Guest Post: The First and the Last
Editor Note: Trigger Warning/Explicit Content – this is a detailed account of one man’s rape. It is brutal at times, as is the case with rape. It is also wonderfully written and we are incredibly proud to give him a space to share his story.
Our guest contributor is Christopher. He is a great lover of food and music, but not necessarily in that order. His favorite thing is being alive. In fact, he intends to never die.
My story isn’t one that I’ve seen or heard too often, but I’m sure it’s happened to other men, and maybe they could benefit from this. This is a rape story. This is my rape story, and I’m still getting used to applying that term to what happened to me. We think of rape as something disgusting that happens to women and children, so when it happens to a man, it becomes a story of emasculation, of weakening, a story that should probably be shouldered or tucked away someplace dark and silent. I chose a different technique. I turned my story into a comedic narrative and delivered it to a live audience in the form of a stand-up routine. I got a lot of laughs, and the live performance filled me with adrenaline and bolstered my confidence. I don’t like horror movies; never have. Typically, when I’m reluctantly watching a horror film, my instinct is to laugh at the highest points of tension, to giggle with glee when a scene startles the piss out of me. It’s not surprising that I turned the horrific story of my rape into a comedy. Sadly, this is also somewhat of a coming-out story, as this rape was my first sexual encounter with another gay man. This guy knowingly took my virginity. He took advantage of my inexperience and he premeditated this sexual assault. This is the real story, without the strategic timing and pauses for anticipated laughter.
It was 2001, and I was an invincible 22-year-old. I was a freshly-minted homosexual in that I’d come out to a modest handful of close friends and a few siblings. In truth, I’m one of those men who have always been gay, or at least since I was old enough to understand that I was different. I’d dated girls in my late teens, but by my 22nd birthday I was ready to be my true self. Only I had no idea of how to proceed.
I was working as a server and bartender at a chain restaurant. I was living in the DC-Metro area. I just needed that first door to open. His name was…I guess I can’t say his actual name. He had one of those names that should have been an immediate red flag, one of those names that always pops up on a 15 Most Douchey Names list. So let’s call him Trip.
Trip was a 23-year-old gay man who was also a server and bartender where I worked. He’d been discharged from the Navy during those illustrious Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell years. He was tall and slim, with just enough muscle tone to make him substantial. His face was like Randy Quaid. In all honesty, I wasn’t attracted to him, but he was a gay male, he was in my age bracket, and, most crucial of all, he was experienced. I wanted to learn all that I could from Trip: how to dress, where to go to meet men, how to know if you’re a top or a bottom? Most of my questions were easily answered at work, while we waited by the service window for our orders of fried chicken tenders, or while we took turns making obnoxiously specific drinks for our bar regulars. I think Trip enjoyed the position of teacher. I think he thought my ignorance was cute, though he was not attracted to me. I knew it with the same assurance that I wasn’t sexually drawn to bizarro Gay Randy Quaid. I didn’t feel any drive to hang out with him outside of work, but I thought he might lead me to where I could take my first drink from the Gay Well.
I invited Trip to a local bar where my friend was performing some acoustic ballads. I knew this wasn’t Trip’s kind of music, but the performance was only fifteen minutes, and then I knew we could slip out and I’d get my first invitation to gay society. While my musician friend swooned on stage, Trip gave me an ear-full about gay clubs in DC and the best places to dance. I am not a dancer. I dance like a bag of hammers. I was sure that if I found myself in a club full of men like me, I’d meet a beautiful dude and just slay him with my one-liners and my dry wit. As scared as I was of the bigness and the loudness of a gay club, I was ready to dive in. After my friend finished his mopey acoustic set, Trip said, “You wanna get out of here?”
“Sure,” I said. “Where you wanna go?”
“We can just go back to my place. We have lots of booze.”
I buried my disappointment under the sense of relief. As much as I didn’t just want to go back to his place, I wasn’t sure I was ready for exposure on the club scale. So we went to Trip’s place.
