Today is special date for Cookie.
Thirty years ago this day, I came out of the closet.
At the time I was a 20 year old skinny kid from Ohio, with the emotional maturity of a thirteen year old, who hated himself. I hated my upbringing because it wasn't normal, I hated my parents because they weren't normal and I hated God for not letting my like girls.
I had been sexually active since the fifth grade. That was when a pervert man in a toilet in a department store made me feel wanted. That encounter shaped my entire sexual maturity, slinking around in places I had been told not to go and letting adults who should have known better have their way with me. They wanted me, they desired me and they made me feel like I had the greatest treasurer of anyone on the planet.
But everyone one of these encounters left me afraid, left me feel lonely, made me feel abandoned and ultimately made terrified of what I was - a fag. I had gone from being the child that adults worried about, to the living embodiment of what they were afraid I would become. I hated myself to the degree where I just wanted to die and be forgotten - like someone who didn't exist because I was tired of existing myself. I just wanted to fade away as if I never existed.
So thirty years ago yesterday, while studying journalism at American University in Washington, DC, I hoped a bus to Georgetown to walk around. I also wanted sex. I needed to feel wanted. And I cruised a man and followed him up to his apartment and we had mind blowing sex. He was thirty-four and I was totally enamored with him. He held me after the sex, no one had done that before. I wondered if this is what normal felt like.
Then he got up, I got dressed and was ready to walk out, ashamed of who I was, when he said "Would you like to stay for dinner?" I had never thought about men like him eating, or even wanting me around after we had had sex. This was the first crack in shield - homosexuals ate dinner, and with other people, including those they had just had sex with.
Now before you laugh at me, remember that this was 1983, and I had been in a small town, influenced by small town minds and all that was frosted over with a heap helping of complete shame and self loathing. "Those Homos" lived in filth and breathed sleaze. But the guy cooking dinner had a great apartment in the heart of Georgetown.
This was a moment in time when things started clicking for me.
While he cooked (and my mind clicked away at being treated like a human) he asked questions, and figured out I was still very closeted. Then he started conversations about politics, the Super Bowl and whether I played cards. He really did put me at ease, and for the first time in my life I didn't feel like a freak. I was this this gay guy and he was talking to me as if I was a someone. And oddly, to me at least, this conversation was like I would have with anyone else. More clicking, and more pieces coming together.
And I started to feel normal, and said so. We were at the dinner table and he gently put his hand on mine and "you are normal, its the rest of the world that is fucked up."
He invited me to watch TV, we went out to buy the next days paper (which went on sale after midnight with the first printing), we slept together, had more sex, he made me waffles and sent me on my way. And I as I left, I didn't feel used. I didn't hate myself. And my heart was singing because this was the honest to gosh moment in my life where I began to think that I could do it. I could recognize who I was and it was going to be OK.
So it was this day, 30 years ago, I watched the people around me. And what this man - Bob - had said to me the night before became quite the epiphany to me that day. That 10% of the population was probably gay. That unless I was watching the Boys in The Band, I wouldn't see any gay people mincing about. And that ten percent of the population was going about its day just as I was. And that probably 50% of the straight population didn't give a rats ass that I slept with men.
Thirty years ago today, I came out to myself and said there is a place for me in the world. It wasn't back in my home town, and it wasn't with my family, but that I would find it. And that was the day that the self loathing ended. The need for quick sex went away. That was the day that I felt whole for the first day in my life, and it was the first day that I felt some love for myself.
Bob and I continued on with relationship, and it ended when I left DC. We plan on having lunch next month, and I'm sure he'll bring up that day of first tryst. It gives him pleasure to do so, and secretly I enjoy hearing his rendition.
But what he can't speak to is how that encounter forever altered my life, and the long road it took to raise myself, to become who I am, what I know, and most importantly to recognize the things that I don't know.
So today I am spending the day by myself, doing a lot of thinking, a great deal of reflection and even some planning for the next thirty years to come.
Today is the anniversary that I accepted who I am and that I am worthy.