PeterPeter, who likes to be called “Lucky,” considers San Francisco the place where he grew up and learned to survive. It was here that doors first began to open to him. One of those doors led to Project Homeless Connect, where he arrived with “my tail between my legs,” humbled by the need to seek help.
“In spite of all the potential that I have in life, it is possible for me to make the wrong decision or to make a decision that doesn’t lead me down a very healthy path or lifestyle. And it is possible to trust the wrong people or allow the wrong people to trust me.”
Some people might take a look at Lucky’s life before PHC and agree. They might consider his chosen name ironic.
The road was a challenging one. In Sacramento, Lucky introduced his first gay lover, a man who was HIV positive, to crystal meth. Lucky thought they both could control the drug. Instead, it controlled them. His lover “lost his job, lost his place to live, lost his family, lost everything,” and ended up moving in with Lucky. Lucky tried supporting them both while putting himself through school, but the responsibility soon overwhelmed him. He urged his lover to return home to his parents in Stockton. “They love you,” Lucky told him. “I love you too but not as much as they do. Just go home.” In the end, they compromised by moving to Stockton together.
Now, Lucky himself is positive for HIV as well as for Hepatitis C. To remind himself not to give up, he once asked a college instructor to write in his yearbook, “Don’t let ‘em get you down. You can accomplish anything you want.”
Since arriving in San Francisco three years ago, he has accomplished a lot. “This is the gay mecca for a lot of people from all over the world and I ran into quite a few people who were still making their trip to Mecca.” Some of those same people helped him along; some he followed down the wrong path.
“I was playing around trying to figure out who I was and figuring out what would make me popular in the straight world so that I could fit in and I could make myself a commodity. However, what I soon came to realize out of all the people who could teach it to me was some Judeo-Christian ethic guy who was really into trying to help everybody and everything and everyone. He said, ‘Why are you trying to find your niche to where you belong? The niche to where you belong finds you.’”
Lucky’s niche found him here. Before he came to the city, he was considering earning a credential to teach children how to swim and play water polo. A former NCAA (National College Athletic Association) swimmer and water polo player, Lucky wanted to pass on what he had learned. An experience in San Francisco changed his direction. “I got to serve on the curriculum committee for one of the community colleges and they only let two students in the whole school do that.” Committee members encouraged him to consider a career in college administration, so he involved himself more in the world of academia, joined the Associate Student Body, served on other committees, and worked with the Academic Senate.
He also discovered that, although he had been a poor math student, he excelled at Statistics. “People said, ‘You should be a math teacher, you should be an English teacher.’ And then quickly I started asking myself, ‘What do I want to do for the future? What are my hopes?’”
One of his hopes is to become the first copy editor to put together a college reader for classes he would call, “Queer 1A and Queer 1B.” The courses would cover queer, bisexual, and lesbian literature. He would make them mandatory for graduation. It’s a dream he might not have dreamed in another city. San Francisco has provided him with a “plethora of opportunities,” including those provided by PHC. He sees himself now as full of potential.
As his former mentor might have put it, he has found the square hole into which his square peg fits.