When I look back at my journals from 2012 when I first began to come out, what I wrote extensively about was finding love. I wrote in one journal entry, “I want true love. I want to find that one guy who I can be a soul mate with, that I can be honest and real with and have a deep connection with. Is it possible? I really don’t know. I feel that so many of us are so damaged by this age, that I’m not sure what I want is real or attainable.”
I hoped that the “love is love” slogan of the LGBTQ movement would be true. I hoped to find not just physical intimacy with a man but an accompanying emotional intimacy, which had eluded me for so many years.
When I was married to a woman I knew that there was something deeply missing, even though we were close, had affection for each other, and were best friends. I did not see then how an emotional connection without the accompanying physical attraction left a whole lot out of the relationship.
I moved out of the house when my son completed eleventh grade and had gone off to work at a camp for the summer. I was over-the-top happy to move into my own place and to be staring my life as a gay man. I setup Match and OkCupid accounts and began to go on dates. I was making friends through GAMMA, a support group for gay and bi men who were married to or involved with women. I also went to other gay events: hikes, cocktail hours, museum visits, and more, that I found on Meetup.
A year after moving into my own apartment, I began dating a man who I fell in love with. My partner and I have been together now for five years and three months and moved in together two years ago.
When my partner and I had been dating a year and nine months my wife was diagnosed with aggressive cancer — the very week before we were to begin divorce mediation. While I am not a doctor, I have a good deal of medical background and jumped in immediately to navigate my wife’s clinical care. For eight incredibly hard months, I tried to balance an executive-level job, my relationship with my partner, and my wife’s cancer care. She passed away in April of 2017.
It was hard work to get to this point in my life. To come out, I had to come face to face with the internalized homophobia and shame that had kept me in the closet for so many years. I had to rethink and correct all the stereotypes I had about gay men and gay culture.
Being able to live my life openly is like breathing fresh air for the first time. I feel at ease in my own skin. The locked box where I kept the gay part of myself, separate and cordoned off from the rest of my life, is gone. Today I am out to everyone in my life, and it has made for a feeling of integration and wholeness that I couldn’t have imagined just a few short years ago.
Last summer, my partner and I got engaged and began to plan our wedding. The physical wedding ceremony and the party had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we moved forward with a virtual wedding and were recently married. My son was the best man, and my niece was the flower girl. Over two hundred people watched us get married as we live-streamed the event on YouTube.