Hank Estrada tells a story of an uncle who sexually abused him from age 5 to 16. His struggle with multiple therapists before he found one that was truly qualified to help him. His journey to be able to completely and effectively separate his sexual abuse from his sexual attraction for men. This man has freed himself from the shackles of shame and guilt that are shrouded around surviving childhood sexual abuse. If you have endured childhood sexual abuse, this episode is a very powerful testament to what is possible, if you are willing to do the work.
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Coach Maddox 0:03
Hello, Hank Estrada and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. It's a pleasure to have you here.
Hank Estrada 0:10
Thank you, Maddox. I'm excited to be here. And it's it's just an honor, compared to what I've been listening to all of your previous or many of your previous podcasts. Were very informative, very moving and inspiring. And I hope to be added to that after this conversation.
Coach Maddox 0:29
I have no doubt, Hank, just in the few moments that we've been speaking, I have no doubt. Well, so to let the listeners know, Hank, and I just met, we don't know each other at all. I had put some feelers out on social media saying that I was accepting guests, and he responded, and here we are, this is our first time to speak. So you guys are or I'm gonna hear it just at the same time you guys do. So I guess my first question, Hank, is, what does it mean to you? Or how would you define what it means to be an authentic gay man?
Hank Estrada 1:10
You know, Maddox, I spent the last two weeks thinking of that question, I'd never thought of it, I'd never considered it. And even listening to what your other guests have described, I just thought, how I, I can relate to a lot of it. But there's I don't know what it for me, specifically was, and it didn't happen until two nights ago that I came up with this. So what a being an authentic gay man, for me means that there is self acceptance of and a comfort in the fact that my gayness my gay orientation is part of the natural order of life that we hear so much about, well, that's, you know, that's nature. That's if you're straight. That's, you know, that's the natural order. But being gay or being GBT Q orientation, is also a part of the natural order of life. And that was set before my was even born. So it's all it always has. And it always will be. And you think, historically, we don't even know we know, there's occasions, and histories of some gay men and women. But you think about for centuries, there's just it's out there, it's been, we've been here on this planet in this in this light. So for me, being authentic is just getting comfortable. First of all, accepting that, that that's, that's my nature, that's me, I was born this way. There's nothing to nothing to be healed, nothing to be treated and nothing to be changed. So you get comfortable with that. And you understand it isn't that for me, the more I thought about it that, wow, as soon as I started thinking that way, learn to think that way and accepted a lot of the pressure and the stress of of being cautious, cautious about who to tell what to say what to do, how to act went away. You know, it's just beautiful. Thanks. It's just that that's for me is what it is. It's I'm a part of the natural order, my orientation, our orientation. It is,
Coach Maddox 3:21
Well and what you're describing, if I were going to put like a language to the head, I would say that's owning it.
Hank Estrada 3:31
Coach Maddox 3:33
That's owning who and what you are. And when we step into that place of ownership, everything energetically changes in that moment.
Hank Estrada 3:43
A lot of it. Maddox also involves perspective. And considering the fact that it's it's involves getting to this point is a life journey of discoveries, lessons and challenges and facing them. It's what straight people go through. It's what gay people go through. It's what we all go through in life. So that's part of it. That's part of getting to the finding comfort in the fact that this is how I am this is how I came into the world. This is how I'm going out of the world. So it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's nothing to be guilty for. And there is no need to explain it to anyone. And I think the older I get the more that one really sets in is I don't need to explain my behavior, my orientation, my attractions to anybody. That makes
Coach Maddox 4:32
sense. It makes perfect sense. Yeah, it's just a no thing is how I would say that it is a quote unquote, no thing.
Hank Estrada 4:41
Exactly. I mean, we all have, we all make mistakes. We all have challenges that we fail. We all have things that we can succeed it but it's the ones that we mess up or we make a mistake that we have to be accountable for. That's where the accountability you know, you can't just be you're just out there and and call As in harm or upsetting or hurting anybody, because you think it's, you know, you have all the answers. We don't, nobody does. But it's something to be to consider as far as our own lifestyle and our life and our orientation. So I don't know if that makes that part makes sense. But that's,
Coach Maddox 5:17
well, it makes it makes perfect sense. And that is an absolutely beautiful answer. And I've gotten nothing but beautiful answers. There's not been a single answer that I haven't thought, wow. Yeah. And there's not been two that were alike.
Hank Estrada 5:30
Yeah. Yeah. I listened to quite a few of them. And like I was saying, Well, yes, I agree. I agree. Agree. But I have to find my own. So yes, thank you, Maddox, for encouraging me for this interview to come up with what does that mean to me? How did I get to where I'm at now where I can sit here and and talk have this conversation so freely with you
and publicly? Yeah, was that was it?
Coach Maddox 5:55
Well, thank you. Thank you, Hank. I love it. Well, let's get down to our bigger topic now. Well, the reason we're here, what was the biggest challenge in your life that you have gone through or are continuing to go through
Hank Estrada 6:15
the biggest, the biggest challenge as a gay man is the the coming to terms with being a sexual assault survivor as a child, survivor of sexual abuse, and understanding and separating the male sexual victimization part of my life that involves grooming, molestation, and sexual assault from what I learned and experienced now as a natural, healthy, gay orientated male, that is involved with nourishing friendships, dependable, consistent, respectful, loving relationships. Big difference. Big difference. Yes, that was my biggest challenge through most of my life, my young adult life. And I'm happy to say that I, I can now share how I got to that point. And what brought me to that point, this point of knowing the difference, because it still continues, unfortunately, sexual victimization of boys and men, as well as women. continues, and it's it's a crisis, it continues. And it's it's important for us who survived that and who have overcome and healed and found direction in the journey of healing recovery, to speak out for those who can't. Absolutely, that's part of why I do this.
