Friday, April 28, 2006


i have been walking this earth for 29 years now. and in those 29 years i have lived in 4 (very) different areas of the country. a very close friend of mine once told me before that each time i have decided to move that she never worried about me because i am one fo those people who has the ability to make friends wherever i am. personally, i don't know if i agree with that 100% since i am an only child and have moments where i love being by myself.

getting back on track. i have been fortunate enough to come across and become friends (or at the very least acquaintances with) many different types of people. and within those many different people, the personalities, like and dislikes among those people go from one end of the spectrum to the complete opposite end.

back in high school, i was the one person who waned more. i was not satisfied with my life and knew that there was way more outside my immediate circle that was just waiting for me to discover it. i am sure many would wonder how a white male being raised in new york could make a statement like that. well, let me paint a picture. i was a closeted gay male waiting to jump out of the closet and found myself going to school in a jacket and tie each day at an all boys catholic high school that was in an extremely conservative, rich suburb. of which, my family was neither of the latter. don't get me wrong. gay male + all boys catholic high school = me thinking that i died and gone to heaven. even though i was only a teenager at the time, the conservative, jock, white, tough guy routine grew extremely tiresome. i was one of the few teenagers at my school who ventured down to the city to experience all that it had to offer and meet different kinds of people. i was already looked at as a 'freak' because i volunteered in the aids ward of a hospital for my senior year community service. the narrow-mindedness i experienced was that i must have aids and that is why i was volunteering there. yeah sure that's why. and oh, did i mention that i saw your daddy exitting stonewall saturday night? ;)

the summer after my senior year could not end fast enough. i was ready to begin the next chapter in my life. get the hell out of the house. and live on my own in the big city of boston. and what a chapter it was. people from different countries. people from different parts of the same state i was from. people from the other side of the country. people from states i never thought had people in them. people of different colors, shapes and sizes. and gay people. lots of them. and some my own age who had a much tougher experience than i did. people who took my sexual preference and did not care in the least. as a matter of fact, many of my friends from college stood by me every step of the way and joined in on each new experience with me as a gay youth. no, not in that way. well, some of them did. ;)

college is the place where people say you meet your friends for life. and after close to 11 years f knowing these people, that statement could not be more true. i think the reasoning for this is that when you go to school away from mommy and daddy, your friends see you everyday and know what is going on in your life. ultimately, they step in for mom and dad. they know every mood swing, every bad day, every bad date. and the really good ones too. when i went back home the summer after my freshman year it was clear to me that i no longer belonged where i grew up. the people i knew from high school were still the same. attending college close by and not experiencing half of what i had in my 9 month absence. the bigger difference than the lack of experience was the lack of growth i noticed on their part. it was clear to me that staying in boston all year was the next step for me. and that is exactly what i did until about 2 weeks after graduating.

i returned home after graduation but kept in touch with my friends and would often retreat back to boston to visit the friends who stayed. while in nyc, i began working in the real world and bringing home a pay check twice a month. i also met a whole new round of people. here i was fresh out of college and associating with older, mature professionals. working late nights. drinking even later nights. and experiencing life while meeting more people from different walks of life. people with spouses. people who were much older than i. people trying to hold onto their college days by partying 24/7. people looking for love.

after a year and a half of watching my career go nowhere, i decided to pack it up and head to grad school down in atlanta. not knowing a soul in a city that would now be the furthest i would be from home, i didn't quiet know what to expect. pleasantly, i was very surprised. for starters i no longer had to deal with northeast winters. and to my surprise, i was moving to the center of the gay world for the south, excluding parts of florida (which should be banished anyway). i came across 'artsy' people. people who wanted to do exactly what i wanted to do with my carreer and would go to extreme lengths to obtain it. people who knew what it was like to struggle. and again, people from all different walks of life, different ages, and different backgrounds. at one point while living in atlanta, i found myself staying with a friend who was an older woman with a landscape business out of her home who lived on a farm. that's right, the roosters on the other side of the fence woke me up at 5:45 each morning. it was also while in atlanta i had, for the first time, a close group of male friends.

