Two themes are swirling through my head and both come back to the importance of story.
We watched “Stonewall Uprising” on American Experience. The filmmaker expertly presents the pre-stonewall atmosphere. It was a time when “experts” spewed damning rhetoric. Doctors made grandious claims that there was no such thing as a “Happy Homosexual”. Others actualy said that little gay kids weren’t “Real Boys”. That shit was absorbed by our psyches. That was the onslaught of sewage we were brought up to believe.
Both Keith and I know it all too well. But in our liberation, we forgot. The use of the word “Gay” isn’t accidental. It spit on the damning experts. “Pride” pisses on the shame they wanted us to stew in. Remembering the stories is vital to our understanding of who we are today.
In that same vane, I was recently reminded what an accomplishment it was for me to succinctly tell what happened to me in ‘74. I was looking at work I did back in ‘92 and was surprised by what I had written then. The body of work “…juxtaposes the mythical innocence of childhood against the vile knowledge of sex, violence and death.” Comparing the clarity of that statement to the actual work amply illustrates how difficult it was for me to tell the truth.
At first I was taken back by how much of my life was occupied with this struggle. But as I considered it, I realized how far I have come.
After I was kidnapped I resorted to techniques that always served me well, secrecy and dismissal. The two fed each other. I never denied or forgot what happened. I simply dismissed it as inconsequential and insignificant. It was just “trauma lite”, nothing worth talking about. It was a closed system, that didn’t really work. Even though I berated my urge to speak, bits and pieces leaked out.
With a tremendous amount of help, I broke through my murky restraints. I can now tell my story. I can present it without cloaking it or shattering it into a thousand pieces. I do ask myself why I share it. But that’s the last hurdle easily defeated with “why not?”. The answer to both is simple, fundamentally I believe in the power of the truth. To know now, then needs to be known. Stories need to be told.
You can watch “Stonewall Uprising” at https://www.pbs.org/video/american-experience-stonewall-uprising/
The exhibition was “Figurehead (and other talks)”. Some blurry slides are up at https://www.briandaviddennis.com/figurehead-and-other-talks