CT: That was very strong.
You know that was pretty tough, because — junior high, you know. We both have been there. I don’t care who you were, there was always somebody who didn’t like you. So imagine being the gay kid in a junior high school.
MB: In 1978.
Yeah, in Pittsfield. You know, it’s a very bigoted town. So I think that kind of gave me inner strength. And of course I got some from myself; you always have to pull down into your own to get it.
CT: Do you consider yourself a religious person?
I believe in karma. I believe what you put out will come back. If you think negative — like, if you see someone coming, and you go, “Ugh, here he comes” — your experience is going to be negative.
You know, I grew a lot when I was there. I was very insecure when I went in; I was only 90 pounds. They sent me right to Walpole; that was an experience in itself. You learn that anybody trying to help you wants something in return. It’s a fast … I hate to say game, but it’s a fast lifestyle in there. Many people have been there a long time, and when they see you come in it’s game time and they’re all over you, and it’s real difficult. Especially accused of being a child molester, nobody wants to help you at all. You’re on your own. And everybody tries to gain a rep. So the guy who might be scared of his rape conviction coming out will be the first guy to call you a child molester or a diddler. I learned that through time: that the loudest guy is the one who is trying to hide something because he wants to direct attention toward you.
FEMMING IT UP
BARAN, ON HIS PRISON EXPERIENCE: "To be a homosexual child molester, you are the lowest of the low. You are at the bottom for everybody to take a shot at."
MB: Were there openly gay prisoners in the prison? I know that men have sex with men, but were there some that were openly gay?
Yes, there were other openly gay men.
MB: Could you be friends with them?
The sad thing is that a lot of gay men in prison are kind of catty to each other.
MB: So it’s like the real world!
But I always … I guess I have to explain something. This therapist one time said, “You’re very good at keeping these men feeling close but yet at two arms’ distance away.” But you know, I … it was rough. I went in; I had long curly hair. There was a time during that period of my incarceration where it was easier to play the part. So, if I was the regular mannish/boyish homosexual, that wasn’t good. That would draw mean attention. But if I was very effeminate, dressed very effeminate, did everything I could that was extremely effeminate, that got a different kind of attention.