Bellaire is a township inside the city limits of Houston. It is white, middle class; approximately 25 miles from Montrose, the center of the Houston gay community. I know that my mother lived in Montrose when she first graduated college, before marrying my father and moving to Bellaire. In the late 1940’s Montrose was a working class neighborhood right next to wealthy River Oaks. My mother took me to St. Luke’s Methodist Church which she joined back then until she and my stepfather got married at Bellaire Methodist.
I’m pretty sure I fell in love with a girl the first time when I was 8 years old. I didn’t know it was same-sex attraction. I thought we were just friends. She was 13, an older girl in a different cabin. The other 13-year-olds called me “queer” but I didn’t know what that meant. The summer I was thirteen, everyone called me “Baby Butch” all summer. I didn’t know what that meant either; I did know that I got a lot of attention! It was funny, friendly attention and very different from the kind of attention at home. That summer I knew for sure I had a crush on a counselor, another older girl. She didn’t have a clue, but we wrote all during the school year. Long letters filled with nothing important. It was the contact, not the content, that mattered.
I met the older girl counselor many years later. She didn’t remember a thing. And she was still in the closet after all those years.
It becomes a habit, being in the closet. I learned to lie about everything; but most importantly I lied about the most intimate parts of myself, the deepest part of myself was hidden from view. Alcohol helped some; but not enough.
When I got sober in Austin, Texas, in 1985, I did so within a circle of al-anons, codependents, sexual abuse survivors, addicts, alcoholics and “children of” all of the above. Two meetings on Sunday, one on Saturday, and a scattering of straight meetings during the week were my sobriety for four years. In those days there were 250 meetings a week in Austin. It was a pretty amazing time for me and a lot of women finding ways to deal with their families of origin and their own addictions.
I met a lot more women like me in Austin and San Antonio than I’ve ever met since: dual addicted to alcohol & drama and serial monogamy. My best friend at the time called it cereal monogamy; the Kellogg’s sex-pack. She was very funny! It wasn’t funny, however, when ten years later she had a triple bypass. It also wasn’t funny when five years later she had started drinking and smoking again and passed away. I miss her every day.
After many years of celibacy I gave up. And just like “they” tell you, someone came along. However, she was a nightmare. Sorry. She lasted about six months and was gone. However, bless her heart, she came into my life so that I could have cataract surgery in both eyes. Now I have 20/20 far vision, and I can see at night again.
Now you’re starting to worry about me. Don’t. The next thing that happened is that I met my current partner. She was married of course. I didn’t know we would fall in love or that she would divorce her husband. I was in a pickle all right. Eventually it all worked itself out, and she moved in with me. We’ve been together 9 years.
Our Holy Union in 2003 was a spectacle. We choreographed a wedding procession that no one present that day will soon forget. Our pastor offered Holy Communion to all present. There was a healing blessing where everyone in the church stood and laid hands on us in a trail of people down the middle aisle. We sang “Amazing Grace” for our witnesses. My partner’s daughter and friends organized the reception. I had a favorite cousin and a lifelong friend stand up for me, although my mother declined to attend. It took about a year until my partner’s mother accepted our union. Now she is a wonderful ally for our sacred marriage.
We travel and walk our dogs, swim and read, dream and envision a life for many years together. We like our life.