In the spring of 2014, I called my Aunt Marilyn to ask if I may live with her in Kensington, MD for the upcoming summer while I worked a simple job lifeguarding. My decision came from my desire to travel and to spend time away from my hometown of Woodstock, CT. Aunt Marilyn agreed and at the beginning of the summer, my brother and I bumped Step Out by Jose Gonzalez (best adventure song ever) and headed down to our new home for the summer. I felt an odd sense on that ride that I was stepping out into a whole new world. I had my doubts though because I questioned if driving seven hours away from my hometown was really stepping out. At that time, my idea of stepping out was traveling to some far away country and experiencing a life transcending, life altering experience in the mountains or something. I now realize that adventure and journey is everywhere, including in my own backyard.
My summer down in Washington D.C. was life changing because of a specific community of people that I had the blessed opportunity to interact with. This community is the LGBTQ+ community. A disclaimer that I might add is that I come from a town of 7,964 people. The diversity in Woodstock is minimal. In addition, many of the citizens around here are “good churchgoing people” as there are many conservative evangelical churches around the area. In my middle school and high school, I never met anybody who was gay. That doesn’t mean that there were not people who were gay, but I suspect that because the environment of Woodstock was and is so saturated in heteronormativity that those who were and are gay were not comfortable coming out. But, that is a very loose hypothesis considering that I am not a gay man living in Woodstock. The point I am trying to make is that going to Washington D.C. where I had the opportunity to interact with the LGBTQ+ population and a diverse population in general was a really powerful experience for me.
I will quickly narrate what my experiences with the LGBTQ+ community in D.C. was like for me. First, my cousin Lauren (who is one of the most fun people ever) took me to the D.C. Pride Festival. I have to be honest that there were some parts of that parade made me more comfortable than others. I really appreciated seeing straight and gay ministers walking together saying they support equality for LGBTQ+ people. I have to admit that the one float that made me a bit uncomfortable was the one that had buff men riding on the bed of a truck wearing only speedos while they were taking water guns and spraying lube out onto the audience. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate it, but it was something very different than what I tend to see in Woodstock.
In addition to Pride, I had the opportunity to meet a man who made himself vulnerable to me and made the conscious decision to be fully honest with me about his life. He didn’t have to do that. I never did anything to show him that he could trust me. Yet, he decided to step out and share his life with me. I quickly want to return to the scientific statements that I made at the beginning of this essay. The universe started with a single point. From that point, particles came forth which then formed in molecules, etc. Without those particles deciding to form together, there would be no molecules and eventually no humans, animals, plants, ocean, mountains, dessert, etc. Without this man deciding to open up to me about his life, I would still be the quasi-conservative man stuck in my ways. What this man’s decision did was send a surge of momentum through the universe of Liam that caused the particles to smack together and continue to move forward in the creation progression. This man that I met is many things. He is a journeyer, a paddler, a hiker, a Subaru driving menace, a lover of music, an easy goer, and an all-around fun loving person. He is also gay. How he transformed my life was by first allowing me to first share my experience about my relationship with my girlfriend (shout out to Cassie whoop whoop!). This man created a space in which I was comfortable expressing the wrenching that I felt and still feel from my internal anatomy (heart, soul and mind) to care and love for Cassie. He then told me that those same feelings that I have for Cassie is how he feels about another man. It was one simple statement that he made. And yet, in this one brief statement, my mind exploded. It was like my body crumbled to the ground headless, while I left this man to pick up all the pieces of my brain that had just been viciously tossed everywhere. The ironic thing is that he studies brains for a living, so he could have taken all that separated brain matter and used it for his professional scientific desires. This single statement by him helped me realize that there is no difference between my affection for Cassie and the affection he feels for another man.
To read Pt. 2: Destroying God Pt. 2