Joe Hutchinson

f80366769849bbd696ef23f5c698beaeWhen I turned 20, it didn’t occur to me that when my father was that age, I had already been born.  Perhaps it was because, at the time, I was preoccupied with things like how to clear up my acne and tell my parents that not only was I no longer interested in community college, but that I was definitely interested in my friend Rick.  I turned 39 last week.  And I had a very present awareness that when my father was that age, he was busy dealing with me and all the things I mentioned above.  Needless to say, my year as a 39-year-old will probably be quite different than his.

074eea16edd230f39fa5b52312065a7aI realize now, as many of us must have along the way, that it’s not the aging process itself that I fear.  I do my best to only fear things which I have a moderate amount of control over, like icky spiders and abdominal fat.  But I realize it is the stigma of age that I fear most.  When people ask my age, it’s not the number that scares me, but their reaction.

“Oh.  Wow.  Well, you don’t look 39,” they say reassuringly, as if I should be grateful not to look like what I actually am; as if they are really saying, “Oh.  Wow.  You don’t look like you’re basically just about half way through your life.”

575155_3954128652060_1805545781_nWhile I have not let this cause me to lie about my age, I have taken to speaking about it in a fashion which some may call convoluted.  I was happy to turn thirty.  And it was always easy to say I was in my early thirties.  So easy that I did it until I was 35.  I was then forced by sheer mathematical logic to claim my mid-thirties.  I continued this for a few years.

f81ac9604ea8dc1a607b687fa61a5062At 37, I began to refer to myself as being in my “early-late thirties”, which is not too far a stretch of the imagination: if your late thirties are from 37 through 39, then 37 is obviously the early part of that period.  Following this logic, 38 was obviously my “mid-late thirties.”  The logic, however, has turned against me this year.  I’m not terribly fond of the way “late-late thirties” sounds.  So I think I’m just going to say 39.  It’s a good number.  Divisible by 13, which everyone knows is lucky.

2eebca452523cc645914e05c8a33b78bIt’s a milestone. Or rather, it’s the eve of the milestone of turning 40.  It’s the last year before officially embracing being called “middle-aged.”  I think I might like the sound of “early-middle aged.”

 

 

 


9958ca31ae0fcc033354e791a1c1d8fbJoe Hutcheson is a writer, actor, teacher, and solo performer living in New York City.  Raised in California, Joe received a BFA in Theatre from Cal State Fullerton and an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida.  He also spent a summer in London studying Shakespeare and the classics at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.

Since moving to New York City, Joe has written and produced several solo plays, including Miss Magnolia Beaumont Goes to Provincetown (FringeNYC 2010 Overall Excellence Award, Critics’ Pick of the 2011 Cincinnati Fringe Award) which has appeared in several theaters in and out of NYC including the Times Square Art Center, the Cherry Lane Theatre, and the Know Theatre of Cincinnati.

356d7a2c1315ec8df8eac632a0d75a6aRecently, Joe’s solo show Son of a Hutch ran at Stage Left Studio NYC as part of the 2013 Left Out Festival, a festival for emerging LGBTQ theatre, and enjoyed two extensions over the summer.

More information and reviews about these shows can be found at www.JoeHutcheson.com.  Joe has taught for Rosie’s Theatre Kids (NYC), the Professional Performing Arts School (NYC), Red Mountain Theatre Company (Birmingham, AL), and Borough of Manhattan Community College.  Joe is also a certified yoga instructor.

 

 

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Carl Green

35508_3953503036420_636498624_nI now think in decades.  What a downer when that fact hit me like running into a brick wall.  It was about the same time the grocery store clerk began calling me “sir” and 50 was quickly approaching. After a period of sulking and grieving my perceived loss of youth, a new awareness emerged . One where my past brings a perspective that is freeing and empowering.

561568_425545957521798_1188919974_nGrowing up in a small North Carolina town I didn’t have the words, role models or concepts to understand who I was.  The internal struggle of knowing there was a difference but without an understanding created internal havoc. Grappling with this internal tension through childhood and teenage years coupled with a fundamentalist religious environment brought internal pain, social and personal repression. I grew into adulthood  feeling stymied, not living, but getting through life.

222430_1035753061631_4549_nAfter a long journey and finally embracing my identity as a gay man in my thirties, it was shocking to learn how heavy a burden I carried and how much of life i was missing. With that weight removed, I was able to gain internal peace, and experience greater happiness and love by living freely and fully.