Trip lived in a large townhouse with a bunch of twenty-something gays who paid rent to the Lord of the house, Daddy Bill. I quickly gathered that Daddy Bill saw himself as somewhat of a patron to the young gay community, a kind of house marm who was willing to give a kid a break for the benefit of being surrounded by youth and beauty. Daddy Bill was a bull of a man. He had an enormous belly that stretched his gray tank top like drum skin. His dyed-yellow hair was deeply receding. He had bulbous milky blue eyes, one of which strayed involuntarily to the left. He was more than happy to receive me in his home. He ordered Trip to make me a drink, and he invited me to join him out back by the pool. It happened that he was hosting one of his old friends from his school days, a middle-aged musician named Phil. I took to Phil immediately because he didn’t strike me as a “typical” gay man. Having zero experience in the gay community, I’m not sure what I thought a typical gay man was, but Phil seemed free of affectations, and we shared a common interest in music. Just as quickly as I’d decided Daddy Bill was an unsavory character, I’d decided Phil was going to get the bulk of my attention that evening. As the night wore on, Daddy Bill made a few obvious passes at me, most of which I effectively ignored. At one point, he walked up behind my patio chair and began massaging my shoulders. I thanked him politely and made my best effort to hide my disgust.
Sometime after midnight, and while I was in the bathroom, Phil decided to go to bed. He had an out-of-town gig the next evening and he wanted to make an early start. When I returned to the patio, I asked where Phil had gone.
“He’s off to bed,” responded Daddy Bill, “and you are not to disturb him.”
“Oh, I just want to wish him goodnight. I’ll only be a minute.”
“You leave him alone! Get back here!”
But I was already inside the house and running down to the finished basement, where Phil was camping on the couch. I dropped down on the floor at the foot of the couch and told Phil it was nice meeting him.
“It was nice to meet you too, Christopher. You make lovely conversation.”
“I hope I get to see you next time you’re in town.”
I heard the patio door slide open and slam shut. Daddy Bill thundered down the basement stairs, saying, “I told you to leave him alone! He is a guest in my house, and you will do as I say.”
“Christopher was just saying goodnight,” Phil reassured. “He was just leaving.”
“I don’t care,” spat Daddy Bill. “He will follow my rules when he’s in my home.”
Daddy Bill reached down and gathered my shirt in his hands, hauling me off the floor by my neck. I started laughing, thinking this was some strange game. Next I was being dragged toward the stairs, and I began to understand Daddy Bill was serious. I kicked backward a few times, trying to force myself out of his grip, when I bumped a card table and sent some empty beer cans flying.
“Look what you’ve done, you little shit!” Daddy Bill leaned down and smacked me hard across my left cheek. Then he backhanded the right side of my face. He swung back and forth, dealing blinding blows with his meaty open hand. I don’t know how many times he hit me. He dropped me on the floor and hauled himself up the stairs. I don’t remember what Phil said to me. I don’t remember how long I lay on that floor in stunned silence.
I made my way up to the kitchen where Trip was waiting for me. He’d pulled out two shot glasses and two beers. He said something like, “Daddy Bill isn’t that bad. He’s a teddy bear once you get to know him.” I wouldn’t listen to that nonsense. I’d already made up my mind; I was done with that house. Trip urged me to have just one beer and a shot with him. “Come on, Daddy Bill paid for all this. Drink his booze before you leave.” I took the drinks. When we finished those, Trip said, “Let me make you one more for the road.” Trust me, Trip really was Gay Randy Quaid. He said shit like that. I agreed to one more drink. He took out small rocks glasses and tucked them next to the refrigerator. He pulled three bottles from the freezer and mixed some viscous blue-green concoction in each glass. Next he pulled a small glass vial from his pocket. It was filled with a clear liquid and topped with a little black plastic cork.
“What is that,” I asked.
“Trust me, this will make this drink. You’ll feel all better.” He unstoppered the vial and divided its contents between the two glasses. I was naive enough to think that if Trip was drinking it too, it was okay. We downed the drinks and I made ready to leave. At the last moment, I decided I couldn’t leave that house without having final words with Daddy Bill. I marched upstairs to his bedroom and looked in his cracked door. He was propped up on some pillows looking at a sale catalog.
