I must confess to writing in a half hearted fashion; without the angst and pain, the writing feels rather pedestrian, particularly writing about being gay. This is not to say that I am unaware of the ongoing issues and still do consider what I may say to someone: Is Phil a friend or my boyfriend – not much different on the surface but so different to the listener.
This past weekend was the annual foray to Chicago, six consecutive years and all of them markers, as it turns out, on my journey from a straight married man to my current gay existence. I will not recount the journey here – feel free to read the prior May postings; suffice to say the changes have been dramatic. Last year was to have been the final Chicago post – attending dinner with Phil as my guest. But looking back I did introduce him as a friend, probably sufficient to most I met, but a tad evasive for my true friends.
This year Phil was to join us again at dinner but due to his work he had to take a later flight – he would be there for the after dinner drinks at best. Towards the end of the dinner, as the table shifted I found myself sitting with two women, two of the three that I sat drinking with years ago, discussing their divorces and my uttering, not that I remember it, that I was lost. They were both there with their new lovers – the live in variety and were glowing with their good fortune. They talked and smiled and then looked at me: “how are you doing”? They know I am separated, we have known each other for a decade and beyond.
The next moment came much more easily then I might have guessed. I announced that I had come to realize that I was gay, had a boyfriend and was happy. “Was he here with you last year?” They do have good memories. “Where is he this year?” They do ask good questions. I explain he will be here in an hour or two.
After dinner our group coordinator has made plans for those who are young at heart: first stop a rooftop bar, tres chic, tres young. We drink a little, the women in our midst dance (my could one of them move) and then discuss the next stop. Where is Phil they ask – slightly delayed but on his way. Next stop it seems is a drag club. One friend asks if that is okay and I laugh – what could be more okay.
We make our way to the club, seven strong with Phil on the way, and it is quite the show. These were not the drag queens of Harvey Fierstein stature; these are beautiful “women”. The men in our group cannot really wrap their arms around the knowledge these were men yet such clear evidence to the contrary. The women in our group, well they are jealous of the bod’s. And so there is movement as members of our group wind our way on occasion to the front, a few dollar bills for this one, a few more for that one. Lots of whooping and laughing, teasing of the friendliest nature, not of us but of themselves.
Really how much better could it be? I imagined what if I had not come out just a few hours earlier. I would be sitting there with Phil, careful not to brush against him, feeling discomfort as to who I was, which role to play in that room. And instead such a pleasant evening, simply just being who I am.