I grew up in a small town on the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap. It was a socially conservative place; I'm not sure much has changed.There, I repressed my desires for men amidst jeers and taunts of "faggot" and "queer." Boys would walk down the hall objectifying women and humiliating other boys. I would dodge questions around my sexuality, and was often deemed a loner. The friends I did have were mostly female, as a young fag does; "surviving high school" is a common refrain.
I remember the first time I played "show and tell" with another boy. He was slightly older than me. I must have been seven or eight. It was in elementary school and we hid under a table to share our parts. This was my sexual foundation: shame around my sexuality; I labeled intimacy, sex and desire as an act of secrecy and wrongdoing.
I made it through high school without much of a real kiss, but several rounds of therapy this year pried out memories of secretive relationships when I was 12 that reinforced sex as furtive and without permission.
Boston. Summer of 2003. I was 18 and slipped out of the closet leaving most of my baggage to sit in the dark. It would resurface with every drunk and beleaguered sex partner I stumbled upon. I have a pattern.
The boy who conned me into his room, his pants, his long soliloquy on wild sex parties and his self-adulating spiel of "I love turning straight boys gay." I was 18, scared, and inebriated. He was sober. The next day, he outed me to all my peers and told everyone that I took advantage of him the night before. I cried and apologized to him numerous times. Later, I realized the only thing I did wrong was allowing him to take me home and take advantage of me. #metoo
The sweet musician. He played the piano and spoke of memories in that "I'm always singing" voice. He kissed me in hallways, and delighted in seeing me. A few weeks into our relationship, he came to my friend's party. I got drunk, yelled at him and pushed him down. I meant to push him on the bed in a fiery expression of desire, but he fell and hit his shin on the bed frame and cut open his leg. He ended it there. Last year, I sent him an apology for being emotionally detached and physically abusive 10 years prior. He lovingly forgave me. #Itwasme
Every man who groped me at clubs and paid me in drinks; boys that kissed me in bathroom stalls and pulled me into dark corners; guys that took me home when I didn't know my name; friends that pushed me off to strangers I'd wake up to the next morning. All the men I'd let touch me for a 21 plus bracelet when I was only 18. #metoo
I moved to Raleigh and spent several years ashamed of my body, vigorously dieting, cleansing and working to perfect my physical form and cleanse my spirit. Perfect. I needed to look, act, smell and feel perfect.
In my mid-20s came the Unavailables: The married man, the committed man, the dating man, the cheating man, the when-I-want-you man who fell for my body as a replacement for the lust he lost in his partner. #metoo
The boy I would only have sex with when I was drunk so I didn't have to know him. #Iwashim
- To the man I was dating that I insisted on having sex with one night despite his eyes saying "no" and "not tonight." I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for not listening. I'm sorry for hurting you. #Itwasme #Iwashim
To the man that would shame me for not bottoming for him, and blame me for his failure to keep an erection. The man who told me it was rude to ask him to wear a condom. #metoo
To my body for the moments of wild abandon where my consent was lost to a bottle of wine and found in my hangover with spotty memories of multiple partners. I'm sorry. #Itwasme #metoo
To the older male clients who insist I massage them without draping, or ask for me to be nude; the clients that would throw off the sheet or grab my ass while I walked around the table; the men that would keep pushing me to act, that would prey on me, that would suggest, force or subvert. #metoo
To every woman I didn't stick up for; for every man I couldn't show up for; for every guy I left confused, betrayed or hurt: I'm so sorry. I'm doing better. I hear you in memories and friends' stories. I will hear you as much as you need. I will show up. I will be there.