Castle Roland

Trials and Tribulations

by Billy

In Progress

Chapter 12

Posted: N/A

Trials and Tribulations

By Billy

Answered Prayers

We played a two hour game of cut-throat Risk, which I won. It was just too easy when I started off with most of North America from the draw of cards, but, I took it easy and kinda toyed with them until Roger, who started with Australia, tried to take over Asia. After the game, Aunt Alice fixed us hotdogs and chips for dinner. We took off for my house, after we ate, to watch some movies. Roger picked out Cowboys & Aliens. Roger has always been a Sci-Fi and Horror freak. If the movie didn't have vampires, werewolves, aliens, long-dead dinosaurs, or magic, it had to be about sports, or he didn't like it. I didn't care about the genre as long it was a good story.

We piled on my bed with me in the middle again. Roger got comfortable and held onto the remote for the movie. Meanwhile, Joey snuggled up to me and I wrapped my arm around his shoulders as he nuzzled his head between my chin and right shoulder. Right then and there, I finally realized as I held Joey close that the scent I had come to associate with him had to be his shampoo. It had a vague aroma of strawberries, which I really like. As I lay there holding him close to me, I inhaled deeply, allowing what I termed the 'Essence of Joey' to surround me.

I heard both of them giggling. "What?" I looked at both of them.

Roger smirked and elbowed me in the ribs. "Are you smelling him?"

"Well," I paused, trying to sound like I did nothing unusual. "Hell yeah, I was. What?" I looked back and forth between them and they started to laugh. So, in my defense, I admitted, "He smells good. I love his shampoo." I blushed.

"Awww, Andy." Joey purred, as he turned his head and kissed me on my cheek. Roger just rolled his eyes.

A smile lit my face like Times Square. Yes! Score one for me.

After snuggling with Joey and watching the movie for about twenty minutes or so, I thought I recognized an actor.

"Isn't that the old dude from that last Indiana Jones movie? You know the movie about a crystal skull, what's his name, uh, Harrison Ford?" I asked elbowing Roger.

"Yes, in fact, he was Indiana Jones in all the Indy movies, and he was also in the first Star Wars movies." Roger smiled, showing off his movie knowledge. "I think I read somewhere once where a lot of gay boys were all hot and bothered over him back in the day. Is that why you remember him?"

"Okay smart ass, what other movies was him in?" I was only slightly annoyed by his last comment, because for an old dude he was sorta hot.

"Well, he was in Blade Runner, Witness, Patriot Games, The Fugitive, Air Force One," Roger continued to name films looking smugly at me, "and Six Days Seven Nights, to just name a few."

"And who is all hot and bothered, and knows everything about Mr. Ford?" I grinned.

"Shut up!" Roger grabbed a pillow and smacked me with it, as he realized I had set him up.

I chuckled to myself, 'Andy two, Roger zero'.

"Play nice." Joey said, turning his head to look up at me with a smile. I rolled my eyes, but smiled back at Joey and nodded.

I thought of the three of us laying there on my bed, what an awesome picture that would make. Then I remembered I wanted to take a bunch of pictures of Joey.

Kissing the top of Joey's head, "Joey, let me up. I need to talk to dad for a sec."

He rose up off of me so I could get up, and I took off to find my dad to take some pictures for us. I knew the camera was ready since I checked it the other night. All I needed was my Dad.

First, I checked his bedroom, but he wasn't there, so I headed downstairs. I wandered into the kitchen, but Dad wasn't there either. While in the kitchen, I checked the clock and noticed it was only seven-thirty. I figured, even if it was a Saturday, he was probably working on court stuff, so he would more than likely be in his office.

The door to his office was closed, so I knocked before I opened it. When I looked in he was on the phone, but he motioned for me to come on in. I took a seat in front of his desk. I couldn't be sure, but it seemed he was talking to someone about Joey's parents. Before I could understand what the call was about, Dad ended the call.

"What can I do for you Andy?" Dad asked, while closing a folder on his desk.

