Deborah Jeane Palfrey (AKA, DC Madam) RIP – Part 3

Part 3

The federal government subjected both Ms. Palfrey and me to crucible that was designed to ensure our silence—or ultimately crush us. “They just destroy you on every level—financially, emotionally, psychologically,” Ms. Palfrey reportedly said of federal prosecutors. In the case of Ms. Palfrey, the U.S. Attorney for the District of D.C. smacked her with a 14-count RICO indictment that included money laundering, racketeering, and using the mail for illegal purposes in connection with a prostitution ring, and she was facing a bewildering 55 years behind bars. RICO is an acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and it was originally designed to dismantle the Mafia, as RICO allows for mob bosses to be tried for crimes that were sanctioned on their behalf. Ms. Palfrey was merely running an escort service, so it seems that the RICO Act was prosecutorial overkill in her circumstances—unless, of course, prosecutors felt it was imperative to leverage her silence.

I, too, was merely running an escort service, but the U.S. Attorney for the District of D.C. walloped me with a 43-count RICO indictment. I was potentially staring at 295 years behind bars. I was also looking at the possibility of a $2 million fine, and, as I’ve previously mentioned, the feds were threatening to indict my mother.

Although my case and Ms. Palfrey’s share numerous parallels, a major point of divergence is the proficiency of our respective attorneys. D.C.-based attorney Montgomery Sibley represented Ms. Palfrey, and Greta Van Susteren represented me. Mr. Sibley vigorously defended Ms. Palfrey, but he had to contend with the feds judicial chicanery and sleight-of-hand. Ms. Palfrey’s initial trial judge had authorized Mr. Sibley’s subpoenas of the White House, State Department, CIA, etc., and he also authorized subpoenas for AT&T Mobility, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile USA, and Alltel, which would have mandated those carriers to provide Ms. Palfrey with the names and addresses of the individuals who contacted her escort service. Inexplicably, Ms. Palfrey’s initial trial judge was replaced by a judge who quashed Mr. Sibley’s subpoenas en masse, and thereby eviscerated the defense’s case.

At the outset of my case, Greta Van Susteren, seemed very committed to a vigorous defense on my behalf, and she deployed a nearly identical tactic as Mr. Sibley—she filed an eleven-page motion to mandate the release of my clientele list that the government had previously seized from me. Ms. Van Susteren argued that the names of my patrons should be released, because, if the government’s assertion was accurate and my “escort” service was, in actuality, a prostitution ring, my clients aided and abetted a criminal enterprise.

But the Assistant U.S. Attorney for D.C. vehemently contested Ms. Van Susteren’s motion and my trial judge sided with the prosecution and barred the public disclosure of my clientele. After my trial judge acquiesced to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Ms. Van Susteren started to change her tune, and she urged me to take the government’s plea bargain.

By then, my family and I had been subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, and I faced life in prison—I felt as if the feds were wielding the Sword of Damocles over my head. At Ms. Van Susteren’s behest, I accepted the government’s plea bargain. The feds also included a caveat that wasn’t overtly stated in my plea agreement: My 5-year sentence was based on the contingency that I not divulge a word about the particulars of my case to the media.

Conversely, Ms. Palfrey opted to fight City Hall, but the U.S. Attorney for D.C. triumphed in her case, and she was found guilty on all counts. As Ms. Palfrey awaited sentencing, she purportedly committed suicide. Ms. Palfrey’s death is mired in conjecture, rumor, and innuendo, and the Internet is rife with speculation that Ms. Palfrey’s suicide was indeed a murder.

Ms. Palfrey publicly stated on a handful of occasions that she would never commit suicide, which buttresses the contentions that she was murdered. Moreover, after Ms. Palfrey’s demise, an Orlando affiliate of CBS interviewed the building manager of the Park Lake Towers in Orlando, where Ms. Palfrey owned a condo. The building manager disclosed that he had talked to Ms. Palfrey just three days before her lifeless body was found in her mother’s aluminum shed. “Jeane Palfrey was a class act,” said the building manager. “Her way out of this world certainly would not have been in an aluminum shed attached to a mobile home in Tarpon Springs, Florida.” The manager also discussed a disturbing conversation that he had with Ms. Palfrey: “She insinuated that there is a contract out for her, and I fully believe they succeeded.”

