There Wouldn’t be Pride without the Stonewall Riots

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While we celebrate June for pride month it’s important to remember where we came from and those who have fought for the freedoms we have today, including the activists who continue to fight today. Some people question why there is a need for a gay pride and I have to respond why not? In reality that answer is much deeper. When you are an oppressed class of society safety is huge and the way you get that is to find your own tribe. Being LGBTQ it’s sometimes tough to find others like you, other than online or in the bars. Pride offers another venue to connect to others but also celebrate who we are and the strides we’ve made. It’s also to show that more work needs to be done, to advocate for change. More importantly it’s to honor those before us who have paid our way to where we are today, as we are doing for future LGBTQ generations. There is so much work left to be done in terms of LGBTQ equality. LGBTQ pride is not only a celebration but a declaration that our community isn’t going anywhere. We have fought with blood, sweat and tears for the rights we have today, and we refuse to let anyone take them away. We also stand up for those who are having to endure hate and discrimination currently. So many LGBTQ people live in hiding in fear of rejection, hate and harm, including murder for many. Until all of the LGBTQ is free, none of us really are. It’s important to stand up and fight for those who aren’t able to, in the hopes that one day they will have the courage to do the same.

Many people don’t realize that pride started from the Stonewall Riots. It was the inciting incident for LGBTQ equality and June is Pride month because of Stonewall. The Stonewall riots were a series of demonstrations by the members of the LGBT community in New York city. The demonstrations were against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn that was in Greenwich Village of NYC. It is well know that these events led to the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the fight for LGBTQ rights in the USA.

Gay people weren’t accepted in most establishments the 1950’s and 1960’s. During this time the LGBTQ community faced an anti-gay legal system. Many anti-gay groups in the United States were out to prove that gay people couldn’t be integrated into society. Various social and political movements in the late 1960s like the civil right and anti-Vietnam War movement server as catalysts for the Stonewall riots.

The Stonewall Inn was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, African Americans, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth. These marginalized groups were at the forefront of the Stonewall Riots. The raids by the NYC police department were routine in the 1960s. The police’s treatment of the Stonewall Inn and the LGBTQ partons inside the club was the inciting incident that incited the riots. The gay residents of Greenwich Village organized into activist groups who sought to establish places for the LGBTQ to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested.

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Martha P. Johnson was an outspoken advocate for trans people of color. She played a large role in the Stonewall Riots and co-founded the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) alone with Sylvia Rivera, a group committed to helping homeless transgender youth in New York City. Martha found joy as a drag queen amidst the nightlife of Christopher Street. She designed all her own costumes and quickly became a prominet fixture in the LGBTQ community serving as a drag mother by helping homeless and struggling LGBTQ youth. She also traveled the world as a successful drag queen with Hot Peaches. Martha was known for her outlandish hats and glamorous jewlrey. She was fearless and bold. Often times people would as Martha what the “P” in her name stood for, to which she replied “pay it no mind.”

Tragically, at the age of 46, Martha’s body was found in the Hudson River. Her death was ruled as a suicide, despite claims from her friends and other members of the local LGBTQ community that she was not suicidal. The New York City Anti-Violence Project has re-opened this investigation. In 2015, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute was established. Its mission is to defend and protect the human rights of transgender and gender nonconforming communities.

Marsha P. Johnson Photo

Even after the Stonewall riots, the LGBTQ community in New York City faced gender, race, class, and generational obstacles to becoming a cohesive community. Six months later, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for the LGBTQ community. Over the next few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the United States the and the world. The first gay pride marches took place in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago on June 28, 1970. They commemorated the anniversary of the riots. Similar marches were in other cities. In 2016, the Stonewall Inn was honored as a national monument. So it’s important that remember the activists who sacrificed so much in order for equality.

It feels strange looking at pride differently as in the past when I identified as a gay male. Now that I realize I’m transgender pride has taken on a new meaning. Though until I can transition more it won’t feel as natural or satisfying. I still look mostly male especially because I have a beard for the homeless shelter. I still remember my first gay pride. It was at the Lansing (Michigan) gay pride when I was in my early 20’s. I don’t think I have ever felt more free and accepted in a group before. It was sea upon sea of the rainbows. This was back during my dancing days so of course I went to the pride dance that night at the Paradise nightclub in downtown Lansing. I loved that place. They had a huge dance floor and my favorite thing was their gogo cage that they had. Most of my time was spent in that cage whenever I danced there. Sadly it closed years ago. Lot’s of great memories that I will not ever forget.

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I organized and MC’ed the Join the Impact rally in Columbus, Ohio on Nov 7, 2008. Which were rallies held across America and the world in response to Proposition 8 (which legalized same sex marriage) being overturned in California.

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This is me at the National Equality March in ‎October 11, 2009. 

I have also been to some bigger city prides, which are fantastic and so much fun. My first one was when I was living in Chicago. Their parade was massive and went through boystown and parts of downtown. There were spectators all over. One of the years I rode on a double decker bus, on the top level. It was so much fun. They also had a festival with entertainment. I love the big city prides because usually it’s a week full of pride events leading up to the actual day. Columbus, Ohio really knows how to pride it up. One of my favorite drag queens Nina West always holds a pride drag show the week before. There are various other drag shows and other events prior.

Their festival is massive, taking over a whole park. There are lots of vendors and fun things to buy. They also have multiple stages for various live acts. My favorite part of pride weekend is on Sunday when they have their annual fundraiser Bat n’ Rouge. The Columbus Lesbian and Gay Softball Association raise money for various LGBTQ non-profits around the area. The best part of it is that the players dress up usually in drag as various celebrities and characters. It’s a lot of fun. Their tag line is that it’s the only time softball is a drag. 🙂

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One of my favorite parts is there are cheerleaders for both time, many of them are drag queens. Hygiene’s and Monistat’s are always a hoot to watch as they usually are up to no good. Columbus is one of the cities I miss the most and it’s due in part to Bat’n’Rouge and Pride. I really miss Bat’n’Rouge it’s just a blast and fun to hang out with friends while you eat and drink. One year I worked the beer tent for charity. Over 2k people show up each year, they even have tents that you can rent out.

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Me during Bat’n’Rouge 2009

One trend lately that I’ve struggled to accept is requiring an entrance fee to the festivals. It’s the one place many people have to be accepted and around those like them. Teenagers are one prime example and many of them couldn’t afford the money, so they would miss out. We should rob anyone of pride. I get that the organizations need to pay for the costs of running an event such as this but there should be something in place in case people won’t able to pay.

While we do finally have marriage equality we still have so far to come. For so many LGBTQ people grow up in areas that aren’t accepting. Children and Adults are still being rejected for being different. Things are better for many but not all. The one nice thing about the popularity lately with pride events is that smaller cities and towns are holding their own. Yonkers Pride in Yonkers, NY just had their first pride this past weekend. The cities population is over 200k. There are also other LGBTQ pride events across the globe, even in places like Russia where it’s dangerous to be out of the closet. Even though we have marriage equality gay people still can be fired from their jobs or losing housing.

The transgender community lately has been getting hit the hardest in terms of discrimination from the Trump administration rolling back the protects of trans students and Trump trying to ban transgender service people. Not to mention the various states who have tried to ban transgender people from using the bathrooms in the gender they identify as. In addition there are states like Oklahoma who are passing laws where organizations can discriminate against LGBTQ families who want to adopt. It’s almost weekly you hear about another hate crime against the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender.

One of the latest victims of a hate crime was the killing of Blaze Bernstein, who was home visiting his family on winter break. Blaze was gay and jewish. He’s now being honored by a movement called Blaze it Forward. It a movement where people do good things for strangers and say to them to Blaze it forward, a take of the pay it forward ideology.

Image: Blaze Bernstein

One of the most well known victims of a hate crime is Matthew Shepard. He was an American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. Following her son’s murder, Judy Shepard became a prominent LGBT rights activist and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Shepard’s death inspired notable films, novels, plays, songs, and other works. Matthew Shepard’s murder brought national and international attention to hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. In October 2009, the United States Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and on October 28, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law.

