Remember Manuel, the cute hottie Morgan and I did in Puerto Rico?
He has kept us with us on Facebook and through cellphone texts. He really comes across as a sensitive soul — you can see him in Facebook photo posts posing with his chubby baby nieces and nephews, hugging his elderly mother tight and cuddling with his pet cats and dogs.
“I love black men,” he will write sometimes. “You two were really hot.”
“Well, if you ever come to Washington, D.C. come visit. You are welcome,” I say.
But a few weeks ago Manuel, who is 25, revealed some troubling facts about himself that don’t fit in well with the warm and fuzzy photos he posts on Facebook.
Three years ago he went to New York City to make a better life. His English is not too good — when us mainland Americans talk fast and use slang he has trouble following us — but he wanted to make a go of it.
He is not alone — Puerto Ricans are one of the largest groups to immigrate to the mainland United States. There are now more than 4.6 million Americans of Puerto Rican descent living in the continental United States and in states such as Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Florida they account for more than five percent of the population.
So Manuel came to gritty, cold New York City, got a room in the house of a family friend, and landed a job at a fast food restaurant. Sure the pay was low but it was a start. Soon he would enroll in college, get a degree in criminal justice and perhaps become a detective or forensic lab specialist.
But the man Manuel came to live with was not a friend. He took one look at the slight, incredibly handsome man with the slightly feminine ways, and saw victim written all over him. Plus, he wanted some of that ass too.
In the rough streets of the Bronx some people believe if you want something just take it. So that is what this man decided to do. But he had to get some help.
“He got some guys and they came over and beat me up,” Manuel instant messaged me on Facebook. “And they took turns fucking me. No condoms, no nothing on.”
“And a few months later I ended up HIV positive.”
I noticed Manuel’s upper lip, which is full and has a delicious curve, haa a scar that shows it was split. I thought it was just a harelip but now I think I know how it ended up that way.
“Well, life goes on,” he wrote. “I came home and am in college in Puerto Rico. I still hope to come back to the U.S.”
“I’m so sorry that happened to you.”
Manuel’s story is not as unusual as you may think. According to the Justice Department about nine percent of rapes that occur in the United States are male-on-male. The actual number is probably much higher because many males — and even females for that matter — are reluctant to report a rape.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens who run away and end up incarcerated are especially vulnerable to being sexually assaulted by other inmates and even jail staff, recent studies show.
I wish I could say something to make Manuel feel better. Saying sorry just didn’t seem like enough.
To read how Morgan and I met Manuel read “Sex, Puerto Rican Style” by clicking here.