The Washington Post was quick to declare that Palfrey had taken her own life—despite the possibility of indications to the contrary. I mention the latter point because the Washington Post reported a myriad of details about my case that were inaccurate—despite the possibility of indications to the contrary—or solely based on the word of federal law enforcement officials. Although I’m unwilling to speculate whether or not the death of Ms. Palfrey was a suicide or a murder, I feared for my life when I was a D.C. madam due to the threats discharged by government officials and also by individuals who were reportedly affiliated with the government.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey (AKA, DC Madam) RIP – Part 2

Part 2

Before Ms. Palfrey’s trial, she imparted flurries of sound bites to the media intimating that she was the custodian of too many secrets, and the government would be unlocking a Pandora’s Box if it prosecuted her. “I am sure as heck am not going to be going to federal prison for one day, let alone, you know, four to eight years here, because I’m shy about bringing in the deputy secretary of whatever,” Palfrey told ABC. “Not for a second. I’ll bring every last one of them in if necessary.”

I, like Ms. Palfrey, thought that the secrets I had amassed over the years would discourage the government from prosecuting me. After the Secret Service’s initial raid and ransacking of my home, and prior to being indicted, I remarked to a reporter: “Somebody set us up because they were scared about what we knew about high government official. . . . And anyways, if they do try to indict me, I’ll have some good stories to tell.” I was a mere 29 years old when I dispensed that quote, and, regrettably, I had the aplomb and inexperience of youth, which is an extremely flawed tandem when locking horns with the federal government. I woefully underestimated the ruthlessness and absolute power of my adversary.

Ms. Palfrey followed through on her threat and attempted to unfurl her secrets: She presented ABC News with 43 pounds of printed pages that contained the phone numbers of the thousands of johns who frequented her escort service over the years. Ms. Palfrey had no idea of the names accompanying the vast majority of the phone numbers, and she hoped that ABC would decipher that information. She felt that the potentially pyrokinetic scoop she handed to ABC would force the government on the defensive and impede its zealous crusade to imprison her.

But her counter-offensive spectacularly backfired: ABC refused to follow through on the revelations contained in the 43-pound printout. ABC correspondent Brian Ross announced that “based on our reporting, it turned out not to be as newsworthy as we thought in terms of the names,” even though it would emerge that Palfrey’s patrons included, for starters, a U.S. Senator, a Department of Defense consultant who developed the “shock and awe” doctrine deployed on Iraq, and State Department official Randall Tobias. In a stunning demonstration of hypocrisy, Tobias was the Agency for International Development’s Director of Foreign Assistance, and he managed agencies that required the foreign recipients of AIDS assistance to condemn prostitution. Moreover, it’s recently been demonstrated that Brian Ross has difficulties telling the truth.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey (AKA, DC Madam) RIP – Part 1

Part 1

Deborah Jeane assumed the mantle of “D.C. Madam” after I had been toppled and banished to federal prison. Although she was in the business of providing female escorts and I had been in the business of providing male escorts, I followed the tribulations, trial, and death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey with intense interest. I marveled at the striking similarities between our cases, and I empathized with her dire circumstances.

The federal government unleashed a reign of terror on Palfrey just as it unleashed a reign of terror on my family and me. In fact, the feds even threatened to indict my elderly mother, and one newspaper reported that Secret Service agents actually kicked down the front door of my sister’s home and held my brother-in-law at gunpoint.

On Larry King Live, Ms. Palfrey dispensed a warning to Americans about their corrupt political system: “. . . think about it a bit, and you’ll come to the conclusion that we have come to. That there are possible people who have used the service who have become the subjects and targets of blackmail . . .”

I’m uncertain if Ms. Palfrey witnessed the blackmailing of politicians first-hand, but I was certainly privy to the blackmailing of politicians and sundry powerbrokers. If the Department of Justice, the Secret Service, and the Washington Post had not been resolute on covering up the facts and individuals enmeshed in my case, Americans would have learned the unsavory truth that blackmail is endemic in their political system. The sexual escapades of the D.C. elite are vastly different than the infidelities of the average citizen—thus their susceptibility to blackmail.

 

Trick & Treats of the Famous & Infamous Part 3

CIA Director William Casey and the Boys 

Former CIA Director William Casey was a frequent flyer of my escort service. Casey, like Barney Frank and Donald Gregg, preferred 18-year-old escorts with minimal body hair and a slender swimmer’s physique. Although he requested that I provide him with underage escorts, I told him that I wouldn’t acquiesce to his request.

Casey met with the escorts at the Ritz-Carleton Hotel, when it was near DuPont Circle. After Casey was nude and splayed on a bed, he had the escorts rub oil over his body as he kissed and fondled them. Casey was old and withered, and the escorts found their encounters with him to be rather dysphoric. Casey came to my attention, because he wasn’t able to have an erection, and the escorts that I employed were perplexed by both his elaborate rituals with the oils and his erectile dysfunction.