That new realization empowered me with a  determination to embrace life and to make up for lost time.

522238_3706531342282_1500340786_nAs my birthdays come faster and the double digits climb, I have made a choice to continue this journey of living life fully with an even greater intensity.  My appetite for loving life continues to grow. My energies are focused on those things that bring positive vibes or serve a greater good. I am thankful to have a partner, Keith, who celebrates my desire to make up for years past even if it means playfully trying a new experience or considering a crazy idea. He encourages me to follow my dreams and to dream bigger.

221944_2047074335315_8010454_nPart of my embracing life is giving back by motivating others to full living.   In addition to local community involvement and promoting inclusion in all facets, I encourage others to honor their spiritual side. I seek to provide an alternate voice to the subculture that has been promoted as Christianity. The negative perception of the Christian faith in our GLBT community has been rightfully earned by those that hijack its tradition with right wing politics and fear based teaching that has crowded out the actual teachings of Jesus. My hope is to help others realize, within their own faith tradition, that embracing spirituality or being part of a community of faith are not mutually exclusive.

544206_350221515083593_1869486955_nLife is short. I will intentionally embrace, sample and savor new experiences and  confidently walk through open doors.   I see life as an hourglass placed on a table that I cannot turn over.  Each of those grains of sand are precious and I am determined to honor each one.

 

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Waide Riddle

So, I’ve just turned 50 years old… OMG! I’ve officially made it and AARP is in my mailbox and email everyday now.  They really want my membership! They’ll get it… eventually.

_MG_1548 masterI confess, I’m not exactly where I thought I’d be at age 50, but who is? I’m not living in the Hollywood Hills, where at age 25, I thought for sure I’d be by the time I hit 30. But, then again, quite frankly, I’ve learned from experience by watching my family and friends, that not everyone is truly cut out to be a home owner. Heck, I’d be happy in a simple small cottage on the beach or in a trailer in a cool city trailer park. That’s me. I tend to get more easy and relaxed as I age. I’ve calmed down a lot. Now, that’s not to say if the opportunity landed in my lap that I’d give up the chance to live in a penthouse in Manhattan. Hey, I’m not crazy! It just hasn’t presented itself… yet.

Money. The issue of employment. At age 50 most of my friends and colleagues are very grounded and in a solid career path pointing to retirement… then headed to Palm Springs.

_MG_1582 masterMe? Well, I’m bullheaded. I got my Cosmetology license at the age of 20, knowing I would own my own salon and be the hairstylist to the stars.  OK, so that never happened… I did have the opportunity to work for celebrity stylists, though, like Jose Eber and Paul Garcia in the 1980’s and ’90’s… then, I decided to go free lance and change the world on my own. You guessed it, that didn’t happen either.

Jay R. LawtonBut, a funny thing is happening as I gracefully age. My passions and my interests have radically changed. Made an about- face!  What was once so important to me and drove me… is no longer there. Nor is it important to me. Holy crap! Try to wrap your mind around that!  Through a very quiet metamorphosis, new and unique passions and interests have presented themselves and awakened within me.

WOW! So, that’s one of the profound blessings of getting older.

_MG_1531 masterI ask myself, what the Hell happened? Then all I can do is laugh. Like today. If I’m going to run my fingers through anyone’s hair, it’s just going to be my boyfriend’s or husband’s. No one else’s. So, what do I do? My real job? Glad you inquired. I have found a new interest that has also become a paying job that I LOVE. I DJ. Not just any DJ. I play the Golden Oldies. The hits from the 1950’s- 1980’s. Music we ALL know. Pop, rock, soul, R & B and I even have a great collection of current Country music. I have a blast. I get lost in it. It’s truly something I love to do. LOVE to do. LOVE TO DO. I also love to write. Poetry. Short fiction. I began writing at a very early age and I’ve never stopped.

