Category Archives: LGBT

Gay, Bi and Trans Males are “Really Men” Too

This paragraph from a Shattering the Silence newsletter, describing a male survivor of child sexual abuse is very problematic:

“He later said that he started dating girls at age sixteen, and even though he liked girls, later married, and was never involved in any homosexual relationships, he still wonders if he’s really a man. ”

Homosexual, bisexual, and trans men (survivors or not) are also “men”. I am a bisexual male survivor of a sick pedophile ring run by my father. I do struggle with “Am I a man?” questions, but because of my years of abuse, not because of my orientation. The idea that only heterosexual males are “men” or “real men” is erroneous, not to mention blatantly homophobic.

Update: I have received a courteous clarification from the poster of the quote above (he was quoting a friend) and I do appreciate it:

“When he speaks of being a man he means ‘feels the way he assumes masculine beings feel’ I know him and I’m sure he didn’t refer only to heterosexuals. Sorry for the confusion.”

Unfortunately in my experience, many people and advocates often seem to be ignorant of, forget about, or downright ignore LGBTQ survivors. Too many of their resources and myths pages sound like “gay = bad/disgusting” and for LGBTQ survivors, this can be devastating. If resources are attempting to allay the fears of straight male survivors who are afraid they “might be gay”, such sections of information should be clearly marked as being intended for heterosexual survivors; preferably with an addition intended to address LGBTQ fears in a similar page or section.

I hope the day will come when sexual orientation has very little to do with how we speak to survivors, or which survivors are perceived as worthy of our help. For now, my thanks for the much-needed clarification above.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/20/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Seek help. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Please read the Comment Policy before submitting a comment to the moderators. For more about me, you are welcome to read my story and visit the About page.

Thank you for reading.

Only a Personal Choice is the Right Choice, for Coming Out as LGBTQ

Inspired by this article by Kile Ozier on the Good Men Project:

Stand up. Be visible. Contribute to the solution.

I wanted to share my thoughts on “coming out” via pressure from others.

I was looking forward to seeing the comments on the above article, but I fear the approach may be too draconian and a bit too guilt-trippy for most folks to want to engage with it. Especially when most closeted LGBTQ people aren’t just wary of a vague threat of not being accepted or losing a job. Actually, losing a job these days can ruin somebody’s life and their ability to feed their children. Plus, there is the very real, local and immediate threat of bodily harm and even death for some, according to where they live. Spouses could take away kids and never allow the person to see them again (since the media and society love to spread the lie that “gays are dangerous and will molest kids”). Many are not willing to risk these things, and like the concept of reporting one’s rape, coming out needs to be a personal choice with risks, pros and cons assessed. If fictitious Josh Smith comes out at the urging of others before he is ready, loses his family and ends up committing suicide because the loss of his kids forever is too much to face, what have we, the LBGTQ community, gained? A soundbite? A platform point? Josh is still dead. Likewise, if his neighbor shoots him dead because he doesn’t want “one of them” around his sons? Ignorance and bigotry is killing people right and left these days, so it’s not a vague threat. It is another risk to be carefully considered. Now Josh may kill himself because the loneliness, self-hate, and lies of the closet can cause depression and despair, too, so it’s all a risk – to come out or to not.

I have never been “closeted” as a bisexual; I spent my life hiding my abuse and rapes and didn’t much care if school peers called me gay or beat me up for it. What was that, compared to my home life of abuse? None of them hit harder than my father.

My boyfriend is partially in the closet. He started therapy now to deal with a past of parents who neglected and ignored him, while his father would beat him at any sign of “being soft”. His father spoke almost daily about how “those gays should just be killed” and the threat was not veiled at all what would happen if they knew he was gay. He tried suicide by drinking bleach as a child and his mother only said, “Don’t embarrass the family.” The “gay goes to Hell” was a constant theme, too. As a child, he believed it.

He only has a few friend groups that he thinks don’t know (though I suspect they do and don’t care) but he needs to work that parental BS and abuse out of his mind and heart and then choose for himself to come out fully. He probably has low risk of real danger, as he’s nearly a mascot to the police and the bikers around here. Still, like reporting rape, it is a crucially personal decision. Since each person is the only one who knows their risks, others can urge, but should not try to force or guilt trip that person into taking risks that could end in another person’s death or the ruin of their life.

