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    • Before Mexico
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Kristian Laurens, who had never been away from his family for more than a week, made a decision to run away. He has no clue if it will last an hour or his entire life, but he took the chance for who he and his life in America. With an uneasy stomach, Laurens steps on the bus to Denver and rewrites his future. (Preston Burrows)
Kristian Laurens, who had never been away from his family for more than a week, made a decision to run away. He has no clue if it will last an hour or his entire life, but he took the chance for who he and his life in America. With an uneasy stomach, Laurens steps on the bus to Denver and rewrites his future.

Preston Burrows

The struggle home

Bisexual boy loses his mother and tries to figure out home

December 10, 2019

Editor’s note: This story deals with adult situations and themes. The viewing of this story may not be suited for everyone.

T
he hum of the gray Dodge Avenger sits outside on the dirt driveway, cold from the November morning. The sight of the dirt calls for a cold winter, unforgiving in other words. A boy awoke with messy hair, excited for orientation for a new job happening later in the morning. 

Later, this same boy exited his aunt’s faded yellow trailer house but with a different attitude, almost as if he was a different person.  

“She told me that she would give me my things [social security card and birth certificate] when I gave her the emancipation paper.” 

Courtesy photo
For Laurens to regain entry into the United States as a minor, he needed a document from his dad for permission. This document was not easy to obtain.

There was no smile, and the glimmer in the almost 17-year-old boy’s eyes was gone. 

“She was playing with my baby sister, she has gotten so big. I miss her so much,” the boy said with the little will he had left, trying not to break down. 

Just as the last words left his mouth, his arched eyebrows and distinct facial features scrunched together as his walls fell. Tears escaped his rich chocolate eyes and his heart, once sheltered, was now unprotected, left vulnerable, from all the events that lead to this exact moment. 

From a loving relationship, to a situation where there are only sides to choose, it can all be traced back to an initial cause: his sexuality. Bisexual, to be exact.  

Kristian Laurens, a senior from a Southwest Kansas high school did not only lose the relationship with his mother, Perla Martins, but with his entire family. Because of this and the stigma about his sexual preferences in a small, conservative community, Laurens asked that his name and others in the story be changed. 

Laurens wishes he would have never opened up to his mom so his used-to-be normal life could continue. Maybe then he would have not been taken to Mexico with no way back, so he could “straighten up.” Maybe he wouldn’t have had to sneak away from his family at six in the morning on the first bus to Denver.

Maybe then his mom would still accept him. 

The events before Mexico

Thinking it was safe to tell his mom the truth, Laurens leaped but fell into the abyss of what was a trick. Once he told her, “She fainted and then when I tried to hug her she pulled away from me,” Laurens said. 

With unsure glances, Laurens told his story quietly. This could be rooted from the feeling that he had made a mistake. Tears filled the corner of his almond-shaped eyes, while his mind replayed the moment. 

“It broke me. I exposed myself and lost everything right then and there,” he said. 

Laurens said he had always cared for his mom since he was little. With barely any money and a husband who left, Perla worked as a cleaner at The Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas to earn money for her family of three. Seeing this, Laurens was conflicted at such a young age because he couldn’t help his mother, so he did something that not every 8-year-old boy would do. 

He recalls that he knew his mom was always working, so she barely had time for food. Laurens would pack the cold milk carton offered to him at lunch and wrapped it up in a paper sack. He would take this sack to the hands of his mother. The look of thankfulness and pain came across her face. She was heartbroken that her little boy had to worry if she was eating or not. 

It broke me. I exposed myself and lost everything right then and there.”

— Kristian Laurens

A smile reached the Mexican boy’s ears, as he remembered his mom like he wished everyone did. Sweet and thoughtful. Suddenly, he whimpered and hid his face under his oversized sports shirt. The mood changes were drastic; from remembering how his mom would treat him to the recent treatment he received. He could do nothing to hide his emotions. He was hurt. 

“You know… she hasn’t always been bad,” he exclaimed, in an effort to make others understand, but also as a reminder that maybe there was something worth fighting for. 

Laurens could not comprehend how things could change from the milk story 10 years ago to being called “a disgusting faggot” for talking to his boyfriend on facetime. 

Other events occurred in moderation. Some days it would seem almost normal, except the sinking feeling that his mom didn’t love him anymore. Other days would consist of getting slapped or being taken to therapy because of “who he became.”

Laurens explained that his mom blamed his boyfriend for changing him into who he was now. Frustrated, Laurens said that this not only targeted his boyfriend, but created problems in the relationship with trust. He didn’t spend much time speaking about his boyfriend, wanting to keep his relationship private and not put this person to blame. 

Later, When Laurens’ mom said that they were going to Mexico for his little sister’s baptism and for his senior pictures, he did not think anything of it. His mom, his aunt and even his trusted cousin did not say a word about the events that would soon unfold. 

Laurens left for Mexico Aug. 8, 2019. 

The events in Mexico

“The worst part was not knowing if I would come back to my home, my friends, my education… all I could do was wait and hope,” Laurens said. He seemed weary to begin the explanation of his time in Mexico. 

