Rahsaan Patterson is four albums into his music career, having gotten his start on Kids Incorporated back in the day. His latest single, “Don’t Touch Me,” aims to educate the public about sexual abuse, which he personally endured, and raise funds to support for its victims. Partnering with RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), Patterson hopes to use his experiences as a black, openly gay man in the entertainment industry to break the silence surrounding molestation in the black community. He spoke to The Root about his abuse, where his career is headed, and how he hopes to change the black community’s views on sexuality. Some excerpts:

TR: How does your experience going public with your story of sexual abuse compare to your experience coming out as gay?

 

RP: The stigma of being an openly gay black male in the music industry has its stigmas and effects, but I really am not focused on that. People will always have their opinions, and there will be people who despise it and look down, but I am who I am. But my purpose is to live the best life I can live.

As far as the sexual abuse, I’ve absolutely been supported. A lot of people have written me and sent me messages on Facebook and such and expressed their gratitude for my having the courage to speak out. It’s allowed them to confront their families and expose their truest purpose. I’m here for those who are at a place in their own lives when they’re ready to go into the issue and really focus on it.

TR: When and why did you decide to speak publicly about the abuse that happened to you?

RP: I was doing an interview for another publication and the subject of sexuality came up, and at that particular time I felt that the interviewer was pretty much probing, and in a sense trying to expose my sexual orientation. And during the course of that conversation, I revealed that I had been sexually abused as a child.

Once that statement was made, there were people who took offense to that, because they thought I was using it as an excuse for my sexuality, which was not the case at all. It wasn’t a cause-and-effect thing — I simply decided to be honest about both in one interview … I don’t think people really considered the reality that when people are abused at such a young age, it kind of sets them on a path that they didn’t get to discover on their own.

TR: You’ve said that child sexual abuse being in the news was one inspiration for your song, “Don’t Touch Me.” Was that a reference to Eddie Long’s story? The Penn State child sex abuse scandal?

RP: The more news that makes its way to the public, the more the issue is brought to the forefront. The important part is to know that people don’t just wake up and [abuse children]. When something happens to someone, particularly as a child, when there is no healing involved and no message of prevention or just a conversation to make the child feel safe, the person has to live with that. It eventually festers and messes with one’s mental and spiritual well-being. When you go to church and the bishop is potentially sleeping with boys, it’s contradictory to the word [of God].

Things keep being revealed [about sexual abuse of children], and it’s in the forefront of everyone’s mind for, like, the first month, but what are people doing after that? You tweet about it for two weeks, but then what?

Some of Patterson’s views, such as the idea that sexual abuse can send a victim on a path of sexuality that he or she would not have taken, are controversial, but essential to an open dialogue about abuse. He’s also pointed to a very important aspect of abuse: that as a community, we need to get involved and stay involved.

Read more at TheRoot.com

What do you think of Rahsaan Patterson speaking out?

  • Ms. Information

    It is interesting that many gay black males have been molested/raped, I wonder about the connection, anyone know?

  • http://stephanietalktome.blogspot.com Stephanie

    Don’t even try to make a connection because the gay community will let you know about yourself real quick. Smh. Isn’t it crazy how you have to whisper about things like this.

  • niki

    Or that its not talked about at all. Like that will make it go away. It just manifests later on.

  • Ocean Blue

    Honestly, I don’t think much of anything about it.

  • Bee

    Seriously, Ms. Information and Stephaine? Seriously? That’s what you got from this interview? Smh. Ask yourself how many heterosexuals you know have been molested. Then ask yourself how many have been molested and you don’t know simply because 99% of people (gay or straight) never want to mention or talk about their experience with rape/molestation because as a culture we’ve programmed victims to feel embarrassed about being victimized. Ask yourself those questions, and you’ll realize that the little connection you two are trying to draw is weak. Weak. The number of people I know (gay and straight) who’ve experienced childhood rape/molestation is astronomical and those are just the ones who were open enough to divulge their secret. And most of them are actually straight people. His sexuality has nothing to do with his rape/molestation experience, and it’s no wonder men never want to discuss their rape experiences: every time they do, even if they’re straight, people want to question their sexuality or draw a connection between their sexuality and the rape. Smdh. Stop trying to pathologize homosexuality (and that is exactly what your comments imply, whether you intend them to or not) by connecting it with something as sick as child rape/molestation. The simple truth is that child rape/molestation is entirely too common in our culture.

  • entro

    Of all the gay men Ive befriended all of them had been molested . This is not to say that All gay men have been molested that would be generaliziing. The correlations should be discussed

  • http://stephanietalktome.blogspot.com Stephanie

    @Bee

    If you were not trolling the comments you would’ve realized that I responded to the person above me.

    Nowhere in my comment did you see me mention the article.

    Please get a life.

  • http://stephanietalktome.blogspot.com Stephanie

    @Bee

    And if you’re going to respond to me. Please spell my name correctly. It is spelled out.

    *Stephanie*

    Thank you.

