Left: my friends Garet, Chris and Greg at San Francisco Gay Pride 2005.
This week I will attempt to cover the activities in my life and those in my friends’ lives during Gay Pride San Francisco 2006. There is lots going on:
- My better half, Donnan, will arrive on Tuesday and visit until Saturday (a new development since he was originally leaving on Friday)
- Rey, Atari, Darin, Adam, and Daryl will join us for the weekend. These guys rock and I can’t wait to spend some quality time with each and every one of them.
- I am so happy being who I am how can I NOT celebrate?
And with that note, here’s my start to celebrating the week:
WHY I AM PROUD TO BE GAY?
It is the probing question around these parts and around the world as we conclude Pride Month 2006. Why are we proud to be gay? The question has many complex and diverse answers — but we can only answer for ourselves.
Here’s why I am proud.
It is all about honesty. Honesty with those we love and with ourselves. As many of you know who regularly read my blog, I didn’t come out until about five years ago. I’m a late bloomer as many would call it. Until I was 35, I spent my years couped up in an overpacked closet trying to compensate for my true self through depression, anger and basically being a bitch to many people in my life. Many of my friends would say that I actually wasn’t as bad as I describe myself but I actually would.
I was out with Kalvin last night and he mentioned that I had never written about coming out of the closet. The actual experience, I mean. The experience is all wrapped into why I am proud of being gay.
Here it is.
I spent most of my early 30s living in San Francisco – the gayest city in the world. Everyone I meet and everyone I know can’t believe that I moved away from here to come out of the closet but that’s actually what I did. I moved to Santa Fe in late 2001 after 9/11. I had taken the year off after 6 years of working in telecommunications and a start up in Silicon Valley. I worked my ass off. I would awake at 5:30 a.m., join my carpool at 6:30 a.m., drive to Santa Clara from the City, work for 10 or so hours, and carpool home. All in all, I worked my tight ass off.
I was ready for a break.
The morning of 9/11, I was in Santa Fe housesitting for my best friend’s parents. My best friend and his wife lived next door. I had arrived earlier in the month after a blasphemous week at Burning Man. A week where I hung out at my camp during the day and would scurry around the event at night meeting guys, sleeping with guys and returning to camp to be the pretend person that I was portraying to all I knew. Hetero girl-loving Dan. When I returned to San Francisco after that Burning Man (and before I headed out to Santa Fe to housesit), I met a beautiful Brazilian man named Horatio. He came back to my apartment to play around and instead we ended up talking.
“You are very hot, you must have lots of boyfriends?” he asked.
“Not really,” I responded. “I’m not out.”
He laughed out loud (LOL). So did I. It seemed so natural to lie naked in bed with another man and talk about my sexuality. We talked for hours. Our conversation convinced me to be who I was. I cannot attribute my coming out to anyone but this stranger who helped me realize my true self. I credit myself for coming out but I acknowledge Horatio for helping to open the door. We ended up doing nothing but kiss and talk and I couldn’t have wished for anything more. As I drove to Santa Fe the next day to begin my housesitting duties for the month of September, I kept looking in the rearview mirror and saying: “I’m gay….I’m gay….I’m gay.”
It was the most freedom I had felt in my life. Living life in a lie really sucks.
But I wasn’t ready to tell anyone – yet.
Then the morning of 9/11 happened. I was asleep in bed when the phone rang at about 8 a.m. Mountain Time. It was my best friend’s wife Hannah.
“Get up. And turn on the TV. You won’t believe it!” she yelled.
My first thought was that San Francisco was leveled by an earthquake.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I can’t even talk about it. Just turn on the TV.”
I clicked on the remote in my room. The first thing I saw was the World Trade Center burning and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric commenting over the video. I was confused, just as I had been my whole life.
I sat glued to the coverage and soon thereafter the WTC collapsed. As was most of the nation, I was in shock. I spent the next couple of days in limbo just trying to absorb what had happened. I had a six month backpacking trip planned to SE Asia but cancelled it. I didn’t want to go back to work, nor did I really want to do anything. I was scared to live in a huge city when I felt that the water supply could get poisoned at any second. That’s when Nick and Hannah asked me if I would consider moving to Santa Fe.
For lack of a better plan, I said yes. I moved into Nick and Hannah’s guest house to start a new life.
It was a couple of months later when I drove up the driveway one day and saw Nick, Hannah and my goddaughter Charlotte playing in the driveway. I was over the shock of 9/11 and was beginning to deal with myself again. My secretive life (sorry Rey). They were one happy family playing in the yard and it occurred to me that I would never engage in that scenario. I parked and got out of the car. If there was anyone to come out to it was my best friends who lived 30 feet from me.
My little and newly-acquired puppy Louie came running over and licked my boots.
“Guys – I need to tell you something and you’d better sit down.”
“Who died?” Hannah asked.
“The old Dan” I responded. “I’m gay.”
They looked at me for a second and then responded with a reaction that I did not expect – applause.
“Thank god you finally figured it out!” they cheered.
My life changed forever at that one moment. I had support for who I was. I don’t know why I hadn’t expected otherwise but I felt good. I was me.
Being gay has made me a better man and the best person that I can be. An honest person. No hiding, lying, or pretending. It took awhile to get to this point and I am so proud and happy with the man that I have become.
That is why I celebrate who I am on Gay Pride and for all of you who have gone through bullshit, lies and other damaging behavior. We are all in this together and I am so proud to have you as my friends. You have stood beside me, taken blows for me and talked sense into me. That’s my greatest achievement – making kick-ass friends who are my family. That’s why I celebrate Gay Pride in 2006. Not for anything more than having support in our homophobic world.
And for being able to walk down the street holding hands with my boyfriend in San Francisco (at least). And for those who understand my constant pop culture references.
I’m a lucky guy.
Happy Gay Pride everyone!
Tune in for continuing coverage from San Francisco.