Cojones

At some point the jig is always up, and it's often when you least expect it.

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GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR - The Grand Illusion episode. Now today we're jumping into stories about belief. Now, I'm not sure if I should give a warning to sensitive listeners about this story or not. Let me just say that some men - all men - they might find themselves a bit squeamish at some point. James Kenyon (ph), he was born and raised in Colombia with his dog Lucas (ph). And when it's time for Lucas to stop making puppies, James brought Lucas in to get fixed. SNAP JUDGMENT.

JAMES KENYON: He gave me a small jar with Lucas's testicles inside. There it is a standard procedure to give to the pet's owner whatever tissue had been removed in surgery, the same way like a patient is given, like, liters of fat after a liposuction. (Laughing) It is - I think it's a matter of trust, or rather lack of it. You know, like, it's like you need to see it to believe it was done. Anyway, I put the jar with Lucas's testicles in my backpack and I went home.

(PIANO MUSIC)

KENYON: That night, I took out the jar and I showed it to my brothers. My brothers - they looked at it, like, from a distance and they were like ew and they make faces. They were disgusted. They looked like sushi balls, you know, it's like (laughing) - and then, one of my brothers said I wonder what it feels like to hold someone else's balls in your hands. And then they all started laughing. It was, of course, a joke. I wasn't being targeted or anything. But because I was so insecure and I was carrying this big secret, I felt like I was being attacked at the moment. And I got anxious and nervous and then I looked down at the contents of the jar and all of a sudden, I felt like the panic was going away - or rather that it was transforming into, like, a sense of power or control that I had never known before. And then I took a deep breath and I just said I'm gay.

(MUSIC)

KENYON: And I said it out loud because they were still laughing and then they grew quiet. They looked at me, like waiting for me to tell them that I was just joking and in that particular moment, I could've backed down and said that yes, that it was a joke, or I could stand my ground. And fortunately, you know, I was still holding the jar between my hands because I could swear at that moment that it was Lucas's balls that were giving me this bravery. And so I said - I said it again - I'm gay. And in case there was any doubt, I just added gay, as in homosexual.

(MUSIC)

KENYON: And that was it. And then everyone was really quiet and my two oldest brothers, they just - they looked calm - you know, more like resigned. And then my brother, the one who had made the comment, he was just confused and embarrassed and my youngest brother started crying. And at that point I just left the room.

(MUSIC)

KENYON: I think when I was five-years-old - and I know that sounds very premature, but that's how sure I was - I knew that I was attracted to boys and from that moment, it was just a struggle. Coming out may be one of the most difficult tasks you confront in your life as a gay man or a woman. For me it just happened - it was then or never. And I actually had that opportunity, you know, that chance of taking it back.

(MUSIC)

KENYON: And, I mean, there's, like, a long tradition of literally believing bravery comes from the balls. You know, testicles are always a metaphor, or even a slang for having the courage to act, to do something. Thanks to Lucas's balls, I decided to go to ahead with it.

(SOUNDBITE OF DIGGING)

KENYON: I buried it - Lucas's balls in the backyard of my house. And I marked the spot where they - where they live. And then every time I went to Colombia, I visited and it was like a little shrine. I made sure that they were there for me. You never know when you're going to need an extra pair of balls (laughing).

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Big thanks to James Kenyon for sharing his story with The Snap. The piece was produced by Julia DeWitt, the sound design by Leon Morimoto. Additional thanks as well to Lucas - without whom this story would not have been possible. The mystery has been unveiled. You've come to the end of this SNAP JUDGMENT episode. But if you need more, more awaits. Podcasts, full episodes, movies, pictures, stuff, at snapjudgment.org. Join snap nation, friend us on Facebook, follow us on twitter. Snap is produced by the continent's most powerful illusionist - look over there - no there - it's the producer, Mr. Mark Ristich.

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Pat Mesiti-Miller pulls the levers. Anna Sussman can turn into a bird. Julia DeWitt can sing like a bird. Joe Rosenberg gives passerby the bird. Nancy Lopez wants to know if you've heard because Davey Kim has heard, Renzo Gorrio has heard, heard, heard. Snap production crew - Leon Morimoto, Ana Adlerstein, Eliza Smith and Aurora Soria (ph) know the word. But Will Urbina refuses to tell us what the word is. I want to tell them, Will. I want to tell them the word - the bird is the word. The bird, bird, bird - the bird is the word.

(MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Someone ever order you to do something just because they said so and that's policy around here? Well, neither have the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. That's why we love them so much - the CPB, big thanks. PRX knows the word is the bird - prx.org. WBEZ in Chicago is not just going to sit here and be WBEZ by the likes of you or anybody else - no way man. And this is not the news - no way is this the news. In fact, you could pull back the curtains of this entire operation and see a tiny little man in a tiny little room, eating his tiny little sandwich and you would still not be as far from the news as this is. But this is NPR.

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