This Week’s Stories.

august 3 - 9

I’m From Martinez, CA. I am a son, a brother, a husband, a father and I am gay. It took over 56 years for me to be able to say all of that; some came sooner than others, but all describe me at present. I always knew in one form or another that I was gay, even before I knew what “gay” was. My first real feelings came at age 11 or 12 and involved a boy crush on a teacher. How do you respond to sexual feelings for someone of the same gender when all around people are telling you that it is wrong, deviant or even sinful? Back then, you usually just dealt with it by suppressing it and telling yourself that you were a bad person. You’d try to “overcome” this flaw by dating women and even marrying one. You may have gone so far as to have children to prove that you are a normal man.

I’m From Oneonta, NY. “Silly faggot, dicks are for chicks.”

I remember reading the bumper sticker on my way to high school one day. I was a freshman at the time and I was keeping a part of myself hidden from the world. Like so many other beautiful children, I was ashamed of myself. Every morning, I woke up with a mask firmly in place which didn’t budge until I was safely under the covers at night. That is when I allowed myself to cry. I let guilt and hate roll down my cheeks in hot, salty streams.

I’m From Bergen County, NJ. I don’t have a story. I have generalizations of gay life defined by me, by decade.

I was born in the 1960’s with only memories of Vietnam and civil rights.

In the 70’s, being gay was all about being x-rated. It was not a lifestyle but a sex act. You couldn’t be seen in public being gay, you couldn’t be open about your lifestyle, so you hid it in the deep dark corners of a world we lived in. It was actually illegal to be gay in most places. There was much violence against gays and most lived in fear of this violence.

Then AIDS came along in the early 80’s. We had a President who wouldn’t even say the word AIDS. This actually made people hide deeper in the dark corners. We feared for our lives even further.

I’m From Queens, NY. My boyfriend and I were just finishing our first full day of our week-long vacation in Maine. I had been there since Friday evening for a weekend with friends; he arrived Sunday night, after most of those friends had gone back home. The two of us along with our remaining friends spent the day exploring the beach, playing mini-golf, and laughing over board games.

As the sun began to set and our collective energy levels dwindled, we all retreated into the den for some drinks and a “Freaks and Geeks” marathon. Halfway through the second episode, I typed a message onto my phone and quietly showed it to him.

“Let’s sit outside later,” it said.

I’m From Norwich, CT – Video Story. I started realizing that I was transgender right around when I was 27. It was a really scary time when I started realizing I was trans because I had had a lesbian wedding, two white dresses, and I was very visibly a lesbian, very much identifying in that culture. And gay bars were where it was the place I could go to feel safe and feel like I could be myself.

It was the summer of 2003. My best friend who was 29 unexpectedly passed away from a brain hemorrhage and that night I wanted to go to the gay bar to be myself and to be who I am. So that night I went out, went to the bar, and I decided I was going to use the men’s bathroom for the first time. This was a really scary, courageous step for me to take. It was my one little step forward. And unfortunately, this bouncer came in after me and said, “You’re in the wrong bathroom.”

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