A GoPride Interview

Patrick Dati

Patrick Dati, author of I Am Me, knows who he is

Mon. August 4, 2014  by Gregg Shapiro

I have survived.
Patrick Dati
First-time memoirist Patrick Dati is a native Chicagoan. Born and raised on the city's Northwest side, he vividly captures the area and more in the pages of his book I Am Me. A survivor of sexual abuse and bullying, Dati has chosen to share how he overcame those obstacles by telling his story in the book and by doing speaking engagements. One such engagement takes place on August 8 at Center On Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, at 6:30 p.m. RSVP for the event online. I spoke with Dati about his experiences and his book in July 2014.

GS: (Gregg Shapiro) Patrick, who do you see as the target audience for your book I Am Me?

PD: (Patrick Dati) Primary target: victims of sexual abuse, bullying and domestic violence. Secondary: any LGBT person that hid being gay to please their family. Third group: parents, family members and general public that have seen abuse or been involved in bullying in any way.

GS: How did you know this was the right time to write and publish your memoir?

PD: Honestly, I didn't. The book started as a diary advised by my psychiatrist to help me therapeutically release the trauma I'd dealt with most of my life. I told my best friend Bob, a writer, about the diary and he asked if he could read it. After he read the diary, we got together and he told me that this would turn into a book and be published to help other people. Now that the book is out I feel it could not be a better time because there is not a day that you turn on the news and you hear about a child being abused or bullied.

GS: In the book, your description of your mother gives the impression that she was a very controlling person. Do you think this influenced your choices in the women and men with which you've been involved?

PD: Yes, my mom was very controlling. It may have led me to become involved with abusive people. Actually, I never thought about that. My psychiatrist told me that individuals that have been abused normally tend to be in abusive relationships because it's what they know best.

GS: What was your family's reaction to the book?

PD: My mother passed away last July and knew it was coming out. The reaction from my siblings has been what I had expected. They want to have no communications with me. I've been told by other relatives that my siblings are ashamed that the book is out.

GS: Has your daughter read your book?

PD: Yes she has. I advised her not to read it because I knew it would be hard on her. She had a lot of trouble reading it, but she now says she is proud of me for writing it.

GS: You never state with certainty whether your second wife's child is biologically yours. Did you ever find out and do you have any sort of relationship with him?

PD: I have never found out if he is my son. When the marriage ended part of the divorce agreement was that I would not reach out to my ex-wife or her son. I did track them down and when I reached out she became angry and hung up on me. I've thought about hiring an attorney to force her to take a paternity test, but it's just too hard to go back and open that wound.

GS: In the GLBT community, we often create a "family of choice". Yours figures prominently in the second half of your book. Are you still close to those people?

PD: My good friend named Tyrone, in the book, committed suicide a year and half ago. I'm friends with most of the others, but now that we're all older and in relationships don't see one another much, but correspond on Facebook often.

GS: What was their reaction to the book?

PD: They all knew what my life was about before the book. All have been supportive and proud that I came forward and told it.

GS: Many memoirs include photos. Was it a deliberate decision not to include any in yours?

PD: Yes, it was a deliberate decision. My attorney advised me that it would cause more problems with my family.

GS: How do you feel you've turned out after all your experiences?

PD: Great. I'm finally living the life I've longed for for so long. I am speaking out as a survivor and impacting other's lives and showing that they don't have to live as a victim. I fell in love with a wonderful man that has completed my life.

GS: As you said, practically every day, in the news, there is some horrifying story about child abuse and bullying. What do you think it will take to bring this epidemic to an end?

PD: Education! I feel that there is not enough education in schools and in the home. Parents have to understand the signs of a child that has been abused or bullied and teachers need to speak up from what they see going on in the class room and schoolyards. Also, there are no real role models for men that have been abused; 80 to 85% of men and boys never come forward about their abuse or bullying out of fear and shame. I was one of those statistics but not anymore.

Three simple words: I have survived.

Interviewed by Gregg Shapiro. Gregg Shapiro is both a literary figure and a music and literary critic. As an entertainment journalist, his work appears on ChicagoPride.com and is syndicated nationally.