Casey died of cancer in May of 1987, so, when the Washington Times started to break stories about Spence’s blackmail operation and my escort service, Casey had drifted to the hereafter. Nevertheless, I was worried that his CIA cronies would want to bury his secret dalliances with young men with him—even if that involved burying me.

 

Trick & Treats of the Famous & Infamous Part 2

The Infamous Donald Gregg and His Shadow Life

Donald Gregg was a frequent flyer of my escort service. He was fond of young men with minimal body hair and swimmers’ physiques. When I received those kinds of requests, the customer often hinted that they desired underage children, but that was a line I wasn’t willing to cross.

Although few Americans have heard of Donald Gregg, he certainly wasn’t a run-of-the-mill government pawn. Gregg had been a CIA agent for 31 years, and he played an integral role in the Phoenix Program, a nefarious CIA initiative that slaughtered over 25,000 South Vietnamese who were in many cases mistakenly thought to be collaborating with North Vietnam.

When Gregg was soliciting gay escorts from me, he served as Vice President George H.W. Bush’s national security advisor. He and Bush I were very close friends. And when Bush I ascended to the presidency, he made Gregg the U.S. ambassador to South Korea.

I think Gregg may have suffered from the “in closet syndrome” that affected the likes of J. Edgar Hoover and Larry Craig, because he was truly a nasty piece of work. In 1983, Gregg had a secret meeting with CIA agent Felix Rodriguez and Vice President Bush in the White House, where the trio hatched a covert scheme to provide military aid to the Contras in Nicaragua, which ultimately morphed into Iran-Contra. So given Craig’s involvement in the Phoenix Program and Iran-Contra, his hands were undeniably drenched in blood. And I should mention that the Phoenix Program and Iran-Contra are merely a couple of the activities in Gregg’s history that have come to light. I feel fairly confident in surmising that Gregg bloodied his hands from a myriad of other shadowy enterprises that have never been exposed in the mainstream media.

Unbelievably, Gregg had the hubris to use his government-issued MasterCard to purchase escorts from me, a sign that seemingly demonstrates he felt above the law. In January 1989, I received a puzzling phone call from a woman who worked for the Government Accounting Office, and she inquiring why Donald Gregg had racked up recurrent credit card charges for funeral accessories with his government-issued MasterCard. In Confessions of a DC Madam, I discuss how I ran credit cards through a merchant account that was set up to peddle funeral accessories, because, after all, being a mortician was my day job.

The GAO employee had numerous questions about the charges. I was caught off guard by her questions, so I was uncertain of the appropriate response. I ultimately advised her that the charges were of a personal nature, and I suggested that she contact Donald Gregg. A statement that was certainly factual! Right after the GAO contacted me, I phoned Craig Spence, one of the principal architects of the blackmail operation who blackmailed me into providing him with escorts, and told him about the particulars of the GAO call. He replied that he would be in touch.

Three weeks or so following the phone call from the GAO, Spence summoned me to his condominium. As I sat down, Spence seated himself on his chocolate sofa next to a man in his late fifties, who had balding black hair and brown, round-framed glasses. He wore a blue, pinstripe suit, white shirt, and a red tie. A miniature U.S. flag was pinned on his lapel. Spence introduced the man to me by his name and also disclosed his title. He was in the cabinet of George H.W. Bush. I feel that the Bush administration had decided to pull out a big gun to eradicate any traces of Gregg’s affinity for gay escorts, because Gregg had been so instrumental in Iran-Contra and because he was en route to becoming the United States Ambassador to South Korea.

Spence had dropped the name of the cabinet member months earlier, when he revealed that he routinely provided him with adolescent boys. At the time Spence dropped his name and his perverse predications, I thought his disclosure was wildly exaggerated, and I was fairly skeptical of it. But on the other hand, the vast majority of Spence’s illicit activities seemed incomprehensible to me until I actually witnessed them.

Our conversation focused on the GAO conundrum, and Spence and his “friend” quickly cut to the chase. They told me to write a letter to the GAO detailing blood studies I had conducted on behalf of Gregg. They explained that my occupation as a mortician would be a satisfactory guise for the letter. I felt that I was potentially being set up for GAO embezzlement charges, and I balked at their demands. I replied that they certainly had the means and wherewithal to cover for Gregg, so the onus of covering up his extracurricular activities shouldn’t fall on me.

