Subsequently, my yearning for the stability profferred by religious faith took me across the country the other way, and I undertook studies for the Christian ministry at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. There I discovered 42nd Street movie theaters which at that time, the early 1960s, were places where gay men gathered to find sexual partners. I was insecure, needy, and naive. Repeatedly, I quickly fell for someone who quickly broke off with me, and I was left bereft. I could tell no one at the seminary of these traumas. My life was split in half, with no recourse for me other than to return to the theaters and try again.
A life-changing suggestion then came when a minister of a church where I was involved proposed I go into therapy. He knew nothing of my hidden traumas but somehow realized I needed help. After a break-off with a fellow where I felt myself coming apart, I took up the minister's suggestion. At first, the sessions with the therapist brought tremendous relief simply for the fact that I could talk to a sympathetic person about what I was going through. Then I found other people at the seminary I could confide in. And then I realized that such openness was a necessity for me and that it would be impossible while serving as a minister in a church, and I dropped out of seminary. Over several years, therapy led to the release of repressed anger and then the anger was resolved and I was changed. Therapy enabled me to find within myself the stability I had previously sought in religion.
I dated women for awhile but then wanted to go back to men, and I did, and I liked it. No more traumas! I settled in New York City and went to gay dancing bars including the Stonewall, although I was not there on the night of the famous riot. I enjoyed having sex with many men but formed no lasting relationships -- until in August, 1969, when I met Eugene. Some underlying congruency clicked almost immediately and held. After just over two weeks together he left New York, but he came back the following spring, and we started living together, and we have been living together ever since. I obtained a fulfilling job, which became my career, working in an innovative rehabilitation center for people with mental illness. My life was going well.
But there was still the issue of dealing with my parents. I was still in the closet with them. My parents were extremely devoted to myself and my two sisters, and they were also very conventional. So they believed my happiness depended on my way of life being like theirs, vertical identity, in Andrew Solomon's terms. Finally, emboldened by involvement in the Gay Activists Alliance I wrote my parents a letter proudly proclaiming my gay identity and revealing that Gene and I were lovers. Mother replied with a heartfelt letter -- I was her son always, but that type of relationship she could never accept. For several years subsequently I visited my parents in their suburban Chicago home, but Gene was not welcome.
Then I broke my leg and was in the hospital, and dad came to New York to see me. At Gene's invitation he stayed in our apartment, and Gene cooked for him, and dad cried. After my leg healed, we both were invited to visit my parents. Over time, we developed a tradition of family gatherings,most often at Christmas, with my sisters, their children and then their children's children and mom and dad and Gene and I all together. My parents' humanity and their love of family outdid their conventionality.
I am retired now. Gene purchased a winter home for us on the Hawaiian island of Kauai while we still maintain our New York Greenwich Village apartment. My parents lived into their 90s and now have both passed away. I have written a novel on the relationship of three gay young men with their parents, which I am trying to get published. Gene and I have opted to keep our relationship as it has been and not get married. But we both know that we will be together "until death do us part."