A Child's Journey of Hope, Search, Discovery and Healing


On June 4, 1968, I was a young man of Boys Town. On June 5, 1968, I was a young man on his own.

I took my one way bus ticket and returned for a visit to the Monshors in Detroit. During this trip Robert Kennedy was shot and killed in Los Angeles. "Bobby" had visited Boys Town just days prior to my graduation. His assassination brought back memories of hearing of John Kennedy's assassination while I sat in a 8th grade science class at Boys Town; how we were rushed immediately to the chapel to pray for our president and after his death, how we all sat silently watching the events unfold on a small black/white television screen. Only two months prior, Dr. Martin Luther King was also assassinated. THIS WAS THE WORLD BOYS TOWN SENT ME OUT INTO!

After returning to Omaha to work for the summer at a local Ford dealer, a classmate of mine (Renato) and I decided to get an apartment together for the summer. I couldn't really call it an apartment as it really was a dump! It contained a kitchen of decent size, a bathroom and a semi-large room that a divider had been placed down the middle of to make a small living room and smaller bedroom. It came furnished with old furniture. This we were to call "home" for the summer. In July I lost my job and ended up spending the balance of the summer on the streets surviving in anyway I could..

In late August, 1968, just before the start of what was to be my frshman year in college I had second thoughts about college and attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army, thinking it would be a better place for me as it provided a degree of regimen that Boys Town had. I did not feel comfortable having the total freedom I had desired...some say I was "institutionalized."

I passed all the tests prior to induction and was told to report the following Monday for my physical and departure to boot camp. The physical went smoothly, as I was in good shape for an eighteen year old; until it came to my eye exam. I failed the eye test. I had been born with a "lazy eye" meaning it roamed but also, I was born for, all intents and purposes, legally blind in that eye...left (now 20/400). I was reclassified and told to go back to what I had planned as my services would not be needed....thus ended my almost military career.

As a child I had five surgeries, on my left eye in an attempt to correct it. I have no memory of the surgeries but they are part of my records. I do remember, however, at 5 and 6 years old having to wear a patch over my "good eye" when watching television or reading at night for an hour in yet another attempt to correct it. It failed as the surgeries did.

I was warned early, that due to the stress on the right eye because of the left eye problems, I would eventually see a diminishing of my right eye. This has proven to be true, as today my right eye is 20/200. I have started wearing bifocals, since without them, I would be totally unable to read or be at this computer composing this web site. My vision seems to have stabilized now, but in time, further diminishment may occur...just another fact of life I may have to deal with. However, I digress :)

I entered Midland Lutheran College in the fall of that year on a debate/cross country scholarship. I think the school either was confused or made an exception for me as though I had run track I had never competed in cross country.

I was off and running in college life. Within a few weeks of classes starting, I had decided to once again enter the political arena and run for Freshman Class President. This time you had to first get enough votes to be nominated and actually run a campaign. I did not receive enough votes to be placed on the ballot, but those who supported me insisted I run as a write-in candidate. I spent two weeks making signs, posting posters and talking to whoever I could stop and get to talk with me. I ended up losing in a very close vote. I decided maybe politics was not for me; thus, in just a matter of months, both my military and political careers came to an abrupt halt.

Two experiences stand out in my college career. The first happened within a month or so of my entering college. I received a phone call late one evening from a Mrs. Robert Wagner. She indicated she had been a foster parent who cared for me as a small youngster and had something that belonged to me. I told her that "parents weekend" was coming up and if she wanted, she could come and visit me then...she readily agreed. I must tell you that I had no recollection whatsoever of her.

Mrs. Wagner arrived early on the Saturday afternoon of parents weekend. She had a check for me in the amount of $1,000.00 which came from a savings bond bought for me when she and her husband cared for me and said it was rightfully mine.

Mrs. Wagner seemed rather distant and cold. She would only talk in the lobby of the dorm in which I was living and would not attend the football game. She spent only a few hours at school before arranging to return to Omaha to catch a plane back to Detroit.

I wrote her after her visit to thank her for the funds which were much needed by me. I never heard from her again.

Years later, I found records indicating that she had been a "boarding parent," which means "foster parent." I have spoken to others just recently that have a different bend on the situation...which I tend to agree with.

I stayed with the Wagner's for 16 months between age 2-4. It is extremely unusual for foster parents to purchase a savings bond, unless an adoption was planned, while caring for a foster child. Also, I was now 18 and had not heard from the Wagner's in 14 years. She also had to spend time in finding out what happened to me during those 14 years since I left her home; contact Catholic Social Services, Boys Town and finally Midland Lutheran College. No ordinary foster parent, would go through all this. It is felt that the Wagner's could have been prospective "adoptive parents," who, for whatever reason after a period of time, could not follow through on the adoption. However, after realizing I was now 18 and considered an adult she wanted to see for herself what happened to me; how I turned out. Once that was determined by her visit with me, her curiosity was satisfied and she was ready to move on.

The second experience that stands out of my college days; my needing to accept myself as the person I am! I had, as many young boys do, experimented with other boys, but never seriously considered myself a homosexual or gay, as it is called today. I had dated girls, and yes, I was sexually active in my senior year of high school.

However, a question of my sexual identity haunted me throughout my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was tormented by even the thought that I might possibly be gay....as I had been throughout my years at Boys Town, from time to time. I had to find the answer to the question: AM I GAY?

