(Me at 3 years old, in a dashing homemade outfit.)
Yup, that's me.
Notice the smile?
That's what I'm trying to recapture.
The beautiful blond hair is now a slightly flatter blond with tinges of gray... there's no way (short of Clairol or Grecian Formula) to recover the hair. But it's the childlike joy that I'm going for, though. The smile and the eyes that say, "Anything is possible." This will be my avatar, I think, for quite a while.
(But yeah, from that outfit alone, they should have known how I'd turn out...)
There's lots to write about - lots more than I have time to write today. There's a series of posts that will be devoted to my experience with the book Coming Out: An Act of Love by Rob Eichberg. There's the raw sewage flowing between the evangelical Christians and the "emergent church" movement over Brian McLaren's comments about homosexuality.
But for now, there's two things to share - a funny moment at an AA meeting, and a prayer request. First the fun moment...
Thursday night, I'd had about all of work I could take. I was looking forward to meeting up with a young man I'd been sponsoring in AA and going to a meeting together. This meeting just happened to be one of the two "Hyde Park neighborhood" AA meetings at which I'd come out openly. It's a good group - a short speaker shares experience, strength and hope and then comments follow.
During the meeting, my sponsee spoke up, reflecting on his early sobriety. He'd intended to share how he'd been pretty dependent on me as a guide in his early days. Just about everyone in the room knew that I was his sponsor, and had seen him kind of cling to me, and a few others in the rooms when he was newly sober.
But what he ended up saying was, "Back then, I spent a lot of time hiding behind my sponsor's skirt..."
Now I knew (and a lot of people also knew) what he meant.
And we all saw his eyes go wide, as he realized what he'd said, and about whom. What was written all over his face for that one second was "WTF did I just SAY?" He tried to recover, saying "...pant leg," but it was too late. The whole room was roaring in laughter - me right along with them. One person in particular, who's commented on this blog a time or two, started chiming in with images of me in a pink tutu...and that just made the laughter louder. My young friend turned about 15 shades of pink, and stayed pretty flushed even as the laughter died down.
Later that night, as the meeting ended, he was more than a little mortified and kept trying to apologize that he could have said "something like that." I laughed, and told him that it was a beautiful moment, and the look on his face was worth the price of the good-natured ribbing I took about it. My joy was in being free enough to be able to laugh at myself, and reassure him that it was absolutely OK.
Earlier today, as we were talking, I reminded my friend about his little faux-pas (and got another good laugh out of it). He said, "I just remember when you first told me about it [coming out], and it seemed like it was a serious deal for you. I just didn't want to embarrass you about it." I told him that for me, the joy was being able to say that friends joking around like that was going to be part of being out and free - and I was glad that it happened exactly as it did.
What I didn't say explicitly to him (but need to) is that part of the reason I can be more free about being gay is precisely because at the time that I thought my homosexuality would be a big deal to him, that it wasn't. His acceptance of me as I began the public portion of coming out was the gift that allowed me to "keep on keepin' on," and I owe him a debt of gratitude for that encouragement and support.
The prayer concern is this - there are five people that I need to come out to - my former spouse, my late mentor's widow (and one of my surrogate mom's) in KC, and another set of surrogate parents and two of their children. Each one is still very much a part of my life (if a somewhat disconnected, distant part), and each relationship carries some baggage of its own. So just pray for me, as I begin to write those letters, to continue to be open and honest as this journey goes on.
Because only by being open and honest will I ever be able to recover that little boy's joy and hope.