Monday, January 31, 2011

A calmer week ahead?

I have posts semi-prepared for later in the week, but this will be just a short update;  I'm not in the mood for anything more involved.

I doubt that anything will top the drama of last week!  This week is shaping up to be much calmer, thank goodness.    After being on the receiving end of much bitterness and anger, we had our first calm, polite telephone conversation in a long time during which each of us expressed concern for the other.   Our phone conversations always go better than our face-to-face meetings, which can be very difficult.  Emotions are very raw and will be so for months to come.  

 I will vacate my house for two evenings this week, so my wife can spend time with the kids by herself.  I will spend those evenings at my parents' house, which for the first time in decades, I actually enjoy.  My parents are treating me with great concern and kindness; not the usual nagging and criticism.  At their house, I enjoy cable TV, a well stocked liquor cabinet and being waited on hand and foot..... all things which do not exist at my house!

I also offered her extra time at my house for subsequent days each week (but with me still there, with each of us staying a separate area of the house.)  She thanked me but declined for now. 

We discussed how the kids are reacting to all this;  they seem fine, but we're not sure.  My son seems completely unaffected.  My daughter seems a bit sad but is being very brave about not burdening us with her concerns.  I was throwing up this morning (not sick, just my stomach twisted in knots due to stress) and my daughter came in to help, bringing juice and water for me.  I teared up at that after she left;  it seems that our roles are reversed.

I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support and advice, either through blog comments, private e-mails and even just by viewing the blog as a lurker.   It helps to know that I'm not alone....

Gay-Friendly High Schools

The biggest concern, by far, of the many gay-married-with-kids guys that I've heard from is this:  How will my children be affected when everyone finds out I'm gay?  Will they be bullied or teased at school?  Not allowed to hang out at their friends' houses?  It is a question which seems to haunt most gay-married-dads and one which they feel is largely out of their control.

Among the gay-married-fathers, I seem to be the odd man out.  I have no such concerns about my children whatsover. (hopefully not being naive here...)

I am absolutely confident that my kids will be fine when my "outing" reaches our wider community.  To start with, each kid is exceptionally self-confident and secure.  Both are very much leaders.  From an early age, each of them has shown remarkable courage in walking away peer pressure when the group was doing things which were unkind or just plain bad.   I frequently wonder where this came from because neither of their parents had that degree of self-assurance, even as young adults!

The other important reason that I'm not concerned about them is the exceptionally "gay-friendly" school which my children attend.

Much as been said about the advantages of coming out at an early age, rather than at 45 as I did.  Readers of this blog from less gay-friendly countries than Canada, such as Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Malaysia let alone parts of  the United States and Australia, might have difficulty even imagining the gay-friendly atmosphere at my kids' public high school.  (Canadian catholic high schools are very much less gay friendly)

While we are not some gay "shangri-la", I am very proud of the advances made in my town and country in recent years.   You would expect the big Canadian cities to be gay-friendly, but the smallish city in which we live is also amazing in this regard.

The school has an extremely active GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) which has announcements most days over the PA system, frequent high-profile "gay awareness" events in the school and community, and posters everywhere.

In the past year, the school has flown the rainbow flag on the main flagpole outside the front of the school at least three times to mark days such as Word Aids Day, Anti-gay Bullying Day etc.   On these occasions, the rainbow flag was there for an entire week, not just that day.  The Canadian flag was actually removed from the flagpole for that time;  could this ever happen in some small "bible-belt" town in the southern US?   On Pink Shirt Day, (an anti-bullying campaign which originated in Canada), there was widespread participation from staff and students alike, either wearing pink clothing or agreeing to put on a pink ribbon.

I see little grade10 kids going around the school, quietly "out" wearing a rainbow belt or rainbow shoelaces and marvel at their courage and confidence.  They probably have no idea how much their lives were improved by the GLBT pioneers of previous generations.

Of course, there always will be morons who will bully and harass LGBT students.... as long as they tell an adult in the building, the school administration (with full school division support) will come down on the offender like a ton of bricks.  They have a "zero tolerance" policy for bullying of all kinds, especially LGBT bullying.

There are a small number of "out" gay teachers, some married to same-sex spouses, who invariably are the coolest and most popular teachers in the school.  (Don't know why that is.)   It helps that Canada as a whole has had full same-sex marriage rights for over 10 years and protections for LGBT people in every aspect of life, such as employment and every other area.... it is the only world these kids have known.

Of course, there are fundamentalist religious groups who oppose all this, who may have passed their intolerant views down to their children.  However, they are much fewer in number in the United States and much less vocal.   Canadians, as a whole, really support LGBT rights and loud vocal protests from religious nut-jobs would receive very little (ie:  close to none) public support.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Came out to my kids....

Re-reading this I thought, "Gosh.... what a boring post!"   I will leave the full account "as is" as I'm sure there are married gay/bi guys with kids who will want to read it all.  I'll probably  summarize it a bit in a few days

I was a little tense about this all day, not the actual "coming out" part, but because my wife would be there as well. Apart from our difficult phone conversations, we hadn't met in a few days.  She arrived more emotionally fragile and distraught that I'd ever seen her in 20 years.

