On November fifth I will be thirty one years old and to celebrate my approaching birthday, I will give a snapshot of the whos, whys, and whats that developed me into the Ashton that you know today. In a previous post I gave insight into how I came out and hints as to how the event affected my life. In this post I will go into details that I have never shared and some that most already know about.
After coming out a few months went by and in that few months I went from a stable home to living on the streets of New Orleans (at this point it was the year 2000 and 16 years old). My very first night out, I was solicited for sex by this guy and when I refused he tried to rape me on a dark corner in the French Quarters where the tourists normally don't go. It was on this night I was saved by a Transwoman not many years older than me and made my first friend in this new life that I had been thrust into. Many of the friends that I had made and the life that I knew before this point were still around, they just didn't see me a whole lot and did not really ever know the situation.
During this time I would go to school less and less as I searched for a job during the day and would spend the night by a childhood friend when his mother wasn't at home. I had made several attempts to stay at the local Covenant House to find that I needed parental or guardian permission to stay. To make a long story short for most of my 16th year of life, I went from pillar to post with older men attempting to take advantage of my body and my young mind, for which they were not aware that I was smart and had common sense. I flunked out of school in the midst of trying to survive and managed get a family member to register me the next year at a school districted to my former home address. Through all of the attempts to take advantage of me including those attempted rapes, by my count four attempts on my life by different men ALL wanting sex and subsequently my refusal generating two of the four attempts to be at knife point, one at gun point and the other where the guy tried to strangle me.
It wasn't all bad, I began to lay the groundwork by continuing to be active in my community and the high school that I managed to get into and built my GPA back up. Along the way, a turning point came in the form of three men who would change my life forever. Willie and David who I met first and later Galen took me in without question, without taking advantage of me and gave me shelter, food, and clothing. These three strong Black gay men only wanted three things from me: 1. For me to finish High school, and made sure I had uniforms and a way to school. 2. For me to see that people do care and that I had a family whether it was chosen or not. 3. For me to be comfortable with who I was and am, to be free. I was their equal, though under age and we grew and learned from each other, I carry their love with me in my heart to this very day. By the time I was seventeen I had transitioned into my own home with and even had a partner for a while. Old enough to work, I held down work and juggled school in the process. At this point I transitioned to High school number three for the opportunity to have a better education and work my way back into my original high school, where my story began, by this point it was 2002.
In the next post I will talk about my transition from young adult to legal adulthood....