pain in my heart

This page is a columniation of thoughts surrounding events in my life that have been sitting dormant in my head, my body, my soul, for a long time. If you know me in real life, this page and the writings that continue will disturb and upset you. I'm not asking for your pity, your sorrow, or for you to reach out and sympathize with me. Just listen to what I have to say, and maybe you can understand. I will continue to write for my own solice, my own peace, slowly undoing the knots that have bound up my feelings and emotions. Even my closest friends will find these stories shocking. I've waiting for their unraveling to be activated by inspiration. Most of this inspiration comes from someone I met at a wild party in San Francisco in February of 2019. He let me know of a special drag performance he was putting on that month at Pantheacon—a convention organized around pantheistic religion and spirituality. While I had no connection to pantheistic beliefs, I found him to be quite the interesting fellow, and very much wanted to go see the performance he was directing. It was a rainy Friday night and I drove nearly two hours alone, in the dark, to the convention which was being held at a hotel in downtown San Jose—an unfamiliar place for me. The show centered on, “Meeting and Greeting the Queerest of Gods,” and had about a dozen drag performances that told stories about the many homosexual and genderbending mythical heroes and deities throughout history. Towards the end of the performance, my friend stopped the performance and got into an emotional monologue about the struggles he had in his life. He called upon those who identified as his, “friends,” to stand with him in that moment in solidarity. Although I could have never predicted what he was about to share with us, and that I had just met him about a week before and hardly knew him, I decided to stand, because I had a feeling that he was beginning to fold into himself. I sensed his vulnerability. While I stood, he began to share that he had been sexually abused as a child, harassed and abandoned by his parents for being gay, and fought with so many inner demons related to his religious and racist upbringing. He shared that he had been sexually assaulted by other gay guys. Then, he asked the room for those that also had been sexually assaulted and abused by their loved ones, by strangers, by other gay and trans people, to stand. I was shocked and began to choke on some tears as about 80% of the filled hotel conference room got up to stand in solidarity, sharing their pain with him in that moment. He then began to tell us that our own journey isn’t over, that we have the power to overcome the pain, that we cannot—and should not—hide our inner demons. That the path to healing is not easy, and that we have to work within ourselves to bring about liberatory change to our lives. I could not have been more awe inspired, that in the middle of the drag performance he had completely opened up and shared some of the deepest and harsh pains that had been inflicted on him, and called forth all of us to acknowledge our collective pain and our collective need to heal.

Since then many ideas began to float around about the pain in my heart. Trying to understand its source, its embodiment in my physical self, its weights on my soul. I have never had professional psychological/spiritual help or, “treatment,” in any form and don’t really seek to at this very moment. I certainly do not wish to go to a Western, “professional,” psychiatrist or psychologist. Therapy could help me, but for now I’m adverse to it. As for spiritual growth, that may be another topic to be written about in detail for me. But I do acknowledge the need in my life, as I am writing this, to understand spirituality more and what it means to me, how it is a part of my being. So, I decided on writing a long essay outlining some of the past experiences I’ve had with pain, connecting how the past has influenced where I am in the present, get a sense of how I can come to grips with all of this and shape my future without being blind to my personal history. This is the first page of many to come, as I continue to work and write out my story.

I was born in Torrance, a small suburban city near the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles, California, to a middle-class family. My mom worked as a software engineer and my dad bounced between IT and management jobs until finding work at home as a project manager for a radiology corporation. I grew up in a suburb that was down the street from a Catholic church, which is where I would attend school from kindergarten through 5th grade. The earliest memories I have are in preschool, at the daycare center down the street from where my mom would work. This is when I first realized how much my parents overworked themselves. I have memories from when all the other kids would go home, and it would just be me and one or two caretakers waiting…waiting…waiting…into the night, the sun fully set, for my mother to come and get me. She’d walk in and I remember feeling ashamed for being so sad while I waited in solitude at the empty daycare center. Then Catholic school began. The same basic situation continued, with my parents putting me in before and after school care. I was the first kid to arrive in the morning for beforeschool care (often, before the doors to the parish hall had even been unlocked by the single caretaker for the beforeschool program. When this happened, I would wait outside alone in the cold.) and almost always the last kid to go home every single day. At first, this didn’t bother me too much, because it was so routine. But, after a while I began to feel incredibly lonely at those times when it was me and only one or two other kids and a single care taker…waiting anxiously into the dark of night many hours after school was over for our parents to come home. I sensed the impatience and irritability in the caregivers of our afterschool program in waiting later into the night so frequently.

