My First Kiss Was Not Consensual
I’ve never opened up about any of this. To anyone. But it’s more important now than ever before.
I debated writing this. I’ve thought about it for months, actually. I kept putting it off. I kept telling myself that what happened to me isn’t bad enough to share, that people won’t care, that there are more important things to worry about. After all, I am a man - and women are the ones who should be the focus of the conversation surrounding sexual assault, since women are the ones who have to deal with it on a daily basis. Not me.
But with everything happening in our country - from the election of Donald Trump, to the birth of the #MeToo movement, to the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh as he moves to serve on the highest court in our country - I felt like I couldn’t be silent. That I shouldn’t be silent.
I am here to tell you that anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, and anyone can perpetrate it.
The title of this blog post says what I’ve never told anyone before - that my first kiss wasn’t consensual. I never even let myself believe this was true until the birth of the #MeToo movement. The constant discussions surrounding sexual assault forced me to sit back and examine my own life.
I’ve always heard of people repressing memories they didn’t want to have, but I never understood it. I didn’t get how you could just not think about a bad thing that happened to you, how you could just block it out.
But then it happened to me. I remembered. I remembered that my first kiss was forced upon me by a man who knew exactly what he was doing, and that I didn’t want it, and that he knew I didn’t want it - but he did it anyway. And I had blocked that out. When the realization randomly hit me in the car on my way to work one day, I cried.
The news coverage of the #MeToo movement is what unlocked this memory for me. I had obviously thought about this man and this kiss - my first kiss - before, but it was always fuzzy. I remembered not liking it, and I remembered the vague circumstances, but I always assumed it was consensual. It wasn’t until this movement forced me to examine my experiences that I finally understood what had happened to me.
Here it is.
I was a sophomore (soon to be junior) in college, home for the summer. I had never dated anyone. Gay people tend to be late bloomers, so it wasn’t that surprising to anyone that I was 20 years old and had never been kissed. My summer job was at an ice cream shop at a busy mall, and I loved it. I worked with some of my best friends, and each day was busy and fast-paced and filled with new and interesting challenges.
One day, a customer came in who looked familiar to me. He kept openly staring at me, so I knew he must have recognized me as well. Eventually, I put it together that I had seen him on dating apps, but that we had never matched. He seemed to be around my age, maybe a few years older, and he was attractive in a slightly uneasy way. His face was handsome, but the way he looked at me set me a tad on edge.
When he came through the line, I was the one who rang him out. He dropped some slick line about wanting my number with his ice cream, so I gave it to him. I was young and extremely inexperienced, so I thought it was incredible that someone was actually hitting on me in person.
He texted me and asked if I wanted to go on a date. I agreed, and we continued to exchange some messages. I told him I wanted to get to know him a bit more before we went out.
During these exchanges, it came out that I had never kissed anyone, and he became weirdly obsessed with that fact - which I clearly did not recognize as a warning sign at the time.
He kept saying that he wanted to be my first, that I was too cute never to have kissed anyone, that I had to be lying, etc. He brought it up somewhat often. It began to make me a little uncomfortable, but I ignored it because a cute guy was actually taking an interest in me for once - how exciting!
He was persistent about going on a date, so eventually we agreed upon a day. I worked that day, which he knew. The plan was for him to meet me after my shift and for us to go see a movie.
The next red flag came when he showed up at my job several hours before I was scheduled to be off work. He came in, said hello, then parked himself at a table right outside the shop with a book. He sat there for hours, just reading and watching me. I could not have physically left the shop without passing him. Even if I had wanted to cancel the date - which at this point, I did - I could not have gotten past him.
I decided to chalk his behavior up as “cute” because he was “excited for the date,” so I kept an open mind and went on the date. He insisted that he drive. I was nervous about that, but I didn’t want to make things awkward, so I agreed.
The movie was horribly uncomfortable. He grabbed my hand with his sweaty one and made weird movements on it during the entire movie. I tried to pull my hand back a few times, but he held on with a firm grip. I hated it. I knew this wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted to go home.
After the movie, he started driving in the opposite direction of where my car was. It alarmed me, so I asked where we were going. He wouldn’t tell me. At this point, I was openly nervous about the situation and didn’t feel safe. He ended up driving to a gas station in the middle of nowhere, getting out of the car, and telling me to stay put.
He came back with a pack of gum. When I asked him why he bought it, he told me to eat a piece. When I asked why, he said it was for the kiss. I laughed it off and said “not tonight.” But we both ate a piece. And he drove away.
We didn’t even speak during the drive back to my car, which was in a lot at the mall where I worked. There was a palpable tension in the air at this point - he could sense my discomfort and slight fear, and I could sense his desire to kiss me despite that.
It was late by the time we got back to my car. The parking lot was empty and there was no one around. I quickly thanked him for the movie and got out of the car.
As I was opening my car door, I saw him getting out of his car. I was blatantly frightened at this point, because I didn’t know what he was doing. He could have done anything. There was no one around in the dark, empty lot.
I quickly moved to my car, but I wasn’t fast enough. After I sat down and started to close my car door behind me, he grabbed it. I didn’t want to be openly aggressive at this point, despite the fact that I should have been, so I asked him what he was doing. He said that I had forgotten about the kiss. I said that I hadn’t forgotten, but that I didn’t want to do it tonight.
He still had his hand on my car door, keeping me from closing it. He laughed, pushed the car door further open, grabbed my face, and kissed me.
It wasn’t intrinsically violent. He did not hurt me. But he stole my first kiss, without my consent, when he knew that I didn’t want to kiss him. Along with that, he stole whatever final piece of innocence I was still holding on to in this cold, cold world.
I drew a line in the sand that night, despite not realizing it until several years later. There was a before, and there was an after. The “before” was the part when I dared to dream of romance, when I thought of cute scenarios for my first kiss, when I thought men would be nothing but a positive influence in my life. The “after” is now - when I realize that men are dangerous, that romance is something hard to come by, and that my first kiss was stolen from me by a man who thought he deserved it.
Since that night, there have been other times when I’ve been in situations that would be considered to be sexual assault. Most would even call them worse - I’ve been held down and forced to do things that I didn’t want to do, in situations that began with consent and devolved into something darker. I’ve never told anyone about those times, either, because they made me feel ashamed for putting myself in that situation to begin with.
The tears on my face as I finish writing this post are here for a reason. They are here because I didn't listen to my gut when I should have. They are here because I’ve been through things that I’ve kept completely bottled up until now. And they are here because I know I'm not alone in this, which is the worst realization of all.
I think the reason I’m choosing to share this here, on this platform, at this point in time, is because it’s almost… easier. It’s easier than telling my loved ones and seeing the fear, or the sadness, or worse - the disappointment - on their faces.
To anyone who knows me personally, I’m sorry that you had to find out this way. Please forgive me.
To everyone else, know this: straight, white men are not the only problem. All men are the problem. Gay men, black men, asian men. All men have the capacity to commit sexual assault, because our culture is to blame. All men are the problem, because they’re used to taking what they want. All men are dangerous, and all of us are at risk.
What I’ve been through is trivial compared to what many, many people have experienced. What I’ve experienced has been bad, but I’m sharing this for everyone else. I’m sharing this for those who need the courage to know that they are not alone.
I believe you. I believe you. I believe you. And I love you, and I support you, and I am here for you. Always.
Thank you for listening.