If you’ve read my book, Fear of Our Father—a true story of abuse, murder and family ties, then you know that I am openly gay. You will have read that I chose to be in a romantic relationship with another woman because of the sexual abuse inflicted upon me by my father, and that I’m perfectly comfortable with that choice.
Unlike people who have always known that they’re gay, I didn’t feel attracted to my own gender as I was growing up. In fact, I was engaged to a boy in high school (he, I have heard, is openly gay now, too, so I must have been subconsciously attracted to a sexually non-threatening male). Until I met Susan, after my father was murdered when I was 22, it never occurred to me to be in a relationship with a woman—all I knew was that I could never be in a relationship with a man. I was perfectly content to be single.
When Susan and I met in 1988, and became best friends, we were both surprised to eventually find that we were falling in love with one another. She had been divorced, and wasn’t looking for a relationship with a woman, either. We got together because it just felt natural. I was content to find someone to have fun with, be myself with, to live with and love, and who wouldn’t traumatize me sexually. It was only society’s prejudices that made it feel wrong. Otherwise, my relationship with Susan felt happy, safe and perfectly right.
Many people who are fighting for gay rights use the argument that we are born gay and, therefore, have no choice in the matter. They say we should have equal rights because we can’t help being this way. I agree that this could be true in many, if not most, cases.
However, I believe there is room in the gay community, and the global community at large, for those of us who cannot stomach a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender as the person who tortured us. Who would deny that we, too, deserve to have loving relationships? Otherwise we would be doomed to live our lives alone, because of damage inflicted upon us against our will. Where is the fairness in that?
I would like to think that I live in a world where my fellow humans wouldn’t begrudge me, after the two decades of sexual torture I experienced, a happy and loving relationship with the person of my choosing, no matter his or her gender. I chose “her” because of the injuries inflicted by “him”. I’m not ashamed to admit it, and I’ve suffered too much, for too long, to allow anyone else to tell me how to live my life or who I can marry.
Yes. I did choose to be a lesbian. And I’m okay with that.
Stacey M. Kananen
Advocate, Author, Abuse survivor
Co-author of the best-selling book Fear of Our Father—a true story of abuse, murder and family ties,
Stacey Kananen’s father violently and sexually abused his entire family. He vanished in 1988 and 15 years later his wife went missing. Stacey’s brother had killed both parents. Stacey cooperated as a witness until he told police that she helped him with the crimes. She was arrested and her trial, which aired on CNN’s In Session, ended with a not guilty verdict after her attorney proved that she had been railroaded.
Now that her personal life is no longer private, Stacey is using her story to make waves. She and co-author Lisa Bonnice have written her life story, Fear of Our Father, published by Berkley Books in June 2013. The book immediately shot to the top of Amazon’s various best-seller lists, where it remains.
Fear of Our Father – Berkley Books, 2013
Emmy-nominated BBC Documentary: America’s Child Death Shame
Investigation Discovery series Catch My Killer — episode title “The Dearly Departed”
Tampa Bay Times article: Hudson woman finds new life after years of abuse, allegations of murder
Radio interview: On The Grid with Debbie Barth