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rainbow hearts

John Kelly


One of the lesser-known features of Title IX is that it is scrupulously gender-color-neutral, colleges have to make SafeSpaces for ALL their students, if they fail to do that they are subject to fines and loss of Federal grant money to support their educational efforts. Winning a case under Title IX is not easy legally (OR personally OR emotionally, these especially), and one judge just this past Friday (11th) threw out a case brought by a straight male who testified that Columbia College had not stopped one of his female rape victims from harassing him afterwards, the result was his educational opportunities were hampered and he experienced emo distress and the Feds should make Columbia pay. Poor boy.

The judge lectured him that the evidence did not prove his case. More about all this later...

My point here is that male students, male people have rights too. Enforceable ones.

John Kelly is a local special projects organizer for KNOW YOUR IX, he's at Tufts University just a couple T-stops away from me, and in June 2014 he "became the first person to ever testify before Congress on same-sex dating violence." That's the US Congress, thank you.

He's writing in a piece titled "My Story: Shaming and Assault in the Queer Community."

And that is why I asked him to visit over here in Kiota's Memorial webpages.

In John's freshman year at Tufts, he was in a confusing relationship; he had been dating and slowly was being pulled into victimization. In Kiota's freshman year, she was in confusing relationships too.
With both sexes.

The last night of John's Freshman year, his male partner raped him and abused him physically and emotionally by telling John he would not let go of his arm until John told him he loved him. In Ki's history, one of her rapes in Israel had involved her john forcing her to say that she "wanted it" and "I love you."

In John's case, he reported being victimized to Tufts, which investigated under Title IX, suspended Mister Whisper for one year, after which he came right back; before this, Tufts spun out the investigation over a whole semester, "during which my assailant remained on campus and went about life as normal. This is something that often doesn't receive press attention: how do you live with your abuser or rapist down the street?" --- writes John. The fear of seeing him triggered a panic attack and "later that night, I attempted suicide. I ended up spending five days in a mental hospital, which were the only five days I had without fear of seeing him."

Once John had developed and summoned enough courage (and the helpers) to go public, he appeared on MSNBC, NPR, CNN, Feministing, Jezebel...and then in front of the US Senate. He quotes a journal article which states "The intersection of factors such as gender, class, ethnicity, and previous victimization history may generate a pattern of harm and recovery that is more intricate than what has been accounted for in most literature on trauma."

Bringing it home: "Insidious trauma, coupled with sexual violence, has the terrifying ability to wreck the foundations of a queer person's sense of self."

WRECK is his word. And many of ours too. And certainly of Kiota's. I did not actually need to sit beside her to see that. But I did. And it was.

John: Answering the question "where do we go from here?" is not the same for any one person as it is for another. "For me, going to therapy, sharing my story, and practicing my spirituality have all been undeniably helpful for my healing journey... do what feels most right -- if you want to share your story with others, please do... "going public" is not possible for everyone...but this in no way invalidates your experiences."

We all find our ways of going public when we want to, each one. It's with one another right here on LJ, or in class, or in a small meeting, or in any combinations, at the times and places of our own choosing. Our choice is what's important, and that alone is empowering.

For Ki it was through her counseling on TeenHelp and especially in how she shared with TeenHelp staff; also, what she wrote creatively and where she published it; also, what she photographed and where her images appeared. And spreading out her table here for so many Friends, out into the hundreds of us in her last years. And timelessly, it turned out: her images, words, and this Memorial still live.

And what she is doing right now to lead me to write this entry and share with you. And others.

Gonna cite references in another post right now, FYI.

Last word, John: "No matter your identity, you are not alone --- please, remember that always."