I look back and I’m pretty darn proud of my accomplishments and achievements as a literary and visual artist. Not to toot my own horn, but, I will toot my own horn. I have won nine American poetry awards; self- published two books, published short stories, written, produced and directed 4 short films. The UCLA Library of Special Collections has archived 30 of my poems and one of my short films. The Tom of Finland Foundation has also archived my film work.  That’s not too bad, I think. In fact, I’m quite proud of it at my age. So, when I become glum and have my pity party about ‘getting older,’ all I need to do is think of those accomplishments. It makes me smile. It makes me feel good. Because, in the end, no one can ever take that away from me. Ever.     -Waide Riddle

Photo Credits unless otherwise note: Hank Eddleman

 

 

Patrick Shipley

My name is Patrick Shipley, 49, and my partner Rich Bessette, 67, soon to be husband on May 25th, 2014. On May 26th we will celebrate 19 years together.

IMG_6759-001Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They’re not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself.

IMG_6915-001Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever.

IMG_7013Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colors seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon.

You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate that will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they’re a part of your life.

Kergan Edwards-Stout

2013 Credit Sara Plus Ryan PhotographyI’m continually amazed at how wonderfully, yet unexpectedly, my life has played out.  When I was a kid, I thought success in life, love, and career would be immediate and noteworthy, with the ensuing years spent merely enjoying the riches those achievements would inspire.  Instead, on the day I turned thirty, I checked my then-partner into the hospital, where he would die from AIDS just two weeks later.  My next relationship, I told myself, was “the one,” a reward for all the pain and heartache I’d endured, but it proved to be anything but, challenging me in a myriad of ways.

family2012 Credit Sara Plus Ryan PhotographyI’d always believed that if you were a good person, good things would automatically happen, but given how off-script my life was playing out, I began to think otherwise.  The dissolution of that last relationship, however, did leave me with one source of pure, unimaginable joy: a son Mason, just a year and a half old.  Providing for him kept me moving forward, day by day, sanity intact, until I once again began to feel a sense of purpose and contentment.

2011Only then, in that state, 12 years ago did I meet my partner, Russ Noe.  When we first connected, we were not at all what the other had pictured as their “ideal match.”  We were so unalike, we initially viewed those elements as opposites, instead of as the complementary factors we’ve learned them to be.  Indeed, as the years progress, it is exactly those differences which keep us focused, committed, and thriving.

Today, I’m so happy that my childhood dreams never came to pass. While I’ve experienced my share of pain, that has in turn made me a better, more nuanced person, and also inadvertently lead to me becoming a writer later in life, which—again—I’d never envisioned.

KerganHawaii 18Years OldAt a time when others are beginning to retire, my life is just getting started…  After all, it wasn’t until I was 38 that I ran my first marathon.  It wasn’t until I was 46 that I became a published author.  It wasn’t until I was 47 that an article I wrote got almost 200,000 likes on Facebook and spawned a meme. And when I’m finally able to legally marry my beloved Russ, I will be 49.

Yes, I’m gay, and yes, I’m becoming gray, but my life continues to just get better and better.  It does get better, after all.

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Frank Lopez (Eddie)

North Hollywood, CA

photo(2)My name is Frank Lopez. I am the proud adoptive father of two great kids a boy, now 22 and girl, now 25. They were raised by two gay dads back in the 90s. You think gay adoptions were frowned upon NOW…I remember being in the market with the kids and my now ex and seeing two ladies take great interest in us and the kids. When they figured it out i heard one say “those poor children”…Right lady. They were well cared for! :)

They are actually my niece and nephew. My brother, God rest his soul, and his then wife allowed us to raise the kids. For years the kids were very well aware of their multiple parentage and we made it work thank God. For better and sometimes for worse… Fast forward present day.

me and baby milesI am single now since ’05. I’ve had relationships since then but none that lasted. BUT, I have the best relationship ever with my kids and family and am so grateful. I am also now the proud gay grandfather of a beautiful girl, a month old today (9/8/13). I feel like somewhat of a pioneer with having had a 15 year relationship (almost married) and raising two kids before it became “fashionable”. And it IS. Sadly. Some treat the whole adoption thing like a status symbol and it’s quite disheartening to see. Fair is fair. I’ve seen some straight acquaintances do it too.

 

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I’ve been in the music industry for over 20 years now and am also a musician at heart. I have a great love of traveling and have been all over with and without my kids and family. I have struggled with some health issues over the past several years but the love and support of my family has kept me going. I’ve dealt with discrimination, hate, abuse (both sexual and emotional), addiction, recovery, highs, lows, joys and sorrows. No better and no worse than the next person but they are my own.