The man sitting next to Spence then uttered a question that I will never forget: “I can withstand a background investigation . . . can you?” I responded, “Yes . . . I can withstand a background investigation.” My response essentially concluded the 20-minute meeting. Spence was quite irate with me when I refused to write their letter, and he berated me as he showed me to the door. His threat turned out to be quite real, because that’s when my legal problems started. The Secret Service raided my home shortly thereafter.

Greta and Me Part 5

GRETA AND ME – Part Five

Judge Greene set June 12th as my sentencing date, so I flew back to D.C. on June 11th. My mother met me at D.C.’s Washington National Airport, and we spent the night at Aunt Josephine’s house, who lived just outside of Washington, DC. The next morning, when we arrived at the courthouse, I rendezvoused with Greta who was standing outside the courtroom. She had a distressed look on her face. As I had feared, the government decided to pull a dirty trick at the eleventh hour. Shortly before my sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Strasser filed a memorandum with Judge Greene asserting that I should be sentenced above the guidelines, because I hadn’t screened the escorts I employed for HIV, and thus had perpetrated untold death and misery.

So I was extremely apprehensive as I followed Greta into the courtroom to face Judge Greene. After I expressed contrition for my crimes, Judge Greene launched into a protracted diatribe about the downward departure that had been proposed for my “substantial assistance.”  “Why propose this departure?” Judge Greene asked. “I can’t recall a single case in which the government has asked for departure before just because somebody pleaded guilty and got others to plead . . . I don’t think it’s warranted. . .”

My sentencing had suddenly taken on the surreal proportions of a horrific nightmare, and Judge Greene had yet to address Strasser’s memorandum about Henry Vinson being the progenitor of the HIV virus in Washington, D.C. Judge Greene asked Strasser if he were aware of anyone who had contracted HIV from an escort whom I employed, and Strasser couldn’t mention a single individual, which demonstrated that his memorandum to Judge Greene had been unfounded. Judge Greene then sentenced me to 63 months in a federal prison, and he ruled that I be immediately remanded into custody. As the U.S. marshals escorted me out of the courtroom, my mother was weeping, and Aunt Josephine was comforting her.

With Greta as my attorney, the government accomplished all of its objectives. I didn’t utter a word to the media about the mindboggling, illicit malfeasance I had witnessed, so the government saved itself from a scandal of epic proportions. Judge Greene also gave me the consolation prize of 63 months in a federal prison.

I find rather interesting that the some of the individuals who played an instrumental role in either ensuring or abetting my silence, especially Greta Greta and Jay Stephens, the U.S. Attorney for the District of DC, have experienced remarkable upward mobility. Greta has experienced a sharp upwardly mobile trajectory since I was initially imprisoned. Shortly after Judge Harold Greene banished me to federal prison, Van Susteren started co-hosting CNN’s Burden of Proof, and then she hosted CNN’s The Point with Greta Van Susteren. Greta made her vaunted leap to FOX in 2002, where she’s been transformed into a media superstar, hosting On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. I’m slightly perplexed that FOX, a news outlet that caters to religious and conservative Americans, would elevate a Scientologist to its pantheon of superstars.

U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens, whose office oversaw the corrupt grand jury that walloped me with a potential sentence of 295 years, was appointed United States Associate Attorney General by President George W. Bush in 2001. But Associate Attorney General proved to be a two-year pit stop for Stephens, because in 2002 he became a vice president of the Raytheon Corporation, the world’s fifth largest defense contractor, and also the world’s leading producer of guided missiles.

Trick & Treats of the Famous & Infamous Part 1

The Hypocrisy of Larry Craig

Larry Craig, the conservative, Republican U.S. senator from Idaho made headlines when he attempted to solicit sex in the men’s room of the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport. Conservative Republicans generally frown on conservative Republicans soliciting sex in airport bathrooms—especially with men!

But years before Craig was cruising for sex in airport bathrooms, he was a U.S. representative and a frequent flyer of my escort service. Craig preferred escorts who were quite masculine with a plethora of body hair—bear types. Throughout the course of my interactions with Craig, he was paranoid but his runaway libido trumped his paranoia, because he often solicited escorts from me.

Craig certainly bamboozled the conservative voters of Idaho who ultimately elected him to the U.S. Senate, where he developed quite a reputation for voting against gay legislation. Craig voted for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and he voted against expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. In fact, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization, gave him a 0% percent concerning his stance on gay-rights legislation. So Senator Larry Craig proved to be a major hypocrite.

