Black Gay Man Reflects On A Life Defined By Love, Authenticity, Activism And Connection. “That’s Just Part Of Who I Am.”

by Harold Cottman

1980s: Black Gay Man On Coming Out In The South: “While I Did Come Out, I Didn’t Really Feel Free.”

So, you know, for me, the last thing that I wanted to be was a gay man because growing up in a very Christian fundamentalist family, Southern Baptist, Southern Methodist background, that was said in many instances by adults around me, that it was worse than being a murderer to be a homosexual. But it became clear to me through various circumstances that, you know, what I was, was gay.

I mean, one of the early indications of that for me was watching the movie Rebel Without A Cause. And when Sal Mineo was in the picture, you know, I felt funny. And at the time, being a seven year old kid, I couldn’t figure out, didn’t figure out what that was all about. Later on in life, in my teens, as I began in junior high school to find myself attracted to my male classmates, it began to make sense to me that what I was feeling was a sexual attraction for Sal Mineo in the movie.

I didn’t want to feel that sexual attraction. In fact, at one point in high school, I came up with this mantra that I would say to myself often on the way to school. I’m attracted to women. I’m not attracted to men. I’m attracted to girls. I’m not attracted to boys. And I thought maybe by saying this mantra over and over again that I would change.

You know, for years, I really fought against the feelings that I had for other men. I remember when I was in college, freshman orientation, where there was one table set up for the Afro American Students Organization, and then there was another table that was set up for the Graduate Homophile Association. It was the first year at Harvard that they actually had a Graduate Homophile Association and they were obviously signing up members. And I remember being conflicted about whether I should go to the Afro table or whether I should go to the Graduate Homophile Association table. It never occurred to me that I could do both. And so I went to the Afro table and signed up and did not go to the Graduate Homophile Association table to sign up. And that was a reflection of how I handled being a gay man who was not out when I was in college.

And I remember in the South, hearing the expression that, you know, a rooster who has no interest in a hen is only worth being made in the chicken salad. And I didn’t want to be that person. Okay. And so I really fought against it for years to the point where in my twenties, you know, I, in dealing with that issue and other issues, I really became very anxious and very depressed. You know, this resulted in me, you know, having to get into therapy to try to sort things through.

And you know, it was while I was in therapy that I found out that people in my circle, they weren’t, I wasn’t the only one in my circumstance, that there were other people who had the same kinds of issues and that I could work them through. And at the same time, when I would come home to Philadelphia, I would sneak down to what’s now called the Gayborhood and hang out in various – quote – Peep Shows – unquote – to see what was happening. So I wasn’t completely in the closet in terms of all of my activities. You know, there were still times when I would, as I say, sort of venture out.

It wasn’t until I went back to medical school after taking some time off to sort things through that, once again, very strong urge to be with other men came about. My first year, you know, I was sort of in a maintaining mode with respect to coming out. I wasn’t going to come out, but I was feeling the urge to come out. And then beginning of my second year, I really felt it strongly.

A number of my classmates in medical school in Carolina were gay and I spent my time with them. I went out of my way to make friends with them and we became friends and we never discussed the whole gay issue directly, but we just hung out together and had good times. When I came back to Carolina for Christmas and friends of mine and I, they had invited me, my gay friends had invited me to brunch with them.

And just all of a sudden one of them said, “Well, Harold, you’re no dumb bunny. You know what’s going on around here.”

And I’m going like, “Well, what do you mean?”

He said, “Well, you know, we’re all gay and we suspect that you’re gay as well.”

I said, “Of course I am.” So obviously we all came out to each other. You know, we were all hugging and kissing. I was crying because, you know, suddenly I felt a sense of relief.

They told me where all the – quote – hotspots were in the area where, you know, gays would hook up and everything, and I started going through those areas. The thing was that it was the South, and this was in, this was like 1981, 1982. I found out that there was a lot of lot of prejudice still around, even in the gay community. My friends and I would make plans to meet up at the bar and you know, we’d, say, meet up, plan to meet up at nine o’clock. And I’d show up at nine o’clock and the door person would tell me I needed a membership in order to get into the club. Not having a membership, of course, I couldn’t get in.

