This is a momentous post for me–number 400 written and shared over the past five-plus years here.
As we begin June — Pride month — the topic of this one is more consequential than most.
Since May 2018, I’ve posted a long-and-winding stream of diverse stories about the Scottsdale-Arizona community I inhabit and about my life … as an independent writer, avid gardener, animal lover, critical thinker, loyal son, non-traditional father, and fortunate husband.
This openness is something I’ve learned and earned. More than sixty years ago, I was a shy child. I hid behind my mother and sucked my thumb for reassurance.
On a subconscious level, I must have felt I needed protection … for being different … though it would be decades before I would understand and embrace my gayness.
In the early 1990s (after my divorce from Jean and before I met my husband Tom), I felt lost and afraid. I certainly didn’t imagine I would one day sing on a stage with dozens of other gay men in Chicago … and then again in Phoenix.
Or that my husband and older son Nick (also living in Arizona) would watch and smile from the audience.
Much less, that I would write lyrics for the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus or develop dialogue for a palette of LGBTQ characters–a libretto, of sorts–for a concert in June 2023, titled Born to Be Brave.
This latest thrilling endeavor will premiere June 3 (2 pm and 7 pm shows) and then again June 4 (2 pm) at Tempe Center for the Arts.
All of this leads me to the point of this post.
In 2023–in a country where some would prefer not to say or hear the word gay or work to pass legislation to remove books from shelves written by gay authors–it is more important for all of us to live openly and loudly.
Moving back into the closet is simply not a viable or healthy option.
In that spirit, I am sharing two photos with this post. They contain images of my family members (past and present) and a sampling of the most important aspects of my authentic life.
For the concert this weekend, each of us (about seventy members of the Phoenix Gay Men’s Chorus) will wear a stole that drapes around our necks with such images … images that tell the stories of our lives for all the world to see.
Yes, in June or any month, all of us have much to be proud of. With the help of inspirational music, compassion from friends and neighbors, and the safe haven of our community, we’ve come a long way.
There’s no turning back.