without saying a single thing to each other, for a while. It felt stupid to admit it, even to myself, but I felt safe with Cameron’s arm around me. For as long as I could remember I don’t think I’d ever felt so at ease around anyone as I did around him.
“I’m glad we’re friends R-J” Cameron said out of the blue.
“Me too” I replied without hesitation. I didn’t even have to think about it; Cameron was the best thing in my life right now and I was so thankful that somehow we’d become friends. At my reply Cameron’s arm tightened around me for a brief second before he pulled away from me. I hadn’t expected him to pull away so suddenly and because I’d been leaning on him I fell face first into the sofa cushions. I stayed down for about 10 seconds in which time I heard muffled laughter coming from somewhere above me.
“You’re hilarious” I drawled when I finally pushed myself up, my eyes shooting daggers at Cameron which only made him laugh more.
“I really miss your stupid sense of humour when I’m at home” I rolled my eyes at him, continuing to send glares his way.
“Yeah…about that…You’re going to have to tell them” Cameron’s laughter abruptly stopped and he became completely serious.
“Cameron…” I moaned softly. I really didn’t want to talk about this. He’d done such a good job of taking my mind off of all my problems all day and now, with just one little sentence; he’d brought it all rushing back.
“I know it’s the last thing you want to talk about but you’ll have to eventually” there was concern in his voice underlined with a small amount of guilt.
“Please don’t Cam…” I pleaded with him almost silently. I could feel a panicky feeling coming over me, making it hard for me to breathe.
“Raven-Jay please, I know you’re scared, and you have every right to be, but please…talk to me about this” He begged me, his voice so sad and mournful that it tugged, painfully, at my heartstrings. I wasn’t sure whether it was the way he used my full name or how genuinely concerned for me he sounded that finally broke me.
“What do you want from me Cameron? For me to admit I’m terrified? Because I am. For me to admit that I’m gay? Because I’m that too. Or do you want me to say that I’m going to lose the only family I’ve got because of it!” I cried out, letting all the disdain and resentment I’d felt towards myself these past weeks come out and direct itself towards him. I felt so ashamed of myself for taking everything out on Cameron as soon as the words left me but I couldn’t take them back no matter how much I wanted to. My whole body was shaking something fierce by the time I’d finished and at some point I must have gotten up from the sofa because I was now standing in the middle of Cameron’s rug.
“You won’t lose them” Cameron said slowly after I’d finished my rant at him. There was so much compassion in his eyes that I had to look away or I’d start crying.
“What? Of course I will. They’ll hate me!” I mumbled. I felt so ashamed. Of course they’ll hate me, why wouldn’t they?
“No one could ever hate you RJ” he gave a short of half-hearted smile but his eyes told me that he meant every word he’d just said. Still, he didn’t know my parents like I did, he never would.
“But they…” I started to protest before he quickly cut me off.
“No one. They may need some time to adjust but if they love you they will accept you for who you really are, no matter what” Cameron was resolute, his words laced with an honesty and conviction that was hard to doubt. Maybe if he had so much faith then I should too. Wasn’t that what my parents were always talking about? Maybe miracles were possible after all. I wasn’t sure what made him do it but Cameron got up from where he’d been sitting on the sofa then. He walked over to me slowly, as if he was scared I’d run a mile if he approached too quickly. When he was standing right in front of me he took one look at me before wrapping his arms around me and pulling me into a warm, soothing, hug. My shaking slowly lessened and then stopped altogether in his arms.
“Really?” I mumbled against his t-shirt clad shoulder just to be sure.
“Really” he replied without hesitation. Even though I couldn’t see his face I could tell he still had that same conviction as he’d had when he first said the words. Even though I knew my parents far better than he ever would it was hard to not believe him. His conviction gave me hope that I could have my family without changing or hiding who I was.
“Okay” I whispered, still not entirely sure of my decision but I’d made it now and I wasn’t about to back out. I could feel Cameron tense up slightly.
“You’re going?” he asked, sounding a little surprised at my quick decision. I didn’t blame him; I was still surprised at how quickly he’d been able to reassure me.
“Yeah just…not now. I mean, you did get that tattoo so the least I can do is get you a pizza” I worked to put some cheer that I didn’t quite feel into my voice. I wasn’t sure if he believed me or not because ether way he didn’t say a word. I pulled away from him and headed in search of the phone. I wasn’t exactly stellar on the phone but I could manage it. After all, it was nothing compared to what I’d have to face in just a few hours’. It was going on 7 now and my dad usually came home around 8, although it was sometimes later if he was working late. I wanted him to be home when I made the big reveal because I didn’t think I could face going through it twice. My dad would also be able to calm my mother if things went bad. No, things weren’t going to go bad, I had to have faith.
