Avenged Sevenfold: Live! (an essay)

My Avenged Sevenfold story. 😍😍

Avenged Sevenfold: Live

I got to see one of my favorite bands live. That’s right, Avenged Sevenfold. It was a great experience. Music, and their music, moves me in very complicated and in-depth ways. I enjoy their music, their prog-style and knowledge of music, they are a wonderful band.

Part of me wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to go see them. Part of the issue was transportation, part of it was money. But I worked out those details, and got to see them.

I really enjoy their music. For a while now, I’ve been listening to their music. I first fell in love with their style when I started listening to their album Nightmare. It’s a really good CD, I find the album to be powerful and powerfully haunting. It was the album that got me into them. It wasn’t too long after where I discovered their album Waking the Fallen, which I really enjoyed. It was unlike music I’d never really heard before. It was heavy, but brilliant. And I appreciated their style of heaviness, because the vocals were rough and raw, what I loved, yet they had that clean progressive rock style. In other words, they knew what they were doing musically for this album and for all their others. They are talented and amazing in what they produce.

I of course also started listening to their album Hail to the King, which I loved. And then their most recent album, The Stage, which in my mind really cements their talent in my mind. They are eclectic and unique. They have their own sound.

For a while now, I’ve been listening to their album Avenged Sevenfold, as I write. This has been nice, honestly. Their music pumps me up and gets me in the mood to write. This has been even more helpful, because I’ve been in a writer’s block, one could say, and I need music that’s going to uplift me and inspire me, challenge me.

Anyway, back to the concert: My friend dropped me off, and I went inside. I was so excited to see them, I couldn’t wait even a couple of hours. But alas, I had to, because they were still a little ways away.

I went to find my spot on the lawn (the venue was Usana Ampitheater), and chilled for a little bit. What could I expect, except for this to be an amazing time? I definitely allowed myself to chill, then deciding that I needed to get food, maybe check out their merchandise.

So, I went to see what was going on, hoping to get a t-shirt or something, I was excited. The line was super long, but I decided it would be worth it to hang out in the line for a while. Because I wanted a cool Avenged Sevenfold shirt. So, I hung out. And when it was finally my turn, I got a shirt with the words God Damn written on the front, in bold white letters on a black shirt. I liked this idea, because to me it seemed subversive. But very cool. It was something I wanted, and it was a good deal. I had to splurge for this shirt, it was too cool.

As I went to go get some food, deciding between an expensive piece of pizza or something else, I couldn’t help but think about the joy that rock stars must have in their life. Of course, I have heard that rock stars have their own issues, it isn’t all perfect and smooth for them. But, as I was thinking about how fun it would be to be a rock star, it made me wish that I could be charismatic like them and make an impact like them. That night, as I was thinking about what I’d just seen, an amazing concert experience, I thought about I wished so bad that I could move people the way Avenged Sevenfold has moved me. I was hoping I could accomplish this with my writing. I realized that it probably will never happen, but that was okay, I was hopeful that nonetheless maybe I’ll do something amazing with my art one day. Just like this great band.
I settled on fries and bottled water, not the best dinner and it was more expensive than I’d anticipated, but I wasn’t that hungry, probably because I was so excited for them.

I listened to A Day to Remember and a new band called Horror, and I enjoyed seeing them live.

And then, I watched as they set up for Avenged Sevenfold. I couldn’t help but think, there are other good bands out there, why does this band specifically speak to me so much? I think, I realized in retrospect, I like their heavy rock sound, I like their progressive style and experimental approach, and I like their vocals. Actually, getting used to M Shadows’ voice took some getting used to, when I was young, I actually didn’t like his voice. But then I started listening to them, and my attitude changed.

I couldn’t help but feel so excited that they were going to come out soon enough. I got excited as I watched everyone set up the stage, and I couldn’t help but feel so excited.

Drum roll … drum roll please … and then, feeling like a stud, I watched as they came out on the stage.

They opened up with their song The Stage, which is a song I like a lot, but even though it’s clearly one of their best, I feel like they have better songs. Which is crazy, they must be a good band if their best isn’t even their best. I’d seen this song live in a music video, and I’d really liked it, so this was a strong song to open up with. Very fun, intense, complex: amazing.

The next song they played was Afterlife. This song I’ve really been obsessing over with, especially as I write. I love this song, it’s got such a nice opening and it’s such a nice style. And great lyrics, very hopeful. I love the bridge the most, I couldn’t help but sing it when they got to it.

I didn’t know what to expect, I knew that I was just going on for the ride. I got super excited when they played Paradigm, and I realized that the song to me seemed to be about artificial intelligence and augmenting ourselves with technology. At least in that moment, the lyrics seemed to be about that. They painted an image in my mind.

They played all the songs I’d want to hear. The songs that hit me the most, however, seemed to be songs I’d underrated as I listened to them. I literally probably had the most fun with their song Buried Alive, because it’s so fucking good, goddamned good. The riffs near the end of the song are killer, and I honestly can’t even explain why, it’s just such cathartic and freeing music. I couldn’t help but really get into that song, really enjoying it. I told myself in moments like this, that I really needed to engage with life, because life is so fleeting and because we don’t know what happens to us. We need to engage deeply. So I chose to do that with Avenged Sevenfold.

All the while, I was wishing I could, with my art, my writing, impact people the way that rock stars have impacted my life. They have really given me pause, made me think about the world in different ways, while, despite their darkness of heart, offer a lot of hope to me. I think that if I have music, I have a reason to live. Even the songs are countercultural. We need that counterculture, goddmamn it.

One of their best songs live though was literally their song God Damn. I was so fucking blown away by that song, because it’s a really unique song, even among their discography. I think that song really exemplifies Avenged Sevenfold’s unique musical style. They aren’t afraid to take risks, yet they play with such a deep creative sincerity. And it’s one of their heaviest songs, which I realized in that moment.

Though, I was surprised at how heavy the song Hail to the King was. I love that song, it’s so beautiful, but I’ve always taken for granted how deep and heavy that song is. It’s wonderful. It’s amazing.

I could go on and on about their set list, but I think it’s important to focus on how their music makes me feel. And while I understand that what they have is unique, a unique expression and gift to the world, I know that I may never be able to, with my writing, achieve what they have. But I nonetheless take inspiration from their music, I find it cathartic and beautiful, I love their music and I hope that I can at least leave some kind of legacy with my writing. I hope that I can one day be as cool as Avenged Sevenfold. It would be nice, for sure.

