The poster reads:
me: “I want you to know, this is not why I’m gay.”
my mom: “Are you sure?!”
Photographed in Chicago, IL on September 27th
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After ten years, I told my mom about being assaulted and stalked by a dude in my peer group. At the time of the assault I lived a distance from home, having moved to the DC area after high school. I was 19 and the dude was 31, an age I have since eclipsed. My mom’s initial reaction to this disclosure was less than helpful. Instead of focusing on my needs she spouted off about how my assault (and the fact it took 10 years to tell her) made her feel. I remember at the end of this conversation walking away after saying, “Your feelings are valid and important but I don’t think I am the person who you should talk to about these feelings. You need to process this on your own or with your support system.” As a part of Project Unbreakable, I decided to write something my mom said in response to my disclosure because these days it has more of an effect on me than anything my assaulter said to me. I actually really enjoy depriving my assaulter of a voice in this situation. I am at a place in my life where, for the most part, I have a handle on what it means - for me - to have survived. I would say this is a relatively recent thing. I struggled, especially in the last six years, with that. I had a hard time coming out - as queer and as a sexual assault survivor. I have written critiques about the concept of “coming out” and how, often, one is thought to be “out” when they tell their family of origin. I feel like I have told my family of origin about my queerness several times throughout my life and they ignored me. My family has often used silence and ignoring as a weapon.
My mom, in particular, has come a long way since she said this statement. My mom’s acceptance of me, not just as a gay lady and an assault survivor but in general - ie as a person who cares about her but who has my own life, body, thoughts, desires, and experiences - is an ongoing process. It’s one that we go through with our families and parents. This was a part of that for me.
I also want to thank Grace and Project Unbreakable for giving me this opportunity to reflect and share. Thank you.