So, I won't be going to Gally this year for a handful of reasons. Last year was very stressful, crowd level wise. While the panic attacks have gotten better, still feel like I am going to die at least once a day. Which, y'know, is exciting. There was also the cost. During that brief window when they were actually on sale, I was quite poor. Airfair would have been a whole other can of worms. But I did want to go. I miss my friends. It seems like I only see them once a year. I don't have a budding local social life. Every time I go out into public with friends, and friends of friends, I am clutching the arm of the chair the whole time like I am in the car with a crazy driver.
On to other things.
I know a lot of rumors have gone around about Jim at Gally last year. The con started with him saying something inappropriate to a minor, then later having an altercation with said minor and ultimately being banned from the con. I don't know how to address this rather than chronologically, I suppose. None of this is an excuse. Just an explanation, and my view on the matter.
Jim has a panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, ADHD and some other things that were not diagnosed until after Gally last year. Well, the ADHD we knew about. Basically, he's neuro-atypical (and I were later diagnosed with Aspergers as well, as someone with the diagnosis myself). Basically, Gally last year was super hard on both of us.
I think it was Thursday night at the con we were talking in a gossip circle with friends, many we knew from the autograph line. The thing you need to know about Jim, and I don't know if this is the ADHD, or the undiagnosed Aspergers (seriously--when I'm done with this round of medial douchery with myself I'm going to get him on the list to be tested) but Jim has a long and storied history of trying to say something clever, then mincing his words. It comes out completely wrong.
I even recall on that night in particular, him trying to say to a friend's daughter "my you have grown and are now a young lady," since we've known her since she was much more of a sprog. And he said something to the effect of asking her when she was turning 18, and I was like... what the actual fuck. Jim, stop talking now. and then as is the pattern with him, he dug himself deeper by trying to "save" himself. I hoped desperately that since these friends had known him a long time, and knew he was a big teddy bear, that they'd forgive it. And they may have. If not for future events.
Friday was a rough day for both of us. I didn't actually go downstairs the whole con cos of people volume. So unless I was on a panel I was in the lobby or in the room, falling apart.
Jim worked autographs. I think a lot of folks know that. He did it for several years in a row. I don't remember how many. And last year Ben Browder was there. Ben Browder has been Jim's personal hero for ages. I have been pretty sure for about ten years that if Jim were to have one, Ben Browder would be his gay thing. Anyways, there were some confusions with the autographs set up (you will see a different setup this year because of this) and he was yelled at for an hour straight by Ben Browder's agent.
He came back to the room pretty screwed up. Anxiety-ridden, having a panic attack and not sure he was able to keep doing autographs the next day. Anne was kind enough to put him over with the signings that were happening in the hall. There wasn't much to do but make sure people had pens and entertainment when it got slow. But by late Saturday morning I was having my own issues where I basically shut down for hours, and wouldn't come out of it/wake up until lobbycon was breaking up. I mean, it was tragic and bad. and we were already talking about maybe not coming back next year.
Saturday evening he had some booze and retired to the room a hot mess. There was crying. I know at some point he was in the hot tub. I was there for a bit myself. The thing about Jim is that he does offer back massages in the hot tub. I'm usually there most of the time, and to the best of my knowledge he has never touched anyone in the hot tub without asking, and they've all been adults. I personally don't give a crap as long as he follows the rules of consent. But I know there are rumors going around that he was molesting people or touching them inappropriately in the hot tub. To the best of my knowledge this did not happen.
Sunday by the end of the day he was even MORE of a hot fucking mess. His heart was racing and he felt like he was dying. Now I knew exactly what that was--a panic attack. I have had at least one a day since I was four years old. They're hell. I don't wish them on anyone. So, I made a mistake. I gave him half of one of my xanax.
By reports, he was acting super-jovial in the pool. Then at some point they were standing around talking. I think he meant to try and somehow "fix" the first night's super-creepy blunder by joking some more with the minor in question.
I wasn't around, so I only know what I have heard from multiple sources, and not all the stories line up. So all I know is what I know from them, and what I know from what he said, and what I know about having known him intimately since September of 2001.
At some point in the 'joking around' he picked the girl up to pretend (or really, i'm not sure) throw her in the pool. Unintentionally he made contact with a part of her body he never should have made contact with.
1) You should never touch anyone who doesn't want to be touched. Permission, permission permission.
2) This goes a thousand times more for minors and women. So fucking much.
3) Not near a fucking swimming pool. I'm terrified of being thrown into water, or even someone just saying they'll push me in. *I* would have freaked out.
4) Seriously, dude, what the fuck were you thinking?
5) No, really. Could you fuck this up any more?
He and I have subsequently discussed this in great detail. He feels awful. He has felt awful since it happened, and I doubt it will let up any time soon. He knows exactly all the ways it was wrong. While it doesn't take away or fix what happened, the contact he made was entirely unintentional.
He has thrown his goddaughter (just turned six) into the pool hundreds of times, but she's a water baby, and he knows it's ok. the same with her 12 yr old cousin. Our 13 and 14 yr old nieces stay over every other weekend to visit with our internet connection (and maybe us, I don't know) and even when he and his sister were having a huge, long row about her insulting my life choices and my weight, she still trusted him with the girls. No one in our lives has ever questioned his ability to be around children because nothing like this has happened before.