Grappling with Death

 

Many of the truths I’ve come to, I’ve come by way of the intellect. The necessary truths that I see as really close to me, I gathered because of rationality and my reasoning ability. But even as I do this, I’ve been aware that many truths I have to come to via other means, such as emotion and feeling. This is an unpleasant truth to me, because many of the truths I know I’ve gathered through reading philosophy, philosophy of which is very rational and reasoned. But some things in life are inexplicable, and you can’t easily explain it with an idea or concept. Of course, this challenges my worldview, and forces me to get out of my comfort zone. I appreciate that, but it makes some lessons painful and highly difficult.

 
My grandfather passed away only a few days ago. And since then, I’ve been grappling very strongly with death. Death seems cruel to me, but it also seems necessary, seeing as how death is a part of life. But that doesn’t mean that I look at death in a positive light, though I’ve been trying to do just that, to see the greater and grander purpose of something as inexplicable as death.

 
Obviously, I didn’t want my grandfather to die. He went in one of the worst ways possible, died by cancer. This is made even more sad by the fact that he’d already had many ailments, and cancer just compounded him. I think cancer was so cruel to him that he gave up on any will to live. Clearly, wrestling with this is very difficult, because it brings up questions of suffering. Obviously I never wanted my grandfather to suffer, and definitely didn’t want him to suffer this much.

 
I found out about my grandfather’s passing as I was taking a long trip on the bus, from Salt Lake to Lubbock, and I saw that he’d passed that morning, I saw it on my Facebook account. When I heard the news, I felt sad, but I also felt confused. Had my grandfather really passed, or was I reading something that was misinformed. For a moment, I was in denial, because I didn’t think that he could ever die. I knew he was headed towards death, but I honestly thought I’d have more time. We always think we have more time, but we actually don’t, in most cases, and I wish there was more I could have done to be here for my grandfather. Part of the difficulty was the long distance and figuring out how I’d pay for transportation, and it was also because I wasn’t on good terms with my family at the time. But I nonetheless felt a feeling of allegiance and compassion and love, to visit my grandfather, who I was sure I’d have so much more time with.

 
Dealing with the death, I posted once on my Facebook that having a loved one die leaves a space, a hole, that is impossible to feel. I saw this when my mother and Uncle picked me up, saw it in my mother for sure, who looked literally lost, and had an expression that indicated deep and utter loss. It’s hard to explain these things or intellectualize them, but the expression was there, and it was so fucking heartbreaking. I didn’t want to see this. I was sad my mother looked this way, looked this sad, because I wanted to take the pain away, but knew I couldn’t take it away. I knew in this moment there was literally nothing I could do.

 
I’ll never forget that look, because I understand it completely. It was the look of someone whose father had passed, the realization, the deep realization, that he was never coming back. This was the first moment where this harsh truth, of never seeing someone again, made itself apparent in my life and literally broke my heart.

 
I know I can’t intellectualize pain, I wrote that on my Facebook as well. You can’t intellectualize pain, grief, and loss, the same way you can philosophical concepts. We can think about death in intellectual ways, but as my mother said, it’s much more emotional. And this forces me out of my element, not because I’m out of touch with my emotions, but because I’m too close to my emotions. I am a really emotionally intense person, and even though I sometimes hide this and obscure this, I nonetheless feel it, and feel deeply. I turned to philosophy in fact, the creator of reason, as a way of coping. I needed some way to deal with all of the harsh things I was seeing in life, and philosophy helped shine a light on these deep mysteries of life.

 
Of course, there is a philosophy of death, though I can’t think of any prominent writers except for maybe Heidegger. And I find the philosophy of death to be comforting to some degree. But I also find it to be challenging, that the philosophy of death can’t explain feelings of loss. These feelings of loss are powerful, and they don’t necessarily get easier, though they get more manageable.

 
All day yesterday, I had this heavy feeling in my heart. It was sadness, but it was also something I wasn’t familiar with. I suppose it was grief and loss, feelings of grief and loss. It occurred to me that I was experiencing deep emotions dealing with such strong feelings of grief, and I wasn’t ready for it, but it was there nonetheless.

 
I haven’t cried since my grandfather died, but I probably will when I go back home and am no longer around family. I haven’t cried because I can’t allow myself to be that vulnerable with my family. There are many reasons why I’d cry, one reason being that I miss my grandfather, another feeling because I acknowledge what this means for me and for my family, and even a third reason, trying to understand suffering and the nature of death, and what these things mean for me. I’m staying in the room where my grandfather stayed, out of all places, and I feel the loss significantly. It’s quite a loss, and I can’t explain it, but … I feel the absence. I feel someone is gone, and even when I’m not aware of this consciously, I’m aware of it subconsciously, even unconsciously. And it is a painful feeling.

 
Because I’m an empath, I also experience the emotions of the people around me. My grandmother is devastated. My mother is trying to stay strong so she can be a support. My father is not really grieving, but it’s painful for me to see him because it’s family. My Uncle hasn’t been in the best shape, either, and I understand why.

 
I’ve had good experiences with my mother since I’ve been here. We’ve connected on this loss, which, as I’ve been saying, I feel deeply.

 
I’m grappling with death, and I can’t deny it. My grandfather was a loved one, and I never, ever wanted to see him suffer. I in fact, especially the last few years, as I got to know him more, wanted to see him live a very happy life, which seemed out of his reach, because he suffered so much with physical diseases. I remember when I’d called him, and talk about philosophy, to try to get his mind off of the pain. I’d talk philosophy, I’d talk Descartes, Sartre, Spinoza, to try and get him to think about something else. I always felt this didn’t really work, however, and this made me infinitely sad.

 
My grandfather called for me before he died. I was very sad because I didn’t make it in time to see him before he passed. This may have been a good thing. The photos I saw of him on his dying bed were heartbreaking, and I’m not sure I could have handled it. But I still wish I could have seen him one more time. And especially because he called for me, I wish I could have made it. But it just didn’t work out. But it means a lot to me that he called my name, and this is because it means I made even a small impact in his life for the better. My grandfather taught me that there are many gray areas in life, and while I didn’t agree with everything my grandfather did, he was loved by many, and he was a good person in many respects.

 
In all actuality, I don’t really understand the nature of death, and suffering. These things remain inexplicable, and this is because I don’t even understand the nature of my own suffering. I don’t know why I feel pain, I don’t know why I feel the intense feelings that I do, I don’t know why I experience mental illness. This is one lesson I’ve tried to pass on to my family, is the idea, of how powerful and strong the mind is, how important thought is, even if we take it for granted.

 
Everything that happens to us, we like to think it happens for a reason. But seemingly, sometimes, it doesn’t.

