The first time I saw Brian Kinney, I was a little bit in awe. And not for the reasons most people are. I won’t pretend I've never noticed how attractive he is, but when I first met him, I was still a little bit shy of eight.
No, the reason I was in awe of Brian Kinney was that he stood up to my father. At the time, I saw my father as intimidating and powerful. What he said went and nobody contradicted him. Yet Brian walked into my house and towered over my father, both literally and figuratively.
I was immediately sent to my room, of course, but, being the nosy almost eight year old I was, I hid on the stairs and listened. I didn't understand most of it at the time. I didn’t know what a fuck was. I didn't know why my father called my brother 'disgusting.' But I understood when Brian said ‘that's not love that's hate.'
The word ‘hate’ really stuck with me. Hearing my dad’s anger, how he yelled and broke things after Justin left, I realized that Brian was right. Dad hated Justin. I couldn’t fathom what Justin could have done to make that happen.
I saw then that my father’s love was conditional. It hurt knowing that I could lose his affection. And since I didn't understand why Justin had lost it, I was afraid.
The second time I saw Brian Kinney, he was wearing a bloody scarf.
I'd been dragged out of bed to go to the hospital with my mom after hearing that Justin had been in some sort of accident. We didn't know what had happened and she’d rushed us both to the hospital rather than track down a babysitter.
Brian sat on a chair, bloody scarf around his neck, looking like he'd been the one who’d been hurt. I remember wondering why nobody was helping him.
It wasn't long after that that Mom got the details from the doctors. Mrs Williams came to pick me up and I spent the next three days at her house. Mom would call me a couple times a day and try to reassure me that Justin was ok. But even at eight, I could tell she was lying.
Eventually, she came to pick me up. After a silent drive home, she explained to me that someone had hurt Justin because he liked to kiss other boys. That Brian was the boy he liked to kiss.
I remember crying harder than I ever had in my life. I could not understand the kind of hatred that would cause someone to hurt another person that badly.
After I’d calmed down some, I asked my mother if it was wrong that Justin liked to kiss other boys.
I will never forget the look of resolve and fierce protectiveness in her eyes as she answered.
“There is nothing wrong with being gay. Love is love.”
I saw then that my mother’s love was unconditional. She would always love us, protect us, support us. I felt safe and whole.