Sometimes I Wish I Was Gay


I’ve always tried to be myself throughout my life.  Of course that wasn’t always easy due to that little word, “repression.”  But overall I think I have done a pretty good job at least surviving some of those milestones.  I survived elementary school expressing my love and devotion for Whitney.  I survived middle school.  Lawd, we ALL survived middle school.  I survived high school exploring my interests in musicals and band and hanging out with friends.  I survived college…..lawd sometimes I wonder how I survived college.  I did it mostly staying true to who I was or trying to figure it all out.  I unabashedly loved *NSync and Celine and still, Whitney.  I did it dancing at bars and making mixed tapes and reading Entertainment Weekly and kind of dating girls, but exploring affection for boys too.  And I’ve survived 15 years of adulthood here in Chicago exploring me and trying to figure it all out.

One of the greatest gifts I have given myself is allowing me to live my life.  Although society has certainly played a role in shaping who I am and trying to keep me a “man” by design, I was designed different and thank the LAWD for that.  Last weekend I was at my good friend’s birthday party.  It had a dance floor, 3 gays, and a lot of beautiful women.  There were a lot of moments, like free style dancing to Journey’s “Separate Ways”, two of us boys jumping into the windows during a rendition of “Out Tonight” from RENT(musical people, you get it), and just a lot of fancy, wild, FREEDOM of dance.  While we were all doing that, another friend was at a table and a guy there said, as he looked at the amazing time we were having on the dance floor, “Sometimes I wish I was gay.”  I wonder, is he saying that he wishes he was out there dancing up a storm because there are so many beautiful women?  Or is he saying that because we were just being wild and free and not caring what society says about it?  I tend to believe it is the latter.  Society really sucks sometimes when it teaches men how “real” men should act.  I feel lucky because I have almost always been able to be me.  I’ve always had friends and family who have allowed me to dance like a fool on the dance floor at a wedding or at the bar.  Last spring I was at a bar in Chicago and it was 80s/90s night and right when we walked in Whitney played, then Janet, then Mariah.  It was amazing and we were dancing like no one was watching. I’m pretty much always dancing like no one is watching.  It was SO fun and we were all sweaty fools.  I noticed some twenty somethings laughing, pointing, and taking photos.  Oh, youth! They only wish they could be as free as us thirty somethings who know how to Say YES to Life without feeling bad or ashamed.


It just speaks to how our society sends messages to our youth.  I wish more men were able to watch some crazy fun gay guys and think, “man I wish I felt comfortable out there.”  More than anything else, I invite them to dance up a storm, get out there. Release a little of that “how a man is supposed to act” feeling and let loose on the dance floor men!  If you are raising boys, let them explore their interests.  Let them know, leading by example, that it’s ok to dance like no one is watching!

I’m clear.  I’m courageous.  I can.

Tonight in yoga my instructor started with an intention, “I’m clear.  I’m courageous.  I can.”  It really resonated with me as I pondered this blog post.  As I mentioned above, I have survived to age 38 fairly unscathed with society’s standards for men and how we should act.  Luckily as a kid, in 1987, my dad introduced the American Music Awards to me.  He saw it listed in the television guide in the paper.  We had just gotten our first VCR.  “You should tape this award show tonight.  You might like it.” It was the night Whitney won award after award after award, 5 total, for her Whitney Houston debut album.  That was the night I fell in love with her.  Of course there were times as a teen I wanted to scream, “I LOVE YOU JORDAN KNIGHT!” but instead I felt I couldn’t, rather I littered my bedroom walls with Paula Abdul BOP Magazine pictures.  There were times in college that I really wanted to cuddle with boys, instead I did what society taught and cuddled with girls(like a few times-don’t get crazy). What comes with age, hopefully, is wisdom and clarity. Finally around age 26 I had the clarity to accept my homosexuality.

Certainly throughout my life I faced challenges that prepared me for this life.  My mom taught me to be courageous at the young age of 8 when it was realized in 2nd grade that I did not know how to read.  Elementary school worked itself out, but when I hit sixth grade it took me hours nightly to complete my homework.  Due to my dad traveling heavily for work, my mother was home alone with my brother and me a lot.  I just remember her picking me up from home after working all day, racing across town to get my allergy shot.  Other nights she had to take my brother to various sports practices.  She always made dinner, cleaned up, and managed to keep my ADD in check as I would spend hours doing my homework, much of the time sitting by my side.  In my line of work I know so many parents who are not willing to take the time to be a PARENT.  Luckily for me, my mother did and through it all, taught me how to be courageous. That certainly has served me academically, professionally, and personally in my life.