 

Sometimes, there is just suffering. Sometimes, there is just sadness. We can’t explain it all with the intellect.

 

Experiencing this death makes me more cognizant of the songs that some of my favorite rock bands sing about: songs about the death of a loved one, a special one.

 
I have to be honest, I didn’t have the kind of relationship with my grandfather that I wish I did. We didn’t always connect on things. But he’d tell me, in so many ways, that meant the world to me, that he was proud of me. He was proud of what I was doing with my life, he was proud of the fact that I was a writer, and that I was able to do what he couldn’t. I wrote books, and I wrote intelligent books, and that meant the world to him. I’ll never forget this. It’s because of the support of my family that I write my books. Because I know they care, and if they care, maybe others, such as readers, will care.

 
Truth be told, I don’t know what happens when we die, as no one does. It’s hard for me to imagine blackness, darkness. The appeal to the Christian Heaven is that we’re going to be reunited with our loved ones. I don’t necessarily believe that, though my agnosticism makes me at least entertain the idea. I’m more likely to believe, though, that my grandfather is at least no longer suffering. If he only sees darkness, that’s fine, because he will at least rest in peace. And I think that he will be happy where’s he’s at. He’s no longer suffering.

 
I guess this is how I deal with the pain of loss. I accept that my grandfather is out of this painful world. Truth be told, I think he provided a unique perspective on life, and I will never forget when he told me that every argument has a solution. I interpreted this as an argument with other people, as well as a formal, logical argument. And truth be told, I cherish the uniqueness of my family, even if there is a lot of pain. I cherish the fact that to me, we only have this one life, and we need to engage so deeply with this life. As my friend Tracy has been saying, life is so short and so precious, and I want to see myself appreciate that: really engage with life, don’t seek to understand it all, just feel it.

 
Because, we’re okay. In the end, we no longer suffer.

Shooting the Sparrow (5)

Here it is, part five, the final part, of my short story Shooting the Sparrow. Enjoy.

Phoenix

 

5

Petya had run to the Capital, to an LGBT safe house, where perhaps Petya could be treated with respect and dignity. There he had met Ivan, who had made it his mission to take care of Petya and the other men and boys who had run for their lives, been targeted by the state, the government, for being homosexual.

 
Petya was in a safe room, but he couldn’t focus on his safety, because he knew what had happened to Andrei. And he was crying. Crying hard. It made him feel empty within, as though he wasn’t even human.

 
“I miss him, so much,” Petya said, pacing up and down the room, putting his face in his hands, running his hands through his hair, looking panicked and sad, looking disheveled and broken, his tears soaking the blood-stained grave. “I miss him. I need him. Why did they do this, I don’t understand? Why did they kill him? They didn’t need to kill him. They could have just beaten him up, like they did me, and we’d make it out together with our scars, our battle wounds, intact. And we’d be together.”

 
Ivan looked at Petya gently. He felt the broken heart that Petya was radiating, and he shed a few of his own tears. Honestly, this situation made Ivan incredibly sad. He didn’t want Petya to suffer because his boyfriend had been murdered in cold blood. But many times, the world did not operate according to one’s wishes and desires. Hence why Petya was broken in this moment, crying and unable to reduce the panic and sorrow within his heart.

 
“We have to get back at them,” Petya said, knowing this was a lost cause. “Please, Ivan: we have to do something, we have to make them suffer.”

 
Ivan simply said, gently, “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling, Petya. But I promise you, justice is cosmic and ordered. You will get what you need, and even though we won’t act on the impulse to distribute and disseminate justice, I know you will be okay and you will find a way to heal your broken heart.”

 
This helped Petya organize his thoughts, but he wasn’t sure how much he believed that justice would take place. His partner had been murdered without any precedent, and in all honesty, it broke him. And Petya was aware of this, and it made the pain even worse.

 
So he said, “Ivan … I just want … I just want it to be okay again. I want to be able to wake up to Andrei’s embrace, I want to be able to feel his heart beating against me. And now … I’ll never be able to have that again. It’s over for me.”

 
Ivan said, “But it isn’t over. You have your whole life to live. And Andrei, God bless his soul, but you honestly may meet someone else, someone as beautiful as Andrei but different too. You don’t know what the future holds for you.”

 
Petya tried to integrate this information into his mind, but his sadness was stronger, and even though he wasn’t crying as much as he was, the tears still flowed, gently, like the blood of a wounded sparrow, a wounded baby sparrow. And Petya just wanted everything to be okay again. He needed to have a second chance, the state couldn’t get away with murder. They couldn’t defeat Petya.

 
Ivan was having a harder and harder time not showing at least some affection for Petya, focusing simply on professionalism. But the situation warranted it, and when Petya continued to cry, saying how much he missed Andrei, Ivan finally decided to push against the expectations of his professionalism, and he hugged Petya.

 
When Ivan did this, Petya cried even harder. Petya felt broken. He felt as though he was never going to be healed again, as though it was over for him. His life was over. His family was no longer a part of his life, they had disowned him. And Andrei was gone. Which meant he had nothing left, except for the hope that when he immigrated, he would somehow be able to put it all behind him, and start over.

 
“You’re loved by God,” Ivan said, knowing the irony and cruelty of this statement, when considering what had happened. But Ivan had to believe that someone was there for Petya as he cried and felt hurt and wounded, and so he insisted this to be the case, because he had to believe in some kind of cosmic justice, he had to believe there was some type of hope.

 
And Petya … he just continued to cry.

6

I’m with my friend Preston, and I’m thinking about what’s going on in Chechnya. Putin has denied any inclination or directive to purge homosexuals from Chechnya, the purge is somehow incidental and not that big of a deal to authoritarianism and totalitarianism, to injustice and cruelty.

 
I’ve read about this in an NPR article, and I’ve been following the story for a while. But reading the article moved me to write my own story about what I think is going on, even if I change details and fictionalize the account.

 
I tell Preston what I know about the situation. Basically, they’re killing gay men in Chechnya. I don’t know why, it’s just because they’re gay it seems. And it makes me sad because some of them are boys. Misunderstood, and thus, subject to death.

 
Somehow, Chechnya and the government justify their attack of police on vulnerable people.

 
When I tell Preston all of this, he says, “Hearing stuff like this makes me think my intellectual pursuits are meaningless. As if they have no purpose.”

 
He says this jokingly, of course, but it strikes a chord in me, I feel the gravity of his statements given the situation going on in an anti-democratic part of the world. Where innocent people suffer.

 
Where it’s okay to kill someone for being different.