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This administration is working hard to overturn every advance for LGBTQ equality. Even marriage equality could be at risk with this administration. Not to mention the conditions for LGBTQ communities in the world, who are much more harsh towards their population. It was reported that more than 100 male residents of the Chechen Republic, a part of the Russian Federation, have been abducted, held prisoner and tortured by authorities targeting them based on their perceived sexual orientation. An unknown number of the men, whom authorities detained on suspicion of being gay or bisexual, have reportedly died after being held in what human rights groups and eyewitnesses have called concentration camps.

The fight for equality is long from over.

Some people might understand why there are pride festivals and that’s okay. These celebrations aren’t for them. As the country becomes more accepting of those who are LGBTQ things will continue to improve, which has increased the attendance of many pride celebrations both in queer people feeling they can come out in public without ridicule and our straight allies who want to celebrate us. I say go ahead and hate us. These bigots are missing out on some very fabulous and fun people.

Even though I don’t go to pride every year, mostly due to my mental illness, I still makes me feel safe that I have a place to go if I so choose. I’m happy that our current and future LGBTQ generations will have a place to go for acceptance and to celebrate all the colors of the rainbow. So happy pride month. I’m excited to be able to go to Lansing Gay Pride again this weekend.

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Who Is Dragzilla?

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You might be wondering this. You’ve probably heard of reports of someone coming to the rescue of the LGBTQ citizens of Straightlandia. While the city might be letting you down I will not. It’s not right that we have to hide in the closet because of the archaic laws that exist. No one should ever have to feel unsafe.

I will stand up for those who aren’t able to. I will avenge the deaths of our brothers and sisters. Too many have lost their lives at the hands of Roid Rage and others like him. Losers who feel it’s their duty to rid the world of faggots. I will not stand by and let this happen.

The city has failed us and we can’t wait for the politicians to save us. We deserve equal and fair treatment. We’re not second class citizens. It’s time to rise up and fight. I will be your warrior. I know many of you are scared and that’s understandable. We live in a scary time.

If you find yourself in trouble just scream Dragzilla and I will come to your rescue.

Please Rescue Me From My Homosexuality!

UPDATE: Take a moment and report her Facebook page as hate speech, including her posts. Maybe Facebook will remove her. Hate doesn’t belong on social media when so many children use it and will be affected by it.

https://www.facebook.com/theactivistmommy/

The other day a petition came across my Facebook feed about this woman who goes by the name Activist Mommy who has a facebook page where she spews her sugary coated hate. Her name really should be the Anti-Mommy or the Anti-Christ Mommy. Seems more fitting than to be labeled an activist. She’s also anti a lot of things including science, abortion, etc. She’s all things ridiculous.

I signed the petition and moved on. Then today I discovered the new rainbow reaction on Facebook and I thought I should find her page again to share some rainbows with her. There is something about trolling bigots posts with rainbows that tickles me. You won’t ever reach these kind of people and usually it’s best to just ignore them but sometimes you just gotta stand against that kind of hate. Kill them with rainbows, I mean kindness as they say.

Then I read her post about the Columbus Pride parade advertising that she was going to save some homosexuals by saying that she’s “looking forward to interviewing many of my homosexual friends in Columbus, Ohio.” In the post she further states that she’s going to interview and befriend all the homosexuals. I wonder if she will be like Kirk Cameron and bring a camera crew? She loves homosexuals and doesn’t care if she makes some enemies (from the people she says she will become friends with) that they need to hear the truth she thinks she’s speaking.

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This woman has mastered passive aggressiveness. Someone should give her a PhD in it. The Anti-Christ, I mean the Activist Mommy insists she loves us gays. I mean why else would she use the term homosexual to describe us? No ally in the history of queer allies has ever called their friends homosexual. Only people who feel uncomfortable by gay people or even worse are bigoted.

She doesn’t understand why she’s getting trolled with so much hate. All she’s trying to do is Jesus duty to save us from eternal damnation. I mean how could anyone think that had anything but a loving touch to it.

Anti-Mommy… gosh I’m having a hard time using Artistic Mommy… does the typical compare homosexuals to sex addicts, the fornicators, the adulterers, the porn addicts, etc.

We’re the petty, small-minded ones because we’re calling out her sugary bullshit. How dare we imply that she hates homosexuals. Why else would she troll us at the pride parade telling us what we need to hear.

Honestly I’d rather have someone call me a faggot to my face because at least they’re honest about it. They don’t hide behind a sugary coverup. You can pour a dumptruck full of sugar onto an ounce full of shit but you can smell the stank.

The stink they’re trying to cover up has nothing to do with homosexuality. It has everything to do with their own fears, insecurities and hate. To keep all of that negativity at bay they anchor themselves to a false idea of what God and Jesus is. The only way they will feel good about that choice is by convincing everyone else that their way is the right and only way.

I know all of this because I lived it for so many years. I grew up in a family full of people like this. People who felt it was their god given duty to save me. My father is one of these people. He’d go up to strangers telling them that they needed to accept Jesus Christ in their life or they’d go to hell. It didn’t matter the situation either. One time at a funeral he cornered my sister’s friend trying to save her.

That kind of hate destroys, including the sugary coated kind. I grew up hating myself because I was brainwashed in believing that I was going to hell for being gay. It almost destroyed me. You just don’t get over having your own father tell you over and over that you’re going to hell. While strangers and other family could escape his wrath, I couldn’t.

Children, teens and even adults kill themselves over this kind of hate. The age of Trump has brought out all the bigots. He is their king and now they feel even more justified in spreading their hate like shit on crackers. So I’m torn. I believe in free speech. I don’t know what the appropriate action is for someone like this lady. Ultimately she deserves love and she needs it. She’s lost and delusional. She has two young children and I can’t imagine what they’re having to endure.

Yes people like this are a dime a dozen. I think what upsets me about people like this isn’t about the hate they spread but the damage it does. I know countless people are enduring the pain I did. It breaks my heart that I can’t rescue them. They are the ones who need saving and I don’t mean by berating them.

Some will say to just ignore people like this and for the most part I do. There’s the argument that while her speech is vile it is still free speech. I believe in free speech but I also believe in standing up. If you’re going to spread your hate in a public forum expect that others will stand against you. There are consequences to hate. Now while I think speech should be speech that doesn’t mean I believe we should give them the stage like some universities have done for people like Ann Coulter or Milo what’s his name.

At what point does silence turn into acceptance and tolerance. When you stand up to people like this woman you’re standing up for those who can’t do it themselves. When she shares her sugary hate on social media it will eventually show up in the feeds of teens who are struggling and getting bullied. How many children have to die from bullying both from other children or adults before people wake up.

Did you know that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24? Here are some other facts about teen suicide.

• Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers. [2]

• In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. [3]

• LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. [4]

• 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9-12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. [5]

• Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average. [6]

So that’s where I draw the line. I refuse to sit by and let this hate destroy others. Having to grow up in this kind of hate doesn’t ever leave you. So while many survive these horrific situations they grow into adults who struggle greatly. It’s taken me twenty years to heal and I’m still processing layers.

I’ve struggled to cope as an adult. It was easier for me to literally escape from that hate including my father. All these years I knew the hate that was out there in this world. I didn’t need to look any farther than my own family. I thought I escaped it but in reality I’m still living in parts of that house still. I was reminded this the night that Trump took the election. I was devastated. I knew what was at stake and the lives that would be lost from his hate.

It was surreal seeing all the people go through what I did for so many years. People not realizing the kind of hate that’s out there. It’s one thing to know your family is filled for of bigots but it’s another thing to know there are millions of them. It almost scared me into the hospital from suicidal thoughts. It was this gigantic flashback.

For the next two months I was paralyzed by my fear. I wasn’t just reliving that night but all the nights from when I was a teen. I live in a rural area and I would find myself questioning (in my head) others who I would encounter in public. Is this someone who voted my rights away? If they find out I’m gay will they verbally chastise me or worse attack me? I’m 6ft, 400lbs and have a big beard and even I feared being found out. I didn’t hide like so many years, well after a while.

