Miami is definitely the most culturally diverse city I have ever lived in, but somehow, people still manage to judge. During my first year here, the kids used to make fun of me for having a British accent because of my studies in a British school in Madrid. I even got made fun of for my Spanish accent when I spoke Spanish because of the lisp the Spanish have when they speak (compared to many of the local Cubans). In the other countries, I was judged for the people I spent my time with. But in the United States, I was the source, and it felt different.
After two years, I applied to Saint Joseph’s University. I had all intentions of becoming a undergraduate student that lived on campus and got involved in every way possible. When I was not approved for private loans without a cosigner, that dream quickly fizzled out. I made the decision to drive the 15-miles to campus each day. While I wanted to quit my job and put everything I had into my education, that just wouldn’t be a possibility. I could not and would not in good conscious leave my mom with a $ tuition bill each month. I continued to work 20-30 hours each week to help lessen my mother’s financial burden.
“What would Nicolosi say?” we’d ask. It became a regular refrain, an acknowledgment that we were misbehaving. Part of the bond we developed was in our shared rebellion against our therapist. For me, it had less to do with opposing ex-gay therapy than with the giddy thrill of defying authority. Ryan was convinced that change was impossible—“Nicolosi’s a quack,” he once said. Despite my transgressions, I still believed in Nicolosi’s theory. But my relationship with Ryan evinced a larger problem: While I was uncovering how my relationship with my parents continued to shape my inner life, I was still attracted to men. I chatted with older guys on the Internet and on a few occasions met them.