 
I tell Preston about the fact that gay kids are dying, simply for being different, and the government doesn’t show mercy for them, as kids and men are rounded up and tortured and beaten up in basements and it is forgotten that they exist as human beings. In fact, they are told they aren’t human.

 
I tell Preston all of this, and I think about what this blatant violation of civil rights means for me. I’m Phoenix, and I’m gay, and what would I do if I was in such a situation? I would die, I would perish, even if I fought with love and compassion, strength and resilience. Banning homosexuality simply because it’s a little bit deviant, described as “non-traditional.” And I think, but why can’t love be love? It’s because we politicize such things as love. We still murder homosexuals in cold blood, even if we aren’t burning them at the stake anymore. We still find ways to kill them. And I think about what this all means for me, and it’s enough to break down some of my courage and strength. I think about how vulnerable I would be if I was in that situation, if I was in Chechnya. And the fact that it’s Islam that potentially leads to some of these hateful practices and social movements, I think about Sam Harris talking about how Islam is a dangerous religion and we never know where the ideas are actually coming from. Though I pray that Islam is not a justification for killing people, for persecuting a minority group, especially because in America, Muslim are already a minority group.

 
Preston and I continue to talk, and I continue to reminisce on what these things mean for me as a person. I guess in some ways, we don’t always get social justice, we don’t always see good prevail. Because we are blacklisted as being sinful and unnatural, inhuman. But I am human, when I get hurt, I bleed and it really hurts. And it’s not always my choice. It’s not what I want.

 
Which is why, I think about the lost gay kids over across the world, and I see them as heroes, for surviving trauma, and for being who they are despite it all. They can’t necessarily know any better, of course, innocence is innocence.

 
And all I can say in the end, is that I care. And not just because I’m gay, but because I appreciate those who fight for what they believe in, even if it leads to a lot of pain. Even if we suffer as a consequence.

 
All we can do is keep fighting for our rights. I realize this is my conclusion, though I realize there are many things I will never know.

7

Petya wakes up suddenly in bed, and it takes a moment to remember where he is. After a few moments, he hears Andrei breathing beside him, gently, sleeping gently. Petya can’t help but feel a little sad, feeling that something bad is going to happen to the two of them. Something that they won’t be able to come back from. But he realizes, in this moment, all of the danger felt doesn’t matter, because they are together in this moment. So Petya takes Andrei’s hand, and holds it. Andrei wakes up partially and smiles at Petya, and gets closer to him, and then, falls back to sleep. But Petya can’t help but hold onto Andrei forever, because this is what he needs. This is who he is. And he isn’t going back, as he smiles to himself in gratitude for being with someone he loves dearly, someone he cares about so much, and will always love.

 
Outside, sparrows take flight.

Shooting the Sparrow (4)

Here is part four my short story Shooting the Sparrow. Part five is soon to come. I hope you enjoy it.

 

4

Andrei was out for a walk, when his life betrayed him.

 
He was thinking about Petya, and how much he loved him, loved the boy. The two were so close, it was the most beautiful thing for Andrei. And he couldn’t wait to see him again, hopefully soon.

 
But his life, controlling him like the universe, already had a plan for him, and he may not have been able to prepare for that, for that event, but it was going to happen anyway.

 
“I love you,” Andrei said to himself, as he continued to walk.

 

“You mean so much to me, Petya.”

 
And he did. Andrei didn’t know what he would do without Petya in his life. The two had so much in common, the two understood so much about each other, they were close in a way that was almost transcendental and otherworldly. And the best part was that Andrei didn’t need to explain it, it was just something that he felt deeply. And those were the feelings that he lived for.

 
It was the stark simplicity of love, that kept Andrei begging for more, as though begging for his life. His world wasn’t going to collapse because he loved another guy, those ideas were reserved for more conservative parts of the world.

 
And so, because this was Andrei’s outlook in life, thinking that he was going to always be alive because of Petya, he continued to walk, walking straight into the trap.

 
They already knew about him, of course. They already knew that Andrei was gay, and they had plans to destroy his life, they had plans to betray him. They already knew that Andrei didn’t deserve to be in this world, he deserved to die, because he was nontraditional. And he meant nothing to the regime. Andrei was nothing in the eyes of the state, if only he could see that, realize how much he was hated and how much he deserved to die. If he hadn’t been such a coward, perhaps he would know, know the truth, and his life would be taken away with more grace and respect. But since he was weak in the eyes of the state, all the state could think about was how he needed to die.

 

He didn’t have a right to love, he didn’t have a right to truth, everything that existed for him was out of reach, just as he was out of touch.

 
So they didn’t hesitate to shoot him without warning, without hesitation.

 
At first, Andrei wasn’t sure what had happened: had a gun gone off? Was he hearing things? Had war just broken out on this quiet evening?

 
He wasn’t sure, all of these possibilities seemed to be the truth.
It wasn’t until he began to have feeling in his chest, close to his heart, that he had an idea of what had happened.

 
He was bleeding. He saw the blood flowing gently, from a hole in his chest, from where the bullet had entered. And this was his battle wound. If he was going to fight for what he believed in, he couldn’t be a victim, he had to be strong and rebellious, he had to really understand the gravity of the situation, of who he was, of being gay: and he couldn’t be afraid. He couldn’t fear for his safety, his life, even as his life was slipping away from him.

 
The blood continued to flow. The second gunshot went off, and pierced Andrei’s back. They were shooting in a way that would maximize hell, where they always said Andrei was going, simply because he loved Petya. And the blood was a warning, the blood was a symbol. The wound, killing the bird, shooting the sparrow, you couldn’t commit such a cruel act to such a beautiful creature in God’s kingdom without cursing your own life. It was treason to God’s kingdom. You were thereby damning the will of God.

 
It was like killing a child. In war, in violence.

 
The pain was steady, because Andrei wasn’t sure this was happening. But as he slowly began to process the situation, he realized that he’d been shot twice, and it was perfectly okay if he acknowledged the pain that he felt. He knew they were after him because he was gay, he’d heard about these atrocities happening, of homosexuals being targeted and murdered, and so close to home. Such ignorance, then, to think that it could never happen to him.

 
Letting out a strained sigh of pain, Andrei allowed himself to fall, like the sparrow shot from the sky, like killing the albatross without remorse or shooting the dove, the eagle. He fell, in more ways than one in the eyes of the state, the government that wanted to destroy his capacity for love, for compassion, for companionship, for connection. He was nothing to those who only wanted to murder him.

 
As Andrei forced himself to get comfortable on the ground, knowing he’d been shot hard enough to eventually die, and probably painfully rather than quickly and painlessly, rather than with mercy, he saw someone approaching him, someone wearing very dark clothes, blending in with the setting night, blackened by all of the ash they’d consumed, blinded by fury for order and privilege.

