WAUGANAUKEE, MN—On the surface, Daryl Hegge seems to be a typical 15-year-old boy. An avid trivia buff and amateur model-rocket hobbyist, he enjoys pizza parties, after-school activities like yearbook and drama club, participating in the junior-varsity cross-country team, and listening to the music of his favorite pop stars.
Hegge appears as normal and well-adjusted as any of his peers at J. Edgar Hoover High School in the tiny rural town of Wauganaukee. But despite his seemingly healthy exterior, Hegge is different from all his peers—very different. For, unlike his fellow students, Daryl Hegge is the only homosexual in the whole world.
"I am so alone," said Hegge, speaking to reporters from his family's unfurnished basement. Here, the silently suffering youth spends much of his time struggling to cope with his hidden, shameful burden—praying to Jesus for help, furtively masturbating, and writing love poetry in what he calls his "way-super-secret diary that no one, no one ever, can see."
Hegge suffers from the only known case of a condition doctors term "homosexuality"—a completely unknown syndrome that creates in Hegge a recurring, involuntary, overpowering compulsion to hug and kiss other boys. The teen's bizarre sexual affliction is such a freakish aberration that he has felt compelled to keep it a secret from loved ones, family members, and authority figures.
"No one must know," Hegge said. "If they ever found out what a horrible freak I am, they'd probably put me in a traveling circus show. A legacy of undying shame would follow me forever, plaguing the Hegge family name long after my death, passed down from generation to generation as 'The Legend Of Daryl The Homosexual Monster-Boy.'"
Hegge said he first became aware of his condition at age 12, during a week-long Bible study and nature retreat sponsored by his church youth group.
"It was a campfire sing-along and weenie-roast, and we were singing that part of 'And They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love' that goes, 'We will walk with our brothers, we will walk hand in hand,'" Hegge recalled. "And I realized I was gazing into Billy Rostengruper's eyes as we sang, thinking about how much I wanted to hold his hand. Later, I had a dream that he was touching my you-know-what."
Hegge then broke down in tears, screaming, "The agony! Oh, God, the shame!"
In the years that followed the campfire episode, Hegge's erotic fixation with males grew, leading to such humiliating incidents as a gym-class locker-room erection and a botched kiss-attempt from fellow student Mildred Gunderson. Hegge tried to learn more about his condition from teachers, library books, and even learned members of the clergy. But all his attempts to learn inevitably ended in failure. No one had any information to share with him, as there are no other homosexuals anywhere in the world.
The burden of disability and disease is hard for anyone to bear, but for Hegge, it is especially difficult. While those afflicted with illnesses like diabetes, cancer, and muscular dystrophy can expect the full support of loved ones, such support is not possible in Hegge's case: Because of the singularly perverse and twisted nature of his homosexual desires, any attempt on his part to seek out the comfort and aid of others could only result in shock, revulsion, and, ultimately, rejection.
"My family and friends are all I've got in the world. I wouldn't be able to take it if they abandoned me. I've pictured it countless times, so vividly in my nightmares: their faces contorting into the immutable masks of horrified disgust and raw, unbridled hatred that would be any sane person's natural reaction to my twisted desires," Hegge said, his lower lip trembling as he fought back tears. "How could I live through that experience? Sometimes, I think the only way out is to commit suicide and carry my horrible secret with me to the grave where it can't hurt anyone."
Added Hegge: "I know I would go to hell if I killed myself, but aren't I already damned to eternal punishment for my sick, perverted fantasies?" Sadly, for Daryl Hegge, this poor, suffering, small-town teenage homosexual, the only such person in the whole world, there can never be an answer. All he and the rest of us can do is wait—and hope.