Trajectories

“Bill, wake up, we’re going to watch a man walk on the moon!” There was excitement in my parent’s voice, which they expected me to share. But this was not how we did things in this house. Even at the tender age of six, I understood this and respected the rules that my parents were cavalierly disregarding. Their disregard of rules made me fearful that overnight they had become hippies. By dragging their six year old out of bed in the middle of the night to watch TV they may as well have been saying “Watch TV little man, no rules only love!”


I sat in front of a grainy black and white image so blurry that it might as well have been static. If there was any significance to the moment, it was lost on me. All I knew was this was not “Wacky Races.” No Penelope Pitstop or Dastardly Doolittle. I sat crossed legged on the floor in front of the TV. Eyes narrowed, afraid that my mother would suddenly pull a tambourine out of her purse and start dancing, while my father played “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds” on a guitar.

It was July of 1969. This is when my memories started to form. Subsequent newscasts would cement the importance of this moment into my impressionable mind. “That’s one small step for man; One giant leap for mankind.”

One month earlier in a city as distant as the moon another object was propelled across the night time sky. While it's trajectory was barely fifteen feet, its impact would not hit my life for another thirty seven years. There were no widely broadcasted news reports or school lessons to plant that moment into my young mind.

The night was still and heavy. The city held the air so close that the heat from the pavement could not escape. In this bar, The Stonewall Inn, a group of people sought out one of the only places that they could feel safe. Outside of the bar, they were criminals and deviants: arrested and beaten.

Suddenly: bright lights, Confusion. Shit, it’s a raid again. Nowhere to run. Seven policemen entered the bar and took the “till”. They locked the first group in a paddy wagon. Their crime: touching another man, or not wearing three articles of clothing pertaining to their gender. But then unbelievably, someone threw pennies and then a bottle at the policemen. One individual became a group and the group fought back. The policmen returned the next night and the next. But the opposing group became hundreds, then thousands.

My parents never became hippies: although there is a picture of them at a mountaintop wedding where their dress is questionable. The rules of the house were left intact. While the Stonewall riots had set into motion a period of change, the ripples were slow to intersect with my life.

On a recent trip to New York, Paul and I walked to Christopher Street and stopped in front of the bar. Its appearance was unremarkable: A hole in the wall. We entered the darkened bar and ordered a five dollar special martini. There was no special code word to enter and no threat of a police raid. At the other end of the bar sat a man in his late fifties, old enough to have been there that night. Could he have been the one man that threw the first bottle and changed the lives of millions?

June 24th, 2011, almost 42 years after the riot:  a Republican controlled senate voted to make marriage equality in New York a reality. Paul, I and the kids huddled around the tiny laptop screen and watched the vote take place. The hurled bottle landed in my life. “That’s one small step for man; One giant leap for mankind.”

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End of the beginnings

“Life is a buffet and most poor suckers are starving.” The valedictorian’s speech begins with a promising quote from Auntie Mame. Maybe this won’t be the typical “Reach for the stars” bullshit speech as my friend Sam oh so delicately calls them. But as the valedictorian begins to literally count the hours that are spent eating in a lifetime, my mind begins to wander and I begin to think about lunch. I think to myself how nice it would be to hear an honest and frank graduation speech. One that would take into account the one thing that these students do not have: a lifetime of experience and disappointments.

I was not a star pupil, but in the school of hard knocks I’m right up there. So, in my head, I begin my speech. My voice is deep and authoritative, like a gay white man’s version of James Earl Jones:

“My fellow students, faculty, family, friends and distant relatives that feel trapped into attending, and so will be drinking a little earlier than usual today. I welcome you! Sitting here before you are the sullen teenagers that you argued with this morning. Their inability to set an alarm clock or ‘for the love of God’, manage their own time was the last straw this morning. They will undoubtedly not acquire these skills in the next two months before college and more than likely, never will.

Parents, you tried your best, but let’s face it; you could have done things better. If your goal was to make sure that your children had something to talk about in therapy. You have succeeded!

Students, you probably did not try your best. Facebook, Twitter, texting and social acceptance were your first priorities. Schoolwork was merely background noise. Congratulations! The rest of your life is truly all about social acceptance and sexy profile pictures. No one picks you up in a bar because you look intelligent.”

At this point, I would hit them with a closing so poignant and relevant that it would guarantee a standing ovation. Or perhaps they would be ecstatic because the speech was so mercifully short.