So when I saw my friends on Monday or Tuesday, I said, “Well, hey, you know, you have to have a membership to get into that club.”

And they said, “Well, we don’t have memberships and we were there waiting for you. What happened?” And so I told them what had happened as it turned out, the one club in particular, had – one of the people who worked at Carolina was friends with the owner and the owner’s take on it was that too many African American men in the bar caused the white gay men to feel that they didn’t want to be there. And so he’s – his rationale was it was bad for his business.

You know, while I did come out, while there were some places I could go to, I didn’t feel really free as it were, because I recognized there were limitations in terms of where I could go and where I would be welcomed in.

Thinking back on it, it made me realize that even among people who are oppressed because of what they are – in this case, being gay – they still may not have the sensitivity to understand that being bigoted or prejudiced against other people because of skin color, for example, is not the right thing to do and can be as hurtful and as painful as, as, you know, being a gay man that’s… who’s being… who’s dealing with the situation in which they’re being considered less than and being prejudiced against. So that was a painful revelation for me, but it was also something that I learned to deal with with time.

 

 

Living In San Francisco In The 1980s: “That’s Where I Could Really Be Myself.”

Spring of 1982, I finished my second year in medical school and wanted to check out the West Coast. Had some friends who lived in San Francisco who invited me out to visit with them. And as it turned out, they helped me get an externship at a medical center in East Palo Alto, California, which is some 30 miles south of San Francisco.

And so I had a chance to spend six to eight weeks during my externship in the Bay area. And of course, as a gay man, who really relatively new coming out, coming to San Francisco was a revelation. I found it to be a lot more open than North Carolina was. I found people to be a lot more welcoming. I made very good friends there pretty easily.

For the most part, I was able to go to the various clubs without – without any difficulty. The first club I ever went into was a place called The Pendulum, which as it turns out, was a bar where everybody went. All kinds of people, descriptions, ethnic backgrounds, sizes. Everything. I met a whole bunch of very wonderful people and became friends with them. And they began to tell me about living in San Francisco and what it was like.

I decided that I had arrived, so to speak. I had found a place where I could be comfortable living. I felt really for the first time in my life socially and sexually, very secure. Made it a whole lot easier in terms of not only getting to know friends, but also getting to have boyfriends, et cetera. And so after that eight week externship, I decided this is where I want to go –  this is where I want to come, rather, for my training.

About a year later, in 1983, I spent three months doing externships at San Francisco General Hospital through University of California, San Francisco, in part because I wanted to hopefully get a residency in psychiatry at UCSF. The doors really were open pretty wide for me at that point, and I made even more friends. I got even more connected in terms of the San Francisco community, felt even more included overall.

My internship and residency ended up being in Torrance, California, which was part of UCLA Medical Center’s system. But I spent a lot of time going back and forth between San Francisco and Long Beach, where I was living because most of my friends were in San Francisco. Not that I didn’t have friends in the LA area, I did, but LA struck me as being a whole lot more focused on how much money you have, you know, do you look like Adonis, et cetera, compared to San Francisco which seemed more inclusive overall. And so I spent most of my… most…  I spent a lot of time in San Francisco, even though I was living in the LA area. Not to say LA didn’t have a lot to offer now because there was of course, West Hollywood and the various, you know, bars in West Hollywood. I got associated with Black White Men Together while I was in LA, and you know, every week on Saturdays we would have rap sessions where we’d sit around and talk about various things, including things like racism and classism, sizeism, sexism, the whole bit. And I really got to know about a wonderful group of people in LA as well.

