11:Eleven — Peace

Into Early Adulthood...

Mom and Dad were quite patient with me during my teen years. Perhaps more so than I deserved because they certainly couldn't understand what was going on in my own mind. I was an angry teenager but I refused to talk about what was making me angry. It wasn't like I was destructive or anything like that; just a lot of inner-turmoil and anger burning hot.

The teen years are difficult for most I imagine. I mean, kids are cruel and when you've hit puberty you've got all the extra hormones running rampant throughout your frame. From the time the testosterone reached high tide in my own body I was beside myself. I'd known for a long time I was attracted to guys and not girls but living in a small town, that wasn't something I felt comfortable sharing with others (even family). My brother and I come from a deeply religious family and most everyone knows how the traditional sermon on homosexuality goes.

What really angered me the most was I didn't choose to be gay; it was just always a part of who I am/was so why was that so bad? I couldn't imagine why God would "make" me gay if it was such a sin. I internalized a lot of frustration that inevitably found its way to the surface at the most inconvenient of times (thus the unnecessary tension between my parents and I at times). I'm sure they thought to themselves, "What the hell is going on with this kid???" Funny thing was I just wanted to get through my teen years so that I could get on to the next part of my life. I was tired of living in the closet but had no clue as to how I was going to ever be able to come out unless I moved someplace where people didn't know me from Adam. I needed to find a city where I knew there were plenty of other guys who felt just as I did; someplace where I didn't feel so alone and out of place. Someplace where I could figure out the rest of what made me, me.

Some people might think I talk about my sexuality too much. That's okay; it's their right to think that but I feel we should talk about what makes us different from other people. If we don't how will kids growing up today know it's alright to talk about how they're feeling and who they are? I've never benefited from holding things inside and the fact remains we're encouraged to talk about our feelings as adults in order to avoid problems. We're encouraged to open the lines of communication if and when we're having problems with a spouse. Same thing when problems arise at the workplace. Why shouldn't we make our children feel more at ease about talking about what they're feeling or going through? Why do we shut them down with comments that make them feel less than safe opening up around us? (Don't misunderstand; nobody 'forced' me to be quiet about what I was going through as a kid. Mom tried to get me to talk till she was blue in the face. I just chose to put it off for the time being because I felt if everyone knew what I was feeling it'd screw things up between my family and I. My family might say that was a silly thing to think but such was my mindset at the time and I know a lot of gay teens feel the same way today.)

The bottom line? My orientation isn't something I chose. I knew I could never change my sexuality anymore than my brother could choose to be gay over being straight. What I DID choose was to wait until I was more comfortable in my own skin before being honest with my family and friends about this one other part of who I am.

Moving Out On My Own

Most teens cannot wait to get out from under the roof of one’s parents home and on their own but I admit while I had plenty of personal reasons for doing so Mom and Dad still had to motivate me to get "out of the nest" (so to speak). I'd been working in radio for a couple of years so a means to pay the rent at the new place wasn't so much the issue but because I had no plans to attend college after graduating High School, moving out on my own represented a big “next step” along the road which was my life. I wouldn’t admit it then but I was frightened. (Growing up is scary!)

I had just turned twenty when I located and moved into a duplex. It was the first place I found and there simply weren’t that many apartments in the small town in which I lived. At least there weren’t that many back then; there are more [apartments] everywhere today, which is an interesting aside regarding the state of our affairs.

That same year I found a new canine companion. It had taken me some time to get over the loss of Brownie but living on my own I needed some company. When I heard about these adorable little cocker-spaniel puppies around the corner from the radio station where I worked… Well, it was meant to be. Cassie was my best friend for sixteen years and two weeks.

The duplex served as home from about April till December, at which time I moved to Dallas to go to work for Electronic Data Systems. That move wasn’t the defining point of my life but it was when I really began to find myself and figure out who I really was. It was also when I began to form priorities relating to the things I thought I needed in order to be happy. Many mistakes were made during this part of my life.

