I am approaching the anniversary of my rape differently. I will be posting pseudo diary entries chronicling the events in real time, be it on a 43 year delay.
Friday, May 24, 1974
I went into Allentown tonight. I hung out by the the steps to the bar. It was empty. Finally Bobby came around. He always talks to me. I asked him where everyone was. He explained it was Memorial Day weekend, and everyone starts the summer in Atlantic City. He describe a big gay resort with multiple bars on New York Ave and the beach in front of the Claridge. His friends even rent an apartment there for the season. It sounded like we were the only 2 people who weren’t there. After a few minutes he went into the bar. I had made it all the way into town, so I stuck it out, hoping to meet someone. But I didn’t.
I had become a different person at the start of that school year, 9th grade. It’s taken decades to see the correlation between being molested in ‘73 and my state afterwards. I was a spinning wheel spewing rage and despair. I didn’t understand the engine was fueled by self hate or what to do about it.
At the time, I knew I was lost. I desperately believed a lover would rescue me, make me whole. But there was no one. I was in a small town and I was terrified of other boys. My anxiety locked me out of even striking up a conversation.
In the spring I was suspended from school. I hitchhiked into Allentown to talk to someone at a counseling center. I couldn’t get the nerve up to go in, so I headed home. I stumbled onto a gay cruising area. Oz opened and I had hope.
I learned where the gay bars were. I thumbed into town at least one night a week. Those first few weeks on the street were gentle. I was befriended by Bobby who was 22 at the time. We attempted to have sex at my insistence, but I failed. He was gracious. I had no idea what was keeping me from what I wanted so badly.
Rarely did I see anyone my age. When I did, they wouldn’t talk to me. I didn’t realize they were working and that they thought I was doing the same. I spent hours standing on the street looking for Him. My natural optimism told me every passing car was a possibility. What I didn’t understand was in 1974 being out at 15 was extremely young and rare. Wholesome boys wouldn’t be out on the streets. The kids who were had already been folded into an adult game.
Those nights ended in disappointment. If Bobby didn’t give me a ride, the trip home was long. I tried to be in before sunrise, before anyone woke up. I could usually hitch a ride to my town, but ended up walking the last mile and a half up the dark mountain.
My parents didn’t really know what I did at night. I was courteous and informed them I was going out. They weren’t to curious, my hazy explanations were accepted. Specifics weren’t asked for.
I don’t fault my parents. I was impenetrable and a completely different person then they had known. I recall my mother screaming in frustration “I know something happened in that theater”. Her anguish should have ripped me open, I could have told her then about being molested, but I held fast to my secrets. I couldn’t say what happened if I tried. I am still finding those words.
This series continues with ’74 Fold – Monday
Thank you for reading. Comments and constructive conversation are always welcomed. I can be reached privately via the contact page.