Hi, my name is Lester Mayers and I’m from Brooklyn, New York.
When I was 3 years old I lost my mom to complications of AIDS. And my father left me and I went to go live with my aunt for 11 years, until I was 14 years old.
While I was living with my aunt, no one taught me anything. They didn’t teach me how to read, how to write, how to spell my own name, they didn’t teach me that basic math, 1 plus 1, I didn’t know anything and when I got into public school, I got into 1st grade, I had to repeat it twice because I didn’t know anything. And it was a hard time for me at that time.
When I was 14 years old, my aunt that I went to go live with passed away as well, about 2 months before I graduated middle school. And my father came back into my life when I was 14; my cousin reached out to him. Two weeks before I graduated, I met him for the first time in 11 years. And in those two weeks we went shopping, he took me shopping for shoes, and we also went to lunch together. And I guess in those two weeks, he figured out who I was, which I am gay. And I guess, I didn’t tell him, you know, and I’ve always been so open since I was 7 years old, I came out of the closet, and I’ve always had music in my voice, and I walk as if I’m listening to a beat.
So on graduation day, he came and I went out to a restaurant that night. I was at dinner with my cousin and I and my other little cousin and it was around dessert time. I ordered a brownie with vanilla ice cream. And the dessert was actually coming to the table and she got the text message and she said, “Look.”
And it read, “I cannot have anything to do with a gay son, please don’t contact me anymore.”
And I act as if it said, “Hello.”
And that was it. I didn’t speak about it or nothing.
My first year of high school I became emancipated, meaning I no longer was a ward to the court or had any guardians and so I was living on my own.
When I was 15 I started to date this older guy who was 29 years old. And he pretty much encouraged me to do the things that were not right for me. And I didn’t go to school. I was drinking wine and drinking liqueur, like I was really out of my mind, I don’t know why I was doing that. I guess I was trying to…I guess I wanted someone to love me. And it took me some years to find support, and I realized the support was in the school.
When I got myself together I started to go to school more. I cared, I was in rehearsal, I wanted to perform at high school. I was in rehearsals until 7 at night. That’s what I ate, slept, and breathed, and that’s what kept me alive. Rehearsal and theater and acting and writing poetry, and I look back on all that now, I’m thankful that I didn’t give up because I have so much to offer.
I made it through without having a mother. As unfortunate as that sounds, I made it through without having a mother. And not having a father didn’t change who I am. It didn’t change my future, my past, my destiny, my presence. It’s not going to change it. I wish him the most, I wish him the best, I wish him all the love in the world. And I pray that one day when I have my five children, my five girls running around, my five Toni Braxtons, that I will be a father to them. A mother to them. A parent. I will love them because they matter.