I never reported my abusers as a child because I would have been killed. I watched them kill others, so it wasn’t an idle threat. As an adult, it took years for the “they’ll find me and hurt me” fear to fade, and to some degree it’s still something I struggle with. Yet I assessed risks and decided to tell, to speak out, to help others.

I have been fortunate, in that I am still alive and I am protected by a new and loving family. Many teens and even children as young as ten are struggling in homophobic homes and are terrified to come out. Some who do are killed, sometimes by their own parent or community. Others are cast out to be homeless, at risk of rape, murder, drugs, prostitution, or starvation. Some kids are bullied to the point of suicide on the mere accusation of being LGBTQ when they aren’t, let alone what happens to the ones who are. The “It Gets Better” video campaign has been helping those kids. So does the Trevor Project. Alas, there are next to no similar help resources for adults.

We also need some serious public relations improvements. If enough of society still hates/fears LGBTQ people and see us as a threat to them and to their children, we need to show them we are not a threat. We need PSAs and other media and laws changed and better examples set. We need to eradicate the lie that “Gays harm boys”. A gay man is attracted to a man, not to his seven-year-old son. Homophobes equate gay with pedophile, and that is the root of the Boy Scouts not allowing adult LGBTQ people to be involved. Pedophiles infiltrate organizations where they will have access to kids. Yet the Boy Scouts of America think boys are being raped because there are gays involved. This is a prime example of a wrong public perception that we need to debunk. Prove to society that LGBTQ is not a threat; that is why the younger generations don’t worry about who is homosexual or not – they don’t see LGBTQ as a threat.

Personally, I know many LGBTQ people in committed relationships who feel most Pride parades don’t represent them at all. When the parades turn into an excuse to have a drunken/drugged barely clothed orgy on a public street, you will have some in society using that as “proof” that LGBTQ is a threat. I’m not telling anybody how to enjoy Pride – just wanted to point out the possibly irrationally unpopular opinion that many family-oriented LGBTQ folks have. Most of them I know avoid Pride because drunken debauchery is not kid-safe. Basically, party wild if you want to folks, but don’t be surprised if Pride footage on the news is used as “proof” that LGBTQ is a threat.

I understand the frustration and the sense that, being on the other side of it without loss of one’s life, a person can look back and say to the closeted person, “Go ahead, it’s okay.” But we usually don’t know the risks they face, and we shouldn’t be so impatient that we are willing lose lives by not giving each person the right and space in which to decide for themselves.

Now that my words will probably be taken as well as a stick hitting a hornet nest, I’ll go sit in my bunker and wait to be attacked over them in general, by whomever.

I appreciate the passion of articles like the one above; but as a rape and abuse survivor, I only see that people need the right to assess risks they face that we don’t know about, and then make a personal choice for themselves. That way, it will be the right choice for them and it will give them strength to face the results of their choice. In the end, community spirit aside, we all have to face those risks and consequences alone, one way or another.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 6/19/2013
For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

Silence is the Enemy

People often say: “I have no words”. Not me; I have plenty of words. Tracy Morgan speaks about stabbing’ his son to death if he was gay, and this filth surfaces in the comments on CNN’s blog, located here:


June 10th, 2011 1:30 pm ET

Better dead than gay

Tracy’s healthy son likely would agree: It is better to be stabbed to death by dad, than living like a worm in the filth of another male



I am grateful to the many other commentators on that page who vilified Tracy Morgan for his hate and reiterated how horrid it is to threaten to commit murder because a person loves someone of the same sex.

I am a polyamorous bisexual male. I am a father of four children who are loved and will be raised to not hate and to have compassion. My partners, a man and a woman, live with me and our kids. My male partner grew up with a father who harbored Tracy Morgan’s hatred. He hid his gay nature to save his life and yet tried to kill himself a few times as a child and teen due to fear and not being accepted or loved unless he was something he isn’t. Even pretending to be straight, his father beat him and his mother didn’t care if he breathed or not, as long as he did nothing to “disgrace” the family.

I am a survivor of physical and sexual abuse by both of my parents. I am also bipolar and struggle to stay alive on days when my past makes death seem better. Death is NOT better. People who are happy and not afraid of being harmed for no reason don’t consider suicide to be an option. Unfortunately, many people are in fear for their lives, while haters tell them they should die for being who they are.

