I’m writing to talk about my life and family bullying, specifically bullying of a younger brother by an older brother who was always ordered by his mother to watch over his younger brother. My older brother was also straight and sensed and hated the fact that I was gay. He knew it long before I knew it myself.
I grew up in a devout tight-knit Catholic family on the northwest side of Chicago. My dad was Italian and my mom, Irish. I was the youngest of 5 kids: 3 boys and two girls. One Saturday when I was nine I was raped by a man in the bathroom of a department store. I was so traumatized by the experience that I ran home and hid in the closet of my room. When my brother found me there, he beat me up because I left him while he was supposed to be watching over me. But after being raped and threatened with death if I told, I was terrified and just ran home and hid. Of course, my brother didn’t know what had happened to me and I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell anyone about it for 35 years. It was the first secret I ever kept from my mom, and it was a secret I kept from everyone.
A few years or so later I was at a friend’s house and the neighborhood was suddenly surrounded by cops. The commotion scared my friend’s mom so she made us stay in the house. She turned on the television to try to find out what was going on, and it was then that I saw the face of the man who had raped me. It was John Wayne Gacy. He lived in my friend’s neighborhood, and they captured him that day. Recognizing him terrified me and brought back all the horror of the rape, but I still didn’t reveal my secret. After the rape, I was depressed and went into hiding. I sort of disappeared, sort of went to sleep. I became someone who just tried to please his family and friend. I just tried to be what they expected and wanted me to be.
As I gradually realized I was gay, memories of the rape helped me bury my real self deeper. I spent the next 35 years of my life trying to be what my family and friends expected me to be. I hid so well, I didn’t even know who I was. During that time I married twice and had a daughter in one of my marriages. Both women I married were abusive. I was drawn to, attracted to abusive people. I wanted to love them, and I wanted them to love me, and though that was impossible, it didn’t stop me from trying.
As I grew older and my passion for men increased I gradually, slowly, and secretly, sneaked into gay life. I met two good, beautiful men who loved me and wanted me to be with them, but I couldn’t come out. I couldn’t tell my family. I couldn’t be who I was making believe I was. Then, later, when I finally did come out, I chose, what else?– a bully. He bullied me so much mentally that I tried to commit suicide twice. Using my credit cards, he buried me in debt for years after I finally left him. He also abused me physically.
Then, mysteriously, after several years, I met an old friend I worked with. We became best friends. We talked and talked about our lives, which turned out to be similar, too similar. Gradually, I began to see and understand my life. I started writing my life story and as I wrote I saw more and more and so I kept revising my story.
I had moved back home with my family after leaving my abusive first gay lover. One Sunday night, as I was about to leave my friend’s house and go home, my mom called and asked me to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. She was playing cards with my abusive brother and other family members. Because I didn’t have identification on me, the scene at the liquor store became a disaster. I had to call my brother to come pick me up and buy the wine. For some reason, my bullying brother overreacted. When we got home, his anger just exploded. He called me a fag, told me he hated me, and threatened to kill me. I was so frightened and traumatized by it that I packed a bag, left the house, and called my friend to pick me up. When I got to his house, we talked. That experience with my abusive brother was so similar to my rape, even including the threat of death, that I finally woke up. I finally began to see everything differently. I felt myself begin to change, to be myself.
I’ve written my story. I want to publish it, and my goal is to become a public speaker to help other people who have been bullied by older brothers…people who have experience what I experienced. I know I can help them. If they haven’t seen it, I want to make them see it. If they are still dealing with the effects of it, I want to help them get over it. There are too many people who experienced it, but don’t even know it happened. Sibling bullying seems so normal no one pays attention to it, no one recognizes it. My mom and dad thought my relationship with my bullying brother was normal. They had no idea of the pain I was suffering because I didn’t tell them. I was hiding, and I was a kid.
I want to get my material in front of the right person or even turn it into to a story so the public can hear it and see there is a true chance for survival. The book proposal is completed and the manuscript is being reworked. In addition University of Illinois college professor Dorothy Espelage an expert on bullying has agreed to endorse book. I look forward to hearing back.