“And in closing, I would like to…” And here the applause would be so thunderous, I would have to pause “Thank you, thank you, please, let me finish. Ahem, I would like to quote a line from The Real Housewives Countess LuAnn’s classic hit ‘Money Can’t buy you class’

Money can’t buy you class. Elegance is learned, oh yeah. And the primary mistake, texting on a date. If you make a lady wait, she’ll take a pass.

Thank you and congratulations, graduates!”

I realize that I have missed most, if not all of the valedictorian’s speech and now the graduates are lining up. I see my stepdaughter Evelyn getting ready to march up on stage. I am hit with an unexpected wave of pride and immediately become one of “those” parents. You know them. They are big, loud and have piercings in places that seem extremely uncomfortable if not downright unsanitary.

I am up on my feet yelling Evelyn’s name and whooping. I swear to God, I actually whooped. I sense that my husband Paul is distancing himself from me: shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes as if to say “I have no idea who this person is” to the strangers around us.

But I am a convert. I can see Evelyn’s future and it is bright and full of promise. I can see my future too, and it is full of a juicy cheeseburger.

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Rhinestone Cowboy

This is a guest post that I have written for another blog and wanted to bring the story back "home" to live with the rest of my stories.  Many of you have asked if I still have those rhinestone studded jeans.  Like many songs from the 70's, they were a one hit wonder and we should let them fade away.  That pun was intended....However, I have scoured the Internet and actually found a picture that is shockingly similair.  God, what was I thinking.....

In 1977, I was unceremoniously dumped into the public school system after eight years of Catholic school.

Studio 54 debuted, Donna Summer oozed disco sex, and Saturday Night Fever introduced me to polyester boogie nights.

It was also the year of my rhinestone-studded pants, and my brief professional writing career.

The rhinestone-studded pants were an unfortunate fashion risk that I took while attempting to fit into junior high school. Apparently, disco fever had not taken hold as quickly in Greensboro, North Carolina as it had in New York. The pants earned me the title of tackiest dresser, and taught me an important lesson: To fit in, I would have to look like everyone else.

If there was anyone who did not look like everyone else, it was Mr. Dickinson, my Social Studies teacher. With shoulder length brown hair, piercing blue eyes, and a hint of five o’clock stubble, his looks were singularly distracting. I had learned from Catholic school that my thoughts about him were immoral, but God would just have to forgive me. Not that I would ever divulge those thoughts in the confessional booth.

Mr. Dickinson, an avid environmentalist, gave us an assignment to enter an essay writing contest. The theme was “Wildlife needs you!” Yes! I thought to myself. Here was my chance to impress him.

During that entire hour of class, I poured my heart into writing about beautiful oak trees with Spanish moss, soaring eagles, and purple mountain majesties. It was a masterpiece so expressive, so well-crafted, that he would have no choice but to proclaim his love for me. He would do this discreetly, of course, probably by passing me a note.

As Mr. Dickinson walked by and collected our papers, I beamed with pride and looked over at Darnell-The-Jock’s one-sentence scribbled work: “Wildlife can suck my big fat…” And then it hit me. Darnell had taken this theme in a direction I could not have imagined. If that was what he thought about the assignment, how ridiculous was I going to look?

I won first place. But there was no impassioned note from Mr. Dickinson declaring “I love you! If you love me, check this box.” What I did receive were two tickets to the Greensboro Natural Science Center, and social suicide delivered via an announcement of my achievement on the school PA system. Second important lesson: To fit in, I had to think and act like everyone else.

My brief writing career ended. Writing about what I knew would divulge the secret I had to keep. Being Gay was not an option. In order to survive, I had to keep my thoughts to myself.

And that is what I did for 30 more years: survived. But after all those years, the secret became too heavy to bear. Just saying three words — “I am Gay” — allowed all of the other words to come spilling out. Life, it turned out, could be so much more than survival. It could be downright wonderful. I met and married a man who rivaled all that I imagined my life with Mr. Dickinson could be.

Writers write about what they know. And what I know is a variation on my ninth grade theme paper: “Life needs you.” Life needs every unique individual. When I write about my everyday laughter, loves, and neuroses in an authentic and humorous way, I validate who I am and celebrate what I have found.

I write for the ninth grade boy who wonders if he will ever find love.

