In my post entitled ‘The libel of “gay grooming”’ I wrote about my personal experiences in my adolescence with regard to “age appropriate” sexual encounters. Yes, the implications by omission are there, I had a series of sexual encounters that weren’t age appropriate.
When I was 16 years old, and after my first sexual encounter with another boy, on the last day of summer school between what was supposed to be my Junior year and my Senior Year, I was hitchhiking, and a man picked me up in his car. As he was dropping me off, he propositioned me. I barely registered what he had said and that he had actually said it, but I had hormones raging and I was looking for more sexual encounters, he was fairly young (28) and attractive; so, I said “yes”.
After we were done, he had me give him my number, telling me he’d love to get together with him again and to make sure to answer the phone. I was besotted and couldn’t stop obsessing over him but it was several months before he called me. This began a number of encounters over the next couple years until my 18th birthday. Shortly after that I came out and the encounters stopped.
I was in my forties and learning about online grooming when I finally took a hard look at what had happened to me. Our relationship had telltale signs of grooming. Secrecy. Undue influence. Over-interest in my life. Timing his contacts with me to be spaced out enough where I was most easily emotionally manipulatable. He kept tabs on me, but insisted I not contact him lest it cause problems in his relationship. Most telling of all, he withheld information on resources and organizations that he knew could help orient me in finally coming out, despite the fact that I asked him about them.
Although I was old enough to be sexually active, I was emotionally immature at 16, and had low self-esteem, so I was a prime target for it. It left me with an even lower sense of value, for although he would flatter me and tell me that he loved me, he would leave me for months without any contact whatsoever. And for most of that time I had no other outlet.
So I have a strong opinion on grooming. The harm that this relationship caused me affected my relationships for decades. What should have been a time for exploring my sexuality among my peers was replaced by my needing to be with and constantly waiting for the affections of someone much older than me.
I didn’t write about this in the previous entry because talking about my experience distracts from the core issues of that entry, and my experience is too long and involved to talk about it there. Yes, there are gay groomers, and here is my experience with one. However, what happened to me happens to way more teenage girls than boys.
The abuse of 16 and 17 year olds is often left unreported mostly because we, the adolescents, believe we are making a choice about our bodies and don’t consider ourselves victims in any way. Despite the fact that we know that the adults responsible for us wouldn’t understand it, we manage to keep it secret.
Because even though we are sexual beings at that age, our brains haven’t quite caught up to us. Kids these age should know about sex, and should be allowed to make their own decisions about having it. But they should also be taught to be wary of older people who are only out for their own interest.
I ran into Sandy one more time at a bar when I was 19 and we got together for old times sake. He had stopped keeping tabs on me, but he admitted to me that he intentionally didn’t tell me about gay life in Columbia, because he didn’t want me getting wrapped up in certain places. He wore a condom that time, because I’d already been sexually active and he didn’t trust I hadn’t gotten the AIDS virus (it was 1986). The sex was mediocre, and not at all like I was expecting or remembered. But by then I wasn’t depending on him for my entire sexual existence. I was free to make choices, and my choice wasn’t him. We never saw each other again.