Navy Rape Survivor’s Message to Bullied Kids around the World

Jose Antonio Rodriguez is a U.S. Navy Veteran who was discriminated by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell‘ after his sexual orientation was discovered following being drugged, kidnapped, and brutally raped. Rodriguez has since become an outspoken advocate against hate crimes, and wants to send a message to bullied teens.

Teens Worldwide:
I know it may be tough to be a young person. I know it’s hard to have to hide your true essence and live a happy childhood and be who you really are. I understand it’s hard to have to hide in front of family and friends as you grow up to be the man or woman God brought into this world. I ask you to keep faith and not give in to all the bullying and harassment.

I was once just like you, and felt the pain and mental anguish of hiding who I really was, bullied by my peers for being “different”.

I was raped by a group of men in June 2009 while I was still in the Navy. My fellow sailors then perceived me to be gay, and harassed me because of the rape at the hands of other men. They were right – I was a gay man, yet I did not deserve to be treated in a hateful manner. But I stood strong and I am winning the battle now. I ask you to do the same.

I understand how you feel, but I beg you to please not give up. Please stand strong and BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE. You are all God’s children and he loves us all!! You are beautiful to everyone. We are not different and we are all human. We all are created different and a little more special, because God made us special, with love, and with love to give. You are beautiful in my eyes and everyone’s eyes. LIVE WITH PRIDE AND LIVE IN YOUR TRUE ESSENCE! I love you all, and please don’t give up. You are the ones coming up in the world and we need a strong generation for years to come. We are not weak. So please, be patient and stand up with pride and fight for your equality!

Sincerely,
US Navy Veteran
Jose A. Rodriguez