Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011 - Year End Reflections

This time of year always leaves me feeling inexplicably sad. I guess it's a mix of sadness for what was lost in the past year and the prospect of uncertainty in the coming year. A lot has happened in 2011, both for gay rights and in my life. Here's some brief reflections on 2011:

January began 2011 in the most sad and harsh way for me: I lost my mother on January 5th. We had known that she was failing and she had needed to move in with one of my sisters in July, 2010. None of us, however, expected her to go so suddenly. It is as if she knew what was coming in terms of the likelihood of nursing home care and said "no thank you." On January1, 2011, I saw my mom happy and alert for the last time. A mere four days later she was gone. She will never be forgotten. I want to extend a sincere thank you to readers who have made contributions to the scholarship endowment. It has meant so much to me.

Later in the year, the Boyfriend and I made our annual pilgrimage to Key West and we had a wonderful time, even if my mother's loss and some of the family drama haunted me at times. The photo below was taken at Lattitudes at Sunset Key - part of the Westin Hotel property - which I recommend highly for lunch (with cocktails, of course). I will always be grateful to the Boyfriend for introducing me to Key West and taking me at his expense went I was in a financial time of trouble.

In April, 2011, working with the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and with the blessing of HRBOR, I established the George D. and Marion Phelps Hamar/HRBOR scholarship to aid graduating LGBT high school seniors (April also marked the point where I was able to pay my former wife the balance of what I owed her under the less than gay-friendly final divorce decree that was entered against me by a judge who thought that being gay was a "choice"). I was very blessed by the fact that my parents never wavered in their love and support of me when I came out of the closet after 37 years of torment and self-hate. Too many LGBT youths do not have such loving and loyal parents and the scholarship was my way of both honoring my parents and hopefully making a difference in the lives of young LGBT individuals over the future years.

In May, one of my nieces got married and we experienced a family reconciliation after the drama that had immediately followed my mother's death. The boyfriend's gift was to do the entire wedding party's hair (OK, all the women) and that of my other sister. It was a great day and a beautiful event on the beach in the Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach.

June saw the largest Out in the Park ever with estimates of up to 17,000 people at downtown Norfolk's Town Point Park. The Boyfriend and I were sponsors and were thrilled with the huge success of the event. Out in the Park 2012 will return to downtown Norfolk and as a member of the Hampton Roads Pride board of directors, my efforts will be aimed at making the event in 2012 even bigger and better (the video at the link shows the 2012 launch party).

July was an emotional time as my oldest daughter headed west to Olympia, Washington, to join her fiance. Her going away party marked the first time that my former wife (pictured below with my two daughters) and I were at the same social event, and happily, the event went very well. My former wife has a new significant other in her life and I wish them much happiness. I hope that as time goes by we can build upon the civil experience and be good parents working in tandem for my three children.

August was not kind as the Boyfriend and I suffered the effects of Hurricane Irene which swept through the Hampton Roads area at extreme high tide and once again subjected our home to flooding, albeit not as bad a situation as it might have been because of the things we had done in the wake of the Nor'Ida storm of 2009. One of the things we are looking to do in 2012 is to add a third floor to the house so that all of the main living area can be moved out of the potential flood zone. If we can pull it off, the first floor will remain largely as is to be used as an entertainment area for larger events.

In September, we made our usual Bay Days Weekend trip to New York City and once again enjoyed the restaurants and things to do. We also saw "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" and had a nice visit with my niece and her boyfriend. Later, we so the long overdue demise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell - a case where religious based discrimination what been written into the nation's laws. Hopefully, 2012 may see the demise of DOMA.

October was a month blessed by the western Mediterranean cruise that I took the Boyfriend on as a "thank you" for standing by me through all of the drama of 2009, including a desperate suicide attempt when the continuing divorce drama got the best of me. He is a true sweetheart - at least most of the time - and he has made such a huge positive difference in my life. We loved Barcelona and the ports we visited in France and Italy before returning to Barcelona.

November brought Thanksgiving which I shared with the Boyfriend's family and my youngest daughter (pictured below) and her boyfriend. Throughout my coming out saga, she was always a lifeline to me and I treasure her more than she will ever know. I truly might not have made it without her love and support.

December brought the Christmas holidays and a wonderful visit with my oldest daughter who was back east visiting. She's doing well in her new career and her boyfriend (they are pictured below) is a delight. Spending some time with her over the holidays made the season for me. I am so very, very proud of her. I was also lucky enough to have some great conversations with my son who remained out west for the holidays (search "Appalachian Trail" to see photos of his amazing adventure in 2008). My children and the Boyfriend are the greatest treasures in my life.

It's definitely been a year of great sorrow, but also of great happiness. Throughout it all, I've enjoyed the love of the Boyfriend (pictured below) and the moral support from my wonderful readers and my friends in the LGBT blogosphere. Many of you will never know how much your loyalty and words of comfort and support have meant to me. I wish all of you health and much happiness in 2012.


Anonymous said...

It is interesting to read the retrospectives of others, as mine will be posted about 11PM tonight. There's so many differences, yet oddly enough, more similarities than I could have ever imagined.

It sounds like you had a lot of happiness this year, and I hope you have much more in 2012!

Peace <3

Unknown said...

I hope you have a wonderful 2012... though I may not comment often.. know that I and others are out here following you... Happy New Year!!