 
“You’re going to die,” he said to Andrei. “It’s your punishment from God. You don’t fit in our nation, you’re in line to die. You have no right here, in this world. When they used to burn homosexuals at the stake, they were only doing what God had commanded. And we are purging all of you vermin out of the system. You are a disease, a plague, a contamination. I have no forgiveness for you.”

 
Andrei listened to this scourging indictment, but the only reason why he was sad wasn’t because he was dying, but because he knew he was never going to see Petya again. Who knew what happened when one died, but one was obviously never going to go to Heaven, if one could twist love into a sin, Heaven couldn’t really exist if religious people murdered others in the name of God in Heaven.

 
“He’s going to survive,” Andrei said. “You need to know, he’s going to be okay. He’ll find a way without me.”

 
The man in shadow didn’t say anything for a moment, just smiled cruelly at Andrei as he slipped away. “Such is your dream, of course, that your partner survives. But God has a plan for him as well.”

 
“If God can allow this, maybe he is impotent,” Andrei said. “If He can allow us to suffer, maybe we don’t actually understand Him, understand His will. What you do, it’ll never be pure, ordained in the eyes of God.”

 
“You think you understand cosmic laws, you think you understand the way. But you’re oblivious and clueless as to what the natural order of things is. You’ve been hated for centuries, surely you can understand there’s a reason for that.”

 
Andrei didn’t say anything, because he didn’t need to, he just smiled. He didn’t need to justify anything. His time had come, but he knew Petya would carry on his legacy, would keep his soul safe, Andrei would live through Petya.

 
He didn’t need to justify it. He didn’t owe anyone anything. If this was the way he was going to go, then perhaps it was ordained. Because he would be going to a better place.

 
“Any last words?” the man in shadow asked.

 
Andrei shook his head, and continued to smile. “Just that you’ll never win. Because I have Petya. Because I’m okay in the eyes of the Law. Because I’m all right. And because I am loved, even if you, with your cold heart, seek to destroy that for me.”

 
The man laughed quietly, cruelly. “It looks like your time is up. Your judgement has been decided, your verdict,” he said, and then shot Andrei one more time.

 
As Andrei slowly died, he drifted in and out of consciousness. The man was gone, but the shadow was still there. He was going to die here, but somehow, he understood, he was dying for a reason, he was dying for a cause. Part of which was keeping Petya safe. Part of which was understanding the motivations and desires of his heart. He knew who he was, and he couldn’t stop thinking about Petya, he couldn’t stop thinking of how Petya had changed him, given him hope in life, given him love. He could only think about all of the times the two had made love, and really felt each other’s spirit and body, really understanding why they were intertwined.

 
But Andrei knew, by dying today, he’d made a decision, he’d made a commitment, to something beyond himself. To all of the other gay kids around the world, he hoped they would find the strength they needed to make it, to survive. Because he believed in them, and he didn’t need to justify this belief.

 
And as Andrei faded, he saw Petya in his mind, he felt himself making love to him again, he felt himself going through all of the memories of the two together, hoping one day they’d be accepted, by family, by friends, for being who they were.
And he did not believe that it was in vain.

 
“I love you, Petya,” Andrei said quietly, and at long last, he closed his eyes and fell asleep in death’s embrace, and like Gavroche when he was shot, the gentle sparrow took flight.

Shooting the Sparrow (3)

I hope you enjoy the third part of my short story, Shooting the Sparrow.

You can find part one here: https://stephanheard.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/shooting-the-sparrow-1/#comments

And part two: https://stephanheard.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/shooting-the-sparrow-2/#respond

Enjoy.

 

3

Killing the sparrow is a difficult and shameful act, and one can never be forgiven for such a deed. The sparrow is teenagers and the sparrow is love. But people kill the sparrow when they don’t understand something different from them, and have to gouge and violent life and flourishing, without authority.

 
Petya, deep in unconsciousness, thought about what he’d just experienced. He couldn’t help but suffer with the notion that he wasn’t human, that he was somehow a bastardization of love, a distortion. It made him sad and it made him hurt that he was being eradicated from a dominant culture. He didn’t expect any of this, but in hindsight, he should have known, because the life of an LGBT individual always had some risk and threat to it.
It made him sad that this was his fate. It was in the Bible, he deserved to be put to death, maybe stoned or hung, it came right out of Leviticus. He was somehow impure, even though he did his best to be a good human being, he wanted to live.

 
In other parts of the world, the Christians judged homosexuals, saw them as an abomination before God because they had gay sex. But none of that was meaningful to Petya. He didn’t care that he was going to be blacklisted because he liked boy-on-boy. Because he loved who he loved. The LGBT world in flux. He knew that in some parts of the world, Christian denominations and Mormonism forced and pushed those who were gay and were kids, onto the streets, because they were kicked out of their house. It made Petya sad, to think about this life, but where he lived, he honestly thought people were more progressive, and it wasn’t a sin to be gay. It was instead, natural.

 

It was a natural thing.

 
It was these ways of being treated that made Petya wonder if he was doing something unnatural. He knew he wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the relentless indoctrination from revealing things to him, from making him fear for his life because he was different. But people don’t choose to be homeless, just like they don’t choose to be gay. Petya was gay because he was comfortable with it, but that in no way implied that it was what he wanted. Who would choose to be gay, when that literally meant in society, you’re put to death, simply because they think God ordains it? All Petya could focus on was these painful thoughts, and the painful sensations moving all throughout his body, from being beaten up so severely.

 
“Hey, wake up,” came a voice, with Petya moving in and out of consciousness, not really sure what any of it meant. “Wake up. We’re here.”

 
By here, Petya wondered if they meant, home. But it wasn’t home anymore. Because he believed he knew where this was going, and it wasn’t going to be, in a good place.

 
“Wake up.”

 
Petya groaned from the sharp-pained agony that took over his body. It hurt. He groaned some more, they smacked him a little and told him not to make that sound.

 
Petya watched as they moved him closer toward the door of his home, or the place that he could once call home. But he wasn’t actually present, because he was dying, and everything hurt. He couldn’t be present to this second part of the massacre, because it was too hard. It was all too hard.

 
They pounded on the door, and Petya watched as his mother opened the door. He saw the shock on her face when she saw him, and a sharp pain entered Petya’s heart. Could she love him, even though he was gay and had just been beaten up by the government?

 
They said, “You know about your son, right? He’s gay.”