LGBT PEOPLE (not just youth) deal with hate and abuse every single day, to one degree or another. They can’t marry in most parts of the world. Interracial marriage was legalized bout 44 years ago. Same-sex marriage is not “wrong” just as interracial marriage wasn’t wrong. Murder and assault are illegal. Freedom of Speech, yes, grateful for it; but yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater as a “joke” and see what the police do in response.

Some people, like the hateful one who wrote the comment above, will always be hateful; some can be helped to change their views. But most of the people complaining that gays are too sensitive and should suck it up and learn how to take a “joke”? The offense on that page is largely not about Tracy Morgan’s “comedy”. Gays and friends of gays are offended that Morgan said he would “stab his son to death if he said he was gay.” That’s not a joke, that’s hate.

I love comedy, I love “dirty humor”. I’m a fan of some very foul-mouthed comedians; but the comics I like don’t say things like that. What really makes me sad and angry is that controversy like this digs deep and pulls some ugly filth up from the dregs in the process. I know the LGBT community has come far, but when I read comments like the one above, I realize how far we still have to go. I just hope we’re all along for the ride and that none of our community will hurt themselves because others that spew such hate make them feel that there is no hope. There is hope. It does get better – but not by sitting around telling ourselves it’s going to be ok. We have to act. We have to speak out. We have to MAKE IT get better.

“Speak. Act. Silence is the enemy.”

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 6/10/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.

The Bible and Marriage Equality

Scholarly proof the Bible doesn’t hate LGBTQ or Marriage Equality!

Awesome pro-gay marriage posts from real Christians:

(The comments on this one above are amazing too, including one Torah scholar discussing the “abomination” misquote anti-gay people use so much).

This one is great too:

This marriage equality issue and the hate and intolerance shown by so many “Christians” has seriously soured me on religion in general, even without my background of having been abused sexually as a little boy with one of my abusers being a church preacher and most of them were members of a church.

These men who wrote these posts (among a few others) prove that some decent religious people do exist. Just wanted to share….

– W.R.R.

The Alchemy of Hate

I propose that hate is the alchemy of turning life and love into death and despair.

For your consideration:

The pleasure of hating, like a poisonous mineral, eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.

— “On the Pleasure of Hating”
William Hazlitt, ca. 1826

This quote could be interpreted in many ways and used by all sorts of “factions” on either side of many arguments.

However, one thing that continues to mystify me is the fact that those who believe their hate is righteous or sanctioned somehow tend become disproportionately upset when the group, race, creed etc of people whom they hate become angry at the accusatory and/or vilifying rhetoric that is being heaped upon them. If the people they hate chose to respond in like kind and with equal violence, the cycle of hate-fueled carnage is hard to stop.

Take anti-gay hatred, for example. A homophobe may spout rhetoric about how LGBT people are less than human, hated by (their) God, and their lifestyles are disgusting abombinations, etc. This person may feel gratified when other homophobes agree with them. Yet the moment a member of the LGBT community gets angry, takes offense, and responds, this homophobe often acts surprised, as if they are saying, “Why are you angry? What I say is true.” This attitude seems to believe that the accused don’t matter so they shouldn’t be allowed to protest, let alone defend themselves. If the accused is angry and responds with anger, the homophobe often twists the exchange to suit their rhetoric (i.e.: See how the gay person shouts foul language? It’s proof that he’s subhuman).

Another mystery to me is why even a reasonable approach falls on deaf ears. The homophobe seems incapable of “seeing the other side”. If they could do this, we could perhaps get a lot further in the effort to end hate. If the tables were turned and hetero rights were taken away, wouldn’t that same homophobe be outraged at the loss of his rights? Wouldn’t he become an activist to get them back, and become angry at the people who called him sub-human and said “God hates you”?

For some things there can be no compromise without at least one side changing their views, but why is the “live and let live” concept so unacceptable? If you can’t tolerate a type of music, is the only solution to ban and destroy it, and all those who create it, from the face of our earth? Can some people sit at their desks under a sign that reads “God is Love” and sign an order to murder all rap artists? Why is it so difficult to just change the channel?

If your “enemy” insists on a fight to the death, you have two choices: fight back, or wait to be slaughtered. Shouldn’t people who claim to be civilized and intelligent beings be capable of a third option? “Live and let live” is not as hard or repugnant as it may seem.

