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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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