Note: This is a cathartic exercise & and it’s not about you. No solutions are presented here, just memories of lives lost and survived.
Triggers: Rape, Molestation, Religion, Domestic Violence, Suicide, Apathy
The First Time: Family Affair
I can’t feel the first time, but my body will never forget the second, third, fourth and fifth times. Perhaps I was too young. Perhaps my seven-year old self had no distinct understandings of sex or sexuality, especially not molestation or rape. I remember not remembering. I knew that something was wrong. I remember him sliding into the bed every night after grandma went to sleep. I remember the rocking of the bed. I remember his hot breath on my ear and his toothy promise that “I’m going to rock your world.” Then I stopped remembering, for years.
The truth is, I wanted him to rock my world. My world was in disarray. Rocks don’t move until they are acted upon by the universe or some great outside force. I was always moving. Moving between mom and dad, maternal and paternal grandmothers, stability and turbulence, stable turbulence. I was a homeless, motherless child but I cannot say I was loveless. My grandmothers made sure of that, and so did he. He who must not be named. I wanted his love–not intimately. I hadn’t awoken to queerness then. But I wanted him to be my brother, no, my father, no…I wanted to be him. He wasn’t just cool, he was that dude. He was the fastest runner in the state and an even better basketball player, and lets not get started on football. I wanted to run like that. I wanted everyone to cheer. I wanted to be seen.
I was never heard. No matter how many spelling bees I learned or large, foreign words I memorized–perfectly mind you–I was never heard. Except by him, he had always heard me and smiled. He looked into my eyes when I spoke of the silliest things that young boys speak of. He was a teenager, barely. No one heard or saw him either, well, no one he loved. He gave me an identity, but he took something too.
After I forgot to remember, I lost all my dreams. He stole them. My creative, beautiful, life-saving dreams. They were my hiding place. I remember now. I remember how I’d fall asleep to the bloody screams of my mother, as my sisters’ father would terrorize and beat her within half-gasps of death, only to awaken with an awkward smile on my face because in my dreams I ruled supreme. My mind had transformed my mother’s terror and pain into a locust of her power. I’d dream my mother had mind control like the Phoenix and would make our “father” hang himself by the nook of his shirt, while beating the blood from his face with those huge, terrible hands. She never killed him. My mother was too sweet for that. I had often prayed that she would though. She was too strong for murder. A strength I later found within myself. I dreamt of good things too, but I can’t remember. My dreams and memory were stolen, aside from violence, hot breath and night-time whispers and bloody screams for death.
He wanted to be seen. He wanted to be seen as a black man. He took a black boy to prove, perhaps, that he was no longer a boy and could no longer be taken. He was a man. It later came out that he was raped too, early and often. Now’s in jail and I’m in law school. The cycle must end. Black men eating black boys, being black boys eating black kids.
Subplot: The UnHoly Trigger
At 15, I was training to be a minister under my pastor. All was going well. I was happy-ish. I had found a new home within the black supremacist, heteropatriachal, capitalistic, homoantagontist Church. The parts of me that had been dying as a child were fed and portions of me that had been free in my dreams was chopped liver. I learned to be a happy cannibal. After all, it was God’s will. Until it wasn’t. That year, at the AIMS conference, the pastor introduced me to a promising minister of music, 15 years my senior. We exchanged numbers. He proceeded to send me countless pictures of his ass, his dick with the phrase “you want to rock my world?”
Then I remembered. Everything at once. It was like I was being burned alive and drowned at the same time. I was hot and could not breathe. I remembered him entering me, first at 7, then at 5, and for the last time at 12. I cried. I shouted. I could feel him. I could feel me, my body, flesh tearing. My heart tore, too. My imagination retired, because it was no match for reality. I had stopped dreaming. He had raped me. Stolen the faculty of my mind. That was when I stopped writing. I didn’t trust my mind to roam free anymore. Clearly, it was my fault. I dreamed too much and now my nightmares would consume me. So I stopped dreaming. I stopped remembering. I embraced the death of a part of me.
A friend found me emerging from the floor of my hotel room. He was young and innocent and concerned. I told him I was simply stretching. He said we needed to prepare for revival. In all, truths, I had a revival of my own, right then and there. The minister approached me in the bathroom, later that evening, as I was using the urinal. I grabbed his hard dick and balls as hard as I could, and proceeded to try to pop them off. It didn’t work, but I felt better. Felt like I had a handle on things. If nothing else, I knew that a dick wasn’t much longer or thicker than my hand and I need not fear any, not even my own, anymore. I left the Church after we returned home and that was that.
The thorn in his flesh was something he could longer bear. He needed to remove it. The myth of Christian perfection, absolvement and the wrath of a white, homophobic God nearly killed him. He wanted to release. He wanted to release on me, in me, through me. I am no threshing floor.