"I need a couple of favors Dad. First, will you take us to church tomorrow? We talked with Pastor Irvin today and Joey seems comfortable with him. I liked him too." I paused, and Dad sat back smiling. He nodded his consent, so I continued. "When we were at Joey's house the other day getting his clothes and things, I noticed the house was full of pictures, but there were none of Joey anywhere, not one. The second favor is I want fix that." I paused while I figured out what to tell Dad. I didn't want to out myself to Dad, at least not without talking to Joey first. I figured that I would borrow Roger's act and used my sad puppy dog eyes as I continued. "We were lying in my bed just now watching movies and I thought that would make a great picture, but, if one of us took it, one of us would be missing from the picture. So, would you mind taking a couple of pictures for us?"

When I finished, Dad laughed at my attempt to be coy. He sat smiling, and shook his head like I'd lost my mind. When he finished laughing, he finally spoke.

"Of course I wouldn't mind doing things like that for you boys."

I hadn't moved, and I think Dad could sense I had more to say, because he just sat there waiting on me to decide.

"Joey, Roger, and I have been talking about the family meeting last night, and we are a little worried about how concerned you and Aunt Alice appeared," I paused and looked Dad in the eyes as I asked, "What is it we aren't being told?"

"I've already told you about the history of the McCray family. I also told you JT's dad was recently in my court room, and as a judge, I sometimes have to make rulings that can anger some of the people involved. That's my concern."

I watched as Dad sat back in his chair, closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. Reopening his eyes, he leaned forward, clasping his hands in front of him, while focusing on me. My heart began to beat a bit faster as he looked me in the eyes and began telling a story I'd never heard before.

"Andy, there are things in this world that are hard to explain without experiencing them for yourself." Dad looked out the window and he seemed lost in thought. "Your mother's family has lived in this area for a very long time. Did you learn in school the history of this area, as far as who settled it?" Dad turned his attention back on me and I just slowly shook my head no. "I better fill you in then. A lot of Irish and Scottish immigrants settled here in the seventeen hundreds, leaving the east coast and shall we say, the modern ways." Dad seemed to sense my confusion and paused. "Let's say they came west to so they could practice the ways of the old country."

"What do you mean by that?" I stared at dad in confusion, trying to grasp what he was telling me.

"Have you heard of the druids, Andy?"

"Do you mean the religion?"

"I know you have heard of Merlin." Dad smiled.

"Yes. He was a druid?"

"Yes, he was one of many druids. A druid is a priest or priestess of an ancient Gaelic religion that predates the Roman conquest of the British Isles. It is still practiced today, although not to the same extent that it once was." Dad sat back a moment. I could tell he was simply laying out the groundwork so that I'd be better able to understand the details when they came up later, just like he used to do in the courtroom before he became a judge.

"Your mother's family can trace their ancestry back to Ireland to a time before Christ was born. There are people still living here in the mountains that can also trace their lineage back to those times as well. And some of them still practice the old traditions. When they first moved here, a tribe of Shawnee Indians was already here. Daniel Boone, a person I know you have heard of, was a friend of the Shawnees, and he had been the person that had shown the first settlers how to get into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap, down at Middlesboro. Daniel introduced the settlers here in Letcher County to the Shawnees, and the two groups made fast friends because of their mutual respect for nature and their common religious beliefs." Dad stopped and took a drink of water.

While Dad took a drink, I considered what he had said so far. My mother's family might have been druids? That wasn't something you learned every day, but I knew Dad wasn't done with his lessons yet.

"The traditions of the old country, and the Shawnee's traditions were shared among the two groups and they grew in knowledge. Over the years, most of what was learned has been lost. So now, there are only a few women that continue the old traditions today; they are known as 'granny witches'."

All this talk about the settlers, granny witches, and Indians left me wondering if he was ever going to answer my question. Hell, I wasn't even sure if I even remembered what my question was.

"I have always believed that God isn't restricted as to how He can work His will. Through experiences I've had with your mother's family, I have learned to listen, with an open mind, to any advice given; and I have been advised that our family will soon come under attack. Andy, when I say family, I am including Steve, Alice, Roger and now, Joey," Dad said, pausing briefly for emphasis. "Now, there are many ways that one can be attacked. What we asked you to do will help keep you away from physical harm. As for other ways of attack, I will do everything in my power to make sure we are all protected." Dad gave me a weary half-smile, trying to reassure me that everything would be alright, and that we would all make it through this safely. "For now, that's all I'm going to say on this subject."

"Okay Dad. I'm not sure that I understand everything you told me concerning mom's family, witches, and wizards, but I won't worry about that right now. I promise to do what you have asked us to do, and I understand better now why you were so worried."

