I Would’ve Liked To Stop

Because of my line of work in adult entertainment and nightlife industries, I have had to deal with three things that many of us have been victims of – slut shaming, kink shaming and body shaming. I have had to battle my way through some very harsh levels of criticism.

Some of you may disagree and think my body is acceptable and ask, “What does he know?” Some of you may think, “Well he doesn’t even seem to care. In fact, he does it to himself by posting what he does, taking those kinds of pictures, and wearing those kinds of outfits.” Some of you have personally made attempts to make me feel like less.

Many times, I would’ve liked to stop.

But if I stopped when you told me I was gross, what would that mean? When I was 21 and I let that boy kiss me in the bathroom, and you told everyone I was a slut – What would it mean if I allowed that to crush me?

When I gogo danced the first time and you told me I was disgusting and that I should kill myself and donate my organs to people who deserved them, because I was a waste of life – What would it mean if I had stopped? If I had stopped when you lied and told people I had AIDS, what would it make me? What message would it send to anyone watching, or anyone who wanted to try?

Many times, I would’ve liked to stop.

I got so many messages over the years telling me all the reasons I needed to stop, but not because they cared about me, my future, or what I wanted. Living my life in a way that wasn’t limited by shame did something to them. It gnawed at them in a way that I, at the time, couldn’t understand. If I didn’t step down, it was clear that they intended to tear me down.

We were raised in a society that teaches you there is a specific guide we need to live our lives according to. As gay men, we’re taught that our worth is always less. Being raised in this manner can, at times, breed low self-esteem – so low that people desperately need, for just a moment, to feel like they’re better than someone else.

But who knew, when I least expected it, I’d get a letter from someone expressing thanks? They’d tell me how badly they felt about themselves because they were shamed by their family or peers, and that they wanted to try new things and explore life but were shamed into hiding.

They’d tell me how seeing me endure the negativity and respond to hateful messages with positivity would teach them that they could also live without fear of being shamed, and that they didn’t have to let the thoughts of others affect them so critically. This is something many of us do, and if you’re a person who has the courage to express yourself and be who you are, you have an obligation to do so.

Many times, I would’ve liked to stop. But it became clear to me that stopping was no longer an option.

No longer was I doing this to prove to you that you were wrong. I was no longer doing this to prove to myself that I was enough. I was now doing it because I believed, in some way, that I could change the narrative, and that maybe, somehow, I could make a difference to the person sitting at home reading this feeling like less because of someone like you.

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17 thoughts on “I Would’ve Liked To Stop

  • Donick a lot guys have retired this year. I think that would mean a lot to you to. I hope you find another line of work. And I you are amazing for opening up to us.

    • I retired in 2017 from fulltime nightlife/club industry work, the transition has not been smooth but it’s been an adventure all on it’s own that I’ve grown from and have come to enjoy.

      • Very brave and vulnerable. Proud of you.

  • I think you are the pavement for many people who don’t think they are valued or have trouble thinking they are worthy. I must say I’m the perfect example.. and I am trying to say I am worth it @kahthexis

    • I’m happy to help pave the way. If I can help in any way I’m happy to do so. You are worth it

  • what I read in the article, touched me a lot !! I grew up in a very religis family, and throughout my childhood and adolescence I found my feelings impure and tried to suppress it. Only after meeting strong people who had the courage to assume what they really were did I realize that everything I considered wrong with me is what makes me special. If I had met people like you before, I would have lived through adolescence with less frustration and guilt. Thanks, what you do is amazing.

    • Although living through pain is…painful…I’d suggest looking back at that pain as experience that you can use today to help solidify your fortitude in your belief in yourself and that you are enough. Remember the pain and know that being the person you are now is no longer that person. And continue to move forward.

  • Just read your article and it really made me sad . The thing is no matter how you get better in life people will bully you because of jealousness

    I’ve known you maybe for 4-5 years till now and please never stop

    And let body shaming , kink shaming etc.. make you love yourself more

    • The shaming and bullying may never change, but what can change is how you let it affect you. Consider instead of letting it be a source of pain, let it be the fire that fuels you.

  • Hey, Donick!
    I relate to this sort of “shaming into hiding” situation. I’m currently living in it, actually. However, I don’t think I’m ready to take the leap and be myself. Too many consequences that frighten me.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Reading this gives me hope that after all the shame and scars, it’ll be worth it, and I can love who I am again.
    Much love,

    • It’s ok to not be ready. Like a flower blooming or a butterfly in its cocoon, with time and experience, a positive mindset focused on being the best version of yourself you can be, reflecting on pain and mistakes and asking yourself what can be learned from these experiences, I have no doubt you’ll reach the point where making this shift into a more authentic “you” is on the horizon.

  • Thanks for writing that article!
    Also for your continued courage. Living here in SF has been mentally challenging with how I view myself as a POC. Nipping at everything that was wrong with me instead of the things that I should be embracing. You definitely bring inspiration to be confident with who you are and I’m starting to embrace that more. I actually looked at your page for encouragement the first time I was asked to gogo (and for outfit ideas) but you definitely have been a beacon. All the best!

  • You are amazing and you helped me in ways you dont even know

    • That’s how this works. For the most part it’s a thankless job. But you’re not doing it for the thanks, you do it hoping you’re reaching people you don’t even realize and make a difference you aren’t even aware of. And sometimes if you’re lucky, someone stops you and says thanks and let’s you know you made a difference to them. I love you Zach and I’m happy I could make any kind of difference to you.

  • More people need to support others and lift them up instead of trying to knock others down. Thanks for being a positive light, and let’s walk with that torch together.

    • Thanks Scott, thanks for being a trailblazer yourself and setting an example. I think you’re doing good work as well. The world could use more torch bearers and I’ve got your back

  • I’ve always been a silent supporter- I applaud your candor, and what appears to me; your smooth responses. Big Hugs- keep being you and living out loud.

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