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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Black Gay Incest and Sexual Abuse: LaDarrell Speaks


I needed to post this one its to powerful to leave alone 

Black Gay Men’s Blog takes a look at incest and how it can impact the lives of black gay men. Sexual abuse is still very much a dirty word and not often spoken about in many black families. Throw incest into the mix and the silence is deafening. As black gay men, many of us know someone who was abused, but even amongst one another, incest is not something we talk about or share often. Incest adds another layer to the already devastating effects of sexual abuse. The accompanying guilt is often much worse, as the abuse sometimes develops into what some survivors initially see as consensual incest. Of course, as experts will tell you, when you have been victimized and sexualized at such a young age, hardly anything about the relationship between the victim and his abuser(s) is consensual. The victim’s childhood has been robbed and he is often thrust into a confusing world without the ability to trust, love or develop healthy sexual relationships.
LaDarrell, a 28 yr old black gay male survivor of incest and sexual abuse, wanted to break that silence and share his poignant story with Black Gay Men’s Blog. Some of you might find his story disturbing and if you are a survivor of incest and sexual abuse, it might trigger some deep, raw emotions. I did my best to edit the interview without stripping it(totally) of the rawness(and there was a lot of it), which I think is needed to convey LaDarrell’s story. When he initially contacted the blog, I told him that if we were going to do this, he had to go all in. There would be no point sharing a story about incest in a black family, if we were going to sugar coat it.  I wasn’t prepared for what that meant and to be honest, if I hadn’t witnessed some of the physical manifestations of stress and trauma, while he was telling his story, I would have thought he was making some of it up. I mean, I’ve heard some horrendous stories about sexual abuse in my time, but this one is way up there, when you factor in all the other details. He gave me his therapist’s number and showed me a ton of self-help books he had found useful, but by the end of the interview, it was clear he wasn’t some dude making up stuff. I was uncomfortable with the details, for my own reasons, it really had nothing to do with him. It’s not often we hear stories like this and he was EXTREMELY graphic, which had to be edited out. I interviewed LaDarrell on Skype, but he didn’t want the video or audio to be used, which is totally understandable. He did, however, insist on using his real middle name, because he intends to email this interview to one of the perpetrators and also share it with his incest survivors group.
black gay incest rape and sexual abuse - LaDarrell shares with black gay men's blog
  • Storm: LaDarrell, Welcome to Black Gay Men’s Blog and thank you very much for deciding to share your story with us. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what prompted you to want to share your story with Black Gay Men’s Blog.
  • LaDarrell: Thanks man for taking time to allow me to do this. As I said in the email I sent from the blog, I’m a 28 yr old black male from Harlem, New York, grew up between Harlem and Baltimore, now living in Brooklyn. I contacted the blog because I’ve read some great articles and stories and I thought it was time to share mine. Maybe someone out there has been through or is going through the same thing. As black men, we ain’t really talking about a lot of the stuff that’s going on, a lot of the stuff that we’ve been through, stuff that has been done to us, especially by family members. My whole life was messed up because of this incest shit. I’m 28 yrs old an this is the first year of my life that I feel I can breathe. You know what I mean?
  • Storm: I know it’s still difficult for you to talk about, but you mentioned you were sexually abused by immediate family members for years. Who abused you, how old were you and how long did it last for?
  • LaDarrell: (Exhales deeply). Yo, this shit started with my pops, when I was 7 and went on until I was 15, not just with my pops, but with my brother and my first cousin. Shit is so twisted and disgusting, my pops was on all kinds of drugs – crack, sometimes heroin, weed to come down from the crack and lots of liquor. My moms too, they were both messed up, but my moms was such a crackhead, she didn’t care nothing about her kids, just how to get the next rock. They would both smoke, get high and then she would be in her room and pops would come into my room and make me suck him off. That was when I was 7(starts visibly shaking), sorry this shit ain’t easy. Anyways, that went on for about a year, then, one night, my moms saw him with his stuff down my throat and didn’t do shit, she just asked him where her pipe was. After that, he started raping me, sometimes with another dude, one of his crack buddies, they would tag team rape me. The weird shit was my brother, my moms, everybody knew what was going on, but it was just like this unspoken family secret. It was like it was ok for my pops to have sex with his young son, to rape me!(starts shaking really badly)
  • Storm: Are you okay? You know, we can stop, if this is too painful for you. I mean, it’s great that you want to share, but you look like you are having a fit.
  • LaDarrell: No, it’s cool, I’ll be alright, it happens whenever I go deep into what happened, so I knew it was going to happen. It’s cool, we can continue. Let me just go grab some water and a cigarette. (returns a couple of minutes later).