Powerful men who live in the closet can become extremely malevolent, and they project their self-hatred onto others instead of themselves. J. Edgar Hoover is the archetype of a closet queen who directed his venom at others, but Craig’s voting record against gay right demonstrates that he suffers from the malady.

Greta and Me Part 4

GRETA AND ME – Part Four

Greta made her vaunted move in the middle of August 1990 by filing an 11-page motion that would force the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office to release the names of my clientele, which had been seized by the Secret Service via search warrants, but Strasser stonewalled her motion. He refused to release my client lists, because “he fears intimidation of government witnesses due to the embarrassing nature of the case.” The government had been the primary intimidator of my clientele, so I found Strasser’s rationale for quashing Greta’s motion to be extremely ironic. If the government was unwilling to release the names of my clientele, Greta put forth an alternative motion that would prohibit prosecutors from entering the seized items into evidence for the trial.

In early October, Judge Greene ruled on Greta’s motions. He released the documentation to Greta, but he banned its public disclosure. After the ruling, Greta started to undergo a metamorphosis. She eventually advised me to start cooperating with the government. I found her change in strategy to be perplexing. I’ve since wondered if Greta’s maneuver to publicly expose my clientele had been her one-trick pony or if she had sub rosa motivations. By that time, however, I was utterly spent because of the government’s terrorizing of my family and me, and I obsequiously complied with her counsel. If she had recommended that I jump off the Empire State Building, I would’ve booked the next flight to New York and taken the leap.

I ultimately pled guilty to conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and credit card fraud, and I agreed to “cooperate” with the government. Although those two counts carried a maximum aggregate sentence of 25 years, Greta assured me that my cooperation would result in a “downward departure” from the sentencing guidelines and probation was the likely outcome.

My cooperation entailed a series of debriefings in December of 1990 at the Secret Service’s D.C. headquarters. Several men sat around a conference table as I was debriefed. I was told that they were affiliated with the D.C. Metro Police, U.S. Postal Service, and the Internal Revenue Service, even though my intuition is that they most likely provided false affiliations. As I reflect on my debriefings in retrospect, I find it astonishing that Greta, acting as my attorney, didn’t accompany me to a single debriefing. At the time, however, I was very naïve, and I was merely following directions to avoid imprisonment.

After my “debriefings,” I met with Greta approximately once a week. Our discussions gradually began to transcend my legal predicament, and we started to talk about various aspects of our personal lives. Greta eventually told me that she was a Scientologist. I had never met a Scientologist before, so I was both surprised and intrigued by her disclosures about Scientology. At Greta’s behest, I found myself on an Oklahoma-bound flight to Scientology’s Narconon rehab in early 1991. Scientology’s Narconon rehab was located near Newkirk, Oklahoma. Although I’ve never suffered from chemically dependency, I had a well-founded distrust of the government’s intent. So I hoped that graduating from Scientology’s Narconon program would demonstrate to Judge Greene that I had made an assiduous effort to turn around my life, and I would receive leniency from him even if the government reneged on its proposed agreement with me.

I was on the plains of Oklahoma for approximately seven months, and Narcanon ultimately turned out to be a Scientology boot camp, which started to thoroughly brain wash me. I’ll admit that my brain needed a little washing, but I liken Scientology to very high-powered bleach. (My sojourn through Scientology will be addressed in a separate blog.)

Greta and Me Part 3

The Secret Service agents drove me to D.C.’s federal courthouse, and they silently ushered me through courthouse. After the Secret Service agents booked me, I was deposited in a holding cell that held around 20 inmates. The altered state that I had experienced in the Secret Service sedan was punctured by the harsh reality of the holding cell. I had been there for a couple of hours when a pair a U.S. marshals retrieved me. The marshals had the same stern demeanor as the Secret Service agents as they escorted me to a courtroom. As I entered, I noticed my mother standing next to an African-American man in his mid-thirties. He was a bail bondsman who Greta had introduced to my mother. The marshals escorted me past my teary-eyed mother to the defense table where Greta stood.

Shortly after I seated myself, Judge Harold Greene strolled into the courtroom. The 67-year-old Greene was short and compact. He had a black comb over, and he wore large brown-framed glasses. When Judge Greene seated himself at the bench, he leafed through my indictment. Judge Greene was quite surprised that the grand jury had walloped me with a 43-count RICO indictment. RICO is an acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and it was originally designed to dismantle the Mafia, because RICO allows for mob bosses to be tried for crimes that were sanctioned on their behalf. Judge Greene may have been surprised by my RICO indictment, but I nearly fainted. I was staring at 295 years in a federal prison!