"Great! Now, let's go take some pictures." Dad smiled, got up from behind his desk, and followed me back up to my room.

Dad spent the next half-hour clicking away as the three of us struck all sorts of poses and goofed around. Eventually he gave up and set the camera down.

"Okay, boys, I have some more work to finish. Don't stay up too late."

Once Dad headed back to his office, we took turns with the camera. I took twenty or so pictures of Joey, then ten more of Joey and Roger together. Then Roger was sweet enough to take about a dozen of Joey and me together next. I was surprised, but by the time we were done, we had about eighty pictures which I uploaded to my PC. We then sat down, and I had Joey to pick out the ones he wanted copies of and e-mailed them to him, then repeated the process with Roger. Finally, I picked out some and sent them to my Wal-Mart account to have several prints made of all of us together, along with a special one of Joey and me.

While we were looking through the photos we wanted, I was trying to figure out how much of what Dad had told me I was going to pass on to Roger and Joey. I decided to keep it simple and to tell them only what I fully understood. Which, to be honest, wasn't much. We talked about it for a while and decided to just do as we were asked, since it didn't really change our daily routines anyways.

By the time we finished talking, it was nearly ten o'clock. Joey and Roger decided they wanted to head home to make sure they had clothes ready for church, take a shower, and get to bed early.

Roger gave me a hug and took off, leaving Joey and I alone. I wanted to give Joey a huge hug and a kiss, but I was still worried about his back.

"How's your back doing Joey?" I asked as I walked up to him.

"It's a lot better today, but I forgot to change bandages before we came over here." He looked down at the floor like he had been caught doing something bad.

"Awe Joey, I'm so sorry that I forgot." I thought I'd take the blame so he wouldn't feel bad about it. "But you can have Aunt Alice change them for you before you take a shower. A couple of hours shouldn't make that much of a difference."

I hooked my index finger under his chin so I could look directly into his eyes. When he looked at me, he had that mischievous smile of his and I knew that I had been had. "You played me, huh?"

He leaned in, and as his lips brushed mine, I wrapped my arms around his neck. His lips press harder and his passion built, as he wrapped his arms around my waist. Our mouths opened slightly, our tongues met, and battled for control. This was new for Joey, and I decided to submit to him by sucking his tongue as I would if it was little Joey in my mouth. He pushed his groin into mine, causing little Mikey to stand up and pay attention to what was happening. Then, Joey slid his hand down and cupped my ass cheeks in his hands and squeezed. Oh my God, I think that caused me to make wet spot the size of a silver dollar on my shorts. I was starting to lose control. I pushed back against him, grinding our hard throbbing cocks together as I deepened our kiss. He sucked my tongue into his mouth and gave it the same treatment I had given his. My knees weakened and I fell back onto my bed pulling Joey on top of me. He slid his hands up the front of my shirt. As he moved them to my quarter-size nipples he was grinding our cocks together harder. Suddenly, like he had been hit with an ice ray from Mr. Freeze, he froze.

"Oh God, Andy! I'm so sorry." Joey was almost in tears.

"What are you sorry for? I loved what we were doing." I said softly, as I gently rubbed his neck reassuringly.

"We agreed to go slow and I allowed myself to lose control," Joey said, with his voice breaking as emotions overtook him, and he refused to look at me.

"Joey, if we ever start doing something that I don't want to do, believe me, I would stop it and tell you I didn't want to do it. I was fine with what WE were doing."

Joey was still laying on top on me, and I could feel him trembling. I reached my hand up to cup his cheek as I kissed his sweet lips. He returned the kiss but he was beginning to pull away from me.

"I need to get going," he said rolling off me and standing up. He hurriedly wiped his tears away and got ready to head out the door.

"Joey," I said, stopping him as I grabbed his wrist before he could take off. He turned to look at me. "Please don't be upset. You didn't do anything that I wasn't willing to do. Okay babe?"

Joey nodded and grinned. "I love it when you call me babe."

I stood up and he gave me a beautiful, soft, good-bye kiss. Just before he walked out of my bedroom, he turned and gave me a cute little wave with a dazzling smile. When he turned and left, I noticed that those tight sweats he was wearing left little to the imagination. No wonder I could feel all of his manhood when he was grinding into me. I closed my eyes and fell backwards onto my bed as visions of Joey's sweet butt filled my mind.

