Ray and Steven, Teacher and Chiropractor, Cathedral City, California

photo by Kevin Truong
Ray and Steven, photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
photo by Kevin Truong
Steven and Ray, photo by Kevin Truong
Ray, in his own words: ” Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing.” Richard Halliburton ( 1900 – 1939 ).

I wish I had read this quote when I was growing up as it would have been so inspirational. Richard Halliburton was the first man to swim the length of the Panama Canal. He traveled the world and wrote wonderful travel books. He was only 39 when he died. His boat was lost in a Pacific Ocean storm. Halliburton was a gay man who lived life to the fullest. He is a great role model for everyone.

I really never had any horrible experiences growing up. I did feel very lonely at times and felt that I didn’t fit at some events, but for the most part high school and college were great times for me. I knew I was gay from a very early age. I had gay relationships all through high school and college. My biggest challenge was becoming a teacher and worrying about someone outing me. I loved teaching. As a gay teacher, I tried to connect with all my students as I knew what it was like to be an outsider. Students can always tell if a teacher likes their job or is just putting in the time. So I had a great career of 39 years. I was lucky enough to receive many accolades. My favorite three were being named Teacher of the Year at David Douglas High School in 2001, the Portland Trailblazers Educator of the Year in 1987, and having the Palm Valley School ( Rancho Mirage, CA )Yearbook dedicated to me in 2009.

So my advice to all gay people coming out is to find a career that you are passionate about and that will make your life much more rewarding. I would encourage a college degree for everyone although I know it is not needed for every career. Also, I would recommend that you take care of your health. Most gay people are very social and that usually involves eating and drinking so practice moderation.

Being gay is a gift in many ways. You meet so many wonderful people through parties, clubs, dinners, events, and other social situations. Some of the most talented and creative people in the world are gay. Be happy that you were born gay and accept it as part of the plan for the universe. One last bit of wisdom about relationships. Steve and I have been together for 41 years. We are not perfect. Three phrases should be repeated in any relationship often: “ I am sorry, Thank you, and I love you.” If you say the first two phrases often, you will hear a lot more of the third one! It may sound dorky, but I like having a partner, a house, and two dogs to come home to every day. It just feels good to have a home. Last, but not least, communicate with your lover, partner, or husband. Do not assume anything about your relationship…….talk, talk, and talk some more. Most relationships fail because guys don’t sit down and express themselves. We have had many, many great highs in our 41 years, but also some tragic lows, but by having good communication with each other, we have happily survived life’s challenges. So adopt Richard Halliburton’s quote and “ Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing.”

Steven, in his own words: “When I was young, being gay meant that I was different and did not fit in with my peers or the world around me. It is very different now. I feel very lucky that I was born gay. I have had a wonderful life, been able to travel widely, and excelled at my career. If I had been straight, I don’t think I would have had the money, nor the drive to do the things I have done.

Being gay as a teenager was pretty difficult in the 70’s, but as an adult I have not had any significant challenges that could be attributed to my sexual orientation. In fact I would say that I am blessed to be gay. I think it has made me a more compassionate and loving person. I am very accepting of other people. I see things like bigotry hypocrisy, and elitism in other people that I really don’t like. I don’t think those are a part of my own character and I am thankful for that.

I am a Chiropractor. I spent most of my career as a teacher. I was hired by the College to be the Director of the Outpatient Clinic right after I graduated. At the age of 34, I became the Dean of the College. Those were amazing accomplishments that I will always be proud of.

I don’t really have a “coming out” story. I just assumed that everyone knew I was gay and it was not talked about much. I met my partner at the age of 23 and we have been together for the past 41 years. I think that fact basically let everyone know I was gay and there was no reason to announce it to anyone. I never spent a lot of time feeling ashamed of the fact. Actually, most of my life I have felt very grateful for it.

We live in Cathedral City, California which is next to Palm Springs. It is a very gay friendly community and there is a large gay population here. I love living here because I no longer feel like a minority. I can be myself and don’t really care what anyone else thinks of me or my lifestyle.

I think one of the keys to happiness whether you are gay or straight is to cultivate a group of really good friends. They become your family and it is a family of choice. We have been blessed to have a lot of friends who are quality people and who truly care about our well-being.”

15 comments

  1. vincentius20banu

    hi Ray n steven iam so lucky read your story…n this is my inspiration life…my name is banu n iam gay .. iam 32 th year from jakarta indonesia n iam a teacher from some senior high school..when i read your story i feel so happy n feel not alone anymore..thank you for both of you….God Bless You..regards..

  2. Diane Basden

    I love the pictures! It has been so great to re-connect the last few years thanks to my sister. Your comments are are right on as far as getting along with your spouse whatever your sexual orientation. Communication is the key, as well as a good sense of humor. That’s what has helped us make it to 50 years. Hopefully we’ll have a few more, and we’ll celebrate when you two celebrate your 50th.

    • Ray Smythe

      Thanks for your kind words. Yes, it was been great to re-connect again. It is going to be 112 degrees tomorrow! Enjoy your cooler weather. Rayxoxoxo

    • Steve Oliver

      Diane: I have really enjoyed getting to know you and Walter, Sharon and Ron. What delightful people you are and all of you instantly made me feel like a part of the family. I look forward to many more get-togethers. Love, Steve

    • Ray Smythe

      Thanks Michael. We don’t travel anymore as Steve has Lupus. It has been a terrible disease for him. It has attacked his lungs and he needs oxygen. When we take pictures, we take the oxygen off. We still are social, but taking a car trip is simply too taxing for him. Hope you stay healthy and happy. Have a great week. Ray

  3. Kevin

    Great story Ray and Steven, i wish you all the best in the future. Your story caught my eye when I saw that you were also a high school teacher. As a recently qualified high school, teaching in rural Ireland, I wonder if teaching will be a viable career for me. It’s only a matter of time until word gets around the school that I’m gay and I have to say, it could make the job very difficult. I’m glad it worked out for you though. All the best,

    • Ray Smythe

      To Kevin:
      ..

      Thanks for the comments. I say, ” Go for it.” Teaching is such a wonderful field and can be a rewarding career. I think the hardest year is your first year of teaching. After that, you become one of the regular teachers that have been there for years. You can always tell little white lies until you are ready to be honest or you don’t ever have to come out. You may move to a larger city where it would be more comfortable. Things have changed so much over here in the USA and I imagine they are in the United Kingdom as well. The bottom line…….most kids don’t care these days so pursue your teaching career. . I wrote a little book called So You Decided To Teach a few years ago. It has lots of little tidbits and hints for first time teachers. You can order it online from Amazon.com, You might find it very helpful. Best of luck…Ray

    • Ray Smythe

      No, I am not sure we got your reply. Anyhow, sure we would love to have coffee or a drink with you. Just let us know in advance and we can set up the time and place. Have a great day.

      Ray and Steve

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