The summer of 1992 was the booziest three months of my life. I was a 20-year-old party boy and I loved to party and I might even get naked if cocaine was involved. I’d go out, get wasted, hook up, repeat. The whole summer is a blur, especially now, but one night stands out for all the wrong reasons: a house party on Q Street in DC.
This night of debauchery was different because this time someone spiked my drink.
I suddenly felt woozy and tired. Someone asked did I want some water. The host even invited me to lay down in his bed for a minute and I felt grateful. What a nice guy I thought as he helped me to his bedroom.
But he wasn’t a nice guy.
When I regained consciousness, the party was really kicking. There was music, festive chatter, and glasses clinking in the next room. I wondered what time it was and I was cold because after he got what we came for, he didn’t bother covering me up.That’s the most dehumanizing detail of the whole ordeal which is crazy considering he also sodomized me.
I had to pee but I couldn’t move which makes sense because that’s the point of a date rape drug. So I just laid there for who knows how long until eventually I managed to roll myself off the bed.
I wobbled to my feet.
Was revenge on my mind or was I too woozy to reach the toilet? Probably both as I relieved myself right there on my rapist’s bed and it went on for a long time and that part was glorious.
But exiting through the front door never crossed my mind. The fire escape would do, and despite the 10 foot drop (!) at the end, at least I didn’t have to walk through a crowded party after being drugged and raped. I was a troubled kid living a troubled life and no stranger to negative consequences. But that was too much shame even for me.
I never told anyone about this until a few years ago because honestly, I actually believed that getting raped was just part of being drunk and promiscuous.
“OH HELL NO!!!!!” I wish I could tell myself 25 years ago. “YOU DON’T DESERVE TO GET RAPED JUST BECAUSE YOU HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK!”
The first person I ever told was Margaret Cho, the actress and comedian who’s been doing ground-breaking stand up comedy for decades. In November of 2015 she released a music video for a song called “I Want to Kill My Rapist” and it stuck a chord all those years later.
“Dude,” I said to myself. “That asshole raped you.”
As luck would have it, Margaret Cho is actually following me on Twitter so I DM’d to say thanks for kicking off a provocative conversation with her video. This was, after all, several years before Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement burst into public consciousness.
Then I told her about Q Street.
“I’ll keep your secret but I’m sorry. And I wish you only love. Xoxoxo” she replied.
I felt a lightness of spirit in that moment. It was disorienting finally finding some relief from a burden I didn’t even realize I was carrying. Remember, I always assumed date rape was the cost of being a horny kid who liked to party.
And for a very long time Margaret Cho, celebrity stranger on Twitter, was the only other human I told.
“Unmute Steve Ayscue on Twitter,” Someone important texted. “He’s coming unhinged and you won’t wanna miss this!”
Steve Ayscue is second in command of the Camden County Democratic machine juggernaut. He’s a primary gatekeeper for anyone who wants to run for office or do business in South Jersey. His devotion to his squad is matched only by his contempt for anyone not on his team.
I un-muted in time to witness a fusillade of insults aimed at Sue Altman, newly-installed leader of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, a progressive organization and frequent target for Steve and his coterie of yes men. I always found his contempt for NJWFA ironic since NJWFA fights for things rank-and-file Machine loyalists “pretend” to care about like a $15 minimum wage.
“How about when Katie Brennan was kneecapped? Didn’t hear a peep out of any of you,” @SteveAyscue tweeted, invoking a notorious rape scandal to diminish and belittle Sue Altman and mock her bona fides.
Despite an enduring dedication to undermining women who displease him, I was dumbstruck when Steve Ayscue wielded someone’s rape trauma to score political points.
I can count on one hand how many people knew my Q Street story before now because 1) vulnerability is risky 2) this story is still embarrassing and 3) people are cruel.
But it wasn’t wasn’t courage that finally pushed me into the #MeToo chorus.
It was rage.
Because if a man can use a woman’s rape trauma to belittle and undermine other women, then I can surely use my rape trauma to clap back.
It’s the least I can do.
Jay Lassiter is a award-winning podcaster and writer. He’s very sad black people are getting locked up for weed because of Steve Sweeney’s ego.