Now just as there are no compromises for some things, there are other areas where we do have to have laws to protect people that may curb the “freedom” of others. For instance, a non-offender parent can’t legally allow a pedophile parent to rape their child (even though some do, and get away with it). We have laws to protect children from rape. The harm rape does to any person has been a proven and studied fact. However, I have seen no concrete studies that LGBT people or their lifestyles, between consenting adults, that prove that “gay” is a threat. It’s all just fear-mongering from a position of ignorance, dogma, and hereditary hatred; a hatred that loves to twist things, including facts, laws, and interpretations of the Bible, to support its views.

If you look at the facts, which side has blood on its hands? Are there gays going out to catch and murder hetero people? Do gays beat a straight man, tie him to a pole and set him on fire? Do lesbians rape straight women to “teach them how women are supposed to act”? To my knowledge, these are all hetero crimes against LGBT people. I wonder if the murderers and rapists among my enemies have gone home and wiped the blood and soot from their hands onto the crisp white banner overhead that proclaims “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?

I am not anti-God, or anti-Christian. I am not anti-hetero; I know and love many people who are hetero and Christian, and they love and accept me. Yet as long as others choose to hate me and attack me just for being in the LGBT community, I have a bitter struggle ahead in the effort to remain anti-hate. Being attacked and having my rights either removed or never granted in the first place makes me angry. Being assaulted by those who are trying to kill me makes me rise up to survive, to defend my life. Do I not have the same right to defend myself as those who have made themselves my enemy? I didn’t create them to be my enemy. They chose to hate, to abolish, to outlaw, and in some cases to attack and kill, people like me. History has shown a long story of LGBT people being assaulted and murdered by those who hate them. Are there cases of LGBT people killing hetero people just because they hate them? If there are any at all, it’s bound to be a grossly disproportionate number. Most people in the LGBT community simply want to be left in peace – with the same rights as everybody else. For those in the hetero community who support their gay friends’ rights, that’s all they want to.

I see nothing but mass horror if the LGBT people were to respond in kind as their attackers do. However, I will not wait for the slaughter just because I do not want to fight. I prefer to seek that elusive third option of “live and let live”.

Something for all of us to consider is another example of hatred’s alchemy: school shootings. This tragic horror may simply be the rare extreme example of a person pushed beyond sense into a “hate for hate” response to endless attacks, humiliation, and the eventual atrophy of hope. In its place, hatred creeps into the heart, insidious and mindless. Even so, these people, so often children, don’t merely “snap” one day for no reason. There is always a reason.

In all areas and ways you may fall into hate, ask yourself why. What does it gain you, and what do you stand to lose because of it? Can you truly only achieve peace and happiness by wading through blood, or the pain of others you may not even know? You don’t have to embrace what you cannot agree with, but perhaps it wouldn’t end your way of life to simply leave others at peace in theirs?

As long as people hate and turn to violence to express it, be prepared to watch as they one day alchemize your love and life into death and despair. Knowing what’s at stake, isn’t a third option worth striving for? Live and let live is just that. It’s not so hard to do if we just try.


© W.R.R. 12/9/2011
For the fallen, murdered by hate; and for those who still strive to live in spite of it.

I Am I: the Struggle for Identity

As a child, trying to exist and stay alive in the midst of my parents’ sexual abuse, I had no sense of self to speak of. I wasn’t cared for, loved, treated, or even spoken to like a normal little boy. My mother and I developed our relationship in an unhealthy trench bonding setting. We would say “I love you” to each other like two lost tourists who were fishing catch-phrases out of a book, but she rarely acted like a mother. Her main job was picking up the pieces when my father was done with his toy son.

My father liked to invent new ways to hurt and humiliate me; it amused him. With all of his “amusements”, it was a fight to frame the idea in my own mind that I was a human at all. As it was, I had no rights. I was whatever he told me to be. I wasn’t called by my name, either. “Boy” was a favorite. When speaking to my mother, he would say “that thing” a lot. Early on, he’d call me a faggot, a word I didn’t even understand until I was a teen and my peers started yelling it in the hallways.

