Gabrielle Union, star of Nate Parker's Birth of a Nation, is a rape survivor. Since finding out about the rape allegations leveled against the director years ago—the 1999 accusations made headlines last month after it was revealed that the accuser committed suicide—she has found herself "in a state of stomach-churning confusion," she writes in the Los Angeles Times. "I cannot take these allegations lightly. On that night, 17-odd years ago, did Nate have his date’s consent? It’s very possible he thought he did. Yet by his own admission he did not have verbal affirmation; and even if she never said 'no,' silence certainly does not equal 'yes.'" Parker was acquitted of the allegations.
She goes on to say that she's teaching her sons about the importance of "affirmative consent," and notes that Birth of a Nation—in which she plays a woman who is raped—"is an opportunity to inform and educate so that these situations cease to occur on college campuses, in dorm rooms, in fraternities, in apartments, or anywhere else young people get together to socialize." Sexual violence is all too common, and though it's an uncomfortable topic, we need to talk about it, she writes. "Think of all the victims who, like my character, are silent. ... It is for you that I am speaking. This is real. We are real." Click for her full piece. (Read more Gabrielle Union stories.)