You know, met a person that I ended up spending most of my internship year with, you know, as a partner. And, you know, he… he was… that relationship was very important to me and helping me to get through my internship because as you can imagine, internship year is hell on wheels basically. And to have someone, you know, at home to come home to, and be there to help comfort me was really important. Had it not been for that relationship, you know, I probably would not have made it as smoothly through my internship as I actually did, and I was very fortunate, you know, to have that person in my life for that year. But I always looked forward to moving to San Francisco to live, um, because that’s where I wanted it to be. You know, that’s where I really wanted to be, and that’s where I really felt I could be myself.

When I finished my residency in 1988 I had been making some inquiries about jobs, psychiatry positions in the Bay area, And as it turned out, one of my preceptors at my residency, his wife was the director of mental health in San Mateo County, and she needed a psychiatrist. And so everything just fell into place and I ended up working in East Palo Alto in part time – part time at the clinic I had done my externship with six years before, and part time at the County mental health clinic where, you know, basically I was doing the same thing. Basically doing, seeing people, medication, evaluations, doing therapy, et cetera. I lived in San Francisco from 1988 to 1998. And then in 1998, I moved to Oakland and lived in Oakland for 13 years until 2011.

There is no other place on this planet like San Francisco. I mean there’re large populations of gay people in various other cities, but there’s no city like San Francisco. For me, as someone who was coming from the North Carolina experience and someone who grew up believing that being a gay person was abnormal and somehow bad, to be in an environment where it’s quite normal and where it’s considered to be good and beyond considered to be good, it’s special. It’s just very, very important.

There’s this light that gets turned on inside me. They get turned on nowhere else I have been, not even in the Gayborhood in Philadelphia. And it is just a very special, special place. The people who are there are, I have found, are just wonderful and loving and kind and considerate.  Not that there aren’t loving, kind and considerate people here in Philadelphia, but there seems to be a higher concentration of that kind of person in San Francisco and I love it.

 

 

Gay Man Reflects On The Love Of His Live: “He Had A Burning Love For [Me] And He Let It Be Known.”

So I was in the Pendulum one night and you know, the place was festive and rocking as it usually was. And, you know, I was sitting there and, you know, someone sent me a drink. The bartender pointed out who had sent me the drink and, you know, I moved over to where he was and we started talking and you know, one thing led to another and we went back to the place I was staying together and spent, you know, spent the night together.

And we exchanged addresses and obviously we exchanged phone numbers. And, you know, I got a letter from him saying that, you know, he thought I was a very special person and he wanted to spend more time with me. And I wrote him back and said, you know, the feeling is very much mutual.

And so we started, you know, commuting back and forth. He lived in Salinas. I lived in Long Beach at that point, and so we just started commuting back and forth. One weekend I would go to Salinas. One weekend, he would come to Long Beach. And for most of a year, that’s, you know, the way – that’s how… that’s how we spent time together.

We just had, I mean, a wonderful, wonderful relationship. Very loving, very kind, very warm,, very gentle person. In fact, I have a bear he gave me, that has a locket on it that says
“Here’s looking at you” and his picture’s inside the locket. And you know, that was one of the many very sweet things that he did for me at the time we were together.

And you know, he wanted to move in with me in Long Beach. So I said, “Look, let’s wait until I move to San Francisco and, you know, see if the relationship lasts at that point, then we know it’s for real.” This is all in my head. And he was very sad about that because he really loved me and he wanted to spend more time with me and you know, he wanted to build a life together.

After about a year of us being together, you know, we were actually at the movie, “The Princess Bride,” and he asked me, What would you do if I broke up with you?”

And I said, “Well, I’d be heartbroken, of course, and it’d be very difficult to deal with.”

And we went back to his place, we’re having dinner and he said, “I have to break up with you because it’s too hard, you know, being away from somebody you love so much and you know, you can’t –  you don’t want me to move to Long Beach with you. And you know, that’s something I really want to do but, you know, I really need to find somebody that I can be with more than I’m with you.” And I left actually and got a hotel room and basically, you know, was very devastated.