Another dangerous aspect of hate speech is that it’s usually attached to some belief of discrimination. It’s one thing to believe whatever you want to but another thing to vote away my rights… or take them away… or deny service to me… So hate speech is a double edged sword.

Most in our country were awoken to the level of hate out there in our world. There was some relief to that fact knowing that you weren’t alone. It’s so easy to think that is all that’s out there. When you grow up surrounded by hate you get tunnel vision. If the people who are suppose to protect you and become the ones who hurt you how else is a child supposed to know anything but that.

You get to a point where you don’t trust anyone. It’s this weird state of living between the world of a victim and survivor. Which is why something like gay pride is so important. There is safety in numbers. It’s not just to have a good time. I still to this day find myself weary in places where heterosexual men are like sports bars. Instantly I become that scared child having to endure my father’s hate. So it was just easier for me to stick with people I knew were open minded.

I saw time and again people posting about removing facebook friends because of Trump and his army of hate. I didn’t delete one person. I had weaned these kind of people out of my life long ago. Maybe I’m missing out by not being as open to different ideas but it’s how I stay safe. It’s easier said than done to be accepting of all ideas when those words are stones to you. I also don’t think it applies to ignorance or hate. People are literally scared for their life and many have died because of this hate. There are those of us who don’t have the luxury of taking these risks.

So I think there is nothing wrong with eliminating people in your life like this or limiting your time with them. Sometimes you have to love people from afar.

I’m a strong believer that good things can come from bad things. It can be extremely tough to see this, especially if you’re living it. After I got over the shock of Trump I started to see all the wonderful supportive people coming out of the woodworks. There were way more of the lovers, than the haters. Just recently I saw a picture of a pride section at the Kroger in a conservative small town. That’s progress. You don’t know what that does to a person who has grown up hating themselves. It’s a bright light in a dark world. To many it’s just cardboard and paper, and others an abomination.

I’ve always lived life with the philosophy of doing good. You can be the person who lifts someone up. I’ve always been open with my struggles. Some have questioned why I’ve shared so openly. I don’t do it for them. At the end of the day if my struggles can be a lighthouse to someone else I will feel better. If I can save one person I know my life will have been meant for more than all that hate, misery, tears, blood and pain.

I won’t lie I’ve not got my life figured out. It’s a lifelong battle. I’ve struggled with dark days of depression. I fight daily with these demons. People like the activist mommy are not my demons, nor do they affect me. I’ve given people like her power for so long. They’ve rented space in my mind for most of my life.

The activist mommy speaks of freedom. To read her posts and the comments supporting here reminds me just how free I am. That I can read her posts and not feel any pain. I’ve had a lot of practice and I still get caught up occasionally.

For so many years it was easier to hate my father and be angry. It wasn’t until my Mom died five years ago that I realized how much destruction the anger has caused and how much he still controlled me. I say past tense because recently I cut those ties after some realizations. The grief softened the anger and I discovered a world of hurt. Through that hurt I wished for the father I always wanted and deserved. I even thought he had changed. Years ago he apologized for how he stated, the way he approached Jesus to me.

My mom was my lifeforce. She was my rock and when she died I went floating into outer space… so I grabbed onto the closest life force I was born with. I had my heart broken all over again recently. I had seen his posts on facebook about all things alt right. Anti this, anti that. A total trump lover… So it started to wake me up again. It was directed at me this time but it still stung. Still I thought maybe he wouldn’t turn on me this time. Maybe this time would be different.

Since my Mom died in 2012 I’ve struggled to survive. It’s been nearly five years and I’m not even 1/4 back to where I was before. In the last year I’ve almost been homeless three times. Through it all I fought through the grief and I’m finally on the outside looking in. For someone with PTSD that is extremely difficult to do. While I might not be emotionally unstable all the time I still struggle daily.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to live in a world where I no longer have the one person who was there for me. The world seemed to dark and scary for me. I had a lifetime of pain, suffering and misery that I almost ended it all in 2013. I didn’t really want to die, I just wanted relief and didn’t think I would ever get it.

It’s so much easier to judge someone else than it is to have empathy for what the person has endured. I think that’s what bothers me the most about this kind of hate is it reminds me of the kindness I wished I had more of. Often times I feel like a fuck up. The person who can’t be stable. Some days I don’t hate myself and those days are wonderful. I’m starting to have more of those happy days but I have enough of the others to mess with my mind.

I’m the end result of this hate. So many grow up into flawed adults who’ve never had the chance to heal and cope with the pain they’ve endured. It’s been twenty years and I still can hear my father’s voice yelling that I was going to hell and telling me that I was going to die alone in the hospital of AIDS. Those are words you never get rid of. You learn to detach the power cord but they’re still there.

Sometimes I just want to yell bloody murder. Will someone see me for who I am? and not the person they want me to be. For too long I didn’t think I deserved anything good, including love. So while I might still hate parts of myself I now know that I deserve wonderful things including kindness and love. I still struggle with believing I will find it but that’s just another thing I’m dealing with.

I wish people like the activist mommy could see our pain. See all our tears. I have to leave the situation knowing that they’re flawed and can’t see anything but their fears.

How do you combat someone like the activist mommy? Say what you want to her. Troll her with rainbow reactions but do something more than that. Reach out to someone you love who is struggling or even not. Someone in your life who is lgbtqai. They’ve probably just as scared as I am with the world we live in and could use the support. Just a simple I love you and I’m there will do. That’s what pride really is about. It’s celebrating our freedom from this hate and celebrating what being gay is all about… love and fabulousness.

I’ve never really questioned whether I was gay or not. For the most part I have loved being gay, it’s what makes me special. Though I’ve not always seen it as a gift. There was a time I tried to hide my fabulousness. I had guys make me less because of my femininity saying things to me like you’re too much like a girl, like that was a bad thing. So I tried to fit in. It was easy to do in the bear community with my size and facial hair. It wasn’t until I dressed in drag that I finally felt in touch with the person I was born to be. It was the first time that I had ever felt beautiful. Honestly I feel more like a woman than I do as a man. I recently have been describing myself as queer. It’s been rather liberating.

I’m learning to embrace who I am. So if you’re reading this and you’re going through something similar… hang on… weather out the storm. There are kind people out there. When you see people like the activist mommy remember like Glinda the good witch says, they have no power over you. If you’re living in this hell reach out to someone at school, a friend… A great resource is the Trevor Project if you can’t find anyone locally. They will help anyone including adults. You can always send me a message here as well too.

I’m with you and some many of us are. I will fight for you until I die. I’m learning to fight for myself but I will always have time for you. We’re worth it.

So activist mommy you have no power over me and others like me,  so be gone… <throws a proverbial bucket of glitter>

Huggs

SOURCES:
[1] CDC, NCIPC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. (2010) {2013 Aug. 1}.  Available from:www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars.

[2] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[3] James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.

[4] Family Acceptance Project™. (2009). Family rejection as a predictor of negative health outcomes in white and Latino lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults. Pediatrics. 123(1), 346-52.

[5] CDC. (2016). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

[6] IMPACT. (2010). Mental health disorders, psychological distress, and suicidality in a diverse sample of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths. American Journal of Public Health. 100(12), 2426-32.

 

Femmephobia in the Gay Community

So I was reading comments on a Facebook post (I know that’s a recipe for disaster) about a young gay man who was overtly feminine. Well the article wasn’t about his personality but that didn’t stop the haters from spewing their internalized homophobia. In an hour of the posting there were at least four comments about how he was a disgrace to the LGBTQ community and that he was making the “normal” gay men look bad. I was just disgusted and reminded about how much internal homophobia there still is.

