I have grown to really love this "tradition" with myself every year, stopping at RJ GRUNTS (the better beacon burger is the bomb) for dinner, before I go and see the trees all lit up in amazing colors, lights in the shape of zoo animals and the ice sculptures being carved out of thick blocks of ice.
Calvin Coolidge gave a presidential message on December 25, 1927 and stated "Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world."
I think he was right.
The words "Son of a Preacher Man" takes on a personal meaning for me....cause I am one. Yup...a gay man with a southern freewill baptist dad...you can only imagine.
Many, Many a conversation, tears and leaps and bounds were had and done over the years to get me and my father where we needed to be in "this life". I love the dad that I know now rather than the dad I knew growing up.
Growing up in southwest Virginia, in the hills of the Appalachian Mountains, raised dirt poor on a farm and having no indoor pluming til 1982 and being called a hillbilly was more than a young gay man could bare. ON TOP OF ALL THAT having a father condiming you to an eternity of hell fire and brim stone for what you were...well thats another long story for another blog.
All i wanted was people to like me for me. It was not to be though. From a very young age I knew I wasn't like the other boys. I played with Barbie, had the hottest girls in school as my friends and was tormented with the words "queer", "faggot" and "homo" from very early in school years...long about 4th grade.
I remember taking "peeks" at the other boys in gym class. All the while trying to figure out WHY did i do so when all the other boys were looking at girls.
I guess my father also noticed his "little boy" was different too. He would ask me why i was playing with my sisters dolls when I had plenty of trucks and army men to play with. I didn't have an answer for him. I looked down, I guess in shame, when i answered him "I don't know".
Growing up as a gay teenager in high school was even worse. I never "came out" or accepted myself as "gay". It was VERY taboo in the hills, NO ONE wanted to talk about it and that was that. No guys in school wanted to be friends with me cause I was deemed as a faggot. For any guy in high school to be friends with me would of been social suicide for them so I had 99% girls as friends...go figure.
Dad would make us go to church and pray. We went to church 6 days out of the week. He had two options I think he felt. God would save me from this "gay" thing OR he would beat it out of me. He chose the latter...needless to say..... did'nt work.
By the time I reached my 18th birthday..i had had enough of "god" as I knew.
There were 2 "GODS" to me...
The one that gave me life and loved me unconditionally. The "god" that made me in his image and made me the way that he wanted me (that was gay to me) and that wanted me to come live with him in heaven and spend my days flying around with angels wings and singing hymns with family members that had gone on and we could be together forever with no sorrow and death. God was about love...not hate.....
THEN.... THERE WAS THE OTHER GOD......the one who hated and condemned "homosexuality". ANYONE that was of this nature had NO PLACE IN HEAVEN...NO PLACE IN THE "BOOK OF LIFE".... NO PLACE even here on EARTH as "GOD'S" people preached to his followers.
I was torn for many a year on who was right and what was wrong.
Seems to me over the years, we've all seen some of "GOD'S" greatest people...the ones who LED his people fall from "grace", no pun intended, in front of our eyes.....I was always bothered
by the way they always got on t.v., asked for forgiveness, and all was well in the world again with them and "GOD" and their followers.
I remember a very heated conversation with me and my dad one time. It was about forgiveness. Who was right and who was wrong and who decided what in the name of "God" and the gay issue. My dad said to me "You should be on your knees very chance you get" (he was talking about prayer). I spurted back "If that was the case, i could be the fucking POPE by now" (refering ...well you know...lol). Realizing what I was referring to... CLICK....dead line. We didn't talk for 2 years..that was in 1998.
My mother grew very sick in the spring of 2000 with her diabetes and my dad gave me a call to let me know all was not well at home.
My mom called me on June 9th, 2000 and said: "You need to come home and see me, mom isn't going to be here much longer". I said "Well, where you going?"
I knew what she meant and I was in the car going home, the first time in 5 years, as fast as the car and the speed limit would allow.
I stayed a week.
Mom and I talked alot about things when she would wake up. One day I decided to "come out" to her and before I could, she said "mom has always known."
I came back to Illinois on the 16th of June.
I talked to mom the next morning on the 17th around 9:00am and she sounded the best she had in months. Laughing, talking, carrying on like nothing was wrong. She was excited to maybe come home in a few days. I had to be at work at 11:00 and told her I would call her later that night and see how her day had gone. That was the last time I would ever speak to my Mother.
My sister called me around 11:45am to tell me mom had passed away from a blood clot that had formed in her leg and when she had gotten up to go use the restroom, it had moved to her heart and she collapsed and that was that.
Dad and I avoided any "deep" conversation the next few days to follow.
On the day i was leaving, I was walking out to pack the car, thinking I'd never speak to my dad again. Dad came up as I was closing the trunk and ask me to stay a few more days so he and I could "clear the air".
Many a tear, alot of anger and resentment (on my part) and a trail blaze of emotions came to a head over the next three days. It took both of us time to heal, process and move past the past.
As I said above, I love the dad and the man that I know now. A great man, a kind soul who loves his children and God.
I don't know how many years I have left to spend with my dad, OR if we will see each other on the other side. I do know one thing though. I raised a good, kind person and one that loves his Father very much.
And that is all I have to say about that..............
a full gallery of photos can be found on chicagopride.com by going here:
Ok going to try this blog thing out and cover my nightly travels in and out of the boystown bars. Drunk people say the darnest things.....
Hope everyone is having a good summer and I for one am looking forward to Market Days! See you all out.