Coach Maddox 7:52
Hank, I want to I really want to dive in and unpack this because I, I'm getting the feeling in the in the gist of what you're saying. But I'm thinking I would get value. And I know the listeners would really diving in deeper and unpacking this. So I want to make sure I'm understanding what you're talking about. Really looking at because both experiences involved male on male sex? Yes. But you're looking at how they are two separate things, and don't have anything to do with each other. Am I correct? Correct. So let's let's dive in on that. Let's let's break them down one at a time. Let's look first at the sexual assault. And, and, and no one can explain that better than a person who's actually been through it. I have not personally been through that. That's right. That's right. So I would love to. And when I say explain, I'm not necessarily talking about, you know, a blow by blow description of what happened. It's more about the effect the impact that had on you. That's right. And, and then and then we'll look at, you know, how you realized and separated the two realizing that this, this over here was an experience that was thrust upon you. That was not something you asked for. Not something you could control. And it has no bearing on a loving and consensual relationship with another man. That also includes sexual activity. Right. So I'm going to turn it over and let you break this down any way you'd like and I'll intervene with questions occasionally.
Hank Estrada 9:49
Excellent. You said that perfectly though. The difference between the two? And let me start by saying I knew as a very young boy, my attraction to men or Not men to other males. Let's put it that way. As a young boy, I can remember I don't know if anyone was some some of your listeners will remember, Sheriff John was a data a morning talk show for kids. And he had cartoons. And he did little skits. And he had songs and he kind of like Sesame Street, Sesame Street very early on in the, in the 50s, and 60s. And I recall, being fascinated with him, and I didn't know what it was. And then there was another TV show that had a female character. And she was it was a witch, I think it was called Baby Daphne the show. And I didn't have as much interest in it. It was fascinating. I liked the cartoons I liked. It was a similar setup, right. But I would always return back to the Sheriff John show. And I looking back on it that now I think back at five, six years old, I had an inch of particular interest. I remember my first viewing of Batman and Robin the TV show, I was always fascinated with Robin, I didn't know why I liked him more than I did Batman. So that that orientation was there. It was there. I just didn't know what it was. And then at school in elementary school, I remember having a crush on a young boy, that was my age and my class. And I didn't know why just know I liked them a lot. I wanted to be around him quite a bit. And we became good friends. And then I had a neighbor boy next to me at home, that was also a good friend. And we would we would play and it was just one of the the treats of being a kid, you know, having a friend like that. But so I was I was always aware. Now looking back that there was always this particular interest in other males. So now, in my home, I grew up in a home of violent alcoholic father. And I'm the oldest of five. And so I witnessed a lot of domestic violence between my father and my mother, which he would he would assault her and he would drink. And as far as the my siblings, I was left to be in charge of, of keeping them away from mom and dad's arguments, or episodes, I would try to always comfort them and keep them calm and maybe remove them out of the house when it got really bad. But the the other side of that is at the same time that was happening. And my father was not very close to us physically and emotionally. He just, he worked hard. And he came home and he expected to have as many drinks as he wanted, because he thinks he thought he deserved it no matter what the results were and what the alcohol did to him, which ultimately led him to violent episodes. And the same time that was going on. He had his brother, my uncle living with us and who was classified as disabled, mentally disabled, because he had when he had an accident, he was hit by a car and they put a metal plate in his head back then, and so he couldn't go into the service and he couldn't join any steady job. So he did he became a handyman and the family's favorite babysitter, my dad had seven siblings, so all of them would use this uncle who was younger than mine who's older than my dad as a babysitter. Well, this uncle was a sexual predator. And being the oldest of five, I, I turned to him for protection, and for reassurance and for support and for comfort. And at the time as a kid I thought I loved him and he loved me. Because he, here's where the grooming comes in. With sexual assault victims. Child, the grooming comes in is this person is someone you know, someone who claims to be caring about you, someone who loves you, someone who does things to show they are affectionate. They're not violent. They're, they're not mean. And so you you're drawn to that. And then gradually with the grooming come, they asked for a little more from you. They want to be hugged. They want you to hug them, they want to hold you they want you to hold them, they want to give you a massage, they want you to massage them and it just escalates. That's what grooming is with sexual assault predators. That's what they do, how they get to 2x access children. And in my case, it was either going with him or depending on relying on my father. So it was it was the worst but it was the the two evils that I had the options that I had, was being with the abusive, physically violent father, or going with his brother who was loving and took me to the store bought candy and an ice cream and but the other side of it was got into sexual abuse situations with me. And being the family's favorite babysitter, nobody supposedly knew, I don't know how that could have happened. Because as I as I got older and more informed, I realized, and I was told by my aunt, my dad's sister, that he had a history, he was known to have predatory tendencies and occasions in the neighborhood where he was, you know, my parents had to protect them, they had to move him and send them to another uncle's house when an incident happened, but they never, they never put the two together. Or maybe they didn't, they just ignored it. Wow. That's, that's, that's the sad part about it. I totally swallow in it. It's a huge pill to swallow. And I believe that was the case that everyone knew. Everyone knew. My mother knew, of course, my father knew, all his brothers and sisters knew. And when we had family gatherings, they were all pretty much alcoholics. So once the alcohol took out, it was a free for all for anybody. So as far as just ignoring it, and letting letting them have access to other kids. So that was my, my experience as a child from from age, I used to think I was seven years old, when the abuse sexual abuse started. And it wasn't until And back in those days in the 50s. And 60s, they used to put the date on the photos when they got developed. Well, I found a photo of me at the very house where the sexual abuse took place. And it put me two years earlier than seven years old. So my sexual abuse, I don't have any memory specifics of the timeframe other than I was there in that house two years before, what I thought I was seven years old when it started. So I was five, at the age of five, the sexual abuse started and continued till I was 16. Now when I was 16, it took a turn because at 16, of course, going through hormonal changes becoming a young man being aroused. I became the person who called the shots for when we would have a sexual encounter. Does that make sense? It does. I had needs and I knew where to get them service, I knew where to how to service, I knew what I needed to do. And there was no big manipulation. So we had a sexual relationship. And it was more of a manipulative one between the two of us because I learned what he was doing, to get me to want to getting engaged, you know, when he was ready to do something, and when he wanted it. So at that age, I turned, and I became what I thought was the person in control, I call the shots now I say what's going to happen, you know, I'm saying so, but it took that long, from the age of five, to 16.
