T. and J. were doing HIV outreach at the market on Saturday. Afterwards, J. was telling me about a young man, obviously gay, who approached them. She mentioned his false guilt- "I heard it started in the gay community" family stigma- "if my family found out I was gay, they'd run me out of town" and the vague "I don't really know you, but I had some rough stuff happen as a kid."
I growled about the fact that this community doesn't have many resources available for people like this man, and said "I'm sure he's seen some horrible stuff. Think about the numbers for domestic violence in this country (close to 50% of homes. Keep in mind that domestic violence is underreported, because it's a socially undesirable behavior). J. mentions the violent drawings produced by kids in summer camp, and I snarl for the women in my focus group who were bullied by their husbands and in-laws and for Friday's experience in the park and the fact that men here feel it's okay to treat a woman in that manner...and suddenly I'm shocked to find tears in my eyes.
It's impossible to separate the questions I'm asking or my experiences from a larger conversation that's not happening. One about gender and power,autonomy, family, fear...what happens to people too weak or terrified to speak up for themselves. It's something to be cried over.