The not-knowing, of such a foundational element of one's own personal identity (if it IS "one's own") is the uttermost among violations.

I really took a very personal journey with this topic and I suppose it's as good a time as any to share this - but I hope it doesn't fall under the definition of hijacking a thread. It really pertains straight to the very first post by Jude - of what our sexual identity truly is.

These are not Pollyanna thoughts - this stuff is one of the absolute truths I have found for myself, truths that have become old friends, and I'll share them here. My life is certainly still full of problems (whose life is not?), many which go right back to those whispered moments in tents and basements when I was a boy. I still struggle with a lot, but at least THIS much I now know...

The thought that our sexuality might have been molded by our abusers sounds like the most fundamental expression of our identity - our humanity - echoes back a wink and a nod to our molesters. When I made love with someone, there used to hover over me the unseen spirit of my abuser who watched and gloated, saying, "I have taught you well, Eric." He just always owned me, even when I ran 3000 miles away from him.

Then I started thinking about other insults. Surgical decisions to leave bullets in shooting victims the rest of their lives - the body gently encasing it, walling it off, incorporating it, and living with it in variable but often negligible accommodation. I thought about some of our US GI's who come back horribly mutilated - the geography of their bodies and wiring of their minds altered forever in a single incendiary insult. They, too, live with the results of their abusers. Near where I live is an old sidewalk, a slab around which a large sycamore tree had to grow, accommodating the old concrete by distorting its trunk and perhaps precluding the more elegant structure it was meant to be. The sidewalk, the abuser, the terrorist who set a roadside bomb, the shooter - they can all disappear. But their handiwork lives on in those lives they altered, attesting to the power they once had. Once. Had.

I look at those other survivors, and many have accepted who they had to become. The double amputee soldier who decides to be an athlete anyways. The shooting victim who can wear inside him the penetrative insult of his assailant and focus instead on the life ahead of him. The distorted sycamore tree that blooms with fury in the Spring despite its gnarled countenance. What's the alternative? Becoming bitter, embracing the victim we were so pushed into being at one point, withering. Becoming nothing.

I had to look long and hard at this, and came to the conclusion that - gay, bi, SSA, whatever - I am me. I embrace the person I had to become. The mark of my sexuality is not a simple mirror that reflects what I learned at the behest of the twisted man who abused me. My sexuality instead is a living statement that says I can bend, accommodate, grow, and - like that Sycamore tree - still bloom with all the fury I was meant to. He may have helped mold it. But I own it now.