Poetry came into my life in the form of rare presents from my paternal grandmother, a woman my father seemed to actually fear. She only visited a few times, but she always brought me books and jigsaw puzzles. Once she brought me a huge Shakespeare collection in one book, and then others like Frost, Tennyson, Cooleridge, Thoreau, Auden, etc. The poems fascinated me, and like another child might start to draw because of coloring books, I began to try to write my own poetry. I learned to hide it, after it got taken away and torn up a few times. After that, it became one of my few proofs that I was a person, no matter how I was treated. It was also the only place I allowed myself to admit my feelings, even to myself; or to admit that my life wasn’t right, even if I wasn’t sure what it should have been instead.

A poem that shows how it felt to be me in the midst of my abusive childhood, written when I was twelve:

“I Am I”

I am nothing
I am no one
I am broken
I am I
blank page
torn and stained
I am what I am told
I am beast
I am torn
I am I
filth stained red
there is only
the mask
given, taken
taken away
take it away
and I am gone
I am nothing
I am thing
I am I
© W.R.R. 11/15/1992

Since I escaped at age nineteen and became homeless for a few years rather than allow the abuse to continue, I ended up getting money to survive any way I could. Between that and my abuse, whatever path my orientation might have taken, I ended up identifying as bisexual. Many boys raped by men end up questioning their orientation. It’s horribly confusing and it’s easy to fall into self-blame and even self-hatred, gathering vices and making bad choices as you slowly and painfully grow up. I used to cut myself as a kid, and I ended up smoking at nine (up to three packs a day before I quit some years back). I acquired and quit a handful of drug habits as well. I still have issues with alcohol and pills.

Another area many people never want to discuss with a survivor of abuse is sex. The fact is, I and others like me still grow into adults with a variety of reactions to the subject of sex. A terrible viewpoint some cruel people have pointed out to me in my life is similar to what many women survivors are told: “If you like sex, why should we believe you were raped?” Well, I’ve never seen a study that proved that rape or abuse utterly destroys the human sex drive in a person, and plenty of survivors, men and women, are able to find a partner they love and trust enough to share intimacy.

My abuse altered me from experiencing a “typical response” to intimacy, several repeated events having taught me to confuse pain with pleasure. As a result, I grew up to be a masochist and I have to relearn, through talking with my therapist, that intimacy can be enjoyed without pain or harm being involved.

I also have many conflicting and very confusing viewpoints on subjects such as monogamy, orientation, and my own rights and worth as a human being. This is more common than people who have never been abused may think. Oprah even did a groundbreaking show about her childhood abuse and how abused children sometimes grow up to be promiscuous in unhealthy ways, rather than shunning sex as some believe they would.

One of the biggest lessons I have to unlearn is that I am not required to give sex in order to receive love. All of this has led me to be (by choice) a polygamist in the sense that I have a male and a female partner; and monogamy is a challenge even then. Add the mental illness of rapid cycle bipolar to that soup and I have a lot to process and learn to cope with.

In addition, and working at odds with that, I am also largely afraid of people, and men in particular. Yet I have only a fledgling sense of my own rights to engage in intimacy with others or to choose not to. In the past, taught by abuse that I was required to submit, I have been victimized by others who held little regard for my choice in the matter. In a few cases like this, though my therapist insists I am describing rape, the perpetrator would say it was consensual because I allowed it to happen. These offenders have no idea of the pathology I have been subjected to, but does that make their actions acceptable? Everybody who cares about me agrees the answer is no. Mostly, I live like a recluse and if I do have the courage to go out (usually during my manic cycle) I try to bring a friend or my boyfriend with me so that I have somebody along to stop this ugly situation from being repeated.

My pervading objection is, I should not have to feel like I should be expected to apologize for having any sexual identity at all. That “if you were raped, you now have to hate and shun all sex” mentality; it is ridiculous for anybody to presume they have a say in my sexuality at all. As I heal, cope, and just try to live from day to day, I think being able to trust, and to have a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship with my partners is a good thing, my choice, and nobody else’s business. I refuse to live, speak, or act like some sort of celibate monk just because some people think that’s how a boy abused by his parents ought to be in order to “deserve” their sympathy. The abuse was my parents’ fault, not mine; so why should I be punished for it? Why should any survivor?

Sometimes I joke with my friends, online and offline; the people I trust and feel safe with. We have fun conversations about writing fiction stories, or about the actors and singers we have crushes on. It’s normal friendship stuff, and survivors have a right to it. I want to spend time with my friends without feeling worried about what people who know about my abuse might think of me on Twitter when I’m kidding around with friends. To me, this is a normal, healthy, and hard-won aspect of my healing journey.