 
Petya watched as he saw that heartbreaking look on his mother’s face, coming to terms with this, and how much it hurt. He wanted to undo this moment so badly. He didn’t want to be the disappointment that he was, the gay son that had a secret life, and was hoping one day he could finally be open about it. Suddenly, none of that mattered.

 
Petya was in a lot of pain, his face and shirt had dried blood all over it, and he realized in this moment that he was in handcuffs.

 
“Is the father home?” they said.

 
Petya watched as his mother looked confused, not really sure what she should say, but when they threatened her with a look, it was enough to communicate that this was serious, and that she better do what they say.

 
Petya watched as his mother went to go get his father. Petya had never really been close to him. But, he didn’t know. He didn’t know that Petya was gay and had kept it secret for so long.

 
Not everything in life makes sense, and this was one of those moments. Because Petya asked himself, with all of the propaganda being disseminated on a regular basis, why he hadn’t gotten the hint sooner that gays were going to be purged of the nation? Why didn’t he figure that out, why hadn’t he been smart enough? It didn’t make sense, and it was crushing, really, all of it. It made Petya wish that he had been smarter, and had left with Andrei. Why didn’t they leave and go find a life for themselves? It all came back to the damnation in Leviticus and the angry books raging.

 
Petya’s father came out, and Petya listened, though he could hardly hang on, could hardly listen and could hardly register and process it.

 
The leader said, “You know we live in a religious nation, of course, I would hope you know this. It is an abomination for a man to lie with another man. We promote heterosexual lifestyles because it’s the will of God, and we as a nation definitely adhere to that principle. Anyone who defies that is put to death. This is the right thing to do, to murder those who are gay, for living their deviant and sinful lifestyle. For shaming God.”

 
Petya watched as his father did his best to figure out what was going on. And he said, in his native tongue, “My son is … gay?”
The leader nodded. “Yes. He defies the will of God by being with another man. And we know who that is. We know about Andrei.”

 
Petya watched as the dawning understanding began to appear on his father’s face, and when the recognition was there, Petya watched as his father began to attack him.

 
“Cursed bastard of a son!” he shouted angrily, hitting Petya hard and pouring salt on the wounds, bringing blood again, shooting the sparrow. “I’ll kill you myself, like Abraham killing his son!”

 
Petya, at this point, couldn’t stop himself from groaning from the pain, but he also realized at this point, it didn’t really matter. It was too late for him, he was going to die here. And he didn’t stand a chance, against the tyrant men surrounding him, the wickedness of patriarchy and domination.

 
“I’ll kill you myself!” his father shouted. “Fucking … weak … fag!” he kept shouting to Petya, and Petya just collapsed within himself, this wasn’t what he wanted, this wasn’t what he had imagined. He thought his family would understand. He thought they would accept him. But now his father was literally trying to kill him, and honestly, Petya wasn’t sure if he could live in this cruel world any longer. The conditions were far too harsh for him and his mind.

 
But then suddenly, Petya’s father stopped hurting him. His face was full of anger and rage and he was no doubt angry and callous, but he nonetheless collapsed into himself and onto the ground, with Petya not really sure what was going on.

 
Until his father said, collapsing into himself and crying now, “I can’t do it! You’re still my son, and I still love you. I can’t kill you, Petya: you are already so close to death. I just … I can’t do it.”

 
Petya, feeling confused at what this meant, not understanding why his father was showing mercy, couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride that maybe his family still loved him, maybe, despite him being gay, he was somehow loved and taken care of. That somehow, he was going to be okay. Somehow, he was going to survive this.

 
“Go!” Petya’s father said to Petya, looking deep into his eyes.

 

“Go, Petya! Run! Get out of here, and don’t come back!”
Petya could scarcely pay attention to what was happening around him, but the leader didn’t stop Petya when he suddenly sprang into a sprint, and despite his pain, despite what his life had brought to him, condemning him, he ran, he ran forever, as they shouted, “We know about Andrei!” and Petya literally ran for his life.

 

Shooting the Sparrow (2)

Part two of my five-part short story Shooting the Sparrow! Find part one here: https://stephanheard.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/shooting-the-sparrow-1/#respond

Enjoy!

2

Petya had many good memories with Andrei. Petya assumed that he would be able to be with him for his entire life, and though that was a little premature to say, Petya felt that the odds were in his favor, that he had luck and fortune. Sure, his family didn’t know, but they honestly didn’t need to know. He was, in a sense, an adult, or at least a mature teenager, and he could live his life the way he imagined.

 
In one of the best moments that Petya remembered, he was over at Andrei’s place, his parents were gone, it was just the two of them. They were here allowed to be intimate with each other, because no one needed to know. They loved each other, and it wasn’t a secret to them. They were going to do what lovers did. They were going to enjoy themselves, enjoy each other’s company.

 
They were talking about sparrows.

 
Andrei said, “I still think sparrows are the most innocent bird out there. I mean, doves are fair competition, but I have to admit, I like the innocence and humility of the sparrow. The sparrow isn’t self-conscious, the sparrow isn’t worried about impressing anyone. He just kind of exists in nature, doing his thing: the sparrow just wants to procreate and fly.”

 
Petya nodded his head. “Yes. Sparrows are a beautiful creature. They’re so unassuming, you know?”

 
Andrei laughed. “Yes. Unassuming. If only us together, could be that unassuming,” Andrei said to Petya, and he looked at Petya with that wonderful look of admiration that Petya was used to and loved deeply.

 
They were going to kiss.

 
“If only we were all as innocent as the sparrow,” Petya said. “If only we could be that simple.”

 
“But we aren’t simple, of course,” Andrei said, with that wisdom that he had, that Petya loved. “We wish we could keep things simple, for our own sake and our own sanity, but we are hardwired to create our own problems. It’s frustrating, but, you know: we do it.”

 
“But I’m not going to do that with you,” Petya said, and moved closer to Andrei, gave him a gentle kiss. To Petya, it felt good, it felt sinful and pure. He had been worried recently about some of the propaganda being distributed in his hometown, saying that homos were undeserving of God’s love and that they were going to Hell for having sex and being intimate with each other.

 

 

Petya had heard stories of there being purges in some parts of the world, on par with ethnic cleansing, determined, the authorities believed, to purge the country, the nation, of homosexuals. Petya knew the history, there was enough of that in the world. Petya got discouraged sometimes, because it seemed to him that things weren’t getting better.

 
And yet, he had to hope, and he said this to Andrei.

 
“I don’t think we need to worry about it,” Petya said.

 
“Yeah, hopefully,” Andrei said. “I want to be able to be with you.”

