October 11th ... At Last Not The Toughest Day of The Year …
When I was a kid I hated Christmas … my first memory was my grandfather’s suicide on December 26th.
For most of my life working in radio/TV Christmas has been just another day at the office.
For the last quarter century, Christmas was surpassed by October 11th … National Coming Out Day.
Fear had a strong hold on me.
My first wife, Janice, more than 10 years older, who I was with for eight years from 19 to 27, knew I was gay almost from the beginning. The first time we talked after we parted she asked, “Have you finally started having sex with men?”
No. I still thought someone or something would make me straight.
Being on radio and then on TV I worried about the effect on my ‘career’.
My confusion was enormous. From the time I was a young teenager, women were always interested in me … a straight man’s dream … I never had to ask a woman out for a date.
God was going to help straighten me out, the hope of so many of my generation.
My local Methodist Church minister suggested that I date a successful local attorney, it was almost a like a direct message from God.
We looked great, the next Valentine’s Day we were the church’s ‘Sweetheart’s of The Year’.
We had an amazing daughter who is now an Ivy League Medical School student, but no matter how hard I tried, no matter how well disguised, I was an actor playing a role … I was not living a life.
The University of Notre Dame would be my salvation. When I was offered a position I was sure my test would soon be over. Being around that much spirituality would ease the endless pain in my soul and make me the straight man that I so wanted to be.
I would like to meet anyone who tried harder to conform to traditional ‘societal norms’. Living an act caused me pain beyond words and did more damage to me as a person and to my career than coming out on TV on the first National Coming Out day on October 11th, 1988 ever could have.
For 20+ years, I tried to convince myself this was the year … it never was.
With a chain of events I never could have predicted, I came out publicly at a Charlottesville, Virginia City Council meeting in March of 2015.
No matter where my life goes from here it was an amazing personal event to openly proclaim what I had known since I was a young child.
No angels sang, Dan Savage didn’t call to congratulate me, but it was more of a relief that I could imagine.
Now my life has taken another amazing turn.
I remain an agnostic, but coming to Las Vegas and meeting my now fiancée Mark and having him asking me to live and share his life with him is the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had.
We both said, “I have been waiting for you.”
Our life together has been everything I wanted.
Even with the amazing progress made by the many courageous fighters for LGBT rights, America remains a shockingly ‘sex-negative’ society (yet a gun for every man, woman and child is OK) … what so many need, straight or gay, is more sex and family and fewer mind-altering pharmaceuticals.
At last fully embracing who I am has had more of a positive impact on me and my mental health than untold hours of therapy and uncountable ‘mental-health’ drugs.
I know from so many MWMs (married white men) and of course it is not only white men, that there are so many men of my generation who are still actors and not being true to themselves.
It is not too late … I’m 56, (OMG ... now 58) every day working to make up for lost time, also loving the adventure. I only wish I had the courage to take advantage of National Coming Out Day many years ago.
For the first time in more than a quarter of a century, today on October 11th, I don’t feel like a coward … its great to be able to at last enjoy the day, my amazing fiancée and community.
Thanks to Mark … maybe this year I’ll have a happy Christmas memory. (And I did!)
Enjoyed HRCs 2015 Coming Out Day Video. Take a look.