On Being Gay — Chapter III

letters-to-charles:

I dread being touched, especially by men. 

At times, I find this to be ironically humorous since I identify as a gay male. The carnal part of me very much craves physical contact with others but a buried knot of fear lurks below that desire. I’ve come to realize with time that the violence visited upon our bodies never really goes away. Those wounds that heal leave scars behind as cautionary tales and those that are bandaged fester until they are forgotten or they eventually poison the victim. 

A child does not have the capacities to understand that violence is not supposed to be a daily part of their life. But it wasn’t the bruises I hid in class or the blood I helped washed from my sister’s mouth before school that has instilled in me such an aversion to the simple act of flesh greeting flesh. 

It started with a hug from a trusted friend who embraced me when I was most vulnerable. I was turned away from my parent’s home when I came out in college and faced with the prospect of stints on the streets of Downtown LA after I exhausted my funds living at various hostels. In my despair my friend’s offer of shelter was a welcomed gift. 

The days were normal but every night he sexually assaulted me when I fell asleep. Embolden, he tried to rape me one early morning. We had the same group of gay friends and shared the same queer activist spaces so I saw him frequently. I never spoke to him ever again. 

That following semester was the lowest point in my life.

I eventually became disenchanted with the lifestyle my gay friends were living and that I was living.

Drinking. West Hollywood. Drugs. Clubs. Hookups. Rinse and repeat. 

So I decided to do what I do best—wander. I moved to Rome and from there drifted through 13 countries before finally settling back down here in the US for now. Life has been a great blessing to me and for that I am grateful. 

A few things I’m learning

1. I don’t have to be nice to everyone
2. I don’t have to forgive
3. I am my body’s best advocate and I choose to love it 

We’ve already shared this post by @letters-to-charles before, but I wanted to share it again because this was the first narrative about sexual assault I had read from anybody whose intersections of identities resonated for me. It’s one thing to know that, statistically, there are gaysian and queer Asian (and queer Asian American) male survivors of sexual assault. But it’s another thing entirely to read and hear other stories from this perspective – and for that, I’m so grateful to letters-to-charles for writing this post.

To add some more context to letters-to-charles’s narrative: In most cases of sexual violence, the perpetrator is an intimate partner or acquaintance of the victim. And LGBT survivors at college face unique challenges due to disproportionately high rates of victimization, the small size of LGBT communities on campus, reliance on others in the community, and a fear of not being taken seriously by campus administrators, among other factors. Unfortunately, these struggles still aren’t given the attention which they deserve – which we deserve.

– Ethan

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