I didn’t always feel like I could be myself growing up.  My parents did their best to support me and my varied interests without making me feel guilty or shame.  Though he teased me in many other ways, my brother never made me feel bad about my interests in watching hours of Star Search, award shows, pageants, or taping hours of Whitney Houston coverage on television. But still, I didn’t always feel that I could put my “shows” on in public or in our living room. I always knew I had a safe place at home, but even there I sometimes hid in the basement to create solo dance shows or other acting/performing shenanigans. What I learned growing up in my house, never through direct conversation, mostly just through experience, was that “I can.”  I can watch award shows and Miss Universe and it’s ok.  I can be successful and complete my academic work.  It might have taken me four hours a night, but I could do it.  “I’m clear.  I’m courageous.  I can.”

What I know now is that society has certain rules and standards and roles that it tries to get girls and boys to follow. Depending on where children are raised, how they are raised, and by whom they are raised has an incredible impact on who they are as an adult member of the same society that “raised” them.  It takes courageous parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, teachers, neighbors, and all the rest of society to allow our kids to explore their interests, out in the open, without judgement, ridicule, or expectation.

Learning to Love Yourself

I am profoundly grateful that I am gay.  It has allowed me to not follow the rules and to be different.  It has allowed me to not follow the norms set before my male peers.  Being gay has allowed me to buck society.  It hasn’t always been easy, but growing up isn’t for anyone.  It hasn’t always been accepted, but not everything a child does ever is.  Whether it was the family who raised me or the mostly kind people I grew up with or whether it came from within me, I think I turned out kind of alright. Luckily for me, I have never thought, “Sometimes I wish I was straight.”

Say YES to Life!                 

Be Daring

BeDaringIt’s 2015-Yes it is!  I try to take the opportunity every January to think about the upcoming year.  The hopes I have.  The dreams I have.  The opportunities I have.  I picked up this candle from Bath and Body Works over the holidays.  Three things drew me to it.  First, the scent of saffron and redwood.  Second, the glitter and sparkles.  Most importantly, the saying, “Be Daring.” How can I live my life in 2015 by being Daring?

Adventure seeker is certainly a proper description for me.  I’ve bungee jumped off a bridge in Zimbabwe.



Is 2015 the year I skydive?

As I’ve been thinking about the upcoming year my focus has been more on daring to hope more, love more, and live more fully. I am blessed to live pretty large right now, but there has to be more.  I never really expected to start my blog in 2014, but it just sort of came together one fateful day in May.  Falling in love was not something I expected to happen in 2014, but I certainly hoped for it.  Running my fourth marathon in 2014 isn’t something I expected…ok, I did expect to do that.  But I didn’t expect to have the amazing cheer crew chasing me all 26.2 miles.  I certainly did not expect to participate in the Gay Games 9 in Cleveland, but I met a boy, he suggested I participate, so I did.  That was daring.  That was risky.  That was one of the best, unexpected times of 2014 and of my life.


What unexpected things do you HOPE happen in 2015?  There is that word that I love so much.  HOPE.  There have been so many times in my life that hope got me through, but I had to dare to hope.  Granted, I’m typically a glass half full type of thinker, but there have moments and times when I’ve thought, “Screw hope, it doesn’t work.”  Yet, if that is my attitude, where does that get me?


The past is behind you.  You cannot change that.  What are you going to hope for in 2015?

Dare to love more in 2015.  Can I tell you something?  Love is awesome.  Being in love is awesome.  Love can also suck, but when you find yourself in the sucky part of love, what I know for sure is that you’ve got to love more.  Promise me, if you haven’t found love in your heart, keep going; keep loving more until you do.  Share more love with your friends.  Share more love with your family.  And always, always love yourself more.  I dare to love waking up at 5:30 a.m.  Ok, that’s never going to happen, but one can always hope, right?