  • Storm: You look a bit calmer. This is a very disturbing story, so please stop whenever you feel you need to. You said it went on until you were 15, when did your brother and your cousin come into the picture?
  • LaDarrell: Well, with my pops it went on til I was 12. Sometimes once a week, sometimes, twice a week, sometimes once a month, depending on how horny the drugs made him. Apart from when I was at my aunt’s summertime or some holidays I would be sent to Baltimore. Sometimes he would ease off the drugs for a month or two, he wasn’t as bad as moms. That’s when it would only be like once a month. He used to call me his “lil bitch-ass fag boy” while he was having sex with me. When I was 11, he made my brother, who was 16 jack off in my mouth. My brother had started getting high too and it was then I understood why he had never said nothing, they had they own dirty lil secret too. They had this weird shit going on, it hit me that pops must have been having sex with my brother too. Soon after that, my brother got arrested for robbing the damn KFC and was sent away to juve, then transferred a year or so later for getting in trouble. Somehow, it got worse. I guess he missed my brother, or something, coz the sex became really brutal and he would bring his buddies to join, not just the same one anymore but sometimes 2 or 3 other crack fiends at a time, including my cousin, who was like 26 and on crack. By this time, the crib was pretty much like a crack house, there was all kinds of people smoking and having sex all over the place. One morning, around 7am, after bleeding for a couple of hours from being used as a semen receptacle for my dad, my cousin and their crack buddies, I snapped. I went to the bodega and got a few bottles of hot sauce and waited for him to pass out. I knew he would pass out coz after the orgy with his crack buddies he was smoking blunts like he didn’t have no lungs. I heated that shit up on the stove and went to wake him up. As soon as he opened his eyes I threw all the hot sauce in his face.(starts laughing, then shaking again). That muthafucka is still scarred today, but guess what? He never touched me again. I was 12 and sent to live with my aunt in Baltimore for a couple of years.
  • Storm: I’m not often speechless, but this is one of those rare occasions, when I’m stunned. I don’t know if I dare ask you what happened next. Before we go there, between the ages of 7 and 12, did you ever tell anyone what was going on and how did you feel about what was going on?
  • LaDarrell: There really wasn’t anyone to tell that I thought would care. Who do you tell that your dad has turned you into his bitch? There was a lot of crack around in those days. A lot of my homies had messed up parents too, you just kinda did what you had to do. I think even the social workers were getting high then(laughs) coz they sure wasn’t looking out for the poor black kids. Maybe there was just too many of us with issues back then, then again nobody ever really reported it, not that I know of. Technically, at that point, we were supposed to be living with my uncle a few block away, but he was a functional crackhead and didn’t really want us there, I think they just had to have that on paper for some reason or the other. Harlem was still full of crack back then, nothing made sense and all kinds of shit went down in crack houses. Plus, my pops was obviously a sick bastard, but when he wasn’t high or having sex with me, he was the closest thing to a parent I had. In the middle of all that madness, he was the only one that ever asked me if I had eaten, cooked when he could, asked about school once in a while, it was the closest thing to love I had. Moms never did any of that, she lived for the next rock. She would give dudes BJs right there in the living room for the next rock. So, in a twisted way, I hated pops, but I needed him. I hated myself for needing him and I hated myself even more from around 10, when my body started to respond to him, I felt like pure trash, a trashy ho having sex with his own dad. I thought there must be something wrong with me why all these men wanted to have sex with me. I hated him, but I hated my moms more for letting it happen to me and for being a crack whore. The only adult I knew who wasn’t getting high was my aunt in Baltimore. I was glad to go live with her.
  • Storm: So you went to live with your Aunt – how was that and when did your brother come back into the picture? I’m assuming he did, because you were 12 at the time, not 15.
  • LaDarrell: My aunt was real cool, still is. For the first time in my life, I had a stable life for 2 years. Food, clothes, school, no crackheads, no rape. Well, not anything brutal anyway, just giving the thugs some head every now and then. That was more my messed up sexualized mind than anything else. It was all I new how to make older men have orgasms and the quicker the better coz then it was over. A lot of abused kids have a lot in common with prostitutes, you get good at getting men off real quick. Then my brother got released and came to Baltimore, he wasn’t suppose to go back to Harlem immediately, so he could get it together. He was all swole and stuff from working out and he was cool. He apologized for the JO in my mouth incident. Apparently, pops made him do sexual things for crack and he had been abused from he was 8, then they developed some weird drug/sex daddy/son relationship. By the time he was 13, he had a horsed!ck and daddy just couldn’t get enough of it. So while I was my fathers bitch, as he called me, pops was my brother’s bitch – totally messed up. He got my brother hooked on drugs and made him have sex for his fix.
