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Gabrielle Union talks about response to her essay on rape

Gabrielle Union says the vast majority of people have been extremely supportive after she wrote an essay about her own rape. 

The actress wrote the essay in light of the controversy surrounding “The Birth of a Nation” director, co-writer and star Nate Parker, who was accused of rape in 1999. She talked about getting raped at gunpoint in a Payless shoe store when she was 19 years old. Union co-stars in the film.

Union talked about the response to her essay at a Toronto Film Festival Q&A panel for the film, reports the Cut. 

She said, “Every time I speak about it, whether that be at the airport and somebody slides a paper under the stall and says, ‘Me too, and thank you for talking about this and showing me a way to healing. Thank you’ — that happens daily, that happens all the time, that was way before my op-ed. I’ve been talking about this for over 20 years.” 

But she said she has been pleasantly surprised by how people in Hollywood have reacted. 

“I’ve heard from people I didn’t think knew I existed,” she said. “People hugging me, high-fiving me. I think we’re all craving acknowledgment that we’re real, that we exist, that we live among you, that we are your mothers, your brothers, your sisters, your lovers.”

Union brought it back to the movie and said, “It’s so important for people to see that you are not broken and you are not seen as damaged and you are not seen as less than or forsaken. And there’s a scene where Colman is literally waiting for his wife who has been snatched away from him to be used and abused, and he’s waiting there for her to welcome her back in, and so many of us have not been welcomed back in. And I needed people to see that that is real, that there is hope, there is faith. You are not broken and forsaken. There is always a community that will love you and that is how I’ve been perceived by Hollywood.”

The actress did add, though, that she has had mixed reactions from some. 

“Five percent feels I threw Nate under the bus and five percent feels I’m a rape apologist,” she said. “I strongly encourage those two five percents to talk to each other. I think everyone takes something different away from the conversation.”

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