(This is Part 3 in a series of stories about my journey beyond sexual assault. I hope the series will open up healthy dialogues about sexual assault in our LGBT communities. For more resources, go to https://www.thehimmproject.org/other-resources/.)
By Ron Blake
So many questions are asked of us during our lifetimes. But some of them can make our hearts race in anticipation of the response to our answer.
On my journey to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a sexual assault, people ask me lots of questions about my unique social re-engagement therapy that began in November 2015 with a moment of laughter at Stephen Colbert’s monologue on The Late Show that suicidal night.
I expect that. People just don’t do what I’m doing: Since deciding that I had to stop isolating myself, I’ve spent 7,000 hours of effort going out for 892 days to meet 24,917 complete strangers to gain support for getting on The Late Show as a guest to help others see that hope exists after a sexual assault.
That’s a lot to take in! So I welcome the inquiries. But THE question finally came up on Day 13 of my big journey: “Are you gay?”
I am gay. And I am open about being gay. So I answered yes.
But it’s not a question that needs to be asked. And just knowing that it can be asked will cause many (gay) men to avoid talking about being sexually assaulted. For gay men, there is a double stigma to sexual assault.
Many men are not out of the closet because there is still a stigma about being gay. And many guys (gay or straight) are not comfortable with discussing a sexual assault. Male sexual assault carries its own stigma. We are guys. We are expected to be “tough.” This is darn hard to talk about!
I don’t want to see us get out the pitchforks and torches about the existence of this double stigma. Let’s be civil and just get more dialogue going about male sexual assault. That’s how we can start to erase those stigmas.
But these stigmas are only one big problem. We also need to look at the myths that come from ignorance.
One myth is that only gay men sexually assault other men. The truth is this: Most men who sexually assault other men identify as straight men.
That leads to another myth – that sexual assault is about lust and sexual attraction. Let me clear this up: Sexual assault is a violent act, and it is about control over another person.
Also, being sexually assaulted has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Some men are straight. Some are gay. Some are bisexual. Each of those men is equally likely to experience a sexual assault.
I look back on that question posed to me on that 13th day of this journey leading me to recovery and New York City. I think about what a long, strange trip it’s been. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Sure, I get asked inappropriate questions. But I look at all questions as opportunities to bring about change. Ignorance doesn’t have to be the end; it can be the beginning.
Last week I was in line at my neighborhood Chipotle restaurant – where I go several times each week – and a different kind of question was directed at me. Great, I thought, another chance for a beginning.
A woman who works there and sees me frequently asked me whether I ever get tired of eating the same food over and over.
My answer stopped everyone in the restaurant. Even I was surprised to hear the words come out of my mouth. What the heck did I say and what did it have to do with my sexual assault? Stay tuned.
This article of hope and support is brought to you by that guy with a lot more to share. That guy with more stories than the Missie B’s bartenders is Ron Blake. You can find him at Blake Late Show on Facebook and Instagram.