Darren

Darren, 27, walked up to my girlfriends car timid and shy. He knew what he was doing wasn’t pleasant for me or him.
“Excuse me ma’am…” his voice trails off.
“Nevermind, you look busy,” he said, as I rolled my eyes. I was tired of the homeless begging for money.
But, I shifted and put on a ball cap and got out. What’s your name…
Darren he said. I’m 27.
I asked him what he needed. He told me $20 for his copay for his HIV meds – my mind wanders to ‘you know meds that keep you alive…’
He seemed as if no one had made an effort today to talk to him, so I did. I asked him where he was – “under a bridge.”
His father, a pastor, moved him here with his family. When he came out – his father kicked him out. Darren had been camping out in the surrouding area for four years – trying to get a job. He had just landed one a week ago. An assistant at a bakery – what he was going to school for … before he told his dad.
I lost it. I had just watched a 20/20 special on gay conversion camps. It effected me. I wondered if I was younger if my parents would have sent me off to a camp… I don’t know the answer.
I saw myself in him. I saw the hurt in him. Rejection from not only family  – but God… But then he said something beyond me.
I hugged him – crying – told him “I love you and I don’t even know you and so does God.” He said, “Oh I know that He does.”
“I’m better than these circumstances. They don’t define me. I’m ready to prove myself – to be someone better than this.”
I handed Darren $40. I told him go get your medicine and use the rest for your needs today. I told him I’d be thinking of him and praying. I meant it. We hugged again.
And he went for the city bus that second. And, he was gone.
I’m still shaken. I just can’t shake his face.

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