The Sex Offender Registry, promised as a safety tool, is an anti-trans, anti-queer weapon in the hands of a corrupt legal system. In this series of articles, I will tell the intersectional stories of LGBTQ+ Texans of color who have found themselves trapped. Each of their stories demonstrates a failure of the American system to deliver anything resembling justice and the desperate need for reforms and abolition of prisons and registries.
Names have been changed to protect their identities. Certain identifying facts are also omitted from the stories to protect identities.
Jaime (he/him) is a bisexual person of color who lived in a medium-sized Texas city. Active in his community, he volunteered with the local high school on numerous events. He helped with the booster clubs, field trips, and especially enjoyed helping with the sports program as a volunteer coach.
This changed one evening when the football team was celebrating a victory. There was a pool and a generally upbeat atmosphere. “I think someone brought some alcohol,” Jamie says, sighing. As the party wound down, Jaime found himself alone in the pool with the team quarterback. Unknown to Jaime at this time, the quarterback was gay and had a crush on him.
“He began to flirt with me in the pool,” Jaime recalls. “I made it very clear I was not interested due to his age. I’ve had boyfriends before, but always adults.” Jaime had never been super open about his sexuality due to the conservatives in his midst. When asked if he thinks the quarterback knew he was bi, Jaime wasn’t sure. “I honestly don’t know. A couple other parents knew I identified as bi, but I wasn’t open about it. It’s possible he learned from them.”
After declining the student’s advances, Jaime says the young man started to get aggressive. The quarterback grabbed Jaime’s shoulders forcefully – the student was far stronger than Jaime. He tried to force Jaime’s face down near his groin. After a struggle, Jaime was able to push away and leave the pool.
“I was flustered,” Jaime said. “Flustered and confused. This was a kid I’d been helping since he was in middle school. You hear about adult men assaulting kids, but you don’t hear about the other way around. I had no idea what to do or think.” He went home and rested on it.
Complications arose when the quarterback’s parents got involved. The high school student told them what he had done. “I think he chose then to confess because he realized what he’d done was wrong,” Jaime says. The parents could have chosen to accept their son for who he was. Instead, they immediately went to the police and insisted that Jaime was the aggressor. They claimed that Jaime was trying to “make their son gay.”
They went to the police and pressured their son to file a false police report. “He was pressured not just by his folks, but also by the school,” said Jaime. “The head coach told him he’d never get a scholarship if he was gay.” The coach’s role came as a shock, as he and Jaime had been on good terms beforehand.
The prosecutor indicted Jaime on sexual assault of a child and offered a plea deal for indecent exposure that carried jail time, probation, and sex offender registration. Unwilling to plead guilty to something he hadn’t done, Jaime took the case to jury trial – and lost. The football player lied on the stand about what happened and the jury believed him over Jaime. He became a convicted sex offender, having to register for life. He spent years being shunned by former friends and was forced to move to a different city to escape the infamy.
Fortunately, Jaime was later able to acquire some material for his defense. He took a polygraph, showing that he’d been telling the truth. The quarterback, who ended up never going to college, recanted after becoming an adult and getting away from his parents. “That’s what really turned the tide,” Jaime says. “Once he had the chance to tell the truth, he did the right thing.” That allowed Jaime to file an appeal, which is still ongoing – and unfortunately not assured to go well. “Once you’re in the system they do not want to let you out.”
Sadly, things took a tragic turn. The quarterback committed suicide. In his note, he cited his parents’ rampant homophobia as a contributing factor as well as the guilt he felt over Jaime suffering for something he never did.
The parents’ inability to accept their son for who he was and their campaign of hate against an innocent man cost them their only child. This is a sobering reminder of what can go wrong when parents emotionally abuse their offspring, an experience many trans and non-binary individuals know all too well. The irony here is that Jaime is regarded as a worse monster than them.
“His death shook me,” Jamie lamented, clearly saddened at the memory. “Make no mistake: he was a good kid. He was just confused. I don’t blame him for what happened. I was barred from having any contact with him, so I was never able to tell him I forgave him. I would’ve preferred he’d been able to grow into an upstanding young man and give back to the community. His death was a senseless waste of human life. And absolutely avoidable.”
Laura Reyna (They/She) is a queer neurodivergent Latinx finding their authentic self. They are sex positive, kink positive, and sex worker inclusive, and they long for the day when every aspect of colonialism, patriarchy, and fascism are dismantled.