When Matthew Boger was 13, he told his mother he was skipping school because he was being bullied, and that he was being bullied because he was gay.
"I was sort of seeking her help," he said.
He didn't get it.
After trying to convince him that he couldn't be gay, she grew angry and "dragged me across the room and pushed me out the door," said Boger.
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Now, at 44, Boger lives on 20 beautiful acres over the Cosumnes River in El Dorado County. But he was homeless for most of his teen years, because his mother kicked him out of their Bay Area home.
That may not have been the worst of it.
When he was 14, living on the streets of Los Angeles, a gang of quasi-Nazi punks – safety pins in their cheeks, razors on their boots – chased, beat and kicked Boger until they thought he was dead.
All Boger remembers from the moment he came to was blood. He went to neither the hospital nor the police. He was afraid of juvenile hall.
"I survived," he said.
There's more to Boger's remarkable story. The most amazing part is how he came to be colleagues — and friends — with one of the same skinheads who tried to kill him.
Today, the two men make presentations to high school kids around the nation.
Called "From Hate to Hope," the presentations try to prevent more of the tragedies of beatings and suicides – not just involving gay kids, but anyone who is bullied.
Though they have done the programs for several years, they feel it is all the more timely, given recent publicized incidents of teens who committed suicide after incidents of anti-gay bullying.
It was a long road to get here.
After his beating, Boger went back to living in a park, sleeping on cardboard. He felt he had nowhere to go, but he refused to consider suicide.
"I felt that suicide would allow them to win," he said.
With help, he got off the streets and — though he never got more than a seventh-grade education — he became a successful hair colorist for celebrities in Beverly Hills.
He never reconciled with his mother.
Read more of this story at SacBee.com