Coming Out of the Gay Community Part 2
Important notice from assemblyHUB: This article covers the subject matters of abuse and same-sex attraction, which may be very difficult or inappropriate for some readers.
Because of my work in a large grocery store chain, soon after the wrestling incident, Audrey and I moved to the suburbs of Toronto. I was glad to get away and focus my attention on my pregnant wife and demanding job.
By now, I was auditing store operations and was frequently required to travel on business. This kept me away from home for days at a time. Since the wrestling match, awareness of other men began to dominate my mind. I wondered if they felt the same way I did. Once again, that old feeling of confusion took over.
One day, I was assigned to audit a store north of Toronto. It would be demanding, and I would have to stay in a motel near the site for a couple of days. As I anticipated the trip, I could think of little other than my experiences with Roger and how the wrestling episode had affected me.
I was definitely distracted as I threw a suitcase into my car on an rainy Sunday evening and headed north to the motel where I would spend the night so I could be at the store, when the staff arrived. My boss didn’t want them to have a chance to hide anything on Monday morning if they had gotten word of the audit.
As I drove, rain drummed on the roof and the windshield wipers flapped keeping my view of the road clear. In the reduced visibility, I almost didn’t notice the hitchhiker by the side of the road. I braked carefully on the slick road, and pulled over. A clean-cut young man ran up, pulled open the passenger door, jumped in, and closed it, all in one fluid movement.
After initial pleasantries, which confirmed that they were headed to locations within a few blocks of each other, we started to chat. Before long, talk turned to sex and the hitchhiker began to describe in considerable detail what he had experienced in the gay bars, clubs, and bathhouses in Toronto’s gay village. I struggled to believe what I was hearing.
I could scarcely contain myself. The spark that Roger had ignited, so long ago, roared into flame. My passenger and I ended up spending the night together in my motel room. As we parted the next morning, I promised myself that I would explore the options I’d heard about the night before.
This is not the time or place to describe my descent into sexual obsession. Within weeks, I was living a double life. Within months I had abandoned Audrey and my infant son. Nothing would get in the way of my fulfilling my every desire and fantasy.
I traveled to all of the gay hot spots of the time: London, Amsterdam, West Berlin, Barcelona, Provincetown, Key West, San Francisco, and more.
The 1970s and ‘80s flew by in a fog of sexual self-indulgence and marijuana smoke. Once in, I never expected to get out; I didn’t want to get out; I couldn’t imagine getting out—until the phone rang. I answered it to find my son, Sean, asking if it would be alright if he spent a few days with me while on summer vacation from college. My mind raced.
“Of course!” I said. “Come! … Yes, I’ll be glad to spend a week with you!”
The moment I hung up the phone, I began thinking about all I had lost with my wife and son. I tortured myself wondering what Sean knew. Did he know I was gay? If he did, how would he act? If he didn’t, how would he react to finding out?
At that time, I had just bought a house which I was renovating. I decided to set up a bedroom there where I could sleep. Sean would have the apartment to himself as my roommate, Al, a long-distance trucker wouldn’t be around.
As the day of Sean’s arrival drew near, I laid in supplies and got everything ready—everything except myself. More and bigger questions hounded me in the days of waiting. How would I protect Sean from seeing the sordid side of my life?
What would we do with our time together? (I didn’t just want to put him to work renovating the house.) How would Sean feel about me? After all, other than one visit around the time of Sean’s tenth birthday, I hadn’t seen him, and keeping in touch by mail didn’t work out too well.
At last, the time came to pick him up. I waited nervously in the arrivals area of the airport until he appeared. The crowds passing through cut short the awkwardness of our greeting. On the way back to the apartment, our conversation centered on the flight, Sean’s recent visit with his mom, and the Toronto traffic—all small-talk to avoid the big issue that lurked just out of sight.
After supper, as we sat on the balcony, I finally broached the subject. Sean explained that his mother had told him about my lifestyle. That let me off the hook for the big reveal, but then Sean said something that put me back on the hook.
He expressed his unconditional love for me. This rocked me. The idea that love did not exist as a medium of exchange hadn’t crossed my mind in 20 years.
That night, I didn’t sleep well. The new connection with Sean made me long for what I had lost. At the same time, I had no idea how I could give up the life I had been living. I didn’t even know if it were possible to give it up. Living in the gay community had consumed me.
I ate in gay restaurants, played gay baseball, participated in gay fundraisers, associated with gay businessmen. Everything in my world revolved around my sexual expression.
Yet, Sean’s appearance reminded me of the life I had walked away from—family relationships, church fellowship, and non-sexualized friendships. That night, as I lay in the dark weighing my choices, I decided that, while some things may never change, other things had to.
Regardless of what God would do with my same-sex attraction, I would make new choices—choices that would separate me from the life of sexual indulgence; that would honour God; that would reconnect me with my spiritual brothers and sisters.
In the morning, through bleary eyes, I began to see the world in a new way.