Coach Maddox 18:10
I do know that it's not uncommon for a child that's being sexually abused, to actually fall in love with an abuser to have very deep feelings for because I just, I recall one story where the child was the youngest of many, and had been kind of neglected, didn't get much love and attention. And the abuser knew this that the predator knew this. And just doted on him gave him showered him with love and affection and, and he, he loves the abuser not really realizing, you know, intrinsically somewhere knowing that something was wrong with this, but still fully engaged because it was the only way he got loving attention.
Hank Estrada 19:07
That's right. That's right. Well, my other my option was to go to my father. Now if I were to tell my father, my father would have been a violent man, he would have killed him. I would I would like to think I mean, figuratively speaking, not really, but but I don't know, I will. Because I know now as an adult. I know he knew. I know, he knew. And when I confronted my father years later, his response was just cemented that that he knew for sure, so that so I'm jumping the gun a little bit. But at 16 I attempted suicide because of the confusion, and the guilt and the sadness and the loneliness and the DIS there was no hope. Getting out of my situation
Coach Maddox 20:03
always produces an insane amount of shame as well.
Hank Estrada 20:06
Yeah. Yeah. Unfortunately, it was I was unsuccessful, because I wouldn't be talking to you, right. So at that point, I thought, I need help. I need some help, I need to do something. So I had heard of a local, free clinic for counseling in my neighborhood. And I went, and that was an experience in itself. Not all therapists or counselors who have their degree on the wall are really qualified to deal with this subject. Back then I don't know about now. It's a lot. It's a little better. I like to think a lot better. Now. Because you have so much training intensive training, right? Yes, back then this young intern they gave me to just learned a new practice of how to deal with confronting your perpetrators or a perpetrator. And I don't think she's ever had a boy or a male. So I was 717 16. And she tells me, Liz, come into my office, he sits me down on the floor, and help holds a pillow in front of me and says, you see this pillow. This is your uncle. Oh, this is your dad. And your dad isn't doing any of that she went through this whole series. Well, she didn't get very far, Maddox because I exploded, years of pent up energy, anger and resentment and all that. And I grabbed that pillow, and I ripped it to shreds. And she ran out of the office because I was just what do you call it deep breathing and hyperventilating? I was so upset by that, that she brought in her supervisor, the supervisor brought in a licensed therapist, they calmed me down. That was my first experience with therapy.
Coach Maddox 22:00
I never was definitely in over her head.
Hank Estrada 22:02
Oh my gosh, yes. And needless to say, I never go back. And it wasn't until I was in college that I went back and tried therapy again. So but so that was that was the at the time that it stopped. But at that point, I knew the difference between being sexually assaulted and manipulated by this uncle. And being attracted to men and interested in sex with men.
Coach Maddox 22:31
So let's, let's go a little further into that and unpack that now.
Hank Estrada 22:35
Coach Maddox 22:37
How was it that you grasp the concept of because I think I have been in multiple relationships with men that were sexually abused as children. In fact, there was a time when I thought, What do I have an imaginary sign of my hair head that says, if you've been sexually abused, please come sit by me. Yeah, because I attracted them like a moth to a flame. And well, where was I going with that? I kind of lost my train. What
Hank Estrada 23:07
was the difference? You see, you were saying? What was the difference? How did I know?
Coach Maddox 23:12
I think there's a lot of men that may even live their life out and never, ever really grasp the concept that you're speaking of right now. And that is really being able to separate and have them be completely different things that don't have anything to do with each other. Because in my experience, and all the men that I've been involved with, that had been sexually abused, they brought that shit right into the bedroom with our sex life.
Hank Estrada 23:39
Yeah, yeah. And may or may not have known it may or may not have been aware of it or conscious of it. That's the thing. Now, here's one of the things that I when I do used to do lectures on this and share my story. And I would get approached by straight men are bisexual men, but particularly straight men who were afraid of being gay because they hadn't been involved sexually with other men, right? It's men who have sex with men. And I would clarify and say, anyone, if someone put a bag over your head, and started manipulating your genitals and and your privates and your body and you got aroused, you wouldn't have any idea who was doing that? Right? You wouldn't your body would respond physically naturally to those stimulations. I'm not I'm not talking torture, and I'm just talking sensually. So right there at to tell you that it doesn't matter the sex of the person that you're having sex with. If your body is naturally responding doesn't make you gay. It does. And that's why we hear so many stories about straight men who drink and they use the alcohol to use that as an excuse. Well, that's why I you know, I didn't know what I was doing or I let I let my guard down. And I just got off and all that And because they're they're terrified of being labeled gay or identified as gay, but it doesn't make you gay. It's just the physical experience of it. So the difference that I discovered was that there were times that I enjoyed the sexuality, the physical intimacy of it, and the climax scene and all that. But it was with somebody else who was also on the same level of maturity. So it wasn't somebody younger, it was, you know, sometimes it was an older person, but then I think that was my father figure need, you know, but just not having the father figure. So somebody that was mature, and more stable, seemingly was an attraction. So now, all these years I'm attracted to mature men. I mean, I've I always have been so take, take for it. However you want one wants to think of that? Well, that's because you were attracted to your uncle or your were involved with your uncle, and you didn't have a dad? And I don't know, I don't have all the answers. I just have a few. You know what I mean, just from my perceptions, and
Coach Maddox 26:11
and I think there's a point where we don't really have to know, you know, I can remember speaking to the Minister of a church that I was involved in a few years ago, and I made some calls some question, I found myself very attracted to African American men. And I didn't understand why. And I said to her, I don't know why I'm so geared that way. And she said, Well, she just said, doesn't matter.
