London Calling




Chad Brian's presence reminded me why I was here in San Francisco. "Hiding Out" wasn't about a pop star or money. Nor was "Hiding Out" (and, later, Hidden) about "issues" — safe houses, runaway youth, reparative therapy. "Hiding Out" — and now Hidden — was always about survival and survivors. I'd always kept my distance from the kids, convincing myself it had something to do with "impartiality." Yet on some level I knew from whence those detached feelings sprang — I just couldn't deal with their source. Namely, all my buried feelings of shame and self-loathing that were triggered every time I dealt with the kids. They were, in essence, reminders of the passage of time and the unacknowledged reality that certain facts of my life were immutable, and still very much alive.

As time passed and I disengaged from the safe house story, another question emerged: Would I ever truly be free of the persistent feeling that I'd failed? Because I was dogged by the feeling that, despite all my best efforts and good intentions, I'd failed the kids. Because, really, nothing had changed. I'd spent a chunk of my life on something for results that were at best indefinable.

Curiously, it was only when I turned away from nonfiction and wrote (the fictional) Hidden that I was finally able to face the truth. A truth that had nothing to do with the safe house story's failure to change laws or the underwhelming response of the LGBT "community." Often I blamed the (adult) LGBT community, who either couldn't deal with its own deeply buried pain (everyone who's gay was a gay youth). Or, in my then still young mind, turned me into an observer of "adult" issues braided with pleasure and death (the AIDS epidemic was then in full swing.)

Years later, when I opened my first copy of Hidden, I read the first lines— "I am high" —and was finally able to see the truth of what I'd been searching for all those years. Safe / House — or, like everyone from Odysseus to Dorothy, safety and home. For me, the safe house story had been my personal search for redemption — ultimately, not for "the kids," but my own still broken teenage self.

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Tags: Books