Ok, here we go…..be warned. It’s graphic in parts, but necessarily so.
***2/14/2015***edited – I have removed the graphic details of the incidents at my own decision. There was a very specific reason for detailing them for the time that I did. However, the story remains the same.***
I have been waiting for a year to write this down. That’s really not accurate, as it’s been “forming” for a year with solid knowledge building for that time, at least “intelligent” and well-formed knowledge. Knowledge that crept on me seemingly out of nowhere all at once but that I also knew had been bottled down inside of me for more than 30 years….. in some cases, more than 40.
To explain this, I’ll have to go back to a very early part of my life.
Pretty much the very start.
After this story is told there are some that may want to try & hold some kind of responsibility over my mother for this and I will tell you now that you’re dead wrong there. She made the best decisions that she could have made in 1965 that she could have made and I in no way hold her responsible for any of the following things you will read. She & I are VERY close and maintain a wonderful loving relationship to this day, and have talked about ALL of these things in depth. She has expressed guilt, but I want her to know and have told her that she should NOT feel that – she could not have known what was going to happen.
She found herself divorced with two children already and met a man who’d just recently returned from Vietnam, and had begun working at the same company she had. They began dating and courting and she found that she was expecting, with me, by mid-December 1964. When she told him, instead of doing the “honorable thing”, he bolted, and couldn’t handle the idea of an “instant family”, as her two children were already 4 & 5 at the time. That man, was James Mikel McGahee, and he is my biological father. I’ve met him one time, when I was 16 years old. It’s the only time I’ve seen him in person and he is nothing but the equivalent of a sperm donor in my eyes at this stage of my life. It took him 10 years to finally “brush me off”. That’s a separate post that will come later and has it’s own threads.
She met a man named Bruce Peters who was clean cut, had a good job with a good degree, was smart, funny and seemed to be driven, and got along with her two children, and accepted the fact that she was expecting, and that it was early on. They got married quickly after meeting. Again, you must remember this was in the mid 60’s and “things” were quite different than they are now. I know my mother very well and I hold no ill feelings toward her for any of these decisions, for I feel that she made them in the interest of trying to provide a good home for her children.
Things went along well for quite a few years, about 7 of them. My sister, Debbie, never really “took” to Bruce fully, but my brother Charles did, as their father was non-existent at the time. (Debbie has since passed away in 2013 and Charles is back in touch with his father). However, Bruce began drinking. And with the drinking came lying. I don’t know if there was cheating involved, but he was an ugly drunk, and although I don’t believe there was ever any physical abuse toward my mother – and she’s never told me there was – the mental abuse she went through with him was not good. I watched my family slowly get ripped apart from the age of about 7 & 8 on through to about 10, when my mom finally left and divorced him.
Here’s where things went poorly….
Because he had put her into a mental state where she needed to just get away and restart a life, she thought that I needed to have a male influence, and she left me with him. At that point, I still believed that he was my father and had no reason to think otherwise. Debbie, at that point, had already forced our mom to sign approval for her to be married and she had moved away. Charles…well he had his own set of issues and by 1976, when I was 11, Charles moved out too, moving in with either our grandmother, or friends, I don’t remember who. And I was left with Bruce.
And Bruce drank a lot.
We moved out of the big two story house we’d lived in, and into a 3 bedroom apartment with his mother, Pauline. Pauline was not a pleasant woman. She drank from the moment she got up until the moment she went to bed. Rum and Pepsi. All. Day. Long. To this day I nearly gag on the smell of rum. Bruce would go buy it for her weekly, by the case. And it was sad, because she was a very, very intelligent woman. The apartment that we moved into was Cascade Park apartments, but that situation didn’t last very long. She locked me out of the apartment in early 1977 one night, drunk, and didn’t remember doing it. I was 11. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going on.
The relationship between Bruce and I had become strained because I had discovered music in the previous year in terms of performing it. I had started to learn the violin, and loved it. I had learned how to read music, and a friend showed me where “Middle C” was on the piano and I taught myself how to play the piano, due to the fact that I had to get to school so early and the band hall was unlocked by 7:00 in the mornings (junior high). I was not into sports, had put on a lot of weight with my insecurities that had developed in the previous years since the divorce of my parents, and music was the only salvation and escape that I had. He & I had absolutely NOTHING in common. He liked to kill animals. I liked to hold them. It just got worse from there.
After I got locked out of the apartment, it became clear that we couldn’t live with his mother so he arranged for a one bedroom apartment for her at another community and he & I moved to another apartment within Cascade Park.