You know, it is what it is. Yeah. Good. She said, I have a daughter, who has a proclivity to be with men of color. And it is just is what it is. You can waste all kinds of time trying to figure out why exactly where you can utilize that time to accept that it is and just move forward. That's what
Hank Estrada 27:13
I said in the beginning, my the authentic gay man ish topic is that you don't have to explain it. It's just how it is. It's just the the inner workings of your mind your makeup, your orientation. That's it move on next. You know, that's, that's, that's really and it pertains to this as well. Because you start defining Are you gay? Are you buyers, all this these different classifications? It doesn't matter. What matters is how you live your life, how it's respected, who's loving you, who you loving, and what you're contributing? What do you what are you contributing to the community? And yes, to that manatee. Yeah, those are the big those are the big questions. So it's like, now I think it has to do with my age. Now. It's just been up there. I just don't have time to waste with these other non essential important questions about my sexuality, or my lifestyle, or my partner or whatever. It's just, you know, you either accept me or you don't? Yes,
Coach Maddox 28:16
I agree fully.
Hank Estrada 28:18
That I don't Did I answer your question? Did I make the distinction there?
Coach Maddox 28:22
No, no, no, you did something else is coming up for me. You know, based on my own experience, and there have been several men were sexually abused, former men that I was in a serious relationship with. And inevitably, that would rare its ugly head, there would be a point in the relationship where that sexual abuse would rare its ugly head, and it would show up in the bedroom.
Hank Estrada 28:57
It was in the form of triggers. You familiar with the term triggers for Yes, yes, yes. And sets them off and returns to that.
Coach Maddox 29:10
it would always come to the point where there was less and less activity in the bedroom. And you could tell that it was it was connected to that childhood sexual assault. And so I'm, I'm curious because you have been with your partner for how many years?
Hank Estrada 29:37
It'll be 40 years next year, next four years.
Coach Maddox 29:42
How did that play out for you in that arena? Was there ever a time in your relationship where the sexual abuse came into the bedroom and played havoc with your your sex life with your partner Hello
Hank Estrada 30:00
really, absolutely. And that's part of the, the knowing the journey that we all go through the discoveries, the lessons and the challenges, and then the case of a survivor of sexual assault male survivor. That's a big part of it, because you can often relive experiences on your assaults. And for me, there's a couple of situations that happen. One, as a child of from my childhood was, I went into a department store, furniture store, and I recall walking into this display, and it was a child's bedroom was bunk beds, two bunk beds, which we had in the nightstand and a little desk and a window, a fake window. And Maddox, I all of a sudden fell, I hadn't this had never happened to me. I was, I would say, Well, maybe in my early 20s, well, no, I would say barely 18 1819. I felt sick to my stomach. I got a knot in my stomach, and I said, what's going on? And I started to feel a little bit of hyperventilating. And I left I had to leave that just came on, or just something just came over me. Well, what it was was that bedroom scene that display had red green and orange checkered bedspread. It was it was a cowboy set as theme, but it was red, green, and checkered. Curtains, a matching bedspread pillows, the whole setup. I had that in my room as a kid. I had red, orange and green, checkered bedspread curtains. And I was feeling like I was back in the room being assaulted. It was just out of the blue. It was I mean, I was already in my late teens, that it stopped at 16. I was 1920 years old. And the really disturbing thing was I could smell my uncle. I could smell his body, just standing in that display room that was turning my stomach, his body odor, his perspiration. I could smell his beer breath. It was wild. But it was it was powerful. And years later, I worked that through that with therapy course. I mean, it's not something you could just ignore. But it was it was really disturbing. But as far as my partner now, one of the things that was most challenging for me, is my partner is not cut. Uncut. He is I'm cut. My uncle was uncut. And that was really, I just have always had that struggle with being intimate in that area. And that with him because of that. I can only imagine. Wow, yeah, yeah. So every every other way, we're fine. Except that way, it's always been. It's always been a challenge, or for and for that matter for any of my relationship before my partner. If it was an unkind person, I would just be turned off, I couldn't. So I think that has a lot to do with it.
Coach Maddox 33:27
And and Hank, is it still that way? After 40 years? Is that still kind of a trigger?
Hank Estrada 33:33
No, it's not a trigger. I don't have triggers. Of course, after 40 years, I have grown to love and cherish my partner, you know, and that one part of him is not connected to my uncle. You know what I'm saying? It's not. And we have new challenges now than he is physically challenged with Parkinson's that came up in 2018. So we're not as intimate as we used to be. Because that's that's the new challenge in my life and our life. So it's yeah, it's it's a different challenge, in that sense. So it has nothing to do with his physical anatomy. Well,
Coach Maddox 34:14
I mean, stepping back into the triggers and the the varying things that came up from that childhood abuse, what was it?
Hank Estrada 34:25
And maybe when was
Coach Maddox 34:26
it that you were able to feel like you were free from that?
Hank Estrada 34:32
Good question. What happened was what stopped it for me is pretty much I tolerated High School and kept away from my uncle, even though he lived with us still. Until I went to college. I went away. I graduated high school and I went away to college that pretty much took took care of that. However, my first or second year of college, I was informed that a nephew of mine It was his his personality had changed. And I think he was 10 or 11. And in describing his behavior, I immediately had red flags 123 pop up, because number one, this uncle was his babysitter. Number two, he was an A student and stopped being a student. Suddenly, his personality changed. He wasn't interested in school, he wasn't interested in sports. And number three, he withdrew. Long story short, it turns out, I, I thought my uncle had abused him. I had no doubt about it without really knowing. So I, I confronted my nephew. That was one of the hardest things my ex I'd ever had to do. How do you confront or ask a child if they've been molested? You know, especially a loved one, like, like my nephew. But long story short, I sat him down, we talked, he told me Yes, uncle did do something to him. So I shared that with my sister, I shared that with my parents. And I said that that is when I came out to my parents and told them that he had abused me. So that's how I knew I was pushing them to get him away from other children and keep him out of the family. Well, here's the sad part. And the heartbreaking part is my father's response, after all this what his own grandson was being assaulted, and now he knew I was assaulted. He looked at me and he said, Well, what do you want me to do? He's my brother.