Live your best life in 2015.  It’s the beginning of a new year with new opportunities.  What does living life mean to you?  To me, most importantly, is to live my best life on a daily basis.  I think I’m typically successful which means getting up, working, working out, yoga, and spending time with my friends and my boyfriend over dinner, good wine, and conversation and laughs.  That is a full day and I am blessed to spend most of my days that way.  I dare to live more in 2015 and not wish away time.  Time is precious. Although here in Chicago winter is typically cold and snowy, I’m going to try not to wish away winter, and time, until Spring.  I dare to live more.  In 2014 my friend Sarah and I dared to live more by organizing monthly happy hours to get people out of their routines and neighborhoods.  Weekly slow cooker suppers with friends?  Dinner parties to get everyone out of the house in January, February, and March?  Game nights?  More Happy Hours?  TRAVEL!  I am blessed to travel as much as I can and I plan on exploring new places in 2015!  How are you going to dare to live more in 2015?


So what is all of this hope, love, live, dare stuff?  It is all choice.  Man, each and every one of us has the opportunity each day to hope and love and live and dare to dream, all we have to do is make the choice to DO IT!  Get out there and seek something that is important to you, something that is new or maybe it’s something that you have longed for, just find the hope to continue your journey.


I feel blessed that I can wake up each day and make the choice to make it a good day or a bad day.  Now as an adult, one of my favorite memories of growing up with my dad is when he used to drop me off at school in 6th – 8th grade.  He would always say, as I was getting out of the car, “Make it a good day, son.”  I would roll my eyes, slam the door and run into school.  What I know now, that I did not understand then, is that I do have a choice each day to make it a good day.  Sure, major unexpected things can happen like bad hair or minor, a stressful phone call, but how we choose to react is within our power.  So I try not to think in terms of “have a good day” rather, “make it a good day.”  And that, I guess, is what this life is all about.  Choosing to hope when you just can’t seem to find faith.  And choosing to love even though love has hurt you before.  Choosing to live each day even when it is zero degrees out and the alarm is blaring at 5:30 a.m.  And most of all, choosing to Be Daring when sometimes your mind thinks you’re foolish.  Get out there to Ride Your Wave In 2015 and seek what you dream of and what you hope for in life.  Be Daring and Say YES to Life!


Seasons Change

Let me take you back, it’s February 10, 2002 and you are watching the final episode of the best Sex and the City season, Season 4.  Carrie and Aiden broke up again, Big left again, but Carrie has a new, sassy haircut and dark smokey eyes.  It’s Fall, change is upon Carrie, not only with men, but Miranda, her bestie just had a baby.  It’s Fall, the change of a season, leaves are falling from the sky and a lot in Carrie’s life has changed.

Today is a crisp day in Chicago and I sense the change of season is upon us.  As I drove home from yoga I couldn’t help but notice the leaves are changing colors.  Thirty minutes earlier I was at the end of my yoga practice, in shavasana.  I was feeling great.  Many of my favorite teachers have left, but this new one, Lauren, captured me.  As I laid there I reflected on the place I was a year ago.  Although I was working so hard on getting past a breakup, I was still very much hurting on a daily basis.  I’d say to myself, “You can do this.  You aren’t where you want to be but you are so far from the pain you felt in May and June and July.”  As soon as I felt strong, it seemed I felt weak again.  Each day was still a struggle, but I was making it.  I was making each day the best I could make it.  I was heavy into marathon training and into yoga practice.  However, today, as I lay there on my mat I felt completely different.  A year later I feel completely different.  I’m energized like myself.  I feel a release of energy that is so true to my being.  A year ago my intention in practice was healing, today my intention was love.   I just had this feeling on my mat today of AHHHHHH, changes have occurred and actually, I’m a far happier person because of those changes.  I’m in a far better place because of those changes.  Gosh it was a long journey, through many seasons, but I made it to the other side.  On a daily basis I did not see where I was headed, but what I know for sure, is that each day of the past 365 days, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.  And right now, September 11, 2014, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.


I would never wish upon anyone to go through heartbreak.  It sucks!  But now, very far from it, with clear eyes and a full heart, I can clearly see the changes that the past 16 months have afforded me.  What should be known is that each day isn’t easy.  You have to make an effort to move forward and let go.  My god did I struggle with letting go.  But once I did, doors opened.  New people came into my life and because of those new people, other people came into my life.  I started this blog because I finally let go.  I participated in the Gay Games in Cleveland because I finally let go.  I have a different energy in my life now because I let go.  And honestly, I’ve packed on 10 lbs. because I LET GO!  Let’s be honest, crying daily and not eating and training for a marathon can take you down to 168 lbs., but sitting at 178 lbs., a year later, I’m a much happier, energized person.


