A true story. All names are fictional. 

The young man this play is about lived until he was almost 23. He was handsome, a talented artist and student, and had enormous integrity. What he survived during the first 16 years of his life was a nightmare that most would never dare talk about. The young man was my brother. I’ve been trying to write his story for 16 years. From the time he was 7 until the age of 16, he was sexually abused by our father and our father’s male lover. Everyone in the family was kept deeply under control, but my brother got the worst of it. Still, he was an amazing ball of energy. He tried his best at everything. He was bright, friendly, an honors student, handsome, always encouraging others to express their art and be themselves. He was the rare person who could not walk away from another in pain.

When my brother was 16, my father and his lover were found out. The case went to the Supreme Court and both were sent to prison; our father for 120 years, his lover for 9; he was abused, too. The case took more than a year to build and Jordan’s testimony was filled with one unthinkable story after another. He had the help and courage to do what so many abused kids never get a chance to do: speak about what they’ve been through and directly confront their abuser. After the trial, Jordan spent the next five years of his life working to get a Design of Environment degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He wanted to help the world. He never stopped striving, even as he was tortured by his memories and the fear that he would abuse others.

On May 18, 1998, the day after Mother’s Day weekend, his body was found in his apartment in Philadelphia. He had suffered for the last few months of his life, scarcely daring to trust anyone, spending his days alone in an apartment without electricity or phone. He had gone as far as he could in this lifetime and just couldn’t live any longer with those memories. He did no damage to his body, but let himself die. That Is How I Left is a love song to the real Jordan and testimony to how much a person can forgive in order to regain their human grace.

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