An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
A million voices are offered up to you anytime you speak and I know you won’t see my words whispered back to you amidst the flood. It makes me timid, makes me think my words aren’t worth notice, and then the thought creeps in, “I’m not worth it.” This is a learned response, taught by an abusive father. What I want to say to you, some of it’s ugly, but it’s my ugliness, my perception. So let me say at the outset that there is no blame here, nothing you need to do; it’s more for me. Sometimes the words, the emotions, have got to come out or they’ll tear your spirit. I know you know what I mean. You once told your vocal coach you needed to sing your pain for her, so will you let me?
Metaphor mocks me. I can’t sing, some days I can barely speak due to serious injury at four years old, at the hand of a man society tells me was a monster. I can’t think that way; as a child he was all I knew, so I’ll just say, please forgive me that I can’t use music to soften this, or speech to make it less stark.
My family loves you, but at first you frightened me for several reasons. There are similarities you see, between my father and my muse. You don’t really look like him, it’s a black hair, blue eyes, cheekbones thing – height, power of presence, confidence, spiked humor. The first time I was shown a video of you prowling around a stage like a predator, I felt an irrational dread. A choking, sinking fear filled my mouth, throat… my mind. My friend asked later why I didn’t just ask someone to turn it off, but she can’t understand – no one can if they haven’t been there, endured abuse like that. You’re not allowed to look away unless you’re told. It was like a trance that made the past rise up and take me over, part of me waiting for you to bark an order, to demand that I submit and accept whatever you wanted from me. You never spoke, of course, and the strange feeling faded, left me trembling in its wake.
Bravado, pure lying foolishness, helped me hide my pain and fear. I told my family of friends that I didn’t care for you. “Nice voice, sure, but not attracted,” and other lies. The man I’ve struggled to become out of the shell-shocked ruins of the child I was can’t afford to admit the truth about some things. Fear waits there if you do, and harm follows fear.
Your voice tormented me. It was too like that other voice, lilted and beautiful, assured and magnificent. Your face shamed me, ethereal beauty like his, unmarked, perfect; your body like a living statue. Did you know men that look like that were carved in stone in the ancient world and set on real pedestals to give their people something they could dare to look at and live?
I’m a man of ragged spirit, scars, missing pieces and tatters of flesh left to heal at last when the game of my childhood was over. Monocular vision is barely enough to take in your beauty, enduring the twist in my gut at the sight of the light glowing in your perfect eyes, as blue as his.
This is not to cry out horrors like a wounded Greek chorus, or to imply any resentment for the good fortune you have in both family and life. I just want to help you understand how it feels now, to look at you, and feel like I’m not worthy to tell you how I feel.
What changed? Hearing your voice sing of it being okay to shatter, that you would be a safe place to break open and be afraid, that no harm would come. I was about to give up after violence done to me brought my past back up to choke me like bile of the mind, scars on the soul. Your voice stopped me, soothed, made me feel safe in the midst of feeling broken. Your voice told me I could break, and mend, and it didn’t have to be the end of me. I know I have a long road ahead of learning how to heal from my past; it’ll probably take my whole lifetime. Yet I have an amazing example now, showing me how to keep fighting, as well as how to be vulnerable when I need to, without risking everything.
I guess I could have boiled all this down to one word: thanks. You hear that so much, though, you must. Not to diminish the word, but I wanted to melt the blockage of fear that chokes me whenever I think of speaking to you; I wanted to try to explain. It’s all moot, though, in the end; the fear is so strong – and I know I’m not the only one whose tongue turns to clay sometimes. So I’ll just tell you this – you saved a lot of us. Either by the beauty of your voice, your spirit, or both – you saved us by giving us hope, a positive example, and a foreign but vital taste of joy.
Odd thing is, I have no idea how to end this except by using that one word. Maybe now it has a little more weight? No less heartfelt, with or without that. Thanks, Adam; even though I pale at the thought of ever facing you, I can admire you from a distance and try to support what you’re doing as best I can. Why? Because what you’re doing reaches people, gives them hope and joy, just by being the man you are today… and the man you’re going to become tomorrow.
© W.R.R. 5/4/2011
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.