I remember back in July last year, I was sitting at my doctor’s office with a broken heart and broken hand.  She said, “Wow, you’re really going through a season, but don’t worry, it will get better.  Everything changes, you just have to hold on for a little bit before you see it.  Your hand will mend, and so will your heart.”  I of course was sobbing, but she was right.  My hand did heal and so did my heart.  I had to fucking tape that shit back together somedays, but with each stick of new tape and each step of the day, it all got better.  With friends’ help, oh friends’ help, I made it to my yoga mat today where I realized how far my journey has taken me and how far I have come.  If you find yourself in a similar situation, just hold on.  Surround yourself by loving friends and get a whole mess of tape because it could take a lot of mending before it all sticks back together.  But you have to believe that one day, your heart will stick all back together.  It may never feel the same way, but I believe that is ok.  It’s not meant to feel the same way.  Your heart changes too, just as you do.  You will always love again, just in a different way.  Thank your journey for teaching you all kinds of ways to love.  And remember this, seasons are going to happen, some of them good, some of them not so good.  You will make it to the other side.

You're not the same person

Oh, no truer words have been written, no truer words.  A year ago I was just starting to take longer steps in a forward progression to letting go.  As I reflect, I realize that I needed ALL of that time to learn about myself and heal and tape my heart up and tape again and accept the changes and SEE how wonderful the experiences I’ve lived this year have been.  A month ago I was coming off the greatest 10 days at the Gay Games in Cleveland.  Had I still been living my life of 2012-2013, I would never have experienced the love, joy, and excitement of being a competitive athlete at the Gay Games.  CHANGE, I don’t love it, but it brings us to where we need to be.  It forces us to veer off course and perhaps make our fate.  If things in my life hadn’t changed, I would not be sitting here today typing and sharing my writing.  So many parts of my life, right now, wouldn’t be as they are had things not changed.  Am I going to say it?  Change, change is good.

As seasons come and go, often fall, is a time of reflection as spring is a time of new hope, new adventures.  Winter is a time for, well, winter sucks, but summer, summer is a time for fun and joy.  My hope for you, as autumn seems to be upon us, is that you had a wonderful summer filled with more joy and love than you could ever imagine.  I hope that new people have brought joy and love to your life, as they have to mine, and I hope your dearest friends have remained that consistent joyful reminder of happiness and how far you have come on this journey.  I hope that autumn brings you a time of reflection, a nice new sweater and good changes.


I Beat the Fastest Woman in the 10K – Gay Games


Where do I begin?  Spending 10 days in Cleveland, OH last week for the Gay Games #GG9 was incredible, amazing, fulfilling, and totally unexpected.  I guess I knew the Games were being held in Cleveland, but I didn’t give it any thought to participate.  Life sort of had its way of happening and I had my way of Saying YES to Life and well, I ended up in Cleveland as an athlete in the Gay Games 9.  What I didn’t know when I signed up is how much fun it would be, how many people I would meet, and how significant it would feel to participate in an international event that happens every four years.  Cleveland opened it’s arms to the world, and we all answered back.

Cleveland?  Really?  THAT is the city that they chose to host the 2014 Gay Games?  Eight years ago it was in Chicago.  Four years ago the Games were held in Cologne, Germany.  Cleveland, Ohio?  How the hell did they beat out Boston, Washington D.C. and New York City?  That I cannot tell you the answer to, but I can tell you that those other three cities are pretty progressive.  Gays are totally boring in those cities.  The significance of hosting an international event like the Gay Games allowed a humble Mid-West city to become exponentially more progressive and what a job they did.  Everywhere we walked there were rainbow flags hanging from businesses and on lamp posts.  The most iconic building of the city (above) was lit up in a rainbow of color every night as if a beacon saying, “Gays, we love you too and you are welcome in our city.”  Never once did I see a protester.  Never once did I feel uncomfortable holding hands.  Never once did I hear a shout of negativity.  I felt accepted and loved and full of joy for 10 days in Cleveland.  As I said when I left on Sunday, Well done Cleveland.  Well done.

Tom Waddell founded the Gay Olympics in 1982 on the principle

that competition can overcome division and prejudice.

The purpose of the Federation of Gay Games is to foster and augment the self-respect of lesbians and gay men throughout the world and to engender respect and understanding from the nongay world, primarily through an organized international participatory athletic and cultural event held every four years, and commonly known as the Gay Games.