I write so that others will do more than survive.

I write so that others will live.

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Summer breeze, makes me feel fine

“What? What do you want Dameron?” Paul says as he glances at me while driving. I am startled out of a daze and realize that I am staring at him as we are commuting into the city. That is my defensive gesture now: To become emotionally vacant while commuting. “I want a month in a cabin on the coast of Maine.” I say staring blankly.


“Oh, like Misery?” He says. “I can eat chocolates and become big like Kathy Bates and tuck it.” He is not taking me seriously. “Well, can’t we at least make it a more romantic abduction?” I say. “I’m going to look like Kathy Bates and you want to make it sexual?” He counters.

I don’t think he understands what I am trying to say. I am tired: Tired of working, tired of commuting because we have children in New Hampshire and Virginia and have lent out our condo in Boston. Tired of the rat race and simply tired because I have insomnia. Let’s face it, I’m tired!

Last summer we planned a wedding and renovated a condo. This summer was supposed to be the “Summer of Bill”. No plans. But now we have our house in New Hampshire on the market. Plans are springing up everywhere. I want a summer like the ones I had as a kid growing up in North Carolina. I want to wake up and not know or care what day of the week it is.

I lapse back into a daydream. It is morning and the window over my bed is open while the attic fan is pulling in the cool but warming morning air. The cicadas are whirring so loudly that it is hypnotic. I hear my mother’s voice like music talking and laughing on the wall mounted phone downstairs. She has the phone cord pulled tight over the counter while standing at the stove frying bacon. Someone has just mowed their yard so I smell fresh cut grass.

There is nothing to do today but get up and ride my bike to the swimming pool. Strangely, North Carolina, Boston and the Cape all exist in one geographic area, so my friends Sam and Cary meet me at the pool. We’re fifteen and I can see Sam as the Eddie Haskell that he is: Impressing the mothers with his charm and pulling out a doobie and dropping the F bomb when they walk away. Cary is the good looking quiet kid who knows the lyrics to every song on the radio and will do any crazy thing we ask him to do. There is no Internet, no cell phones, no laptops, no computers and no responsibility.

“Out on the edge of Glory, and I’m hanging on a moment with you!” Paul’s hacked rendition of Lady Gaga brings me back to the present. “I think she’s singing about sex sweetie.” He says. “Yeah, that was funny the first five times you told me that too. But, no I Googled it, she’s singing about her grandfather dying. ” I say. “That’s just dreadful, she’s singing about having sex with her grandfather while he’s dying? Jus’ dreadful.” He says while elongating the “S”. He has been in his own happy morning world while I have taken a break from reality.

Later that night, after a tough work day I take the bus home and walk up the four flights to our condo. There is a glass of wine waiting for me and dinner in the oven. After dinner, we stretch out on the sofa, watch TV and eat ice cream. The sound of the air conditioner is as numbing as the sounds of the cicadas were in my mind. It’s not a month in Maine or a return to my childhood but right then, it feels just as good.

What’s your summer dream?

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Check it out. I'm a relationship expert!

As a tribute to fathers during pride month, Nerve magazine interviewed three gay dads for sex and relationship advice.  Follow the link below:

Sex advice from gay dads

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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.

Agree? Disagree? Like? Dislike?  Comment below!  Click on the link that says "Comments" with the number next to it!

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Playing with balls

“You boys going to play golf?” We heard this question so many times that eventually I began to think that this was the de facto Charleston, South Carolina way to say hello. On par with “Say hi to your Mama n’ them!” It doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s nice.

Why else would seven men in their forties be together in public? Their wives weren’t with them, so they couldn’t have been duped into shopping or sightseeing. Which brings up the second most popular greeting, mostly uttered by concerned older ladies: “You boys leave your wives at home?” Paul would lean in towards me, slap me on the behind and whisper into my ear: “Oh, no, I brought my little wife with me.”

These people clearly needed to be reassured that their world order, the very foundation of their life was not being shaken. So my friend Rob devised an ingenious way to respond honestly without having to go into great detail. “Oh, I expect to hit some balls soon!” He would say. “Oh, that’s gooood!” The relieved older ladies in their visors would drawl and smile. “Hit ‘em hard boys!”