Sure I get it. Most of us had to hide who we were for a very long time. We were told having feminine traits was unacceptable. A man loving another man that’s not masculine. Men are macho, drink beer and are womanizers. Society has set this idea of what is and isn’t acceptable for men, as they have with women. If you don’t fit that mold you’re made to feel less. As to not stick out like a sore thumb you go inward hiding who you. The only thing that does is stunts your growth.

Bottom line gay men who look down upon guys who are feminine have deeply rooted misogyny. I’ve always wondered what is so wrong with a man having the traits stereotypical for a woman or man who wears a dress and/or makeup? Why does society tell us that it’s wrong and ugly? Who wrote the book on the rules and guidelines for masculinity and femininity. I have yet to find that book. So why do so many people feel trapped by this to the point they have to prove to the world their masculine by shunning anyone who might break a hole in their false image.

I look at our gay youth and I’m just awe inspired at their courage to be whoever they want. Most of them never had to endure what we did and we should be happy for that. They’ve not had it thrown down their throats that they must conform to the rules of manhood. They can be just as fabulous as they were born to be. Guys who are femmephobic are so jaded and bitter that they must take it out on others. To feel good about themselves they have this great desire to tear others down. The only person that looks bad is them but they don’t care. They don’t even see the elephant in the room.

That kind of hatred is dangerous and toxic. Growing up it was always known that men don’t cry. I would compare myself to other boys and I always felt different. I didn’t like the same things that most boys did. I wasn’t into sports and I loved musicals. When I came out of the closet it was the most freest I’ve ever been. Those chains no longer tied me down but sadly for so many they still are even years after they’ve come out. I can remember a date that I was on in my early twenties and the guy just gave it to me about how much like a woman I was. He went out of his way to shun me. I felt horrible but he was the one with the problem.

It’s so easy to forget what is out there until you’re faced with it head on. I learned this when I started to perform in drag. I had guys who’d tell me that they wouldn’t date me because of it. I even had other gay guys question why I dressed up in drag. Personally I think drag queens are the best part of our gay community. So many don’t see it that way. To get up on stage in heels, makeup and a dress takes nerve in this world. I mean getting on stage is nerve wracking enough. I love anyone who says fuck you to the social norms. Drag for me blends gender and art. So many gay guys look down upon drag queens when in reality they were the ones fighting for equality early on. We have them to think for a lot of the strides we have made today. How a person dresses and/or acts has no relation to who they are inside. How someone dresses doesn’t make them a bad person. A bad person is someone who does bad things including making others  feel less. There’s no strength in belittling someone else for who they are, what they wear and who they love.

I can’t imagine what my transgender brothers and sisters must endure on a daily basis. They’re at the forefront of this battle. So many are judging them for who they are deep within. It’s not surprising that so many transgender people try to end their lives, not to mention the countless murders of trans folks. All because of gender. Misogyny is what it boils down to. From the beginning of time women have been treated less. Like being a woman makes you less of a person. Who the fuck came up with that rule??? I think being a woman is one of the best things in this world. I mean women bring life into this world. If it weren’t for women we’d all be fucked. So anyone that tries to step out of the social norm is instantly an outcast. I mean that’s why people have such a problem with being gay. We’re breaking the rules thus for breaking the ceiling in their hate filled house. I learned this a long time ago with my father. People like this gain a false sense of control by grasping onto an ideology. They’re not confident with it because it’s not real so in order to stay safe they must convince as many people as they can that their way. They will stop at nothing to stop the cracks from breaking them free. They don’t care who they drag down or who they hurt in the process, as long as it keeps them safe and secure.

Life is too short be whoever you want to be. That’s how I approach life. If it’s not hurting anyone and the person enjoys it then more power to them. For the longest time I was embarrassed by my feminine side, as I had been brainwashed into believing that it was an abomination. I now realize that’s the best part of me. I love my sensitivity and the fact that I’m not afraid to cry. It’s taken me a long time but I’m finally proud to be fabulous and I feel bad for those who don’t feel it themselves. They’ve hidden those beautiful traits for so long that the lack of has become a part of their personalities.

Anyone who doesn’t fit that mold is labeled a loser. Guys on this post called him disgusting, not apart of the community. They just continue to spew. They’ve internalized the homophobia cast upon them and in return are doing the exact same thing to others who have the traits that they were scolded for. These types of guys are stuck in the past and are going to be left behind. The youth of today are free from those chains that held us down for so long, at least most of them. They can be whoever they want to be without the fear of judgment.

Our youth have broken the mold of what it means to be gay. They’ve colored outside the lines. There is this young boy who I quite admire. He’s proud of his fabulousness and he’s constantly encouraging me to be proud of mine. To this day I still struggle to be me. Here he is at ten years old (or around that age) and not afraid to be himself. It’s so refreshing to watch his journey. Thankfully he has a wonderfully, loving mother who embraces who he is and encourages his exploration. I mean this kid is already a fashion icon. There are so many young boys just like him. I wish I was able to be like that when I was a kid. I’m not one of these gay guys who are so stubborn and stuck in their ways that they feel like they’ve got to prove that way is wrong. While I’m sad I couldn’t embrace my fabulousness that early I’m proud and happy they have the chance to. That’s all we can hope for, that the next generation will have it easier than we did.

So I’m just disgusted when I read these types of comments because it reminds me of what I went through. I’m very thankful I didn’t let that poison turn me into the person who shunned and judged me. No one should be judged or made to feel less for who they are or who they love. If a man wants to wear a dress who cares. The last time I checked wearing a dress isn’t going to cause the end of the world, though some act like it will. Neither will wearing makeup. Life is tough enough, be what you want to be. There is no normal or a mold that you have to fit in.

One of my favorite poems speaks to all of this:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

We are ALL meant to shine. Who are you not to be? Be fabulous, wear it proudly. We’ve earned that right. So if you want to sashay down the runway, do it! I can tell you that you’ll probably enjoy it. I’ve hid for so many years and not just my femininity. It causes great internal damage. Playing small doesn’t serve the world, it doesn’t help anyone especially yourself. When you’re authentic and free that liberates others. So by being fabulous you’re giving another human being the courage to do so as well.

In the end, I feel sorry for these guys. So lost and stuck that they don’t even realize it. They’re the one with the issue and the only ones making our community look bad. We’ve been put through enough, it’s our time to shine.

How To Stop Taking Things So Personal?

That’s the question I’m asking. I think the only logical answer is repetition. As a former people pleaser (well I’m working on it) this task can be extremely difficult to overcome. When you’ve built your world around it overcoming it just takes time. Tonight I found myself in a similar situation, where I was starting to take something personal. Boundaries are really important for a sexual abuse survivor and sometimes when you put them up not everyone will respect them. Especially if there a person who doesn’t have any or few boundaries. So when you face someone like that it can be a fight or flight situation. Most the times for me it’s been a flight situation. I hide in the rabbit hole where it’s safe and I wait for that person to leave.

Lately I’ve been doing the opposite. The person I use to be would not only take it personal but take it period. Those days are over. If someone treats me poorly I’m going to stand up and say something. No is a powerful word to a survivor and sometimes you have to continue to use it until the person gets the hint. After a situation put me through that I started to feel bad. Like why did this person treat me this way? Before it was what did I do wrong. Quickly I changed my thought from I’m worthless to I’m strong as steel. Even after you’ve confronted the situation the personalization can still seep in. If will find the smallest of crack and find it’s way into your brain.

If it finds the way in it will light up all the other wires in your brain that relate to that. Every single hurt, every single word it will stir up. So you not only have to fight the current battle but all the battles before it. I’m stronger than ever and I refuse to give into that beast. I won’t let it take me down that road anymore. I deserve more.

I don’t deal with confrontation and I never have. I stay as far away from it as possible. If you’ve been victimized enough it becomes a way to keep stay safe. You learn to surround yourself with people like you. I think that’s only natural. Sure some people will argue that people need to venture out into other circles where people have different viewpoints but for someone struggling just to stay alive you do what you need to do to survive. I’ve lived many years living in an environment where it was brainwashed into my brain that I was different and I was ostracized for my views and beliefs. I was an outcast and you go where all the other misfits go. Maybe one day I can surround myself with other kind of people but today I need to do whatever I can to survive. Peace is very important to me and so is stability.

