The Bristlecone Project is an awareness campaign of 1in6.org. Photographs and text by David Lisak, Ph.D.
Hank Estrada has found peace in the serene landscape of New Mexico, and love in his 30 year relationship with life partner Antonio Garcez. But it was not always so. From the age of five to sixteen, he was sexually abused by an uncle and tormented by his alcoholic father. After graduating high school, Hank trained for the priesthood, but at the age of 21 a priest sexually assaulted him.
The assault, and the Catholic church’s denials and betrayal, steered him onto a new course. For years, Hank had unsuccessfully sought help through several counselors. Finally, in his early 20’s, he found a therapist who was both genuine and empathic. Hank began tackling the legacies of his trauma-filled experiences. The work opened his heart, enough to inspire speaking out and writing a book about his healing journey, “Unholy Communion.” While in his twenties, he met Antonio, and for the first time experienced true, unconditional love.
Together, he and Antonio thrive in central New Mexico, where they have created a life focused on creativity. Antonio is an award-winning author. Hank has taken up oil painting, capturing and reflecting the serenity of the landscapes that surround them.
Originally posted on 1in6.org