Summer of 77
Around this time, I began going through puberty. And I knew that I was different. I liked girls, but pretty much just as friends. As sexuality started developing in me, I knew and realized that it was males that I was actually attracted to. Of course it scared me a bit, and I thought I was the only one in the world. I thought something was wrong with me. This was 1977 and there were no positive gay role models in the mainstream. I already was called “Sissy” and “Queer” (the common terms at that time) by kids in school, had effeminate characteristics from time to time, could appear rather insecure and non-masculine and did not display the typical “boy” self-confidence, so one trait just led to another like a crazy ball on a paddle that just keeps getting hit faster & faster. And there was no one to talk to about it. I had two friends that spent the night from time to time that I “experimented” around with and I knew that was something I liked, but even then, I was too young to really know what I was doing. But I was already gay.
That summer, the first of 6 horrible instances happened to me.
I had been outside one day and a car was parked at the end of a lot in he apartments, the windows rolled down. I heard something inside. I walked toward the car. In the front seat, a man was laying down longways, his head leaned back against the crook of the seat and door, and he was masturbating. I remember being fascinated and horrified at the same time. And then he heard me, and he looked up. I said “I’m sorry.” and turned and ran away.
Alone during the days, I usually stayed indoors listening to records and cleaning the apartment, or friends would come over, etc. On this particular day Bruce had turned in a work order for something in the apartment, and a maintenance man was to be coming over to fix it. There was a knock at the door, and when I opened it up, the man there to fix it, the maintenance man, was the man who had been in the car. He came in.
I remember sitting on the couch in the living room while he went into Bruce’s room to access the A/C panel from the bathroom, and after about 10 minutes, I heard a noise and turned. He was standing in the doorway with a full erection and told me not to run, and forced inappropriate actions onto me. I was 11.
I was terrified and yet, I remained silent.
That same summer, across the street from our back door (a street ran through the buildings of our unit and adjacent to the office) there was an older man who used to walk his dog; a white poodle, who used to wave when he’d walk by. I was standing in the doorway one day and he had seen me there and waved me over. I used to pet his dog all the time when I would be outside. This was another summer day when I was alone.
I went outside, and crossed the street, to the back door of his apartment, which was fenced. He asked me if I wanted to come inside and see his apartment and the dog, and I said okay. I sat there for a while and within a short while he had his shorts down and also forced himself on me. I was 11.
The worst experience of this type came the next year when I was 12. The horrible thing – or is it the best thing about it? – is that it is only in flashes that I can remember it. It happened during a storm. Bruce was drunk. I hated my bedroom during storms because when it would hail I was always afraid that the hail would break the window and glass would cut me, falling into my bed. Sometimes I actually hoped it would happen, but I didn’t dare think anyone would hear that or I remember thinking someone would think that was funny. On this particular memory, and a very bad storm, Bruce made me come to his room to sleep in his bed….and the rest is just painful flashes of horror to me that I still cannot fully comprehend and will never write down.
Things were never, ever the same after that. I wanted to move with my mother and actually did for a while the next year, but I found I did not fit in at the new school system at all. I didn’t know a soul – at least back in Mesquite, I knew some of these people as far back as 1st grade, even though we’d moved to the north side for 4 years. So back to Bruce I willingly went, abuse and all. I was only gone for not even 6 weeks. They say prisoners go back their psychological captors – I sure did.
I devoted myself to my music and theater and anything creative I could focus on. I got a job as soon as I could so that I could spend as much time out of the house and away from him as I could – because after that event, his drinking got even worse, and the physical abuse started, and was accompanied by the severe mental abuse that goes along with severe alcoholism. I often wore long sleeve shirts and things tucked in because of bruises on my arms and back from his beatings. He even hit me with a baseball bat one time in a drunken fit when I was 14.
On one of his most drunken tirades, when he was passed out, I took one of his shotguns and stood OVER him in his bed, with shells in the chambers and the gun cocked and my finger on the trigger, ready to blow his head clean off his body, because I hated this man so much. All I could remember was that I ‘used to be a fun little boy’ – and all I could think was that little boy was just dead inside and so very sad and didn’t have a clue as to who he was.
The year before, there was a threat of a custody battle and my mother pulled me aside to tell me the story about my biological father and how Bruce came to be in my life. I wasn’t mad at her at all; in fact i was somewhat thrilled that this asshole was no actual relation to me because I’d grown to hate him so very much. But I didn’t tell Bruce I knew. I wanted to keep that “ace” in my sleeve for the right time, because i knew it would be coming.