I slept like a baby that night, and my dreams were filled with me and Joey doing all sorts of dirty things to each other. I'm sure that if I told Joey half of what I dreamt we did together, he would feel really guilty. Needless to say, I woke up a sticky mess and had to change my sheets. I just hoped that Dad wouldn't notice.

Dad and me met Joey, Roger, Uncle Steve, and Aunt Alice outside the church before service. Every Sunday, everyone seems to gather outside after Sunday school until about five minutes before church started. When I got to Joey and Roger, Sarah and Mary Tillman were talking to them.

"Hey Andy," Roger said, noticing me for the first time. "About time you got here."

"Hey guys. Good morning, Sarah, Mary; and I had to wait on Dad, Roger." I smiled at Joey and tried to be calm.

About that time, Dad walked by and gave me a little pat on the back of my head.

"That's not true. Someone had to change clothes four times before we could leave, and it wasn't me." Dad smiled before walking on.

"Well, I had to look my best for church, you know." I was trying to play it off, but I could tell the four of them weren't buying it. At least Sarah and Mary didn't know why.

Thankfully, the girls walked off to join their parents. As they walked away, Mary whispered something to Sarah and giggled. Sarah looked back at us and blushed before she covered her mouth and whispered something back to Mary, which left them both in stitches. I hadn't forgotten that Sarah was asking questions about Joey last week at the bus stop. I knew I had a hot boyfriend, and I intended on keeping him.

We finally went inside and all sat together in the third pew from the front. Uncle Steve sat on one end, followed by Aunt Alice, Roger, Joey, me, and finally Dad.

Soon the service began; the choir welcomed everyone with songs, and then led the entire congregation in a couple of songs. Things continued along until a Deacon offered a prayer and instructed the ushers to begin to collect the offering. I noticed Joey was squirming a little, and I realized that he probably didn't have any money on him. I didn't want to see him upset, so I quickly reached into my billfold and discreetly handed him a ten. He turned with a smile, and I winked at him. Joey blushed and mouthed a "thank you." Happy to have made him smile, I mouthed back, "You're welcome."

Looking at him, I wondered what it had been like for him in the past, being the son of a minister. I hoped he had some good memories of church, but the stories he had told me so far seemed more like a horror story. Yet, his strong faith had to mean he did have some good times, even though he had an evil man for a father and minister.

After the offering was taken up, Pastor Irvin walked to the pulpit, and welcomed everyone to church this morning, made some announcements, including what time the youth group for teens would meet that afternoon, and began his sermon.

"My sermon this morning will be taken from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 22, and Verses 36 through 40. Please rise and join me in prayer."

I have to admit that I didn't start out listening very closely to his words, but I started paying attention when Pastor Irvin started saying things like, "open our hearts with your love; let us hear your message with love; let every man, woman, and child know that you love them just as they were born; let them be filled with love."

Pastor Irvin instructed everyone to take their seats. "As Jesus sat teaching in the temple, the Sadducees and Pharisees tried to entangle and tempt Him with their questioning in Matthew, Chapter 22, and Verse 36 through 38.

"A lawyer asked Jesus, Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?

"Jesus said onto him, Thou shalt love the Lord Thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

"I knew a man once that loved to golf. He was on his high school golf team and earned a scholarship to play at a fine university. He was almost, but not quite, good enough to turn pro after college. Yet he didn't care, because he played for the love of the game. While at college, he met a beautiful girl and they were married shortly after they graduated. However, his love of golf never diminished, and he could be found on the golf course most of his free time. Luckily, he had a very loving and understanding wife. She loved him so much that she was willing to let him enjoy what he loved to do without ever complaining.

"One day, after a routine doctor's visit, she was called to return to the doctor for a follow-up. The doctor had devastating news for her; she had been diagnosed with stage-four cancer, and the prognosis was not good. The man stopped playing golf and spent every free moment that she had left with her, because he loved her more than anything else on this earth. Not even golf was more important to him. Just as his wife never complained about his golfing, because she had loved him with all of her heart and wanted him to be happy, he put her needs and desires over his for the same reason, and never complained about giving it up. Putting someone ahead of our own desires is love. God loves us and He expects us to put his will ahead of our own. His will be done."