Not only did I want to participate as a runner in the Games, but I wanted to take them in like Princess Kate and Prince William did with the London Olympics.  Much like Kate, I donned my finest attire to attend the diving practice, and the swimming competition and even a basketball game and party after party after party.  I wasn’t nearly as pretty, but I did my hair real nice.  At the basketball game I met a reporter from Germany who sat next to me.  We chatted about the significance of the Games in Cleveland.  He is from Cologne, the host four years prior, and his friends told him the festivities were way more outrageous than in Cleveland.  While chatting, he asked me why I felt the Games were so significant.  What I told him is that Cleveland is still in the Mid-West and there is still a lot of growth that needs to happen.  But unlike Boston, D.C., Chicago, or NYC, Cleveland offered an opportunity for residents of a fairly conservative area of the country to be exposed to more GAYS than they knew existed!  The city was drooling with gays.  Like I said, the city and businesses embraced us all.  I chatted with a girl at the Starbucks who asked about the Games. She had no idea that they are held every four years in an effort to spread tolerance and the message of acceptance and inclusion.  She simply thought her home city was doing something really cool.  Yes, everyone is included in the Gays Games, even our straight friends.  At swimming and diving I saw people who were most likely in their fifties competing.  One man did a belly flop, twice, but he was accepted and a little tolerated, and he was most of all, having fun.  So my conversation with the German reporter continued.  I think it was only because I had my hair real nice, like Kate, remember?  I finished with this.  It may not be the flashiest or most outrageous of Games, but I feel like Cleveland is a success because it furthered the push for acceptance and tolerance in an area of our country that so desperately needs to get on board with all of that.  Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, they are all on the wrong side of history and the exposure that the Gay Games has given the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and it’s residents, I hope, will begin to put the rest of the Mid-West on the right side of history.


So what was it like?  Well, if I could win a gold medal for party participation, I would have.  The gays know how to throw a party.  I knew if the kick-off party at the art museum Friday night followed by the Opening Ceremonies(Lance Bass-bad; Pointer Sisters-fabulous)Saturday night of opening weekend were any indication, this week would be fab, fab, fab.  It was exhilarating to march in the opening ceremonies that hosted more athletes than the Sochi Olympics, probably because the gays weren’t afraid for their lives to attend this event.  We marched into the Q Arena to a huge party with thousands of fans.  Senators welcomed us.  The Mayor of Cleveland welcomed us.  President Obama welcomed us.  But most of all, Cleveland welcomed us.  One thing we all wished was that Lance Bass had NOT welcomed us.  He was kind of awful.  However, the Pointer Sisters, rocked the house.  “Jump for my love.  Jumpin’ and feel my touch.  Jump Jump For My Love.”  We went to the White Party and of course, as the gays would have it, it poured rain and turned into a huge wet t-shirt orgy.  Ok, that didn’t happen, but Boy George was there spinning some great tunes.  House of Blues hosted a party.  Hotels hosted parties.  Bars hosted parties.  Festival Village hosted parties.  I don’t think we got to bed once before midnight.  Of everything, the post-closing ceremony party might have been my favorite one.  The Games were over and we all relaxed and drank and tossed flowers at each other and danced and made friends and had the time of our lives.  Most of the guys I had just met that week but we simply had the best of times.  So really, I guess it was a huge party with a few athletics thrown in for good measure.


The above sign is one I never thought I would ever follow in my life.  Growing up, my brother was the athlete in the family.  I tried soccer one fall and asked my coach incessantly if I could organize the oranges for halftime rather than play.  The following spring I gave t-ball a shot.  My parents were frighted for my life, and probably a little embarrassed, when I sat down in the outfield and picked grass with my back to the game.  I wasn’t an athlete.  My freshman year of high school, during PE class, my teacher, the high school swim coach, asked me to join the swim team after he watched me swim.  As an overweight kid, living in the shadow of my all-star athlete brother, I didn’t even give it a thought.  Well, that is wrong, I thought, “I’d love to swim, but what do I show up the first day in?  A speedo?  A regular swimsuit?  I’m not an athlete.”  I just didn’t have the confidence to pull it all together.  So I did my thang in marching band and musicals and had a great experience.  It wasn’t until 2011, after my first marathon, that I felt even remotely athletic.  Even then I’d tell people, “I’m not an athlete.  I just run.”  Finally, last year after running two marathons in three weeks, and posting sub-four hour finishes in both, I felt like an athlete.  When the opportunity arose to participate in the Gay Games I did not even think twice.  I went for it.  I ran three events, the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon.  In each event I posted new personal records, crushing all of my previous times.  My best race, the 10K, I was 5th in my age bracket, just missing a medal.  I kind of felt like Michelle Kwan, always the bridesmaid.  Whaaa Waaaaaaaaa!  But that doesn’t matter, what is important is that it might have taken a long, long time, but at 38, and Saying YES to Life, I finally call myself, an athlete.