I’ve surrounded myself with bad people most of my life and I’m working on changing that. I can’t play fast and loose with my life anymore. I can’t take any chances in terms of my healing. I have too much to lose. Plus I really don’t want to be around people who don’t care about the things I do. Like for example, republican gun loving extremists. I’m a hardcore liberal but even I don’t constantly post political stuff. Why would I want to be friends with someone who was constantly feeling the need to boast his views and his way of life.

I’ve finally got to the point in my life where I can accept differences and not feel the need to convince others of mine. I’ve been at the end of that with my Father and his religious beliefs. I don’t want to be like that person nor do I want to have someone like that in my life, at least full time. I guess for me it’s your approach. There’s a neighbor lady of mine who loves Trump and one day she was going on and on about him but she wasn’t trying to get us to love him… nor was she trying to convince us that she was right and we were wrong. Though no one was really engaging her. I know I certainly wasn’t. I’ve done the whole debate thing and the only thing you get from them are headaches.

The person I use to be would  have totally written her off. She’s just like my family. I now see her for the person she is underneath. Now if she starts to disrespect my boundaries that’s a different story. She’s always been so nice to me and I enjoy having her in my life in that way. Now will we become best friends, probably not but it’s nice see her out with the other neighbors.

You get to a point in your life where you want peace and you do whatever you can to keep that. Some people won’t understand that and love to argue but they’re not me. They haven’t lived my life. I’ve had to cut certain people out of my life and I don’t think there’s nothing wrong with that. I think it can be quite healthy to weed out toxic people.

It’s a fine line of balance. I can see why people feel so passionate about the matters that affect our lives. It’s not always been easy for me to separate the beliefs from the person. Like for example, a person who loves Trump. Here they are willing to vote in a President that will most likely take away my rights, that being marriage equality. How do you go about being okay with that? Many of my family are like that. Not only do they support Trump but they don’t believe gay people should have any rights. Why should I have to sift through the dirt to find out if a person is homophobic? Sometimes it’s easier to not put myself in the same room as that person. It’s like a gay person going into a straight sports bar. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going into one not because I don’t like sports because I know it could put me in harms way or at the very least I would feel like I couldn’t be myself or would watch how I acted. No one should ever have to hide who they are out of fear but that’s the reality we live in.

While I enjoy this neighbor and love seeing her, in the back of my head I wonder about the other stuff. Usually most of Trump supporters have something in common with each other. I mean Trump is pretty anti on a lot of different matters. Rejection is no fun and part of the reason I look for others like me. You learn to gravitate towards people with the same way of living life. Maybe one day I will be strong enough that I will be able to be good friends with a Republican but I’m not promising anything. Everyone has their right to believe in what they want to but it’s when you’re beliefs start to infringe on my rights that’s when it’s a different story. It’s also why sometimes I struggle to separate the two.

Sure my first thought was to try to get her to see why Trump is bad but I realized there was going to be nothing I could say to make her see things differently. It would just be wasted energy. So I just sit back and let her go on and on about him. It’s tough to live in a world where people are so blinded by their fears and discomfort that they’ll put others lives in jeopardy. It goes deeper than taking things personal. Though I do have the foresight now to realize that these people are the ones with the issues, not me.

My Aunt and Father are very much like this. You should see their facebook page. It’s anti-Hillary this, anti-dems this… and not just them but gays as well. They don’t even see how much hate they’re spewing, it’s rather toxic. I look at people like that and I just feel bad for them. They’re so radical in their beliefs that they cause harm to other people and are proud to do it. My Aunt is so blinded by her faith and discomfort she doesn’t realize who she is hurting and people like her are very willing to vote our rights away. They can’t see outside of their tunnel vision. The sad reality there are millions of people like that in this country and I think that’s why Trump scares so many of us. He just doesn’t care about other people and people just love that about him. You can take the whole not caring what people think too far, to the point it turns into narcissism.

I still struggle with letting go of the personalizations, especially with my family. My Aunt is nice to my face but then is posting all this hurtful stuff. How does one not get hurt by that? That’s why I just stay away from people like that. It’s not that I don’t agree with her beliefs, which I do, but that she’s so willing to vote away my rights. Marriage equality gives so many LGBTQ people so many rights and it boils down to safety and security. Taking away the right to marry will harm other gay people. Yet people like my Aunt don’t see it this way. They’re so insecure about their faith that they have to prove to the world their way is the only way and they’ll vote for things that prove just that. I love my Aunt and I know underneath she’s a good person but I can’t have that in my life. It’s too painful. So I stay away. It’s just better that way.

I’ve come a long ways and I have further to grow. One day at a time. That’s it for now. Thanks for reading! Huggs

Escaping the Lion Den

TRIGGER WARNING for those survivors of sexual abuse/assault I talk about my childhood sexual abuse in detail. I also talk about sex in general, so if that makes you feel uncomfortable you might not want to read any further… 

 

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As I listen to Sia’s new song, “The Greatest.” I thought about how I felt yesterday. A prisoner of the sexual abuse. For too long I’ve been a prisoner of something that I didn’t do. It might have happened 30 years ago but I’m still chained to that cement block deep within the pits of hell. Stuck in the lion’s den waiting for it to clinch its sharp teeth into my flesh, ripping me from limb to limb.

I find myself in these situations where I do things that I don’t like. I force myself to do them. I wondered why that is? What is it about myself that I put myself in situations that are ugly or at least feel ugly. I’ve really tried to dissect the reasoning behind it. Yesterday was one of those days. It’s like I relive those days over and over. Am I trying to control the past? Do I think I can fix it? It’s not something you can fix. My mind knows this but my heart doesn’t.

Maybe the why’s don’t matter but I’d like some insight in order to gain will power. I don’t like to be in those situations. It’s pretty common for sexual abuse survivors to have a complicated and complex sexuality, especially if it happens when you’re a child and/or teenager. It’s especially complex if you’re in the middle of puberty. The abuse becomes hardwired into the person you’re blossoming into. So by the time you hit adulthood you’ve based your world on a lie. That you’re worthless and an object for men to use and abuse… however they see fit. You don’t matter. As an I adult I know that’s a lie but as a child I didn’t. I created a universe where I wasn’t worthy of love both platonic and romantic.

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For a good thirty years I’ve let the abuse weigh me down. I’ve become a prisoner to it. The abuse metaphorises into various aspects of my left. I’ve settled so many times that I built a house upon that shaky foundation. A house filled with bars and no doors. A deep pit with no way out. Life has always been complicated for me. I’ve struggled more times than not. Until recently I was bogged down by it all. Tonight I started to go down that road by thinking something negative. This time it was I can’t do this but before I could even finish the sentence I stopped myself. Not today Satan I said. I can listen to those voices anymore. They’ve always led me wrong.

This certainly hasn’t been the first time in my life that I’ve struggled but I’ve noticed this conviction that I didn’t see before. A kind of fuck it attitude. When you stop giving a shit (about the bad stuff and the people hurt you) you release their control on you. So when a new hurdle is thrown at me I clear it easily. Each climb up the mountain I become stronger. Nothing or no one will keep me down. I haven’t always felt that way.

Coping skills are something I’ve always struggled with. I’ve always had the toolbox but I didn’t believe I deserved to use them. If you’ve been put through enough in your life you eventually have this WTF moment and say wait a minute. I don’t deserve this. It’s when you become so miserable that you can’t stand yourself. In the past when someone hurt me I would take it personal like it was reflection of who I was and my loveability.

The sexual abuse was the first time I personalized something that someone else did to me. It wasn’t my choice. Being gay and a sexual abuse survivor also presents many complications especially if you’re love life has mirrored that first violent act. Being a victim and an object became apart of my personality. It taught me to give myself to those who don’t deserve it. So it’s not surprising that I’ve gravitated towards those are unworthy of my love and attention.

