STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It is Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. People sit down with friends or loved ones to talk about their lives, for this project. Nathan Hoskins did so. He came to StoryCorps with his friend Sally Evans. And Hoskins spoke of growing up in rural Kentucky, and of knowing from early on that he was gay. Listeners should know that there is strong language in this conversation.
NATHAN HOSKINS: When I was in sixth grade, I had met a good friend, and he wasn't interested in girls. One day, he said, I have a Valentine's Day card for you. I asked him for it, and he said it was so special that he mailed it. And he didn't know he'd done a very terrible thing because at my house, only one person got the mail, and that was my mother.
On the way home, I was trying to plan how I would get that letter. But when I got off the bus, Mom had already checked the mail. And my mom came out and met me on the front steps. She had that envelope. And I could tell what it was because it had little hearts on it and, you know, it was all cute and everything. And she'd asked me if I had read it. And I said no.
And she made me read it, and I did everything I could to lie and convince my mother I did not solicit that. And she took me into the house, and pulled her shotgun out of the closet. She loaded it in front of me and put it in my hands, and told me to hold onto that.
She led me outside, and she put me in the back of the car, and she drove out into the country. Now, when I say country, it's no-man's land. She stopped on the side of the road, and I'd been holding the shotgun in my hands the entire time.
And she led me out into the woods; stood me up against a tree. She took the shotgun out of my hands, and she put it to my head. And she said, this is the tree that I'd take my son to, and blow his head off, if he ever decided to be a faggot.
And at that moment, I knew I had to do whatever it took to not be gay. And I tried very hard. And I was a great liar for many years.
Probably two years ago, when I first came out, I asked her about that. I said Mom, remember this? Mom, I just want to hear one time that what you did was wrong. And she couldn't say it.
SALLY EVANS: So she did - she acknowledged that it happened?
HOSKINS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. You know, I guess she really did think that she was doing the right thing then. I was always trying very hard to please others, as a child. But as an adult, I look back and I say, I am who I'm supposed to be. There was never another alternative.
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INSKEEP: Nathan Hoskins with Sally Evans at StoryCorps in Lexington, Kentucky. Their conversation will be archived with all the others, at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress. And you can get the StoryCorps podcast at npr.org.