From the THEIR OWN WORDS collection
One of the things I enjoy most about writing and posting stories online is when I receive feedback from people who have enjoyed, or have been moved by, something I have written. There is no better feeling.
Since I began this "Their Own Words" series I have received a number of messages from guys for whom these stories have resonated. This week I received an email from a man who wanted to tell his story and also said it was okay for it to be shared. His childhood experience was not an isolated one, with many young people going through similar, so without further adieu here is Darren's story.
From: [email protected]
Sent: Thu 28/04/2002 5:35 PM
Subject: In 1996 I was twelve years old - A Personal Story
You don't know me. My name is Darren, but my friends usually call me Dazz, amongst other things.
I discovered your website and your stories a little while ago and just wanted to say how much I loved them. Very real. I especially loved that Mardi Gras story.
I also found your page on Vocal and started reading your series about "Their Own Words". I have to tell you man, that reading those tales was like getting hit by a truck. Any of those guys could have been me.
So, I hope you don't mind, but I thought you might like to hear my story. You can share it if you want to, because just like you I think it's important that anyone going through what guys like us went through as kids should hear what we have to say. Even if it is just as a warning.
You see, in 1996 I was twelve years old. That was the year I first discovered the messages and drawings and 'filth' (my mother's words at the time, okay!) that were often left on the walls of public toilets. That was the year I was touched-up my a man in public. That was the year my life changed.
When I first saw those writings and drawings something flipped inside me. I found myself drawn to them. I found myself experiencing feelings that I recall now were quite overwhelming at the time. Thoughts of seeing guys naked. Thoughts of doing sexual things (yes, even at that age). My head was spinning. My hands were always busy (I'm sure you know what I mean). I even managed to witness actions and events that twelve year old kids really shouldn't see.
I was excited. And I was scared. I knew I shouldn't, but I kept going back. Even after being called "jailbait" and being told by the regulars to fuck off, I still went back, though I will admit that I did keep a lower profile and made sure I was less obvious. They were right of course, it was no place for a kid, even one who did look older and taller and heavier than any of his class mates, as I did.
Some people might be a bit squeamish about these sorts of things, but I'm sure you understand.
Then one day I went there and there was a guy standing at the urinals when I went in. As I walked past him he half turned toward me and said, 'Hey'. He was older, maybe thirty-something I think. I recognised him from one of the local shops. He just looked like an average guy. I kept walking and went into one of the cubicles, but the door lock didn't work. As I was reading the stuff on the walls the door got pushed open and I turned to see that guy standing there. He reached out and rubbed the outside of my jeans, right over my quite noticeable erection. He wasn't aggressive or anything, in fact he was smiling, but I remember being scared shitless.
Just then we heard footsteps on the path outside. The guy stepped back and looked that way, I pushed past him and bolted, running outside, brushing past another guy who was coming in. I remember I had started crying. I think the second guy was pretty shocked. I heard raised voices behind me, then the guy who touched me hurried out and ran off, leaving the second guy standing at the doorway looking from me to my assailant and back again as we both went off in different directions.
Moments later I ran into a friend of the family who stopped me and asked me what was wrong, after seeing that I was upset. Somehow I managed to tell him what had happened and he took me home (this was before everyone carried mobile phones). My mother wasn't home. Dad rang a friend who was a cop and they came around. I told them what happened and that was it, at least for the time being. Later I had to sign a statement and I ended up having to identify the guy from some photo's.
When mum came home she went all hysterical (she was a bit prone to flying off the handle was my mum) but dad was chilled and tried to comfort me as best he could. He wasn't upset with me or anything, just worried.
After that I never saw the guy again in the shop he worked in. Apparently he was sacked when word got out and he left town, or at least that's what we were told. It wasn't a serious enough offence to be sent to jail for apparently. I remember the story of a twelve year old being molested in the local park made the local newspaper (no names mentioned, of course), but it wouldn't have take some folks long to put two and two together to figure out the who and when.
I often wonder what happened to him and where he went. It might have freaked me out when it happened, but I don't think he was a bad man really. I don't think ill of him, though I am sure that others would disagree. As I got older and became more comfortable with my own sexuality I came to the realisation that we were actually both there for the same reason. Not necessarily the same purpose, but for the same reason. We were both just looking to act on the feelings we had.
Anyhow, that was the start of my journey, if i can make use of a contemporary buzz-word.
When I was sixteen I came out to my family, after my father spotted me at the park (again). He was cool about it. I guess he'd known, or at least suspected, since that day when I was twelve. My dad had a quiet way of going about things. He came into my room that night and sat on the edge of my bed and simply said, "I saw you at the park today."
I rolled back over and faced him. His face was in shadow, but there was just enough light to make out some moisture reflecting in his eyes.
"Do you want to talk about that?" he asked.
"Okay. Just remember I'm here for you and if you ever want to talk, just man to man, no mum involved, you can come to me. I'm proud of you and I love you. Do you understand?"
I didn't answer him. I sat up and simply hugged him. He held me for a long time before finally letting me go, standing up and leaving my bedroom, closing the door as he went.
We talked the next day and decided we needed to tell mum. Of course, she went ape shit when we told her! (surprise, surprise, surprise)
"It was all that man's fault . . . they should have thrown the book at him . . . why isn't he in jail . . . you're not really like that . . . it's just a phase you're going through . . . bla . . . bla . . . bla . . ."
I can laugh about it now, but things were pretty full on back then.
I have an older brother who was away at university when I came out. He wasn't surprised, but when he came home he did give me a lecture about being safe and not taking risks. My two younger sisters couldn't have cared less.
As for everyone else, well, that was a mixed bag. I confided in one school friend, but apparently he was the wrong one, as word was soon out. Some of my school friends were cool about it, while others were so quick to turn their backs on me they must have gotten whiplash. Then there was the group of kids who chased me around the school grounds one lunch time until I took refuge in the administration building, eventually being rescued by a friend. There were other tense moments, but by and large I made it through my teenage years relatively unscathed.
As for the years that have passed since then, they have largely been without any major incidents. I have had several relationships, of varying lengths, though right now I am footloose and fancy-free. My family is supportive, to the point that my brother has even tried setting me up with guys. Even my mother has finally accepted the inevitable . . . I am who I am and I won't be changing any time soon.
I have friends, both gay and straight. I have a job I enjoy. Basically I'm a (relatively) normal person. I guess I just wanted to say that despite everything that happened to me when I was younger I managed to figure out just who I am and I've come out of it the other side without any scars, so if I can do that then anyone who has someone who cares about them can do it too. And if they think they don't have anyone who cares, then they just need to look around, because there are certainly people out there who do care . . . people like you, I suspect.
Your stories have helped me at times when I have doubted myself, so for that, thank you! Keep writing please! Keep spreading the word that it's okay to be whoever you are. It really makes a difference.
Dazz (The D-man)
About the Creator
Mark 'Ponyboy' Peters
Aussie, Queer & Country
LGBT themed fiction with an Aussie flavour, reviews, observations and real life LGBT histories.
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