One of the most horrible aspects of all of this happens when an abused child speaks out and eventually goes to testify in court, entering the “court of public opinion” before that. If anybody sees that child smile, or enjoy a game with friends, some ignorant people say “Look, see? That’s proof he’s lying about the abuse.” As if, having been abused, the child should only appear as a broken victim incapable of hope or healing in order to be believed. That child is often bullied by peers, too, because he was abused. This phenomenon is being observed by the silent victims of rape and abuse too – and what’s at stake is them learning that maybe it’s better not to speak up and tell somebody. This is a result that can end innocent lives.

If you are a survivor of any orientation, or still trying to work through the confusion of what that orientation might be, don’t let anybody make you feel like you have to be one or another. You also don’t have to lock yourself in an ivory tower or cloister, denied the chance to find love. Please don’t suffer in silence. Speak out, tell somebody you need help. Later, when you grow up, learning to want healthy intimacy of any sort with somebody who loves you is your right as a human being. It can help you to heal if you feel it’s right for you, and it does not alter the tragic truth, in court or out, that you were abused or raped. On the contrary, it is proof that your abuse does not define who you are.

We as survivors have the right to heal and become who we want to be. Nobody else has the right to tell you that what you choose is wrong. This goes for children and teens who are being bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts, too. We all have a right to be safe and happy. You have a right to be you.

Carving out an identity that gives you the best chance at learning to be happy is key. It is a struggle; yet not only discovering who you are, but deciding for yourself who you will be, is the most empowering form of healing. Take the phrase “I am I” and make it mean something special to you. Once you do, nobody can take it away from you.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 12/5/2011
For my fellow survivors and those they choose to be strong enough to love; and for all who don’t feel safe in a world that shuns them. Don’t give up. Speak out.

Innocence Vs Acceptance

Innocence: defined as a lack of being  worldly or carnal, but it’s a concept that is more than just physical purity. A majority of people in our society scoff at innocence, either in private or publicly. When they do so publicly, they are often repeated, retweeted, even hi-fived, ad nauseum. From there, scoffing often devolves into outright hostile mockery. This seems so odd to me; why all this hostility, this strange sense of superiority to innocence?

For those of us who are devoted parents, shouldn’t we want (and hope for) a certain level of innocence to be present in our children? For the most part, we do. Yet many of these same parents view a celebrity who gives the impression of innocence with utter disdain. Nobody can be “cool” unless they are worldly, experienced… even perhaps cynical. Those people are trusted, admired, and eagerly followed.

On the other hand, the scales of innocence and experience are a dicey prospect, sociologically speaking. If a celebrity goes too far over the unfixed and debatable “line” between entertaining experience and utter reprehensible debauchery, they are also shunned, mocked, and scoffed at. Of course, this situation isn’t limited to celebrity – it’s common in every town, every high school, and every conference room.

I suppose a person vilifying  the human train wrecks of society isn’t too hard to grasp, though it’d be more humane to pity them. They were chasing  fame and fortune, got lucky or had real talent, and then the pressure to stay on top of their game became too much for them. Strange that with the innocent celebrities, some people seem insidiously eager to see them fall, even while they ridicule the fallen.

It could be argued that it’s human nature to shun them, the innocent and the train wreck people alike. Both the “herd” and “pack” mentalities dictate that the unfit must be driven from our midst. Is it that simple, though? After all, one man’s unfit is another man’s brother, lover, daughter, son, mother, or friend. How many people who mock a celebrity who has fallen from grace have also gotten outraged that a homophobic bully targeted their gay friend? To the bully, taught to hate as they do, the gay person is as unfit as the celebrity who was being mocked.

It can’t be that simple. As motives go, when the train wreck person is rich and famous, the most common motive is jealousy. “They had all that, but look at them now, serves them right.” Serves them? For what? Why seek “punishment” for the rich and successful, when all most of us dream of is being  rich and successful? The line for buying lottery tickets is chock-full of hypocrites grousing about the fallen angels on the magazine covers they pass on the way to their chance at fortune.

At the root of this, for me, is the curious rejection of innocence. The innocent is mocked and then forgotten, but the celebrity train wreck stays in the news, because their plight is “entertainment”. Yet both the “cool” people and the train wreck people are ranked higher than the innocent in society’s brutal Darwinian scale of acceptance. Why?

