This is the fourth and last in a series of stories of my incredible and innovative journey beyond PTSD/sexual assault. It will hopefully open up important dialogues about PTSD/sexual assault in all our communities.
I’m still on this quixotic 1,288 day cross country journey to overcome PTSD from a sexual assault and to become a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
My 28,000 mile road to recovery led me to my neighborhood Chipotle restaurant one afternoon. A most unusual place to realize something super important about my healing process.
A woman working there recognized me as a frequent patron and asked me if I ever grow tired of eating the same food so often. My response came very quickly. It was as though I’d waited a lifetime for someone to ask me that question and on this day it finally happened. Out poured the answer.
I told her I went through a trauma that almost killed me one night and that I was just happy to be alive and eating…any kind of food.
That seems to be something so insignificant to say. It wasn’t.
Everyone within earshot of me at that busy restaurant paused for a few seconds. All of the workers. All of the customers in line. All of the people at the adjacent tables. All eyes were focused on me. My words were simple but powerful.
A man behind me broke the silence and patted me on the back, shook his head up and down, and said thank you. His words spoke for everyone on that occasion. Thank you for letting us all know what is truly important in life.
During our summer Pride season, let’s all embrace change through simple and powerful words. Remember what is important. Remember who you are. Remember to be proud.
Pride festivals give us the chance to look at all the accomplishments we’ve ALL created together. Pride parades give us the opportunity to let the world see that we still need to make changes to help the marginalized.
Gay men like me who have experienced sexual assaults are especially marginalized. That means we are treated as peripheral in our society. That means we are seen as insignificant.
That further just means we aren’t going to let that happen to any member of our community. We all deserve to be heard and helped.
We were all invited to this world for a reason. So we could dance.
Dancing can be elegant. It can be fast. It can be smooth. It can be short. It can be sexy. It can be loud. We each choose a style that fits who we are. The variety is what makes life so amazing.
During this awesome Pride season, let’s reach out to our brothers (and sisters) in our LGBT community who have experienced sexual assault. We can’t let these friends sit down in a corner while the rest of us dance. We take care of each other. Our community is powerful when we are all on the dance floor.
What began from a moment of laughter on that suicidal night for me has become such a collective story of hope and support for lots of us. I have traveled across this country for those 1,288 days and I’ve taken the hands (and messages) of 28,921 complete strangers and they have joined me for the dance.
I am going to keep waltzing my way with those tens of thousands of messages to The Late Show in New York City. I will continue to meet strangers each day on this incredible journey to help me and many others overcome PTSD and sexual assault.
Together we shall heal. Together we shall stand. Together we shall dance…and laugh with Stephen Colbert.
This article of pride, hope and support is brought to you by that guy with a lot more to share. You can find him beaming at BlakeLateShow.com.