Hello all peoples!
We’re all used to the traditional family set up of mom, dad, brothers and sisters, and all other sorts of extended family titles. These are the people we grow up with and either love or can’t tollerate. Families come in different shapes and sizes and deal with about the dumbest shit. My family is no exception. Being 31 years old, I have witnessed grown people turn into complete assholes at the drop of a hat over the smallest, insignificant thing. I play this off as just something that has to happen because it’s in “the plan.” There is another family, however, that one selects through careful consideration and bonds shared with another human outside the family bloodline. This is what would be called the secondary family.
My secondary family started to grow when I left home in 1996 and traveled a short distance of 75 miles north to attend The University of West Alabama, formerly known as Livingston University. I arrived and somewhat quickly began to make friends. I found it was much easier to make friends in college than it ever was in high school. Different mind frames played a major part in this. I met new, exciting people almost every day. When I met Travis and one other guy, things seemed different. It was as if I regained a feeling of family. There seemed to be a deep feeling of closeness, trust, and love that reminded me of home.
Travis and I moved to Atlanta on Memorial Day weekend in 1999. Right off the bat, we met a guy in Midtown Atlanta for lunch. He and I had chatted on an archaic website called WBS…around the time Gay.com began. It was a great meeting and, even though we don’t get to see him as often as we would like, he is still considered one of our dearest friends…and oldest family member! He was there to start off our annual Thanksgiving celebrations. He helped us meet other gay men in the Atlanta area, and introduced us to the bar scene. Wow, Burkharts and The Gospel Echoes and The Gospel Girls on Sunday nights, waving our napkins in the air to “Looking For a City” while drinking a Bud Light. Only in the South, people!
I was working at the Warner Brothers Studio Store right after the move. It was a wonderful place full of cartoon stuff that wasn’t primarly meant for children. This guy starts working there and we start talking every now and then in passing. You know how it is when you first start working somewhere. You don’t know anyone and you just want to settle in and work. Well, I saw something in him. There was a twinkle and my gaydar picked up on it. I strolled over to the table where he was folding shirts, and since there is no filter between my brain and my mouth, I came out with, “Are you gay?!” I guess I must have startled the poor thing since he looked flushed as he muttered the word, “Uhh…yeah!” Boom! Instant family connection. It’s been a strong one that’s lasted all ten years and he’s still living with us, minus a few years of sabbatical! LMAO!
Two other wonderful guys came into our lives not long afterward. They have been there when we needed help with a lot of things, including things with the house, being there on holidays when we don’t have time to go see our real families, and have even been helpful in finding a job. Twice, no doubt! These guys also introduced us to the glories of nude camping! YES, I said NUDE CAMPING! It’s not a new idea. More and more clothing optional campgrounds are popping up each year. They allow you the chance to be in nature and learn to appreciate people for who they are, not by the way their bodies look. We all have flaws and being nude in the sunlight will bring them all out to everyone’s attention. We love these two guys with all our hearts and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Last night, Travis and I had dinner with these two guys, along with another couple we’ve met within the past few years. And, as I always love to see, two fresh faces in the gayborhood joined us at O’Charleys. These two are new additions to our ever increasing secondary family. It’s great to see new faces and ideas. It reminds us that there is no reason to become old and set in our ways. Most of us don’t go out every weekend. We may not be up on the latest styles or fads. We do like to see new people who are willing to stand up for who they are in an oppressive country and as time goes by, they will find we will be there for them when they need us.
There are more people in our secondary family than I can mention in this article. Each one has captured a place in our hearts, minds, and souls. Those people are in precious memories stored in our lives that can never be lost or stolen. Whether in good times or bad, many have been there and have done what they could to make our lives a bit more bareable. Thanks so much and we love you all.