I knew I was in danger. As the pitch of the woman’s voice was getting higher and volume louder, a creeping, nervous feeling was moving along my whole being. Without a doubt a physical attack was next.
That bright spring Saturday morning, I was with my African-American friend Rose in the Flatbush Avenue section of Brooklyn to interview John, a young man from Kenya.
Twenty years ago, Flatbush was a Jewish area, but now it is black, with most of the people living there coming from Africa, Haiti, and other areas of the West Indies. That day, hip-hop music, mixed with rap and reggae, boomed from open apartment windows. It was easy to imagine that this was a foreign country.
Mom, my younger brother, and I were baptized on a cold day in September 1999, my final year at school. It was a day of uncertainty. I had recently gotten my unbearable bouts of depression under control, and I finally made the decision to dedicate my life to Jehovah and Jesus…and their organization.
To me that day was bitter-sweet. It was a day filled with fear; fear of failure, fear of not measuring up, fear of whether what I did was right, and fear of the unknown. You see, I had a very turbulent childhood – the impact of which I only recently discovered. My mother was my everything; nature was my playground, and a dad’s acceptance was the elusive mirage I tirelessly sought. Needless to say, this rough and tumble, yet sensitive boy was the unsuspecting pray of men and older boys whose sexual thirst got the better of them. Their seductions and traps left me confused and overwhelmed by the contradictory kaleidoscope of images of myself, of life, of masculinity …and of God.