On Saturday, I met Kelley for coffee at Starbucks. We have fraternal connections as well as roots in the same part of our home state. Turns out we know some folks in common that I had just as soon not had to remember. During our casual conversation and lattes, he mentioned the name of the church that he had grown up in. Well, even the church name holds memories for me that I had tried to bury long ago. As a kid growing up, I was real active in my church and attended church conventions in nearby towns. As you younger generations have read, there were no motels/hotels for black folks to stay in during the 60's. Instead, members of the church would host conference participants. When I was 12, I attended a Sunday school convention and was assigned to stay with a church family composed of 3 brothers and a sister (all of whom were in their late 40's to early 60's in age). None had ever married and they lived in the home built by their parents at the beginning of the 20th century. When Kelley told me the name of his church, a forty year old memory that I have continually kept quiet about found its way into words. Last month, only Maxim had ever heard me mention something had happened to me as a child, and I was very general leaving out a lot. I told Kelley that some members of his church had molested me, and he was able to name them right away. Shock.
Since, sex and especially homosexuality had NEVER been discussed in my home or community within earshot of us kids, I was as dumb as a concrete block. Boy, did I get educated, confused and shamed real fast. Bottom line is I was molested those 2 nights by two of the three brothers. I managed to avoid penetration, but everything else was done including oral sex, fondling, french kissing (you get the picture). My tears had no effect on them. In looking back, the oldest brother who didn't touch me was in his 60's and had probably had enough youngsters. The other two had twin beds in the same room, and I was required to go back and forth from one bed to another. I never was given a bed to sleep in alone. They kept close to me at church and made sure to buy me things at the stores after the church meetings ended each day.
The sister had a young girl who they had "taken in" sleeping with her. Looking back, I still see Brenda's sad, downcast eyes as she climbed the stairs each night to go sleep in that room. They had also "raised" a boy from the community who left home and cut off all contact with them. I could understand why he would do that. Later, I would understand their concern was not so much for his welfare as it was for whether he would tell the world what they had probably done to him as well.
I learned from Kelley that all of the brothers are dead now. The sister is well into her nineties. I am in a way, grateful to Kelley for being there and bringing this to the surface. Each time I have thought about it, I have been depressed and pushed the memories away. It has been a private hell. Perhaps now the healing begins.
In part III, I will blog about my visit to a DC church that welcomes and affirms single gender loving folks. Shem hotep.