The most beautiful man

“Ask to see his Abs.” I was not sure I heard John correctly, so I simply said “What?” He repeated. “He has abs. Ask to see them!” “But we all have abs.” I said. “Yeah, but you can see his.” John said. “Well it’s a lot easier to see them when you’re in your twenties.” I said.

It was the annual gay pride parade in Boston and our group of friends was enjoying drinks on the beautiful terrace of George and Doug’s condo in the South End. This was not just any deck; it was a football field that enjoys amazing views of the Boston skyline. It was mostly a group of gay men, so you can imagine all of the jokes about “Big decks” and “Deck envy”.

I say mostly gay, because there were some straight women and one straight man that joined us along the way. He was the one with the abs. And his “straightness” was questionable to most of the men there, except for the straight woman he was with.

He was young, attractive, dressed nicely and was a part of the parade. That must make him gay. But when the question came up and someone asked me if I thought he was, I said no. “What? What?” There was pure disbelief. “He’s not gay, because he says he’s straight” was my reply. Again, shock: “But, I said I was straight when I was 28!” Someone next to me said.

I began to think about a conversation that I had with one of Paul’s friends at lunch that day. They worked together for many years. I asked her if she was surprised when Paul came out to her. “Oh, not at all” was her response. I could see Paul cringe when she said this. But she was not being critical or humorous. This was just an honest reply. Paul was obviously not happy about this, so I asked “Is there something wrong with being gay?”

I think that the gay community is its own worst enemy. And here was the perfect example of it. On one hand there was a good looking sensitive young straight guy that was marching in the parade to support us, so he must be gay. On the other hand my husband felt like someone recognizing that he was gay was somehow undesirable.

So, to celebrate gayness, I want to tell you about the most beautiful man that I saw in the parade that day. I hope that my husband will forgive me for describing him to you. He was walking by himself and striking is not a strong enough word. Dressed simply in black his skin was glistening in the cold rain. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him.

He was carrying a sign:

“Almost 56 years together & 7 married. Paul died March 31 of Leukemia”

His face was tear stained and so was mine. Here was love laid bare and open for the entire world to see. There was no better example that the words gay or straight do not matter. This was love and pride.

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