I was not a rebellious child. My sister was. She broke every 2×2 rule she could, from wearing pants to having pre-marital sex. She even sold drugs, but we didn’t really talk about that.

I remember the fight at home when my mother located my sister’s birth control pills. That was a night and a half.

I picked my battles. I seemed to have done this all in the same year—when I was 15. I don’t know why 15 was the year for it, but it was a rough year. I remember a coach saying—my math teacher for 3 years–after I showed up late following an argument with my parents, “I know you don’t want to be here tonight, but I’m glad you came.” Actually, I did want to be there. I would rather have been there than at home.

I came out to my parents as gay.

I told them I was a vegetarian.

I tore up my Bible and said I didn’t believe in God.

It was after the vegetarian fracas that my coach made the comment about not wanting to be there.

But I did not do anything solely for the purpose of rebelling. I am gay. I think killing unnecessarily is wrong. I do believe in God, but I didn’t then, and I definitely don’t believe in the 2×2 way.

I never pushed against the strictures of society to see what would happen.

I did not dare. To rebel, you need the comfort of knowing you belong. I did not have that comfort.

In reality, groups protect their own and abandon nonmembers. We try, in our modern age, not to do this and to expand our understanding of who is us to encompass all human beings so that everyone is protected. But it’s not how it works in real life.

I am not entirely a pushover, but I am happy to follow along with whatever the more superficial standards of decency are in exchange for protection. I don’t have the security of thinking I will automatically get that protection just for existing. I don’t even have the security of thinking I will get that protection because I am, in fact, a decent human being who cares about others.

I still think I need to earn it.

And this makes integration hard. It’s one thing to be gay—lots of people are. It’s another matter to be sexually active and have a girlfriend when you’re in sixth grade.

It’s one thing to be forced to work for a criminal gang. It’s another to understand its code and to feel you could operate according to it again if you had to. It’s a little like growing up in the ‘hood. You might set it aside, but it doesn’t really leave you. I don’t ever want to behave with Yuri’s brutality, but I could probably could. I have all the emotional skills criminality requires. I just think it’s wrong.

It’s one thing to grow up trafficked. It’s another to not be ashamed. It’s not just that it was not my fault, but that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing what you need to do.

What’s wrong—what people ought to be ashamed of—is making that something you need to do. If what a sex worker is doing is survival sex—and that is the most benign reason one enters prostitution—then it’s shameful that that’s what she needs to do to survive.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me. I think there’s something deeply wrong with a society that still allows this. And it seems to me, despite our laws against, despite a certain degree of superficial social disapproval, society does allow it.

We get worked up when a man rapes a girl, but cannot seem to muster the same level of horror about a girl who is continually raped by a dozen different men one after another.

It is unconscionable, our degree of differentiated reaction.

And so I want society’s protection. I try to blend in. I try to seem like a respectable person. But I am also really, really angry at the society I want to be protected by.

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