I had no, I didn't know what to say, I had no no response. But I, you know, how would you respond to that? What does that make you respond to that? What does that make me? And it just, it just clarified to me that even even your own parents and turn away and let this continue, you know, for whatever their reasons. And it's, it's very tragic. It's very tragic. But that was my that was my is his response to me. And my sister decided that she didn't want to call the police. She didn't want to make waves. So it just, it's just that whole denial. It's just that that denial. It's really, really awful. Wow, that is unbelievable to me. But on the on the positive, here I am spending almost 40 years of my life, being a very public advocate, you know, a speaker, public speaker, and nationally known and author. And I taught I have several books, my main one is my story. And I expose my uncle, my father, and everyone involved at the time, I have no secrets. I tell people my life is an open book literally. And and that was my way to resolve the the lack of action, the lack of compassion, the lack of respect for me for disclosing was to just say, here it is, this is my truth. And that's that's the other side of being an authentic gay man who said, I'm a gay man being molested did not make me gay. I knew it before. And you have to hear what I'm saying. That's, that's why we're, how I'm explaining it.
Coach Maddox 38:35
You know, I do believe that. And you just said this part of being an authentic gay man is speaking our truth. Yeah, with with no concern about how that's gonna land for another human being, it's your truth. And the way it lands for them is on them. Absolutely. The way it lands. for them. It's their responsibility for how it lands.
Hank Estrada 38:59
Absolutely. That's a big part of it. You let it go. You don't have to follow up with them and make sure they're okay. That's bullshit.
Coach Maddox 39:07
I'm curious after you exposed the family members that had just brushed it all under the rug, how did they respond?
Hank Estrada 39:17
You mean afterwards while I was in college, so we didn't have much we didn't have anything else to say, right? No, I
Coach Maddox 39:23
mean, I mean, after the book after you wrote the book, that
Hank Estrada 39:27
family member well, like any like anybody else, even if you just you don't have to write a book to be disowned by your family, right? You don't you just tell you just have to tell your truth. And that's okay. It happens. In my case, it split the family and half. Half of them believed it, half of them knew it, half of them suspected it the other half denied it. The other half, didn't want to hear about it didn't want to have any contact with me and protected my uncle. So that's the reality of when you do something like this and you come forward and you're being an authentic person, human beings. With your story, it's gonna it's gonna, it's going to hit the fan and some of it is going to be extremely helpful and healing for you, you just have to be courageous enough to do.
Coach Maddox 40:13
You know, everybody in my life has heard me say that authenticity and particularly vulnerability is a polarizer. Yes, it very much polarizes people, and they either are all in for you, or they are all out and not for you, they either want to sit right next to you, or they scream and run in the opposite direction.
Hank Estrada 40:37
That's right. Now, that brings up a good point that I wanted to make, as I was thinking about what is an authentic gay man. And that a large part of that for anybody in the LGBTQ community is that, and most people know this, at some point, you're going to have to make that decision of whether you're gonna stay with your anti gay, dysfunctional biological family, right, and tolerate their anti gay, and all that discrimination and hatred that they spew or religiosity that is just the opposite. So we all need at some point to find our extended family and our community, those who support us, those who respect us, those who have compassion, those that we can depend on, and a lot of times, it's not your biological family.
Coach Maddox 41:25
It's our family of choice. That's right. That's right. You know, I made it very clear at a pretty early age that I would not tolerate any bullshit from my family, where I know that they can either toe the line, or I'd walk out and they'd never see or hear from me ever again.
Hank Estrada 41:44
And where did that come from? If I may ask, you know, I
Coach Maddox 41:46
don't know where that came from. I think that the only thing I've thought about this so much in my life, I was 27, when I had this conversation with my parents. And I just said, you know, you can either accept all of me, or you get none of me that you get to choose, you can completely let me in and get comfortable with all this. And we'll have a family and we'll have a relationship. And if you can't do that, I'm going to walk out that door over there. And you're never going to see or hear from me ever again.
Hank Estrada 42:21
But you get to choose. Yeah, yeah.
Coach Maddox 42:26
And in that moment, my mom and dad looked at each other, and they looked back at me. And they said, we'll get over it. And they did. And honestly, the only thing that I could say is I was bullied unmercifully as a child, from probably five or six years old until I was in college. Wow, just bullied unmercifully. And I think that there was a point where I just couldn't take any more. No, I just couldn't take any more of being on the outside. I couldn't take any more of being, you know, that the person that everybody looked down on, and I felt like my parents were looking down on me. You know, when I told them when I was gay when I was about 24. And they were like, We love you, we accept you. We don't accept that. And they wanted to compartmentalize it. All right. And so three years rolled past and they never wanted to know anything about my personal life. They'd asked me how's business? And that was about it. Yeah. And I'd always been able to talk to him about anything and everything, all of a sudden businesses all they want to know about. And I rolled with it for three years. And there was just this moment when I was just done. And I thought, You know what, you've lost them already. You don't have anything to lose. You've already lost the parents that you knew and loved. Yeah. And I thought, I'm gonna go for broke. Yeah. And I just sat him down and said, I've already lost you. I haven't had you for three years. You haven't been the parents? I know and love for three years now. So I don't have a thing to lose. And I said, you can either get over this, or I'm gonna boogie. Yeah. And, but that's, that's the only thing that I can attribute it to that it was just that straw that broke the camel's back. I had been bullied for so long. Yeah. Yeah. That I took a stand and spoke my truth. And I never have regretted that.