 
Petya nodded, and took Andrei’s hand. All of this, it felt so right to him, even if he couldn’t necessarily articulate why. The Bible had endless condemnations about such things, but what was weird, was that Petya didn’t feel any need to justify his stance, his philosophical position, he didn’t want to justify it, even. He believed that he was doing the right thing, and he didn’t care if that went against religious authority and dogma, it wasn’t what he felt was right. Maybe that made him a minority, with an uncommon perspective, but he wasn’t going to worry about it. They didn’t have any hold on him.

 
If only one could see the way in which history moves. If only one could understand how oppression and murder work.

 
Andrei and Petya held hands for a little while, making small talk, just enjoying each other’s company. It was, in all honesty, a beautiful moment for the couple. Maybe they weren’t understood, but they didn’t need to be, they had each other.

 
When the tide turns, however.

 
“I don’t want to shoot the sparrow,” Andrei said.

 
Petya knew what his boyfriend meant, and he found it such a beautiful metaphor, like a kid with a knife in their heart. “Yes. The sparrow. People shooting the sparrow just because, they have no other disposition for innocence and beauty. The albatross, you know. Destroying something so beautiful and innocent, telling us, with hate and political clout, that we’re devastated by our love for each other. Shooting the sparrow is the worst sin.”

 
“I never want to shoot the sparrow,” Andrei said, “and I’ll never understand those who do. We make love a political game, hurting entire groups of people, they say that our government is coming after us, but I honestly think, we’re going to be okay. This is our home, and we have each other. We are home. Nothing can take that away.”

 
Petya smiled at this. He loved being with his boyfriend, it meant more to him than anything in the world. It was hard sometimes, acknowledging what he felt in a culture that was repressive, but in the end, he knew he couldn’t care. Love was supposed to cross limitations and boundaries, it was supposed to subvert the established order.

 
The two were still holding hands, but Petya wanted to move. So, he reached in, and kissed Andrei again, and the two stayed like this for a little while, Petya feeling connected with his partner, feeling as though nothing could take away from it. It was because he knew he couldn’t live without Andrei, the two were so very reliant and dependent on each other, love cementing the relationship solid.

 
As Petya kissed Andrei, the feeling was overwhelming, he had a hard time imagining that this, what he felt, could ever be so wrong or bad. When kids all over the world died of hunger, when terrorists bombed innocent nations, when women were raped in war torn countries and soldiers gave their life for nothing, not even honor or freedom. When the world was predicated on lie after lie, when everything felt corrupted, and yet, Petya could acknowledge that he had something special and important, even if he wasn’t sure what the future held for him.

 
Andrei, of course, felt the same way. Andrei loved Petya deeply, and he wasn’t even sure why he loved him so much, these things were better left in silence, lacking any kind of logical or scientific explanation. People in the world wanted to make love a political thing, they wanted to make it a religious thing, but Andrei wasn’t going to trade his partner for anything at all, anything in the world, at all. This was because he loved kissing Petya, the smoothness of his lips, his innocence, the way that he moved gently and yet with purpose and conviction. He wasn’t about to limit himself. It felt good being with Petya, it was like taking care of a bird. A sparrow, perhaps. And all of the walls that people set up to protect each other couldn’t limit what Andrei felt for Petya.

 
But he was also worried about Petya. He was worried because he didn’t know, how long peace would exist in their culture. There was no telling what could happen in the near future, and with instability pushing against the LGBT culture more and more, he wasn’t sure what to expect, and it scared him to a degree. He tried not to have fear, it wasn’t like his culture was literally going to try to purge him from the world, it wasn’t as though they were literal targets.

 
Right?

 
The truth was, Andrei didn’t know what he would do without Petya. It was a possibility he wasn’t willing to explore. He wanted Petya, and Petya wanted him. And Andrei saw the innocence in their love for each other, over and over again, they embodied true innocence. The two, together, loved each other so deeply that they were forever equal to each other. The equation didn’t make sense without one of them present.
And Andrei was not going to die. He had to be here for Petya. He was immortal for Petya.

 
If anything did go south, they could always flee, but all of that was just paranoia and background noise.

 
Petya knew this. They weren’t coming for the gays. They weren’t going to punish homosexuals, especially homosexual teens, people who were still developing and learning how to be a good citizen and person.

 
“The sparrows will continue to fly around us,” Petya said. “They are forever with us, in our hearts. We fly with them, we are free. They can never be hurt.”

 
Andrei smiled, looking at Petya with the adoration he could never stifle, and they continued to kiss, nothing was going to stop them, and, unable to stop himself, Andrei took off Petya’s shirt, and Petya took off Andrei’s shirt, and the two were together, nothing could tear them apart, they were together.

 
They consummated and they were clean, worthy before God, pure of heart and spirit, innocent before the Lord: They were divine in spirit, and connected with true purity and power, and Petya and Andrei were together.

Shooting the Sparrow (1)

Hello! This is Phoenix. I wrote a short story called Shooting the Sparrow. I plan on serializing the story on my blog in five parts. Here I introduce the first part, the beginning. I hope you enjoy! It’s a story, fictionalized,, about what’s going on in Chechnya. I was moved to write a story about the events there, and how the state is persecuting homosexual men and teens.

Check out this NPR article for some context: http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/06/15/532977587/they-told-me-i-wasnt-a-human-being-gay-men-speak-of-brutal-treatment-in-chechnya?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social

And keep a lookout for future installments of this story! I hope you enjoy.

Phoenix

 

 

1

Petya didn’t suspect a thing. He was happy. He felt good. His life was coming together, he wasn’t wanting for good fortune. He’d heard about some of what was going on for people like him, but he wasn’t afraid. He wasn’t worried, because surely, people were just exaggerating what was going on with homosexuals. And they wouldn’t come after a kid, right? A teenager? Eighteen, full of life and mystery, passion: why would they go after him? He hadn’t done anything, it was just a spike in strange activity in his city, it didn’t have anything to do with Petya.

 
He’d just been at his boyfriend’s house, his date’s place, and things were going good for the two. His partner’s name was Andrei, and he was exceedingly attractive. He was vulnerable yet strong, he had a good heart. His features were smooth and nuanced, his demeanor and disposition were intelligent and possessed an air of comfort with oneself, and contentment, moderation.

 
And Petya didn’t suspect a thing.

 
He was walking home, thinking about how happy he was. Finally, he had so many reasons to be happy, and all of those reasons dealt with Andrei. Andrei was his guardian angel, in a sense, his guardian, he was the one who allowed Petya to really feel, and honestly, nothing felt better than that.

