I've known Wayne, whom I call my "gay pagan doctor friend" since I was 17 years old. A long, long time. Let's just say we've had enough cocktails together for me to know a number of his stories almost as well as my own.
Wayne struggled with his sexual orientation. He didn't come out to his conservative, religious, though extremely loving and supportive family until very late in life. He admitted to me at one point that if he had had the choice, he'd have chosen to be straight because it would have been easier on his family and himself. But despite my best efforts during a short teenage crush phase in the late '80s, Wayne is not straight. And now, he is fine with it.
I asked him if he would put his story into his own words for sharing with the Happy Hour with Cameron Stiehl audience. He chose to share his perspective on growing up gay this way, with advice. Always the doctor...
So here he is, in his own words, Doctor Wayne, all the way from Arizona:
Thoughts From an Aspiring Sage
- Get buff. Sure, it’s a gay-male stereotype. But why not? It has served us well. It keeps you healthy and gives you confidence. And while many of our straight brothers, God bless them, are all looking more and more like the bloated offspring of Jonah Hill and Will Ferrell, gay men, as in the days of the Greeks, will continue to uphold the ideals of male beauty. Also, learn some street-fighter moves. Just a few. Enough so that you feel confident standing up for yourself. Yes, “It Gets Better.” But it gets better a lot faster if you can snap some snarky bully like a twig if you need to.
- Get an education. I think one of the greatest blessings of being gay is you’re (often) exempt from having children. No screaming babies! No changing diapers! Well, at least not until our parents hit their nursing home years. So it’s vital to have some constructive, challenging activity to fill that void. And it might as well be a career. Being a cute young gay waiter, or fitness trainer, is almost a rite of passage. It’s great in your 20s and 30s. But when you’re pushing 50? Yikes. Me, I took the plunge, and spent 12 years in labor, complete with long sleepless nights, strange cravings, and swollen feet. At the end, I emerged the proud papa of a bouncing baby medical degree. Sure, she’s fussy and demanding, and spits up now and then. But she’s got me financially set, and now I only work 3 days per week. Once you’re papered, you can tell everyone to kiss your ass.
- Make it a point, from time to time, to put down that martini glass, that book, that barbell, that GODDAMN CELL PHONE. Go out into the woods, or up into the mountains, or out to the oceanside, alone. Watch the sunset. Be still and silent. Breathe in the fresh, clear air. And thank God for the blessing that is your life.