By William E. Kelly
Like most, I was absorbed by the Supreme Court Senate confirmation hearings. The testimonies of accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh and accuser, Dr. Christine Blasely Ford, were powerful. But the process witnessed was beneath the dignity of this nation. The accusations should have been tried in a court of law before ever beginning the approval process. Because they were not, the full unvarnished truths or reality of the recollections by accused and accuser are unlikely to ever see the light of day.
The blame for that lies at many feet and are not at the forefront of my thoughts.
What remains for many are that the proceedings led to many conversations between countless people about sexual abuses they have or believe they experienced. Men and women shared abuse recollections that awakened in me my own past abuse as a child. It became acutely clear that abuse experiences were as dissimilar for the victims as their memories were similar.
In the discussions between victims and non-victims, emotions collided. What I came to realize was that sex and sexual behavior will forever be a personal mystery that unfolds for each of us differently. In short, our truths, half-truths and imagined truths are rooted in multiple influences, innate or learned, but together they form our sexual development.
Of my or the abuse of others, some would say the abuse we experienced is responsible for who we have become, good and bad. But the lesson to be learned here is neither political nor partisan. It is personal. What matters is not how I or anyone became who we are. Accepting who we are and living our lives without regret to our fullest potential and in the most loving, kind and compassionate manner we can is the most any of us can hope for ourselves or expect of others.
In reality, no one has all the answers. Understanding why bad things happen to us is complicated. The “why me” question is not always answerable. But as a gay male Democrat who was a victim of abuse, I find great wisdom and eloquence in Republican Senator Susan Collins’ remarks that we need to think about.
“It is a case of people bearing extreme ill will toward those who disagree with them. In our intense focus on our differences, we have forgotten the common values that bind us together as Americans. When some of our best minds are seeking to develop ever more sophisticated algorithms designed to link us to websites that only reinforce and cater to our views, we can only expect our differences to intensify.
“This would have alarmed the drafters of our Constitution, who were acutely aware that different values and interests could prevent Americans from becoming and remaining a single people. Indeed, of the six objectives they invoked in the preamble to the Constitution, the one that they put first was the formation of ‘a more perfect Union.’
“Their vision of ‘a more perfect Union’ does not exist today, and if anything, we appear to be moving farther away from it. It is particularly worrisome that the Supreme Court, the institution that most Americans see as the principal guardian of our shared constitutional heritage, is viewed as part of the problem through a political lens.” (nyti.ms/2IJilgR)
In environments of mistrust, hate and fear, we often waver between states of inferiority and superiority that no single religious or political ideology can justify. But those who can explain their views calmly without judging or insisting others hold them as their own are more likely to find mutually beneficial common ground to unite in the peace of love and acceptance rather than in the hell of hate and rejection.
—Bill Kelly is a longtime local activist who currently focuses on LGBT senior issues and moderates the Caring for our LGBT Seniors in San Diego Facebook page. Access to the group is free to all seniors, their advocates, families, friends and caregivers. Reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.