I would see him in San Francisco with, you know, his new boyfriend, et cetera. And you know, I had moved on as well in terms of being related – in relationships with other people, but never to the extent that I was in relationship with him. And, you know, I really missed him. We were cordial. I mean, there was no bitterness or anger or anything, you know, we still spoke to each other, et cetera. And I was happy for him because he seemed to be happy.

But a few years on, I got a call from him that, you know, things weren’t going well in his relationship. His partner was cheating on him. His partner was being abusive. I was in a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco, and you know, one of them – I was only using one bedroom. The other bedroom was my den, and I was, I told him, “Look, if you want to come and live with me, no strings attached, no charges, et cetera. I just would love to be you in – to have you in a safe place rather than being in a place where you’re being abused.”

He eventually did break up with this guy and moved back home to be with his parents, and that’s when we began to see each other again. You know, rekindle the relationship that we had.

You know, he at that point had been diagnosed with AIDS and was living in a housing situation where guys who had AIDS were being taken care of basically by the people who ran this particular program, et cetera. And so he couldn’t move out and move in with me at that point. But, you know, we saw each other a lot. You know, usually every weekend and spent a lot of time together.

And it was interesting. One of the things that happened when we were together was that his parents had wanted to meet me and his father was, like, from Arkansas, and his mother was from Mississippi and Thomas was white. And of course, I’m African American. And they were not happy about their son being gay at all, but, but dating an African American was something that they really had difficulty with.

When he got sick and we got back together and, you know, I was there for him, you know, he told me that they told him that he should – he would have been better off staying with Harold and then going with this other guy, which to me was an affirmation of the fact that they recognized that, you know, I loved him.

We had a good couple of years together and you know, he was telling me at various points that he knew he wasn’t going to live long. I didn’t want to hear it because – and I didn’t want to accept that fact. For example, we went to see the renovated Monterey Bay Aquarium, and it was saying, you know, “We’ll open in 1996.”  This was like 1992, latter part.

And he’s saying, “Well, you know, I won’t be around to see that.”

And I’m going like, “Don’t say that, you know, just don’t think that way, you know?” But he knew what was going on with his own body and you know, he passed away in July of 1993 at the ripe old age of 27. It was very, very devastating, very difficult, um, to deal with that this loving spirit had moved on.

And, you know, but, you know, I grew to accept it. And the thing – the thing that I did that really helped me let go was I went and bought 12 roses and at the Russian River, there’s a place called Gold Rock where the Russian River flows into the Pacific Ocean where something smaller becomes part of something much bigger. And a lot of people go there to remember people who have passed on. And I took – I took my 12 roses and dropped them in the Russian River and watched them flow out into the Pacific. And I got this very strong sense of peace and very strong sense of calm that Terrence was okay, he wasn’t suffering anymore, that he was now part of something bigger and he was at peace and that I ought to be at peace. And that took – it took a lot of the pain away.

There’s no question that Terrance was, you know, the love of my life, of all the other people that I’ve been with, because you know, he was the one who seemed to me, saw me for who I really was as a person, the very special person that, you know, I was and am, and he verbalized that a lot. You know, that to me is something that comes along – well, maybe for some people that comes along more than once in a lifetime, but for me, it’s come along once in a lifetime, and I’m very grateful to God for it because he just had a burning love for Harold, and, you know, he let it be known.

 

 

1990s: From Combatting HIV/AIDS To Desegregating Bars, Black Gay Man Works To Better His Community. 

So one of the – one of the things that happened rather quickly when I moved to San Francisco was that I got involved in with various organizations dealing with various quote politics with respect to the gay community, especially with respect to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Part of – part of that involvement included my working with San Francisco Black Coalition on AIDS.

