I’ve been questioning who I’ve held myself to be after the summer of ‘73. Why have I been so willing for 40 years to paint myself as a creep? Is it just rote habit, or is punishing myself fulfilling an agenda? That contemptuous persona was defined by one episode. Only recently have I seen it in context, and that’s been overwhelming. It has cracked open feelings I have never dealt with.
What I did was wrong and it always will be. Is it the horrendous crime I have held myself accountable for? Without knowing how it affected him, I won’t know. As I finally look at it, I can no longer portray myself as the monster. I was a scared, broken boy.
I had just finished 8th grade. Things were turning around for me. I was approaching the world with more confidence. Looking back, I was growing out of, or at least sidestepping the ugly lessons from the assault. I didn’t feel a sense of belonging, but I noticed I wasn’t alone, which softened the sting. I dreaded gym class, but once started, I did enjoy wrestling and gymnastics even though I was horrible.
Earlier in that year I felt the first stirrings of romantic notions. I had been sexualized early, but these feelings were new. There was one boy in particular, Jimmy. The thought of him enveloped me in a warm glow. A hello from him would elevate my mood for days. Him just being alive made the whole world better. Sweet and hopeful, a youthful crush has to be the greatest gift of the human condition.
My junior high art teacher directed community theater productions. I was honored when he asked my parents if I would work on the crew. I was intoxicated by stagecraft; the art of engineering magic! I was beyond excited at what I would learn.
I might as well have run away to the circus, everyone had big characters and a passion to be there. I understood that homosexuals were drawn to the theater. I may even meet one, maybe one of the young men. Everything was new and exciting; so much potential. I was invigorated by a sense of purpose. John, a 35 year old man became my mentor and was keen to show me the ropes.
Everything changed the night John staged his sick scenario. For his pleasure, I was scared out of my wits. For his amusement, I was presented with a mind numbing choice, that decisions ate away at who I thought I was, who I wanted to be. For his satisfaction, he molested me while I slept. And for all that effort, the fat pig couldn’t even get a fucking hard on.
I was dirty in a way that supersedes adolescent stench. I was the filth. The sensation is strange, it’s not something that a shower can wash away, but that was exactly what I was desperate for. I don’t understand the mechanism, but I’ve heard other survivors mention it. There is something about having the sovereignty of your body violated. It injects the filth into your being. What was behind my fly was no longer mine. It was so grotesque to wake with him slopping on me.
I recently saw the phrase “childhood ripped from you by a sick person”. The truth of those words rang through me. He unraveled the patches and workarounds I had plastered myself together with. Though I was furious and scared, where I went was hate. It was a spinning, churning hate targeting everything, but always jabbing me, sticking me, hating me. It was familiar, I learned it in the school yard.
I didn’t have the words, but what hurt the most was the betrayal. In 1973 all I knew about being gay was from scant library references and even rarer news articles. I didn’t know anyone. Because I was sexualized early, I was actively seeking a connection since I was about 12. I was intensely lonely and afraid I would never meet any other boys like me. I had taken some desperate steps earlier that summer. In part, that is why the theater felt like a refuge. John knew I was gay. He asked me questions, did I know what cruising was, could I sense others, who did I like? His questions were so full of information. He dangled that knowledge in front of me, leading me on. But he wouldn’t feed it to me.
That is the state I was in when I called Jimmy. I suspect I purposely kept the 2 episodes separated. Being cast as the bad guy in each was just a byproduct of that necessity. Realizing what I went through is overwhelming. The past few weeks looking at this has been hard. I’ve felt the pain I’ve been numb to.
Of course I am sorry for any harm I may have caused. But I don’t think it was as dark and horrible as I have always portrayed it as. I’m cutting the rope on this one.
As I continue to work through this I see it and myself differently. I’ve written about it in 360° | Parallel. The revelations have been so profound I suspect I will continue to write about it.