“Pepperoni, garlic, chicken and extra cheese!” Cameron yelled at me from across the room. It was kind of unnecessary because I’d never be able to forget that weird combination, even if I tried too. While I ordered the pizza I watched the clock, knowing it was speeding towards my doom.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come in with you?” Cameron asked softly. He sounded almost as nervous as I was. We were in the car sitting outside my parent’s home and I was trying to brace myself, unsuccessfully I might add, for what was to come.
“I’m pretty sure they’d take the news a whole lot worse if you’re there” I stated bluntly. My nervousness was starting to get so bad that I wasn’t entirely in control of what came out of my mouth anymore.
“Good point. Good luck, and if you need me you know I’m just a phone call away” He sort of angled his head to the side and half nodded.
“Thanks Cam” I whispered, reaching over to give him a quick hug before I exited his car and prepared to face what awaited me inside the house. He was giving off really nervous vibes which wasn’t helping at all with how nervous I already felt about the massive task ahead of me. A part of me still wanted to run back to Cameron’s car and put this off for as long as I possibly could, but Cameron had been right when he’d said earlier that I’d have to tell them eventually and the longer I put it off the more likely they were to not understand. With a deep, shaky, breath I braced myself as I pushed the front door open, turning to give Cameron one last small wave before I walked in to whatever awaited me. The house was quiet which wasn’t all that uncommon in our house on weekdays. When I walked in the door my mother was sitting in her favourite chair beside the fire, a book open in her hand and a scowl already on her face. Oh boy! I really didn’t see this exchange going well at all. Regardless, I walked further into the room and sat down on the sofa across from her, making sure to sit the way she’s always told me too. I sat in silence, wringing my hands in the hem of my shirt out of sheer anxiety. My anxiety levels were through the roof even just sitting here with her but, I knew, it wasn’t going to get any better unless I told them the truth. I would never be able to be happy, always looking over my shoulder, never quite at peace if I didn’t tell them.
“You seem nervous Raven-Jay” my mother suddenly spoke, startling me so much that I jumped a little and before I could stop it a little squeak escaped my lips. It took me an embarrassingly long time to regain control of myself and in that time I could see my mother start to get agitated.
“I…I have to tell you and dad something.” I whispered, or at least it sounded like a whisper to me; I could barely hear anything over the blood rushing in my ears. That got my mother’s attention immediately. She put down her book and focused completely on me. If I thought I was nervous before that had nothing on what I was feeling now. Her gaze just made me feel so inadequate.
“Your father is working tonight” she said simply, not bothering to go into any more details. I would’ve liked to know when he was due home but I couldn’t get my mouth to form the words I needed to ask. My hands shook against my shirt. I couldn’t do this.
“For goodness sake, just spit out whatever you were going to tell us! This is trying my last nerve” My mother snapped at me after a few more moments of me being locked inside my own stress filled box. Her lips were pursed and her eyes were narrowed just a little which told me that she was really angry with me now. I tried to answer her, I really did, but I still couldn’t get the words to form. What was I meant to say? Hey mom, I’m gay? Guess what mother, I like girls? All of those sounded terrible and would most likely make my mother not understand at all. I really wished my dad was here to calm her down.
“Is this about that Connors boy? Because if it is…” she asked harshly, her voice very unkind and full of venom. I hated hearing her speak about Cameron like that. She had no right saying anything bad about him when he’d been nothing but kind to me.
“No, no, it’s nothing to do with him! I…I think I…I…might like someone” I blurted out, my mouth suddenly deciding that it was going to work again. As soon as the words were out I really, really wished I could take them back. Why did I say that! Would she understand? Please say she understood.
“That’s wonderful news Raven-Jay” she announced to my utter surprise. Her whole demeanour had changed within seconds and she now looked…almost happy. “I do wish you had not gone through all the dramatics though” she sighed, almost as an afterthought.
“Really?!” my brain was still far to shocked to come up with an appropriate thing to say. For a moment she looked at me as if I was stupid but that look left her face quickly and was replaced but the sort of happiness again.
“Of course Raven-Jay, that is all your father and I ever wanted for you. Now, tell me, what do you feel for this person?” she…it looked like she smiled at me. She’d never done that before. Wow, this day was turning out so strange.
“I…I can’t stop thinking about them and whenever I’m near them or even think about them I get this feeling in my stomach like there’s butterflies in there or something. I want to be near them all the time too but I’m not sure they even think about me that way” I blurted out without really meaning too. I hadn’t meant to tell my mother all of that. Before I’d even finished my mother nodded her head and her small smile grew a tiny bit. Were we bonding? It felt like we were bonding. That had also never happened before.
