Thursday, August 24, 2006

A backward weekend glance

It was a pretty darn good weekend - despite the fact that it started off with a trip to the dentist to fix a broken temporary crown. (Ick.) But once I got home, took a nap, got my poop in a group (so to speak), and got on the road, it was a good weekend.

The weekend had two worthy moments. I had brought along the movie of the musical Rent, because I hadn't gotten to see it at home for two weeks straight (so to speak). Saturday night, after getting my new glasses and having a nice dinner out, Sue asked what we should do for the evening. They talked about going out to a movie, but Jeff had to get up early, so I suggested watching Rent together.

Now I had no idea of the storyline - but you didn't have to watch for long to get the fact that there are a number of both straight and gay people living in a tenement city in New York, and almost all dealing with HIV/AIDS. And I have to tell you, it would have been really uncomfortable watching that if I were still closeted. I'm sure I would have been wondering, "What are they thinking about this? Do they suspect?..." About a third of the way through the movie (Jeff having gone to bed), I said to Sue, "Man - I had no idea this movie had all these themes wrapped up in it," and she said, "Yeah, and I probably never would have seen it if you hadn't suggested it..."

Side note - if you are one of the benighted ones (as I was) who haven't yet seen Rent, run (not walk) to the video store and rent it. Do it today.
Another VERY cool thing about the weekend was that my encounter with my DeMolay advisor friend went well. We had breakfast at a local diner, a place which could be nicknamed Breakfast at Hooters - truly beautiful young ladies serving breakfast and lunch.

And during breakfast (as I expected) he made an impassioned pitch for me to join him in his work with DeMolay. And later in the conversation, I let him know that, much as I might like to join him, I just wasn't qualified - and made it clear what "not qualified" meant. It was kind of funny - I think it took him by surprise, for a second or two.

But, in his typical direct style, he said, "Well, are you a pedophile?"


"Have you been arrested?"

"For what? Of course not! I've been celibate for more than a decade!"

"Then what's the problem??"

Well, we went back and forth, but in the end I told him that I felt it was just asking for trouble, and I didn't think it was a wise place to go. And I told him that I really had thought about doing the "don't ask, don't tell" thing - but it just wasn't worth it to continue the lies. So I wasn't going to go there - period.

And it sure seemed like it was OK, and we were OK.

I have to tell you: No one who has not had to "come out" (about anything) can ever know how wonderful those two letters are.

O-K. No big deal. No drama. Life goes on, and a silent prayer of thanks goes up.

A similar experience happened two days later. Tuesday, my young sponsee Matt was downtown and I took some time from the work insanity to have coffee with him. He got downtown a little early, so he was standing out on the plaza (which borders the Chicago River) when I came down to meet him.
Backstory: In the past, when we'd meet in Hyde Park for coffee, we would frequent the C-shop at the University of Chicago, and he would ogle the attractive young co-eds bouncing through there. It wasn't until after I came out that Matt put two and two together, and figured out that while he was watching the attractive young ladies, I was noticing the equally attractive college-aged young men. Neither one of us were exactly panting in heat, of course - for vastly different reasons - but it finally dawned on him that we might be having similar (if mirrored) experiences.
Anyway, The Employer's offices are in the same building with CDW, a firm which seems to have made "being an Abercrombie-model wannabe" a condition of employment. And a number of the attractive lads seem to enjoy taking breaks out in front of the building, by the river.

As I came out of the building, and spotted Matt, the plaza was populated by a fair number of "the CDW boys." And as I called out to Matt and walked up to him, he hugged me, smiled and said, "How do you make it down here with all these good-looking guys! If these were girls down here, I'd be in real trouble!"

Now, my young friend's orientation is not in question - not in the least. (In fact, to be fair, I had mentioned the "CDW boy" effect to him before, in passing, as one of the few perks of that particular office he knew a little what to expect.) But to me, it spoke volumes that a straight guy would even notice "the scenery" - and realize the effect it might have on his gay friend. And it also spoke volumes that he would be comfortable enough to bring it up - let alone joke about it.

It was just another measure of being "OK." And it felt really, really good.

It's at times like this that my despair for the straight world fades, ever so gently, and I think, "There is yet hope..."


  1. And Matt is a bit of a cutie, too, in his own wholesome way...

    My parents were very worried that my brother would react badly when I came out to him. Instead, it was a great and touching experience. Then they worried that his daughters -- who adore me -- would be horrified if they learned of it. My brother, because he took it so well, told them within a few days. Then I got an email from one of my nieces. This is part of it:

    I just wanted you to know that I love you, and you're my hero. I know that it takes a lot of guts to be different in our family. But I know how it is to be the odd-ball. My parents think that I'm gay. I'm not, but sure, why not let them think that. They saw an "I support gays" banner on my webpage. So, now they are 100% convinced that I am.

    But I am so proud of you. You really are awesome. I don't really know what I was trying to say at the beginning of the e-mail, but I love you, and you are the BEST uncle ever in my eyes! (And I have two so that says a lot! *Shh!*)

    Not all stories turn out this way, of course. But it was a great treat for me!

  2. Michael: "Not all stories turn out this way, of course. But it was a great treat for me!"

    True enough, but freedom comes when the story turns out the other way -- when the person you come out to rejects you because you are gay -- and life goes on.

    That's when the fear that you might be rejected goes away -- you realize that you will be rejected from time to time.

    All three reactions -- acceptance, indifference, rejection -- are part of being gay, and all are positive in their own way.

  3. i cannot imagine what it must be like to find such acceptance after being *cloistered* in your own self for so long. i am thrilled you are having positive encounters (positive in the "acceptance" kind of way :)

    i was at work yesterday (childbirth center) and one of the girls i work with is currently fulfilling her phlebotomy requirements which i will be beginning in november. she said she had to be at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. to do her *sticks* and one of her patients was an AIDS patient, probably end-stages from what she described.

    i was so taken aback when she said she was "prejudiced" against PWA and that she could never, ever work with people that had that. i said "he was probably DYING -- he couldn't help the way he smelled or how his body was reacting to medication or anything else!!" she said "you are kidding me - you wouldn't mind it?" i said "i used to volunteer for the South Jersey AIDS Alliance so no, i wouldn't -- i always said if i didn't work with laboring moms and delivering babies, i would want to work with AIDS patients, strictly. i either want to usher them in or usher them out - either way, i am praying."

    and i walked away.

    i have a very difficult time with ignorance; i can only imagine your world and just can only say i assure you always of my prayers, my dear steve (and anyone else who reads or comments here!)