One of the things we realized pretty quickly was that, in terms of the population of people being involved in clinical trials, that there weren’t many men of color involved in those clinical trials. It involved ultimately having the Black Caucus in Congress, which was one of the most supportive organizations, or groups I should say, within Congress with respect to HIV/AIDS-related research, writing legislation saying that basically organizations receiving federal dollars needed to have people of color on their oversights committee – research oversight committees. And also that in terms of the participants in the clinical trials, that those participants needed to be reflective of the community, that the trials are being held in. And this is the early 90s when the AIDS epidemic was still raging.

Because of the federal oversight and federal legislation, more and more, you had men of color and women being included in its clinical trials, as well as having people of color included in the oversight boards that oversaw the clinical research.

We also had the advent in the early 90s of needle exchange programs. And you know, I was fortunate enough to have interaction with various people out of New York who had – who were starting needle exchanges in New York and beginning to see some indication that in terms of reducing the spread of HIV, Hep B, Hep C, et cetera, that those new exchanges were effective.

And so, San Francisco AIDS Foundation established a 501(c)4 board that was basically responsible for overseeing the needle exchange programs in San Francisco, and the programs expanded from San Francisco to Oakland to Berkeley, et cetera. And over time, as people did research into this area, we had the hard science to show very clearly that the needle exchange programs could reduce the transmission of HIV, Hep C, Hep B, et cetera.

So I was very fortunate to be able to be involved in those things back in the early 90s, really using my, you know, medical training to back up the politics that I had, which was something I always wanted to do.

And one of the difficulties we had early on in San Francisco was that, but not just in San Francisco, also in New York, many social advocates in the African American community, you know, began to say, “Well, this is just another way of pushing IV drug abuse or IV drug use into the African American community.”

Because I was a physician in San Francisco. When I was able to say to people things like, first of all, if you’re concerned about people getting into drug rehab, you know, there is no drug rehab in the grave. So the first thing is you have to keep people alive. So that means you need to cut down on the transmission of potentially deadly infections like HIV/AIDS at that point. And one way to do that is with needle exchange.

And the other thing is we can use needle exchange as a bridge to treatment for people, not only in terms of drug rehab treatment, but also in terms of of general medical treatment that people would not be getting if in fact they weren’t involved in a needle exchange program.

Over time, you know, the people who had opposed needle exchange, and it took years, but over time, people in the African American community who had opposed it, needle exchange, when they saw the scientific evidence began to be less vocal.

You know, in terms of other, you know, gay political things that I got involved with, there was the issue of – there was some bars in San Francisco, particularly in the Castro, who were exclusive with respect to not wanting to have large numbers of African American men in their bar. And so often what people would do would be to ask if a white person came up, they’d asked for one ID if that. Okay, if an African American or Latinx man came through, they want three IDs or four IDs, you know.

We knew about this and so again, through connections in the community, we went to the board of supervisors and said, you know, “This is happening in San Francisco. This shouldn’t be happening in San Francisco. One piece of valid ID should be enough.”

Everybody on the board of supervisors passed a law basically saying that in the city of San Francisco, city and County of San Francisco, only one piece of ID, one piece of valid ID was sufficient to allow the entrance of a person into a place where ID was required. That began to open up more of the bars and other establishments that had been exclusive with respect to trying to exclude African American men.

Having gone back there to visit 20-plus, 30 years later, I can tell you that the Castro is a much more inclusive place than it was when I was there 20 or 30 years ago and I think some of that has to do with some of the efforts that we were making at that time. I think some of that has to do with what I call the “Obama” effect. You had an African American president who was very much an advocate with respect to many HIV, many LGBTQ-related issues. I think that had an overall positive effect in terms of helping some people who might not have wanted to be more inclusive, to be more inclusive.

My grandmother always used to say, people can’t ride your back unless you bend over. You have to stand up for yourself. If something – if you see something is wrong with respect to how people are being treated, it’s your responsibility to call attention to that and then to do what you can do. That’s simply what I was acting out in all of those areas where I decided to get involved.

So for me, it goes back to my training at my grandmother’s knee, basically, and in my family, that you stand up for the right and you do what’s right in terms of helping people not be oppressed. And that’s just part of who I am.

