Today's guest is the incredible Brandon Shire! For those of you not already aware of this award-winning author you're in for a treat. He is known as much for his tireless advocacy of homeless LGBT kids as he is for weaving captivating stories. Today we get a glimpse of the man behind the books.
Temporary Toys - Brandon Shire
I have a young man in my house who aged out of the foster care system. He is not my child, though I’ve come to feel as if he were. He was homeless when I found him – had no shoes, no clothes (other than what he wore), and no food. Hadn’t had a bath in weeks either. His biological parents are still around but they don’t want him; unless, of course, he has something to offer.
This is our first holiday season together and I can see the days weighing on him. He believes he has no anchor, no place of ‘home & family.’ I have tried to create that for him, but the longest he has ever stayed in one foster home was just fourteen months. He has only been with me for nine, and he is still skittish about his position here.
If I ask about his past he turns away, embarrassed and hurt. It’s not a pain he cares to speak of. As if the multitude of foster homes he was bounced through as a child were somehow his fault – if he had been a better kid, come from a better place, found a family that was looking for more than a payout from the government...
I have learned not to ask about his past and let him offer the information instead. It is probably the hardest task I have ever had to do – keep my mouth shut, let him explore those pains, let him broach the subject and ask the questions. Offer an opinion that does not condemn those that have come before me (though I would very much like to.)
We’ve had ups and downs. We’ve had the I’m going to pack my stuff and go clashes. He is still a teen. And though I have told him many times that he doesn’t have to sneak food into his room, I still find small stashes hidden away. But now I don’t return them to the kitchen, I just leave them alone; give him the small bit of security that he needs.
But this holiday thing, it eats at me because it eats at him. All his previous holiday seasons were filled with temporary parents. When he was shipped off to the next ‘home’ the toys stayed, so he learned early not to invest his emotions, even in inanimate objects. He became the temporary toy they passed around.
We, my two biological sons and I, are trying to change this. We talk to him about his future, about college and girlfriends, about trips and plans, about football and holiday recipes. I ache for him, but he doesn’t want pity. He wants to feel like he belongs somewhere. He wants to know someone cares, even as he opines that no one does. He wants to stop feeling like he is this temporary toy that we have taken into our fold.
I don’t know how long that will take, or how many holidays he will stay with us. I do know that he means more to us than the colossal piles of clothes and gadgets my sons have secretly purchased for him. And I think, for that reason, this will be a holiday season that I haven’t looked forward to since my boys were small and wide-eyed on Christmas morning.
The gadgets won’t help his idea of self-worth any, nor will the clothes. We understand that. But as we tighten our huddle around him, as we entrench him in our fold, it is our hope that he will stop feeling like he is one of those temporary toys; that he will know he is cherished and worthy of being cherished. It’s a very big hope, but there are three of us rooting him on.
If you would like to aid homeless LGBT youth, you can find national and international organizations on my website. Volunteer locally or make a small donation. Make a difference.
About the author:
Brandon Shire is an award-winning author of contemporary gay fiction and an advocate for homeless LGBT youth. Ten percent of the sales from his books are donated to organizations combating LGBT youth homelessness.
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