Monday, June 29, 2009

Square 29: Gay pride

Square 029

1995 was a desperate year. I was deeply depressed and my doctor told me I would not recover unless I accepted being gay. He didn't realize that meant leaving my evangelical church—my life and security for the past 12 years. As I edged toward self-acceptance my Christian friends mostly reacted with disdain. My marriage collapsed.

I started attending a support group for sex addicts, but my new sponsor told me, "You're being too hard on yourself." He meant that wanting to have sex with other men did not amount to an addiction, but I still didn't get it.

A few days later I met a priest at one of the support group meetings. He said, "You are not an addict. Once you experience sex with other men, everything will start to make sense. You won't feel like your life is out of control."

I had recently moved into my own apartment. I went home that evening and sat crying at the window, watching snow fall under the streetlights. I realized I had to make more changes and could never look back. Upon leaving the church, I had sought belonging in the support group, but the place where I really belonged was utterly new, foreign and unknown.

Except for my marriage, I had been celibate since 1984. My doctor's advice was, "Don't get into another relationship right away. You need to experiment, figure out who you are."

The morning after the snowfall I woke up ready to put an end to shame. I decided, "I am going to make love to a man today." It was January 20, 1996, and I was 31 years old.

A handsome Honduran had previously flirted with me at the gym. I went there, saw him and invited him back to my place. His name was David. Our encounter was the most uninhibited and physically satisfying I had ever experienced.

Recently my teenage daughter Marian observed that my life has been one of extremes: gay and straight, conservative and liberal, Christian fundamentalist and atheist. Maybe from today's perspective the passages of my life look contrasted as the colours of the rainbow.

Even I recall that January morning as one of glowing hope and excitement against the backdrop of misery, however it was just one day in years of arduous progress. The transitions have been uncertain, the colours muddy. Still a pilgrim, I remember and celebrate the day my feet set upon a path of freedom.

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