Look at that amazing bouffont at 6 a.m.  Now that is a GAY ASS ATHLETE! 

My takeaways from the week:

Cleveland, you rocked.  You accepted us.  You loved us.  You rocked with us.  Thank you.  Forevermore, Thank you!

I’ll remember the people I met along the way.  The German reporter who sat with me and interview me at a basketball game.  The speedo clad, tatted up, nipple rings, overly tanned, slightly saggy older man in the swim competition.  Erik, the teacher from Montreal, I sat with on my way to the 10K start line.  We chatted about teaching and kids these days, and how Cleveland rocked the Gay Games.  And there were the two Germans I ran with during the half marathon, Fritz and Michael.  Once I realized they were in my age bracket, I left them in my dust.  Sorry guys, it was nice chatting with you.  There was the girl who waited on us for brunch following my race.  “Did you guys participate?  Did you win?”  My response, “He’s a sliver medalist in volleyball.  Mine is just a participation medal.”  Haha, it’s fine.  She said, “Oh cool.  This is all so cool,” with a huge smile on her face.  Finally, all of the guys I call my new friends.  You know who you are and you are pretty awesome.  It was a joy to participate with you and all the shenanigans.  Thanks for opening your arms so wide to me.

Our straight allies who participated in the sports or volunteered or simply cheered us on, as the MC of the Closing Ceremonies said, “Where are our straight people?  We love straight people.  We need you to make more of us.”  Isn’t that the truth.  Thank you for making us and loving us!

This:  photo

This too:  photo 2

Oh and This:  photo

And This Too:  photo 1

It was an incredible week filled with amazing feelings of joy and memories to last a lifetime.  My friend Matt captured many of the finest moments in this video that played at the closing ceremonies(find him at  If you watch closely, you might recognize one of the athletes at 1 minute 40 seconds.  Matt’s video captures how it felt to participate and spend 10 days at #GG9.


  Yup, I’m lucky and so are the thousands of gay men and women I spent time with and competed against in the Gay Games.  Our world has changed immensely in the eight years since Chicago hosted the games.  What will the world be like for us gays in 2018 when Paris hosts us?  Yes, us, I say.  US!  We’re going!

I leave you with this charming, charming little conversation that will live on and on.  “You are the SILVER medalist in volleyball,” I lovingly said to my guy.  “And you honey beat the fastest woman in the 10K!”

Say YES to Life!


“I’m Gay”

“I’m Gay” …

the two hardest words that have ever left my lips, but what was even more difficult was getting to the point of saying those words.  People often ask, “Did you know you were gay?”  My response often, “Did you know you were straight?”  Growing up in a straight world; a society that celebrates being straight, “normal” and all that goes with being how your parents envision your life to be.  My parents have always been accepting of my gayness(I don’t like “lifestyle”, “homosexuality” sounds so scientific, and I hope we can put to rest the idea of “choice”.)  But, what they said to me when I told them, “I’m gay” is that it was never a life they envisioned for their child because of the difficulty.  I also believe that parents have hopes and dreams for their children based on the straight society in which we are raised.  Kids are born, they play, they learn, they grow, they leave home, they marry, they have kids…..that is what our society celebrates.  That, I believe, is what parents hope for their children.  My journey has been different.  What I know for sure is that my family may not totally understand my journey, but they have always been supportive and most of all, proud of who I have become.  I’ve lived 38 years, but I’ve lived my truth the past 12 years.