Acting out sexually isn’t something new for me. I went through a very dark period of my life where I was very sexually promiscuous. Sex became a compulsion. I can remember exactly when I started to go down that dark path. I had fell in love with this man who just used me for sex and put me in harms way. I stayed with him even afterwards thinking I could get him to love me and it never happened. That act reinforced the abuse. When you’re gay and your abuser is also a male it really fucks you up. Love and sex are cemented together. You’re first rejection is your abuser, or at least it was for me. He groomed me to fall in love with him then when I was hooked he rejected me in a violent way. I still have the scars.

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I was forced into puberty before I was ready. It was a violent non-violent act. I guess in a way I was raped. Wow, I had never thought about being forced into puberty. I was ten years old if that. I didn’t even know what sex was let alone an ejactulation. Back then parents didn’t have those kind of conversations about the birds and the bees or at least not that early. I didn’t have the luxury of time. I still remember the first night and the pain I felt. Becoming a man is a right of passage but when the first time is forced upon you then it becomes a nightmare. Prior to that night I never had any sexual feelings whatsoever.

You can imagine not knowing what was happening to your body. I thought I was dying. I wasn’t allowed to have self exploration to decide what I liked and didn’t. Actions turned into words, words into feelings. After he was done.  I waited for him to fall asleep then I went into the shower and tried to scrub the dirtiness off. While I didn’t know what happened I knew it was wrong. There wasn’t enough soup in the world to wash away the shame. I finally gave up and went back into the lion’s den, the bed we were sharing.

You might be asking yourself why would he go back to that bed??? I’ve asked myself that a million times. After I got out of the shower I went towards the room my parents were sleeping. I even went up to their door to knock but I stopped myself. I thought they’d never believe me that my male cousin did what he did. I didn’t even know how to put into words what happen. My family had a tendency to not believe when I told them something, so I thought why would this be any different?

Actually I skipped a step. I didn’t go back into that room right away. I went to sleep on the couch in the cabin we were staying at. Every year my whole family would go on vacation up north in Michigan. Sometimes we would share a cabin. This summer was one of those occasions so that meant kids sharing beds. I can remember that cabin very distinctly like I was just there. Everything from the hallways to the kitchen. I can close my eyes and I’m there. The room especially I remember. It’s probably because that’s what I concentrated on when it was happening. I hid underneath my pillow praying for someone to rescue me but no one came to save me. I remember this small window with white sheer curtains. I can feel how rough the knotted wood walls were. I can see the upright small shower with my tears in the drain. I see it all.

 

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This isn’t the sofa but it’s close. It was firm and not comfortable at all. It has that weird pattern that a lot of furniture had in the 80’s.

I remember the color, pattern and feel of the couch I laid on until sunrise. As to not be suspicious I went back to the monster bed. I had no excuses to give whey I was sleeping on the couch. I woke up like nothing happened but it had. My soul was forever altered. While I remember everything about that night I don’t even remember what happened thereafter. Well until the next night when I had to go back into the lion’s den. I knew my parents would question why I didn’t want to sleep in that bed so I went back. I had thought maybe it won’t happen again but it did. It was like that night was on repeat. I would lay down pretending to sleep, hiding in my pillow and it would happen.

Again I’d wait until he was sound asleep. I would quietly sneak away like a mouse to try to shower off the filth so much that it burned. I would lay back down on that couch letting my tears turn into rain. Somehow I knew when to wake up in time to go back to that room. After that night I lost track of when the abuse stopped. Sometime in the week, as our vacations only lasted a week. Each night I would repeat the steps until they became an instructional manual of who I was.

I hid that secrets for over three years. I told a good friend when I was in 8th grade for the first time. I didn’t tell anyone else until I graduated High School in 1995, seven years later.

The bed is suppose to be a sanctuary of rest and relaxation but for a sexual abuse survivor who was assaulted in their bed that turns into hell.

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Thirty years and it just dawned on me that I’m still doing the same thing. I keep going back into the lion’s den because that was what I was taught to do. Yesterday as I was in the middle of a sex act I looked at the person and thought this wasn’t what I wanted. I thought to myself what in the world was I doing. My mind knew this was harmful but I keep doing it. I would initiate the victimization that I was doing to myself. I’ve been reliving that night over and over for the past thirty years.

For the past four years I wanted very little to do with sex. I was rather repulsed by it most the time. I either go from not wanting to be touched to wanting to have sex all the time. There are no inbetweens. Now that I live in place where I can have people over I have the opportunity to act out. Loneliness leads to desperation which leads to sex and usually bad feelings. A good portion of my sexual experiences I’ve showered afterwards just like I did that week. Each time it would never wash away the shame, guilt or dirtiness of it all. More than half the sexual partners I’ve had I haven’t enjoyed nor found the person attractive. I would get myself in the situation and want out but didn’t feel obligated to end it. So I gave the person what they wanted. For a long while I was always in control with the sex but I was still the victim. Two tortured souls using each other. It was still doing the same thing. Repeating the abuse over and over until it resulted into bloodshed.

While I’m not in full sexual compulsion I’m on the outer edge and that frightens me. Those days were some of my darkest. During 2004-2005 most sex acts ended in me being suicidal, and in two circumstances ended with me being hospitalized. I was self destructing in the way of unprotected sex and useless sex. I was giving guys what they wanted. I thought if someone I love was going to use me I might as well be the one giving it away, then no one could take it away from me again but that’s just as harmful… giving it up.

I’m still giving it up. Giving the person what they wanted even if it means harm to me. It usually means giving the person what they wanted in them wanting to get used. I become the monster in their nightmare but they don’t even realize that it’s a nightmare as it masks itself as a wet dream. So many gay men have been hurt and are reliving it daily. So desperate for love that they resort to the next best thing which isn’t.

Love for a survivor is also complicated because at an early age you get an altered view of what love is. I became attached to my abuser so much that I would find myself trying to get myself in the same situation that caused me so much pain. So not only do you have the shame of the abuse happening but the shame of enjoying parts of it. The sexual abuse was all I knew about sex, so therefor I thought that’s what love was. So I wanted the attention and affection that went along with it. I went from complete agony from what happened for the first year to fantasizing about it when I truly hit puberty. I wasn’t allowed to fantasize about the things gay youth do both because of the abuse and being in a homophobic family. So all I had to go by what happened to me. So that just added to the shame. How could I fantasize about something that destroyed me.

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I was a child I didn’t know better. I was groomed to behave the way I did. Even when I grew into my teenage years I still didn’t have sexual feelings for either of the opposite sex, other than my abuser. Each time I would you know what I would feel the same kind of shame and dirtiness I felt when the abuse happened. Each time I prayed to God saying I wouldn’t do it anymore and I would always fail. I took the blame right away when it wasn’t mine to carry. As I grew older the shame and guilt grew with me. It wasn’t until 2000 until I started to deal with the abuse deeply. It was during this time that I began to realize that I wasn’t to blame.

It wasn’t then that I came out about the second part of the abuse where I’d go out looking for it. That I had never told anyone. For many years I harbored so much shame and felt like I was the monster because I wanted it. The first time I tried to get in the same situation with my cousin was when we were a few years older. Our families were on vacation together, this time everyone had their own separate cabins. I desperately tried to find a reason to sleep in the same bed as him. I don’t know how I did it but I did. All I wanted was to be close to him. I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next. Again I woke to him pleasuring me but this time orally. Again I didn’t know what in the world he was doing. I didn’t know what oral sex was. I tried to get him off of me but he wouldn’t budge. Again I was scared until ejaculation happened then it was this intense pleasure.

The next day I felt the shame. I was for sure that I had AIDS, that’s how misinformed I was about sex. I mean I thought people had babies by touching feet for the longest time. I didn’t know any better. I would continue to get myself in similar situations the next year or so. Situations where he’d pretend to be sleeping and he’d perform oral on me. I didn’t realize until an adult that he wasn’t sleeping. All that time I thought I was forcing myself onto him. It wasn’t until my therapist told me that you can perform oral when you’re sleeping. I really thought he was. The first time it happened I didn’t initiate it at all, he did it all on his own doing but after that I was the pursuer. I held a great amount of shame and guilt for that part, I still do.

