A Letter to the People Who Worship The Confederacy

Last week a friend, sent me an email he’d received from the “Commander” of a “Brigade” of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  My friend had been studying a genealogy site in hopes of learning more about one of my ancestors, a man who had his name inscribed on a stained glass window which had been removed from an old Church in Tallahassee.    Apparently that website allows messages to be transmitted to its members. Mr _____ I have been digging for some information on the DeMilly Family of Tallahassee, Florida. One project we are working on is providing a headstone for Cadet Sergeant Prospere DeMilly of the West Florida Military Institute. We have obtained the stone which is a replica of Confederate Stones issued by the Veterans administration. A member of the DeMilly family sent us a map of the DeMilly plot in Old City Cemetery. So we know the exact location to place his stone. We have reached out to the Florida State University ROTC program to see if they will attend a Memorial Service for Prospere DeMilly. We are waiting on their response. Another project that has touched on the DeMilly Family; is a book that we are editing and amending on the Kilcrease Artillery, CSA. John F DeMilly was a member of this unit. famnation on Ancestry gave me your contact info. I had asked her for permission to a picture that she had posted. I have communicated with four members of the DeMilly Family in this process. (I argued with the VA for 2 or 3 years. They didn’t like our proof of burial) A couple...

DON’T BE A VICTIM

If you know me, then you’re likely aware that for the first twelve years of my life I was sexually abused by a man more powerful than me (which is to say, my father).   So when I say there’s no excuse for complicity with a President who brags about his nonconsensual sex with women because he’s “a star,” be assured I mean it. His callous immorality goes on every day.  As parades of advisors goose-step their way into the new administration we see that one of them–Stephen Bannon–was once arrested for domestic violence.  He’s an anti-semite who ran Breitbart News, the site known for trafficking in racist imagery and language.  When women are harassed online, his paper blames them, telling them that they should just “log off,” since it was men who built the internet (and for that matter, civilization).  Seriously.  His paper said this. Too many women know intimately too well what the phrase “victim blaming” means.   The women who came forward during Donald’s campaign to say “he did it to me too” predictably found themselves under another attack.  A thirteen year-old girl withdrew her lawsuit against him out of threats and fear. Surrogates under his thrall admonish us with ignominious expedients, resentful and pious.   (Trump’s default invective was of course “loser.”  But his more articulate followers have devised an arsenal of insults, and will no doubt continue as they publish and spout warnings and declarations). Some attacks are aimed deeper into our pyches, innuendos of revenge, or patronizing advice to “accept things” as they are… “nothing you can do about it now.” So this is what I...

Open Letter to BSA

November 1, 2012 Michael Johnson Youth Protection Director Boy Scouts of America   Dear Michael,   As the Boy Scouts of America hosts the National Symposium on Youth Protection, I’d like to bring up a serious issue affecting the lives and hearts of countless boys which thus far, the Scouts have refused to address. I grew up in Tallahassee. In the 60’s, when I was a scout, my dad was president of the Suwanee River Area Council. So I knew the leadership and the scout executives, and the scoutmasters and philanthropists in the community, and I saw how the tradition was passed from father to son. Indeed many of my friends became scoutmasters. I did not follow the tradition. Once I became an adult I had little to do with Scouting. I felt as if I shouldn’t be involved. Despite the facts that I had become the youngest Eagle Scout in my council’s history, that I had earned the God & Country award, that I was an Arrowman, that I loved the outdoors and had skills and talents I could’ve passed on to others, I stayed away. I stayed away because I knew that I had problems I could not tell anyone about. I was gay, but that wasn’t the nightmare I couldn’t talk about. The unspeakable secret was that throughout my childhood my father had molested me, and my friends. He did these things at home, on scouting trips, at our beach cabin, and at sea on fishing trips, in the fallout shelter he’d built to protect our family from nuclear war. But because my father was “important”...

Being a Misfit

What am I doing putting up a photo of Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Montgomery Clift? The story begins with the man standing under the ladder. Longago, before I knew him, before this photo was taken, he had moved among several major NY Publishing houses as their editor-in-chief. One of his friends, the playwright Arthur Miller (cowboy hat and glasses, top of pic) wanted to give his wife a valentine’s present, a screenplay titled “The Misfits” which she could star in with Gable and Clift. Miller’s wife of course was Marilyn Monroe. Frank Taylor, the man under the ladder, produced the film. It was only one of two films he would become involved in. Years later, Frank Taylor retired to Key West as a full time resident. When I moved to the island, I had no idea who he was or what he’d done in his life. But as I asked my friends for guidance on writing a book, they said “you should meet Mr. Taylor. He was in the NY publishing business for years.” On the Set of the Misfits: Arthur Miller, Frank Taylor (producer), Eli Wallach, John Huston, Montgomery Clift, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.) So I called him. We had lunch. I told him I wanted to write a book about boys who had been molested. The editor across from me dug deeper. He asked what had happened to me. By the time lunch was over, he’d said “I want you to publish your own story. And I’ll do everything I can to help you.” I wasn’t sure that I should take his advice. Who was...

Silence = Evil

Almost always, it happens like this: An offender abuses another person. The offender lords over the victim, coercing him into a pact of secrecy. It’s not a difficult task, since the victim is almost always less powerful (and dependent) on the offender. Later, sometimes decades later, the secret emerges as the spoken truth. By that point the offender is no longer in control. The former victim, now moving in his journey into a new identity, is taking control. This is when (unfortunately, too late to help) we can see the twin themes of sexual abuse: Betrayal, and Silence in the Presence of Evil. Tonight on the news, I listened to the story of a very brave Sharon Bialek, who accused Republican Candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment. She had been his former employee. She trusted him. She sought out his help in finding a new job. Assuming her story is accurate, Herman Cain took her to dinner, acted like a gentleman, got her into his car, and then made a categorical, deliberately sexual, unwanted advance. Mrs. Bialek, no doubt shocked, angered, and dismayed, responded appropriately to the “Godfather,” telling him to stop. She was an adult. Even so, her story illuminates the first theme of sexual abuse: Betrayal. Betrayal Richard Gartner Ph.D., author of Betrayed as Boys and Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse, describes a “sexual betrayal” which encompasses a greater range of human experience than the rather mechanical phrases such as “sexual abuse,” “incest,” and “sexual trauma.” Sexual betrayal goes beyond bruising or genetic wreckage. Sexual betrayal is a violation which does...