I believe you because —

I have been that guy.
I have blamed you for the actions of another.
I have not believed you in the past and was proven wrong.
I have seen the pain caused when others didn’t believe you.
I have hidden behind a wall of my chosen ignorance.

I believe you because —

I have been that guy.
I have spoken the jokes about you, your body, and your sexuality.
I have laughed when others have made the jokes.
I have stayed silent when others have made the jokes.
I have wanted you to not be so sensitive.

I believe you because —

I have been that guy.
I have taken your kindness as permission.
I have assumed my attraction to you meant reciprocation.
I have leveraged power.
I have leered.

I believe you because —

I have been that guy.
I have assumed you wanted me.
I have made unwanted advances.
I have treated your intimacy as transactional.
I have pushed you further than you wanted to go.

I believe you because —

I have been that guy.
I have lived off the laurels of my own slivers of liberation.
I have made your struggle about my affirmation.
I have refused to cede my power, position and prestige.
I have expected you to help make me a better man.

I believe you because —

Hey, at least I’m not as bad as those other guys.

I believe you because IF I DO NOT —

I heap pain upon your pain.
I embolden others to continue to harass, abuse, and torment you.
I reinforce a culture that devalues, belittles, and destroys you in body, mind, and soul.
I will never fully experience the creativity, intellect, and power of your humanity.
I dishonor you, my grandmothers, my mother, my aunties, my spouse, my daughters, my friends, my community, the stranger, and myself.

So, yes, I believe you.

. . .

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