Once he started High School he was done with me. It was the first time I had my heart broken, how fucked up is that? He got me hooked then he threw me away as I was nothing. I was nothing. What pleasure I had went away very quickly, after the rejection. The personalization of the event grew deeper as I was forced to live in his shadow. Chad was the star of the family and our High School. All the girls wanted him and all the boys wanted to be like him. To my family he could do no wrong. He lived with my grandmother down the street from me. My grandmother didn’t drive so my Mom drove him to wherever he wanted to. It killed me seeing how my own parents were with him. I grew up thinking they loved him more than me. Eventually I believed they didn’t love me at all. That they’d rather have him as a son than me. I barely could get the attention I so desperately needed from my own Father yet my abuser earned it freely from my Father. I wasn’t like my Father at all. I didn’t hunt nor did I play sports but my he did. I cried myself so many nights feeling unloved.

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Growing up I was always bullied, especially on the bus. It was like I was his property coming to my aid but then turning it back towards me. It was like he didn’t want anyone bullying me but him. He had this cocky, better than though attitude. I remember one day he noticed that my fingernails were growing out a bit and he scolded me for not cutting them. To this day if anyone says anything similiar to me I get triggered horribly. I always worry people are judging me on whether my fingernails or toenails are too long. Just yesterday I was hiding my feet from my neighbors as we sat besides the pool talking. They weren’t even that long but they were long enough for me to be embarrassed. That’s how an abuser gets inside your head. No matter how hard you try to untangle the wires inside your mind you always get trapped in them.

I had started to discover that I was gay in my junior year of High School. I didn’t know my attraction towards other men meant I was gay. I remember finding a straight porn advertisement pamphlet on the street and getting excited by the men in it. After then I would try to find anything with naked men in it. I would find the artistic male model magazines in bookstores like Barnes and Noble and stare at their bodies. I was fascinated with their figures and it wasn’t quite sexual feelings. I didn’t really start having those until I was in my 20’s. I would call these party chat lines and listen to the guys talk. I found comfort in hearing their voices and again it wasn’t sexual for me. I longed for the affection again.

Eventually I couldn’t take the lying, hiding and being something I wasn’t. My Mom found the numbers of the chat lines. I remember she confronted me about them before our trip to Disney. She asked me what the numbers were and I acted like I didn’t know. She dropped the issue and I had thought she had forgot about it until we got back from Disney. She confronted me and asked me if I was gay. At that time I didn’t even know that I was so I said no. I then pretended to be confused about girls, which I had never any thoughts about girls in that way but to get her off my back I acted like I was insecure with them. I remember one night pretending to go on a date with a female classmate as a cover. Instead I went to a 50’s restaurant by myself.

The following year my Mom would ask me about how things were going on the girl front and I pretended to like one of my good friends. When I graduated High School I used the money I received from my open house to buy a computer. Living in a rural area I wasn’t exposed to much culture or anyone like me. Being able to get online opened me to a brand new world full of people just like me. It was then when I realized that I was gay. I was also able to find support with other male survivors. I remember this one penpal I had who I had a huge crush on. I never saw his picture but I still remember how his letters made me feel. Finally I was talking with others who had experienced the same thing as me. Up until that time I thought I was alone.

Well my parents began to question why I was online all the time. Again I was confronted with questions this time more sternly. I couldn’t take it anymore and burst out that I was gay and had been molested. The dam had broke and the emotions flooded out. Well that didn’t go well at all. The abuse to a backseat to being gay. I had my internet took away, including my phone. I was forced into isolation and I was shut out of the new world. Shunned, scared and alone. That event just reinforced what I had felt the four years prior with my parents not loving me. I was treated horribly and shunned for who I loved. I was told the friends that I had made online weren’t going to be there for me when I was dying from AIDS in the hospital all alone. My father also told me that I had always wanted to lose weight and that I would by getting AIDS. I was called abnormal. Told I was going to hell. My mother cried for weeks.

If I hadn’t been fully broken that ripped me in half. 

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Originally I wouldn’t tell my Mom who it was that abused me. The next day she forced it out of me. While my Mom wasn’t supportive of me being gay she was finally with the abuse. My Father was a different story. The day after telling them what my cousin did my Father went hunting with him. When my Father returned he saw how upset I was and he told me that I needed to forgive and forget. I still remember that moment as it happened today. It still hurts me just the same. Twenty years and it still pierces my skin, cutting me to the core.

Coming out about the abuse I became an outcast in my extended family. I was the black sheep. In our family we didn’t talk about the sexual abuse that happened to most of the cousins in my family and we had a big family. The adults let the monster walk around in open like nothing had ever happened. My cousin wasn’t the monster. The mastermind of all the abuse was one of my older cousins. Who molested most of the cousins except me. Everyone knew what he did but they did nothing!!! They let him come to family functions and he paraded around like he was the shit. The one other time that someone spoke out about the abuse was my Mother years before I did. She confronted my Aunt (his mother) with what he did to my sister. My Aunt wouldn’t talk to my Mom for over a year afterwards.

Being gay was worse than being a child molester in my family. Now that’s fucked up but that was my reality but I couldn’t hide anymore so I had to live as lepar. It was my cross to bear and they nailed me to the cross. I was the monster for speaking out. How dare I bring shame to the family. I was suppose to be a good little boy and sweep it underneath the rug. My worst fears came true as many didn’t believe me. How could our poster boy for perfection do something like that. I must be lying. My relationship with my Grandmother ended as well and she cut me out. She was another person who was suppose to love me and treated me horribly. My Aunt laughed it off as boys will be boys, like we were playing in a fucking sandbox. What the fuck does that means??? I still can’t figure it out. Child Molesters are okay but being a democrat you’re the evil one to her. You should see her facebook wall littered with so much negativity it would turn Mother Teresa into a sinner.

I finally have the strength to realize that they’re the ones with the issue but it still hurts like hell. Even tonight I started to go down that road looking at her wall. I quickly closed out of the browser saying to myself that was all her, and had nothing to do with me. It felt good to be able to say that. My Father is the same way. It’s hate this and that. How can people live their lives like that. I don’t know how they sleep at night.

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Whenever one of the hurt souls tries to swim to swim to the surface towards the light all the other hurt souls desperately try to pull you back under. They don’t want you opening your wound as they fear they will have to open theirs. That’s how my family treated me. Why couldn’t I be like everyone else. They had to suffer in silence so why couldn’t I?

I use to hate my cousin. I still don’t like hearing his name, nor do I like seeing it written out. I avoid anyone with that name. I don’t trust them. I’ve forgiven his boy self but I’ve struggled to figure who he is as an adult. I realize that he was groomed as well by the main perp. Who still to this day has never had to pay for his violent sins. He destroyed so many lives. I blame the adults of the family just as much. I now blame him for my pain. I still have so much anger. I’ve let go of a lot of it but it still poisoned my blood. Another thing I need to work through.

All these things just reinforced that I was worthless, unloveable and an object. It also told me that I didn’t deserve anything good or pure. They taught me that I deserved less. When you are forced to live in hell you believe that’s all that’s out there. Everything is scary.

So I continued to search for others like the ones who caused me harm. Dating was no different. I went for the guys who were emotionally unavailable who discarded me when they were done, much like my cousin. I was rejected by most of the gay population for being fat and those who did find me attractive only wanted me for my body. Neither wanted me for my heart and soul. It slowly ate away at my soul until I had very left to give. Just lay there and take it. That’s all you’re good for. So I gave the men what they wanted.

I still find myself falling into that trap both inside and outside the bedroom. I don’t think I ever had stability in my life. I can’t run any longer as I’m too old and worn out. I’m so desperate for stability I can taste it. I’m tired of settling but growth takes time. You don’t build a world on lies then expect the new world to grow overnight. It doesn’t work that way.

