I held the picture in my hand knowing that it was significant that he showed it to me. Could see by the slight tremble in my hands that I was close to losing it. I fought for control. "Please, please, don't let me laugh. Don't laugh." His face looked at me expectantly, his eyes bright, his was a manner of expecting a compliment.
"Its ... um ... its ... beautiful." I managed. He broke into a grin. Then the question popped into mind, "Can someone grin when they've only two teeth?" I was on the slippery slope and sliding. I had to remain calm and keep it respectful. Anyone who tells you that respect doesn't take work some times is lying.
This will take some explaining.
He had come to my conference because he had heard that I spoke on sexuality issues and that I was supportive of the same sexual diversity for people with disabilities as for the typical community. So he had come to share a moment with me. This was not therapy, I realized, in the typical sense - it was therapy in the day to day sense. He wanted a moment of acceptance from a stranger and he'd picked someone he figured was a safe stranger.
He was dressed in day to day male garb but the picture was a "Glamour Shot" of him in a dress and huge wig. Bright red lipstick highlighted a smiling mouth but had gotten on one of his two teeth. He looked like a Vampire in a bad dress. Even so, I managed something kindly.
So he's disabled and dentally challenged. I'm totally ok with that. I mean big deal.
So he likes to wear dresses and imagine himself a beauty queen. Who's hurt by this? Really?
Then he tells me that for sex, he saves up his money and hires rent boys a few times a year.
Well, I'm not big on prostitution, but he's just chatting. Letting me know that he's also gay - no crime. The sex, though purchased, is consentual. I nod. I've done my part, he can go now.
I glance at Joe with a 'Save me please' look on my face. But Joe's face is stuck. He's got the picture I handed to him in his hands and there are tears forming in his eyes. Anyone who knows Joe knows that Joe finds everything funny. He has the easiest laugh of anyone I've ever met. And it's real. He does find everything funny. He's fighting for control himself. I can expect no help from him as he's desperately trying to save himself.
"Can I tell you a secret?" He asks me leaning in.
"Oh, my God, there's more," I think.
"Are you sure you want to, I mean I am a stranger," I say.
"That's ok," he says.
"No, it's not," I think.
"What I really like is when they spank me," he says.
You know what I learned that day?
It's possible to have too much diversity in just one person.
I know, I know, I know that nothing he told me is really all that bad or all that deviant. It's kinky. And besides, if anyone needed spanking ...
It's almost lunch.
I bid him fare well telling him that I had to get back to selling books at the book table.
He thanked me for listening.
I didn't thank him for sharing.
But he didn't notice.