My trip to New York City was easily one of the best vacations ever. I don’t know exactly what it is about that city but I feel at home there. The energy and vibe of the place just sits on me like a warm blanket in winter. It smells of creativity and achievement.
This time I also took the opportunity to reunite with my first year college roommate at NYU.
We had prearranged a lunch date. It was special and uplifting.
You see, college is the time in life when we start to figure ourselves out. We struggle with independence and our own sense of morality which will guide our lives. I was pondering such things as a mission, sexual experimentation, guilt, my religion. At the same time, my roommate was tiptoeing out of the closet and pondering that effect on relationships, career choices and love. He was contemplating making choices that are age appropriate and now further down the road it shows.
At the time we lived together I didn’t know he was out to most of his friends and even our other roommate. I was left in the dark (I wasn’t really ignorant of the fact. It just wasn’t spoken in my presence). I asked during our lunch if that was because he was afraid I’d self-righteously judge him. It was.
I now find it ironic that, while I was complying with all things Mormon at the time, he was complying with his own inner voice for personal integrity. Today I look at him as a mentor of sorts in both personal and professional endeavors.
In his personal life, he was in a 15 year relationship with a man with whom he now shares custody of his 10 year old child. That relationship ended when the child was born (long story). He’s now 9 years into a committed partnership with a very successful and handsome man. His current partner (A power player in the business of Broadway…very successful in his own right) is like a 3rd dad to his son and they all get along. Some may say that his first relationship failed. I don’t see it that way and neither does he. Longevity isn’t the only measure of a successful relationship. I could tell that the three men in the son’s life still respect and love one another.
Professionally, my former roommate is a manager and producer in the entertainment business. He manages award winning actors you’d be familiar with (including his former partner) and currently produces a show which is among my favorite on cable TV. He got started in this career path back when we were in college while I was working myself into guilt fits and all my emotional energy was intensely focused on denying truths about myself.
In a nutshell, while I was preoccupied with Turning It Off, he was turning it on. I’m very proud of the life that he’s made for himself.
We talked about our families, our careers, our love lives. I count myself fortunate to have regained a friend after I had spent so many years and so much energy on ventures that didn’t produce the promised results (Mormonism).
It’s nice to be reminded that there really are like-minded, family-focused gay men out there. After my recent dating experiences I walked away from this lunch date with a refreshed sense of what’s important to me and what is possible in a future relationship. We promised to do it again when either of us are the other’s coast.
Moral of the story for my children and any young person reading this… Choose NOW to follow your inner voice. It’s never too late of course but the decision to Turn It Off will have a cumulative negative impact on all aspects of your life. By contrast, start now to live a life of integrity. Live on the outside in a manner consistent with how you feel on the inside and it will pay positive dividends for the rest of your life.