Monday, May 18, 2009

City Life

Escaping Family To Find A Career
By Katy Berninger

Sitting quietly in a coffee shop drinking green tea lemonade while reading a magazine, I am waiting for someone who is very late. However, I know this person is on his way because he has sent me about a dozen text messages apologizing profusely for being tardy.

Suddenly I hear a loud, exasperated sigh and Wesley “Wes” Williams, 18 plops down beside me.

“I am so sorry, rehearsal ran long,” exclaims Williams who has just left practice for his upcoming high school musical. I can’t be angry with him, of course, because there is something lovable about him. He is a giant teddy bear who wears over the top “movie star” sunglasses and a blue scarf around his neck. Williams sits and excitedly explains how glad he is to be able to help me out. This is who he is: a vibrant personality who is obsessed with Beyonce and would do anything to help another person.

Williams always tries to look on the bright side and
not worry about the future.

Born in Baltimore into a conservative religious family, Williams is the third child, but the first of his parents’ children to live. He was soon joined by a sister, Amarys, 15, and two younger brothers, Jonathan, 12 and Joshua, 6.

As a child Williams moved around a lot, but always had the company of his large family, including his grandmother and uncle who still live him. When asked about his family, Williams says, “we are kind of like the family that yells and screams at each other but we laugh constantly.”

The family may be a little dysfunctional, but Williams says he gets a long fairly well with everyone, especially his sister who he says he jokes around with a lot.

Despite the close family relationship, Williams is quick to point out that he is considered the “weird” one because he is gay. Although he has come out to his friends, Williams has yet to come out to his family, and he says that even though his family doesn’t know, “They’ve gotten lots of hints. I think they kind of deep down know….they're trying to ignore it.”

Williams says he is OK with this arrangement because he feels the only way he will ever be able to tell them is once he is away at college, and say that his parents would probably, “make my life hell,” because he believes his parents cannot comprehend that being gay is not a choice.

According to a 2002 Los Angeles Times article, “Being Gay in a Conservative Environment,” Williams is just one of many gay children who live in conservative families who are afraid of telling their parents about their sexual orientation. Williams’ family is highly religious and they believe that being gay is a sin. According to the article, the communities that these families are a part of create a “culture of hostility toward homosexuality.”

Williams recognizes this and has decided to let his parents ignore “the elephant in the room” so that he doesn’t have to deal with their reaction. Instead, he has opted to be open with his friends who have all accepted him.

Williams says he has big goals and dreams, and for now, is looking towards the future as he plans his move to Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. When asked what he most looks forward to about college Williams says, “being open, being able to perform, and meeting guys.”

Performing is what drives Williams the most, and is what he hopes to do for the rest of his life. When asked about acting and singing, two topics Williams is very passionate about, he lights up. “I always knew I wanted to be known, like it was always in my personality to want to be famous.” Williams’ post-college career may be far off, but he plans to move to California and “work his butt off” until he makes it big.

Wrapping up our conversation, Williams says, “That was fun,” and says he’s going to go see the new Beyonce movie that night. Still jovial, he grabs his things and bounces out of the coffee shop.

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