June 26, 2015

Countdown to 60, Part 4

Ten years ago, when I came out to my family and friends, I would have never thought this would happen in the 10th year... I can say only one thing: "Thank you to all that came out before me and thank you to all that have supported equality"... That is all...

Over and proudly "Out" from Richmond, VA

June 21, 2015

Countdown to 60, Part 3

I don't plan on jinxing anything here by offering up any specifics, but I will confess that I have found someone that intrigues me, excites me, makes me question things, and helps me see things from a different perspective. I'm not sure if this person "feels" the same way about me, other than we have been dating for a little over three months now... I am staying optimistic and cautious at the same time while trying to keep my expectations in check...

I know what lust feels like, I know what "like" feels like, and I know what it feels like to have a soulmate, but after almost 60 years I'm not sure I know what true love feels like, if that makes sense.

Sure I have seen the movies and read the books about the subject but the lines seem muddled between like, lust, soulmate and true love.

In my early 20's I thought I fell in love. I got married and we had two wonderful sons. Something wasn't right and in less than 7 years we grew in different directions and parted ways. Over the years since then I realized that I did love this person but not in a "partnership" kind of way. She was an awesome person, daughter, and mother and I cherished the friendship we had until her passing...

In my early 30's I thought I fell in love again. This person could finish my sentences, as I could her's. We got married and had a son and a daughter. I could talk to her about anything. Unfortunately, talking about them and acting on some of those feelings are two different things. After we each had serious health scares, the communications faltered and after 19 years we (more accurately, I) decided it was wrong to continue to live a lie. She did not handle things that well and we did not speak much afterwards. There were many things I would have enjoyed sharing with her, but alas, she too was called from this earth a few years later.

In my 50's I found what I thought was love again, twice... They each had different definitions of loyalty and fidelity than I did. Both were good people but both relationships ended with someone's feelings getting hurt.

I guess the "jist" of this post is; What is "True Love"? I look back on my past and wonder if I really deserve to know what the meaning really is. This new acquaintance has kept me in check by insisting on taking things slowly. I am grateful for that in a way, as I do have a tendency to "leap before I look" when it comes to relationships.

On this fathers day I must say that I have been blessed with wonderful children (and grandchildren) and while I may not say it often, I am very proud of all of them and Love them all unconditionally.

We'll see how it goes for me on the Countdown to Sixty...

Over and "Out" from Richmond, VA

June 17, 2015

Living "Out" posts from Pride Months Past:

Sometimes I even impress myself at almost 60...

I experienced this event and wrote this 6 years ago. Funny thing is, I recently had a similar conversation with another fellow associate:

"We all wonder at times why we are, what we are, and who we are. I have always considered teaching to be one of the more honorable professions and even considered going back to school to pick up a teaching degree. That said, it never happened.

What I did realize not too long ago, is that I am teaching every day. Through my openness, compassion, and ability to articulate, I teach my fellow humans every day about being gay. I teach not tolerance, but acceptance. Recently an associate of mine came to me and said "Tom, I just don't get it" referring to being gay and what it is that we wanted. After considering the circumstances, I used the best analogy I could. This was a middle aged black man making the statement. My response centered around the equal rights movement of the 60's. I explained that all "we" wanted was what everyone else wants. The right to love whomever we choose, the right to make binding agreements that are recognized and honored by all, and acceptance by our fellow humans. I likened our plight to that of his own, and reminded him that it wasn't long ago that African Americans were treated with a similar stigma.

I looked at him and said "I don't expect you to understand why it is that I can fall in love with another man. Just like you should not expect me to understand what it is like to be a person of color. Regardless of our inability to feel each others' feelings, we need to accept each other and respect those differences to make life work in this world". I was so proud of myself, and still am. I have no idea where the words came from, but he "Got IT", shook my hand and told me what a pleasure it was to know me... What else could I possibly need or want?"

Over and "Out" from Richmond, VA

June 16, 2015

Countdown to 60, Part 2

Forrest Gump?

A new associate and I were chatting over "lunch" the other night at work. We were sharing life stories and after all was said and done, she likened my life to that of Tom Hanks character in the movie of the same name...

I wasn't offended as much as I was taken back a bit. My life has had no where near the number of encounters or event participation that Forrest had during his, or has it?

I was born in Pennsylvania when Dwight Eisenhower was President.
I moved to California when I was two.
I remember my older brother's 5th birthday (I was 3).
My Dad helped design the Minuteman Missile.
Traveled by car in the 60's to more than 20 of the lower 48.
Moved to the Virgin Islands before my 13th birthday.
Spent most of my teenage years living on a 66' Sailboat.
Cruised with family to most of the Bahamian Islands.
Met Buddy Ebsen (Beverly Hillbillies) when I was 16.
Had lunch with Carol Burnett when I was 20.
Made several trips up and down the east coast Intercoastal Waterway.
Had drinks with Walter Cronkite on his sailboat in Miami.
Ran a 48' private yacht for a Miami restaurant owner.
Ran a 70' private yacht for a Bermudian businessman.
Attended Miami-Dade College.
Got married, had two sons, bought first house.
Got divorced.
Remarried, had another son an a daughter.
Met and worked with most of the cast from 3 Star Trek TV Shows.
Worked for Burger King Corp and Burdines/Macy's in Miami.
Worked for Circuit City in Ft Lauderdale before moving to Richmond.
Jumped out of an airplane for my 50th birthday.
Came "Out of the closet" the same year.
Moved to Williamsburg and then to Portsmouth (VA).
Met my biological father (Pop).
Have 3 wonderful grandchildren (with another on the way).
Had two relationships since coming out (hopefully a 3rd on the way).

Wow... There are so many other things I have done, places I have been, and great people I have met along the way... Maybe I am a little like Forrest after all... On the other hand there are so many things I still want to do, places i want to go, and people I want to get to know... Ahhhh, plenty of time still!

Stay tuned for more adventures (and probable misadventures) leading up to and beyond the countdown to Sixty!

Over and "Out", from Richmond, VA