There is even conflict among the innocent people. Some are happy with their situation and proud in the face of mockery, but others can’t wait to rid themselves of their innocence. Is innocence a disease? No, it’s not; but society tells us we must desire to be cool, and innocence isn’t cool. Remember those children? At least half of them if not more are probably sitting  around wishing  they were cool, and they know how to get there. Sex is a big route; then there are drugs, alcohol, smoking, and misconduct. Academic achievement is how to get branded a bigger nerd, not how to become “cool”. Blame society, folks.

Yet why does society reject innocence? I believe it is because society as a whole has already lost their innocence and they know they can’t get it back. There is a price to being  “cool”, being worldly; yet those who seek it don’t realize until it’s too late that maybe they’d rather not pay that price. Like the wealth they don’t possess, they end up rejecting  and finally mocking what they can’t have – what they can’t be.

Obviously, I’m discussing  the extremes of society for the most part, though I’m not even getting  into a chat about the real ugly deviants who enjoy hurting others for the “fun” of it. In the midst of the extremes, many people start innocent, grow up, get worldly for better or worse, trade innocence for experience and end up more or less happy. Some of these people even trade innocence for wisdom, compassion, and an ability to understand another person’s pain, and they lend a hand where and when they can.

For the record, I am not innocent in any context of the concept of innocence. However, I didn’t throw my virginity on a trash heap in an effort to be “cool”, or in a blind rush to usher in adulthood. My physical virginity was torn from me as a child, by my parents. To cope, I collected vices like other boys collect stamps. So that may give insight as to why I’m against the mockery of and active efforts to cheapen the value of innocence.

Now, though, I’m a parent. My children are innocent, free of the horrors I was forced to adapt to in order to survive. I want them to be free to choose for themselves in all aspects of life. What I don’t want is to have society tell them that unless they are this or that, they can’t be “cool”. Locking  them up in a convent isn’t the answer, though, so what do I do? Simple – I teach them about true choice, true value, and the real worth of innocence; and then I protect them from outside forces that would try to harm them.

My final question was: Why are people willing  to ruin their lives in the insane quest to be “cool”? I already know the answer, though. “Cool” is just a word. What it is at its root is acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t just mean one has friends. It means one won’t be shunned out of society. This drive to be accepted by our peers, our herd, or our pack; it’s instinctive, even primal.

In animals, the unfit is driven away or killed in order to preserve the health of the group. In people, it’s different, and far more brutal. We have “evolved” into a species that drives out the unfit, people who may not be unfit at all. They are merely branded “unfit” by the present group doing  the driving  out, because that group only wants members to be just like them. Anybody not just like the group could “taint” the group. This does nothing to improve the health of the group, or of society.

To me, this is nothing  more than our base instincts being  twisted into something sick and likely dangerous to many. For those who don’t agree, ask Stuart Walker of Scotland. Wait, we can’t do that; Stuart was beaten and burned alive, left out on the street as a warning – to other gay people. Yet most folks I talk to would agree that Stuart wasn’t “unfit” for any reason, and certainly not because he was gay. So why was he murdered? Because some people don’t agree with us that a gay man isn’t “unfit”, or a threat to their group.

One could argue I’ve wandered a bit from the topic of innocence and why it’s rejected and mocked. I haven’t – I’ve just carried it down a few different and variably disturbing pathways. What did neighbors, friends, and family say in the papers about Stuart Walker? He was a kind, decent, caring person, who hadn’t committed a crime or harmed or aggravated anybody. He was innocent.

~ ~ ~

© W.R.R. 11/2/2011

When We Had To Hide

An Open Letter to Adam Lambert
By W.R.R.

If I could do such a simple thing as sit somewhere and have a beer with you, and if we were going to talk about school days and hiding, this is what I’d want to say to you:

I never thought to hide my sexuality in school; I never even consciously thought about it in concrete terms. I came from an abusive home that didn’t prepare me at all for how the rest of the world saw things, and I was too busy hiding  the abuse and trying  to survive to think about much else. I didn’t even know I was technically sexually active until watching  contraband television made me realize that’s what sex was. All I knew was that some stuff hurt and some stuff didn’t; none of it had names or any context to hang understanding on. Later on, between thirteen and fourteen, I started to figure out a lot because I had finally made my first friend in junior high and he told me some stuff, and introduced me to more, both legal and not. Discovering that this thing, this act, could give pleasure, and that I could seek it out instead of waiting to be told to do it – that was a whole new world that opened up. I acquired quite a few addictions in my teen years, most of which I’m pleased to say I’ve since quit. At the time, though, with my home life the way it was, I didn’t much care if I shouldn’t be doing that stuff.