The pastor took a moment and I was shocked how passionately he was speaking. This sermon was about love but he was speaking about it in a way I'd never heard before. I couldn't wait to hear what else he had to say.

"Jesus had more to say to the Pharisees:

"And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

"If we follow these two commandments, and accept Jesus as the Son of God, then we are right with God. But I say to you, my brothers and sisters, how can we be right with God if we do not love our neighbors as ourselves? For if we hate a man because of the color of his skin, we have not the love of God in us, because that man is our neighbor, and we are breaking one of the two great commandments.

"Jesus came to fulfill the Mosaic Law, the law handed to Moses. When Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, 'Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.' Once Jesus fulfilled them through His sacrifice, He had already given us the two commandments to follow. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love the rest of God's children, your neighbor, as you love yourself. Think about it for a moment. If you love someone, would you steal from them? If you love someone, would to lie about them? If you truly love someone, would you kill them? No, you would not."

Wow! Pastor Irvin really did get it. Listening to the pastor I couldn't help but look at the people most important to me. Dad was engrossed in the Pastor's sermon, and Joey seemed ready to cry. Even Aunt Alice, Uncle Steve, and Roger seemed affected by Pastor Irvin's sermon.

"Now I ask you, if you love someone, would you persecute them for who they love? What gives us the right to condemn a person for loving another human being? God made us as we are, and God doesn't make mistakes. Love is the greatest power in the universe; God is love. For as long as I am the pastor of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church, I will not turn anyone away because they are gay or lesbian. For we are ALL God's children and I shall not judge."

I have never been so shocked in my whole life as the entire church stood up clapping and saying amen. I was so glad Joey had asked us to come this morning.

I looked over at Joey and saw he had tears flowing down his face. That's when I first noticed that my face was wet with tears as well. I could feel the love coming from the entire congregation that morning. God's love was descending on us all like a dove. My dad pulled me into a hug, and I noticed that everyone was hugging each other excitedly as I looked around the sanctuary. I let go of my dad and turned to Joey, who had just finished hugging Roger. We threw ourselves into each other's arms in a hug like I had never experienced before. Our tears of joy and happiness mixed as our cheeks rested against one another. Mr. Horn was right; we did have support in Pine Hills. In fact, it appeared we had a whole church-full, but I still wasn't ready to out myself or Joey.

Pastor Irvin was smart enough to know this was a good place to end his sermon and quickly ended the service. As the choir was singing the final song, Pastor Irvin made his way to the door to shake everyone's hand as they left the church.

Dad was the first of our group to reach Pastor Irvin. I could hear the pastor tell him that he was glad to see Dad this morning, and hoped to see him more often. Dad assured him that he most certainly would.

"It's good to see you this morning Andy," Pastor Irvin said reaching for my hand, "I hope you enjoyed the sermon this morning?" He asked, with a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eye.

"Yes Sir," I smiled. "I really did like it and I'll definitely be back."

Joey was next in line to shake hands. I could see him trembling, and I wasn't sure why. The pastor reached out to shake Joey's hand but instead found himself pulled into a hug by Joey. I could barely hear Joey whisper a 'Thank you'. I was relieved that Joey was just still emotional from the sermon. I had worried that something was wrong.

When Joey and I got to the sidewalk, Dad threw his arms around our shoulders.

"What do you boys have planned for today?" Dad asked, giving my shoulder a squeeze as he smiled at me.

"Well, we talked about some stuff, but never decided on anything. Why? Do you have something in mind?"

As I looked over at Dad, I knew he must or he wouldn't have asked. That was the thing about my dad; he always put Mom and me ahead of himself.

"As matter of fact," he explained, "I do. What do you say we all ride over to Norton for some Red Lobster?"

"That would be sweet, dad." I said, just as I realized something. "Do you think we could come back through Flat Gap and stop at the scenic viewing area on Pine Mountain, so I could show Joey a taste of the view we'd get from atop High Rock?"

"If Steve and Alice don't mind, you boys can ride back with me, and we can make a side trip."

Dad stood smiling while we rushed over to talk to Aunt Alice and Uncle Steve. We kept talking over each other, which had them laughing before they finally agreed to our trip. We couldn't wait to get on the road, eat, and see the sights.