Cathedral of Hope "Bell Tower" at ChristmasTracking back, when I first moved to Dallas I still had a lot of “small-town boy” in me. I was looking forward to the opportunity to explore my sexuality but I still very much enjoyed the things one comes to appreciate when he or she grows up in a small rural setting (in my case, a town of about 20,000). For instance, the first apartment I moved into here in Dallas was located across the street from a barn and three horses. I chose the apartment because of the horses; they reminded me of my home town. Of course, one week after I moved in the horses were taken away; a week following that the barn was torn down. This should have been my first clue my life would never be the same again. (laughing) My neighbor next door became a good friend and we would, as time permitted, find garage sales to check out on the weekends. When you’re in your early twenties and just starting out in life, money is TIGHT!!! Garage sales are a wonderful alternative to in-store purchases. It was while I was next door at Cathy’s watching the news and visiting when I first learned about the church I would later join.

The news was on and all at once something caught my attention… Someone on the news had made reference to a “gay church.” They were speaking of the Dallas chapter of the United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), a group of churches founded by Troy Perry in Los Angeles, California.

This was perfect… I was looking for a church where I felt comfortable being myself and what better place than the church that was being described on the news. I made a mental note of its location and drove down the following Sunday (however, I just couldn’t get up enough nerve to do more than drive around the block a couple of times and head back to my apartment that first trip over there). The next Sunday I headed back, parked in the parking lot to gather up enough willpower to head inside – and did so. I met a wonderful group of people and the pastor (Don Eastman) gave a sermon which reminded me so much of my church back home; I suppose because Don also came from an Assemblies of God background. What was especially nice was these were people who were just like me; similar interests and values … and gay. Sadly, pastor Eastman moved to Los Angeles in 1986 to accept a promotion within UFMCC. I still think fondly back on the days when Don was preaching in the pulpit. We spent quite a while in search of a replacement for pastor Eastman before settling on Mike Piazza (who has a much different preaching style).

When I joined MCC-Dallas I was one of the first 400 members of the church. We would continue to grow to thousands, eventually distancing ourselves from UFMCC and joining forces with the United Church of Christ (UCC); a decision of which resulted in a lot of controversy and a splitting of the church into two factions. I myself have reservations regarding the decision to disassociate ourselves from UFMCC but this page is not the place for that discussion.

I encourage you, if you are ever in Dallas (Texas), to visit the the Cathedral of Hope.

Work Hard, Play Hard and be Creative!

I’ve always been a dreamer ever since I was a small child. I always had dreams of one day meeting someone I’d fall madly in love with and who’d fall madly in love with me, the two of us growing old together (kinda’ given up on that dream for the moment). Also always wanted to have the resources to buy or do anything I wanted. (Hey, I still dream of winning the lottery one day! LOL)

Back around 1990 or 1991 (I think) I got involved in a pyramid scheme (Equinox) selling water purifiers. Didn’t work out all that well but to this day I readily admit they make one helluva good purifier. I’ve used their filters ever since then, along with Brita pitchers. I’m certain some of the pitches given back then at the meetings for Equinox were simply hype but at the same time there’s a lot of truth to how polluted our water, air and earth is. It’s really sad that we treat the planet we live on with such high disregard.

One pyramid scheme I was involved in as a youth was Amway and Eureka Foods was yet another. Somewhere along the way I figured out these schemes just weren’t my forte (I really don't believe they work for very many people to tell the truth). I eventually learned I'd get further with good old fashioned hard work, integrity and ingenuity and I think that’s the best advice I could possibly give to anyone who wants to make their own mark in the world “Work hard, play hard and be creative!”

Don't get caught up in a "get rich quick" scheme and remember, "If it sounds too good to be true ... it probably IS!"

Equinox logoAmway logoEureka Foods logo

I'm no longer directly involved in any of the organizations I've mentioned but I will provide links to their websites (just click on the logos above) because I do believe in their products. However, I'm neither recommending nor endorsing their pyramid programs as a means of making real money.

If you're looking for a way to make some serious change I encourage you to look elsewhere.