Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thirty Years Ago

I find it fascinating that how different 30 years can look from which ever end you're looking. When I was 28 looking ahead 30 years was looking a lifetime away, but at 58 looking back 30 years is like looking at last Christmas.
It was 30 years ago this week that I left Salt Lake City and moved to Tucson, Arizona. Until I moved to Tucson I'd lived most of my life in Salt Lake. Salt Lake was a different city 30 years ago- much more conservative, much more provincial.
I came out some five years earlier and was slowly learning to celebrate it. After I came out to my parents and I took them to an anti-Anita Bryant Rally (where they were tear gassed for the only time in their lives) and the Holy Union of two lesbian friends (the "groom", a stripper from Park City, wore a tuxedo; the "bride" wore her mother's wedding dress). I had also come out to local leaders in the Mormon Church and their response was formal excommunication (but that's a story for another blog). My parents made friends with my only gay friends Gene and John (two older men who kept me somewhat sane).
I was living on my own, in my own apartment, depressed as hell, and I had just lost my job (even cab companies didn't want "queers" working for them). Every month I'd buy The Advocate, a popular monthly gay magazine published in Los Angeles. Today it is a respectable glbt publication, but back in the 1970s it was a trashy gay "rag" best known for it's pink section of classified sex ads. I answered one from a guy who lived near Tucson and was looking for somebody to help him with his nursery business selling plants at swap meets. We agreed to give it a try.
I didn't tell anyone I was leaving. I was sick of my life. I just wanted out so the morning after my parents 33rd wedding anniversary I walked out of my apartment. Locking the door, I shoved the key back under the door and headed off to the Greyhound Bus Station. I'd been lent $100 by the pastor of the Newman Center to help with rent, I used it to buy a bus ticket. Later I found out that Gene and John had cleared out my apartment and packed it all in my parent's basement.
The rest of the summer I lived in Arivaca, a tiny ranching community with my "friend" from The Advocate. By the end of the summer we knew it wasn't going to work so I moved into Tucson. No way was I ever going back to Salt Lake City not if I could help it!
Sometime I'll tell all about my time in Tucson, but for now as I look back over the last 30 years I am so glad I left Salt Lake City. I rarely went back before my Mother's death in 2000 and haven't been back since. Salt Lake has changed so much but it isn't home. I learned early on the truth of the old saw about home being where the heart is. I carried home from Salt Lake City to Tucson, to California and now home is here in Baltimore. I've gathered friends around me you are my family. I am so blest.

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