Today I am an out and proud gay man. I am out in every facet of my life. But this has not always been the case. I began dating a woman in 1990, who I fell in love with, and we married two years later. We have a 19 year old son together. While I had know about my attraction to men since I was fourteen, and told my wife when we first started dating, I only began to come out fully about five years ago, and subsequently moved out of my marriage almost three years ago.
I have never grown a beard before. Oh, I had some feeble attempts to grow beards in my 20’s and 30’s that were very short lived, but I have never had the courage to wear a beard to work. I remember in my late-twenties growing a beard when I lived in New York City. My mother was visiting me and we were in a cab together. She turned to me as we headed down Broadway, just passing Union Square, and let me know that she did not like the beard. I do not remember exactly what words she used, but her comments confirmed all my self doubt that the beard made me look silly. When I got home I shaved off the beard. I do not remember growing a beard for more than a few vacation days since that cab ride with my mother over thirty years ago.
Based on my earliest memories, I knew I was different from other boys. It was not simply learned behavior, but from the very beginning, something organic.
In the 1970’s, when I was a teenager, my father worked very hard on a large multi-year project that had a high risk of failure. He worked long hours, was under a lot of stress, and came home tired and irritable. My father was a man of sharp edges. There was always something hard charging about him. He was not one to cross.
When you are in your 20’s no one ever tells you how your body will age sexually. You just think it will go on with the same intensity and functionality forever. But the reality is a bit different. Continue reading
I wrote recently about the trauma of growing up gay in the early 1970’s. The largest single thing that influenced my perspective on homosexuality as a naive fourteen years old was the book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) by U.S. physician David Reuben. The book was published in 1969.
For me, Philadelphia, the city I grew up in, was a weight around my neck when I was in high school. I felt I could not be my true self in Philadelphia. When I went back to Philadelphia for graduate school and worked for my father’s company part time, I began see what living in Philadelphia would be like. My parents had a wide network of friends. My father served on multiple boards, had business and political connections across the city. My parents traveled in certain circles that, had I stayed, I would have been expected to travel in too. I hated it. Continue reading