Freedom from the Roots

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| This is the 324th story of Our Life Logs |


I was raised on the edge of the Y2K generation in 2000 in southern Minnesota. I came from a traditional middle-class family set in their ways. Life as a child was one of exploration, advancement, and amazement. I remember movie nights when my older brother, parents, and I clumped together on the couch watching movies, sometimes late into the night. From the beginning, as every child does, I looked up to my parents, a man and woman of irrefutable work ethic and pride in that in all they worked to accomplish a successful family business. Little was I to know at such a young age how this would play out in the grand scheme of my life.

Growing up, I felt myself constantly trying to seek some sort of purpose or calling but I often felt confused about how to find one. I also wanted my parents to be proud of me. My parents with their methods of raising children were very direct and somewhat authoritarian. If my brother and I wanted to discuss anything beyond the moral grounds of my parents’ conservative Christian ideology, it would either stir an argument or simply be avoided.

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Going into high school, I indulged in my love for politics and conservative philosophy while continuing to play soccer. With my older brother off at college, I found a clique of similar friends to relate to, the fellow gamers, geeks, and artists alike. By 2014, I began a second life online, playing multiplayer games like Roblox and established valued friendships with various people around the world. This, of course, was against my father’s dreams of having an all-star son who played a multitude of sports.

Eventually, political groups with extreme ideologies burrowed their ways into various platforms of online games. These ideologies reminded me of how my parents thought, so I began to conform to the right-wing ideologies they held as if altering my identity to the ultimate conservative would be a means of making up for my shortcomings.

All I had wanted was to show someone that I was worth something, that I can be someone that matters. Besides the stereotype of the social class, I was affiliated most closely with “WASSP,” meaning: White Anglo-Saxon Straight Protestants. I wound up going too far and fell into some Neo-Nazi ideologies that my parents did not believe in. Thankfully, when my older brother caught wind of my beliefs, he immediately intervened.

Oddly, it was the WASSP that led to a new kind of discovery. The S for “straight” lost appeal to me upon the discovery that I didn’t find females as attractive as the males I grew up around. But then, over the years, I had grown to know that my parents were against gay lifestyles and choices alike. 

The first time I remember trying to communicate this to my parents, it was after a band concert for school. While my dad was driving us back home I randomly thought to myself, asking them aloud, “What would you guys think if you had a gay son?”

My mother immediately spun in the passenger seat, facing me with a serious expression, “What?! Is that it? You want to be somebody’s boy toy now?” My father then followed up with criticism and other inappropriate questions. They acted paranoid towards me, constantly worried about their status as “the perfect family.”

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This spiraled into years of depressive, self-loathing thoughts that resulted in two hospitalizations. The first one was when I couldn’t recover from a deep feeling of anxiety that spawned suicidal ideas. I was put on a 72 hour hold the first time, then granted a therapist, whom my parents criticized me for speaking to about my issues instead of them.

While I grew into the fact that I was either bisexual or homosexual, my parents denied it entirely while continually trying to reinforce straight sexuality on me. Their ignorance carried as far as to ask my personal doctor if my homosexuality was possibly a side effect of the meds they were prescribing, which was met with odd glances and educated answers.

The second time I was hospitalized, I had put a shotgun in my mouth after months of fighting with my parents on whether I was gay or straight. The straw that broke my camel’s back was when they refused to treat me with any sense of mutual adult respect. Every negative remark or mistake would trigger conflicts, sometimes resulting in the removal of my property as if to ground me. After confessing to my high school counselor about the horrible night I had, I was sent to the hospital immediately.

When my mother found out, she cried and told me that I was breaking her heart with these issues. I didn’t know what to say, besides “sorry.” When my father was the first to visit me in hospitalization, a nurse sat in the room to ensure that I was comfortable “coming out,” or really just explaining the simple fact that my life was different from his. We sat across from each other in the visiting center, and his response was somewhat neutral, that he doesn’t care what sexuality I am, “as long as you have a plan to pursue future success.” This statement proved to only be a soft facade in the face of the professional psychological staff.