 

 

1980s-2000s: Finding An Oasis At The Russian River “Was Important For Me In Terms Of My Mental And Physical And Spiritual Health.”

A friend of mine in ‘89, we were talking, I had met him when I first came to San Francisco – well, actually when I came back to San Francisco – and we were talking, and he asked me if I’d ever been to the Russian River area. And I told him no and he said, “Well, you have to go.”

One Saturday, we jumped in his car and took Route 1 up to the Guerneville area. Guerneville is sort of like the central city at the Russian river. We had a very lovely drive up 1, of course, with the Pacific on the left, mountains on the little mountainous areas on the right. Beautiful the whole ride. And we get up to this area.

It’s sort of like San Francisco in the suburbs, so to speak. And you know, it’s country, lotta redwoods, a lot of greenery, a lot of animals, all this wonderful, you know – quote – wildlife – unquote. And all of these, you know, gay men in these various resorts. And we went to one of the resorts and hung out for the day, and it was – we just had a great time. It was great. You know, the drinks were great, the food was great. People were great.

And so I decided I got to come back to this place as soon as possible. And so about a month, month and a half later, I booked a cabin at the same place where we had stayed and went for the weekend and just started again. Started making friends. People were very friendly, very open, very open, very welcoming. And you know, I made a whole new cadre of friends at the river, in addition to my friends in San Francisco. And so I had another alternate – I had another alternative place to go socialize and hang out.

And so I did so for the better part of two or three years, from 89 to 91, 92 and then I was at – at one of the local bars. I was talking with a guy there, nice guy. And we ended up spending some time together and he mentioned to me that his landlords had a cabin for rent. And his place was across the street from the cabin for rent, and it was this complex of eight cabins all around gardens and everything, gardens all around.

And I went and talked to the landlords. They liked me. I liked them. And so, you know, within a couple of weeks, I moved in and began to furnished my little cabin at the – at the river. I had a great time, a great time living there because, you know, I could spend all my weekends there if I chose or I could spend my weekends in San Francisco in my apartment.

A lot of times when I was at work and I was doing a lot of work then in psychiatric emergency services, which could be very draining, and if I decided at four o’clock I wanted to go to my cabin at the river, you know, when I got off at five I was there by 6:30. And I could spend the evening, you know, I’d make myself some dinner and I spend the evening sitting on my porch, you know, watching the deer come through the back gate or the rabbits jumping around and gnawing on flowers, et cetera, or the raccoons and their – their kids running through, so to speak.

And I just – I just had wonderful time. I, you know, it was relaxing. It was very, very country, which I love. The neighbors were very friendly, very nice. And I just had a wonderful time and my landlords really – we became very fast friends and they took good care of me, believe me.

So I just had… it was… it was an idyllic lifestyle. I mean, there was a time from 92 to 93 where I didn’t have to work for various reasons and so I spent most of my time at the river and I got to know people even better living there. The men were very welcoming. Again, in terms of socializing and, you know, finding people to spend time with. I had no difficulty at all. Again, I felt very socially and sexually secure there. Felt very safe there.

I loved it so much, even after I moved out of my cabin in 2000 after I bought my house in Oakland, I would still go back to visit and spend time with my landlord friends and spend time hanging out at the main local… local bar. And, you know, just keeping my friendships going and enjoying the cuisine up there, ‘cause he got great restaurants in that area.

In fact, I was just there recently to do a retreat and it brought back a lot of good memories for me to be at the Russian River again during that retreat. It so happened that we had to cut the retreat short because we were in the potential fire zone area, so we had to evacuate early. So on my way out of town, I decided to stop at this Mexican restaurant and have dinner and… the dinner was exceptional, just wonderful dinner. The people were so nice. It just brought back again all those very positive memories I had about living there. You know, that’s why I said so long, you know, to my partner, um, and everything. So those memories were there as well.

