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Tue 3 Jul 2007 In: True Stories View at Wayback View at NDHA

Luke (not his real name) is now a confident and outgoing young gay man. But an early experience when coming out left him and his close-knit community shaken. He tells his story in his own words: “I was a good kid at school, and quite sporty. My primary school was a very small one in a tiny North Island town. Our teacher, who was the school Principal, really pushed us to do our best. He was around 35 or 36, and was quite good friends with my mum. When his marriage ended, I used to baby-sit his kids. I'd take them to the pools, and look after them a lot. I was 15 then, so had been out of his primary school for a couple of years. I had a lot of trust in him. He was a person I looked up to and had a lot of authority. One night I was at his place looking after his kids because he was at a games night with all the locals, including my mum. I had my learner's licence, and normally I'd drive straight home after he got back. That night something was going wrong with my car, so Mum and Dad thought it was best I stayed over at his place. I didn't really want to, since it was Mother's Day the next day – I wanted to be with her. But by two o'clock in the morning, I was asleep on his couch. When he came home, I asked him straight away if he could drop me home. He didn't seem that drunk then. But he was like “no, stay, stay for a second and we'll just have a wine and talk”. So we had a couple of wines and just talked about general stuff. Then the subject got on to sexuality. He was so keen to hear all about me, and was so full of compliments. He said “you're so hot, and you're so beautiful.” I was thinking to myself this was getting really disturbing. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable, and so I again asked him to drop me home. He said “no, no, just relax, relax.” He told me he thought I was gay, and I admitted to him that I thought I was. He then told me he was bisexual. I felt very uncomfortable as he started talking more and more about sex. Eventually he asked: “would you like to have sex with me?” I couldn't even say no, I was so scared. I just shook my head. I couldn't even talk anymore. I was completely freaked out, thinking “this was my school principal”. Originally he said: “if you feel uncomfortable, I can take you home,” so I responded: “Yes, I'd like to go home please”. But for the next hour and a half, he kept on trying to convince me to have sex with him. He tried everything… without actually raping me. He tried complimenting me, he tried saying “it won't hurt”, he said “you'll like it”, all sorts of things. As far as touching me, all he did was put his hand on my head. Like he was trying to keep me there. He didn't touch me anywhere apart from that. At one point he said: “I'm not going to take you home until we do it. I'm not going to let you out of the house until we have sex.” It just went on and on. I was completely in shock, couldn't say anything and didn't know what to do. I noticed he was pretty drunk. Eventually he was mumbling and almost starting to fall asleep. I didn't say anything, I just sat there, and eventually he just fell asleep in his chair. So I slipped out the door, and ran home, three or four kilometers. I was expecting no one to be there, but there was a party at my house. Everyone was drunk when I walked in the door. I've been told my facial expression then was one of complete shock – like I'd seen someone die or something. I just went to my bedroom. My mum came in and asked what was wrong – I told her straight out. I didn't want anyone to know about it, but my mum was drunk and told everyone at the party. They were all friends with the guy, and they were really upset about it. I remember being very upset at the time, but not realising how wrong it all actually was. I just thought I'd said “No” and that would be the end of it. But everything was turned upside down. My dad and some of his friends went to see him and said “what the fuck were you thinking?” He just denied it. Then he rung up and left a message on our answer phone apologising, saying “I'm totally wrong, that was just really out of line.” When the party had finished, my mum went down to his house too, and wrote ‘CUNT' in paint on the road outside – with an arrow pointing to his house. He lived in the school principal's house, right next to the school. Some of the neighbours went and scrubbed it off the road the following day so children wouldn't see it. Then the police had to come and interview me. They got a statement, but they couldn't charge him with anything. It's on police records that he's tried to have sex with an underage person. He also lost custody of his kids because of what happened. He tried to carry on his life as normal, but everyone in the whole small community knew. He got fired from his job as the school principal. What he did was on school property, too, so they came down hard on him. They also found pornography on his school computer – not child porn, but adult stuff you're not supposed to have on school property. I had a few people ask me if I was alright, but I think most people tried to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it didn't happen. I don't think about it often now, but looking back, I don't think justice really happened. I wasn't physically raped, but I feel like I was in some way mentally raped. I feel the experience made me a stronger person. I'm glad I didn't give in to him. During the two hours of him trying everything, I still said no. I almost felt like giving in to him, but I knew I didn't want it to happen and that it was wrong.” Note: Under New Zealand law, it is illegal to have, or attempt to have, sexual activity with a person under 16 years old. Persistent unwelcome sexual invitations also count as Sexual Harassment and can lead to consequences under the Employment Relations Act and Human Rights Act. If you're affected by the themes of this story, you can seek help and support. It's normal to feel a wide range of emotions, particularly if some form of sexual assault has occurred. Counselling and advice centres include: - Gayline/lesbian line: 09 303 3584, or through their national HIV Hotline 0800 802 437 - Rainbow Youth: 09 376 4155 - Rape Crisis: 09 360 4004 Services close to you can be found on the Emergency Services section near the front of your White Pages phonebook.     Matt Akersten - 3rd July 2007

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Tuesday, 3rd July 2007 - 2:01pm

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