As he walked to his car, JD described the challenge of earning respect from kids who had received none. He tries to pass on his passion for journalism — something he probably picked up from his newspaperman father — by sharing his love for "gnarly, on-the-ground reporting" (one of JD's favorite phrases) with the kids in his class. He shows them stories by foreign correspondent Jon Lee Anderson and post-9/11 reports from New York by William Langewiesche.
But breakthroughs are hard won and unexpected. Recently, JD's sister died of a drug overdose. That loss has allowed him to connect with his students in a personal way. "They see me as a real person," he said, "with a kind of pain they've experienced in their own lives."
JD stopped in front of the Geo Metro and rolled a cigarette before opening the door. "But it's not about me at all," he said. "I just try to get them to express themselves."
"There isn't much violence in the gay community itself . . . Most of the violence comes from the fringes around the gay community, from people who prey on the vulnerability of gay people, particularly those who can't openly admit their homosexuality . . . Someone . . . who must keep his sexual activities secret and finds it easier to pay for sex . . . There's a frightening thing about . . . the world of street hustlers and anonymous sex. Picking up strangers . . . makes for a volatile situation. Eventually, it's no longer the sex that is important, it's the danger involved in it, the chance of random violence that's exciting."