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Jake Carnes

Ms. Frederick

Period 4


To an Outsider,

Names Adrian, though that doesnt really apply to me anymore. I dont go by a

name, but by a label: queer boy. Used to have a family in South Beach [Florida], but

theyre not really my family anymore.

This letter isnt just a letter; rather it is an excerpt from hell. The South Beach

family which conceived me were ones who were proud of being Christians and following

the word of God from the Bible. They all were happy believers of Matthew 20:16 So the

last shall be first and the first shall be last and were determined to help those less

fortunate have the opportunity to be first in the eyes of God. Yet ironically on June 22nd,

2015, they were determined to take one of their own and make sure that God didnt see


It was just another humid day in South Beach; school had just finished and the

cool, salty waves of Summer had just started cresting. Throughout the junior year, I had

found someone I liked and I was going to ask them out, but hard times fell and the

person I was going to ask dropped out of school before I had the chance. Then one

summers day I saw him. His name was Ben.

Ben wasnt your average guy that you would suspect to be gay. He wasnt

feminine in speech, or in demenior. In fact he didnt act feminine at all, which gave him

the perfect cover so that his Christian parents didnt suspect a thing about who he truly

truly was under his metaphorical cloke. To be perfectly honest, I didnt even know if he

was gay, but I went with my gut-feeling that he was.

On the beach it was just the warm, white sand and us. We were talking about

Summer plans; I had none and Ben was going up to Cape Cod for two weeks.

Ben sighed and said Adrian, I wish you could come with me.

I too then sighed and said Ill miss you.

Ben just looked at me put his hand on mine and said Ill miss you too

Then he kissed me. I was finally happy, and for a brief few seconds it felt like the

true me could come out of hiding in the shadows.

Until I heard a scream, the scream of pure agony, as if a parent had just had their

kid die in their arms. It was my little sister Kate; she looked at me with pure fear in her

eyes and ran. I knew she was running to tell mom, and I looked at Ben as if I would

never see him again. I kissed him back and started to run through the white sand, not

caring if the seashells and rocks were cutting my feet. I turned back at Ben and said I

love you and ran, bloody footprints behind me. Little did I realize that it was only the

beginning of the bloodshed.

I saw the front door was slightly cracked open and as I walked in, I saw my

parents at the table, which was as lifeless as my fathers face, only one object was on

the the table: The Bible. When I sat down, The Bible was opened to a page with a neon

pink post it note on it. The page was 1 Corinthians 6 with verses 9-11 highlighted. The

post it note was the last thing I saw that was upbeat, full of color and full of life.

After three hours of silent stares of condemnation, my mom came through the

hallway, phone in hand and told me to go get ready. As I stood up, the dried blood that

glued my feet to the floor made a cracking sound; it was the only sound in the entire


My bedroom door opened and I was ready with bandages on my feet. My mom

told me to go with my father, she said were doing this cause we love you and shut the

door behind me. I got in the old white Dodge Caravan and the once fun and bouncy

seats felt firm and unforgiving. After several hours of driving on I-95, my father pulled

into a Sonic drive thru and got me a large combo meal. It would be the most food I had

in a day for months.

The sound of driving on a dirt road woke me from an unpleasant light sleep. We

were driving towards what was a series of barn houses. Finally we stopped, and on one

of the buildings, a sign reading The Blessed Hope Boys Academy. My father and I

went inside, a man with a red polo shirt and black khaki pants shook my fathers hand,

but not mine. I didnt realize it at the time, but my mother had arranged everything with

this man over the phone. He nodded at my father who then looked at me with total

apathy and walked out. As I saw the white Caravan leave, the man put his cracked

skinned hand around the back of my neck and said queer boy

Immediately he started yelling and pulled out a Bible and began reading a verse

to me. It was 1 Corinthians 6 verses 9-11. In a deep southern Alabama accent, the

following words sent chills down my spine 9 or do you not know that wrongdoers will

not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor

idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy

nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that

is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified

in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. He looked at me after

this and said Im gonna wash you alright, in your own blood. With a roar of a lion, the

man lunged forward, grabbed me by the front of my shirt, and dragged me on the floor

into a dark hallway. In this hallway were rooms with steel doors and scores of eyes

looked through slits in the doors at me.