“Can I help you with something, Christopher?”
“You shouldn’t have hit me,” I answered.
“You should have obeyed my order. This is my house and I demand respect in my house.”
“You know that it was wrong. I know you know it was wrong to hit me. That’s all I need to say to you. I won’t be back.”
I walked away from his bedroom and noticed blue light glowing from Trip’s room. I hadn’t heard him come upstairs. I walked to his room to say goodbye, when the blue light began to hum in my ears. I thought it was funny that light was suddenly audible. I pushed open Trip’s bedroom door to see him on his bed, wearing a light t-shirt and athletic shorts. In the time it took me to speak my mind to Daddy Bill, Trip slipped to his bedroom, changed his clothes, and lit about a million candles. But it wasn’t a million; my eyes were sending me skewed information, and those candles were flooding me with warm radiation, and I could hear the light, and everything smelled like a Gap ad. As confused as I was, I could feel myself grinning as if I’d just thought of an old joke from childhood. I rubbed my eyes and watched the candles and hummed along with the light and smiled like an idiot.
“You wanna watch a movie?” Trip woke me from my reverie.
“A movie? I have that movie where Chris Rock dies and comes back as an old white dude. It’s a bootleg. Wanna watch it with me?” Suddenly this seemed like a brilliant idea.
“Yeah,” I said, “I wanna watch that movie!”
I climbed onto Trip’s bed and stacked some pillows behind me. There were a dozen pillows on his bed. The bootleg quality of the movie was grainy and jumpy, and the movie itself was just about unwatchable. My attention span was spasmodic, and for some reason I couldn’t stop looking at Trip’s legs. There was nothing special about his legs. They were pale, covered with fluffy nearly-white hair. But I couldn’t stop looking at them. I reached out and put my hand on his thigh. He said, “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing.” I leaned in and kissed him. He was a bad kisser, fumbling and intense and toothy. It seemed like I blinked and his shorts were gone, and I was doing things to him I’d never done before. I hadn’t seen any gay pornography at that point in my life. My only exposure to homoerotica was in the form of Anne Rice novels. So I was doing things to Trip that I’d read in a few vampire stories, because I didn’t know what else to do.
I don’t know how long this went on before he flipped me over and pulled down my pants and underwear. It caught me off guard, and that was the first time I said no. It was involuntary. A guy I didn’t really like, to whom I wasn’t remotely attracted, abruptly yanked off my pants and underwear in one motion, and the word “no” dropped out of my mouth like a tooth.
“It’s okay,” Trip said. “You’re gonna like this.”
“This isn’t your first time, is it?”
“No.” But Trip knew this was my first time, at everything. He knew.
He was kneeling above me, applying just enough weight to the back of my thighs to pin me in place. I heard him spitting. Why is he spitting, I thought. I heard him stroking his penis, the wet, sticky sounds of saliva smearing on skin. He spit again and smeared it in my ass, triggering another pillow-muffled syllable from me.
Then he was in me. All in, like poker. I gasped.
“Good isn’t it?” He was up in my ear, whispering hot and wet.
“You like it.”
“I told you you’d like it.”
I was groaning in pain and discomfort. Everything about it felt wrong, and Trip told himself my groans were pleasure groans, and he drove harder and deeper and the saliva was caking and drying, and it was immense pressure and friction and burning and tearing, and the spell was broken. There were six candles. Six.
He pulled out and spit some fresh saliva in his hand, and I took that moment to roll out from under him. He planted heavy kisses on my face and neck and I said no, this time to everything, to all of it. He was like an ambling, ardent lover, stealing kisses and bites and strokes, and he was stronger than me. He was physically stronger than me, but the drug had a greater hold over him, so he was possessed. He flipped me around so I was lying on my side with my back to him, and he forced himself inside me again. I was able to crane my neck to look into his face, and I said, “No. Trip, listen to me. No.” I couldn’t make any other argument. My limbs weren’t my own, and my words seemed to have all but left me.