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Lately my current living situation has mirrored many things in my life both with the sexual abuse and the dysfunctional dynamic at home. So much I’ve started to flashback about everything and I mean everything. It jars you, no matter how many times it happens. In a matter moments you’re transported back to that time and place. You can feel, hear and smell how everything was. Just a little bit ago I could smell the cologne my cousin use to wear. It was strong and unsettling.

You can’t control flashbacks, they just happen like dreams in the middle of the night. Last night was the worst flashback I’ve had in over ten years. The last time I had a flashback(s) this intense it sent me to the hospital. Thankfully this time it didn’t but it felt like I was close. I’m fearful that they’ll continue to grow. All I can do is wait at the battle line with my sword and shield. Flashbacks are very much like a battle in war. When the bomb is detonated you’re left to pick up the pieces and it can take days, sometimes weeks to adjust.

The sexual abuse hasn’t always affected me so deeply. I’ve gone periods where the beast was hibernating. While it didn’t affect me directly it was behind everything that caused me pain. It was the monster pulling my strings. The last ten years I didn’t want to talk about the abuse at all. Even in therapy recently it was a subject that was off limits for me. I could say it happened but I couldn’t give any details about it. This is the first time in ten years that I have opened the wound back up. Tonight was a sign that I have more work to do. I’ve uncovered a big heap of pain.

Now I see why I continue to lay down in the lion pit. It was how I was trained to be. I was told that I was meant to be torn apart by the lion. I was the meat, the prey. Well fuck that. I refuse to lie down any longer. The next time the lion comes to rip me apart I’m going to take my sword and pierce it’s heart.

“I’ve got stamina. 

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier”

derekredhair

If you’re a male survivor there is a great website for help/support:

http://www.discussion.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=cfrm

Support for sexual assault survivors (I’ve never used any of the websites below but found them on google and thought I’d share in case they’re helpful to someone). I wish I had a recommended site for Women. If anyone knows of one leave me a comment.

https://www.rainn.org/

http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/

http://overcomingsexualabuse.com/

http://www.aftersilence.org/forum/index.php

and a list of recommended books:

http://www.pandys.org/recommendedreading.html

You’re not alone. There’s a huge network of survivors in this world who know what you’re going through.

If you feel unsafe please consider calling The National Suicide Prevention Hotline:

1-800-273-TALK (8255) , 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

 

What it Feels Like to Be Gay

 

Have you ever been made to feel less because of who you are inside? The feeling that you’re not good enough for God’s love. It’s not simply that God doesn’t love you but that you deserve the pain inflicted upon you. That’s what it feels like to be gay.

Ever been denied service because you’re straight or gotten the crap beaten out of you because you kiss the opposite sex? Have you hid being straight to keep yourself safe? Were you ever pushed to tears because you’re seen as different, abnormal and strange? That’s what it feels like to be gay.

Has someone ever told you over and over again that you’re going to hell for being straight, to the point where you have recurring nightmares of going to hell? Did you ever lose your job because you’re straight? Were you denied housing based on the fact that you’re heterosexual?

That’s what it feels like to be gay. Many of us have lived this hell for a good portion of our lives. Hearing these states pass these harmful laws has reminded me of it all and I can’t help but feel ill. It makes me angry, furious actually. I feel so helpless wanting to do something to fix it and knowing that I can’t. Well not to the degree I want to help, like stopping these laws from passing.

Like how are states like North Carolina going to enforce these laws. Are bathrooms going to have attendants where you’re forced to show identification? There is no way to enforce these laws. Will anyone have the nerve to stop a trans woman from going into a woman’s room? This is where the law is dangerous. Laws like HB-2 give businesses and organizations the right to discriminate however they please. It doesn’t just stop at the bathroom. Anyone that is deemed as different could get told to leave. So if you’re a man who’s feminine or a woman who’s masculine you could be targeted even if you don’t identify as LGBT.

Republicans are just using this the bathroom issue as an excuse to do whatever they want. They can’t stop gays from getting married now so they’re desperate to control us however possible. It’s a gigantic slippery slope from restroom patrolling to denying service for being LGBT. Before you know it, medical staff will start denying us care.

This isn’t the first time a law like this was introduced. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that a Governor would sign a bill like this into law. I thought to myself businesses in other states made it clear that they’d pull out if a similar bill was passed in their states. Thankfully that woke each state’s Governor right up but sadly that didn’t happen with North Carolina. Now that HB-2 has passed it gives other states the confidence to follow suit, just like Mississippi has done.

HB-2 is legalized segregation. Plain and simple. Now businesses can turn away whoever they want. Are you a gay couple wanting to enjoy a nice weekend at the local B&B? Sorry you can’t because the owners don’t rent to faggots. It’s not just wedding cakes, so many aspects of life that we can be discriminated against.

One of the most harmful aspect of laws like HB-2 is the message it sends the world. It’s like throwing coals into a house already on fire. The message is that’s perfectly acceptable to hate another human being. Can you imagine what the LGBT citizens of North Carolina and Mississippi are going through now. They have to live in fear of being treated less. Like will this be the day I get told to leave a store?

Gay people struggle enough. When will the fear-mongering stop? These people are inflicting their fears onto others causing them to live in real fear. It’s like their chicken little screaming the sky is falling and then they pick up the stones on the ground to throw at us.

I have lived through religious persecution and it damages your soul. I was told over and over that I was going to hell to the point where I started believing it. Still to this day I’m very disconnected from my spirituality. That’s the true abomination, that these fear-mongers are taking away God’s love. They don’t have any right to it but that doesn’t stop them. Yes, we have marriage equality but these laws prove that for many life hasn’t gotten any better.

Just recently a gay man was in Miami on vacation with his partner. While out to dinner he was beat black and blue just for giving his boyfriend a simple kiss. His life was forever altered because of someone else’s hate. This happens more often that I’d like to think. Transgender people are killed at alarming rates and often times they’re forgotten. In 2015, at least 21 transgender people were murdered. During the first six months of 2015 there were more deaths than in the previous year. Teens are killing themselves are alarming rates for being bullied and being different. Laws like HB2 chip away at their already fragile self esteems. It sends the dangerous message that they’re not worthy. It get’s better is difficult to hear when you’re living in hell. Many of these children live in households full of hate to then look in the news that their state has passed a law confirming that they’re not worthy of love or life.

One of the issues with laws like HB2 is that it forces people look at how we view gender. There are these social norms of what it’s like to be a man and a woman. If you don’t fit that mold then you’re made to feel less. You’re seen as abnormal. Having to deal with something connected to gender forces people outside their comfort zone. I’ve read through various comments about transgender using public bathrooms and I see people freaking out. When in reality they’ve been sharing the bathroom with transgender people for a very long time. The excuse used for passing these laws are that they don’t want men sharing the restrooms with their wives and daughters. This law would actually force trans men to use a woman’s restroom based on their birth gender. Their worst nightmares will come true and there’s nothing that they can do because they wrote it into the law books.

Misogyny is so deeply woven into our society that when something doesn’t fit that mold it brings up a red flag. Like what’s so wrong with a boy who wants to play with a doll or a girl who wants to play with a truck. Who says a man can’t wear a dress or a woman a suit. It’s society that does. Many have this strict view on gender when in reality gender is a lot more fluid than anyone realizes. That’s why so many have a problem because we’re forcing them to face their fears and insecurities.

Now more than ever we need our allies. Hearing that the White House has made their restrooms gender inclusive has given me comfort. Obama is one of our biggest allies. In a world that’s shaky and unsure it helps to have such strong allies. These religious zealots are desperate and willing to do whatever necessary to keep their beliefs safe even if it means harming other people. That’s why it’s so important to vote to ensure that discrimination isn’t legalized. Eventually these laws will get overturned by the Supreme Court but for many they don’t have the time to wait. That’s the sad reality. So if you question why we have gay pride or why we need inclusive restrooms I hope that this posting will show you why.

That’s what it’s like to be gay…