Trevor Kleinhans

Author of Secrets Make You Sick

I was born in 1962 and was raised in Durban on the east coast of South Africa. I grew up having been sexually abused from the age of 6 by an older sibling 10 years my senior. This set my path in life. I was taught that whites are superior to blacks or any other race for that matter. Being raised in a family of 4 other siblings we were not privileged to travel the world, it was way beyond my parents means. South Africa is on the southern tip of the African continent and as isolated as it looks on a map, it feels in reality. So I grew up not knowing any better than what I was shown and brainwashed with.

Homosexuals were not a part of the society, in fact I was arrested twice by the police in my late teens who infiltrated the undercover gay cruising spots and posed as gay men. I had no choice besides being imprisoned; to go and do 2 years of compulsory national military service making sure my sexuality was not revealed. I witnessed horrific events during this time. The National Party, which was in power at that time, was ruled by the NG Kerk (Church). South Africa was an extremely conservative country. Everything was segregated according to color. To me that was normal.

My career started off in retail, which was the economic sector used by the then banned trade unions as a platform to rise up from. Management skills that I learnt daily on the job over this period would later benefit me and see me succeed at a young age to top positions in large corporate companies. As my career developed and grew so did my country.

From being in the army and fighting the ANC in 1983, in 1994 I was faced with standing in line with blacks, whites, mixed race and Indians, and seeing the ANC as one of the parties on the election roll that I could now vote for. Living in a country so divided by color and a society that criminalized homosexuality was not for the feint hearted; the transformation was and still is very difficult. We were fortunate to have the iconic Nelson Mandela guide us through this treacherous period.

The new colorful South African flag along with our new constitution came at a price to myself who had concealed the damages of my childhood sexual abuse up until my 40’s. My emotional tank was bursting and I fell prey to the new designer recreational drug ecstasy; at a very late age in my life. This quickly led me down a path with demons for statues, and within 2 years this path had led me to a pit. I had fallen over the edge and got knocked hard on my way down, and contracted HIV and was now fighting for my life; knowing I had become addicted to one of the most addictive drugs known to man, crack cocaine.

It was at this point that I had to believe that I would be one of the 3 out of every 100 people that was able to conquer this horrific drug. Not only myself but my family and friends had to believe in me as well. I had to start crawling out of this pit and I would fallback down many times. It took me 5 years of weekly intense psychological therapy to understand why I ended up where I did, and it was during this time that I wrote my biography, ‘Secrets Make You Sick’.

Got a tip?

Do you have info to share with HuffPost reporters? Here’s how.