[edited for the important stuff]
Now, on to something I'm not quite sure how to write. Great preface there. I've been writing and re-writing all of this letter in my head all day. When last we talked on the phone, we talked about how being gay is only a small part of a person. This is very true. Gay comes in the middle of a list of things I am in terms of importance, human being at the top of that list. However, like all things, one aspect does color the way we percieve the world around us. I know you and I have never really talked about this subject outside of vague terms, but perhaps if I tell you a little bit, I can help you understand how I feel. When I was growing up, there wasn't a lot of information out there about what being gay was about. And with that ignorence of self, there was the ignorence of my peers. I did a lot of my school research projects on subjects that were tangently related to homosexuality to discover more of the history, to try and re-assure myself that there were others like me out there, who weren't the urban legends you hear about in school. Trying to find someone else, outside of my secret high school boyfriend who understood. And that someday I could work up the courage to tell you everything about it. There were many nights I found myself crying because there was this wall between us, and I was scared to look over it for fear that you would reject me for whatever reason. And there were also nights when I cursed you because you couldn't be there when I needed someone, like the day I found out my secret boyfriend had cheated on me behind my back. Did you know that he and I dated for nearly 6 years, with no one the wiser? It was a commitment of sorts. And there was no one I could talk to about it. And that was my own fault. Or when I told Quinn Parks at State TI about everything, because I trusted him and I needed to talk to somebody. Quinn told everyone at Graham, so my Senior year out there I ended up getting harrassed by Chevy Hoover and his little crew everyday between English and Choir. And that was my fault, because I let fear of myself control me. And no one was there when Annette, one of Richard's favorite people from the Teen Center and TI asked me pointed questions about my emotional state, and then told me I should stay away from "the faggots" if I wanted to remain at TI. Do you know how much that rejection hurt? And when I finally got to college, I vowed I wouldn't join the GLB organization there until I saw how they were. I joined a week into classes, if only because I knew I could others like myself. Unfortunatly, what I found was that they were just as human as I was. But, what I did get, after years of struggling with it, was a sense of identity. And yes, I did go the activist route for a while, but what I found was that my best role was that of support, rather than demonstrating. I was the person people felt safe talking to about being gay, who would answer their questions without screaming at them. There was no one there to do that for me when I started the "coming out" process. And I could have really used that. You see, I think the reason people focus in on that one aspect of their life is due to the stigma attached to it early in life. Then, you find freedom of statement, and you just want to scream it on high, that you're normal after all. And ususally, that happens after high school. You once said you didn't want me to be a gay writer, but rather a writer who is gay. In truth, I don't consider myself to be either. When I write, I write what's important to me, what comes from within. There was one story I e-mailed bits and pieces to you of, but the point of that story had less to do wioth the main character coming out, and a lot more to do with making peace with the past, and mending woulds left from it. And I will admit, growing up, it would have been nice to read a story with a positive gay character in it. I guess in a small way, I want to try and give that character I never had to someone behind me who needs it. No matter what the orientation, we all can relate to feeling alone. Or feeling as if we have these great sins to atone for that lurk in our past waiting to pop back out to bite us. There is no way I can go back and take all the hurt out of everything I have ever done, or had done to me. But, what I can and do do is get the pain someplace where I can deal with it and in turn mend the old pain. Much of my recent writing is like that. Every character I have ever created carries a small piece of my inside of them. And as they resolve things, I get to get over it. I may not have answered your original question, but I feel better having said all of this. I guess what it all boils down to is that gay people, like straigh people, do what they feel they have to to get by in life. And if going out and announcing it to everyone on every street corner in San Francisco is how they want to go about it, more power to them. And if you want to get married, be my guest. At this point, I'd settle for a date. If and when I ever find the right person, I'll worry about the details then. And also, as another answer to your question, while being gay is a small thing and just another part of us as a person, it's also a small part that gets condemned to hellfire and brimstone on a regualr basis, occasionally gets a person hurt or killed, and also has a bad tendancy to lead to alienation and estrangement. That's part of the reason for gay pride. It's kind of like saying that I am proud of who I am, and no matter what you do to hurt me, I will always be proud of who I am, and I can live with myself as a person. At this point in my life, I know more or less who I am and what it is I want to do. It's taken me a long time, but I can finally say that I am comfortable with being me. I am not the activist, I am not the crusader, I am not the martyr, I am not the victim. I am James. And all I want is respect and courtesy, which I am more than happy to return in kind.
So back on the main topic again, I guess having a GLB group at UU is a good idea, because if nothing else, it gives the GLB kids a place to find they are not alone, and it also allows others to put a face on them, kind of like Mark Davis at church. In him, we could put a face on AIDS, someone we know and care about who happens to be living with AIDS. In a way, it kind of personalized the disease. Did that make sense? I hope it did, beacuse I said it badly.
Look, I know I just foisted about 15 years of pent up emotion at you in two paragraphs, but I hope that you have a better understanding now. And please remember, I speak only for myself here. I can only guess that other feel similarly to me. If you have any questions, or need something else, or just want to talk, you know where I am.