The Detoxing Man is Engaged (by courageous acts of self-discovery)
I met my wife in the cafeteria of a newly constructed dorm on the University of Denver campus in the late summer of 2002. I overheard her and her friends asking about vegetarian options, and I made a mental note about it as I paid for my meal. At the time, I had been a vegetarian for all of about 10 months, and I was certainly on the lookout for like-minded individuals. After I finished my meal I noticed that she and the two women she was with were still eating. So, I went over to them and introduced myself by saying, “I noticed that you all are not partaking in the meat consumption. I think that is really cool.”
As far as pick-up lines go, I guess I could have done a lot worse. They invited me to join them and then come up to their dorm apartment and then to hang out with my future wife alone and talk for multiple hours. I didn’t know it at the time, but that one act of introducing myself made my children possible. The one act of courage in the face of hundreds of indifferent college students made for fantastic intimate vacations across two decades, finding and fixing up two different homes, and learning how to grow and change as two people who continually love each other.
But, the courage of that moment was not sufficient to make all of this happen. I had to remain engaged in the act of being courageous. In the hours and days after I met Kara, I shared much more with her. I was unafraid to be myself, and I embraced this courageous act fully. I shared my religious upbringing and my dislike of strong patriarchal structures that dictate a right way to live. I showed her the deeply personal songs that I was most proud of writing. And, I opened up about liking, and sometimes dating, men because I’m attracted to the person and not the gender.
When we had children, I never hid myself from them either. They have seen me grapple with my parent’s overwhelming interest in my family attending church whenever we visit. They have watched as I play the guitar and sing for them, much to their embarrassment most of the time. And they have taken part as I bring them to the Denver Pride festival and display my own bisexual colors.
The more that I engaged in these courageous acts of self-discovery and self-expression, the easier and more commonplace they became. There was never a day when I regretting coming out to my wife or “making things more complicated” by being honest about who I am. Because Kara is my partner, and this partnership isn’t one that treads lightly. We are all in. With one another, with our children, and with the world as we would like to exist within it. We were engaged from the first moment we connected over vegetable-based meals to this moment where we discussed how great our need for coffee was this morning. These are courageous acts, but I have found that our relationship and our very lives deserve nothing less.