It was a 1,121-mile drive from Southwest Kansas to Durango, Mexico. The ride was long, but Laurens liked the time he got to spend with his sisters in the black truck, packed full with his family’s belongings. Even though his mom still tried to spark controversy with unnecessary comments, Laurens didn’t mind it because he was going to see his grandma and take his senior pictures. 

During the first two days, Laurens was either at his grandparents’ house catching up with them or at his grandpa’s new bar, cleaning before opening hours. He loved the time he spent with his family and helping his grandparents, but these experiences were interrupted by fear.  

Eager to get back to Kansas and not miss the last part of summer there, Laurens made sure to keep up on his calendar and his mom’s agenda. After asking her when the family would return home, he heard a statement that sent chills down his spine and made him sick to his stomach. 

Preston Burrows
With this license, Laurens was granted access back into the United States. The star in the corner of his license showed he had a REAL ID. This was enough for him to cross the border without his other documents. All he had left to check off of his list was his dad’s note of consent allowing Kris’s passage to the U.S.

“We aren’t going to come back and I mean it,” Perla said. It seemed that she hoped these words would make him learn a lesson. 

Laurens was worried, but he did not think he had to do anything at the time because it seemed unreal. He asked the same question every day and would get the same cold response. 

Still in disbelief at the idea that his mom would keep him in another country, Laurens did not take action to come home until it had been almost two weeks into his visit. No appointments were made for his pictures or the baptism. It was all a lie. 

“I didn’t know she would go this far just because of who I was. I was lied to and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember crying for days because I was so helpless and I wanted to go home. I couldn’t just take my birth certificate and social security card,” Laurens said. “My mom has already locked them up in my grandma’s closet. I was f***** and alone; all I had was my boyfriend who was trying to help but what could he do so far away?” Laurens explained. 

It wasn’t just an easy go home or stay there scenario. It was much deeper than that. If his mom was not going to let him go home, he was going to take matters into his own hands. He wanted to make sure his future was not taken away because of what gender he liked. 

He asked his grandparents for help to find a way back, but that was a dead end. They kept the mindset that he needed to mind his mother, even if he didn’t agree. Both Laurens and his mother did not tell them the full story about the ongoing fight: his sexuality. 

Laurens was scared that they would have the same opinion as his mom and his mom knew it was Laurens’ responsibility to speak his truth. Even if she did force the matter with comments suggesting that he was hiding something. 

As a last resort, he went to his biological dad’s house and asked him to sign a paper that allowed him to cross the border by himself. This document was crucial since Laurens was only 17. 

This broke his heart even more. Having to go to the man who abandoned him and his mother, leaving his little hands to pick up the broken pieces instead of his mom, seemed almost impossible.

Searching with his cracked iPhone 8 plus, connected to unstable Wi-Fi that could be knocked out by a heavy gust of wind, Laurens found ways to get home without a passport, birth certificate or his social security. 

His license was all he needed. 

Laurens bought the first bus ticket out of Durango and met his dad at the bus station, where he received the signed document that granted him permission back to the United States. He left with $100 his grandma gave him and the 3000 pesos he was able to steal when his mom was at the store. 

The bus pulled away and Laurens was split between two emotions. He was glad he was going home but what about his family? His sisters, his grandparents and the woman he brought the milk to…

Laurens left Mexico Sep. 1, 2019. 

The events after

Living with his friend, Madilyn Gage, Laurens has almost made things normal as they could be away from his family. 

His mom came back to the United States one month after he returned home and Laurens is fighting the battle to trust her. Will he return to his original home or stay safe at the new home he created? 

Madilyn’s mom, Milene Gage, supported Laurens while still being respectful,  knowing that even though his mom did not support him, that she was still his mother.

Photo illustration
Four out of 10 LGBTQ+ teens say that the community they live in is not accepting of LGBTQ+ people. There are 37% of Latino youth that report their family does not accept them, while 53% of that same group are out to their immediate family. Additionally, 53% of negative messages about sexuality come from the Latino youth’s family members. Laurens thinks about how his life would be different if he would have waited to tell his mom or not told her at all. (source: hrc.org)

“If someone isn’t something, they are something else. You are either gay, lesbian, a drug addict or an alcoholic,” Milene said, showing her support for Laurens without saying the actual words. 

Milene was just as unsure as anyone else if Perla could be trusted, as she stood in her pajamas ready for bed. Madilyn added to the discussion by passionately saying that Laurens shouldn’t go back home. Everyone close seemed to be worried about Laurens’ future. 

“The reasons I think about going back are my college classes that need to be paid for before the end of the semester and my sisters. I feel like they don’t know who I am anymore and that hurts me so much,” Laurens said.

His eyes showed uncertainty about making the right decision. Is he going to be wrong to trust his mom again. Will she accept him?

The air is still cold and the trailer house is still the same faded yellow. Laurens steps out of the red Chevy, this time not with a question, but with a suitcase containing all his clothes, both dirty and clean. He knew that if he didn’t try to fix his family and trust his mom again, then he would never forgive himself. 

The truck pulls away and leaves the bisexual boy in front of his future. 

This time, will he have to run? 

*Names have been changed
About the Photographers
Photo of Preston Burrows
Preston Burrows, Features Editor

Preston Burrows is an 18-year-old sophomore at SCCC, who was born in Johnson City. He attended Rolla High School until he transferred to Hugoton High School,...

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