Hank Estrada 44:27
Yeah. Can you imagine if you'd heard this conversation we're having back when you were in your, your earlier years, that you didn't have to wait that long? Even as a young teen, if you would have heard, you don't have to take this. You make your choices. You have options. You know what I mean? I think that's what's so important with these kinds of conversations. There's some young gay or lesbian person listening can be listening, and they say, Oh, really? Okay, I have to make that choice and I and then then it's up to the person on opposite me, what are they gonna? Do? You with me? Or you're against me? Yeah, yes, no, that applies today even more so. So that's why I'm so honored to be able to have this platform with you. I appreciate your sharing as well as well.
Coach Maddox 45:16
Yes, our stories are very, very different. And then there are some similarities.
Hank Estrada 45:24
Coach Maddox 45:25
how did you know when you are on the other side of it, when you could completely separate the two different experiences and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were not anything remotely the same? When were you to the point where that childhood experience no longer had any power over you, or your ability to relate in a relationship to your husband,
Hank Estrada 45:56
there were two instances. One was after going through that initial first counseling session with the woman that had me do the pillow and activity, I went through several others. And I finally found one male therapist. That was it turned out he was gay, but he never disclosed that I had no clue. But he was so understanding, and open to hearing details, didn't ask for them, but was, was presented the sets the setting, that I felt comfortable enough, just speaking my entire truth, right down to the most humiliating the most embarrassing, most detailed sexual detail. And it all came out. And then the we started, he started helping me to string distinguish the differences between the two sexual assault and sexual intimacy. So that was that several years going on doing that,
Coach Maddox 46:56
you know, what a gift he gave to you, Hank, by creating that safe container. Not everybody can do that. No. But he created you had been through multiple therapists, and he was the first one that actually created that self self, that safe container where you could do the work that you so desperately needed to do.
Hank Estrada 47:16
That's right. That's right. And the thing that he provided me most was knowing that I could, I could walk out the door anytime I felt uncomfortable, I can leave anytime he felt I wasn't listening. You know, I mean, anytime he set that up, and it was so such a refreshing experience. But I was able to years later, go back to him, find him, and thank him for what he did for me and share my whole event my, my whole experience of healing and recovery, that he was the ground force that I needed to establish a foundation of security and confidence. And he you know, I mean, I was able to see him and thank him. So that was, what a
Coach Maddox 48:01
beautiful thing to be able to locate him and share that with him. You know, so often when we're in a helping field, we don't always get an opportunity to see the value of of our work. That's right. And it's, I know, for me, when I do have an opportunity to have that value reflected back to me, what a beautiful gift that is. That is as we get into the fields, because we want to make a difference because we want to support and help humanity. And there's so so much of the time when you're not really sure you are you know, you keep putting yourself out there. But you're not always sure that you're actually making a dent in you know,
Hank Estrada 48:49
that's right, the cause one of my experiences, as you never know who's listening, and who you are speaking to directly right now, and what positive impact you're having. Because there I've gone years I've been almost 40 years in this field of recovery and healing. And I once in a while I'll get an email or I'll get a letter I saw you or heard this whole video or read your book. And you I can't believe what you would you know how open you are about it. And it caused me to be more stronger to do something similar or to make make a positive step forward. So I don't you don't get a lot of them. But when you do they really make a difference. So
Coach Maddox 49:31
they do make a difference. I think that the man that I am in involved with now I think that he quite possibly fell in love with me via my podcast
Hank Estrada 49:46
because he heard you.
That brings up another point I didn't finish with the second point that the two points the first point was finding the therapist after all the different ones. That was excellent and was right on the second part of my recovery and healing is my part My life partner, I met him at work, we shared an office together, we were the only two men in the whole office of women. And he was a counselor for people with cancer. So I would listen and hear him talk and counsel these people who were on their deathbeds. And he was so composed and so empathetic I, I was so impressed. We became friends. And we became our first associates. And then we became friends. Then I didn't tell him I was gay. He says, He knows he knew I was gay. The first day I moved in to the office because I brought clients. I said, Oh, is that a dead giveaway? was a dead giveaway?
Coach Maddox 50:39
Is that the criteria? That's the criteria, every must be good.
Hank Estrada 50:43
That's exactly funny. And so that's, he always says that. That's how I knew you were I said, I didn't know you were but anyway. So we were associates, then we were friends. And I was at the time involved in a gay camping, a gay man's camping group, where we would go out camping in our own tents, and, you know, have socials and that sort of thing. And I would never tell him, it was a gay group. I said, I went out with my camping group. And because I didn't know where he was coming from at that point, I knew he was a very sensitive man, but and then one day, he says, have, you know, I want to take you out, you want to go hiking, because he knew I liked hiking in the camping. And we went out and we spent the day. And that was September 11 1983. We went to the old Malibu Creek movie sets where they filmed Planet of the Apes. And now they all they did mash there. He's because he knew I was I like movies. And I like sets and in him, you know, props and things like that. And I said, I've never heard of it. And they did the weather. They did the movie with The Towering Inferno. It was all there. He said, Oh, he says, I it's open. It's a public park, you can go and visit. So he took me we went that Sunday, September 11 1983. Remember that date. And so he picked me up, we went, we had lunch. We went swimming in the pond, we're right there where the mash set was it was all taken down. But you could still see parts of it. It was a really cool day. And in the middle of the swimming. We were the only ones there. There was a and he says I forgot it. Oh, no, I know. I said, I just gotta tell you, I'm gay. You know, and I, the group that I go with is a gay group. It's a gay group. And we have and he looked at me and he said, Oh, that's no big deal. I have gay friends. He didn't disclose his own, or, you know, attraction or interest or whatever. And I thought, oh, man, that's cool. What a what a cool guy.