After Judged Greene voiced his astonishment that a mere prostitution case resulted in a sealed 43-count RICO indictment, Alan Strasser, the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Washington, DC, said something to the effect that my case had special circumstances. Strasser ultimately argued that I should be held without bail, but Greta countered that I wasn’t a flight risk, and I had voluntarily surrendered myself shortly after being notified of the indictment. Judge Greene granted me bail, and I was released on a $30,000 surety bond.

Growing Up Gay in Rural West Virginia

Growing up gay in Nolan, West Virginia, which is in the heart of Appalachia, during the 1960s was like being banished to one of the inner circles of Dante’s inferno. Pop culture has eschewed the theme of homosexuality in Appalachia except for the film Deliverance, which isn’t a very encouraging depiction.

At the age of six, I started attending Nolan Elementary School. The school was a three-story cinderblock building, and each grade huddled into a single classroom. My first grade classroom had green walls, unfinished wood floors, and a single window. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Reed, was short and overweight. She had an alabaster face, and a thick mane of black hair. Mrs. Reed looked like she applied her mottled makeup with a trowel, and she wore very bright, red lipstick, which imparted the facial appearance of a circus clown.

Mrs. Reed was kind and warm-hearted, but she occasionally remarked that I was “too pretty to be a boy.” Her remarks cut like a dagger, even though I had absolutely no awareness of my homosexuality when I was six years old.

The remainder of elementary school was very difficult for me, because a gaggle of fifth- and sixth-graders started to bully me. They said I looked like a girl or talked like a girl. They would routinely shove me as I walked down the hallway. At recess, I was especially prone to being bullied, and I quickly learned not to stray too far from our teacher.

Elementary school, unfortunately, was merely a dress rehearsal for high school. As a freshman at Williamson High School, I was repeatedly called a “faggot” and “queer,” and during class I would be subjected to barrages of spitballs. I quickly discovered that I was especially vulnerable to being beaten up and bullied in the bathroom, so I absolutely avoided the bathroom during the break between classes, using it only when excused during class time.

Although it was in vogue to ridicule me at high school, two of my fellow freshmen, Jimmy and Rod, took considerable glee in my torment. Jimmy was short and chubby, and Rod was tall, slender, and handsome. Jimmy’s father owned a grocery store, and he wore stylish clothes that included a seemingly endless array of Polo shirts. Despite Jimmy’s dapper exterior, he had a molten rage roiling inside of him. I’ll never understand if it was nature or nurture or, perhaps, both that filled Jimmy with such hatred.

A month or so into my freshman year, I wandered into the bathroom after school had been adjourned for the day, so I presumed I would be safe. But Jimmy and Rod suddenly bounded into the bathroom and blocked the door. They roughed me up, and Jimmy said, “I know you want me.” As they paused to laugh and admire their handiwork, I bolted out of bathroom. After that experience, I would only use the bathrooms in an adjacent building that housed the school’s administrative offices.

Despite feeling like an utter outcast at Williamson High School, I mustered the pluck to sign up for the school band in my freshman year. Although my forte was the piano, I had also learned to play the trumpet and the band needed trumpet players. In addition to being taunted by the boys in the band, the band director, who also coached various sports, ridiculed me too. After he started to habitually call me a “sissy,” I quit the band. Because high school was so difficult for me, I was an average student.

When I was fifteen, I belatedly came to the realization that I was gay. I say belatedly, because it was quite evident to everyone else around me. The primary reason I locked away my homosexuality in the distant recesses of my mind is that every Sunday morning I attended Nolan Freewill Baptist Church, where it was emphatically declared that homosexuality was unequivocally evil and every homosexual had a one-way, non-stop ticket to hell. My father’s credo, which was nearly indistinguishable from that of the Ku Klux Klan, also deemed homosexuals to be the most malignant form of life on the planet. Although I had become extremely incredulous of the beliefs expounded by Nolan Freewill Baptist Church and by my father, their opinions regarding homosexuality had nonetheless left an indelible blueprint on my young psyche.

I graduated from high school with minimal fanfare—I didn’t even attend the graduation ceremony. As a pre-graduation present, my mother bought me a red Toyota Celica that I drove back and forth from school in the latter half of my senior year, and I was ecstatic to see Williamson High School ebbing in its rearview mirror on my final day of high school. I had never managed to shake the overwhelming angst that seized me each morning when I awoke to attend one more day at Williamson High School—I felt like I was waking up in the middle of traffic every morning.