from the southeast, i moved further west into the heart of the country. let's just say that here i met a different kind of people. the kind of people that reminded me what would have happened to my life had i never left to go away to college. had never come out and settled into a life that was expected of me. st. louis allowed me to encounter people who are completely unaware that this country and society has progressed (somewhat) with the times. and that there are all different types of definitions as to what makes up the american family in 2006. however, on the most positive note of all, this is where i met the current love of my life, the boyfriend. of all places to meet your romantic partner. how could that happen not4nothin? because the boyfriend and i are a lot alike (for the most part) when it comes to thoughts, opinions, feelings and emotions. the boyfriend does need to get his adorable a$$ up and out of the midwest and join not4nothin in nyc. hint, hint.

so, now i find myself back in nyc. where it all started. the inspiration for this post came the other night. i found myself at dinner with former co-workers from my first job out of college. looking around the table, diversity flowed. (i am still proud to say that i am the youngest.) one woman whose company i was in was a member of the first female class allowed at harvard. she is currently finishing her novel with only 2 chapters to go and an agent to find. another woman left the business world and is a stay-at-home mom with 2 beautiful daughters. this is the same woman who was the first one in the office every morning and the last to leave every night. my former boss has moved up the corporate ladder. and our other coworker is living the freelancing life as he whisks away to different parts of the world every few months. his latest adventure is africa for 2 weeks this summer.

this one evening, and 2 16-ounce margaritas, made me realize how many different types of people make up my friendships. how much joy, knowledge and experience they have each given me. and how blessed and better off i am as a person for knowing each and every one of them.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ready. Set. Pedal.

throughout our lives, there are organizations, groups, etc. in which we feel a certain connection or bond with. beer-guzzeling, sex-deprived frat guys. over-the-hill sports freaks. star trek convention cling ons. slimy-self-centered-lawyers. IT geeks. bar flys. gym flys. fruit flys. fag hags. you get the picture.

for me, the one thing i feel very connected to and proud to have been a part of was the aids ride. the ride i participated in was a 3-day bike ride that started in boston and ended 300+ miles away in nyc. keep in mind it is not a race. it was an event which required a significant amount of fund-raising on my part (when i did it there was an $1800 minimum to be raised to participate, i raised $3k+) and an extensive amount of physical training. personally, it was a step up for me in my efforts to raise $ for the fight against aids. all of the walk-athons and dance-athons would seem like kid's play compared to 3 days with my a$$ glued to a bike seat.

for the past few weeks, logo (america's very own gay-themed network channel) ran a 5-part documentary series that covered the ride that begins in san francisco and end in los angeles. i had seen the previews and teaser clips advertising the series for months and was thrilled they were finally airing it. the california ride is a bit more mileage than the ride i did and is 4 days longer. but none-the-less both excellent events.

the kick off episode was a full hour. the 5 people the documentary was following were each featured and they explained their stories. who was gay. who was straight. who was -. who was +. why they were riding. who they were riding for. explained a little about the event.

i sat in my apartment and a flood of memories, emotions and pain from my own ride overcame me. fortunately, i had taped the program and was able to pause it when the tears trailed down my face. that happened 4 times to be exact. seeing people push through the uphill inclines and refusing to give up put me right back into that scenario. toward the end of my training, i was in the gym for 2 hours a day and out on my bike for over 4 hours a day. and i still struggled on some of those uphills. but, i am still happy to report after all these years that i rode every mile of that ride and did not walk one inch. i teared up when the people in the documentary shared their stories. again flashing back to my ride and remembering the people i encountered and the stories they shared. i rode for the memory of all the people i knew who i had lost to the disease at the time. and i shared that with the people i encountered so that their memory was passed on. and it was endearing to see that sort of 'practice' still takes place on the rides that continue today.

