Reading something which noted that 1981 was 35 years ago jarred me into realizing that it was three-and-a-half decades ago this very month that I officially came out of the closet, by which I mean letting my family know that I was gay.
It was in the context of the uproar over the bathhouse raids by Toronto police in which, but for luck, I was not involved.
This weekend’s cold temperatures remind me of the cold nights spent protesting the raids, a fear of being seen on the TV news which propelled me to pen a letter of coming out to my Mom and Dad.
It was met with a phone call from Mom in which she assured me of their unconditional love for me (after I had imagined worst case scenarios of a different kind for no reason).
35 years! I was a fresh-skinned 21-year old then on the eve of the first cases of AIDS being reported in the United States. I managed to escape the first waves of death which swept through the community and now count myself among ‘long-term survivors’. AIDS still seems very real to me but I no longer take for granted that I will die prematurely. I’m trying to accept that there are some things I just don’t know.
There have been other things which could have, and could yet, kill me but, for now, I am trying to re-experience the energy I recall from those powerful days of protest in 1981.