While the temptation is strong to ruminate on the strange effect of time and our divisions thereof, considering how we’ve treated 2020, it’s not the individual year that I’ve wanted to write about here. I know, it’s likely a joke now – I write “Let’s go” or “Let’s begin” and then some measured amount of time passes before I write again – but this entry has been hard to put words to not due to the subject matter but rather due to the nature of our divisions of time and how we relate to them. I don’t need to wax on for how horrible 2020 was, many others have, and that’s not what this is about. This is about years, plural, an unending stretch of time, not divided in packages of days or minutes or moments, but rather long stretches for which the only measure that can be applied is ‘years’.
The subject matter is actually quite easy, now. And that’s the point. There was a time – some 20 plus of those aforementioned metrics prior – when I was so afraid to write or speak of my queerness that I first published my writing on the Internet under a nom de plume of “Jason Corsello”. I chose an unassuming, Italian-American-ish name, and I envisioned myself a Jason, not a Joshua1this is kinda key, spoilers, and reported unemotionally at times about my explorations from time to time. I also squealed with great abandon anonymously about the myriad of gay victories I had in that first year and change of coming out. Jason wrote about the first guy I kissed2my best friend’s boyfriend, ye gods, about the state of the GLBU (And this is too important for an aside under a cute little footnote. “GLBU” stood for “gay, lesbian and bi union” and even that “B” was an afterthought. There was no T and that rankles even today.) Jason was who I then thought I wanted to be, and while that is another3spoilers story for another day, Jason was my lifeboat through the rocky waters of being closeted, but wanting to come out.
By the time I graduated, some two-ish years after Jason first began to wax poetic on the storied walls of geocities4lawwwwwwlz, I was more or less comfortably out. The status of my sexuality hovered somewhere around the range of “open secret” amongst my family, but remained static. I dated women, openly, I dated men, but fewer, and while I’ve already described my mental state after college, eventually, I met Beverly.
And everything changed.
Oh, I’m sorry. Is that too dramatic? Well excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me, Princess, but this is my blog. I can be dramatic5perish the… ya yeah yeah if I want.
Now, where was I?
What changed is that I fell in love, and that was great, and yada yada yada, but what had really changed things was a trip to Cape Cod to meet Bev’s extended family for a huge blowout week of two weddings, fresh seafood, and a massive family reunion. It went swimmingly well, which is to say somewhere during the drunken revelries of Wedding #2, one of the innumerable cousins — or was it aunts? — placed her hands on my head, and officially, on behalf of the entire family, adopted me, claimed me, loved me, what have you, and it was, of course, amazing.
I believe in family. I love my family; both by birth and that which I’ve chosen, and the thought of adding on several6hundred more family members moved me to the point where I made a decision right then and there screaming out “Build Me Up Buttercup”. I would, as soon as I could, buy a ring, and ask my girlfriend to marry me.
The news thrilled my family. It thrilled my then-future father and mother-in-law. And it thrilled Beverly and I, who each of us had felt adrift in the world of dating and companionship. It was, as I look back on it, a watershed moment for me.
And yes, the marriage eventually ended. That’s not the point.
The point is the time during which it didn’t.
For better or worse, the early years of my marriage effectively put me back in the closet. And it’s not some vile thing, some conspiracy of straight America or any such bullshit. It was completely on me. I simply stopped caring – except when I didn’t. I spent much of the early years of my marriage wondering how to resolve this perceived dichotomy. Discovering and clawing out my identity as a queer person was important to me. Those moments of victory and despair, the fear and the courage, all of those were so vital to me, to who I am as a person, and I had thought for a long while that they were, no longer.
If any one thought, one theme, could define the first decade7okay, I use the 1-0 method, sue me of the century for me, it would be that of reclaiming my queer identity. From when I had realized that I had somehow stumbled back into the closet of my own imagining, to my ultimate and public coming out that marked the end of Rose City Transplants. And then, and this is quite important, figuring out my place as a single queer person – because, and I cannot stress this enough: it was not my marriage that made me closeted, it was me. And it was not the end of my marriage that leapt me back out of the closet. These events, truly, are quite separate.
Now, surely, that is hardly enough to describe ten years of anything, but those years out and back in and out again do serve as a powerful backdrop to lay everything else in my life against. And, folks, this is hardly to say that the journey is somehow over – “Yaaaay, I beat the coming out boss, I win, woot woot!” – far from it, of course8spoilers?. But does also serve as a reminder, a mile marker, or year marker, if we’re going to stick with that metric, of how far I’ve come, where I’ve been, and what is important to me.
The point is this. The theme of this chapter has been that of a journey, and part of any journey is to understand where you’ve come from, and how far you’ve gone. It’s why I chose a road sign as the image for this chapter, and it’s why most of what I’ve written thus far is about change and moving on. And yes, it is incredibly leading, and you’re just going to have to forgive me for that. Because as the woman once said to me, “you write your own endings” and this chapter, I’ve known where it’s been headed.
The thing about a journey is, you have a destination in mind. But you have to enjoy the process of getting there.