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Rick, Lexington, Georgia

The majority of my life as a gay man has been nothing but a gracious blessing. I realized my sexual desires toward men when I was sixteen, and I lost my virginity to a man twice my age a year later. I went off to college not long after that, but then took a few years off before going back to get my degree at the University of Georgia. I was handsome young man, content with myself, pursuing a good education. Then, the most wonderful thing happened to me: I met and fell in love with the sweetest, most handsome, charming, loving, giving, passionate, and driven man God ever graced this world with. To have such a man love me was the greatest gift of my life. Marc and I met in a calculus class in the fall of 1976. I had been “out” for five years; Marc had never had sex with a man before. We became friends, but not intimately at first. We courted platonically for months until just before Valentine‘s Day, when our relationship turned physical. I realized almost right away that Marc was not the type of person who was interested in a casual affair. I knew that a relationship with him would mean a deep commitment. I understood I had to be ready for that. Thank God that I was. I recognized him as an angel sent to me. How could I be so lucky? I always told him he was the most adorable cherub ever on Earth. We had a beautiful chemical and sexual attraction and were always honest and true to each other. We were very fortunate as well to both have loving families and be surrounded by very dear friends. We also shared a common religious faith. Our hearts and souls were bound together not by any institution but by love, passion, and commitment. We fed off of each other’s energy and even started a business together in the spring of 1977. We channeled all of our common interests into an enthusiastic, passionate machine that could make us a shared life and living. Marc was the fuel and I was his spark. We accomplished a lot of things as partners, both personally and professionally. We had a storybook life together, which is not to say we didn’t have our tough times. You can’t be around someone 24/7 for thirty one years and not have a few hurdles to jump. Marc’s battle with cancer became the final and most difficult challenge of our life together. When he died in 2008, I hit the ground hard. I was devastated, and alone for the first time in three decades. It was overwhelming. I had lost the love of my life, my very best friend, and my business partner all at the very same moment. Somehow I managed to pick myself up, and have stumbled along for the past year. I am still devastated emotionally, very tired, sad, and lonely. I am, however, a strong person. And I am reminded every day that I am still very much alive. I know that Marc made me a better man than I ever would have been without him. I know I will always have him in my heart and in my soul. I will forever treasure the memories of our life together. I feel that I am at the edge of a tremendous precipice now, facing a hurdle that is unimaginable in scope. I am making decisions that will affect the remainder of my years...by myself. I am anxious and scared, but I am also optimistic. I have to be. I know I will carry the love I shared with Marc with me for eternity, which gives me great comfort and joy. I look at my future without him now not as the next chapter, but as a whole new book in my life: Volume Two. I miss the man I loved with all of my heart and soul. The emptiness is so very real and powerful, but so is the fullness of the love we shared, and I know I will be okay.

The majority of my life as a gay man has been nothing but a gracious blessing. I realized my sexual desires toward men when I was sixteen, and I lost my virginity to a man twice my age a year later. I went off to college not long after that, but then took a few years off before going back to get my degree at the University of Georgia. I was handsome young man, content with myself, pursuing a good education. Then, the most wonderful thing happened to me: I met and fell in love with the sweetest, most handsome, charming, loving, giving, passionate, and driven man God ever graced this world with. To have such a man love me was the greatest gift of my life. Marc and I met in a calculus class in the fall of 1976. I had been “out” for five years; Marc had never had sex with a man before. We became friends, but not intimately at first. We courted platonically for months until just before Valentine‘s Day, when our relationship turned physical. I realized almost right away that Marc was not the type of person who was interested in a casual affair. I knew that a relationship with him would mean a deep commitment. I understood I had to be ready for that. Thank God that I was. I recognized him as an angel sent to me. How could I be so lucky? I always told him he was the most adorable cherub ever on Earth. We had a beautiful chemical and sexual attraction and were always honest and true to each other. We were very fortunate as well to both have loving families and be surrounded by very dear friends. We also shared a common religious faith. Our hearts and souls were bound together not by any institution but by love, passion, and commitment. We fed off of each other’s energy and even started a business together in the spring of 1977. We channeled all of our common interests into an enthusiastic, passionate machine that could make us a shared life and living. Marc was the fuel and I was his spark. We accomplished a lot of things as partners, both personally and professionally. We had a storybook life together, which is not to say we didn’t have our tough times. You can’t be around someone 24/7 for thirty one years and not have a few hurdles to jump. Marc’s battle with cancer became the final and most difficult challenge of our life together. When he died in 2008, I hit the ground hard. I was devastated, and alone for the first time in three decades. It was overwhelming. I had lost the love of my life, my very best friend, and my business partner all at the very same moment. Somehow I managed to pick myself up, and have stumbled along for the past year. I am still devastated emotionally, very tired, sad, and lonely. I am, however, a strong person. And I am reminded every day that I am still very much alive. I know that Marc made me a better man than I ever would have been without him. I know I will always have him in my heart and in my soul. I will forever treasure the memories of our life together. I feel that I am at the edge of a tremendous precipice now, facing a hurdle that is unimaginable in scope. I am making decisions that will affect the remainder of my years...by myself. I am anxious and scared, but I am also optimistic. I have to be. I know I will carry the love I shared with Marc with me for eternity, which gives me great comfort and joy. I look at my future without him now not as the next chapter, but as a whole new book in my life: Volume Two. I miss the man I loved with all of my heart and soul. The emptiness is so very real and powerful, but so is the fullness of the love we shared, and I know I will be okay.

Gay in America