First the man ripped the bandages off my feet and watched me bleed, then he

whipped me for hours. After he was done, he grabbed me and threw me into a cell. The

man just looked at me and walked down to an adjacent hallway where screaming soon

echoed. A pair of eyes watching me through the door slit across from mine began to

speak Were all here and were all like this, happens everyday, this is the queer hall. I

sat in a corner of the cell until morning broke.

No breakfast, no good mornings, only silence. Around midday the man came

back with a loaf of bread and tossed a slice into each cell. This was our only food for the

day. Each person was given a one gallon milk jug filled with water and it was only

refilled on Sundays. For the next few days, the conversion went on, with a Bible and a


Sunday came and we were let out of our cells and into a room with church pews

in it. Another man came, he called himself Brother Gilbert and he began to read parts of

The Bible about homosexuality to us. Being raised in a Christian family, I know The

Bible by heart and what Brother Gilbert said were things not discussed in The Bible.

As night fell, we were corralled back into our cells and we all knew that when

Monday came, so did the torture. I sat there in the cell that was no bigger than a

bathroom stall and began to think: how could my parents do this to me? All this because

I was gay?

Then I thought about Ben. I wondered how he took it when he found out that I

had been sent away. I fell asleep, and for the next several months the hellish routine

never skipped a beat. The only thing that kept me going was my determination to see

Ben again. Every night I thought about him; just being able to see him for even thirty

seconds would make all the difference.

It had been nine months since I had arrived and I no longer felt the pain and no

longer let the wicked interpretations of The Bible that Brother Gilbert made get to me. I

was scarred and exhausted beyond recognition. Yet in this place of absolute pain and

agony I began to feel hope. I now knew what really mattered in life and realized that I

was bruised, but not beaten.

Eventually one of the other brothers quit and ended up telling the police about

what really went on in this camp because his guilt had caught up with him. After ten

months and twelve days, police officers freed us from hell. Soon there afterwards all the

brothers were arrested and went off to prison, but my suffering wasnt over. My parents

saw the carnage in the news and came to see me in a hotel in Birmingham, Alabama.

Despite feeling bad about the abuse I went through, they still felt that homosexuality

was wrong and they were determined to save me. After this, I had had enough and

having just turned 18, I knew I would at last be living on my own. But this still wasnt the

end, I still thought about Ben, I wanted to see him and make sure he hadnt gone

through what I had. I later found out his parents had sent him to a different camp in

Georgia and after being saved (yeah, sure), he was sent home.

Two months after being freed, I took a Greyhound bus to South Beach

determined to find Ben. Having been gone an entire year, South Beach seemed almost

surreal to me, as if I was in a dream. After walking around aimlessly for four hours, I

went to the white sand beach where Ben and I had been; sure enough sitting there by

himself, was Ben. He was amazed to see that I was even still alive and then we both

started to cry out of sadness as I told him the horrors, and yet joy because Id survived


While it was for me, there isnt always a happy ending to these kind of events.

Throughout the United States these types of camps do indeed exist and operate with

abuse in mind. They use religion as a weapon, not a tool for healing. I write this letter to

you, the outsider as a voice for all those LGBTQ youth who suffer in the name of

religion. Just because a family may not accept their child for who they truly are does not

mean that we can turn a blind eye to religious institutions who try to use conversion

tactics with a Bible and a Belt. While I am just one of the thousands of gay youth in the

US and my voice may not seem like much, as the renowned Audre Lorde once said in

The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action I speak now these words is an

attempt to break that silence and bridge some of those differences between us, for it is

not difference which immobilizes us, but silence. And there are so many silences to be