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The journey isn't about the destination, it's about being comfortable anywhere

Why should I need to self-censure in my home?

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This is a story that will begin at the end.  Bringing it back around to the beginning, will hopefully bring understanding. 

After two weeks of vacation in Provincetown, MA, my wife and I returned home. For most straight people, every day is Provincetown. Every day is an opportunity to take a walk in the mall or sit in a movie theater and just simply show small signs of public affection with the one they love without judgement.

We were in Provincetown celebrating my retirement after 33 years serving in a variety of capacities as an educator. This length of a vacation was a big deal for us, as we had never been away that long, especially from our dog and cats. We knew upon arrival, we would have an opportunity to put our feet on the ground with no sense of urgency and actually feel like we were part of the community.

One aspect we committed to while we were away in P-Town, was working hard on establishing and maintaining a variety of fitness routines - biking, walking, kayaking and more. So, it seemed consistent upon our return home that a big walk would be in order, especially after 9.5 hours in the car the previous day. 

We turned left out of our driveway and hit the asphalt. The chatter covered our recent adventure we had experienced. We talked of food and restaurants, shopping, beach time, exercise, a concert we attended, a comedian we heard and friends that joined us.  The more we talked and walked though, the more other emotions surfaced. Probably the normal, sort of post vacation let down was there, but, that wasn’t quite it. Then my wife hit upon it, we had a bit of anger. I am assuming most people don’t return from vacation with anger lingering. 

We also returned home reminded that two of our good friends had married while we were away. We purchased a card and gift certificate to send but then had to pause. Did they get married? We saw nothing on Facebook. They had, sadly, posted that one of their dogs had died but nothing of the wedding. Hmm, we thought we better make sure before we sent our gift off to their home. Yes, indeed they had wed and the wedding picture they texted was absolutely beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. Then again the anger, how sad that one of them could freely post of the loss of their dog but not this most significant day of the exchange of their vows. A sharp reminder that still people feel unsafe, needing to hide their lives.

A week later we were having our carpets cleaned in our home. I was sitting at the kitchen table as the two men were setting up the equipment. I yelled “Hey Babe” to my wife about something which soon as I said, I had a knee jerk reaction and quickly pulled it back as we were unsure of where one of the men stood with regard to our sexuality.  This was our home. Overreaction on my part may be but the point was made.

Now back to the beginning of our glorious getaway. Provincetown, MA, is a beautiful space here on Earth. Time floats. It is on the tip of Cape Cod, and is known as a gay tourist destination but it carries so much more than just one identity. There is diversity, on many levels, across the spectrum. It is a place of acceptance, a place where there are smiles, a chance to be light hearted and to laugh. It, I would say, exemplifies more kindness and less judgment. There is the long stroll down Commercial Street exploring the town from East End to West End. Passing the town square in the middle, there is an abundance of shops, galleries, street musicians, great food of all kinds, clubs and people watching. There, ultimately, is also the local community, behind the scenes, that makes it all happen.

Upon our arrival into town there is always much anticipation and excitement. From the moment we pull in, until the hour of departure, those feelings never wane. There is this instantaneous freedom and relief of which we are not accustomed to feeling in our everyday life.

Tradition for us is to grab our first bite of food and a drink at Bubala’s on Commercial Street. This is a great spot for settling in, shaking off the long travel and watching the ebb and flow of characters. We unpack and head out the door. Even more important than this ritual though (one of the first signs of normalcy for us), is that we reach for each other’s hand. Yes, we hold hands as we walk. A simple gesture I would assume straight people never really have to contemplate. Pure joy in joining our hands in public. Seems silly doesn’t it? Not really.

As we strolled the town on our first evening just reacquainting ourselves and breathing it all in, we popped into one of the local liquor stores to grab a bottle of wine. The gentleman behind the counter, a local resident, chatted with us, and then he inquired as to where we called home. We talked of how we love our home and there are many great people and aspects of where we live, but we also talked of the pressure still to not be fully who we are. We talked about our love for P-Town and the lightness that came with being there. We continued to gab, and as we finished our transaction, he gently looked up, paused, smiled and simply stated “Welcome Home”. It has been several weeks since that day, and the depth of that Welcome Home has not left me. It settled deep in my soul.

As I travel my journey, my hope is that we get to “there”. What do I mean by “there”? For me it is so important, that we as a society of collective humans would not judge love, that there would be understanding and acceptance and that we could really spend our energies learning how to rally around each other and our common humanity. Fear can be natural, but we must give voice to hope. Hope that one day all minorities will be lifted up and our nation and our world will be stronger and healthier for it. We as a nation should hope that home can be anywhere for everyone.