I felt very sorry for her but I hope this was the worst moment, and that she would eventually feel better soon.   By contrast, I was as happy and serene as a Buddha but I tried to conceal this as it would upset my wife.  She thinks I'm taking this all too lightly;  I'm not, but the whole coming-out process has been so positive and empowering!

We all sat down together and I told the kids (16, 14) the facts:
  1. I starting noticing an attraction to men about 10 years ago,but had great difficulty in first recognizing, then admitting what it meant.  
  2. The hardest thing was to actually admit to myself that I was bisexual or gay and this occurred very recently.  (I know I sound still in denial, but the debate "Do bisexuals exist? will be the subject of future post.)
  3. Their mother found out accidentally over a year ago.
  4. The past year has been extremely difficult for her as she tried to cope by spending as much time as possible away from me.
  5. The kids needed to treat their mother with a great deal of compassion.
  6. The severe emotional distress and anger experienced by their mother caused her behaviour to be not as usual;  that she was lashing out a lot of the time.
  7. Then my wife cut in with a breaking voice saying, "I deserve to be happy.... and the only I can be happy is to spend most of the time at my house. (on the lake).   You kids can live here full-time, come live with me full time, or travel back and forth as you wish.  I just can't live here."  The "D" word wasn't mentioned, but the kids got the message, I'm sure.  It was heartbreaking for me to listen to her pain;  there was nothing I could do to fix it.
  8. I said that the kids should try to spend as much time as they could at their mother's house... that it woudn't kill them to do so.
  9. I also floated the idea that I would sell my house and get a place on the lake, so the kids can go back and forth easily.  They seemed receptive to this idea.
  10. The kids and I hugged;  I said I was sorry for the shocking news, but telling the truth is the best way to deal with this. 
  11. My wife asked if they had any idea that I was gay.  They said,  "no."
  12. I said that this was probably the most difficult moment and that things will get better from her.
  13. We all agreed that our 19 year old daughter (2000 miles away at school) will be told in person when she returns at the end of April.  She's a sweet and compassionate young woman;  I know she will be fine with the news and concerned about her mother's emotional state.
Throughout this, the kids were solemn;  stone-faced even.  My wife (concerned for their emotional well-being) started asking them a barrage of questions which I found it a bit annoying, but she was genuinely worried.   "Are you all right?  Do you understand what you heard?  It's okay if you get really angry with everyone around you!"  and on and on.... "Do you want me to make you an appointment with a _______"..... Then my daughter  cut in (very slight smirk, eye roll and an ironic glance), "...a therapist?  That won't be necessary, mom!" 

After repeatedly assuring their mother they were fine, my wife went out to the car to wait for my daughter, who will be staying with her for a day or two.   My son refused to go with them despite repeated requests from both of us, but said he will go out on Sunday.

With my wife out in the car, I emphasized to the kids again that it was this issue which caused their mother to be so angry for the past year.  I said that bringing this out in the open could only make her happier, eventually, so everyone will be happier.   My daughter hugged me and thanked me for telling them my secret;  that it was good that they knew.  That was very special!

I told the kids that it was unlikely that their mother and I would ever live in the same house again for more than a few days, even though my wife told me yesterday that I could still go out to the lake house in the summer, on occasion, and she could spend a regular weeknight or two here. It may take time for that to occur.  My daughter said she understood that.

I said to my daughter, "This means we could now check out hot guys together."  We had a great laugh at that, and then I said that I hoped that we wouldn't be interested in the same age group of men.  I also said that it was highly unlikely that I would want to find a partner for many years to come.  If fact, I said, I might must be like my beautiful, vivacious grandmother was widowed at 40 and lived alone in perfect happiness for 55 years despite many suitors.  "Why would I want some old man to look after?"

My daughter left with my wife.  I asked my son what he thought of it all;  was he really all right?.  He said, "I'm fine, Dad.  When's supper?"  We discussed the menu and I am now making roast chicken thighs, gravy, mashed potatoes and peas.but right now, I'm pretty darned happy.  I'm sure that very difficult situations will occur as we go along, but I'm sure the kids will be just fine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Talking about divorce

Warning:  When I was re-reading this before pressing the "Publish" button, this account reads like a terrible, melodramatic soap opera, but I think it was the biggest breakthrough for us in the past 1-1/2 years.

Things have calmed down considerably around here, so maybe I can be a bit more detailed about what is going on.  Before I begin, I need to explain about our living situation.  Together, we own two houses:  "my" house is about 15 minutes south of our little town, as a realtor would over-optimically describe, sort of an bush-league 'executive-style' house on an 'estate-sized lot.'  Our other house is a large, rambling place with a loft and spectacular views on a large lake about 25 minutes north of town.  A year ago, my wife and I drafted an agreement that in the event of a divorce, she would get the lake house, which she loves, and I would keep "my" house, which I owned before my marriage.