  • Storm: Are you kidding me? This is so sick, no wonder you keep shaking, I’d be shaking too. What a monster! So it sounds like you and your brother swapped stories and everything was good. You had someone to talk to and you bonded because you had both been through similar stuff, so how and when did that change?
  • LaDarrell: About 2 months after he was released, my aunt lost her job. She decided to move back to NYC, there were more nursing jobs and she got offered a job at St Vincents. My brother was soon back with the same crowd getting high an one night he came home and I was asleep. Next thing you know this huge thing is ripping me apart, but then he started crying and saying sorry and telling me he loved me. I swear we are so messed up. I figured instead of being all torn up, I might as well go along. Men had used and abused my body for years anyway. After that we would have sex often, sometime it was more like we were lovers, other times he would try and rape me(I think that’s what he knew), many times, even when I had felt some pleasure, I would be sick afterwards. When I was 15, moms died of a crack and heroin overdose. My brother got his act together, for a while anyway. He stopped having sex with or trying to rape me. I think for the first time in his life, the whole thing with drugs really hit him. My aunt sent him to rehab and he did all the rehab stuff after that – halfway house etc. He stayed clean for a few years, got a job and everything, but he was very messed up about the incest with pops and me, the whole thing. So, it was kinda hard for us to be close.
  • Storm: That is definitely much more than most people ever have to deal with in a lifetime. How did all that trauma affect you? I mean you look fine now, but I know you couldn’t have gone through all that without some damage.
  • LaDarrell: That’s why I really wanted to share my story. At the time, I thought I was dealing with everything well, but it really messed me up. All the anger I had towards my moms I turned against myself when she died. I became one of those young gay Christopher Street kids. By 17 I was hustling, turning tricks you know. Like I said, I had become good at giving men pleasure in very little time, it was all I knew. I put myself in all kinds of dangerous situations, I was addicted to the high I got from what I saw as power over men. When I had a man’s d!ck in mouth, I felt I had total control, he was vulnerable. Once I decided to bite one of the tricks. I don’t know what came over me, I just had to make him feel pain like I had felt all those years. He knocked the hell out of me, took me almost 3 weeks to recover. As soon as my face was ok, I was back on the streets turning tricks.
  • Storm: How long were you a street hustler for and where were you living at the time? Did you have any friends and did they know what you were doing?
  • LaDarrell: I was still living with my aunt, until I was 18. She tried to help, she knew something was up, but she didn’t know I was prostituting. I didn’t really have no friends at that time, I couldn’t trust anyone, apart from Najae, a tranny I met on the streets. She was the nicest person you could ever meet, she looked out for me, she became my big sister, people actually thought we were blood. Turns out she had been abused by her father, for years, as well. I guess she saw the signs in me, she was sent to me. She died of AIDS 7 years ago when I was 21, sad. She would let me stay at her place all the time, she had been there for years and somehow she got me on the lease – I think the landlord was a trick. It was rent controlled on the Lower East Side, took it over when she died. The landlord was always real cool. He knew what was up, I stopped working the streets and started working from the crib. I was pretty much a loner, most of the other kids from the streets joined houses and all that stuff. The houses were too much like “family” and for me family meant hardcore drugs, brutal sex and being raped by MEN, no way was I joining a house. I only ever trusted my aunt and Najae, til this day. Never had a boyfriend, nothing. I’m just learning at 28 how to have and enjoy sex and intimacy in a healthy way. That’s only in the last year, I stopped hooking, escorting, hustling whatever we wanna call it just before I turned 27.
  • Storm: What was the turning point, what made you stop and how difficult has it been to stay away from that lifestyle?
  • LaDarrell: My aunt became really ill with cancer and it made me take a good look at my life. She really didn’t think she was gonna make it, she’s lucky to be alive today. I was a hardcore drinker and smoked a lot of weed. Didn’t really do hard rugs, apart from a lil bump(coke) every now and then, but I was either turning tricks, getting high or both. I used alcohol and weed to numb all the pain. I had been hustling for 10 years with very little to show for it. I mean I was lucky, I had a cheap apartment and managed to keep it, unlike most of the others who had worked the streets, but that was all. I had no friends, no life, no joy. My brother, who I had somehow learned to forgive, because he was even more damaged than me, was into violent sex with men and women, strung out on powder(coke), x pills, pain-killers and meth, in and out of jail. Pops, who I never speak to, is the only one of his crackhead crew still alive, most died of overdoses or AIDS. He has liver damage, kidney damage, heart disease, no teeth and barely hanging on. I didn’t wanna end up like these people. My aunt begged me from her hospital bed, she thought she was dying, she said: “Do what you gotta do to make you life right, it ain’t too late. You are all I got left. They abused you, but each day you live like this, you are abusing yourself all over again.” We became even closer than ever. As she got better, I broke down and told her everything I had been through – on the streets everything. We discussed what I wanted to do, which was go back to school. She cashed in one her policies, told me I had to get away from the Lower East Side, because all the johns new my apartment and I needed a fresh start. She got me an apartment in Brooklyn, put the rest of the money towards college and therapy and said “I know you can do good, don’t let us down and go get tested too”. I tested HIV positive, been in therapy for the last year, just got my GED and looking forward to going to college, I wanna be an Architect and build and design cool homes.
