Sunday, May 1, 2011

In Search Of "Home"

Originally Posted on February 27, 2007

This Monday’s class session was a turning point on this journey. After weeks of uncertainty, validation arrived with a grade on my first paper. Let’s just say that the green light blinked on and it’s all “go” from here.

My brother, Matthew, requested a copy of the paper. He will be getting said copy as soon as I make the edits based on my professor’s notes and finalize the draft. She had plenty to say regarding the points I made and encouraged me to further probe and expand on them for other readers. Now, I understand what to expect on my future papers in this program.

For our weekly class discussion, we read Open House: Writers Redefine Home, a collection of essays that explored further the concept of home from a diverse group of writers. Two of the essayists were of particular notice.

In one essay, Michael Joseph Gross explored the juxtaposition of visiting his mother at a care facility and his subcultural identity as someone involved in the Leather/BDSM community. The essay explained that his “home” was among the multitude attending the International Mister Leather (IML) run in Chicago. In the end, he would come out to his mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The other essay follows Reginald Shepherd as he explores his "home" inside the club scene. He explained that through his dancing at the clubs, he felt at home with other gay men boogying the night away.

Don’t mind the cynicism, but somehow this prompted the perfect time to shed some light on these essays from my own perspective.

Ten years ago, while in the throes of Gen-X Bears, I witnessed many people who were searching for a “home” and acceptance in the bear community. I explained that many bear-identified men sought home in various forms from bear runs to the bar scene. Some even found home at the coffee klatches and gatherings organized by local Gen-X Bears chapters.

A common thread between Gross, Shepherd and the bears I encountered in my work was the dissatisfaction they found in their physical homes. There was a time when coming out was not a good experience for many gay men. Today, you still encounter many of the same experiences of gay men searching for “home” among other like-minded people.

How many people do you know today still feel right at home at the bar or a bear run instead of their physical residence or with their family?

These young men were not alone. I was also searching for “home.” By May of 1997, I moved into a place that became my first true home away from California. The small home in Falls Church, Virginia, outside of Washington, was the right place to firm up this process. It took a period of wandering to find this place. Three years later, I wandered out of the DC area and into the Midwest. There were times when I missed that home and experiences I had living back East.

Today, I am at home in the Twin Cities. In my third year here, I could not think of another place to be at this stage in my life. However, after the frigid and snowy February we had, I began to ponder of a better and healthier place to live the rest of my life. Then, I perused my paper and the book again. I am grateful for a place that has four seasons and a group of local friends that are full of love, laughter and mutual support.

That, my friends, constitutes “home.”  

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