In the past year, my wife has lived at "her" house about 3-4 nights per week as a means of coping.   She has been an emotional wreck for most of the year following her discovery about my sexuality.  Sadly, she was often alone because the kids generally didn't go out there with her (except full time in the summer) preferring to stay closer to town at my house.

My wife came home very unexpectedly to my house two days ago (I was in another part of the house.)  She saw my computer open to some shocking stuff (tongue-in-cheek), some of your blogs.... Midwest Midlife, SoCal guy, GayChristianPastor  etc.   She became extremely angry, drove back to her house and had a bunch of screaming phone tirades at me puctuated by slamming down the phone, then phoning back and screaming some more.  Slam!  Slam!  She regarded my looking at these blogs (which are my attempt to understand the married-gay path I was on) as "cheating on her."

She finally got to the main cause of her distress.  She screamed that she missed her kids and needed to be with them for at least the next two days in "my" house, but with me not there.  (reasonable request)   I said that I would go live at my parents' for two days, telling the kids I was babysitting their dog.   I also said I would tell my parents were getting a divorce and I would tell  them about my sexuality, and repeat all this to the kids on Friday.  Part of the "Next Steps" in the blog title.

Today, she phoned me to apologize for yelling and to ask how it went.  I told her that parents  had long suspected that we were having marital problems, both being highly intuitive.  She agreed they were.  I also related my mother's "cancer" comment in response to my telling them I was gay.  I said that we weren't making light of her anguish, but my family had survived many far more serious crises than this.  She agreed.

She asked me, "Are you really ready to tell the kids about yourself.   They might not react very well."  I said, "Absolutely....I'm telling them about my sexuality and they'll be fine with it. "  I also said, "I don't even know if I'm 50% gay or 80% gay.... you know, I don't even feel gay!!".   She laughed and said that was funny, a rare occurrence.

I said, "They need to understand why you are never home and why you are angry all the time."   She begged me not to tell them about our divorce.  Crying... she said, I can't live without my kids, I can't live alone..... they are never going to want to live with me if we divorce (I strongly disagree with that view)   I started crying as well.... saying, "We have to get divorced... we can never be happy remaining married." She agreed.   She suggested, then I agreed , maybe she could live in my house but in a separate area  (it's a large house) for 2-3 week nights a she could see the kids regularly.  I would be living elsewhere in the house. I said, "Probably."  

Aside:  It might make it awkward if I was bonking some 21-year old hottie upstairs.  (Just kidding!! )   I then suggested that maybe I could eventually sell my house (which I love ....I've lived there for 21 years and built it with my own hands), although the housing market isn't great, and buy a place on the lake near hers, so the kids can go back and forth freely.  That would be an ideal situation..... that might just work.   It was almost the light at the end of the tunnel.

Both of us were crying.... and she said "I care for you deeply."   I said the same back to her.   There's been too much water under the bridge recently to honestly say the "L" word right now. 

So..... one more night at my parents', and tomorrow afternoon, I'm telling the kids.  They will be fine, I know it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Came out to my parents today

You may have noticed a more "pared-down" style of blogging here.  I must also tell you that I might even have to stop blogging altogether for a while.   It might be hard to blog about a crisis while you are in the middle of it,  emotions being too raw.  Also, I must restrict my comments to be only about myself with limited reference to others;  making all these disclosures online may not be helpful in the short term.

In the last day, due to various events, it seem certain that we are heading towards the "big D" with a full range of emotions / feelings involved.   To warn my parents,  I had an honest conversation with them which lasted a couple hours, to tell them everything.  They had long sensed the troubles which we were experiencing and weren't at all surprised but expressed great compassion and sympathy for everyone involved.

The Coming-Out
I was confident that my parents would react very well to my news.  I started by saying that, "I have some really big news for you"  before telling them that I might be gay, maybe not 100%, but close. I then told them that at least 50% of the problem in my marriage was due to the fact that I have had an attraction to guys for at least the last 12 years.  I also said that I admitted it to myself only  very recently;  pretty much in the last year and more strongly in the last several months.... I just didn't figure it out before then!

My mother said "Thank goodness.... I thought you were going to tell us that you had cancer again or that somebody in your family was sick or something."  I teared up at that:  I think of my cancer experience all the times, but I had forgotten how deeply it affected by whole family.  For my mother to put into perspective like that, wow! 

My parents listened to my whole account without flinching or passing judgement of any kind.  They are the quiet type and didn't say too much, but I know they are behind everyone in my family 100%.  They agreed that maybe it was for the best;  the only way that we all have a chance at happiness to divorce.