The Second Time: Accidental Assassin
We had been friends. The closest of friends. I had recently hit my stride. Life had been hard–my mother was suffering from the side-effect of our “father” coping with sex, love and drugs, lots of drugs–I was still working full-time and mostly raising my four younger siblings. However, I was happy. Not a day passed when I wasn’t smiling. I had started accepting my sexuality. I was dating. I established a strong brotherhood with other gay christian brothers like Randy, Angelo, Jason and Justin. They had healed me. I was whole-ish. The national brotherhood of the blaqueers, demanding God’s love. Demanding respect from friend, foe and self. Demanding we love each other, and our selves, without repentance. My archangels. I had recently been accepted to a prestigious school, created by one of my idols. Life was good. I was happy.
He was my best friend. Certainly my closest “straight” friend. I was out by then. Out and free. Out, free and in love with a fiery little, pinoy-boy from Texas. Then it happened. But I suppose I knew it would. My boyfriend warned me to watch out. So did his girlfriend, my good friend–at the time. I wanted to truth. I needed to truth. Trust was new to me. I hadn’t known her. I wanted Truth with me all the time. I was naive.
We were celebrating his birthday. He was sipping syrup again. The rest of us were drinking on the mountain top. No one above age. Each of 17/18ish. Pissed. Falling over each other. We stumbled down the small mountain, pissing on random walls and dodging the campus security. We were having fun. I couldn’t remember my name or feel my cheeks. I had tried to throw up, but my stomach was stingy with its contents. Our friends got us to the bathroom. He threw up. They put us in our secret bachelor pad. The first time I woke up, my jeans were unzipped. I was confused and afraid. He was my friend. I must have forgotten to zip them. Strange, they were skinny jeans. They don’t open easily. I was exposed. Clearly. I remember a camera flash, giggles and a slamming door. I couldn’t open my eyes. They were too heavy. But then I felt it. The clear feeling of violation. Fingers on my dick, then a wetness. A warm wetness. I struggled to roll away. He held my hips. I closed my eyes tighter. Then the wetness on my lips, a kiss, soft at first and then violently aggressive. The loud, raspy whispers of “I’m not a fag.” Then, another gentle kiss. No, I kept saying. No. I don’t like you. You have a girlfriend. Another kiss. He entered my mouth, and I saw my cousin. I was 7 again and i passed out. I woke up and I ran, shoe-less. First to the top of the mountain, where I cried and cried and cried. I stripped myself naked. I couldn’t bear the smell of his must on my clothes. I rubbed my lips until they bled. I didn’t want taste him. I cried some more. Then, for the first time in 3 years, I prayed, and slept under the darkness for a few hours. Finally, I went into a friend’s room and sat in silence, until I cried myself back to sleep in his arms.
He had taken my mouth, and with it many friendships and years of survival. I was the gay one, so everyone believed I was the aggressor. I must’ve wanted it. I clearly wanted it. All gay men want straight guys. All black people want white folks. That was the line. That was also the story he told. The one where some hypersexual, predatory, smooth talking black, gay pervert took advantage of him in sleep. Because I was poor, I was disturbed and clearly wanted something he had. Never mind that I had never had sex of my own volition. Never mind that his gf was my best friend. Never mind that my boyfriend of nine months, often wondered aloud why I hadn’t experienced more, sexually, even with him. Never mind, that’s the story that sent me to court. To a holding cell for 2 months, in 23 hour lock-down. I spent that free hour showering and teaching inmates how to read and write, while writing letters on their behalf. Only to be nearly raped again in the showers, saved by a gang leader who I met in the holding cell and regularly wrote and read for. Only to have the chargers to dismissed. Only to receive an email from him years later. Half-ass apologizing for not recognizing some “grey area.” More apologies mixed in with scripture and an offering of help to clear my name. I wanted to be upset. To be angry. To want to kill him. Instead, I just wanted to kill myself. I was numb. He stole what I had worked so hard for, Trust. And then, some strange shit happened. I cried for him. I was 22 by then. I showed the email to my boyfriend and he marveled at my ability to continue living and my absence of anger. I marveled at the recognition that I was still alive.
The fuckery. He took my body to feel at home in his own. Tried to take my name to protect his own. Then, he wanted my sympathy to redeem himself. White guilt on fleek.
The Third Time: The Power of Blood
We dated for two weeks. Not really dated. We had sex and argued. He hated that I was pledging a fraternity and I hated that he wasn’t my ex-boyfriend. He was cute, well-built, with a large head and an even larger smile. The sex was fantastic. For two weeks, we had a great deal of fun and then things started getting quite crazy. I broke it off with him, on day 10. He’d show up in my room unannounced and raise all type of hell about my whereabouts, whether I had drunk anything that night, if I still loved my ex, why I didn’t want to be with him anymore and then threaten to kill himself if I didn’t stay and talk to him. The first few topics I ignored with skill and zeal. The last comment got me every time. He knew that. I had told him of how one of my best friends of suicide, the two other close childhood friends had tried it routinely and I only bailed because I was too chicken shit of the hell Pastor preached of each week. The night before he took what was mine, we argued again and he promised that if we didn’t speak he would drive his car off the highway into the river. I agreed to come into his car and talk, where he attempted to kiss me and perform oral sex. I rebuffed him. He began to cry. He then locked the doors and began to drive, fast. Too fast for the potholes of Boston. Swerving here and there, promising to kill us both if we couldn’t be together. I was scared as hell, but part of me was hoping he’d do it. Just so I could be done with him and every other deranged man I’d allowed too close to me. We didn’t crash or die, but I quickly alerted all of my friends to avoid him at all costs and to refrain from inviting him to any of our spaces. It sounds childish, but he had lost his damn mind.