I was, and am, concerned for the girl in question. She didn't ask for this. She didn't ask for my husband to have impaired judgement thanks to me, on top of his already disconnected brain/mouth filter. She didn't ask for any of it, and i do hope she's OK.
Later on the police showed up and talked to him in the room. I was there for that part. He was mortified. Not only for himself, but the harm he had caused. The police took his statement and said they weren't going to pursue it further unless the family wished to. We did not hear anything further. I have no malice on the part of whoever called the police. That has to happen when something like that happens. There's so much horrible stuff that goes on to women at cons that I'm glad they took it seriously. Even though my husband was on the receiving end of the police investigation.
And yes, he was pulled from con staff (surprise!) and banned from the con (surprise!) I e-mailed back and forth with Robbie about it, and I understand why they did what they did. I don't have any malace toward Robbie or the con for that either. Even if it was obvious that it was a whole misunderstanding and epic mess, they still have to do what they have to do. I can't just talk a good game about how harshly harassment and assault should be handled at cons and then complain they acted too harshly because it was my husband.
I know it has put me in an untennible position. Even before the mass exodus of people from my facebook happened the following day I knew this. I can't support what he did. I don't. But he IS my husband. And I know the side of him the world doesn't get to see because they only see him once a year. I am fortunate that several of the guests who have known Jim for a long time have stuck by us and have continued describing Jim as "a big teddybear."
I know other people have other perspectives on what happened. I can only give mine. I can only say that we are both genuinely concerned for the girl and her family and lasting effects of the situation. I spoke to Robbie about being able to do something to improve the situation. She said that she does believe in restorative justice, and at some point, when the time is right, I hope that we're able to work toward that. I'm not sure at what point that will be, and I may discuss it again with Robbie after the dust dies down from this con.
But I haven't said anything for a year about this, and I maybe should have done so earlier. But it's a hard thing to write a post about how 'my husband is an idiot who did a wildly inappropriate thing, but no malace was intended, he has super-poor judgement sometimes, and I further inhibited it by trying to help him with xanax.' Where do you even begin with that?
But I figured I ought to write something now, because I know the rumor mill will be going in full force at Gally this year. The rumor mill was going before we even left for the airport the next day. I don't know if this will help any. It breaks my heart that his reputation is ruined, but what is done cannot be undone, especially for the girl in question. I wish other people knew him the way I did. And I'm sure that's what a lot of defensive spouses say. Nothing I can do about sounding like one of those, either.
I've had a lot of issues with people running me into the ground over his behavior. I suppose it's underandable. But it still hurts. I'm a human being and while I can look at it objectively, it still hurts. I've had people be dishonest about why they were cutting me out of their life. Dishonesty hurts me more than the truth.
And honestly, I wish I were going this year if only to set the record straight. And because *I* did nothing wrong and I have been treated like I have the plague for the last year, rightly or wrongly. And the handful of people who have really hurt me, maliciously hurt me, I'd like to just look them in the eye and ask them to tell the truth to my face.Unlikely to happen, but I can wish.
I'm sure I'll get blasted for making this all about me, or defending him (like I said, untennibal position)... or justifying him. I hope I'm just explaining. He's been in therapy since then. He's on multiple meds for anxiety and ADD now. He has a job thats less stressful. He's gone from a judge asking if he wanted a recommendation for law school to doggie daycare. But I don't care, cos he's happier and calmer.
And as I have said several times, my heart goes out, and my concern goes out for the girl. if the family allows, I do hope someone will tell me how she's doing,. But I don't want to push any buttons or triggers, or upset anyone by asking information that I am technically not entitled to. I'm only asking cos I do care. I have known her and her family for quite some time.
I have no say in what people say about me behind my back. But I hate lying and trying to soften blows. If you so feel compelled, say it to my face. I will respect you more. This is, in part, because I am not good at subtext (autism) and i can't tell what people really mean. I can't tell when someone is being two-faced. So if you'd say it at the con, be sure you can say it to my face. That isn't a challenge. Just a request for that kind of respect.
I don't know if you've made it to the end of this super-long statement. If you did kudos, I suppose. I wish I had something better to say, I guess. But All I have is what I have. I'm going to miss my friends this weekend. I'm going to really miss seeing mrtonylee
since that is the last time he'll be at an American con for ages. I am glad we got to hang out at CT. I'm sorry I will miss Clare and others. And it pains me to know what is going to be said about me and about him behind my back without me there to at least know what's being said, much less set records straight. It'll probably be an entire weekend of terrible anxiety for me, but nothing to be done for that.
I still don't know what's been said in the past year. I know some people have a vendetta and may have... misrepresented the truth. And I know some people are more dramatic than others. But whats the point of a rumor mill if the rumors can't get out of control, and my husband be represented as a ten foot tall green eyed monster. All I can say is some of our friends have stood by us. The mutual friends... not so much. Which may tell me where I stood to begin with. I wish there'd been some way to settle this or sort out the confusion or make amends (in some small fashion) sooner, but there hasn't been.
Comments are open, so let the flaming begin.