Catholic school was weird. I’m not sure why but religion really did not make any sense to me at all when I was younger. I just simply could not, and would not, believe in an ultimate creator, in heaven, in hell, in the Virgin Mary. This is when my history of bad performance at school began. I distinctly remember my teachers each year hounding me for receiving low marks in many of my classes (especially religion), and requiring me to go through tutoring sessions afterschool each day. This is when my feelings of inferiority began. I remember crying a lot whenever I went to tutoring, because it was made very clear to me that I was incapable, that I wasn’t smart, that I wasn’t trying hard enough, that I was ‘slow’ . I was so ashamed to be tutored, and was ashamed of myself. I struggled to make friends too. I had a few, but our relationships were very fragile. They would break dramatically and come back together frequently, and I never felt a strong, positive connection with many of my other peers at this age. I wanted to be friends with both girls and boys, and viewed the two genders as equals. This type of behavior was shunned by our teachers and caregivers in the church. They were highly suspicious of any intermixing of girls and boys, and often got me in trouble. They sexualize and romanticized our relationships despite my own pure innocence and joy in being around my friends no matter what gender they were. I didn’t care if girls were ‘tomboys’ or boys were being ‘sissy’ in what types of games they like, how they acted, who they interacted with. I was bullied by older students in secrecy. This left me very vulnerable to manipulation by others. In 3rd grade, I began to be sexually abused by two other male students in my class. It started on a very innocent note—invitations to play afterschoool, to go their house and have sleepovers—and quickly devolved once they had won over my trust. I have never shared this part of my life with anyone before openly, but after hearing Synergee share his struggle at Pantheacon, it’s something I simply can no longer ignore, to be scared to be open about… The two students turned into a single one, and the abuse was pretty frequent and highly sexual. The worst part was that most of the abuse occured during our afterschool program. I couldn't tell anyone it was happening out of fear of being outted as gay, as to start controversy with my parents and the school. Further, I couldn't simply 'escape' it, because I had to go to afterschool care every single day. I couldn't just 'walk away' ... I did not understand why it was happening, why he chose me, but I DID know one thing—fear. Fear of other kids finding out, fear of our church finding out (I knew gayness was a sin at this time), fear of my parents finding out. He could get me to do anything he wanted me to do, mostly out of fear of blackmail. He manipulated me into trying to pull other male students into his sexual assaults. He would tell me to try to reenact what was done to me, by him, on other peers. One day he was abusing me, out in the open, in broad daylight, in a small driveway behind our parish hall, during our outdoor play time afterschool. One of the neighbors that overlooks the driveway on that side must have seen from their windows what was going on, and told someone from our afterschool program. I remember after we went inside, I was called aside to talk to one of them alone. I was petrified with terror, and to this day remember as one of the worst days of my life. They talked to me in a highly speculative, unsure, and deeply concerned tone. I’m sure they were probably confused as to what was really going on, and how creepy the neighbor came off as admitting to watching one young boy fondle another. Nevertheless, they asked me if I had anything to say regarding the neighbor seeing some inappropriate things happening to me. And I shyly denied everything, said that nothing had happened, it was a misunderstanding, that I was OK, that I was not being abused. They let me go, and didn’t mention anything to my parents that day when I left to go home. I was so incredibly paranoid after that day. I remember the crippling fear and dread—the fear of others finding out who I really was on the inside. After that, the abuse generally slowed down and began to stop. The other kid remained in my class throughout, and we never made any mention of what had happened between us. I don't feel anger or resentment or hatred towards him. More than anything, on reflecting on this part of my past, I feel bad for the person who was abusing me. It's because I can't help but wonder what motivated him to do the things he did to me. Often kids simply re-enact what has been done to them by their parents or other adults. Was he being abused at home? By somebody else? These thoughts haunt me to this day. I don't think I could face him if I were to meet him again in my adult life. I just hope he knows what he did was wrong, and doesn't choose to ignore it, and can begin the process of healing himself.

Thoughts of acknowledging this pain in my heart came about when Synergee shared his experience with childhood sexual abuse. I have had these feelings and thoughts trapped and hidden within me until I realized, “wow, this happened to me too.” Then I began to reflect on how this abuse had shaped my life up until this point. I’m gay, and have identified as gay since high school (although not openly until recently in college). I can’t help but feel that this male-on-male sexual abuse at such a young age painfully lead me to identify this way, on a more subconscious level. I know people say that abuse at a young age shapes who we are in many of our personal qualities as adults—if so, then could my gay identity stem from homosexual abuse as a kid? I choose not to believe this as the sole reason for the discovery of my gay being. But I can’t help but believe that this abuse did influence my views on sexuality to some degree and continues to burden my conscience. When the abuse was occurring, I thought that homosexual acts were not bad at all, that they could bring about happiness in me, that they were what I wanted. But it’s hard to say how genuine these feelings are, since I was so young, they happened so long ago, and because of the harsh manipulation levied against me by my abuser. I was forced to accept those feelings, I had no other way to accept and live through what was done to me. I shunned all sexual thoughts, sexual desires, and had a general disinterest/distain for sexual relationships or sexuality for many, many, many years after this abuse occurred. I think it led to a hidden pain that I tried my hardest to ignore and bury. It caused me to be incredibly ashamed and denying of my sexual orientation once I realized my, “gay thoughts,” in high school were not going away. It caused me to be afraid of intimacy in general—distrusting and disgusted by the thought of sexual contact with another guy, despite my constant fantasies and wishes for homosexual contact. It took many years to come around to physical intimacy and sexual contact. Now, I believe that warm bodies touching can be a spiritual and liberating experience—regardless of it's sexualization. I love touching and being intimate with other men for this reason. I think sex and intimacy can allow one to unfold, to become, to realize, to feel happy, amused, and free (so long as it's not used to fufill our need for social support, or platonic companionship and comradery, with other men)...I don't hate myself for being gay, and I know that my sexuality is more than my history of sexual abuse.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
Oscar Wilde