Story Details

QFest features story of brutal attack, forgiveness and the will to live in "Where I Am"

forgiveness on Miscellaneous - Robert Drake is a novelist and literary editor from Philadelphia who fell in love with an Irish doctor, and moved to Dublin to start a new life in a new country.

After two years, tragedy struck. While temporarily staying in the small town of Sligo on the western coast of Ireland, he was savagely beaten by two strangers in his own apartment.

He was in a coma for months, and suffered brain damage. Drake had to relearn how to talk, and to eat. He is now confined to a wheelchair and relies on assistance to do almost everything.

Drake does not know why he was attacked, but suspects it might be because he is gay. His attackers were apprehended, put on trial, and sentenced to eight years in jail. Neither of his attackers made any statements during the trial.

Sitting in a Center City coffee shop, Drake says as soon as he woke up in a Philadelphia hospital he forgave his attackers.

"That was the first thing I did when I regained consciousness, because I knew there was no moving forward if I did not forgive them," said Drake, a Quaker. Through his Quaker meeting, one of the attackers sent Drake an apologetic letter, leaving no way for Drake to return correspondence.

Reaching out to attackers

Drake is the subject of "Where I Am," a documentary by Pamela Drynan, screening on Friday as part of QFest, the annual Philadelphia gay and lesbian film festival. Drynan followed Drake as he returned to Ireland 12 years after the attack.

"He wanted to meet his attackers," said Drynan by telephone from her home in Dublin. "He wanted to talk to them about why this happened. He was happy to meet with them if they were prepared to do so."

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