Coach Maddox 52:35
He wanted to be a little mysterious.
Hank Estrada 52:37
He was very mysterious. And it wasn't until the end of the day, we went to dinner. And then we went to the Malibu Beach. On the beach. I'm telling you, it was like a moody. He had he brought out a bottle of wine. We were drinking wine back and forth. It was a full moon. And he reached leaned over and kissed me on the lips. While we were there on the blanket. I mean, it was like, Oh, are you kidding me? And it just, we've been together ever since. Wow. Including staying at work and making mess making having a little adventures around the workplace that nobody knew was going on between us. No. But anyway, so what I'm getting at is that I tell people guys who were just desperate for a relationship or a one on one. I wasn't looking. I wasn't looking, I wasn't expecting anything. I would just be myself. And we became friends. We became associates and friends and confidants. And if this happened, it just happened. So don't give up. Don't be out there listening. And you're not alone. And you wish you had a relationship that's 40 years. You just you, you just go on and live and be yourself and be true to whoever you're with. And see, you know, it could happen. It's a possibility.
Coach Maddox 54:00
It is absolutely a possibility. You know, I had been single for 14 years when I met this guy. Wow. And it was more of an instantaneous thing. We now talk and realize that we had feelings for each other the first time we met nice. We had a hard time parting from each other. We had dinner. Nice, and it's all we did was just have dinner and we had a really hard time parting from each other.
Hank Estrada 54:31
See, you never know you had no idea. You never know and you weren't expecting it. You weren't looking for it. That's what I'm saying. You just just have hope. You know just help help. I'm just telling
Coach Maddox 54:42
hope and trust, trust. Trust. Yeah, the universe has your back.
Hank Estrada 54:47
Exactly. It does happen it can happen don't give up but don't look for it. Do not look for it.
Coach Maddox 54:53
I said something the other day in a in a pod in a Facebook lie where I made a real difference too. I wasn't looking, I wasn't searching for the guy. I was spending my time preparing for when the guy showed up. Ah, preparing myself. Yeah. And he showed up. That was what I was focused on preparing myself. So if and when he showed up, I would be ready.
Hank Estrada 55:20
Yeah, yeah. That's good. That's good. Because it makes sense. Not only are you preparing yourself, you are getting confidence. You are getting grounded. You're getting at peace. You know, I'm saying all these things. You can't go to somebody else if you don't have those already with you. And I had that with me after, you know, after all my therapies, and in college education and psychology courses and that sort of thing. I was at work. I was just doing my job. You were prepared. Yeah. Without knowing it. Yep.
Coach Maddox 55:54
That's a beautiful thing. Well, I have absolutely loved your story. I love the way you have unpacked it. And I have no doubt that there is going to be some people that will get great value from hearing this conversation, Hank. Oh, I'm hopeful. I have no doubt. Not a day goes by that somebody doesn't reach out to me and tell me how this week's episode really, you know, made it made a shift for them.
Hank Estrada 56:24
Providing food for thought. Absolutely. If anything, food for thought start somewhere?
Coach Maddox 56:29
Well, yeah, so So let's let's wrap up your story with what what words of wisdom? Would you like to share with the listeners?
Hank Estrada 56:42
I would like to say that
when the opportunity comes up, for you, your listeners to pass on something, they've learned something positive, that they've heard, something inspiring, like this conversation, something, an aha moment, as Oprah would have said, that you pass it on, and you share it, because you never know who's going to be listening and needs to hear that very comment that you're going to make.
That's, that's what,
Coach Maddox 57:18
that's beautiful. Hank, thank you so much for that. Well, are you ready for some rapid fire questions?
Hank Estrada 57:26
Sure. Okay. First question are covered.
My favorite color is blue. There you go. Blue, red. Okay,
Coach Maddox 57:36
and it's red. So what are you most afraid of?
Hank Estrada 57:42
I'm most afraid of
long term, progressive deterioration of my partner's disease. Yeah, not knowing, you know, it's progressive. I know, it's progressive. We know it's progressive. We know, it's the will be totally disabling. But we have no idea of when or how long so that's, that's what I'm most afraid, terrified. Actually,
Coach Maddox 58:10
Hank, do you have a solid support system around you? I do.
Hank Estrada 58:15
Yes, I have. And I've found a support group for care partners, who are in my situation,
Coach Maddox 58:23
that I think that's critical. If not a day goes by that I don't see some article about, you know, how challenging it is for caregivers, especially if they're full time caregiving to take care of themselves. That's right, it's so hard to have the energy to take care of yourself after you have taken care of another full day, day after day, after day.
Hank Estrada 58:50
So I am learning that process. I'm literally practicing daily. At this point.
Coach Maddox 58:55
You know, my mantra is I have to fill my tank first or I don't have anything to give anybody else. I'm a real advocate of failure. It's not selfish, you have so much more to give and are able to have the have so much greater value if you have filled your tank first. That's right. That's right. When you when you take care of them and don't fill your tank, you will always end up in resentment.
Hank Estrada 59:22
I agree. I agree. Next question.
Coach Maddox 59:27
What is the one thing that you clearly need to take action on in an effort
Hank Estrada 59:33
to be more authentic? gay man, a more authentic gay man. The one thing I need to take
I would say just what we're speaking about self care, practicing self care. I'm not used to doing that. I'm used to sharing, giving, talking speaking and I have to practice it. by reflecting, and meditation, all those things, I just, that's the one thing I need to do.
Coach Maddox 1:00:08
Beautiful. What a lovely answer. You you you have it laid out in front of you with clarity. Did you? Did you hear the conviction in your own voice? Right this? Yes. Yeah. Wow,
Hank Estrada 1:00:19
Coach Maddox 1:00:21
What has been the most difficult aspect of being a Latino man in the GBT Q. Male Community.
