24 years ago today

April 25, 1993, was a day that started out cool and clammy. I was going to do something that I had never done before, and I was nervous. What would I wear? Who would I meet? Would I have problems with encounters with other people who may not understand… who may want to confront me with violence?

As I pulled on a pair of tall boots over black denim jeans, a t-shirt and warmer shirt over it, then my “MC club” colors, I hopped on my Kawasaki Vulcan 750 motorcycle and rode into Washington DC and…

…arrived at the home of the MC Club President, Tom.

Tom was tall, well-built, and sorta like a mentor to me as I was emerging in the world of men into leather. I could not consider myself a “Leatherman.” I was just a kid (well, age 35, but who’s counting). I was naive, afraid, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

Tom looked at me in those tall black boots and jeans and suggested that I might “fit in better” if I had a Harley shirt on with a harness. He brought me into his bedroom and opened a trunk filled with black Harley t-shirts. (I didn’t pursue the harness… I wasn’t ready for that!)

I did not own a Harley shirt (yet) and was amazed at the selection of what appeared to me to be tough-guy clothing. I selected one, took off my other clothes and pulled it on. Tom gave me back my vest and I wore it over the t-shirt. He put his strong arms out on my shoulders, held me to inspect, and said, “you look good.” Then he said, “there’s someone I want you to meet.”

He took me into another room and introduced me to another guy. Tall, gorgeous deep blue eyes, well-built, and a firm handshake. Tom explained that this guy had joined the club a month before me, but due to snow, he missed the first club meeting that I attended.

A small group of us — Tom, his partner, a few other club members — and this intriguing blue-eyed yet quiet hunk — set out to ride the Metro into the heart of the city and gather for the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation (full name). This was the event about which I was so nervous. A huge politically-charged gay rights rally, and I was going to be a part of it.

I had never done anything like that before.

And no one knew… not my Mom, brother, other siblings, or family & friends. No one. This was the first time I was stepping out in public as a gay man.

I was afraid about what was going to happen. Who might see me? Would I be spotted in the crowd and “outted” at work or at home?

We assembled on the grounds of the Washington Monument where the “Leather Contingent” was supposed to meet. I learned quickly that gay people don’t know how to tell time and they are not known for punctuality. The march was supposed to “step off” at 0900, but really didn’t get going until noon. So we stood there.

I was curious about lots of things. How people were dressed. What they were saying, doing, talking about, and behaving. I have to say that 99% of the men and women around me were probably feeling the same way that I was. Curious. Wondering.

I had a lot of time to get to know this mysterious, quiet, introspective, blue-eyed hunk standing with me. I did most of the talking at first, but then as we spoke, he opened up (a little.) We discovered that we had similar interests, outlooks on life, and values. While he was more interested in the arts, he was the best listener I had ever met. He was genuinely interested in the sciences that I was describing that formed my academic and career path.

Mr. Mystery Man was also knowledgeable about the ways of gay life. He had “been around the block once or twice” and explained many things to me that I really did not understand or know about gay men and behaviors. I was so naive, and he was a patient explainer with no judgment in his gentle tone whatsoever.

About noon when the march was finally “stepping off”, the clouds were clearing and the sun was coming out. Men were removing their jackets, shirts, and exposing chiseled chests. Mr. Blue-eyed Man did that too. I was mezmerized. Man, What a HUNK!

I got a bit closer to him and whispered, “I have a problem.” He quickly determined what “the problem” was and promised to take care of it later. (wink.)

We marched… well, we walked. Very slowly, but we walked. Up 17th Street, then right on Pennsylvania Avenue and past the White House. When we were right in front of the White House, Mr. Blue-eyed Hunk and I had our first kiss. So passionate that the crowd around us applauded.

I was red with a touch of embarrassment, but also pride that this quiet closeted dude from the suburbs had nerve enough to kiss another man right there in front of the White House!

We reached the end of the “march” by about 4pm, and we were wiped. Instead of standing around on the mall listening to speeches from LGBT activists, we got back on the subway and returned to Tom’s house. We had a barbecue in the back yard. Mr. blue-eyed Hunk and I cooked burgers for the gang.

We hung out until about 7pm, at which time I was genuinely exhausted. I bid my farewells and arranged a date with Mr. Mystery Man on the next weekend. I got on my motorcycle and rode home.

I did not learn until a week later that Mr. Hunk walked back to his home in Arlington, Virginia — some 8 (13km) miles — after I left. Man, I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not offering to give him a ride home.

The next Friday, Mr. Hunk came to my home. I had prepared him a home-made lasagna with all the trimmings of a great Italian meal. We got to know each other better (wink) and then had our first motorcycle ride (with him as a passenger) the next day.

Five years later, we began building our house on the small farm that I had purchased and subdivided into home lots.

Five and one-half years later, we moved in.

20 years (thereabouts) later, we married.

24 years later, we are still deeply, passionately, in love.

Happy “Meet-a-Versary” to my beloved husband. Who woulda thunk how this all would turn out.

Life is short: take chances … and be open to the surprise and wonder of a lifetime of love.

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