On Friday, both of us have planned a conversation  with the kids (once they've finished their last exam), where I will tell them all about my gayness and maybe together, we can speculate what will happen to our family in the near future.  I am absolutely confident that they won't care about me being gay, but know they will be very sad and upset (maybe only in private) at what is happening to our family.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Blogging Goals

My Main Goal as a Blogger:

Bisexuality:  the 'second closet.'
As I blog my story, I hope to continue to increase the blog's readership, especially by guys like me.  I think married gay guys with children face the most difficult and complicated situation of all.  So many lives could be adversely affected, regardless of the decisions we take.

I have been astonished by the number of visitors my blog has received from all over the world.  Thank you!  It's very exciting!!

The whole point of starting this blog was to receive comments, observations, shared stories  and even advice from other guys who know something about this situation.  That exchange has already started; your support has been heartening.  I also hope that by blogging my story as it unfolds, some other guy like me, somewhere in the world, will somehow benefit by reading it.

It seems that there are a great many guys, married with kids, who are carrying a secret.  As Chris said to me in an e-mail,  the secret is "something that's probably been building. A secret you wish you didn't have".... that you're attracted to other men.    Michael said,  "I continue to believe that there are far more of us than the larger public could ever guess."

Feel free to ask me questions you wish: I will answer them either in a comment, private e-mail or blog post as you prefer.  If I don't wish to answer the question, I will tell you why.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Erections R Us

The Continuing Story of My Emerging Gayness

Cubby suggested I write about when I first recognized that I desired a man, rather than when I first just desired a man; a distinction which would never had occurred to me.  In other words, when did I first acknowledge the desire for what it was;  a sign that I was gay?   That's a tough one!  I'll have to think about that!  For now, I will start to answer that question with stories about the first two times that physical contact with a man gave me an erection.  I don't think that neither story qualifies as "recognition."
1.  As nineteen year old cancer patient, I had my first (and so far only) digital prostate exam in a cancer clinic.  The usual undignified position:  kneeling on an examining table, reaching back to spread my cheeks apart while the doc shoved his finger up my poop-shoot.

As soon as he began massaging my prostate it was BOING!! an instant massive erection.   It was a point-at-the-ceiling erection, as only a nineteen-year old can produce.... alas, for me, now a distant memory.   This was a bit embarrassing, but as a gravely ill cancer patient, I had more important things on my mind.... it really was a non-issue.

I think this erection, which persisted for quite a while, was just a physical reaction to the prostate exam and had nothing to do with "desire" let alone recognition of anything bigger.

Peeve:  at work, I occasionally hear a 50ish colleague whining about the fact that he had to go for his digital prostate exam.  "Ewww!  I'm too manly to have a doctor stick his finger up my bum-bum!!"   The exam only lasts for a couple of minutes, for Pete's sake.    I tell them, first, that this exam is pretty minor compared to all the indignities that a woman have to endure for their examinations and in particular, during childbirth... where her va-jay-jay gets stretched out to the size of the Grand Canyon.   Secondly, I tell them (from Shakespeare), "Methinks he doth protest too loudly!   Your problem is that you actually love it when the doctor massages your prostate, and it scares the hell out of you!!"

2.   Second story:  To start, please read  the funny and talented blogger, Erik Rubright's story about his hot-dentist-man with a basket-of-plenty.  My story is similar.   I had radical surgery with zig-zag incisions running up my neck from shoulder to above my ear.  I was in pain and doped-up on pain medication.

A young, handsome, clean-cut doctor came to take out the many dozens of stitches.   I was asked to lie close to the edge of the bed;  Dr. Clean-Cut leaned way forward, rested  an elbow on the bed beside my chest and the other on my shoulder and mashed his basket very firmly against the back of my hand lying by my side.  (hard to describe the position; it must have been pretty awkward for him) .  I don't think that it was a "basket-of-plenty", but it was a real live basket, nonetheless.  I made no attempt to move my hand away.  I now wonder what would have happened if my hand had been facing towards his package.... plenty of cupping action, that's for sure.

I instantly popped a big erection, tenting my hospital gown, my penis yearning heavenwards.  It was an intensely intimate experience as he took the dozens of stitches out.  It took a very long time.  After 28 years,  I still remember his face inches from mine, his warm breath against my face (very pleasant), his scent (aftershave?)  and the pressure of his body lying partially on top of mine as he yanked the stitches out, one after another.  Was there desire? You, bet!   Did I recognize that I desired a man and there was something unusual about that?  Not a chance;  I was so unaware, I had no idea that a man could "desire" another man in any way;  it was just something that never would have occurred to me.

Aside:   Years later, I heard a comedy troupe on CBC radio performing a sketch.   One actor played a do-gooder woman from The Children's Wish Network.  She asked the other actor, playing a young black boy dying of cancer, what he would like as his final wish.  A trip to Disneyland?  A meeting with a famous athlete?  The boy answered, "For my wish, I would like to cradle a white man's balls."  (politically incorrect, I know, but this was about 10 years ago, and I think Canadians are a lot less uptight about race)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stylish Blogger Awards

I've been honoured as a recipient of the Stylish Blogger Award, which really is sort of a meme or a chain-letter.

