Once they were done with this tactic, Kyle and I reconvened and recounted what had happened. Realizing that we’d had been double-teamed, we left his house livid. We arrived at my home, threw a pizza into the oven and marched down to the basement, which had become the retreat for us and my brother, and popped in the most violent wrestling tape I had. Kyle ended up sleeping on our basement couch, which immediately became his bed for the nights when he simply couldn’t sleep at home, that is to say, nearly every night.

As my family and I provided the stability that Kyle and I needed, he provided the chaos that we all needed. On a family level, things had been stagnant in my house for a long time. The near-fundamentalist Christianity which my brother and I had grown up under had gradually mellowed out to “Well, you still need to go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, but now you can have videogames and cable TV and soda.” The problem was, neither my brother and I really believed what we had been taught any longer, but neither of us really knew how to tell our parents. To top it off, the most diverse friend any of us had brought home was a videogame-obsessed boy whose family was too poor to afford the Ritalin he needed.

Enter Kyle, the Godless queer kid from a broken home. It wasn’t an easy fit at first; when my parents first learned he was gay, they questioned my brother and I to make sure he wasn’t coming on to us or filling our heads with his homosexual propaganda during the long hours we were alone in the basement. When they were finally sure that just hanging around a homo wasn’t going to give their kids ‘the gay’ after all, it seemed to open the floodgates for them. Andrew and I were suddenly able to be much more open with them, they took more of an interest in our friends, and we were given freedoms that were nearly unheard of before, like listening to secular music or watching MTV, even though it was no longer any fun by that time. And these days, my father is an atheist who takes great pleasure in his weekly trips to the local cigar store, and my mother, while still a Christian, goes to church in a bar.

Matt Perry
Happy Families
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