My twin sister and I were born in Bakersfield, CA in June of 1954 and immediately put up for adoption. The adopting parents could not have children of their own. The adoption papers stated they would love, care and protect us, as if we were naturally born children. There was no such thing as “Child Protective Services” in the 1950’s, 60’s or 70’s. If there had been, we would not have been raised by these people.
It was a few years after the adoption, I overheard my mother telling someone she had been married before. She divorced her husband, shortly after the WWII because he had become blind. She was not going to care for a blind husband. Those words would come visit her, by Karma, over and over again. She now had two children, and one of them had disabilities, me.
There are a number of events in my life I have had to overcome, and they were not all disabilities. I was classified, in school, as stupid and told I would never amount to anything. I heard it from teachers, peers, parents and relatives. I was never encouraged to accomplish anything. Even if I did accomplish something, anything, I was never praised. I was told it was a fluke or a lucky guess.
It was my after I grew up and married (which was told would never last), was it discovered that I was dyslexic. Yet, I had taught myself to read and write. I do math in my head, because math formula’s look like a foreign language written on a board or on paper. I am not a fast reader, yet I am a good reader. Overcoming learning disabilities, has been difficult, yet rewarding.
I started college, when I was 52 years old. What remaining relatives (parents are both dead), told me I would never finish. Today, I hold an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice, Bachelor of Arts in Generals w/emphasis in Criminal Psychology/Sociology and a Master of Education in Special Education/Education Specialist. Where I barely passed high school in 1972, I graduated with all degrees with a B+ average.
Interesting thing to note, when it comes to disabilities. I have health disabilities, which my mother refused to address, and to which I am paying for today. I have a hearing impairment, I cannot hear low sounds. This effected my learning to read and to sound out words. I taught myself sound, and how to sound out words by using a piano. Feeling the vibrations. Much like Beethoven used to write his music. No one taught me this, I figured it out on my own. I love to sing, yet I have to put my hands on the piano to feel the notes to sing anything. I am not completely deaf yet, but it is getting there.
Another disability of overcoming, I am horribly near-sighted (myopia). Technology was not as advanced in 1966 as it is today. I started wearing glasses at 12. I could never hit a ball, or play basketball or football, I could not see well enough. After I got older, with new technology, I was finally diagnosed with two different eye conditions. I had been diagnosed with glaucoma, however the doctor diagnosed the wrong one. I do not have diabetic glaucoma, I have juvenile glaucoma. I was born with it. The second condition, is a distant cousin to juvenile glaucoma and macular degeneration.
I have a very rare condition, called Degenerative Myopia. Only 16 million people in the United States has this disorder, equivelent to every man, woman and child in all of Los Angeles County, compared to the entire United States. It is a condition where there is no cure and no way of treating it, because it has not been fully studied. I mentioned my MAED earlier. I was declared legally blind while working on that degree. I was the only graduate, out of 900 graduates, to do so legally blind.
No one wants to hire a 60+ year old blind man as a teacher, so I do the next best thing. I became a writer. I have four published works on Amazon and I’m working on the fifth now.
I also mentioned my marriage. I was blessed to be with my wife for 40 years, 10 months and 20 days. She died in my arms, in our bed, after battling complications from diabetes. She was 59 years old. I was devastated and I wanted to die as well. However, our long marriage had produced two children (a boy and a girl), and they each blessed us with three grandchildren. My son has three boys. My daughter has two boys and the only granddaughter.
My life sounds like it has been wonderful, except there is a major issue that has not been brought forward. I have not mentioned this, until now. You see, there was something about myself, I had to hide. Something quite major. Growing up in the 1960’s & 70’s, if my issue had been fully known (not just suspected) I would not be writing this. I never would have accomplished the things I have. I would never have had a wife, children or grandchildren.
You see, I knew I was attracted to my own gender, and I had known since I was six years old. Being gay, in the 1960’s & 70’s, once you got older, you had only five choices to make. 1. Run away, 2. Closet, 3. Institutionalized (once thought to be a mental disease), 4. Incarcerated (it was very illegal back then), or 5. The ultimate. DEAD.
My mother discovered I was gay when I was 16, in 1970. To my parents everything was about image. My mother did not want to look like a failure. To have kicked me out would have been a sign of failure and embarrassment to my parents. Instead, my mother beat the hell out of me. I still bare the scars and the nerve damage to my back 47 years later. I shoved being gay into a closet.
I have been asked if I was bi-sexual, because of my relationship with my wife. To be bi-sexual I would have been attracted to both men and women and enjoyed sex with both. I didn’t. I never did. My wife asked me if I was gay, after 26 years of marriage. It took me a lot ot admit it, yet it did not change anything. Just because I had come out to her, did not change my love or commitment to her.
Before she died, she told me that once she passed, the commitments, promises and vows were over. I was released from them. She knew I was faithful to her. She said I would find love again. I was in no hurry. Love knows no time line. I was not looking to love anyone else. Love found me.
I truly met a beautiful guy, personality wise, and we shared many of the same passions and interests. Our differences being he was born and raised in East Los Angeles, CA. He is a pure city boy. I was raised on a 102 acre farm. I am a gay country boy. Tried and true, country through and through. Yet, we love much of the same music, art and food. Some I have never had before, and he is introducing me to them. That city boy, has become my husband.
The message I wish to share with people, especially the young LGBTQ, you have many blessing today, because of what my generation endured and lived through. Freedom you have today, those you take for granted, less than 40 years ago would have gotten you killed.
I have been asked how I did it, being gay and staying married? I vowed I would never cheat on my wife, ever. I watched my father do it to my mother, growing up. I was the only boy and she took her anger out on me. To her, when I married, she was angry, I was betraying her, I was now “cheating on her.”
I have overcome many things, some would have committed suicide or run away. Even suicide, I attemped when I was 10, because of the beatings. I have never attempted it again. It is up to each individual person on how they can overcome the obstacles and tragedies in their lives. Drowning yourself in drinking or drugs is not an answer. It is an addictive bandaid. I have an addiction, it is hereditary. Yet, where many did turn to drugs or alcohol, I turned to education. That is my drug. It’s a good drug. It may be expensive (at times) but the rewards far outreach the cost.
That’s my story, or a shortened version of it. The full story is on Amazon, called “The Journey.” I forewarn all, it is graphic, brutal, descriptive, yet is it is 100% true. Thank you for letting me share this part of me.