've lived in Chicago all my life. I began to come out in 1992 while I was a sophomore in high school. My ideal of being a gay man was to be trim, muscular, and old enough to get into gay bars. My fantasies about what the inside of the bars looked like ran wild.
At the time, in my very limited experience with men, I really thought it was all wine and roses beyond the club doors. It would be safe in there, I thought. People would be nice in there. People didn't have problems in there. Life was better in there.
Fast forward to 2006. My list of experiences is now much longer. I was a twink who knew nothing. I was a circuit boy, proud of the parties I attended. I was one of those guys who lurks in the shadows, waiting for someone without a face. I wore the right clothes for the right crowds to fit in the right cliques to get into the right parties.
I've been to the places where you only go to find sex. I've been a DJ, playing for huge rooms of dancers. I've been a photographer, searching for the right faces. I've been a writer, trying to find a voice. I've been called boyfriend many times. I've said 'I love you' and not meant it. I've never learned his last name a bit too often.
I've wandered home while the sun was rising, trying to remember what or who I had done that evening. I've taken an HIV test and been an absolute wreck while waiting for the results. I've made mistakes.
I've seen and done a lot in my hometown.
Along the way I've learned is that our community is full of holes. Yawning, gaping holes that are so easy to fall into without any hope of ever climbing out. There is darkness around every corner, and if you aren't paying attention, it will get you.
Herbert Spencer ( on Darwin ) had it spot on. 'Survival of the fittest,' he said. Given that we, as a community, have a few strikes against us in this world, we should do everything in our power to shine light into those dark places. Gloria Gaynor had it right too. I don't know about you, but I WILL survive. Trust.
This is Pride month. This is when we, as GLBT people, should take time to reflect on who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. Get out there and do your research. Google things like Stonewall and the Mattachine Society. Learn about the life of Harvey Milk. Visit the Gerber/Hart Library on Granville. Make time to study.
I'm giving you all some homework this summer, beyond doing your research. I want you all to tell at least one person your coming out story. And if you can, blog it, podcast it, or archive it somewhere, you get the extra credit points.
Finding the light in 4/4,