The requirement is to tell some things about yourself and to create a list of other bloggers which I choose to pass the award on to. Here they are:

Some things about myself:
  1. I absolutely love my job!  Most of the time, I feel that I am extremely lucky to be there.
  2. While attending the births of my two children, I learned that the 'real thing' is nothing at all like those grade six childbirth videos;  they left out the smells, the screaming, the terror, the emergency Caesarian....
  3. Like so many men today, I was a "house husband" part-time for five years, and helped raise each of my two kids from infancy. We balanced our work schedules, so each of us worked part-time and stayed at home with the kids part-time. It was the most rewarding and important work I've ever done.
  4. I worked my way through university in a hospital cafeteria: every day, I collected and washed tons of greasy dishes, pots and pans.  I loved the job and the hospital's working environment!
  5. I saved nearly every dollar I ever earned, starting at the age of 12, so that I could own my own house, mortgage free. This was an important family value.  At 30, I did own a very nice house and was nearly debt-free.

My Stylish Blogger Picks are:
  1. Is the a Way Out for a SoCal Guy?  He's a 44 year-old married guy with nearly-grown children.  He personifies the qualities of integrity, self-reflection and intelligence as he grapples with issues of his sexuality and its potential impact on his family.  
  2. New Day, New Life  He's a late 30s guy from the Midwest, married with young children.  A fantastic hands-on father, he also blogs about his sexuality and its potential impact on his family life.
  3. Michael in Norfolk: Michael is an inspiration to this gay/bi married guy.  In his words, "Out gay attorney in a committed relationship; formerly married and father of three wonderful children; sometime activist and political/news junkie; survived coming out in mid-life and hope to share my experiences and reflections with others."
  4. My Journey Out: Chris is an incredibly funny 49 year-old guy in DC, married with two teenagers. Chris has been on his own for two years and is in a relationship his "Tiger Cub" from Toronto.
  5. Java Junko, Rob is a young, very funny 30ish guy who lives in central Manitoba, Canada. He has a splashy, fun and stylish blog filled with his favourite music, hot guys, pics of his handsome self and photos of his cake-decorating masterpieces.
  6. West of Mayberry 'Large Tony' is a 34 year old guy living in east Tennessee, with a funny, sexy blog with a beautifully-crafted writing style.  Scroll back to read the story about where his nickname 'Large Tony" came from.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Gay "Red Flags"

Me, aged 13.
All through my high school years and right up until I was 20, I was lacking in self-confidence, painfully shy and rarely voluntarily uttered a word in class. As well, I was very much a late bloomer in every department, especially sexually. I was awkward and clumsy, badly dressed and sported a bad "Donny Osmond" haircut by my father. My only saving grace was that I was pretty smart and was usually the top student in all my classes, but I had to work very hard at it.

Check out the horror of this outfit:

-70s leisure suit, home-sewn by my mother *

-100% polyester knit with a houndstooth checkered pattern of olive, brown and white

-‘clodhopper' shoes

-100% polyester dress shirt with ‘bat wing’ collar

* to the same wedding, my older brother wore a handsome store-bought corduroy blazer and nice dress pants....grrrr!

High School Gay Red Flags - I should have known I was bi/gay because.........Opposite of Gay Red Flags (not sure what to call this list --- non-gay indicators?)
The biggest one: I didn’t date at all during all the years of high school, not once!! Later, I used the excuse of being a late bloomer, painfully shy and awkward.... but when that pattern continued into my 20s, that excuse was wearing a bit thin.....

Although I excelled at individual sports like skiing, I grew to hate all team sports... apart from the fact that I was clumsy and bad at most of them, I really disliked the “macho male bonding camaraderie” that went along with team sports.

     I sometimes often looked at guys bulges in those late 70s jeans....Jordache, Sergio Valente, Calvin Klein, Levis....err...didn’t everybody? Weren’t those jeans designed to accentuate a guy’s bulbous groin region? Wasn’t that the whole point?

Wrestling:  my gay wet dream.
(That’s it! To be honest, that's everything I could think of to put in this list...)

I never hung out with girls, or was ‘one of the girls.’ I only hung out with guys at school who were invariably on the football or some other team.

I majored in shop classes at high school, and took the maximum number allowed: sheet metal, welding, woodworking, automotive, machining, drafting...I did them all. I was always treated very well by my peers and was a respected member of the class; I was pretty good at it and always helped the other guys in the class as needed.

On weekend, my brothers and cousins did ‘manly’ things like hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and working at the latest family house-building project.

The Reality:  wrestling in phys. ed. class.
I hated wrestling in high school phys. ed. Having to touch another guy! Gross! Feeling a guy’s package mash up against you during a match....Double gross!

I found nothing arousing in the boy’s high school locker room.... no one showered or even took off their underwear. I always averted my eyes because I didn’t want to look at their asses, not to mention their frontage.

(By the way, I was never bullied in the locker room as some gay guys were... I was completely ‘under the radar’ partly because I was so shy.)

