The details of my life are inconsequential, but very well. Where shall I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen-year-old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet.
Oh, wait! Wrong life story. That was Dr. Evil. Focus, idiot!
My name is Jeremiah (call me Miah), and I was born in a small town in Tennessee in late August of 1980. I was raised along with a “sister” that I had adopted into the family while I was still a toddler named Teresa who was quite a bit older than me. However, I have since found that I have at least one half-sibling whom I have never met.
I grew up with a large extended family, including many aunts, uncles, and a couple of dozen first cousins. Both sides of my family tend to be … um, active. I was raised as a small-town country boy through-and-through and participated in what most of the other boys did: horseback riding, hunting (I’m a damn good shot, mind), four-wheeling, mudding, fishing (the most boring hobby on Earth), etc. However, I was always drawn to other interests as well. Literature, dance, theatre, music, and art always played a large part in my life.
I came by literature and dance honestly. Both my parents and all of my grandparents have always been avid readers. My mother and grandmother were both very adept dancers and encouraged me to pursue my interests in the art. I also became interested in fashion during my mid-teens.
My childhood was, for the most part, was idyllic. My parents adored me, as did my grandparents. The little blond-haired, blue-eyed boy could do no wrong. And of course, I used that to my advantage at every turn. It didn’t hurt matters much that I was the “runt’ of the family, always the shortest in class and rather thin until my teenage years. Sad to say, since my childhood my hair has gotten darker, and by bright blue eyes now change colors as often as my mood.
I grew up like most boys in my area, with one exception. I knew from very early on that I was interested in girls only as friends and confidants, but boys … now that was something that caught my attention. I remember starting to explore my sexuality around the age of five or so … experimenting with other boys. My most usual “playmates” were cousins on each side of the family. What can I say? Tennessee.
As soon as I could pick up a book … around age three (I started early and haven’t stopped), I was always interested in fantasy and horror. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were a veritable goldmine of same-sex allusions and imagery. I progressed to other authors in the same genres and found the escape to be freeing in a way that I could not find in my real life.
High school was er … interesting. The jocks thought just because I was short and burly that I would be an easy target: musician, honor and AP student, etc. They should have known better. My father had been a farm boy, bouncer, trucker, cop, and construction worker. He taught me to fight … and to win. They didn’t keep on with the taunts for too long. Not to mention, I had worked in my father’s construction company since the age of 8 and was a dancer. One thing I was not was weak.
I had my first same-sex relationship my senior year in high school to an adorable red-head named Bobby. He was a ballet dancer that my best friend at the time (Lauren) had met when we were both away for the summer at the Tennessee Governor’s Scholar program. She was residing at East Tennessee State University fort the Governor’s School for Tennessee Heritage, and I at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for the Governor’s School for the Sciences. We had a good little go, but being so young and the demands of a long distance relationship fizzled out our interests in each other. It was immediately thereafter that I came out to my father in January of 1998.
As I have mentioned earlier, my father was a “man’s man.” While growing up, he was strict but fair and was always the most lenient of my parents. He bought be drinks before I was even a teen and said that if it held no mystery, I wouldn’t abuse it as an adult. Part of that probably had to do with his father owning a pub for most of his life (after retiring from being Sheriff), where Dad was a bouncer when he was in High School. I still don’t think I have ever told him that my mother’s father gave me my first drink at the age of five: moonshine. But, I digress. After telling my father that I was gay, he avoided me for a month. Then, one day he came into the house and asked if I wanted to go on a liquor run with him. The closest town to sell hard liquor was a good 45-minute drive. I agreed and off we went. During the drive there and back my father shocked me. We had a quite good discussion on me being gay. He asked intelligent, well-thought questions, and I answered them. Apparently, this being the day for honesty, my father told me of a half-sister named Stephanie that I knew nothing about who was conceived before my parent’s marriage. Teresa always loved me uncontidionally and never even blinked when I came out to her.
It all added up to him saying that he did not agree with my “decision,” but he had no choice but to accept it since I was his cub. Which is quite funny … he has called me “cub” for as long as I can remember. I must admit, it’s a fitting description, if you know what I mean. To this day, I still haven’t told my mother … much to my Dad’s relief (he forbade me from telling her while he is still capable of breathing). All of my friends call her “Cleopatra: Queen of Denial.” We have always had an out of the ordinary relationship. She tries to run my life, and I won’t let her. She has always been the uber-Christian, and let her beliefs regarding homosexuality known to me from birth. However, most recently her views have become more liberal, and she keeps hinting that it’s not as big a deal to her as it once was. I’m not for sure if she wants to open up discussion on the topic, but until she does I’m remaining quiet.
