Shawn is a student who recently saw Mike present the “Can I Kiss You?” program at his University. Shawn decided to share his very inspirational story with The DATE SAFE Project and with you, our community. Thank you Shawn for your courage and your words of wisdom!
This is Shawn’s story, written in his own words:
I feel like in today’s age, everyone wants to move fast and it has sort of become the norm for teens. No one wants to hear you ask “can I kiss you?” or “do you wanna have sex with me?” People just expect it to happen.
I am a member of the LGBT community so maybe when I was hiding who I truly was, consent and moving slow wasn’t really on my mind. If I would try something and someone would get mad, I would simply brush it off and move on. And truthfully I would try and kiss random people all the time, and just go for it. I knew this was wrong, but I still tried to make the move because I didn’t want to seem different to other people. I cheated on partners and felt nothing when I did it. To me it was okay. I feel very bad for the people I hurt during that time.
Coming out as Gay was something that was very hard for me, it was a whole new world.
It was like I was 12 again, very confused and didn’t really know anything about what people liked, but more importantly what I liked. I had been talking to my boyfriend for three months before we even met each other. Then one day I finally got to meet him, we walked around a mall and at the end of the day when we sat down to talk, I asked if we could hold hands. This was funny to me, to ask someone, “Can I hold your hand?” But he just let out a chuckle and said, “yes.” Later when I got to know him even more, we went to the movies where I asked if I could kiss him. Once again he smiled and said yes. He understood this was all very new to me, so he would asked before we kissed and I would ask as well.
It was so nice being asked if it was all right to be kissed. Someone understood how I felt, and I was very grateful for it. I could go as slow as I needed, and in the end be happy and totally comfortable with the situation.
My new norm is to be very polite with others, because who knows someone could be that newly out and searching boy. It feels good to have consent, where you can be sure both people are ready for what you are asking.
I have come to realize that it is the right thing to do for you and your partner’s sake.
You can never know what someone else has been through. What you’re going in for could be someone’s first kiss, and maybe they didn’t want it to happen right in that moment. Consent, is the best way to be comfortable with each other. Taking it slow is the best way to get to know your partner, and making sure everything is okay with them. Being the boy who wants to go fast and don’t look back, became the timid boy I came out to be.
**The image at the top of this article is not of the survivor who shared this story.
-Mike Domitrz, founder of The DATE SAFE Project
If you have any questions about our programs at The DATE SAFE Project or speaking engagements please contact Rita at 800-329-9390 or you can email her at Rita@datesafeproject.org