Health and Fitness - After Assault, He’s Inspired by a Laugh
(This is the first in a series of stories about my journey beyond sexual assault. I hope it will open up healthy dialogues in our LGBT communities.)
One night, I was asleep in my loft in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Three men entered, and I was held down and sexually assaulted. I almost lost my life before the police arrived to help me.
Over time, I isolated myself from society. I often had explosive moments of anger. I was finally diagnosed with PTSD and depression. The symptoms became much more severe.
On May 30, 2015, I tried to take my life. I survived. Things got better, and then they got very bad again. On a suicidal night on Nov. 2 of that year, something unexpected happened. I laughed.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert came on my TV, and I laughed during the monologue.
It was a laugh just like any other that I’ve had. What saved my life, though, was that I recognized that I laughed that night.
I paused the TV show for three minutes as I sat quietly and recognized my laughter.
I had always been looking for the miracle in the distance to save me from PTSD. But to my surprise, it was something that had been with me the whole time. Something good was still coming from me. I decided I’d use that laughter and hold on to it.
I stared at the screen and I embraced what I describe as the emotional mindset of an 8-year-old kid at that moment. There was no thinking involved. I went with pure emotion.
My emotion told me that I would be getting on The Late Show as a guest. And I would share my story with Stephen Colbert and his audience. I had no idea how I would make that happen. It didn’t matter.
I’d figure out the details the next day. I went to bed with hope that night. Hope.
The following morning, I woke up and still had that hope. I went out after breakfast to buy paper at a Staples store near my home. For some reason, I ended up in front of a display of giant foam poster boards. An employee approached me and asked whether I needed any help.
I asked her whether there were more poster boards in the warehouse. But before she checked the warehouse, she turned and asked me how many I wanted. That was my lightbulb moment. I saw it clearly. I bought all of the boards they had at that store.
I realized how I would take back my life. I was going to meet total strangers each day and tell them my story. I’d ask them to write messages of support on the boards for my efforts to overcome PTSD and sexual assault and get on that show.
This would be my therapy to re-engage with people after isolating myself so badly for years. I wanted this to be larger than life. I wasn’t going to hide anymore from the trauma. I was going to talk.
Somehow, I’d have to get the attention of The Late Show and show them the boards. I told myself I’d figure that out as I went, with the help of all the people I’d meet.
On Nov. 12, 2015, I set out to meet total strangers. I was excited – and fearful. It took three attempts to get out of my home that morning. But I finally left.
I walked up to the first person that day with a giant blank poster board and a lot of Sharpie markers. I was utterly unprepared for what was about to happen.
This article of hope and support is brought to you by that guy with a lot more to share, Ron Blake. You can find him at Blake Late Show on Facebook. /a>