Unholy hubris


Crooks & Liars blogger karoli got it so right when she wrote, “If you have had the misfortune of being one of those kids who was sexually victimized by an adult, the one thing you know is the script. You know it by heart, and even after years of therapy and recovery and acceptance that script can send you back — right back — to where you were all those years ago, or yesterday.”

Earlier in the weekend I was facebooking articles about the allegations against Atlanta-area “Bishop” Eddie Long (the quotations are because I’ve never heard of a fundamentalist Christian minister, I don’t care how big his church, having such an old-school hierarchical title).  There was a certain amount of righteous indignation motivating me as, yet again, another anti-gay Christian preacher on a pedestal was being brought down by allegations of the very behaviour he has organized marches in Atlanta against. 

Having only heard about the disclosure late Sunday night by CNN anchor Don Lemon that he had been molested as a youngster, I’m still wide awake well past bed-time.  Just like karoli says – stuff gets stirred up all over again, even some thirty-eight years later for me.

What both karoli and Don said is true (I’m calling him by his first name because he’s been a facebook “like” for a long time and I now feel closer to him, however unrequited that may be.  I’m used to that!).  Those who have been in situations similar to the alleged victims in this case have an extra sensitivity to words used and scenarios created by abusers.

karoli: “They start by telling you how special you are, and how they want to spend time with you, help you to succeed. They invite you to their secret place, whether it’s their house or their office or even their car. They’re affectionate in words and speech, and they reach out, little by little and draw you in and because you’re a kid and they’re an adult you let them. It’s not until later that the shame overcomes the privilege. They find you because you’ve had trouble in your life, or your family isn’t all it should be, or you’re poor, or you’re smart, or whatever it is that attracts. And once they find you, they pursue you. Relentlessly.”

I can still see that pervert in the early-70s, brown Pontiac Parisienne who, having wrung out my innocence once, now drove down the same dirt road past me with his swim trunks below his knees.  I never gave in, though, and took not just a little pleasure in seeing him frustrated.

As Don Lemon pointed out, many African-American boys and men have a lot of taboos about homosexual acts – taking great pains to leave talk of such things to private times with their partner.  “On the down low.”  The shame inherent in this hyper-secrecy could explain the “Bishop’s” carefully chosen words on Sunday, although his body language also spoke, it seemed to me.  So then how courageous was it for these four young men, each with detailed allegations that were independently reported, to share their stories with their lawyer – their individual pictures on TV!  The courage this will continue to take going forward will knock hard against the taboos.

Long portrayed himself as little David (despite his size, his wealth and a large, cheer-leading congregation) going up against Goliath, the giant.  Huh?  Four kids and a lawyer, hardly Goliath.  Maybe his task is Goliath – to refute the charges and stay out of jail.