Domestic violence was the topic of discussion at the monthly meeting of the LGBT Neighbors in Bridgeport group at the First Lutheran Church of the Trinity Aug. 4.
Speakers Robert Kingett ( also a contributing writer for Windy City Times ), Karl Perina ( co-founder of the group ) and Jacob Deme shared their past domestic-violence stories following an introduction by Perina.
Kingettwho is 23 years old, openly gay, legally blind and has cerebral palsyshared that he is originally from Florida, was born prematurely and has had to fight to stay alive his whole life. Growing up with an absentee alcoholic mother who took out her aggression ( both physically and mentally ) on him and his younger sister informed much of his life, Kingett noted, adding that as a defense mechanism he learned how to read people and lie really well. They were so poor growing up, Kingett said he had to wear the same shoes for six years and they often didn't have enough or any food to eat.
"Until the age of 16, I lied to child protective services so I wouldn't have to go to a foster home. I lied to the cops, whom I saw more frequently than my teachers at school, to keep my sister and I together." said Kingett.
This all changed when he was 18. Kingett explained that he was able to leave home ( he wasn't able to take his sister with him ) and surround himself with friends, including a lady who took him in and claimed him as her son, who encouraged him and his dreams. Kingett shared that a year ago he moved to Chicago with a new lease on life, and dreams of becoming an editor at the New York Times with a loving husband by his side.
"You have the power to do anything that you want to do ... because you make it happen. All it takes is will and determination to achieve things that you never thought of before," said Kingett.
Perina noted that like Kingett he learned how to lie to cover up the mental and physical abused he experienced throughout his life. Perina explained that not only was he was abused by his father ( who also abused his mother ) during his childhood, but that he was also disowned by his family for being gay. When Perina moved in with his now ex-boyfriend ( who had a drug problem and refused to get a job ), the pattern of abuse continued. Perina said it didn't happen right away, however, over a 10 plus year period it escalated to a point where his ex-boyfriend controlled every aspect of Perina's life.
Two years ago, Perina said he got the courage to go to the police and get a restraining order against his ex-boyfriend so he would legally have to move out of the apartment. The biggest adjustment for Perina is learning how to operate like a normal person, he explained. Perina noted that this is the first time he has found happiness in his life and he is finally soaking up all that Chicago has to offer.
Deme also shared his story of domestic violence at the hands of his father. Not only did Deme's father abuse him he also abused his mother for years, said Deme. Deme noted that due to his father's abusive nature his self confidence and self image was shattered and it's taken years for him to work past these thoughts.
During the Q&A session, Kingett was asked about his sister's whereabouts. Kingett explained that she is emancipated ( she is 16 ), living in St. Augustine, Florida, has already graduated from high school and is planning on going to college.
Perina was asked why he stayed with his ex-boyfriend for such a long period of time. Perina said that the lack of support from the outside world and his ex-boyfriend's hold on him kept him from taking action against him at an earlier date.
See www.lgbtneighborsinbridgeportchicago.org for more information.