(Editor's note: SDGLN has learned that a gay man in San Diego was drugged and raped sometime after being out celebrating at a nightclub in Hillcrest. We have verified the source and his story. Because of the sensitive and personal nature of this incident, we have granted his request to run this important first-person story without revealing his name. Additionally, SDGLN has heard circumstantial evidence of other cases involving gay men who have been drugged and raped by other men. SDGLN has requested an official response from the San Diego Police Department about whether these are rare incidents, evidence of a serial rapist, or indications of a serious problem affecting our community. If you have been drugged and raped, and want to talk about it anonymously, contact email@example.com.)
Blurry-eyed and fuzzy-headed, I woke up. I’ve had exactly one hangover in my life, and this didn’t feel like that. I was naked. I don’t sleep naked.
I also was in pain, massive pain. I had felt a similar pain before, but nothing this intense. You see, I don’t bottom, and this pain was in my rectum, so while reminiscent of the rare sexual occasion that I did not enjoy – this, this was different, and exponentially more excruciating.
As I slowly came to a semblance of awareness, I realized I was missing about 11 hours of my life. I began to be stricken with flashbacks and pain, and a deep rising, heated and nauseating fear. Eventually, as my sorts came about me, I rushed to the emergency room.
I had been drugged and raped.
There is no easy way to write down those words. In fact, this is the first time I’ve found the courage or strength to do just that. I’m shaking in my chair as I write this. I am a young gay man and I was raped here, in San Diego, in the heart of Hillcrest, a community that I love, a place where I’ve always felt safe - until now.
I ask myself, “How could someone do this?” Blankly, with no answers, my mind spins. And even now, I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I feel violated, trespassed, betrayed.
As I’ve been disclosing the incident to people I trust, I continue to hear similar stories.
“That happened to me.”
“That happened to my friend.”
“When I used to work at [local bar/club], we used to hear about that happening all the time.”
It seemed like nearly everyone I knew had a story to share that they had never told anyone before. I was shocked to learn they had never reported these sexual assault crimes or occasions of being drugged without knowledge. Suddenly other gay men in their 20s and 30s were sharing with me what they or their loved ones had endured, and I thought, “How have I never heard of this? Why aren’t we talking about this?”
I guess I should have known.
I know that being LGBT means that we don’t always seek medical attention, vote, seek legal services or report crime as much as our heterosexual brothers and sisters. I can only assume that the pain, shame and confusion we may experience after being raped and violated in this way exacerbate our fear and lead us to run further from help rather than seek it out.
What I do know is there no excuse or rationalization that makes this violation of my body or your body OK. It doesn’t matter if you were out drinking or flirting or even invited someone home with you; the boundaries you set for your body are yours to define and control, and the intrusion of those borders by another person is not your fault under any circumstances. Don’t ever question that for a moment. It was not your fault.
Every day that goes by, the physical pain I feel lessens. The flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares are fewer and fewer. With the support of my friends, family, coworkers, medical staff, Police Department, counselors and advocates, I am staying strong and getting stronger.
My hope in sharing this with you is that if you are someone who was drugged or raped or both – please know you are not alone. We are fortunate to live in a city with amazing resources, but you have to find your courage and your strength to ask for them.
We as gay men need to talk about these issues, care for one another, and put an end to this harmful behavior.
I don’t include my name because, while yes – I don’t want everyone to know who I am - I want you to be aware that even by taking the best of care, and being around close and vigilant friends this could happen to anyone and has.
Though you and I may not have met, or may not know it, I am your neighbor, your colleague, your date, your lover, your boss, your brother, your best friend, your son.
If you are drugged or sexually assaulted, please report the incident to your local police and get yourself to the emergency room for treatment. After that, call The Center at 619-692-2077 for help where you can get immediate time with a counselor for further advice on how to deal with your situation.