My ethic group had a “Men’s Athletic Association” which my brothers, cousins and uncles went to regularly, from age 10 to about 20, and sporadically to age 30. Events such as swimming or skiing invariably wrapped up in the sauna / locker room. Group nudity was normal and we were surrounded by (I realized in retrospect) dozens of the hottest men imaginable; mostly blue-eyed blondes. All were hot young men; many were, had been or would be national level athletes in many sports such as hockey and cross-country skiing)

Despite all these flopping penises around, I never even noticed them... never had the slightest stirring in my nether regions. (I know I would find it very .... exciting... now.)  For a latent gay boy like me, this lack of interest in these hot, naked athletic men now puzzles me.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Gay "Red Flags"

It seems that many gay guys had unmistakable signs during childhood that they were gay. Scrutinizing my childhood and teenage years for ‘gay red flags,’ I couldn't find too 'red flag' list is pretty lame!
Gay Red Flags - I should have known I was bi/gay because.........Opposite of Gay Red Flags (not sure what to call this list --- non-gay indicators?)
My earliest movie memory at the age of 4, is of watching a gladiator movie on TV. The only thing I remember is that the gladiators were wearing leather skirts (kilts?) and had beefy thighs.....

Click to make bigger.
(This one is really embarrassing) At the age of 4, my mother got me a doll named “Kimmy.” Once, I made a dress for it while my mother was sewing a dress for herself. (I’m now wondering if my mother had wanted a girl; she had only boys.) Other than that, I don’t remember ever playing with that doll.

At age 5, I started cooking: simple things like cookies, cakes, and scrambled eggs. By age of 14, I cooked everything.   This might just have been self-defense rather than a gay trait: my mother was a terrible cook. How is it possible to burn fried eggs? How about cabbage, first boiled to a mush and then fried and burnt in a frying pan? Yum!

For my 6th birthday party, I invited 12 girls from my class and no boys... hmmm.

Flash forward: My first male teacher was Mr. S in grade 7. Mr. S, wore early 70s polyester pants and I remember noticing his bulge.... not being mesmerized by it or dreaming about it, I just noticed it.

All I remember about my phys.ed. teacher (gr. 9 -12) was his muscular, lightly furred legs in his 70s short shorts.  I didn't even think about what was in residence further up in his shorts. I just remember thinking he had nice legs.... but it certainly wasn't a crush... at least I don't think so.

Me, age 3, playing with myself....some things never change.
Me in plaid shorts, age 5, playing with myself some more.
Other than my 6th birthday party, I played only with boys (cousins, brothers, neighbours) and we did only “boy” things like fishing, making tree forts, building things in my father's wood shop, fixing and "souping-up" our bikes, and riding them.

The gayest picture of me ever, age 10.  I loved my Bay City Rollers plaid pants (all the rage!)   If only I could find a pair that fits, I would wear the same pants today.  And that pink shirt!!     My mother picked it out.... honest!
Starting in grade 1 for all the years of my education, I always had a “crush” on a girl in my class. This crush changed a few times per year but I never had a crush, ever, on any boy in my class.

I enjoyed playing hockey at least until age 13, until it started getting too violent for me.

No sexual experimentation at all with guys during my growing up year;  didn't experiment with girls either, for that matter.

For my entire school years, from grades 1 to 12, I was never bullied and called slurs like “faggot”, “gay” or “fruit.” I think many gay guys had really rotten times during their school years, especially in middle school;  their peers could just sniff out their gayness.... but apparently, no one ever sniffed out mine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

10th Anniversary for Canadian Same-Sex Couples.

On 14, January, 2001, two Canadian couples became the first in the world to be legally married.  Although other same-sex marriage ceremonies had been previously performed elsewhere, theirs were the first legally-registered marriages.

The two couples, Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa and Anne and Elaine Vautour  renewed their vows this Friday in Toronto.

Legal Battles
 The governments of Ontario and Canada refused to recognize the legality of the marriages.  The couples challenged this view and their marriages were declared legal in Ontario divisional (lower) court in July 2002 and in Ontario's Court of Appeal in June 2003, at which point the marriages were registered.

In December 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the marriage of same-sex couples is constitutional based on the protection of equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Marriage in Canada was essentially redefined as being between between “persons” rather than being between a man and a woman.

On June 28, 2005, same sex marriage was approved by Canada's House of Commons and became legal for the entire country on July 19, 2005.

It is estimated there are over 7,500 married same-sex couples in Canada.  These same-sex couples enjoy every legal and civil right and financial protection enjoyed by every other married couple in Canada including full adoption rights, the right to file joint income tax returns, property rights, employer spousal benefits, spousal inheritance rights, rights to spousal pensions, the right to make medical decisions if one spouse is incapacitated, as well as the right to divorce, to name just a few.

"Gay and lesbian people fall in love. We settle down. We commit our lives to one another. We raise our children. We protect them. We try to be good citizens."
California Sen. Sheila Kuehl

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winter Activities

Tomorrow Monday, I hope to start writing about a few 'red flags' about my sexuality while growing up.    I think I'm procrastinating a bit .... hesitant to start revealing all that stuff.  I need to 'just do it!' 

