I've just completed the first draft of my next book. It took me several years to write it even though the actual page count is a little less than two hundred pages. The reason why it has taken me so long to write this book is because it was painful for me to recall several low points in my life that I have struggled to forget.
My initial target audience for this book was for gay men, whether they were young or old, black or white. I thought that it was so important for them to know the true down and dirty that entails sex abuse as well as what constitutes a victim. There are more of us than we as a society care to acknowledge. The only problem is, I realized relatively early on that most gay men wont read it.
They wont read it not because the content isn't worthy of reading, but because the subject matter has been done before; maybe not by an African American man, but done all the same.
After completing the first draft, I thought who would want to read this work and what purpose would it serve?
The content of the book is heart breaking at times, written from a truthful and honest perspective. Who better to tell my story than I? It wasn't until I wrote the book that I realized that not only had I been molested, but that at one point in time, I had been raped which is something that still doesn't sit well with me because I still subscribe to the ideology that men cannot be raped. I still subscribe to the thought process that somewhere, the boy must have wanted it otherwise he would not have put himself in that position.
But it's that same thought process that buys silence. It's the reluctance to say what really happened that empowers a pedophile. Initially, I kept that part out of the book. I did until someone who read the manuscript said to me that I was holding back...she could tell. And then I had to talk it out with my partner and found that in talking about it, I was still, after all this time, upset about it and didn't understand why. I added the piece into the story line because it, regardless of how painful it was, is part of my truth.
In order to help someone else, you have to get into the down and dirty. You have to let the "ilk" rise to the surface so that you can set it free.
I wasn't sure that I could do this. I wasn't sure that I could bring myself to talk about a chapter in my life that I fought to leave behind.
But I'm breathing now...a little bit deeper and my head held just a little bit higher. It will be okay because it has been okay up to this point...even if being okay was just a facade.
I realized now that the importance of the book isn't just for gay men. The importance of the book is for any single woman who has a child. I tell the story from the perspective of both a 13 year old boy as well as an adult man. Both of these people are me. I describe what happened, what was going on in my head and what happened to me after the incidents transpired.
Hopefully, it will give a mother something to think about if she suspects that something is going on with her child. Because statistically, it happens to every sixth boy. That's one in six.
I hope that I'm getting all of this out right. After all, these are factual events, but just because they are doesn't necessarily mean that you will have a happy ending. Sometimes, you just have an ending.
After all, we're all works in progress.
~ J.L. Whitehead
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