Chris, in his own words: “Being gay to me means simply that I am open to an emotional and physical relationship with someone of the same gender as me. It also means that I choose to live that life openly and publicly in all facets of my life.
I have been very gifted to have a family that loves me for me, and that includes my being gay. This reality was never an issue for them and it is a testament to the genuine and authentic love that we share as a family. My friends and especially my work colleagues have always appreciated my forthrightness and honesty though it has never been “my burning issue.” My burning issue is Public Education and the support of it and that includes supporting LGBTQ youth as they travel on their evolving journey.
The gay community (in Phoenix) is very diverse and spread out but it also reflects the larger social community of Phoenix and its surrounding areas. The expansive spread of the Valley (thats how we refer to the area of Phoenix) causes there to be a lack of community feel at times like other older American cities. The challenge comes in making sure that we can come together over issues that affect us all as gays and not allowing those looking to bifurcate us as a way to keep us suppressed.
I was convinced for many years (pre-teen and teen) that the feelings I was having were a phase or something that I could compartmentalize. I dated girls and women, but always saw my sexuality as something that I could turn on or off. It wasn’t until I realized that there was a very supportive and vibrant community in Chicago (where I lived until 28) and that I did seek to have more than a physical bond with a man, that I chose to come out at 23. I think one needs to come out to oneself before they come out to others, something others need to realize is that the coming out process is personal first, and public second.
(Advice I’d give my younger self) Chris, you did things correctly and the way they should have occurred for you. I am not sure I would advise differently, since I cannot change the past, but in hindsight, I’m quite proud of the path my life has taken, and I not about to start to eulogize myself! :)”