My life story starts in 1964 in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was a cute kid. I’m not sure what happened. My parents were incredibly sane, if a little overprotective. I was a somewhat pampered only child and I remain a spoiled brat to this day. I traveled a fair amount as a child, including frequent trips to Florida and West Virginia, as well as journeys to Seattle, Spokane, Montreal, Toronto, and other spots.
I spent most of my elementary years in a frightening Southern Baptist school. My parents weren’t particularly religious; they just weren’t too fond of the Greensboro public schools. I think the line of bullshit I was fed here has affected me dramatically; ever since I’ve been very distrustful of religion in general and dogma in particular. I also developed a major thing about Bible-thumping Fundamentalists who preach hate in the name of “Christian love”.
Puberty (1976 to 1979):
At 12, I transferred to Allen Jr. High, where the biggest discovery I made was the beauty of naked boys in the locker room. Alas, it was “look but don’t touch”. I did the drama thing and the newspaper thing and the getting caught smoking behind the gym thing.
All in all, junior high was a particularly unpleasant period of time. I was scared to death of the sexual urges which were emerging. I was even more terrified of my classmates. I spent a lot of time alone. I don’t miss any of these people, nor do I miss this part of my life.
I escaped through lots of TV and started keeping journals when I was 14.
High School (1979-1982):
High school was a little better. I went through my drug/booze phase in the 10th grade, my generic high school kid who works at McDonald’s in my junior year, and my pretentious intellectual philosopher phase in my senior year. And I jerked off a lot thinking about boys I couldn’t have.
My senior year (1982) was also the year I “came out” and boy was I obnoxious about it. I told everyone, had a major chip on my shoulder, and may have single-handedly invented political correctness and newspeak (sorry…). I came out to one of my best friends (or “first loves”, and he dumped me pretty completely: I learned later that he was doing a little experimenting with another male friend. Got nervous, I guess…pity we never got to fuck.
College, Part I (1982-1985):
The summer after graduation, I started to work at the campus radio station. This would define my life for the next couple of years. 1982 was also the year that I came to know my three best and oldest friends, Jeff (who spent an eventful vacation in Planet SOMA in 1996), Duncan (who visits more regularly), and Stan (who passed away in 2001). I also did the campus politics thing, Gay Students Association, and learned how to drink (again).
After a little more than two years at UNCG, three things combined to make my life really weird: I fell in love with the wrong boy, realized I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, and started doing the club scene too much. End result: I stopped going to classes and flunked out of school with a 3.3 average (nice trick…). I didn’t get the boy either.
So began the period I now refer to as “the dark years”. I worked at slave wages for a crappy retail company for three of them, moving first to Myrtle Beach, S.C. and then to Charlotte, N.C. (my adopted hometown), drank a lot, experienced genteel poverty, and learned how to manage a skate/surf shop. This, I guess was where my fascination/fetish for skaters began…it continues to this day.
In Charlotte, I met lots of very unusual friends and coworkers. I also spent enough time alone to develop a pretty strong sense of self. There were very few romantic entanglements. It seemed I was the only person in the city interested in sex at the time. I also had my first “modem sex” here in about 1988. The habit never stuck. Additionally, I was mildly involved with ACT UP and made it to the few protests and demonstrations North Carolina had to offer.
Perhaps because Charlotte was so incredibly boring, I became very fond of road trips and became fascinated with urbanism and how it worked. These trips were also just about the only time I ever got laid…
College, Part II (1989-1992):
By 1989, I’d had enough, moved back to my parents’ house and went back to school full time. I did better this time, graduating with a double major in Geography and Sociology (concentrated in Urban Studies), and working part-time at Kinko’s. I wrote some good papers, groomed myself for grad school (for nothing), and re-grouped.
San Francisco (1992-2005):
In 1991, I visited San Francisco for the first time. In October 1992, I moved there. It was, for a time, the first city in which I ever felt truly at home. I even found a cool roommate, Dan, whom I didn’t kill even after six-plus years, but he still moved out early in 1999. I transferred my job at Kinko’s to SF when I moved, and entered management in 1994. In December 1996, I left this job after more than seven years, although I ventured back in for some part-time work here and there and eventually put in a few more years full-time as well.
In January 1996, I began Planet SOMA, the antecedent of this site, which has added a whole new dimension to my life. It has enabled me to make new friends worldwide, and has allowed me to concentrate on the writing I want to start doing. It’s also helped launched my new freelance career.
In December 2000, I added Otherstream to my collection of sites as the more personal cousin to Planet SOMA. I moved the journals and personal info over here and just sort of allowed it to develop a life of its own. It’s worked pretty well.
In 2001, I spent my first time in a hospital, having been diagnosed with a thyroid condition leading to a rally fast and arythmic heartbeat. The medication is fun. Really.
And then, late in 2001, I met Mark, who became the love of my life. He was amazing and wonderful and sexy and intelligent and I loved him terribly. We began cohabited from 2002 to 2010 and we were married on Valentine’s Day weekend 2004 with several thousand other same-sex couples in San Francisco’s City Hall.
North Carolina-The Revenge (2005-present):
In June of 2005, Mark and I finally escaped Sodom by the Bay and moved back to North Carolina, landing in Charlotte for one very surreal and somewhat depressing year, and then buying a house in Winston-Salem. From 2009 to 2011, we also owned a 110-year-old second home in Pittsburgh.
In August 2007, I entered a Master of Library and Information Studies program. I graduated in December, 2009, got the first job I applied for and wanted, and was suddenly very surprised to realize that I had become tenure-track university faculty working as a digital librarian. I don’t think anyone saw that coming a few years ago.
Mark and I split up in March 2011. There’s no animosity and we remain friends, but our lives have moved in two different directions. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever gone through and it was immediately followed by more heartbreak as my mom started developing symptoms of Alzheimer’s a few weeks later and moved into a nursing home several months after that. My dad died early in 2013 and life became rather stressful as I watched out for my mom and started shutting down the life they built together…while just having shut down the life Mark and I built together too. I more or less moved back to Greensboro in 2013 and sold the house in Winston-Salem in 2015. My mom died in 2018.
So now? I’m pretty damned happy with my life, thanks. I love my job. I travel a lot. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m pretty financially stable. Is everything perfect? Of course not. But all in all, I think I’ve turned out remarkably well. Most importantly, I like myself now more than I ever have before. Which rocks…