“You should ask him out on a date. You never know how he’ll feel about you until you ask” she sounded almost wistful as she spoke and there was a faraway look in her eyes for a brief moment before she snapped back to her usual self. Now was the real defining moment for us. I really hoped that she’d understand or at least be tolerant enough to hear me out fully. That’s all I could ask of her. My head lowered automatically as the next words left my mouth because I just couldn’t look at her reaction to it, to me.
“Please don’t freak out mother but it’s not a man that I like; it’s a girl” I whispered, my voice coming out in an almost cry. My voice started out already quiet but as the sentence went on it got quieter and quieter until I wasn’t even sure if she could hear it. I could feel tears build up in my eyes already but I tried to hold them back. There was still a chance she would accept me, even with my faults. She didn’t say anything for a while which was very worrying. I squeezed my eyes shut, a single tear falling onto my hands, and took a deep breath in before lifting my head to take in my mother reaction. Her face was a wall, blank in every definition of the word.
“You are just confused. It is natural for people your age to go through this but with God’s help you will see this for what it really is; a disgusting, demoralizing, sin against nature, against God” She spoke slowly, her voice missing any natural inflection whatsoever. She was really scary when she was like this. It was like she was a robot.
“Mother, I have been through this already with myself, believe me I have, but I am gay and that isn’t going to change” I replied calmly. Don’t get me wrong, I was still terrified about how she would take this but I could feel a little bit of confidence build up within me from just having told her the truth.
“This is that Connors boys doing. I knew he was going to be trouble, just like his father” my mother hissed, finally breaking out of the eerie calm she showed earlier.
“It has nothing to do with Cameron mother! All he’s done is help me. When I felt like I was nothing for being what I am he was the one who talked me out of it. He was the one who convinced me to tell you when I was so scared that I was having nightmares. This is who I am, who I’ve always been I think. I just thought that maybe you’d understand and still love me despite it.” I was on my feet now, tears openly flowing down my face.
“Absolutely not! You must be fixed Raven-Jay” she too was on her feet now, her voice as close to yelling as I’d ever heard it. How could I make her see that I didn’t need to be fixed? That this was just who I was? Was being gay really that bad? I’d been brought up to think that but I’d been gay for a whole day now (or at least that’s as long as I’d openly acknowledged it) and nothing terrible or disastrous had happened. I was still human. I was still the same person I’d been before. So really, what was so terrible about it? I was about to voice these questions to my mother but before I could open my mouth my father walked in the front door.
“Stella I’m…”He started to say his nightly greeting for whenever he came home from work. He must have felt the tension in the air between my mother and I because he stopped without finishing his sentence. He immediately turned to my mother with an expectant look on his face. He’d came home to plenty of arguments between my mother and I in the past but none of them had been like this.
“What is going on Stella?” he asked softly. He was the one who broke up most of the arguments between my mother and I so he was well versed in how to go about it. I think his main tactic was somehow being able to remain the level-headed one.
“Our darling daughter had suddenly decided that she ‘likes women’” she sneered, turning to glare at me. I flinched at her words. From where I stood I could see my dad’s eyes widen in shock at the very thought.
“Is this true Raven-Jay?” he asked, still sounding calm but not eerily calm like my mother had. He turned slightly so that he could face both of us at the same time.
“Yes but it’s not like that dad. I didn’t want it to happen but…but I think I’m in love, this isn’t just about some stupid experimentation” I beseeched him. How could I make him understand when my mother was such a lost cause? I was so stupid for even daring to hope either of my parent’s would accept me.
“There is a camp Raven-Jay, a camp where you can go and they can help you get over this” he sounded kind of saddened at that thought. He knew what some of those camps did to people like me. He’d been in charge of one of them for just over a year when I was young and the stories he told about them, well; let’s just say they were nothing good.
“Don’t send me there dad. Please don’t send me there” I pleaded with him desperately, my tear-filled eyes searching out his. His eyes were a startling contrast to my mother’s. Whereas hers were full of anger and hate my father were full of sadness and loss. I wanted to yell out to him that he hadn’t lost me yet, that I was still here but it wouldn’t make a difference; I’d already lost them.
“You have to go there Raven…so you can be normal again. They’ll make it all go away and one day, when you’re sitting around with your husband and kids, you’ll look back and this will all just be a bad memory” he sighed softly. He made it sound so easy, so simple; as if to do that I wouldn’t have to completely deny who I was and live a half-life. I’d been doing that for all my life so far, walking on eggshells whenever I was around my mother and pretending I was the perfect daughter she’d always wanted. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wouldn’t do it anymore.
