Bishop Young & Nathan
Risk Level: High
Nathan Dodd, 29-year-old African American male, grew up religious but hasn’t gone to church since the day he graduated high school and left home. Despite having known he was gay since he was a teenager, and having dated men seriously for five years, he only recently came out to his family.
Denisse (48), his divorced mother, cried when Nathan told her and asked him to please leave the house while she figured it out. She has only made tentative phone contact since then. Telling Hector (51) and Tonisha (40), his father and stepmother, who are intensely religious and tightly woven into their church community, was much more difficult and intense. Tonisha wasn’t surprised, but Hector was shaken to his core. His anger stemmed not only from his belief that homosexuality is a sin against God, but also his feelings of betrayal, that his son could ever “do something like that.”
Kalyn (25), Nathan’s only sibling, took the news well, and is currently the only family member speaking to him. Kalyn checks in when she can, though living in another time zone makes it hard for them to connect on the phone. Darius (29), a guy Nathan was dating for a few weeks, disappeared after a great date, which hits Nathan harder than it might usually. He hangs out with a group of friends who have all been out for years and aren’t anxious to relive the experience through Nathan’s story. To cope, he indulges in some “party drug” use, which he used to do often in high school and just after, but hasn’t done in years. While it felt good at first, lately he finds that the drugs cause an intense paranoia in him and make him hide out in his small apartment for entire weekends without communicating with other people.
Nathan has worked with a construction company for the last few years and, typically, enjoys his job. Lately, however, his work environment has felt unsafe. Somehow, a few of his coworkers have guessed at or found out about his sexual orientation and have started taunting him. He ignores it as well as he can, but finally he has to take a few “sick days” to get away from the hostility.
He’s lost interest in eating – most days, he eats a small bowl of cereal obligingly when he looks up at the clock and realizes it’s almost midnight and he hasn’t eaten dinner. A few times, he’s even thought to himself, “Maybe I should just end it or something.” He has enough drugs that he think would do the trick.
He doesn’t have insurance, so he can’t visit a therapist. He remembers his childhood preacher’s doors always being open for talking, but is terrified of encountering the same judgment from a preacher that he received from his father. On an aimless walk one day, he finds himself passing a conservative church that a friend once mentioned as a positive place to worship. On a whim, he decides to go in and try talking with the preacher, hoping that he’ll find a compassionate helper.
When Nathan was a freshman in high school, he started going to raves on the weekends and using party drugs to relieve the stress of class and hiding his sexual identity from his friends. At one party, while he was on extacy, he started flirting heavily with Andre, an older man. Andre convinced Nathan to come to his apartment, where Nathan remembers taking another drug, and then nothing afterward. He woke up in a back alley downtown the next morning, late for school and sexually assaulted. At the time, “date rape” was not even a commonly used term, and there was no one he could turn to for help. He managed to sneak back into his house without being noticed and told no one about the assault.
But his mental health suffered drastically afterward. He failed out of his advanced placement classes and dropped his extracurricular activities. He felt lethargic and angry, even lashing out with fists at his mother a few times. He was sure that his life would always feel this impossible, and he found himself intensely jealous whenever he heard of someone dying by suicide.