Bruce had a friend named John Hernandez that he worked with. John also liked to drink. John seemed like a nice guy and John seemed to like me a lot. He was funny and made a lot of jokes and liked to take me places and paid a lot of attention to me; things that Bruce would not ever do. I liked the attention because it was an older seemingly positive male role model that I thought I could look up to.
Then John and I were in his truck one day and he pulled onto a dirt road somewhere out in Sunnyvale and I asked where we were going. Mind you, this is a trusted “family friend” and I felt safe. He said he had something he wanted to show me, and pulled over to the side of the road, where he pulled his pants down and once again I was forced into an inappropriate situation with an adult. I was 15.
John also attacked me within the next two weeks when he stopped by the house unexpectedly one night and I had just gotten out of the shower and was in my bathrobe when I answered the door. I was heading back up the stairs in our townhouse on Montego Bay in Mesquite; I thought he was heading to the living room downstairs to wait for Bruce to get there, and he ran up behind me; knocked me down and forced himself on me.
I began driving within that year and spent every moment I could away from Bruce and anyone in my family situation, knowing that very soon I would be graduating and getting as far away as I could. I worked at Musicland in Big Town Mall, had a very small circle of friends, and when I wasn’t working I tried to always have something to do. Our street was very dark as that area was still quite undeveloped. One night right after I’d gotten ready, I had to go out to my truck (we had two driveways) and the next door neighbors were an old man named Roy & his wife. I got to my truck and Roy was in his garage. I said hello and he started talking to me and he kept talking and we talked a few moments, and he grabbed my arm, pulled me inside and performed fellatio on me – yes, against my will. I was 16.
One more unwelcome event happened when I was 18; my first “date” – again, a maintenance man at the first apartment I lived in by myself. It was a new apartment community and I’d been forced to move into an efficiency when my roommate moved out on me. I went out to eat with this guy, and then back to his apartment – by this time I was “out” and alright with it, but when we got back to his apartment, i agreed to try some pot with him and had a little “too much”. He had to drive me back to my apartment because I couldn’t drive. The room was spinning too much once I got back inside, and I asked him to go, which he did. But at that time, apartments still used master keys. I got myself into bed, trying to calm down, only to find he had let himself back into the apartment a few minutes later, shoved a pillow over my head, and proceeded to rape me. At the time, I did not realize that men could be subjected to rape. Yet, I remained silent. For all practical purposes I was still very much a child; my adult development was very much arrested in many ways, and I remained scared. I moved out of the apartment a few days later, moving to my mother’s house.
Now, you may ask Why didn’t I say anything to anyone? Between the ages of 11 & 16 I had been violated sexually SIX TIMES including once by a family member and physically beaten multiple times by “my father”!!!!
At 49 years of age I’m even now ashamed to admit this. It is only in the last 4 months that I have told these stories and then only after 7 years of therapy and counseling; I have carried all this around with me for nearly 40 years. Some of it I internalized in terrible ways throughout the years, some of it in self-hatred, some of it in I don’t know what….but still I have found a way to find love in people…..
But I was always afraid as a child, because all of this happened when I was just starting to discover my sexuality, that if I told someone another male had touched me in these ways, or what they had made me do, coupled with the fact that I’m a gay man, that they would say “Well, you probably liked it.” THAT fear of ridicule, THAT fear of it being something that I WANTED to have happen, was something that stayed with me forever.
And that was the fear on the sexual side of it that forced me to keep it inside and with Bruce, the fear of retaliation was terrifying.
In terms of the physical abuse from Bruce, it gets a bit deeper.
Bruce Peters threatened to kill me multiple times.
He always made it very clear to me that he could and WOULD find me no matter what. I would “laugh it off ” and attribute it to the alcohol, but there was always a scary truth in his eyes, and he was pretty good with a shotgun, and I fully believed that if I ever told anyone – especially the law or anyone who would/could do anything to him, or threaten his freedom – that he’d make true on his promises.
So…..fast forward to the last 7/8 years….
I’m happily living in Austin, TX with my partner, Ed (now of 16 years) and starting in 2013, I decided to contact Bruce after 15 years of not speaking – we’d had two failed attempts in the last 30 to try & reconnect; each time marred by alcoholism and his issues; yes, I tried to “forgive him”. But he’d moved off to Colorado and then back to Dallas, and I had heard that he’d had a stroke and was living in a rehabilitation center. I felt poorly for him. I didn’t want him to die alone, and decided that I’d grown enough with my therapy to forgive (I hadn’t) but that I was going to make that attempt. I reached out via e-mail and he gave me his phone number. We connected on the phone.