In late August of 1998 I left for Berea College. I chose Berea for many reasons: the reputation foremost, and in addition my best friend from High School was also accepted. I could have attended any college in Kentucky or Tennessee with full scholarships based solely on my GPA and ACT scores. I was even accepted at Harvard with a partial scholarship, however knew I could not afford what tuition would be left. My freshman year of college was a whirlwind. I wasn’t out to the campus at-large. In fact, the only people I was out to were the other people in the GLBT campus group at Berea, the ACE League. From that first year, I took a great interest in the coalition and was even immediately voted in as Treasurer.
During my sophomore year, I met a guy through a mutual friend and busted open the closet doors, so to speak. Shortly thereafter, a veritable flood of others came out of the closet as well. During that year, I was voted as the Vice President of ACE League and continued to hold the position for the remainder of my time at Berea. I was also very involved with other organizations, including: Concert Choir, Concert Band (freshman year only), Black Music Ensemble, Student Government Association (College Treasurer), and the Orientation Team. During the last month of my junior year, I became the Orientation Director at the school. I never let my sexuality be hidden after my first year, and was quite open about it afterwards. During my time at college, I chaired or co-chaired several committees (Student Orientation Committee, Student Government Association’s Budget Committee, Student Government Association’s Diversity Committee, etc.) and was student representative of several more (Committee on Faculty/Staff Hearings, Campus Renovation Committee, Draper Hall Planning Committee, Kentucky Hall Planning Committee, etc.). Needless to say, I was quite well known on campus, both in the student body at large and in the GLBT community. I also received awards for a top dissertation finalist for the Southern States Communication Association Undergraduate Honors Conference, Dean’s List, and Labor award. And yes, I definitely had my whore stage at that time, and a few times since.
We had many openly-gay students at this time, and were working towards an ultimate goal for ACE League: inclusion of sexual orientation in the college’s non-discrimination clause. At the end of my junior year, we achieved that goal, by a landslide faculty vote. At the time, not only was I the Vice President of ACE League, I was also the Orientation Director and the Student Government Association Treasurer (which gave me a faculty vote on all campus decisions). I am happy to say that I had a vote in that decision, and am quite proud of that fact.
After college, I began working for a fashion corporation and was eventually promoted to Manager of a new store opening near my hometown. During this time, my father’s health was failing due to complications from diabetes and I was happy to accept the position so I could keep an eye on my father’s condition. Luckily, the timing could not have been better: one night I saved his life. While I was back in Tennessee, my father collapsed late one evening. I was reading and heard him fall. I called the ambulance and he was rushed to the hospital for treatment. After a week he was returned home.
While still living in Tennessee, I was head-hunted by another clothing retailer. One of the store manager’s acquaintances had told her about me; I was the youngest Manager in the company, trained all new managers, opened all the new stores, wrote the merchandising and operational guidelines, etc. I was offered a position and quickly was promoted to a Visual Merchandising Manager of the corporate Store Development team. In December 2004, my sister was killed in a car accident and I lost my most staunch confidant and co-conspirator. Around a year or so later, I moved back to Kentucky and settled in Lexington. After a two more job changes (and two horrid relationships, if you can call them relationships), I have finally found the man of my dreams and have a job that I enjoy to pay my bills. Not only that, but I still have quite a bit of “optional funding” for my mild shopping addictions.
My boyfriend is also named Jeremiah (although he goes by “Jeremy”), and is more than I could have asked for in every way. He is nine years my junior, but luckily the age difference doesn’t negatively impact our relationship.
I live with my Fairy Attendant (Beth), a very dear friend named Shelley and her 18-year-old daughter Elyzabyth. Strangely enough, everyone swears Lizzie is my daughter. She is almost exactly like me: food, interests, attitude, fashion sense, etc. Which is quite a feat, really, considering I’m gay (never slept with a female) and was 11 years-old when she was conceived several hundred miles away from me. Shelley’s other daughter, Yasmin (22 years old), is currently married and raising her adorable son. Everyone swears she is mine as well due to our Drama Queen antics, and apparently I became a “grandfather” at the ripe old age of 28 when the baby was born. I adopted both of the girls since their father was never in the picture, and haven’t regretted a second. They call me “Gaddy,” because I’m their gay daddy. My grandson calls me “Papi” because it sounds hotter than “grandpa.” I insisted on that!
Sadly, my father finally succumbed to renal failure in July of 2008. My mother remarried in February 2010 to her high school sweetheart. Over forty years ago, my maternal grandfather ended their engagement, but he kept the ring all of those years and gave it back to her when he proposed again. It’s so damned cute, it makes me ill.
I have more mood swings than a bipolar, pregnant woman. But, I have my family. As we all know in the GLBT community, family does not end with blood. I have Jeremy, Beth, my “daughters”, my “grandson”, my “babies mama” Shelley, and a host of others too numerous to mention. I am happy, and I am loved. But I am not content with the politics of this country.
Let’s see where our endeavors take us.
Contact me: Yahoo