I’m From Summit, NJ.

by Jake Sakowski

Satellite overhead image of New Jersey from Google Earth 2022

I was 19 years old when I finally gathered the courage to dump everything on my parents at once. I had a feeling they would either send me to Christian Camp or accept me as best they could.

“A prostitute, what about one of those?” my father negotiated.

“For me or for you?” I asked. Neither of them found this question entertaining.

“For you,” he begged, “You’ve gotta be sure with something like this. Jesus Jake, we’ll get you the most attractive woman money can buy.”

My mother stood up from the couch and moved across the living room.

“No one has to know,” she added, glancing at the bottles in the wine cabinet beside her. I studied her intentions as my father continued. I recall the comfort her decision to drink lent me.

“That wouldn’t work,” I stressed. “A prostitute is not going to fix things.”

My father seemed to know better, apparently. He pushed on, “Well that’s just crazy. You wouldn’t know if you like chocolate if all you ever had was vanilla.”

“I know what you’re getting at here, Dad, but someone’s taste for a dessert cannot be compared to their sexual orientation.”

“Well how do you know if you’ve never tried?” he kept on.

“How do you know you don’t like men if you’ve never tried?” my mother asked him flatly.

Their eyes met and they both looked down to the ground with defeated expressions. My father was clearly disgusted, but I did not ask at what. There was a lot of unspoken history revealed in that moment which I shudder to ever know. I could tell he never thought he’d actually imagine himself with another man and that the mere mention of it had been emasculating to him.

I’m lucky to have the parents that accept me for who I am. I accept them for all the things I know and hope they keep hidden.

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