From the Beginning
I was born in 1981 in a small midwestern town. By the time I was in kindergarten, I knew I was “different.” I preferred to sit under a tree and draw instead of playing baseball with the other boys. Old Judy Garland movies were much more appealing than action packed “Rambo” films. Looking back, I had a really gentle spirit. I was friendly and soft-spoken with good intentions towards everyone.
Over time, I learned that I had to toughen up if I wanted to avoid getting beaten up every day in school. My teenage years were particularly rough for that very reason. My classmates constantly bullied me, both physically and mentally. When I tried to report it to adults, they just brushed it off as “boys will be boys.” There was no sympathy or protection. I remember being threatened with a pocket knife, only to be told by the principal that pocket knifes are “harmless.” Oh, and then there was the coach who said I “brought it onto myself by being so flamboyant.” Gee, thanks. I can’t help the way I was born.
I started dating guys at age 15 and came out at 16. My strict Catholic parents didn’t exactly respond with open arms. As for my classmates, I somehow fell under the impression that coming out would shut them up. Every day they asked me if I was gay. So I believed that admitting it would take away their power. It’s kind of like when the news media constantly harasses a celebrity because they are trying to get information. Once the celebrity admits it, there is a brief shit storm but it finally blows over and nobody cares anymore. I hoped the same thing would happen for me.
Unfortunately, that was not a well calculated move. Coming out only made things worse and then it all became an alienating experience from there. I was not just the only openly gay kid in my town, I was apparently the only openly gay kid in the entire state. I remember one time, I was communicating with a guy in an online chat room. He lived 3 hours away. When I told him where I was from, he said, “Oh, you must be Nathan. I’ve heard about you.” So much for anonymity.
I don’t know how I survived my teenage years without being suicidal, or taking up drugs and alcohol. I have a very strong spirit, and even when I’m deeply depressed, the true optimist in me has a way of finding the light. After high school, I moved to the south and started a new life in college. I was a brave, confident, openly gay man and I made it clear to my peers that I wasn’t taking any attitude from anyone. I managed to make it through without one single incident of homophobia or discrimination. That was a welcome improvement over the environment I had grown up in.
I spent 8 years with a partner. There were some good times and some bad times, as with any relationship. But in March 2009, when some of his skeletons came pouring out of the closet, I finally realized that the bad outweighed the good and I just wasn’t onboard for it anymore. We had a really nasty, painful breakup, which also played out on my blog.
Daniel and the Future
As I neared the end of my 20s, I once again found my strength being tested and grew from it. I learned a lot, partially because I was forced to be independent for the first time in my life. And because I was a better person, stronger and more mature, I was also equipped to be a better husband when I met the right guy.
That’s when Daniel came into the picture. It was love at first sight, although it took awhile for me to finally make a move. Once I did, everything fell into place and I found the man I want to spend my life with.
I proposed to Daniel in 2010 and we were married in 2011. Life is wonderful. Balanced, happy, full of love, as it should be. I’ve grown a lot and I continue to find myself each day. Even though I curse those evil crow’s feet and forehead lines that are developing, I will admit that life does get better with age.
Someday we plan to have kids. For now, we have two cats, Purr Purr and Magoo, and one miniature schnauzer named Mrs. Anna Madrigal. Anna was named after my favorite character in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series. I work from home and run my own website design business.
The Importance of Being Exposed
I was in a very angry mindset when I started this blog in 2005. The LGBT community was fighting for equality as states were banning marriage rights across the map. Bush had just been re-elected and our whole country was in turmoil. I wanted to be out and proud, louder than ever. I wanted every single person to know I’m gay, I deserve equality, and I’m not just going to shut up and go away.
I was also very sad. My grandmother, who was my biggest supporter, had passed away in 2004. There was so much time I’d missed out on by living so far away. And there was so much wisdom I wanted to learn from her. When she died, I realized I didn’t want to miss out on my family anymore. I moved to Nashville, TN in 2005 because it was just 3 hours away from my family in Illinois. It was a city big enough to grow in and still close enough to visit them whenever I wanted.
My relationship with my family is still tainted with controversy over being gay. I have gained some support and acceptance throughout, even with my parents, but the topic is still an ongoing debate. My journey towards equality is ongoing, but we’ve all made great progress. The story continues to be written.