Originally Posted on June 25, 2009
“Being gay has taught be tolerance, compassion, and humility, It has shown me the limitless possibilities of living. It has given me people whose passion and kindness and sensitivity have provided a constant source of strength.
“It has brought me into the family of man, Mama, and I like it here. I like it."
- Armistead Maupin through the voice of Michael Tolliver from More Tales of the City
Since my initial coming out process, this quote from Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series provided a center for my soul. Through the pen of Michael Tolliver, the primary gay character in his books, Maupin expressed the thoughts that would otherwise take more eloquent and oblique wording on my part to explain to my mother and everyone I grew up with about my sexual orientation.
This passage also serves to signify my existence within the Bear culture. The idea of a subculture as a family is something of an anomaly in mainstream society. As far removed as we are from our birth relatives, we often search for a sense of “family.” Once we find it, it is through the closest friends and confidants whether they are in a particular neighborhood or across state and national borders. Within this “family,” you are free to express yourself without reprisal and recourse.
Then, something happened in the process. Over years of establishing a life within the context of sexual orientation and cultural identity, one wants to ensure there is constant contact with the past. One wants to understand where they stand with the people they grew up and were fond of during one’s formidable years. Clearly, the paths taken by each of us were different, but with similar traits that are unique to a person’s experience during those younger times.
Over the past year-and-a-half, I began the process to welcome my childhood and high school friends back into my life. I will admit to my surprise how much they have welcomed me back not as only as a former classmate from Reseda High School, but as an adult living over a thousand miles away as an openly gay man.
I never thought I’d ever see this day happen. I was astonished to see how many have embraced the same fights that I am involved with. The frustration over California’s Proposition 8 certainly galvanized these friends back in my home state as well as in other places. Everyone has weighed on this issue from my brother to old Reseda friends who once supported Ronald Reagan for President when we were in 10th grade.
But, the debate over same-gender marriage should not just be the watershed that brings us all together. It is a certain level of unconditional fraternal love that goes beyond being classmates back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. It is the bind that ties us together that we return back to being a part of our lives almost three decades later.
This is perhaps a wonderful piece of joy in my life. Sometimes, when I get frustrated with the A-List Bears and other guys that think they are better than the flaws they live with, I will always remember how, after 27 years, my former high school friends and classmates reached across old cliques and join as part of a social networking tool. Though we live in divergent places, such as the San Fernando Valley, the Monterey Bay Area, the Willamette River Valley and the Twin Cities, the connectivity that brings us together is still a thing of beauty and wonder.
Let’s not forget about their families as well!
Perhaps this is what Pride Month means to me. It is building the bridge from the “family of man” with the fine people from the past. It is the knowledge that all of us will grow into our latter years with a wonderful perspective that defied the mores of our parents’ generation.
Today, I like it here.