And I just… I just really loved the river. The people are just exceptional, really exceptional, and it’s… it’s a combination of gays, hippies from the sixties, and it’s just a gemisch, so to speak, a mixture of people that get along.

I think it was most important for me to have the oasis of the river, because I tended…  I tend to get overly involved with respect to work and it becomes difficult for me to take a break. Okay. And having the cabin at the river, knowing I had the cabin at the river, I always had an excuse to take a break and being able to do so on a given evening, on a given weekend, when I had my holidays, you know, I could go there or I could come to Philly, it really was important for me in terms of my mental and physical and spiritual health.

 

 

Living As An Elder In Philadelphia Today. “I Want To Let People Know And See What A Special Person I Am.”

Yeah, I moved back to Philadelphia in 2011. You know, being 68 and in a community that, let’s face it, in all honesty, loves youth, I’ve slowed down a bit in terms of the socializing and going out to bars, et cetera. It took me a couple of years actually, when I came home, before I really started going out and socializing, you know, in the gay community.

And I was fortunate in having a coworker who is gay. He and I were talking one day and you know, I came out to him and you know, he said to me, “Well, of course, I’m gay,” which I had suspected because, again, I have good gaydar.

And you know, we started talking and he was saying, “Well, you know, have you ever been out?”

I said, “Well, no, not really.”

So he said, “Well, let’s go check out a couple of places.” So one Saturday we went to first, went to the Tavern on Camac street and had a great time there listening to the music and then went over to the Bike Stop and, you know, had a nice time there.

And you know, he was saying, “Well, you know, there’re various other places around.” And he pointed out various places to me that, you know, people go and everything. And I was very grateful and thankful and made a mental record of these things in my head saying, you know, I will go check these places out in another time. And several of them, I have. You know, in the ensuing, you know, six years since I’ve been here and, you know, I enjoyed going out. I enjoy being in the company of other LGBTQ people.

So I go out less frequently than I used to, you know, some years ago for various reasons. And I find that I enjoy being around my house more these days. I find also that given the fact that, you know, my mother’s older, in her 90s, and needs assistance, that that takes up a great deal of my time as well.

I have been involved in work within my church. And so I just overall don’t, as I say, don’t go out as much as I used to. And I think part of it is, for me, part of it is relates to being self conscious, about being older because obviously the gay community is very much – LGBT community is very much focused on youth. And I don’t feel… I don’t feel as connected I think overall as I used to when I was younger. And I think a lot of that is my stuff, and I think a lot of it is just the stuff that’s in the community, so to speak.

So, you know, my life is a lot quieter now, goes along a lot more slowly now. I think overall that, you know, I’m happy and contented. That doesn’t say that, you know, I wouldn’t like to make a connection with somebody or somebodies and have, you know, a partner. You know, I think I would, but I also think the reality is that I need to get out and about more if I were going to do that. And so, you know, part of me is saying, Well, you know, you’re older and you’re slowed down now. Another part of me saying, Yeah, but if you want to make connection with people, you’ve got to get out and get about, you know, and connect with people. And so I’m sort of having a little tug of war, if you will, between those parts. And I think the part that’s winning is the part that’s saying, you know, I need to get out more.

I went to a conference, several months ago where the LGBT folk in the conference, you know, got together and did some socializing, and I found it to be extremely exhilarating to be in a group of LGBTQ people out doing social things. And there’s an affiliate group that is related to that group that I have recently joined and I expect that, given, the fact that I have joined that group, that I will be getting out more. I’ve joined the William Way center here in Philadelphia and have gotten called by various of their staff about various social events that they have going on that I’ve been invited to. And so I think that’s going to be another mechanism through which, you know, I can get out and about and just meet people and socialize with people, let that people know and see, you know, what a special person I am.

It’s just very special being a LGBTQ male, and I love being around other people who shared that description and I don’t want to lose that. You know, because I spent a lot of time denying it and running away from it, and now I need to keep my connection and run to it, and I intend to do that.

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