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How a Late-Night Cabaret Saved a Gay Teen Runaway

How a Late-Night Cabaret Saved a Gay Teen Runaway


What happens when you grow up so fast you become an adult while you're still a kid?

Static1Photo by Rachel Robinson

My podcast The Sewers of Paris is all about the entertainment that changed the lives of gay men, and this week my guest is Zak, who was wise beyond his years by the time he was 14. He'd grown up quickly, thanks in part to a young love triangle involving an older boy, inappropriately slutty clothing from Hot Topic, and a secret late-night kiss in Seattle's cruisy Volunteer Park.

The fact that he was raised by a house full of strippers was probably a contributing factor as well.

Zak had barely entered high school when he felt ready to set out on his own and start his own life. He ran away from home and spent the next few years drifting around the Pacific Northwest, constantly changing his name, enrolling in schools and then disappearing, and altering his appearance to stay one step ahead of the people looking for him.

What was he looking for? Himself, and the adult he was about to become (the same thing all teenagers are looking for), and a place where he belonged.

He caught a lucky break one night when he slipped into an otherworldly cabaret show. He was instantly entranced by the seductive band of performers, and wondered if this, at last, was the place where he belonged.

These days, Zak's settled down and started a business. But from his wild teen years, he learned that that while you can grow up fast, you can't rush adulthood.

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