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Don't Forget About the Boys

Not all that long ago, I received a call from a police detective. He informed me that two bodies had been found along with a suicide note, and they wanted to speak with me as the note included instructions on how to contact me. No, this was not a murder investigation; the suicide was clearly by their hands. Would I mind coming down?

I stood in the morgue at the feet of two boys who I’d come to know over a three year time period. I was asked not to touch them physically, but without even thinking, I reached out and smoothed “Roo’s” matted hair. The Medical Examiner was not impressed and all but said so. I just remember looking at him and thinking, “But he needs it. If he had been on the street where he belonged I’d have done the same thing.”

I can’t get that thought out of my head now. If he had been on the street where he belonged…. Roo and HTR (for Heart Throb Rob) were local street kids. I was under the impression that they were 17 and 18. So if you do the math, they were 14 and 15 when I first met them. It was months of finding my way into their territory where I would show up with cookies, prepaid cell phone cards and hygiene supplies, before they followed in the footsteps of some of the other kids down there who would let me talk to them. The pimps had long ago given up on “discouraging me” from coming down to mess with “their property.” I had been doing it now for years. My visits served them well in the end from their perspective, it improved the attitudes of the ones they “owned” and they decided as long as I didn’t cause trouble, I was good for business ultimately.

I had been on the streets for a short period of time back in the day. I was allowed back in this new position as long as I kept my place.

Everyone has “their place” in the world of sex trafficking and prostitution. Mine was to service who I was told, when I was told, precisely how I was told. I did exactly that for two VERY long weeks, and even for as short a time as it was, when I was pulled back out by some friends who recognized what was happening, it marked me as deeply as anything else in my world ever has. I didn’t spend months and years in that world, but what I spent took a piece of me I have never gotten back.

That’s what compelled me to go back. I just needed to DO SOMETHING, but not where I had to face too much of my own reality. I didn’t have my own history and demons to face on the “guys” side of town, so that’s where I headed one day. Ultimately, that wasn’t so true, but it’s a choice I don’t regret at any level now.

If you work and live on the streets, then you’d know that just as many guys are down there being trafficked as girls. Just as many bought and sold and owned. I look at their situation as darker than the girl’s side of trafficking, not because their abuse is any less horrific or cruel, but because no one notices them. No one acknowledges them. No resources are directed towards them, at least not in comparison to what’s slowly become available to the girls. What you hear is;

They’re too difficult to get to.

There’s hesitancy due to “sensitivity issues… “ Because well you know, males involved in homosexual acts are typically involved by choice and sexual orientation experimentation…. Right?

And it’s more dangerous to reach them, both for those attempting to, and those boys and men who are identified as being a part of that world

Which takes me back to the initial opening of this message. Was I able to ID these two kids?

Being trafficked and expected to service other males does not imply those in that position are gay or straight. But why the f*** does it really matter??? Let me be very clear, women come down to buy these guys too. Just as women also pay money in order to have a go at some of the girls. Come on, its not an issue of orientation or preferences. There’s hundreds of thousands of them being prostituted. An equal number being forced to cooperate in gay and straight pornography shoots and videos.

Lets get some help here please. We can’t be afraid of the work involved in rescuing them. We can’t be afraid of having to talk through what is or isn’t their orientation. We have to deal with their histories and put resources into transition housing and therapies and mentoring. Someone has to instill inside of them that their value lies in who they are, not what’s the going price for them on the streets.

These young men and boys deserve our attention. They deserve to not have to be bodies in a morgue where a gesture of smoothing out their hair is met with correction rather than an understanding that it might very well be the only genuinely loving touch they’ve known physically in months. Years.

It is not the first time I’ve had to do this. I have three other private notes that sit in my drawer left by other boys who also took their lives because they couldn’t take being sold any longer. Each one stopped to apologize to me for choosing to end it. And there’s always a favor involved. One they didn’t know who else to ask.

Roo & HTR, yes, I’ll make sure the cat you set out scraps for gets fed somehow.