I haven't talked about this much before, but after everything that's been going on in the news I feel compelled to share my own story. I want to preface this by saying that it isn't my intention to derail the #MeToo movement, which is primarily about abuse and harassment perpetrated by men and women's solidarity and I hope that this doesn't come off as whataboutism since I'm a guy and one of my stories involves a girl.
I was sitting in chorus class in eighth grade. At this point in my education all of my friends had dropped out of chorus, so I was the last one left and I was pretty much a loner in there. In between songs, our teacher took a break and let the class talk to their friends for a few minutes. This girl who had previously always winked at me and brushed up against me creepily approached me, and started by touching my leg and then began working her way up until she was in my lap and touching my dick through my pants and humping me. She was saying all kinds of perverted things and gave me this evil look in her eye which told me that she knew exactly what she was doing and she was going to get away with it, and I tried to fight her off (slapping her and trying to throw her off of myself) but she wouldn't let go and kept laughing. She even tried to take off my pants. She was really strong despite her size, but looking back I think I was afraid to do any serious damage even in self-defense because she was a girl and it would look bad if I hurt her. Almost everyone else was busy doing their own thing and talking to their friends so they didn't even notice, except for a few people who were watching. They thought it was funny and didn't even try to help me. The part that hurt the most was that it was in broad daylight in a room full of people, and hardly anyone noticed and none of those who did cared or asked if I was okay.
Our chorus class was a split block with a lunch break in between, so I had lunch at the same time as this girl and she followed me around for the next few days and tried to make me feel uncomfortable. It seemed like she was everywhere I looked, with those creepy eyes and that smile. She even said a few times that she had a surprise for me (thank god I never found out what it was). I ended up staying a few minutes after class one day and telling our teacher that this girl kept following me, and even though I was trying to keep it together I ended up crying but didn't reveal what really happened. My teacher could tell that there were more details I wasn't sharing with her but she didn't ask any questions. I ended up quitting chorus later that week because I "wasn't interested anymore," even though I loved to sing. I told my friends, my family, my teacher, and my guidance counselor the same thing and no one questioned it.
There were a few reasons why I never said anything. First of all, this girl was a special needs student so I thought people would excuse it by saying she didn't know any better and she didn't know what she was doing...which is complete bullshit, because I saw it in her eyes. She was one hundred percent aware of what was going on and lived for the fact that she made me feel embarrassed and powerless and would get away with it because she wouldn't be held accountable even if I were to say something. Also, male victims of sexual harassment tend to face ridicule and are made fun of for not wanting it. They're told that they must be gay for not wanting to get laid, and not that being gay is a bad thing but it's not a good label to have in middle school where kids will bully you for it. People already teased me for being fruity, and coming forward with this just would have made it worse. I also felt like what happened "wasn't bad enough," because I never got drugged and raped or anything like that. I've never called it assault and I've always considered it harassment, but truthfully I don't know where one draws the line. Even the online friends I've confided in about this thought the mental image of a special needs girl humping me in the middle of chorus class was funny and didn't seem too concerned about how I felt or thought it was that serious. And lastly, there were rumors that she herself was being raped by her grandfather and I didn't want her to get in trouble if she might have been an abuse victim herself.
The next time, I was 16 and working at my first job. It was at an amusement park and I operated kiddie rides. There were two new employees one day, and they set off my gaydar. They were in their early/mid 20s, and after their very first shift the taller, younger one came up behind me while I was clocking out for the day and whispered "Hey Hermione" right in my ear in this flop trying-to-be-seductive-but-coming-off-as-extremely-creepy deep voice. I probably jumped up several inches because it completely took me by surprise. When I did, I saw that he was winking. I replied "Hi" in a shaky voice because saying hi back is my natural reflex and then I bolted out of there. Once again, this was in a room full of people and nobody noticed.
I later started hearing rumors that they lived together and were secretly engaged, and even though they didn't talk about their relationship at work it was obvious that they were a couple. Since they ran the adult rides I barely saw them except for pre and post-shift (when they always stared at me, with looks I couldn't tell were dirty or aroused), until one day when my assigned ride was on the border between the kiddie and adult rides. The shorter, older one was operating the one right next to me, and after an hour of no interactions he walked over to the fence between our rides when our side of the park was empty and we had no customers. This was about two months after they started working there, and I was now newly 17. Between customers he would come over and ask me questions like how old I was, what school I went to, what some of my hobbies were, and finally officially introduced himself. We gossiped a little bit about the place too, and he told me that he trained our manager on his very first ride years ago and decided to come back this year since he moved back to the area.
The questions eventually turned to my sexuality, which were obviously making me uncomfortable especially since he had asked my age and knew I was a minor. The age of consent is 17 here, but I still felt like it was inappropriate for this 23 year old man I barely knew to be asking me this stuff especially since I was still in high school and looked like a little boy. He also said that all the other guys who worked there were ugly, including my friends, and that I was the only cute one. He kept leaving and going to the fence on the other side of his ride where his boyfriend was working (the one who whispered in my ear), and I got the feeling he was reporting my answers back to him and they were planning something. They kept looking over at me with lust in their eyes. Eventually he asked if I would want to come home with them after work and hang out (presumably for a threesome), and my heart started racing. I said no and he looked really offended and then asked why, and I said, with my voice shaking, "Don't you think I'm too young to be hanging out with you guys?" and he didn't really say anything else. Another one of my coworkers eventually came over to my ride while the guy was busy, and I told her everything while holding back tears. She wasn't that busy that day so she agreed to stay with me for the rest of my shift, because I knew he wouldn't try to talk to me again if someone else was there to hear it.
I wrote an email to our boss saying what happened, but I never had the courage to send it. It sat in my drafts for a few weeks, and I finally decided against it and deleted it. 17 is the age of consent so flirting with me was technically legal even if I was still a minor, and they backed off once I wasn't interested. Not to mention that I doubted my managers would even believe my story, since he had history with them and I was just a kid at my first job. I told my coworkers and it turned into the hot gossip at work (and again, treated like a joke rather than something that actually messed with me) but it never made its way to the managers, and a year later I found out that they tried the same thing with my friend and even told him that he was the only cute one and the rest of us were ugly. I told him what happened at the time, but he never confessed that they tried hooking up with him too until a text much later on. Apparently they messaged him on Facebook too, and he was still 16 at the time. We walked everywhere together at work after that, because we were both afraid of being alone around these guys. The worst part of this story is that I have the older guy's Twitter, and around the Kesha trial he was tweeting all of this stuff about how horrible Dr. Luke is despite being creepy and preying on underage boys himself. I never told my family about this because they're pretty homophobic, and I didn't want it to add to their negative image of gay people.
I still know all three of their names, both the girl from middle school and the gay couple from my old job, and I could expose them if I wanted but I have this weird desire to protect them from the consequences for some reason even though they deserve it. I'm fine now and don't have any long-term issues from either instance, but it sucks so much that I'm made to feel like I'm overreacting for this stuff because it's "not as bad" as other cases people have spoken up about. Whenever I think about them I tend to second-guess myself and wonder if my feelings are justified and that I'm not just being oversensitive or a drama queen. Anyway, I know this doesn't really have an inspiring message but I just needed to get it out because I'm sick of bottling it up. I don't need your pity nor your assessment of whether this was "real" sexual harassment.