So back to that age old question gay men are asked, “Did you know you were gay?”  No.  I grew up in a time that there were not gay role models.  Gays were not very present, if at all, on television.  The gays in the media were Liberace or Elton John, certainly two men I never identified with.  So though I knew I felt different, I never really knew why.  I played with the boys in the neighborhood, rode bikes in the woods, went swimming, played with WWF wrestling figures, but around 6th grade, when they were playing football in the backyard, I started to find that I would rather lay in front of my stereo at home and listen to Wilson Phillips and Tiffany.  Hahaha.  Honestly, I laugh now.  I loved Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters when I was five and would put on weekly shows while watching their Saturday night variety show on NBC.  I loved and will always love, Whitney Houston.  I laid in front of my stereo every Sunday morning for four hours and listened to Rick Dee’s and the Weekly Top 40.  I watched Star Search on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. and then watched the same repeat episode on Sunday at 4 p.m.  Did I know I was gay?  No.  Did I know I had very different interests than the fellas on the street?  Yes.  That was basically how I lived my life from age 12 to 18.  I did not necessarily shy away from being me, but I was aware that I needed to hide some of my interests as not to be made fun of and always in my head hoping, “this is just a phase.  I’ll grow out of it.”

Funny, I never “grew out of it.”  I went to college and still repressed any feelings I had toward boys.  What was wonderful in college is that I met my friends Herb and Cary.  Though none of us were out at that time, we connected on a level that was better for me.  Cary had Entertainment Weekly too and openly loved Mariah just as much as I loved Whitney.  Herb loved Celine Dion and wanted to watch “Deep End of the Ocean” with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford.  Glory Glory Hallelujah, finally people like me.  Again, all of us were struggling with the same acceptance of ourselves, but at least I felt more comfortable knowing that I wasn’t the only guy with interests other than the “norm.”

It wasn’t until eight years later, when I was 26, that I finally, FINALLY, was able to say, “I’m Gay!”  I told my friend Dennis after his “coming out” party.  He’d recently moved in with a new roommate.  It was the first party I ever went to with all gay men.  The party blew my mind.  I met so many people and sat with a guy named Paul and talked about General Hospital for about two hours.  Haha, Heaven!  What is this easy NOT uneasy feeling in my stomach?  Why does this feel so “right?”  Dennis walked me out to grab a cab and my life changed forever, “I’m gay Dennis.”


For the past 12 years I have been living my life “through.”  It has not always been easy.  Telling my mom and dad was excruciatingly painful.  Feeling I had to keep my gayness a secret from work was increasingly more difficult as I wanted to involve my friends in my entire life, but I lived a double, smoke and mirrors life for several years.  What I know now that I didn’t know then, is that everyone has been accepting and loving of me and my gayness.  The fear of being rejected never came true.  The fear of work friends caring never came true.  I never felt that people did not “know” rather, I just had not “told” them.  A funny story is the time I was at recess with a few of my 5th grade students.  The conversation between four girls happened right in front of me, yet I was not part of the conversation, I simply heard it.  “My parents say that if Mr. T is gay that is fine because he’s a great teacher.”  “Yeah, I asked my mom if he is gay and she said probably but that it didn’t matter because he’s a really nice guy.”  Hilarious!  What that moment taught me is that errrrrrrrbody “knows” I’m gay, I just haven’t “told” everybody.  So now, 12 years later, my life just IS.  I’m gay.  It’s not a big dramatic thing.  I don’t hide my life from anyone.  I used to feel it had to be this big announcement; a planned event.  Telling my family and my friends at first was such a big deal.  I had to keep it a secret from this person but not that person.  If I was dating I could only tell this person or that person.  When I would go to gay bars I would only tell this person but not that person.  I distinctly remember the first or second night I ever went out to Boystown bars.  I was sitting in the chair at my computer on Magnolia Ave.  I was on the computer checking email before I left.  My body was convulsing.  I was shaking so bad with nerves that my muscles seized up and I couldn’t move.  Somehow I calmed myself down and got out of the house.  That night I walked into Sidetrack and said to myself, with a sigh of relief, “Oh, this is what it is supposed to feel like to go to a bar.  This is what is normal for me.”  I walked into the bar with ALL men.  It was amazing and wonderful.  I was finally living my truth.

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

So here I am, 12 years later, at the Gay Games getting ready to run the 10K today.  For many reasons this is an incredible experience.  In high school I never had the confidence to join the swimming team, even when I was asked to do so by the coach.  “I’m not an athlete” I would think.  Now I’m an athlete participating in one of the biggest sporting events of 2014.  12 years ago I wasn’t comfortable just being myself, now I’m a confident man, dancing in the streets last night with other men from around the world.  I’m posting to social media telling my story because I can.  It’s my truth and it is who I am and who I was born to be.  “To thine own self be true.”  August 5th is when I celebrate my birth.  August 10th is when I celebrate my life.  Say YES to Life!