My name is Lucas Mendieta and I’m from Greenville, South Carolina.
When I was 15 years old I was at Spring Break with my friends down in Florida. And my sister got a hold of me and she had told me that my father had found out something about me being gay. But he wouldn’t tell her what it was but it’s something. So I finally got home, it was dark, I was walking towards the house and I could see my parents sitting in the dining room table through the windows. And I walk inside and as soon as I go in, they ask me to go in there and sit down. And I sit down and my father says, “Do you have anything you want to tell me?”
I say, “No.”
He says, “Are you sure?”
Of course I say, “No.”
And then he said, “What’s this?”
And he pulls out this old letter that I wrote an ex that I had hidden under my bed. I look down at the letter and I don’t say anything. The first thing that he said that set me off was that he told me that, “I would rather you be a murderer in jail than be a faggot.”
I remember it was Saturday night, I was 16 years old and I’m downstairs with two of my friends and my sister. We’re watching “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Just getting ready, we’re going out to the movies or something. And my father is upstairs drinking beers. In the middle of the movie he starts punching the door until he punches the door in and he creates a hole in it. And then at the top of his lungs he just starts screaming, “I don’t want any more faggots in the house! You need to get the fuck out!”
He starts walking down the stairs and there’s a railing there that you hold on to when you go down the stairs. He actually ripped it off the wall and then he started to swing it at me. I remember running up the stairs into the back yard and he’s chasing after me, my sister is chasing after him, everybody is screaming and all I remember is I heard somebody screaming, “Call the police!”
So somehow I run back into the house and I get on the phone. I call them. My father comes in, he seems me on the phone with them and I’m literally just crying for help. And he drops the banister and then he gets in his van and he drives off.
The cops come about 15-20 minutes later. They said that my father could get put in jail right away for domestic violence for at least 30 days. And of course I’m just saying, “Just take him to jail, take him to jail, I want him to go.”
And they kept asking me, “Are you sure? Is this what you want?” And they said, “Because he could lose his job, it will affect the rest of your family.”
And then I thought about it again and I realized that I’d rather just leave. I stayed with friends, I’ve stayed in a couple abandoned trailers, I slept in the car a couple of times. One day when I was about 17 years old with my friends and we were watching this movie called “Trick” and it was my first time actually watching a film about gay characters in New York and I was watching it and I just fell in love with everybody and I was like, “Oh my God, I want to be there, that’s where I want to go.”
And so my friends came up with a plan and they sold a lot of their own things to raise money and they helped me get rid of my car and some other stuff and then eventually I had two friends who drove me up here. I just had my two bags, I didn’t have a pot to piss in. And I couldn’t get any work so I was a go-go boy for a while, I started working in construction, painting, “here’s $50 move my stuff” off Craigslist, just whatever. And there were some other things that I did that I’m not so proud of. And then finally I met my ex, Jeff, and I met him when I was go-going. Long story short, we started dating and he told me that I am worth something else and I shouldn’t be doing this and I should just start looking for a regular job, so finally I stopped being a go-go boy and I was working as a janitor. I got laid off and I’m laying there in bed with Jeff and just telling him, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, I literally just got laid off, I don’t have any skill sets, I don’t have a degree.”
And he said, “Why don’t you just work in catering and events?”
So I got a job working in an office just helping them out and started to learn more about that and then one day I was telling Jeff about the business and everything and he literally sat me down and said, “Lucas, you’re so much smarter than what you think you are, why don’t you consider starting an events staffing agency?”
I started working in catering more and I started my company and everything kind of took off and went from there.
So I didn’t speak to my father for a couple of years and then finally I remember my mom calling me and telling me that my dad is going to the hospital because he developed a blood clot in one of his kidneys and they had to dissolve it and get rid of it because they couldn’t save it. And I remember going down there, walking into the hospital and ready to tell him my two cents and just let him have it. And I walked into the room and I saw my mom there crying over the bed and my father was just asleep. And at that point, I just stopped and I just said that I just need to fix this bridge and just try to move forward and not come in negative and just talk to them.
And it took time. It took a couple of years of it. It was about a year after my father’s surgery that I actually went back down to South Carolina with Jeff, to Greenville. I’m in the kitchen with my mom and I was wondering where my boyfriend was. And all of a sudden I heard this noise, like of clanking of glass. And I peek over the kitchen window that overlooks into the porch, and there I see Jeff and my father having a beer together, having a Corona and just chatting on their two little rocking chairs overlooking the backyard. And it was just weird because my last memory of that was me getting chased out by my father and then having to just run around and then call the police. And so it was…I was shocked. I was amazed. I was happy. I wanted to cry, I had every emotion known to man and I got a beer and I went out there and I just sat down next to them and just started talking about life.
I know that he feels very guilty and bad for everything that he did but I’ve never actually formally gotten an apology from my father. I’ve never heard, “I’m sorry” come out of his mouth, even though that’s the one thing I would love for him to say. I know that he has said “I’m sorry” in his own way by showing me because he’s not an affectionate man. He’s very stoic and he doesn’t show his feelings so I know in his own way he has apologized to me and has been a completely different person from what he was when I was younger, for sure.