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  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS Writer reflects on divorce, same-sex love and more
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Ross Forman
2010-08-04

This article shared 5252 times since Wed Aug 4, 2010
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Tom Marino hit rock bottom in early 1999.

His life was filled with reckless behavior that, he admitted, could fill the pages of a book, along with a disregard for self-respect. He aimlessly went from guy to guy to guy without any real purpose.

"'I was getting comfortable and stuck on a treadmill where the relationships I was in, as well as my career, were stagnant," he said. "I knew I wanted friendship, love and a family but all of the guys I was meeting were so shallow and self-absorbed.

"I think the best thing I did was to take care of myself physically and to get my self-confidence and pride back. I remember a song by Taylor Dayne that was out at the time: "Send Me A Lover." I kept telling God that I needed his help to find someone. I remember asking him to help me find my way.

"Meeting my husband was a turning point in my life. My husband turned out to be far from the 'type' of guy I always pursued, yet everything I wanted and needed."

Tom and Noe have been together since 1999, living in South Jersey.

Tom, 43, is the senior vice-president and regional manager. Noe, 37, is a nurse anesthetist. The couple has a son, Nicholas, 2, and just recently added twin girls to the mix.

"I do a lot of reminiscing and reflecting on my life's journey, how I got to where I am today," Marino said. "I am living a very comfortable and wonderful life. I think I'm both fortunate and lucky that everything came together the way it did. I attribute a lot of the reasons for my success to perseverance. There were so many times I could have given up on any of the aspects of my life. Most dreams are not achieved easily—and, for me, once I emerged from my short slump, I recognized the best part of my character was being driven, being aggressive and being passionate."

The Marino story—now chronicled in his book, Tomorrow May Be Too Late—is a near-20 year journey, detailing a journey that seems suited for Hollywood. Messy divorce. One-night-stands. White-collar crime. Heartbreak. Spiritual intervention. Birth of a child.

And those are just some of the highlights.

Marino shares intimate thoughts, devastating real-world incidences and coming-of-age sexual experiences. He was a divorced banking executive in one of the largest cities in the United States by day, but hiding a secret identity in his early 20s: He was gay and also worked as a male exotic dancer at night.

Marino eventually fell for his first male lover, but he ultimately stole Marino's heart and emptied his bank account.

"I can't be the only person who fell madly, deeply in love with someone—risked and lost in the end," Marino said. "Like others, I was left with so many feelings and emotions: confusion, anger, sadness, regret, and heartache. I want others to know about my story. I feel sharing an honest and heartfelt account of my experiences can help.

"To find my way, I've learned to enjoy every moment, cherish today and embrace getting lost because sometimes when lost I have found myself."

Marino was born in 1967, and graduated from high school in Bordentown, N.J., in 1985. A year later, he married "Nadine," yet they divorced in 1989.

Marino met his first male lover, "Tom," in 1988.

"After the book came out, the gravity of its openness, the depth of its honesty became more apparent to me than ever," Marino said. "As coworkers, friends and some family members told me they read the book, it gave me several sleepless nights. What really bothered me were the couple of negative reviews that were a bit heartbreaking. All the time and work I put into the project seemed like a big waste of time and I was discouraged.

"A friend and fellow gay writer, Chicago's Terry Oldes, coupled with several wonderful friends took time to listen to how I was feeling and provided the warm words of encouragement that helped me feel better.

"I learned that it's up to me to feel good about, and believe in, my project—I'm its biggest advocate. My wish is to be a voice counted with other LGBT community members as fearless, outspoken and brave."

Marino said his favorite part of the book was detailing his first night and the next day together with 'Tom.' "I believe the magic of first love was evident in [ those ] pages," Marino said.

Marino admitted that he was earning about $15,000 annually at the bank—and about triple that dancing.

"I enjoyed the money, and [ was ] determined to save it up for my future," he said. "After the folly of my first male-male relationship, dancing became a necessity to dig myself out of debt.

"My ex-wife left me to date a male stripper. They had a month-long affair and, even though I was jealous of the guy, I also longed to assume his role. Part of me felt that becoming like him would make her want me. The dancing gig took—I ended up enjoying it.

"The book is about my first relationship with another guy. I spent years in the aftermath trying to figure it out; living in regret; wondering what happened. I've learned to cherish today. These could be the 'good old days' so I don't want to waste one moment living in regret, or thinking that tomorrow will bring a better life. I want to live for today, like it's all I've got."

Here are Marino's thoughts on:

—Family ties: "Nicholas is biologically related to me and an egg donor we obtained from the wonderfully gay-friendly agency Surrogate Alternatives of San Diego. My husband's sister carried our son. We recently used the same donor's eggs and my husband's sperm to create twin girls that his sister carried for us."

—Summer of 2010: "I have a sense of accomplishment, having achieved many of my life's goals and dreams. I don't look back with regret, I find myself in a sort of 'rebooting' mode, trying to prepare for the next chapter of my journey."

—The future: " [ Am ] dedicating the remainder of my life in service to my children and husband. I will work hard every day to make them comfortable, safe and happy. [ Also, ] continue my career in retail banking, aspirations of helping my employer's reputation grow by treating customers and employees to the best experience possible. [ And, ] if completion of another book is in my future, I will be most pleased."

—Father's Day: "It has new meaning to me these days. I had a challenging childhood, but today being a father is the best thing that has ever happened to me. My goal and dream now is to be an outstanding role model for our children, and prepare and educate them for life. I want to share all the beauty of the world and culture with them."

—Doing it all over again: " [ I would ] spend more time participating in LGBT community events to support those with HIV and AIDS. I want to leave a legacy of someone who gave something back. I want to be remembered for acts of kindness."

See www.tomorrowmaybetoolate.com .


This article shared 5252 times since Wed Aug 4, 2010
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