“I’d rather die than deny who I really was for a second longer and this is who I am, like it or not” I announced, a hint of defiance and courage colouring my tone. They both exchanged a silent look that I didn’t like before my mother walked out of the room and my dad opened his mouth to speak again.
“If that is your wish then we can no longer include you in our family. You have 20 minutes to get out of our house” he spoke sadly, guilt and sorrow shining in his eyes. The tears that were already flowing down my face flowed faster now but I didn’t feel them anymore. I felt completely numb, inside and out. I went to walk up the stairs to get some of my stuff but my dad stopped me.
“You are not allowed to take anything out of our house, apart from maybe a change of clothes but I would get them before your mother realises” he whispered to me, his voice still full of sadness. I pulled away from him and nodded my head quickly before running up the stairs to collect a change of clothes to take with me. I couldn’t believe I’d been foolish enough to think they’d accept me. I was stupid. I really should have known better. I dug my old school backpack out from under my bed and began digging through my drawers for a change of clothes. I didn’t have many personal belonging so I didn’t really mind that they had banned me from taking the stuff. Despite it all though, I was really going to miss my room and miss my parents. I grabbed a clean pair of jeans from my drawer along with my favourite sweatshirt and some underwear. I shoved them into my backpack and left the house without another glance at my parents. I left my key on my bedside table in my bedroom for them to eventually find whenever they cleaned the room out. That was it then, everything that I’d always feared had come true. I had nowhere to go, I was officially homeless now. Was I going to have to start living on the streets? At this moment it looked incredibly likely. Without a real destination in mind I started walking. I didn’t take in anything as I walked, letting my current numbness haze over me and block out the outside world.
I didn’t check back into reality until I realised that I was at Cameron’s apartment door, fist poised to knock. I wasn’t entirely sure how I ended up here but at the same time I was really glad I had. The door opened slowly, I must’ve knocked without realising, and out stepped a very anxious looking Cameron. The anxiety turned to relief as soon as his eyes landed on me. I wasn’t sure what I looked like but I could only assume it was bad because Cameron’s face quickly filled with sadness and a fierce protectiveness that I hadn’t seen in anyone before. Maybe I just hadn’t been around the right people before.
“That bad huh?” he asked gently, pulling me into a hug. His warm embrace slowly thawed through my numb haze. Now that the numbness was receding I could feel the pain seething underneath. It hurt. I didn’t want to feel like this. I just wanted this day to have never happened. Once the numbness had fully gone and the pain was at its highest, I broke down in Cameron’s arms. He pulled me gently into his apartment and set me down on the sofa. He held me and let me cry against him until I had calmed down a little. I was still nowhere near being okay but I felt better than I had when I’d first arrived. Once I’d sort of calmed down Cameron went away and got a damp towel for me to clean my face up. It was hard because my face felt really tender and sore from all the crying today but I think I did an okay job of it.
“You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want to but…what happened?” Cameron asked softly. I may as well not have bothered cleaning my face because as soon as Cameron asked that question I started crying again. I couldn’t help it and certainly couldn’t stop it.
“You don’t need to…” Cameron started to say. He sounded so caring and apologetic that I found myself actually wanting to tell him what had happened even if it caused me pain.
“I…I told them the truth and they…they disowned me. They don’t want to know me anymore. They kicked me out and I don’t have anywhere to go. I’m going to end up on the streets. I’m scared Cam” I sobbed, feeling more scared than I had all night. What was going to happen when Cameron decided it was time for me to go? I didn’t even have time to find a place for tonight since it was already pretty late and even if I did find someplace how could I afford it. I barely had any money to my name. Harsh sobs wracked my whole body. Cameron pulled me into another warm hug which helped put me a little at ease.
“Hey, hey, hey, no need to cry. You’re welcome to stay here for as long as you like” Cameron spoke without hesitation. I hugged him back tightly, sending a silent prayer of thanks to whoever was listening for Cameron’s unshakeable friendship.
Ok, 2 things with this for anyone who still reads this, I am so sorry it took 4 years between chapters. I didn’t mean to just abandon this legacy but that’s kind of what happened. I have written out all bar one of Raven-Jay’s chapters now so I am going to try and make sure there isn’t a huge gap between chapters again. On that note, you probably realized that there are a lot less pictures and a lot more words this time around. That’s simply because I can’t be bothered hunting down poses for every scene anymore and my game keeps crashing on me. This will most likely be what the chapters will be like from now on. I hope you guys understand and still continue to read regardless.