And that's what we did. The meal was wonderful and on the way home driving through Flat Gap, I pointed out a trail to High Rock and Bad Branch Falls to Joey. He was taken aback by the view on Pine Mountain when we stopped at the viewing area. You could easily see Pine Mountain junction from where we were which was at least ten miles away and about half a mile below us.

By the time we got home, it was around five o'clock and too late to make it to the church's youth group. Roger called home to let his parents know we were back, and that we were going to watch the baseball game with my dad. Uncle Steve and Aunt Alice came over and brought hamburgers for everyone to eat and watched the game with us.

About half-way through the game I reached a decision. Looking at Joey, who was sitting next to me on the couch, I nodded for him to follow me. I got up without saying a word and headed to my bedroom. When Joey walked in behind me, I closed the door.

"Joey, I think… no, I know… I'm ready, but, I wanted to tell you first," I said excitedly, the words literally rushing out of me.

"Uh Andy, you're ready for what?" He asked, biting his lower lip, as his nerves showed through.

"I'm ready to tell the family about me. I mean, that I'm gay." My palms were drenched with sweat as I anxiously awaited any response from Joey. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally looked up and smiled at me. I figured that I might as well go for broke. "I also would like to tell them about us. What do you think?"

"Are you sure Andy? I mean, there's no go backs once it's done." Joey's voice was strong as he spoke to me. He never once looked away and his hands gripped mine.

Joey looked me in the eyes as if trying to read me. I don't know if he was searching for an answer, or if he was looking to see if I was serious, or what. I just opened myself up and bared my soul to him. He must have found whatever it was that he was looking for, because after a moment, he pulled back and smiled. There was no denying that he wanted me to make a choice that I could live with.

I looked back at him and tried to explain how serious I was. That I wasn't just acting on an impulse.

"Joey, I've thought about it a lot. I know the road we will travel will have bumps, ditches, curves, ups, and downs, but I believe that as long as we stick together, it will be a wonderful journey. First, we know Uncle Steve, Aunt Alice, and Roger have accepted you; then there is what Dad said to me at McDonalds, Mr. Horn's conversation with me on Friday night, and what Pastor Irvin said to us yesterday. Plus, his sermon this morning and the reaction it received were unreal. I think we have support here Joey. Most importantly, I know from the bottom of my heart that I'm ready to tell our loved ones, that I'm totally in love with you, Joseph Matthew Adams."

Joey threw his arms around me and gave me a kiss that just about made me pass out. Yep, I was in love. If what I felt for Joey wasn't love, then there's no such thing. Joey broke the kiss and backed-up just enough so that we could see each other's eyes.

"Andy, if you're sure and you do seem to be," Joey leaned his forehead against mine, looking into my eyes, "then I want to tell them about us, with you."

"Okay, let's get back before they send a search party for us." I stole one more kiss as I grabbed his hand and headed back to our family.

We walked back downstairs, and reclaimed the spaces on the couch that we had vacated. Once we sat down, I looked around the room. Everyone was looking at us, and I knew that this was the moment. I cleared my throat.

"Dad, Aunt Alice, Uncle Steve, I have something to tell you guys. First, Dad I want to tell you I love you very much. I have always been inspired by your honesty, the things you do for others and the love you have always shown me and everyone else that you meet. I'm so proud you're my Father.

"Aunt Alice, you have always been my second mom. When mom died," I paused trying to control the tears that were suddenly threatening to fall. "You where there for me, just like you have always been there for me. I will never forget that. I love you Mom. Uncle Steve, I love you as my second dad, just like Aunt Alice, you have always been there for me too." I paused again to wipe my eyes. Joey reached over and took my hand into his. I looked at him and smiled. He gave me the strength to continue.

"I always knew that I could tell any of you everything, and I always have, at least, until recently." My head dropped from the shame I felt: not for being gay, but for not being honest with them from the beginning, even if I had been scared. Joey squeezed my hand. When I looked up, everyone was staring at me, waiting for me to continue.

"You are my family, the people I turn to for love and support and I haven't been totally honest with you. I hope you will forgive me. The truth is," I paused as I looked at the people I loved the most, realizing that this was much harder than I thought it would be when I had been in the safety of my bedroom. I straightened my back and continued. "I'm gay and I'm in love with Joey and we are together, as a couple. I mean, Joey is my boyfriend and I'm his boyfriend, a couple, umm yes, together."

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