  • http://fromthoughtsintowords.blogspot.com/2012/04/toure-and-piers-in-boxing-ring.html R Kahendi

    Sexuality is influenced by a variety of factors, and the significance of any single factor will depend on who an individual is. Prior experience of abuse may or may not be one of these factors. It doesn’t make sense to dismiss it outright or to claim that it is 100% responsible for an individual’s sexuality.

  • Bee

    @Stephanie: Because anyone who disagrees with you is a troll. I see you didn’t even consider responding in a mature manner. I can only guess your age, but I bet you are very young. It shows. Have a nice life.

  • Bee

    Point taken. But consider the number of straight men who have been molested/raped and don’t speak on it because they fear people will question their sexuality. (I know several, who are only comfortable enough to talk about it with me because they know I won’t question their sexuality.) It is entirely possible, in fact it is likely, that gay men are more willing to discuss their rape/molestation because they (being gay) have nothing to lose anyway in terms of people questioning their sexuality and masculinity. All I’m saying is this: correlation is not causation, contrary to what some people argue. Ultimately, I agree with you: we must talk about the relationship between sex and sexual violence in this country because it is epidemic.

  • QCastle

    @Bee

    “and it’s no wonder men never want to discuss their rape experiences: every time they do, even if they’re straight, people want to question their sexuality or draw a connection between their sexuality and the rape”

    Shame these devils Bee.

  • entro

    @bee I don’t know if in some cases causeation and corelation is not the same. I would suspect that in some cases it is. At this point I don’t think that there can be an honest conversation because everything has been politicized and there is still a lot of stigma attached to being a victim of sexual violence. I believe your theory as far as the openness of straight men versus gay men is true also.

  • CHE

    How do you know that many gay males have been raped or abused? and even if true I dont think it has a bearing on their future sexuality…. I believe gay people were born so and therefore do not have a choice.

  • Ms. Information

    I am in Atlanta…lol…I know MANY gay males…and ALL of them have been molested when they were children…there has to be some type of connection in certain cases…

  • Ms. Information

    Chill Bee….I asked a question because of my personal experience with gay black males…of which every single one of them let me know that they were molested..is this by chance? Who knows..but there could be a connection like with the Stockholm Syndrome in some cases…We can debate an question each other without coming off authoritative and sensitive.

  • au napptural

    Agreed, Ms. Information. It’s a known effect of same-sex abuse, just like extreme promiscuity/ extreme frigidity are known effects for women who have suffered heterosexual abuse. It makes me so sad though that these men oft times don’t get help b/c they sublimate their abuse in that lifestyle and no one wants to hear it. Like Donnie McClurkin. He said he felt trapped once he had been abused by his uncles b/c then everyone just says you are gay. No one acknowledges that you were abused and once you live a gay lifestyle ppl won’t let you change. Sad.

  • http://commentarybyvalentina.wordpress.com/ Val

    Okay folks how about a common sense. Most people in the world are str8. Most of the people who were molested as children are str8. Only about 10% of any population is gay. Of that ten percent some but not all were molested as children.

    So, if molestation causes gayness, as you allude to, then why are the vast majority of people who were molested str8?

    As they say, common sense isn’t common.

  • au napptural

    “I don’t think people really considered the reality that when people are abused at such a young age, it kind of sets them on a path that they didn’t get to discover on their own.”

    What in the entire hell??? He said that?! He’s in trouble.

  • Ocean Blue

    You know, I am certain that people who believe molestation causes homosexuality probably do not apply that same concept for women who are lesbians.

  • Bee

    @Val: Now, you can’t come here talking that much sense because, as it turns out, common sense really ain’t that common these days. Thank you! I’m often baffled by all the ways people try to pathologize homosexuality with such illogical arguments.

  • Bee

    @Ms. Information : I apologize for any harshness in my comment. But you cannot understand how utterly insulting it is – to gay men and to men/people who are victims of rape – when folks make these kinds of arguments about homosexuality because the argument implies that there is clearly something “wrong” with being gay. Whether that’s what you intended to imply or not – that is the implication. And that is what I was trying to point out. People seem to look for ways to “justify” the existence of homosexuality rather than just accepting that people’s attraction and sexual behaviors simply vary across a spectrum, instead of realizing that all of us who’ve ever experienced sexual abuse (straight, bisexual, gay) have different views about sex because of those experiences but that those experiences don’t make us gay or bisexual. When a victim of sexual abuse is finally able to have the power to choose/control how sex happens and with whom it happens that is a powerful moment/transition. Arguments that one’s sexual abuse must have caused one’s homosexuality undermines the power of that moment/transition. Simple as that.

  • Ms. Information

    I understand what you are saying…my only point is that in my own experience, the gay men that I have known, each one of them went through this…being raped at very young ages by grown men…which I would not wish on my own enemy…I asked one of my friends(who was raped when he was 4 by his dad’s lover) yesterday and he said that after his experience, he felt extremely emasculated…It was really just a question…not drawing conclusions…I am a firm believer in loving people as they are in whatever position they are in…my argument isn’t the right or wrong of homosexuality, but the aftermath (in some cases) of brutal abuse.

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