Now aside from being in my forties and flattered to be called a “boy”, I was mostly annoyed that the only thing men could possibly do together was play golf. I felt bad for all men, not just us gay ones. I suppose if they had known that we were gay, which would be obvious because we would be wearing our rainbow flag T-shirts or carrying our Judy Garland albums. The options would have expanded. They might have asked “Are you girls going to get facials?” But even with that question, we could have answered honestly “Oh, I hope to get a facial soon!

Our visit to Charleston has become an annual Columbus Day tradition. I say tradition, because we have gone once and plan on going again this year. That’s a tradition in my book.

Rob and Mark moved to Charleston from the Boston area over a year ago and built a beautiful home in a Disney like suburb. The closest that we came to playing golf was driving Rob and Mark’s golf cart through the neighborhood to the community pool and tennis courts. My husband Paul was alarmingly enamored of driving this cart. I saw my future with him in some gay retirement village version of “Del Boca Vista”. Complete with our Hawaiian shirts, knee high socks and shorts.

Later in the day we went to the beach and the weather was so warm and beautiful that most of us ended up in the water on a clear October day: something that would be unthinkable to do after August in the frigid New England waters.

“Now Mike, I want you to take a picture of those boys swimming in the ocean!” Sam overheard a lady incredulously say to her husband. I have to laugh when I think of her showing her friends and children this picture of gay men frolicking in the water. Just by looking at the photograph, there would be no indication that it was autumn, but I could hear her saying “These boys were in the water in October! They must have been hot from playing golf!” Her husband, probably a little more aware would say “Eunice, them boys were homa-sex-yuls, you dang fool!”

She would experience an epiphany as delightful as the warm water on a fall day was to us. What is on the surface is rarely a mirror of what lies beneath.

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Guest Post

Check out my guest blog post over at Freelancedom.com on my Reason to Write:

My Reason to Write: So that others will live

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Meet the folks

“Well, I guess the way the evening is going I have to ask, what are your intentions with Paul?” Ralph asked me. Now I had no idea what way the evening was going, or how its direction could possibly influence the question. But, I was like a cat backed into a corner. I could begin hissing and scratching or roll over and purr. I chose the latter.


“Oh Ralph stop!” Don demurred while playfully slapping Ralph’s arm. He reached out his gloved hand to pick up his chocolate martini and took a sip through a straw so that his lipstick would not smudge. But the whole time his fake eye lashes never batted once in anticipation of the answer. As they leaned in close, there was not a breath between them.

“Each day I wake up and think that I couldn’t love Paul any more, but each day I do.” I said. Ralph and Don exhaled. Clearly, this was the answer they were hoping for. Ralph and Don were the family that Paul chose, not the family he was born into. His “gay parents” Paul playfully calls them.

If you met Don on the street, you would not remember him. If you met his alter-ego, “Crystal Chandelier” you could not forget him. And that is who I met that first night of the inquisition. After I passed the test I asked Ralph how long it took Don to get made up. “It takes a bottle of booze and a pack of cigarettes” was his quick response as he rolled his eyes and took another sip of his drink.

Later, I had the opportunity to see this process as we sat on the deck one beautiful late summer evening in Maine. While Ralph smoked his cigarettes and weaved a story, Don began the transformation. Drink by drink and smoke by smoke Don would join us on the deck and disappear into the house. Each time he reappeared with a new layer until eventually he joined us as a glittered and feathered Crystal Chandelier

While I had to bare myself emotionally for Paul’s “gay parents”, I had to bare myself physically for his “real” family. They were all packed into a hotel room for his 13 year old son’s birthday. “Oh, don’t worry. My family is great. Don’t forget your swim suit. There’s a water park in the hotel!” Paul told me. “Swim suit? Oh, OK…” I said nervously while looking at the calendar. There weren’t enough gym days for that. I pictured myself standing on an auction block so that his family could inspect the goods. “His calves are a little spindly, but let’s see the teeth” I imagined his father saying.

But soon his sister Peggy was telling a story about her two sons. “They created a cartoon character of Grammy on the Nintendo Wii. In the boxing game they use her character as a punching bag. You should see them giving Grammy upper cuts!” She said laughing. Instantly I felt at ease. These were people that did not take themselves too seriously and laughed at themselves before laughing at others. I loved them.

It occurred to me how similar these two families were. Neither one gives a damn what the world thinks of them. It took me too long to realize the same thing about myself. But now they are my family. And they will never let me think too much of myself. Thank God for that.

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