What you said on your Behind the Music, about being scared and hiding, being confused and trying to pretend, I lived that too; but I didn’t have the sense to hide the fact that I liked to kiss boys as well as girls, and it added a whole new dimension to the bullying in school. The closest thing to a gay/straight alliance we had in my high school was me finding out which of the bullies was secretly gay. One in particular, a football jock no less, I met at a wild basement party. Running into him at school, I thought we’d do stuff together, and we did – if nobody saw. If his buddies were around, he’d lend a fist on the regularly scheduled beat down. I guess it seems insane to some, my real friend wanted to get him back for hurting me; but I was getting the same treatment at home so it wasn’t that strange to switch between being his hook up and his punching bag. He hated himself so much because he was gay and just deciding to be gay, accepting it, seemed out of the question for him. He couldn’t resist what he wanted, but when faced with it around others, all he wanted to do was destroy it.

Halfway through high school I got a second friend, my current boyfriend, and he was hiding too. I can’t imagine how our lives might of changed if there had been anybody saying it was okay to be a gay or bisexual kid, or even if society had had some examples like you mentioned on the show: television, movies, or all the way up to a legitimate gay/straight alliance after school. Given a safe place to discuss being bisexual, maybe I could of had the guts to tell somebody I was being abused, too.

Anyhow, not trying to upset you with my past, just wanted to share a perspective that many don’t have; unfortunately, some others know exactly what I went through because they did too. Those of us who are survivors aren’t necessarily the tougher or braver ones, though it’s certainly a given that any survivor of abuse is tough and brave – mostly we’re the ones that got some sort of help along the way, whether at the time or later, from some source. I believe those who were either killed or took their own lives were also tough and brave; they just never got that help before it all started to feel too bleak on the way to feeling pointless. Fact is, as a child or teen, you don’t often think about life beyond school, beyond abuse or bullying; it takes a while for that restricted viewpoint to fade. Hand in hand with that, are too many folks who don’t take the time to see, to ask, to get involved.

So while we’re hoisting imaginary beer, why am I telling you all of this? Because you’re my stepping stone, helping me by your example alone to be what I want to be, to be something I once thought I could never be: a whole and happy bisexual man, free to be himself without apologies. I am so grateful that you had a good home, with a loving family, and later found similar artistic friends to add to that family. I grew up, started to learn that there’s a whole big chunk of the world that isn’t like my birth family, and I was able to make my own family. They help me every day to face the challenges that remain.

There are so many kids and teens out there though, who are just like we were, either hiding abuse or hiding who they really are, both out of fear. I wish I could do more to help them. I’m bipolar, and I suffer from agoraphobia and a grab-bag of other phobias that make it so hard for me to relate to others at all. What I do have is my experience, perspective, and a desire to share it in the hope of reaching somebody. If my poetry, my essays, or even my goofy tweets help somebody like me, then I’m more than willing to toss them out there, like bread crumbs to follow out of the dark.

Just wanted to tell you along the way that you’re loved and appreciated for what you do, and you don’t need to carry the flag of any cause to do it. You’re out there, being yourself, showing the rest of us what’s possible with hard work and conviction; and that’s all you need to be. We both know there’s a lot of crazy haters in the world; I just like to remind you that there are sane and decent folks, too. You already know that, of course, but sometimes the hateful voices seem to be awful loud. I hope the folks that love and appreciate you will raise their voices louder and more often. In the meantime, I love seeing you so happy in both career and love, and I am patiently looking forward to new music, too. Sorry for the epic length here, this was going to be shorter; but I can’t ever get through when you do twitter parties. I wanted to be sure you had a chance to know what you mean to me and to others – to a whole lot of us out here, in fact. As for that imaginary beer, it’s on me. See you next round.


© W.R.R. 7/21/2011, edited on 8/10/2011

For all survivors of any form of rape or abuse; you are not alone. Speak out. Find your path to healing.