The Consciousness of One’s Own Dignity

Ride04122015blogI received an email from someone who stumbled upon this blog. The subject line for the message was “pride.” The writer commented that…

…he surfed the blog and said that he loved it. Well, this isn’t the ordinary gay guy’s blog. He also said that he was happy to find that I am “gay and proud.”

Within my life, I have felt pride, but not necessarily as “gay pride” may be envisioned. I have been proud of my personal and professional accomplishments. Proud to have been selected as “employee of the year” for the agency of some 7,000 for whom I work. I have been proud to have served in non-partisan elected office, as an officer of numerous civic and community organizations, and student organizations (social, Greek, service) when I was in college.

rp_Firethankblog.jpgI am a proud Life Member of my local volunteer fire department, having been so honored through recognition of more than 35 years of community service that has saved lives. Not from fires, but from preventing fires, falls, and injuries for seniors. I am damn proud of that, and my firefighter brothers are, as well.

rp_Leebirthday01b.jpgI proudly loved and cared for my elderly aunt during her decline due to Alzheimer’s. I proudly escort senior pals grocery shopping, and proudly serve them in other ways, as well, by doing home repairs and remodeling.

I proudly lead rides with my motorcycle club, despite finding “different ways” of getting to the destination than the planned route.

I proudly build things — the house we live in, remodeled homes for elderly pals and wounded warriors, and custom wordworking & cabinetry.

SunsetwalkI proudly love my family, deeply. All 14 of my siblings, dozens of nieces & nephews, and many “greats.” I am especially proud of my twin brother who is fighting the good fight in delivering care and service in a fragile, war-torn part of the world. I share that pride with his wife several times each week as she sits home in Italy and worries.

BBBHDFall2012I proudly care for my spouse. Through three ugly, terrifying, and horrendous years of illness. Honor and cherish in sickness and in health, right? I am proud to be married, and exceptionally proud to have the best man on the planet by my side and within my soul. He completes me, and makes me the man I am.

Are these pride qualities related to “gay pride?” Not really, in my opinion. As I was looking for a synonym of “pride,” one of the results was “the consciousness of one’s own dignity.” Yeah, you can say that. I am conscious of my dignity.

I eschew the “loud-in-your-face” gay pride culture. I do not lead a “gay lifestyle,” however that may be defined or explained. (The image below is my “rainbow flag.”)

Rideautumncopright2013I look at it this way, straight guys (or women) don’t shout from the rooftops, “I’m straight and proud!” Same way with me (and my spouse.) I also do not enjoy the frilly, queeny side of gay culture. I know from diversity training that everyone is different and has a right to express himself as he wishes. I respect that. But I also have a right to avoid those kinds of things if I want to. As a masculine man, those kinds of activities and attention-seeking behaviors are not consistent with my character.

The writer of the email that inspired this blog post also said that he has a brother who is a masculine gay man, and that he grew up knowing he was gay before his brother admitted it. Same was true with me. My twin brother knew I was gay before I came to terms with my sexual orientation.

Junior and senior high school included times of bullying in my life (thankfully, it got better). The email writer also said that he defended his brother during lots of fights in high school. My twin did the same — though in my situation, my brother was Mr. All-American High School Sports Team Captain, so most people were afraid to mess with me because messing with me meant messing with him. Everyone wanted to be like him and be liked by him, so they avoided hurting me since my brother would become angry with them.

So in summary, yeah, I am proud. But I am proud for what I have done and for what I do — and continue to do — to serve at work, in my community, and at home. After all, as I have said often on this blog, I am a man who happens to be gay, not a gay who happens to be a man.

Life is short: have pride for who you are as a man.