Right now, I'm exhausted!  I spend the last day chaperoning (with a female chaperone) 24 seventeen-year-olds on a wilderness retreat;  a church youth group.  Lots of fun snowshoeing in pitch darkness through the bush, campfires and outdoor "team-building" games....but all physical activity is much more exhausting at -20 C.   Luckily, the sleep-over part was done in heated cabins, although not a lot of "sleep" was going on.

Today, I hope to go cross-country skiing or skidooing with some of my kids.... a bit too cold for snowboarding because you generate your own wind chill as you do it.
About the picture at right, it is traditional for people from Scandinavia, Russian and many other northern countries to either roll in the snow or swim through a hole cut in the ice after a sauna....
It's very invigorating;  I prefer ice swimming because some types of snow can sting like needles.  We do this very rarely as it is a lot of work to cut a swimming hole in 12 - 18" of ice.  Also, I have the slight concern that ice swimming is invitation to a heart attack.

In the old country (Norway), our  relatives, some of them octogenarians, (including the old ladies!!!) go ice swimming regularly.  They think it's a healthy thing to do.
photo credits:


Friday, January 14, 2011

12 of 12: The Chad Darnell project

For the past six years, Chad Darnell has had bloggers from around the world take 12 photographs on the 12th day of each month and post them on their blogs.  It is a lot of fun taking the pictures and more importantly, viewing the pictures of others.  The diversity of locations, subjects and cultures is amazing!

It's very easy!  Why don't you join in?  It's not too late for this month.

Here's my contribution for January 2011:
1.   Ugh...time to wake up.

2.    Batter for pannu kakku.
3.    Puffed up and golden brown.

4.     Our favourite thing to eat any time of day, with syrup and berries.

5.     Twelve hours later: a dark, cold and snowy drive back into town.

6.     Waiting for the school band concert to start; the acoustics in the gym are terrible!

7.     Resting, watching Julia and her girls.

8.     Still have to de-decorate the Christmas tree.   We cut this one from our own yard.

9.      Bird bath.

10.    On the deck in my favourite new hat.

11.    Barefoot in the snow.

12.    Speedo snow angel.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Part II: More random facts about me...

I hope this isn't too boring!!!....I do think I need to look at where I've come from in order to figure out where I'm going.  This weekend, I'll spice it up a bit....I promise!

•    I was raised in an extremely stable, normal household. No stories of abuse, addictions, mental illness, discord, emotional instability or conflict here!

•    My parents have been married for 53 years and have lived in the same house for 51 years.

•    Our family background is Scandinavian.  As in all immigrant families, hard work, frugality and the value of education was drummed into us at an early age.  All those lesson really “took hold” with me.

•    My parents were a fairly strict and a bit critical. The only way I could tell that I met with their approval was by the absence of criticism; we were never praised or complimented for anything!

•    This was not a big deal. This was very much the 50s and 60s style of parenting experienced by most of my friends as well,  particularly within our ethnic group.

•    Overall, they were excellent parents and we all turned out to be hardworking, well-respected, responsible people.

•    My Canadian citizenship is one of my proudest possessions. It is the best country in the world regarding its treatment of its citizens, rights and freedoms enjoyed, tolerance, moderation, free universal health care, an excellent social safety net and rights and freedoms enshrined in the constitution.  These rights  include the provision that redefined marriage as being between one "person" and another "person." Gender is completely out of the picture!

•    I was a "perfect" child and teenager: did what I was told, performed well academically and got into no trouble at all for my entire growing up time. I never had a teenage rebellion, ever.

•    I was very much "under the radar" at home throughout my childhood because my older sibling was the exact opposite of me with regard to all the points listed above.  Although I was the youngest kid in the house, I’ve always been very much “the responsible one.”

•    My parents' entire lives have revolved around my older sibling for all of my life, right up to the present time. At times I resent this, but mainly I think that this has made me a stronger person.

•    It does sometimes bother me that my parents' focus on my sibling has now moved onto to the next generation, now that my sibling and I have children of our own.

•    It was the biggest eye-opener for me, to observe the differences in the way each set of grandchildren is treated. That was the way I was raised but I was too young to know; only now I'm figuring it out, 30 - 40 years later.

•    At 19, I became gravely ill with cancer (some felt it was terminal) and had several recurrences with a "massive involvement" of a malignant melanoma, many surgeries and months of radiation treatments for nearly a year.

•    Even after 28 years, I think about my cancer experience every day, but in a positive way. Faced with some unreasonable or aggressive person at work, I ground myself instantly by thinking, "Would I have been worried about this in 1982, when I thought I was dying of cancer?" The answer is always "NO!"

•    When I was ill, I wished I had been less of a "goody-goody", had more fun and studied less. I thought, "All that clean living didn't do me a bit of good!!"