It never occurred to me to file a police report or make a report with campus police. The last time I talked to police they nearly ended my life and my sanity. No way was I talking to the police about an issue even remotely related to sex or gayness. Not as long as I was black and gay, or whenever I was speaking about a crazy white man. I wish I had spoken to someone, besides my friends. We didn’t entertain the thought that this was anything more than just another crazy college story. Until it was too late. A day later, I had gone out drinking with my older fraternity brothers and I was obscenely intoxicated. He called again, threatening suicide. I hung up immediately. When we finally walked through campus, we passed his place and he was sitting the porch crying, begging for help. I walked over and told my brothers it was ok. We cooked some ramen. His roommate, a friend of mine, was out. We wanted me to hold him. I refused. He asked me to tuck him and stay until he fell asleep. I watched him lay down for as long as I could, before I fell asleep on my friend CC’s bed. I awoke in pain, searing pain, on my chest, neck, dick and ass. I thought I had caught something. In truth, I had caught something I could never lose, but that wasn’t what was burning me up. I quickly got dressed and ran to my room only to be greeted by my best friend and his eyes told me everything. I ran to the mirror and screamed. My body was wrecked. I was covered in black and red bite marks. My ass was still wet with traces of blood. My dick had been rubbed raw. My phone buzzed with a text. “No means yes. Yes means yes. Frat rule, right? Last night was great -P”. I cried more. Logan held me, as I cried and cried and finally, after about an hour the tears released me. Then I realized what he had wanted all along. Power He wanted my power. I cried, and I smirked. I needed to go for a walk. I would not be used. I went to the old slave quarters and called upon the ancestors for strength and awareness and wisdom. I called for love. I called for forgiveness. I called for understanding. I called for me. I called out their names: Belinda, Celia, Frederick…mothers and fathers who had endured more violent scenes than I, for help. I called their names too: S, T, P. I had never stopped carrying them in my body, on my mind, like sexual brandings still searing my essence.
Dominating, controlling and violating me gave him power and a freedom he could not afford without my flesh. He needed to survive. This black flesh. This black, scarred flesh fueled and cooled his anxiety ridden existence of being too femme, too gay and not quite white enough. His father told him he was no man. He proving that here and now, as he bit, spit and violated me
Healings are an ongoing practice, but they began with the practice and promise of absolute self-love. I began each day by looking in the mirror and reminding myself that I was alive, that I deserved to be alive, that I was loved and that I worthy of love. I promised myself, daily, in the mirror, that I would not be killed by the sickness of others, by my circumstances or station in life or my self. I promised to use my pain for power and progress. I promised to remember and not forget. I worked on my hate, especially my self hate. I began to Trust my gut. I read bell hooks, religiously, to ascertain what a love practice might look like for me. I began to tell it all. All my truths. All my traumas. All my fears. All my fuckups to anyone who dare be a friend, a lover, or family. Some rejected me. Some stood/stand in cold silence. Other ask why I responded how I did. I don’t have answers for them. I won’t try to think of answers. I answer to myself and the Universe.
In many ways, I’ve become able to understand what I’ve experienced as an important part of my existence. I now have a deep sensitivity for people; their interpretations of events, the volatility of emotions and the desire and fear of (dis)connection. I understand now, that the fucking of my body and raping of my essence was more than the result of a few deranged, pained boys and men. More than anything, what I survived, was about the unresolved violences of peoples suffering in silence, a silence created by dutiful acquiescence to systems of systemic, external and internal domination. My life has been forever changed with each raping, but by the grace of the Cosmos, I’ve been able to take back who I was and become more of who I am destined to be. I made the pivotal decision to choose to love humans or hate them–including myself. Humans unrestrained, untaught and unloved are tomorrow’s monsters. I recognize and believe that my propensity to be free or be monstrous, is directly tied up with that of all who breathe. It is therefore my duty to produce and cultivate a radical love and investment with/for/through humanity in all it’s fuckery. Not everyone has had this opportunity. Not everyone survives. Some are killed, physically and/or psychologically. As someone gifted with the breathe of life, I feel a personal duty to help midwife a world where such violences are killed at conception.
Sexual violence, like all personal violations, are heinous acts. But they must be confronted, head on and dealt with. We are dealing with more than depraved hearts and minds. We are dealing with a peoples who have lost or auctioned off their humanity. We must remember. We must go home. We must change course, or risk losing the few dreams we have left.
Follow Tabias Olajuawon, JD on Twitter @BlaQueerFlow. Like our page on Facebook at BlaQueerFlow & Tabias Olajuawon Wilson. Buy their book Godless Circumcisions: A Recollecting & Re-membering of Blackness, Queerness and Flows of Survivance on Amazon.