I often think about how lucky I am. From the first tentative painful steps in coming out five years ago to today, where I am fully out in all parts of my life. I am sometimes amazed at how far I have traveled and how well it has gone. Here are just a few of the things that I have been involved with in the past few weeks:
Over this past week, my company has received its first HRC Corporate Equality Index score. For those who are not familiar with this, the Human Rights Campaign is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. The Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is the leading national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality. Large companies voluntarily participate.
I had an active role, as the executive sponsor for my company’s LGBTQ employee affinity group, in pushing for us to participate in the CEI. The affinity group also lead the corporate submission of the survey. Participating in the CEI for the first time is a major step in the LGBTQ evolution of my company and creates a clear path about what we need to work on over the next twelve months to eventually get a score of 100. We already have an agreement that we will add transgender health care benefits next year, which will be a major step. Our results will be announced in two weeks in an article we have written for our company’s intranet site.
Also over the past month, I have had the opportunity to attend a number of fundraising galas for local LGBT organizations as well as the HRC National Dinner and the HRC Chefs for Equality – a fantastic foodie event. I am having so much fun with my partner attending these events. I am beginning to build a network of people across the LGBTQ community and it is wonderful to connect with people I know at these events.
This past Sunday evening I attended a local Meetup group for gay/queer/bi men living in the Maryland suburbs. The event was a cocktail hour and dinner at a local restaurant. There were a few men I knew there and many that I did not. I had not been to this group for a while, but it great to hang out and connect with a diverse group of gay men.
I know many men, like myself, who have come out of marriages to women, later in life. Most of these men I met through a peer support group I attend for LGBQ men who are married, have been married or otherwise involved in relationships with women. It is a hard thing to leave your marriage in your mid-50s and successfully create a brand new life. Few succeed easily. I have been one of the lucky ones and my new life has been fantastic. This past Friday I attended a support group meeting. It is always refreshing to hear from men coming to the meetings for the first time and telling their stories. There is a combination of hope and pain that never fails to move me.
Lastly, my boyfriend came home last night from visiting his parents and he stopped by my apartment on his way home from the airport. We spent an hour sitting on my couch talking, lightly touching each other and of course a few kisses. It was emotional to hear about the moving conversations he had with his father and stepmother over the weekend. And it was so nice to be with him after a weekend apart. Having met a man that I care deeply about has been one of the wonderful parts of my new life.
I titled this essay, All Things Gay because so much of my free time today has a gay component to it. I guess I am making up for lost time, but more than that, I am loving my new life as an out gay man.