  • Storm: So, in a way, your aunt saved your life, while you were caring for her. What do you think was the most important factor in turning your life around?
  • LaDarrell: My aunt, definitely. I wanted her to live, but cancer can always come back. She has been there for me all these years, even in my most messed up stages. I wanted to be there for her, I HAD to be there for her, which meant being healthy. I really didn’t know how I was gonna do it, until I tested HIV positive. I don’t want this to be about being HIV+, coz my aunt and HIV saved my life. I had to pay attention to my health, I had to get it together. With everything I’ve been through, it really wasn’t a surprise. I have no idea how long I’ve been positive, but knowing for sure made me take the right steps to get healthy, but my aunt planted that seed. She told me to get tested. My health is good, my only vice right now is cigarettes, I go to AA meetings and an Incest Survivors group often, but there’s a peace and spirituality that I never had before. My aunt and HIV have definitely turned my life around. I’ve always been creative and good at design, all kinds of design and all those years staying indoors turning tricks, somehow I also became quite good on the computer. I took a couple online courses to really get my skills on point and now I make money doing graphic design.
  • Storm: WOW, sounds like you have been very busy this last year. What do you want readers to take away from all this? How has this all affected you as a black gay man and how you view your sexuality? You are a very strong man and I’m glad you managed to turn your life around.
  • LaDarrell: Thanks, man. I just want black men, black gay men in particular to know that incest is very real. Sexual abuse by family members happens in the black community and it can go on for many years. When it happens it can really mess you up, especially if you are gay. You start thinking it’s your fault and it’s because you are gay it is happening. I want to let people know that it is NOT your fault. If if you carry on an abusive incestuous affair for years, it is not your fault and you can get through it, if you get some help. I went for years thinking of myself as my pops “lil bitch-ass fag boy”, I thought all I was good for was pleasuring men sexually. I carried the guilt of having sex with my father, my brother and my cousin for many years. I still have some guilt, but it is not the destructive force it was and I’m working on it. I have connected with many brothers who have been through the same thing. Mine was very extreme, but there are young black men, gay and straight, who have been sexually abused and carried on abusive incest relationships with their fathers and brothers. Najae never made it, because the pain made her drink and smoke all the time, that she couldn’t stick to her meds regimen, my brother might never make it, but I have come through and I see it as my duty to tell my story. Anyone out there going through the pain and the guilt, please get some help. Christopher Street and its equivalents all over the country are full of young black male and transsexual hustlers, most have been abused, many have been raped by family members or had incestuous sex. Yo, it f!cks up your mind. There is a great organization called RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, please check them out or call             1-800-656-HOPE      . If there is someone you can talk to, like my aunt, always hold on to that person, be there for them, like they have been for you. See what happened with my life. Statistics show that a large percentage of sexual abuse and incest victims will go on to become HIV positive, if you do become HIV+, please don’t lose hope. It actually saved my life, that and my aunt. That’s pretty much it!
  • Storm: LaDarrell, thank you very much for such a powerful, horrendous, yet inspirational story. You have made great progress in one year, I wish all the best and continued success. Let us know when you get that degree and give your aunt a big hug!
  • LaDarrell: Yo, Storm, thanks very much for the opportunity to tell my story man. Keep doing what you are doing, it is so important to get the knowledge out there and for us to share.
  • Storm: No, Thank YOU!
There you have it folks, a very deep, powerful story, but as LaDarrell said, he has made it through, to the other side and is doing well. So many more of our brothers out there aren’t so lucky. They never find the strength, they don’t have the support and they don’t know where to turn. I have to say I admire LaDarrell for not only finding the strength to sort out his life, but for the courage to speak out and his willingness to share his story. Incest and sexual abuse are very real for many black gay men, so let’s try and be there for one another. Next time you turn your nose up at that street hustler on Christopher Street, or wherever they are in your city, just remember, you don’t know what they have been through and that could very easily have been any one of us. As difficult as it is for many black gay men, breaking the silence is the first road to recovery for survivors of sexual abuse and incest.

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