The last time I posted I asked the question, "Who am I?" Today, I think I'm a little closer to knowing.
We are, of course, always in the process of defining ourselves, particularly as we transform and transition through the various phases of life. For a gay person emerging from the closet, this process usually involves redefining oneself, often in dramatic ways. I have spent most of my adult life defining myself as a husband, as a Mormon, and as a straight man. The tranformation to life as a former husband, a former Mormon and a gay man is well underway, but it isn't always a smooth process and I often feel unsure of where I am going.
Late last week, I traveled to San Francisco for a day of meetings for my job. I decided to stay the weekend and spend some time with a gay friend of mine. I've known him since junior high school, but it had been probably fifteen years since we had seen each other. After I started coming out, a mutual friend reconnected us and we've spent some great times catching up over the phone. When my business trip came up, I knew that I wanted to extend it into the weekend so my friend and I could hang out, have fun, and gay it up on the town.
And that is precisely what we did. I spent Thursday night, Friday night and all of the day and evening on Saturday with him, primarily in the Castro, San Francisco's famous gay quarter. It was an extraordinary experience for me. For the first time in my life I felt completely free and unburdened by my sexuality and my emerging gay identity. I walked the Castro as gay men and women in all shapes, colors and sizes walked it with me. I went to coffee shops, clothing stores, restaurants and bars and nary a straight person was to be seen. My friend introduced me to some of his friends and we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other's company until late into the night and when the time came to say goodbye all gave each other kisses and went our separate ways.
On Saturday after dinner my friend and I walked over to a pub to meet up with some other friends. Along the way my friend put his arm around me and I wrapped mine around his waist and we just walked down the street, two gay friends showing their affection for each other. We were utterly unremarkable in this setting and under these circumstances--and I found that to be quite remarkable! I felt so at ease with myself. I felt natural. I felt real and authentic and good. Indeed, if ever I wondered if being gay is just about sex, this weekend proved to me that it is not. I simply felt free to be gay, to think of myself as a man who loves other men, and to be in the company of other men who experience humanity and view the world through the same lens that I do.
Who am I? I still am struggling to figure that out, but after a great weekend in San Francisco with a long lost friend, I can say with more confidence than ever that I am a gay man.