Ch2: The Thud and a Nipple Dress

By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels
April 23, 2014

“There in a picture from 1981 are my parents, my sister, and her nipples, smiling at the camera in the family photo album.”  (See cartoon below)

In his home in the Castro district, conversation with my cousin* finally came to why I'd come to San Francisco with my six year old daughter.  I asked him, “Do you remember Father Horne?” and then blurted out a version of events from the past few months, where I’d recovered the memory of the priest sexualizing me at age five, and confirmed that he’d molested my sister Patricia too.  I  ended with “Now I know why I've been so screwed up my whole life,” excited, thinking my cousin would share my elation. Instead: The Thud. 

When you're in a conversation and everything is going fine, then you mention you're a pedophile priest victim, there it is: The Thud. [BEAT] All talk comes to a complete stop, any ambiance of friendliness that had once been there evaporates, the room is silent, and all persons within hearing distance stiffen. Once The Thud happens, communication is never the same again. 

Doing City of Angels Blog since January 2007, I've finally learned to stop bringing up the issue in casual conversation, but only after experiencing The Thud many times.

Back in 1994 I was just beginning this pursuit and my visit with cousin Jimmy had been going fabulous.  I did notice a tone of awe and reverence as he said: “I go to the Basilica several times a week,” with just a little too much enthusiasm.

The Bassiilllliiica, he said, stretching the word way out.

Jimmy had only weeks earlier returned to the Catholic Church.  I wanted to say to him, “But you're gay,” but he rushed on before I could, and talked about the classes and Masses he does now at “The Basilica.” 

“The Bass-ill-icaaahhhh”

I should have known not to say anything more about Father Horne being a pedophile priest, but again, I was still green in this world of survivorship. 

Once I told Jimmy that I accuse Father Horne of molesting me back in 1955, there was no getting past The Thud.

Cousin Jimmy had no room for 6 year old Lizzie and me in his three story home where he lived all alone, not even for one night.  So we left, and as he ushered us out the door we received these words one more time. “I will never believe Father Horne would do anything as bad as that.  He was a wonderful man, an absolutely wonderful man.”


He had said the name “Father Horne” with same reverence he had for “the Basilica”.

So Lizzie and I went instead to Aunt Patricia’s house, even though she’d said earlier by phone we couldn't stay there.

During a phone call with my sister a few weeks back, I told her we were coming to San Francisco because I’d found a national support group for pedophile priest victims with a branch in the Bay Area. 

“Something called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP,” I said, “isn't that cool?  We can get some group therapy and support.”

But Trish just sighed into the phone, “I don't know.” I could almost hear her shrug. “It affected my life, yeah, I had a lot of sex.  But I had a lot of fun too.”

To this day I'm perplexed as to why I can’t look with the same attitude at the damage done to me by that priest, and just let it go.

But I can’t.  Not yet.  Maybe soon.


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