From then on, I wasn’t to speak of it to my grandparents or selected groups of people that they knew. I understood the fact that my business was my own when it came down to it, but it pained me inside that if I were to ever find love from a man, and possibly a relationship, then I wouldn’t be able to face my parents or possibly other select members of my family with pride in my happiness. It would have to remain in some sort of secret, unlike the girlfriends my older brother would bring over to meet us.

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The last time I tried to garnish respect from my parents, I decided to enlist in the military. However, I was deferred from the National Guard due to an unknown medical disorder that had affected me since birth. This lead to more doctor visits, meds, and injections that would help balance out my hormonal levels. I began to feel more established in my identity, still unsure of what I wanted to pursue in the future, at least I was starting to get an understanding of who I was.

Meanwhile, my parents had planned to sell their home in Minnesota shortly after opening a bar in my mom’s old hometown in Wisconsin. I fought to stay in Minnesota and graduate from New Prague High School with the friends I had grown to love as family. On top of the move, they had taken their authority a step further by planning my first year of classes at a Wisconsin college where I was booked to live with them in their house-cabin property while attending classes and working as a dishwasher for their bar. I needed out before being academically bound by their plan.

Out of paranoia, I had originally talked to Drew, one of my friends from my hometown, about possibly having a place to run to if my parents ever did decide to kick me out. At the time, this group of friends was planning on moving to Duluth, Minnesota, in the summer of 2018. I wanted to go, but I was scared.

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As the end of summer approached, the arguments and sly jokes my parents made about kicking me out piled up too high. The deepest parts of my heart still loved my parents, but I couldn’t accept myself around them. I couldn’t decide if I just didn’t want to live with my mom and dad anymore, or if I even wanted to live at all. Finally, I left a note that said something along the lines of:

I love you both, but I can’t keep living like this with all the conflicts, the fighting, your constant expectations of me to be someone I’m just not. Please cancel the college plans and if you want to talk about this, I can’t right now, I’ve moved out to stay with some friends, I’ll talk to you in a month or so when we can be calm.

Your son, Brock

I feared for the future of my dog, but I knew that I couldn’t legally bring her with me, so after a long sorrowful goodbye, I left.

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A picture of me and my Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Kadie-girl.

My parents found my note earlier than expected and were calling Drew all night trying to put my leave off as “some kidnapping attempt I fell for, conducted by internet creeps” which struck me as belligerently overdramatized, given the fact that I had left them a note stating that I had left and why. We got the cops to stop showing up at Drew’s place after describing in full detail the situation I was trying to remove myself from. The officer gave me his card and told me to call him if I needed anything else.

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Since living in on my own, I have attended the 2018 Kato Pride Fest where I was able to meet openly with other members of the LGBTQ+ community, make friends, and meet people my age with similar interests. My brother got me a job at the group-home agency he works at on the day staff. I work the night shift which allows me to optimize my weird sleep schedule, affording me time to research college classes, trade schools, and ways I can progress in my goals towards a well-set life in independence. Here’s to being free.

 

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This is the story of Brock “Viktor” Stalter

Viktor looked up to his highly conservative, authoritative parents throughout his childhood, but their differing interests caused a fierce tension. Eventually, Viktor realized that he was gay, causing more arguments and hostility in his relationship with his parents. After spiraling down the hole of depression—resulting in two hospitalizations—Viktor moved away from home, leaving the house and people who could not accept his identity.

Since moving out, Viktor has been able to live a more stable life and has even had many positive experiences with both his parents. With his independence and pursuit of self, Viktor has been able to explore gothic-themed art, design, and cosplay. He has been known to cosplay as a plague doctor wearing a top hat, suit, and a crow-headed cane. It started off with a weird fascination Viktor had with the stories of plague doctors during the 17th and 18th century who spread awareness of the plagues that threatened the people of the towns they visited. Playing on this idea, he uses the shock value and artistry of this cosplay to draw attention to the negative effects of lack of universal healthcare, as a humanistic measure for the American society to invest in. He has also been working on graphic design and photography projects with his friend Drew.

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Viktor as the “Plague Doctor,” taken on one of his original walks.

 

 

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This story first touched our hearts on April 16, 2019.

| Writer: J. Stalter | Editor: Colleen Walker |

2 thoughts on “Freedom from the Roots

  1. Good read. Glad you are in a better place with your parents. Your brother is awesome. You should be so lucky to have him.

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