Thirty Years Does A Man Makes

This document is about coming out as gay thirty years ago. They reflect on their journey, including joining the Navy, visiting a gay bar for the first time, and finding acceptance and support from a friend who was also in the Navy. This marked the beginning of their gradual process of coming out over the next year.

(Who Am I, this is Who I Am)

Thirty-plus years ago I embarked on a journey that forever changed my life. Many people took this journey with me, and over the years many more people embarked on the road to acceptance. I wrote about my journey in 2017 called “The Road to Manhood”. It was in 2017 that we achieved our goals of equality under the eyes of the law. That was the year we celebrated with the biggest parade San Diego has ever seen. Over 350,000 people lined the streets to celebrate what we accomplished.

In 1987, I decided to come out as an openly gay person. I could not go on any longer hiding and be made to feel like a second-class citizen. I began marching with others to let people know that I am an American. We began showing the world that we belong, and we will not hide. We petitioned our governments, elected leaders, and anyone who will listen. Our numbers began to grow, but that didn’t stop the discrimination, both verbally and physically. Each year we gained some ground by marching and demonstrations. People lost their jobs, were denied health care, denied entrance into stores, denied benefits, housing, and the right to choose who we marry. We were verbally abused and attacked on the streets, and the law enforcement would do nothing about it.

After thirty years of protesting, we were finally given the respect that we deserved when the Supreme Court ruled that we were allowed to marry who we love, and soon we became equal among our peers.

Right after that the President of the United States and republican state law makers began a systematic program to slowly reverse those rights. Trump has done more against us than anyone ever has. He has tried to allow employers to fire us on our job, medical personnel to deny medical service, allowed to deny services from public companies, deny social services, deny the right to adopt, deny housing and government social programs. He has done this under the disguise of religious freedom.

(My Journey Begins)

It was thirty years ago this year that I official came out a being gay. I took a long time deciding if or when it would happen and once, I decided, it would take a while to decide where and how I would do it. I always had a feeling that something was different about me, but I could not put a finger on it, but after joining the Navy and traveling overseas I saw how free people were in other countries, but ours was still in the dark ages regarding gay people. It has only been  eighteen years since Stonewall and societies perception was that of a flamboyant, swishy-washy, limp wrist, sissy talking guy with feminine qualities and was considered a lifestyle choice.
I remember pulling into the port of San Diego and lived with my family until our separation and then divorce, when I realized I was a single navy man living in San Diego. That is when I really started coming to terms with my feelings and the freedom that went along with it. The first bar I went into was a place called The Brass Rail. Now I have never been in a gay bar, and did not know what to expect, but I was told it was right up the street on Fifth Avenue. So, on a hot Saturday afternoon, I started from Broadway downtown and proceeded to go north on Fifth Avenue.
I walked and walked, then walked again, and some more. Soon it became block after block, and what started to what was supposed to be a quick trip up the road turned out to be about 25 blocks on an inclined slope in 90-degree weather.  Finally, I found my destination, there it was, The Brass Rail.
I opened the door and walked in, it was a dark place, but I saw the bar, a dance floor and a stage. Only a few people were there because the real partiers don’t come out until evening, so I ordered a beer and looked around. I saw a drag queen performance group rehearsing for their performance that evening. It was a satire of Grease (Beauty School Drop Out). I chatted with them, and they said I should come back, and they would waive the cover charge since it’s my first time and I have never seen a drag show.
Later that even I took the bus and came in. The show was wonderful, the entertainers were great, the people were open and honest, and I met my first friend. I didn’t tell him I was in the Navy but the next day on the ship we were going out for a two week boat run, so I had to call him to say that I was in the Navy and going out for a couple weeks, so I couldn’t meet him that following Friday. What a delightful surprise when he said that he knew I was and that he was a First-Class Petty Officer on the same base.

Lo and behold when I came into port and docked at the pier, there he was standing on the pier waiting for me. That for me was the first time that I felt comfortable about who I was, and so began my journey over the next year to come out, gradually and carefully.

(Pride Celebration)

Today, mid July 2017. San Diegan’s came out to celebrate and watch the Pride parade. This year they were celebrating equality and acceptance without fear of being attacked or harmed for who they were. As I was watching the parade, I noticed people from all generations and sexualities were standing along the parade route that was over 15 people deep in a lot of places watching the participants stream along the street with the same pride and joy that one would see on a 4th of July or Thanksgiving Day parade.
As the parade continued to march down the street I started to think back to my first pride parade over thirty years ago and how far it has progressed.
My first parade that I attended was over 34 years ago, and the first parade that I marched in was around 30 years ago. Little did I realize that 34 years ago I would be amongst a group of people who were setting the stage for equality amongst our peers, and yet: here I was, watching the results of what we fought so hard over two years to being us to this day of celebration.
Yes, it is a time to celebrate and to remind people not to forget that some things we think are safe have a habit of being taken away in the blink of an eye.
A few years ago, I authored a short story called: “Thirty Years a Man,” and I think this is a perfect time to revisit it to share with everyone one more time.

(Never Let Your Guard Down)

These past few months there has been a lot of rhetoric regarding teaching LGBTQ history in our public schools. The religious right national agenda is to discriminate against a portion of the population based on their sexual orientation and deny their rights as American citizens. This hatred comes from the teaching of the bible and its religious doctrine. While I will not get into the religious vs. LGBTQ debate, I am bringing my point of view and the struggles that I have personally faced.
The religious right wants everybody to think that teaching LGBTQ history would turn the children in our public schools gay, which is so stupid I am not going to get into the subject. They give many varied reasons why they don’t want it taught in schools or have their own agenda along with it. They continue trying to make a certain section of society into second class citizens. I have listed a few reasons below:

“If they teach homosexuality in school, then they should teach religion in school also.”
“I don’t want them turning my children gay.”
“The government should keep sex out of our schools.”
“I am not prejudice, I even have a few friends that are gay, but I don’t want it taught in my school.”

This is totally coming from somewhere out in left field. This bill is in no way going to turn your children gay, there will be no gay conversion monster in the coat closet waiting to come out and zap your children gay. They are not all of a sudden jump out of bed singing Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland. The curriculum that was proposed in the bill goes on to amend the school code to add a more inclusive history agenda. In public schools only, the teaching of history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this state. This curriculum will have a positive effect on student’s self-image and make their peers more accepting.

Some of the more famous LGBTQ people who changed history are:

  • Alan Turing – Considered by many to be the “founder of computer science,” Alan Turing was a British mathematician and scientist who played a key role in breaking the Enigma code in WWII, assisting in no small part in the defeat of Adolf Hitler and the resolution of the second world war. Months after he broke the code, the British government arrested Turing on the charge of “gross indecency” under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the same charge used against Oscar Wilde. This was a law used throughout the world to discriminate against homosexuality, imagine this happening less that one person’s lifetime. Turing was chemically castrated after information about his relationship with another man became known. He committed suicide two years later. His contribution to society was overshadowed by his conviction of being a homosexual.
  • Harvey Milk who was immensely pivotal in shaping the spirit of reform and changing legislative progress of the gay rights movement. He was the first openly gay board of Supervisors in San Francisco, California. He helps shape the ordinances banning discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on “Sexual Preference.” He fought against the discrimination of store owners denying gay people from entering their businesses, from public buildings, and other everyday rights they most Americans took for granted.





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