Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Does It Take?

So, what does it take to become a hustler, a male prostitute? It takes a lot. You can’t just be defeated. It is not enough to be angry, anger can result in all different responses, some good. It is not enough that you have been abused, abandoned or rejected. It takes a whole constellation of pain.

When you have been abused from an early age, when you have been abandoned repeatedly, by parents leaving, going to jail or dying, when life is so bad you run away at age 14 or 15, then you have the makings of a hustler.

When you haven’t had the time or opportunities to develop school or work skills you discover that to eat or find a place to get out of the cold you’ll do things you never would have considered. After a few arrests your police record guarantees you wont’ be hired by most people. Once you get addicted to the drugs you have been using to dampen the shame you feel you begin to hustle just to take care of your habit.

You become America’s untouchables. You are not welcome in homeless shelters. The homeless feel superior to you. You are the victim of violent “johns”. You walk the same streets that John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer frequented as they trolled for young boys. You contract so many diseases, your health deteriorates, and your body fails you.

What does it take to reclaim a life like this? It takes all you have to give. This is a holistic endeavor and no one agency or person is going to transform these boys. But then, we are not the transformer anyway, we simply provide a road map.

So it takes an understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Food, water, shelter and safety come before all else. Once that is offered belonging and social needs and self-esteem needs can slowly be addressed. It takes relationship, relationship, relationship. This is Carl Rogers 101. No judging, unconditional positive regard. They know how to be judged, they have been judged by others and by themselves.

It takes a whole host of activities and programs. This includes health services, GED, work programs, housing programs.

However, it is not likely that any of this will have any real impact without some internal change. If the spiritual needs of these boys and men are not addressed then hope will not grow. That doesn’t mean preaching. It doesn’t mean pouring Jesus down their throats. It means walking the walk, it means modeling love and forgiveness, it means modeling we are all broken and we are all loved.

It took a long, long time to make such a broken life. However, behind all of this pain, behind the drugs, behind the shame is still a child of God and the face of Jesus. It will take a long, long time to help these boys and men walk in the light. However, what else are we here for but to walk beside our brothers and sisters.

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