Hank Estrada 1:00:32
But most difficult thing. I I can't think of anything specific. And maybe kind of feel a little shelter, sheltered. Because I'm not out in public as much anymore. I'm not doing as much as I used to. I remember the occasion that I did come out and share my story with a Latino population, a group. And they were just unprepared for my frankness and directness. Because that's not what we were growing up, taught. It was very personal. And so it wasn't more of a positive to get that kind of feedback of the shock about Wow, how could you say those things? How can you devolves that and, and then the whole point was that well, it's doesn't do me any good to hold it. It's truth, and it could help somebody else, but they don't have any negatives. The thing
necessarily, regarding that, good, good.
I do regret not not speaking Spanish fluently anymore. My My mother told me, I used to speak with my grandmother who only speak spoke Spanish, my grandparents migrated from Mexico, to the United States. And apparently, as a kid, between three and five, I used to speak fluent Spanish with her. When she passed, we all stopped speaking at so that was my one. My one regret in life is that I never really continued. I understand it pretty much. But I can't speak it on a formal basis. Like I can't do a lecture in Spanish like I would love to. So maybe I
Coach Maddox 1:02:22
thought about picking it back up. I have
Hank Estrada 1:02:25
that. But my list is kind of full right now. Yes. Yeah, there's no reason not to. So at some point, maybe, well,
Coach Maddox 1:02:35
and you know, that that might be part of the filling your cup first? Yeah, you know, yeah, it would be different for each person that could be feeling like putting more on your plate. But on the other hand, it could be something very special that you do for you that could be very energizing, and only you would be able to determine that.
Hank Estrada 1:02:59
That's a very good point. That's very good point. Thank you for sharing that clarification. Yep. That's a good that's, it's again, it's perspective.
Coach Maddox 1:03:06
Well, you know, you said my regret, and I would, and I would love to be able to deliver talks and speeches and speak to audiences in fluent Spanish. So your words were pretty precise, and very, very clear.
Hank Estrada 1:03:22
Interesting. Greg would love. Yeah. Glad you got that. I hadn't verbalized that before. So
Coach Maddox 1:03:32
well. And there's possibly some ways that you could do that. That could be really fun. Yeah. You might be surprised if you spoke it fluently as a child that's in there somewhere still, you know, we have we have a subconscious memory of all of that. And it might not be really hard to reactivate that. All you might need to do is just getting some, some situations where you're immersed. Well,
Hank Estrada 1:03:59
that's you hit it right on the nose. I used to work at a factory where all of the factory workers only spoke Spanish. And I learned so much Spanish with that two years experience than I ever had in school or classes or, yeah, because I was just, I was just immersed. I just want an immersion
Coach Maddox 1:04:23
that if you put some feelers out, you'll find some immersion groups, some that might meet in person there in your area, or some that might meet virtually, yeah, but that, you know, the agreement is we get together and we don't speak anything but Spanish. Interesting. And it's a party you know, I do this it's it's not it's not a Spanish lesson. It's a it's a party where we just talk in Spanish and you just do the best you can until you
Hank Estrada 1:04:51
That's excellent. And if it's a gay group even more.
Coach Maddox 1:04:56
You know, Hank, I'm a Firestarter. So I'm advocate have you look out there and you don't find what you're looking for? Yes. create it. Yeah. You just create it. You put some feelers out and people start showing up. Yeah.
Hank Estrada 1:05:10
That's really good. That's very good. Good job, Maddox. Good job.
Coach Maddox 1:05:16
This has been a delightful conversation, even though it was a heavy topic. You brought levity. And you you brought, I think, an energy of being healed. So it wasn't, even though it's a heavy topic, the conversation itself didn't feel heavy, because it was palpable, if that's the right word, sometimes they use words. And I'm wondering if I'm using them, right. It was palpable to me that this is this is the past, you have moved through the stages of healing. It's a memory now you no longer get triggered. And you talk about it, though, because you want to help those that have gone through it as right.
Hank Estrada 1:05:57
That's right. So it's part of life, and you need to share it your journey, your discoveries, lessons and the challenges. We all have.
Coach Maddox 1:06:07
Our Stories heal us, and they heal others.
Hank Estrada 1:06:11
Coach Maddox 1:06:13
Well, Hank, I want to leave you with one thought. And that is that in my eyes, you are absolutely an authentic gay man.
Hank Estrada 1:06:21
Thank you. Thank you first.
Coach Maddox 1:06:25
Very much, so very much. So you wouldn't have been drawn to do this. If you hadn't been?
Hank Estrada 1:06:31
Maybe not? Yeah, probably not. Yeah. There's an opportunity here. And then after listening to a lot of the ones you have that they're just insane. They're incredible. They really are. You're doing a great job. And thank you. I've been sharing your link and passing your name on and so
Coach Maddox 1:06:48
I I am receiving that. Thank you very much. Well, it's been an honor and a pleasure. We will do it again. Absolutely.
Hank Estrada 1:06:57
All right. Thank you. Thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Life Partner, Survivor Activist, Author, Artist
Hank Estrada is the author of UnHoly Communion-Lessons Learned From Life Among Pedophiles, Predators, and Priests, a powerful memoir of overcoming domestic violence abuse by an alcoholic father, an incestuous relationship with an uncle, and sexual assaults by a predator priest. He is a seasoned spokesman whose experience of trauma survival and healing brings to the forefront sensitive issues most male survivors face in a caring and empowering manner.
Hank and life partner, Antonio, have successfully and gratefully celebrated their lives together since September 11, 1983. In 2016 Antonio was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Hank has become his full time care-partner. Both men now face the unknown fears and challenges of this progressive disease together, doing the best they can to daily encourage, support and appreciate each other.
Hank now also facilitates peer to peer, self-care support group sessions for partners of male survivors of trauma and chronic life illnesses. In both instances, Hank is consistently praised for his honest, straightforward and courageous life story inspiring resilience, courage & hope.