In one of the most revealing interviews ever in GQ, R&B superstar R. Kelly delivers a detailed, and sometimes disturbing, account of his journey to stardom, his setbacks and where he’s headed in the future.
In the interview, he confirms excerpts from his 2013 memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, where he describes a number of premature sexual experiences, including an approach by a trusted family friend, a man, who he says tried to persuade Kelly to masturbate him for money, which Kelly says he rebuffed. “It was a crazy weird experience. But not a full-blown experience, because it didn’t go down. Contact sexual—no. A visual—absolutely. A visual from him showing me his penis and all that stuff.”
He then describes the full-blown sexual abuse that lasted for several years, from age seven or eight until Kelly was nearly 15. It was at the hands of, as Kelly describes, a female family member. It started one day when Kelly fell asleep in front of the TV and was awakened from “a crazy dream about Three’s Company” to find a woman playing with him:
“I tried to push her away, but she wouldn’t stop until she was finished. When she was, she said, “You better not say shit to no one or else you gonna get a terrible whupping.”
“I remember it feeling weird,” Kelly recounts. “I remember feeling ashamed. I remember closing my eyes or keeping my hands over my eyes. I remember those things, but couldn’t judge it one way or the other fully. Over time, I remember actually, after a couple of years, looking forward to it sometimes. You know, acting like I didn’t, but did.”
“It became a regular thing. Every other day, every other week.”
According to sexual abuse watchdog organizations, no two sexual predators think and act alike. Sexual perpetrators may be motivated by:
- A sense of excitement and satisfaction in grooming and manipulating not only the child they’re abusing, but even in deceiving the parents and community at large.
- Low self-esteem, stress, or unmet emotional needs for intimacy & affection and use sexual gratification with a child as a means of coping with it. They may acknowledge that their behavior is wrong, and may even stop if the child resists, but if the abuse continues they may rationalize their behavior and minimize the abusive nature of their actions.
- An unchecked sense of entitlement – that they are above others and have a “right” to do what they want without reproach and seek to dominate others.
- Sexual deviancy – a desire to explore a variety of sexual experiences and may exhibit an addiction to sex & pornography.
- Social Isolation – some offenders are considered eccentric, awkward loners, that don’t socialize well with others and may exhibit what many would consider abnormal behavior. Such offenders may choose to sexually abuse children because they are less-threatening than their peers.
“It teaches you to definitely be sexual earlier than you should have, than you’re supposed to,” admits Kelly. “You know, no different than putting a loaded gun in a kid’s hand—he gonna grow up being a shooter, probably. I think it affects you tremendously when that happens at an early age. To be more hornier. Your hormones are up more than they would normally be. Mine was.”
When asked if he forgives his abuser, R. Kelly says:
“I, well, definitely forgive them. As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.”
Kelly is a man who has been accused of sexual offenses against multiple underage girls, has a catalog of some of the most sexually explicit music, and one who calls himself “the Pied Piper of R&B” (the original children’s story of the fictional Pied Piper would use music to lure children out of their homes into a cave never to be seen again). He explains that he believes the sexual abuse he suffered is something that is passed down from generation to generation, so that in each new generation, the victim becomes perpetrator.
“Well, you know, just like poverty—poverty was a generational curse in my family, too, but I decided that I’m gonna stop that curse. I’m not gonna be broke, like my mom was broke, my uncles were broke, my sisters didn’t have money, my cousins on down. Generational curse doesn’t mean that the curse can’t be broken. Just like having no father, that’s a generational curse. Which is why, when my kids were born, I was Bill Cosby in the house. You know, the good one. You know, let’s be clear there: how…