Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse, Assault, and Rape
Last week I mentioned that Pride was both wonderful and horrible at the same time. It was wonderful because I was able to see a world of diversity that I hadn’t seen before. It was beautiful because I saw a spectrum of color and variety that I hadn’t allowed myself to acknowledge. And, finally, it was a chance to validate myself and find more courage to become my own authentic person.
It was horrible, however, because I was raped by someone who I thought was one of my best friends and his boy friend.
Friday night, before the festival opened, I was invited to go clubbing with a friend from college and his partner. I was excited to experience Pride weekend and what better way to do it than by hitting up a gay bar with a group of gay friends.
It’s important to know that these people weren’t strangers. I had known my friend for more than five years and I also knew his boy friend (they’ve been dating for about six months).
They still live in Utah County so they decided to rent a hotel room in Salt Lake City. They invited me to their room to start drinking before we made it to the club. Drinking in bars is so expensive so why not save as much as you can by “pre-gaming” before you get there, right?
Well, I like to drink and I know it takes A LOT for me to feel anything so I helped myself to a couple of mixed drinks at the hotel as well as an 8-10 oz. Dixie-cup shot of pure pineapple vodka (no ice, just straight liquor). I hadn’t been drunk in close to two years and I really wanted to let my hair down.
Well, we quickly made it to the bar and continued drinking. At least six bar drinks later, I was three-sheets to the wind and the club was closing.
We took a cab to Denny’s and after we ordered, it became even more evident that the alcohol was taking its toll on me. I couldn’t sit up in the booth and I definitely couldn’t eat or walk, and I could barely even talk.
Almost immediately after receiving our food, the three of us left the restaurant and walked across the street to the hotel. While on our way back, I distinctly remember saying that I didn’t care what they did in their bed, as long as it stayed in their bed and they left me alone.
When we got to the hotel room, I immediately got into bed and, just before passing out, one of the guys gave me a glass of water and some ibuprofen. “You need to take this, it will help with your hangover tomorrow morning,” he said.
I felt safe.
I passed out.
I don’t know how much time elapsed and, I’ll be honest, my next memories are all very broken and disjointed.
I am not going to go into detail but I was sexually assaulted in every way a man can be assaulted by another man. Every time I said “no” and garnered enough strength to push off or pull away, they found another part of me to violate.
These two men had been asking me to make an ‘MJ sandwich’ since December and I have been telling them “no” since then.
Likewise, I told them “no” when we were all sober when the night began.
I told them “no” at the bar.
I told them “no” at Denny’s.
I told them “no” on the walk back to the hotel.
And, in my drunken, passed-out state during the exchange, I remember saying “no, I’m not ready.”
I remember many things about that night; most of which I wish I did not. Even when everything was happening, in between blacking out and then being forcibly brought back to consciousness, I remember thinking, “this is my fault,” and “why am I so stupid, how did I let this happen?” And then I would try and force myself to black out again – and I would.
I felt so guilty and dirty and responsible for letting myself get that drunk that I told myself that I deserved what was happening and that maybe if I just let them, they’d finish faster and it would all be over.
In that moment, I had convinced myself I deserved to be raped while the other guy took pictures. I deserved to have both of them violate me without any form of protection and, in that vein of thought, I believed that losing my virginity in such vile, disgusting way was my just reward.
Because I am gay.
In the last conversation I had with my mother she told me, “if you decide to live the gay lifestyle, it will chew you up and spit you out.”
And, in that moment, I believed her.
Four or five hours later I came to, alone in the bed and half naked. I put the rest of my clothes on that had been pulled off me and left the hotel room.
For the next two hours I walked downtown Salt Lake City in an effort to burn off the rest of the alcohol in my system before I took a taxi back to my car and I drove home.
Over the next few days I battled myself and my emotions. I tried to justify their behavior. Similarly I continued to blame myself.
Eventually, however, I sought out friends who truly love me and support me and they referred me to several invaluable resources.
As I’ve reached out to support groups and hotlines and medical professionals, I have come to understand that this wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t raped because I was drunk or because I'm gay, I was raped because my supposed friends are rapists.
No means no.
While speaking with the Utah Pride Hotline, I was told that this happens a lot. That predators feed off of newly “out” members of the LGBTQ community because they are easy targets. Similarly, while on the phone with the Rape Recovery Hotline, I was told that one in six men is a survivor of sexual assault and rape.
I am horrified that this happened to me. I never thought it would, I never thought it could – I am enormous and I played sports. I didn’t think anyone would even consider doing something to someone as large as me. I never thought it was even a possibility. But, beyond my own pain, I am even more disgusted by how frequently this happens and by how many boys and young men are affected.
It makes me sick(er).
So, if you are a survivor or you know someone who has been assaulted, please know that you are not alone. Please use the resources that are available to you and, most importantly, know that you are not alone, that you are loved and that this wasn’t your fault.
There are many side effects associated with an experience like this. I don’t know exactly how my personal journey will play out, or how this experience will affect me long term, but I do know that I am strong enough to weather the challenges that have already popped up and that may arise in the future. I also know that with the right resources and support anyone else in this or a similar situation can also survive and thrive.
If you or anyone you know needs someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. It’s tough but we can all heal together.
Below are a few of the resources that I've found to help me through this experience.
http://www.raperecoverycenter.com/ - They have a 24-hour crisis hotline at 801-467-7273. This is a predominantly female-centric resource but they have been trained and are very generous with male (especially gay/bisexual) survivors, too.
http://www.rainn.org/get-information/types-of-sexual-assault/male-sexual-assault - There is a wealth of resources and information here too.
Me – Please reach out to me if you need any support; I will do all I can to help you.
Google – Truly, if you Google “Male Survivors of Sexual Assault” you will see a wealth of resources that can and will help you.