He pulled out of me and flipped me onto my back. Straddling my waist, he grabbed my flaccid penis and stuffed it between his ass cheeks. “Do it to me,” he said. “Now you do it to me.”
He ejaculated on my stomach and my chest. And it was over.
I lay there while his semen went cold, staring up at the ceiling for the second time in this house, wondering what the hell just happened.
I pulled on my clothes and walked to the bathroom. I stared in the mirror, pondering what I should do next. It was close to 5 a.m. and I wasn’t sure if it was safe to drive home. The thought of sleeping there was nauseating. I walked back to Trip’s room and said, “I think I have to sleep here.”
“Yeah, definitely,” he replied. “I set you up a bed in the next room.” He didn’t even want me to sleep with him. I walked to the adjacent doorway and saw a sleeping bag carelessly tossed on a carpeted floor that hadn’t been cleaned or vacuumed after the last several tenants had departed.
“Alright,” I said, “I’m out of here.”
“Wait,” he called as I walked down the stairs. He followed me to the front door and said, “Just have a cigarette with me out back. Just one.” I decided I needed a smoke after all this shit.
Once again by the pool, we smoked and reflected. Trip spoke first.
“So, what’d you think about that?”
“About what,” I asked.
“You know, the sex?”
“It was horrible,” I answered. “It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. I didn’t want to do that at all, and I told you to stop several times, but you wouldn’t listen. It hurt, the whole time, and I hated it.” Trip paused for a few thoughtful seconds.
“Well, you started it,” he said. He actually said that.
When I got home, I went straight to bed. I didn’t even take off my shoes. I woke up after a few hours and decided I was in desperate need of a shower. When I peeled off my shirt, the smell of him rose from my chest. I fell on my knees, dry-heaving into the toilet. I stood up, sweating, and dropped my pants and underwear. I sat on the toilet, exhausted. I cupped my head in my hands the way my dad used to pray in church. I didn’t feel like crying. I didn’t feel anything. I heard a heavy drip hit the surface of the toilet water. I stopped to intently listen. Another drip, and another. I bent forward and looked between my legs, into the toilet. Three spots of blood flowered and sank downward. I sat up and looked at the shower curtain and decided I no longer believed in God.
My mother believed that gay people contracted AIDS the day they became gay. It was people of her generation who referred to it as “gay cancer.” She warned me of it when I was a kid, likely because she knew I was gay long before I admitted it, and I probably scared the hell out of her. She couldn’t have warned me of rape. Rape isn’t something that gay people do. Gay people have AIDS. Mom’s simple logic didn’t extend to a gay rapist. But rapists aren’t gay people. Rapists are depraved people, weak-minded individuals who derive pleasure from dominating people they perceive as small and defenseless. They reap joy while they sow damage. They unravel an unsuspecting victim, and then they fray all the edges, and it’s on the victim to make the repairs.
I went on to date a few men, enjoying relationships that succeeded on many levels. Ultimately those relationships failed, and at each ending, I thought I had a good idea of the incompatibilities that led to the respective breaks. I’ve been single for six years as of this month. I’m close to 40-years-old, and I’m still trying to figure out why I can’t succeed in an adult relationship. After that night in Daddy Bill’s house, I stepped back from the idea of dating men. My first male partner was 22, when I was 27. Every partner after that was significantly younger than me, by at least five years. I was choosing men who were younger, who were less experienced, and who appeared physically incapable of overtaking me. How can this be unrelated to the night I was slapped repeatedly by a bully, then drugged and raped by someone I thought was a friend? How could I have walked away from that experience unscathed? If it did have a serious negative impact, how deeply did it descend to uproot every successive relationship?
These are questions I’m finally facing, fifteen years later. Suffering doesn’t have a statute of limitations. I’ve heard that many rape victims go on to believe they’re undeserving of love, that they’re tainted in some way. I’m not sure if I ever believed that, even on an unconscious level, but I definitely don’t believe it now. I know there is a mate for me, and I know I have a lot to offer. I want to find a man who is my equal, at least relatively close to my age, who wants to share his life with me. Through therapy and much thought and reflection, I’m going to get there. My suffering will end.