We talked twice, both were pleasant conversations and no stressors, no blame, no issues….but in the last conversation he asked me for my address, and for my mothers address, and made it clear to me that he could “get in his truck and leave and drive any time he wanted to.” I of course did not give him my address, but I’m all over the internet so it’s not hard to find me at all, and all I could think was that I was going to open the door one day and he was going to be standing there with a shotgun in his hand. I’ve been terrified with that image forever, nearly as long as I can remember.
And then I realized that I’ve been living with that fear since I left Mesquite in 1983.
Then, I got the call on February 9, 2014 that Bruce Peters had died. I didn’t really cry. I had a few emotions and spent a day or so in a weird state. But some strange things started happening.
I had been sick – physically SICK – with a plethora of illnesses from 2006 through last year. Eight years of a gamut of sicknesses, some stranger than others, multiple surgeries, odd infections, diabetes, blood pressure issues, severe sleep apnea, mental illness resulting in a total of 13 medications on a daily basis exactly one year ago this week.
Within a week’s time I had my first check up on my blood pressure, which had been 188/94 the previous reading. This next reading was 156/62. Not perfect, but much better than it had been for the previous few years. Even my Dr. remarked at the sudden difference. I thought nothing of it other than “maybe the medicine is working finally”. We move on.
A few weeks later, I’m feeling so very much better, and go in for my diabetic checkup & my A1-C analysis. Results come back in from it a few days later, and show a significant drop PLUS a noticeable drop in weight, which we’d also been medicating. And I ask myself “What changed?”
It dawns on me that the only major change or event that had happened in my life was that Bruce was dead.
And you would have thought a wall of bricks had fall on me, or maybe more appropriately, OFF Of me.
I realized I no longer had the fear that this asshole was going to show up on my door and kill me. That fear was GONE, and in the process someone had handed me my life back, and now it was time to catch up.
I waited a few more weeks, and then had my sleep apnea test at the beginning of March 2014, for which I’d previously been wearing a C-Pap machine. This test? Showed I no longer had sleep apnea. And I knew that something was definitely up.
I proposed my theory to Ed, and he actually thought about it for a minute, and then agreed that yes, he could see it.
I then took my theory to my counselor and she wholeheartedly agreed – and I discovered the term “somatization”. I won’t detail that here – but go look it up. It is FASCINATING.
MORAL OF THIS STORY
I can no longer dwell on these feelings & emotions & experiences inside. He’s gone, fully gone – I banished his ghost – literally – from my existence. This man ROBBED me of my childhood. He killed my youth. He didn’t kill me but he took my life. His horrible actions as a “father” destroyed things as a young boy that I can never ever regain and I had every reason to be angry and mad about that, but I can do nothing about it now. While he didn’t “start” the chain of sexual abuse, he contributed to it by leaving me unsafe, making me feel unable to trust him after contributing to the abuse himself in both sexual and physical ways, and the mental abuse and extreme alcoholism destroyed a huge portion of my life and the rest of my family’s life for many many years. And he never once seemed to show an ounce of regret for that. I don’t know what led him down his path, but I know it’s nothing I did as a child, there are answers I’ll never have and information about my own heritage I’ll never possess due to my biological father’s short-sightedness. However, I think I can live with that.
But I should have said something.
If there is ANY CHILD out there that is reading this, or that you can SHARE THIS WITH…..URGE THEM to ALWAYS TELL. The man I spoke of, John Hernandez, was accused of molesting his own two daughters, yet I never uttered a word because I was afraid I’d be killed either by him or by Bruce, I never uttered a word about my abuse sexually because I was afraid I’d be ridiculed and made fun of AND IN SOME WAYS IT PUT ME INTO A PRISON FOR THE BULK OF MY OWN FREE LIFETIME.
I’ll be FIFTY in September and those that know me in real life have seen a resurgence of youthfulness and attitude and creativeness and joy and love in the last year that has to date gone somewhat unexplained, at least to the general public. Yes, I’ve done a lot of exercise but that energy was really nowhere to be found prior to February 9, 2014. It was locked in a prison cell with that man’s memory sitting on top.
But I’m free now, and I intend on catching up, and if you think you’re going to slow me down or stop me, I won’t be held back again. The child in me has got to live, and if there is music there, I’ll have to go.
Thank you for reading. I hope this will make some of the last year make a little more sense to some of you that have been on the outside looking in. It’s been difficult to keep this all in.
“Worth The Wait’ now has its “backstory”, and I’m free……..