In answering this question please let me make it clear...this is NOT an attempt to convince anyone on this subject...it is MY answer! You have a right to disagree with me and I know many will...however, this is my story and not yours. Please respect my opinions as I will respect yours and your right to express them

If you are heterosexual and reading this; stop and think....WHEN DID YOU DECIDE YOU WERE HETEROSEXUAL? Was there a moment in your life when you said "I will choose to be heterosexual" or did it come naturally? I believe if you are honest with yourself, you will answer there was no moment and that it just came naturally.

I believe I too was born who I am. I was born gay. Just as you cannot pinpoint a day or moment you made the decision to be heterosexual neither did I wake one day and decide...I am going to be gay! I did not choose to be gay...it came naturally...though I fought and battled it for many years until accepting who I was. In truthfulness I have thought I might be gay since I was 7...but did not accept it. It is not choosing to be gay that a gay person does...it is rather accepting yourself, as a gay person!

Think for a moment: who in their right mind would choose to be gay considering the following:

Being gay can mean a life of verbal insults and abuse by others

Being gay can mean being the subject of physical assaults

Being gay can mean death at the hands of another for simply being who you are

Being gay can mean the loss of a job or housing...it can't happen to you but it can to me!

Being gay can mean rejection by your family and friends. My birth mother wishes I would contract AIDS so I would die rather than she have a gay son

Being gay can mean being rejected by those who have never even taken the time to get to know you, except they have found out you are gay.

You can earn a bachelor degree online by taking classes from an accredited online university. Further your education with a degree from the best online universities on the Internet.

NO, no one would choose to be gay considering the world that awaits them!

We do however, in many cases, go through the struggle of accepting who we are. I did! Despite thinking at age 7 I was gay, I rejected it. It went against anything I had been taught. Yes, I was raised that to be gay was wrong, it was a sin and it was sick. I sought counseling and was told I wasn't gay, but only going through a phase and would grow out of it. Years later, I am still waiting to grow out of it. I was told I would meet the "right girl" and she would change me. I was told by my parish priest I would be condemned to hell. To make everyone happy, and I thought myself, I dated girls in high school and early years of college all the time knowing I might be lying to them, as well as myself. I came close to marrying one of those girls...what a life of hell I would have put her through, if it had happened. I remember the first time a fellow student called me a "FAG"...it was like a dagger through the heart...I didn't want to be one of them!!! I played sports and was active in many student activities, like other students....yet inside, I knew somehow I was different.

In 1970, at the age of 20, after years of struggle and torment, it all became too much for me to bear. I attempted suicide. If my college roommate had not found me, I would have died. I spent the night alone, drinking "boilermakers", "whiskey sours" to wash down the "pills." I went along until I overdosed, and went into convulsions and then lapsed into a coma. He had me rushed to the hospital where they pumped my stomach. I lay in a coma for over 2 days, teetering on the brink of death. Suddenly, I came out of it. The doctors indicated if my roommate had found me but 10 minutes later than he did, I would have died there on the dorm room floor of alcohol poisoning and overdosing...as I had planned.

All the pain, hurt, confusion and torment that had been there before remained. Luckily, the therapist I went to afterwards understood where I had come from and where I was at in my life. Her words of: "You are who you are, accept it...embrace it...be who you are" had an impact me. I will however, never forget her other words which changed my life: "JESUS LOVES YOU JUST AS YOU ARE...YOU ARE WHAT HE CREATED!!"

I was born gay...all I had to do was accept who I was born as and live my life to reach the fullest of my potential and desires!

That was years ago. Six months later, I met the person who would become my partner for the next 22 years. I had what every person desires in life; a loving, caring, faithful relationship. As every couple, we worked, we paid our taxes, we tried to make our community better. The desires of life are no different for gays than that of heterosexuals. Unfortunately, as in some heterosexual relationships...my partner and I separated in 1992.

In the years that have passed, I have suffered verbal abuse, been physically assaulted and rejected by many. I have been preached against. I have had political leaders try to make me a second class citizen. I have felt the pain of seeing other gays killed...as Matthew Shepherd. I know of gay teens who have committed suicide. I have borne the sorrow of losing 141 of my friends, including some of my closest to AIDS.

Despite all this; though the scars borne of the past, have not, nor will not, ever completely heal...I am happy with who I am, where I am at and where I am going. I am now able to be honest about who I am, not only with others, but most importantly, with myself!

Just as many were born heterosexual, some of us were also born gay. We are no different from anyone, except for the gender of the partner with whom we share our beds. I have the same goals and desires that you do; a chance to live my life without fear, a loving partner to share my life with and to reach the fullest of my potential.

I ask for no special rights...just the same rights as any other person...to be accepted as a full member of the human race, with my good points, as well as my faults. Just as the late Dr. Martin Luther King asked, I too ask: "Judge me not on my sexual orientation, but on the content on my character."

Yes, this is my story, but it is also the story of millions of other gays and lesbians. They realize who they are, they struggle with it, they finally accept. They go about their lives, as does the rest of society, as best they can. Millions of us could walk down the street to work each day and you would never know we were gay unless you asked. We do not fit the stereotype image that the media, preachers and politicians have portrayed us to be. We are your sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, your next door neighbors and friends. We come is all sizes, colors, religions and every walk of life. We ask only the same rights and protection of others, so we too may realize the dreams of our lives!

Resolving this issue in my life allowed me finish my college career in 1972 with a degree, majoring in Business Administration. It was time for my partner and me to go make a life for ourselves.





























Used copies of "LOST SON?" only may be ordered through Amazon.com, B&N.com and other major online book retailers since as of August 1, 2007, book is no longer being published.



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