there are a group of riders known as the 'positive pedalers.' these are people who are + and are participating every mile of the way as well. they are given no special treatment. they have to endure every hill and sleeping in a tent at the end of the day just like every other rider. the people in this group left the biggest impression on me and gained more respect from me than anyone i have ever had the pleasure of meeting. this group of people ultimately are saying, 'i have this disease. i am not hiding my illness. and this illness will not get the best of me.' they were a reminder to me why i was there and for who i was participating. throughout the ride, especially while riding through the smaller towns, people would line the streets and applaude us. thanking us for riding. never once did i think that i deserved the applause. all of the applause in my head went to the 'positive pedalers' and for all the people behind the ride who made sure it ran like a well oiled machine throughout the 3 day adventure.

participating in the ride is something that can never be taken away from me. it is an experience that i completed and can say with pride that i took part in. it was an event in which i would like to think someone somewhere benefitted because of my participaton. the pain i felt and the tears i shed could be completely understood by someone who is still a stranger but has a common tie to me. it was a reminder to me at the time (and again while watching this documentary) that when it is needed, people really can and will come together to fight against something. the ride, like the disease, does not discriminate. people from all walks of life participate and come together for one cause. and it is not a selfish cause. it is not for a pay increase or better union benefits.

so, that is the group that i am proud to say that i am a part of.

and please check your local listings at to see when the documentary will be aired again. it is important to get awareness out there about a disease that still ravishes our population. and more importantly to be reminded that in a world of current uncertainty that people are people. and that everyone has a story.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ode to the N.Y.C.

so, i have been back home in nyc for a little over 2 weeks now. i can honestly say that i am extremely happy with my decision to make the move back home. when you are originally from nyc where else is there to go? i enjoy nature, but when you get down to it, i am a 'concrete-loving-noisy-yearns-for-diversity' kinda guy. the only thing missing is the boyfriend. and the dog.

as i made my way over the george washington bridge 2 weeks ago the sun roof was open and madonna's 'i love ny' was pulsating from the speakers within bullet. not4nothin has moved around a lot the past few years and for the first time in a very long time i felt that i was truly home. it was a beautiful day. boats were making their way up and down the hudson. the city looked quiet and peaceful (from a safe distance of course). and not4nothin was home.

as my first week of work ended, i met friends out for drinks one friday night happy hour. with my earbuds in and my nano on i blended in among evereyone else who were all possibly heading out for friday night happy hour with their earbuds in. the great thing is that no one knew i had been gone for nearly 5 years. and it didn't feel like i had been.

in my 29 years on this planet i have lived in 4 different cities. the first being the largest melting pot in the world. 2 on the larger, more cosmopolitan side. and 1 that should be completely blocked from memory. i found that the 2 larger cities had qualities about them that were similiar to nyc. shopping. great restaurants. culture. the lighting of some large tree at the holidays in some very public place. and still the 1 city that should be blocked from memory.

say what you want about nyc and new yorkers. i've heard it all before. we're rude. the city is dirty. it's too expensive. everyone there just looks out for themselves. there are too many people. my response to all of that is true. true. true. true. and true. we're all of those things. and so much more. i have always stopped and given people directions when asked. i have even butted in on conversations on the subway and suggested easier ways for people to get where they want to go. we are also a city who will not judge anyone from where they came from, how they look or ultimately who they are as a person. one night i saw 2 women kissing, and i mean kissing, right in the middle of grand central. did people stop and stare. no, because it is nothing out of the ordinary and quiet frankly, no one cares. wouldn't see that in the middle of a red state. i also saw a woman changing with the blinds open in her hotel room across the street from my office. again, just another day. had 2 minor celebrity sightings. diana degramo, runner-up on 'american idol.' sitting at the next table in a bar i was at. did people crowd her and flash lightbulbs in her face. nope. no one cares. she's just another person walking the streets. and carlos leon. madonna's daughter's baby-daddy. no one to fall all over, but i was only one degree away from madge herself. and i did consider jumping him and obtaining his cell phone. madge's number has to be in there somewhere to get a hold of little lourdes. and i forgive the chinese food delivery man who almost ran me over the other night. i was in the wrong and forgot to cross in the crosswalk. i saw an opportunity to cross and i took it. hey, you live and learn.

sometimes, we need to leave something in order to realize how much we miss it. and also wonder why we left in the first place. check in with me dead smack in the middle of the summer when the tourists are at their peak and heat vibrates off the concrete that i love so much.