 
He was aware that things in life change, but he wasn’t scared for his life, he wasn’t worried that something bad was going to happen. With life being so unpredictable, he couldn’t hang on to the details and entertain those fears. Neurotic thinking didn’t usually accomplish much, and Petya was certainly aware of this.

 
But he was wrong. Petya didn’t know he was wrong about his safety, his life, and he realized this when it happened, so fast. When he was targeted. When the van pulled up beside him, and grabbed him without a moment’s hesitation, and threw him inside the van. When he struggled and he fought, they knocked him into unconsciousness, and it was like he didn’t even exist.

 
He woke up tied to a chair in a basement of some sort, as though he was with a mastermind of ISIS, and he was surrounded by really strong men. Petya wanted to fight back, but he was too scared to. He wasn’t as strong as these people, he was never going to be as strong as them, he had a smaller frame and a smaller build. He was hopelessly outmatched.

 
He was feeling a little sore from being knocked into unconsciousness, and he felt a little sore from being thrown into the van, but he had a feeling that things were about to get much, much worse. He didn’t want to think about what that actually indicated, but he also wanted to be ready for what was coming his way.

 
A man, not as strong as the others but with a cruel face and a wicked disposition, went up to Petya, and looked at him cruelly.

 
“You are a homosexual?” he said.

 
I don’t know how you would know that, Petya thought, and he couldn’t help but feel afraid for not just his life, but for Andrei’s life. Maybe this is what they’d been talking about? The government had a way of knowing who was gay and who wasn’t, so they could more accurately purge the land of all who tainted it with their homosexual taint.

 
Petya knew he didn’t have any options. He could deny it, but they already knew, somehow. He could tell them the truth, but that would just lead to more pain. In all honesty, he wasn’t sure what to say, he wasn’t sure there was really anything to say. His life hung in the balance. They had grabbed his heart from his body and were waiting for the precious moment to crush it.

 
The man looked at Petya carefully when he didn’t say anything, and without warning, he smacked Petya so hard that, had he not been tied to the chair, he would have fallen over. Blood began to pour, it was a strong and forceful hit, why was he being treated this way? Being gay was special to him, it wasn’t supposed to be a blight on culture. Being gay was sacred. Why didn’t people understand, love was love, and being gay was a very beautiful thing?

 
“Answer me,” he said, cruelly but also somehow relaxed, despite the fact that he’d just exerted himself so forcefully. “It’ll go better for you if you answer the questions we ask. Are you gay?”

 
Petya wanted to respond to the questions, but he had never been so afraid, perhaps that was the irony of juxtaposing momentary happiness with eternal punishment. Because wasn’t that where Petya was going? He was going to Hell, of course he was, because he liked other guys. And yet, he couldn’t say anything at his trial, at his hearing, to abdicate and vindicate himself. He was too afraid.

 
And so, to these cruel men, it looked like he wasn’t cooperating, but in truth, he was really just terrified for his life. This event, being kidnapped after loving his boyfriend, his partner, Andrei: it really didn’t go well with the happiness and innocence that he had literally just felt. This transition was jagged, bitter, and unbalanced, and he didn’t know why his happiness had derailed so suddenly. It didn’t make sense. But why hadn’t he expected this? He felt a surge of anger for the lack of imagination and morals that these people had. But what could he really say to tyrants?

 
So Petya remained quiet, out of fear. And the man looked at him with his trademark glare, and when silence continued, he prepared himself to hit Petya.

 
Petya, as he watched him prepare, said, “Please,” but it was too late: He smacked Petya hard, drawing more and more blood, creating bigger and bigger bruises, he was determined to really hurt him. To really hurt Petya. And he didn’t understand why.

 
When Petya cried out for mercy, the man hit him harder, and then hit him again, and continued to hit him, drawing blood, drawing fear, drawing sorrow and despair from a kid who believed in so much, even though the world could be so dark and tragic. There was hope, wasn’t there, or was that just a myth?

 
“Answer the fucking question!” he shouted, as he continued to hit Petya, with no mercy, with no compassion, beating him into a bloody pulp, not caring what any of this meant to his future health.

 
They didn’t care about preserving him, they could kill him if they wanted. They could really torture him, and for being innocent and unjustified. They could really hurt him.

 
And they were. They had no restraint, they didn’t care that Petya just wanted to survive this so that way he could look at his lover one more time.

 
Petya’s face was now covered in bruises, and stained with blood, the blood of which poured out recklessly and carelessly, everything that Petya believed in was being challenged right before him. Why was he being punished? It didn’t make sense. He knew Alan Turning was castrated for being gay, even after saving the Western world from utter devastation and destruction. He knew in America, there had been suicides and death from those who identified as homosexual. He knew, he knew indeed, that the LGBT community ached from being rejected by society, being told things that were untrue, just so they could be oppressed and repressed. It was sad, but Petya had honestly thought he’d outgrown all of that, that there was more to the situation than the persecution of homosexuals. This was not what he had envisioned for himself. Yes, he kept it secret from his family, but he was sure that when the time was right, they would be able to accept him. They would be able to love him fully. And yet, here he was now, stepping into the dystopia that he’d never noticed before, that literally blind-sided him, and his world was coming undone, as he continued to bleed, as his body began to break down from being hit so many times, as his mind spun webs of delusion because his head could only take so many hits. He could not handle the violence.

 
And all the while, the man was yelling out of control, yelling obscenities, yelling curse words that Petya hated, screaming a multitude of derogatory statements, telling Petya that he wasn’t important. “You’re not even human!” the man yelled in anger and persecution. “You’re nothing! Faggots should suffer, because they aren’t even a human being! They’re abominations and full of crooked desires!”

 
Petya was falling into unconsciousness, but as he got beaten up, these words lodged somewhere in his heart, the idea that because he was gay, he was somehow less than human, that because he was innocent, he was somehow an abomination, a monster. How backwards the ideas in society were, that the victim was somehow the monster, while the abuser was vindicated and in the right, because they had the law on their side, they had order on their side, and they could beat someone up without any punishment, with the boy Petya feeling as though no one was ever going to listen to him, and understand that he was a good person, that he was human, that he bled and hurt just like anyone else. What could possibly make him less human? Just because he was gay? Just because he enjoyed the company of other men?

 
He found this, amidst his pain, more tragic than his actual pain. The realization that in the eyes of the state, he was worthy of pain and death, of suffering. And they made this clear to him, telling him over and over again as they hit him, that the wages of sin was death, that sodomy was an abomination, that because he was gay, he deserved to die, and he had no rights or humanity, which could only lead to him falling into unconsciousness as they hated him, the ideas beaten into his mind as he dreamed about black static and violence, emptiness.

 

 

Part 2 soon to come!