•    Now I think that having cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me, especially at such a formative age. I get to benefit hugely from the life lessons learned for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PART I: Random facts about me...

To fully understand my story, some information about my background might help.  This list was a bit too long so it will be continued tomorrow in part II.   

-I've been married for 17 years
-Have two children

-I'm pretty active:
       -skiing - I love it!!       
       -walking or hiking, prefer wilderness areas
       -running: I;ve competed four full marathons since the age of 35
         -sea- or lake kayaking
       -competitive cycling

-Winter is my favourite season; my only problem with winter is that it doesn't last long enough. Here, we are normally skiing from mid-November to the mid-April.

-I don't like to do video or computer-based games: In my entire life, I've probably spent less than 5 minutes doing video games as a cumulative total. I'm just too restless to sit there do it for any length of time.

-I played hockey until I was about 13. I sort of liked it, but I hated the parents (not mine) screaming at the players from the stands; also it was starting to get quite violent and I didn't want to be injured doing something I didn't really like.

-I don't really like doing team sports mainly because I hate letting the team down if I made a mistake. 

-Now, I do play non-competitive 'scrub hockey' 
-I love the sport of curling ... very Canadian!

-Took phys. ed. all through high school, although I didn't have to and I wasn't very good at team sports. I liked most of the sports we did. Ironically, I absolutely hated high school wrestling; I thought having to touch another guy was gross!  I might enjoy it now, however :>)

-I have had broken bones five or six times: these were all the result of either careless accidents. I was very reckless when I was younger. 

-I'm an excellent cook!  It is one of my favourite things to do.

I think that' s quite enough for today!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How about a Meme?

To start, how about a meme from Michael at Spo-Reflections

2010 Accomplishment
Despite my wife's discovery of my bi/gay sexuality in December 2009 and the ensuing drama that followed, we both continued to do a fantastic job as parents and managed to maintain an exceptionally stable, loving environment for our three children.  We are still trying to find our way; unsure what our future will look like.

2010 Discovery
Medina at Tetouan, Morocco
Like millions before me, I "discovered" Julia Child, first by the movie Julie and Julia, then her cookbooks, autobiography and then the reissued DVDs of her 1960s cooking show.  She was just fantastic!  I now understand why everyone loved her so.  Now, I'm cooking my way through her TV series "The French Chef."

Favorite 2010 Vacation/Holiday
Traveled in Spain from Madrid, Sevilla, Granada then crossed the Mediterranian to Morocco where we spent a day in a fantastic, ancient Medina of Tétouan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Best dining in 2010

2010 Regret
I honestly can't think of any regrets.  I generally am a sunny, positive, calm person who has a very clear view of what really matters in life, given the cards you have been dealt.  I rarely allow myself to have "regrets" involving looking back at ancient history;  worrying about things you cannot change.  Second thoughts:  I regret the pain and distress that the discovery of my sexuality has caused my wife.    

Magic Moment in 2010.
 Every part of the Spain / Morocco trip was a magic moment, especially the food!!.... paella, sangria and infinite variety of tapas....on and on.

What states did you visit in 2010?
Minnesota, Nova Scotia, Spain and Morocco 

The 2010 Surprises

-the discovery that I am really great in a crisis.  I assisted in two serious medical emergencies until medical assistance arrived, one at my workplace and one involving anaphylaxis on the plane returning from Spain, in mid-Atlantic.  

Three 2011 Goals
-continue to provide a stable, nurturing environment for my children
In Tetouan, Morocco, deep in the heart of the medina, we had a fantastic supper in the most incredible eatery....  the room had whitewashed stone walls inlaid with colourful tiles and hung with tapestries and brass lamps.  Musicians played unfamiliar Arabic instruments and an Arabic dancer  twirled a brass tray with candles balanced on his head.  No women were working there.  The dancer was a wrinkled 70ish little man in red silk harem pants!   Here's what I can remember about the meal.
Moroccan waiter and dancer.
• A soup containing Moroccan spices, lentils (?) and vegetables.
• Couscous (Moroccan-spiced semolina cooked with vegetables and some type of meat)
• Tajine (a rich, spicy stew, with chicken, onions, tomato, almonds, herbs, dried fruit).
• Mint tea: strong green tea mixed with dried mint and a lot of sugar.  Everyone's favourite!
• Dessert was some very sweet honey and almond pastries of some sort.
-with my wife, try to clarify our status and our future.  Right now, we're in a bit of a DADT mode

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Started

Over the past 12 years, I have had to gradually admit to myself that I was attracted to men.  In my small-town isolation, I thought that I was the only guy in the world with this problem;  my own private secret. 

Big discovery!  There was a world-wide blogging community of bi/gay guys just like me; married with kids  and all at different stages in their complicated journey.  It seems that we are all in our 40s - what's up with that?   Several have encouraged me to start my own blog to record my journey.   It seems a very efficient way to share my story.  Along the way, I hope to receive (and maybe even give) some sensible, experienced advice.   


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