 

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I see all around me things changing for the gay world. We are being widely accepted in “married” circles and in “child rearing” circles if that’s what you want to call them. It’s so much easier now for our brothers and sisters but it’s also still very, very difficult. We are still very much the enemy. In returning to the dating world I run across many more guys who are saying they want to have children. Amazing but there are still many who say this without giving the actual responsibilities much thought. Show up and do the work is my advice. Research everything beforehand. :)

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For now, my personal story continues. I continue to strive to be healthy and happy. I continue to be there for my kids who don’t know it but they have actually saved my life many times. For want of a better ending, I will update this as things unfold.

- Frank Lopez (Eddie)

 

 

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Rob & Steve

Cincinnati, Ohio

8b0f06dd9d89b4791b1812c5ef85c50d“We Are Headed…”

We are headed towards our 27th Anniversary. It truly does not seem like it could be that long, but then it seems like we have always been together. Rob has been keeping a journal since he was 14 years old.  In a 1985 journal entry, he wrote that he was looking for his soul mate and in 1986 he met Steve. This quote from The Symposium rang true…

4606f38fb76e43d4b8597386c06eb36d “…and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment…”

― Plato, The Symposium

 

c3994ee34e4d388c85a24567db243d78That’s how we feel about each other. And we have had so much fun growing up and into ourselves. Our dear friend Bobbie Corbean, who was 30 years our senior, told us to notice and admire the changes in our physical beings because it was us growing into our features.  It’s so true.  We take the time to admire the changes we see and to know that inside we are the same twenty-something young men who feel in love.

dc213f368bfde206dc9d185eb7fb8c96We have had so many incarnations in our years together. We moved to the mountains of Colorado in our 20’s to seek out a guru, in our 30’s we opened our own gay/art boutique that had a sense of spirit, in our 40’s we ran a small manufacturing company and took care of parents. And now in our 50’s we continue our quest to develop our individual souls but also to have as much time together on this glorious planet as possible.  That’s why two years ago we changed our lives one more time. We stepped away from our desk jobs, went to massage school in New Mexico for a year, started teaching yoga, became personal trainers and offering retreats on healthy habits for a better quality of life. It’s how we live. We encourage each other every day.

732200798485656ab7ef90d1101d35aaAll of this makes us healthier in this new phase of our lives but it also allows us to be of service to others. That feels good. We are all in this together. Not just the two of us but the two of us and all of you. The longer we live the more we realize that we are all connected and we all have the hunger for our lives to have meaning. We each decide what that meaning is and then we start creating it with our thoughts and then our actions.

cf63e04457bd5e9dbc7699ffc5d92faeSo we have decided to create our reality where 50 is only a new beginning and that our days will be full of love and magic!

Rob Dorgan Steve Bolia

 

 

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Mike Russell

Portland, Maine

1010660_10201177522350843_1688292427_n“I’m Glad…”

I’m glad I never listened to the parts of gay culture that tell us we have no worth as human beings after we pass 30 and that we should resent younger men as we get older. A few weeks ago, I turned 41, and so far in my life, I’ve been able to avoid the mercenary coldness that many of my fellow gay men complain about.

1000045_10201177407867981_886031211_nDon’t get me wrong; I am a million miles from having all the answers. But I have found that life is much better when I treat men of all ages as human beings who deserve love and respect. That means no disparaging comments about “trolls,” “twinks” or any of the other adolescent insults that get thrown around far too much. I immediately lose respect for any gay man I hear say “He’s so old” or “He’s just a baby.” In either case, my response is, “So what?” Nobody did anything wrong or virtuous by being older or younger.

1000812_10201177568511997_2109880601_nMy husband and I have been together since 2006, and we got legally married this year. We love each other a lot and are looking forward to growing old together. Already, I’ve gotten a little grayer, and Jason’s hairline has receded a bit. And that’s fine. We’re going to remain boyish and playful no matter how mature we get.

- Michael Russell

Black and White Photos by Stephen Kislus:  https://www.facebook.com/SafkPhotography

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James Swan

Boston, Massachusetts

66ad7ad50f32954f371cc603fc4a0beb“While Scrolling…”

While scrolling through files of photographs for a collection appropriate for this post and my place on life’s continuum (52 year old, white, single gay male) I was reminded of a truth about myself. By nature I’m an introvert.  Big chunks of my early socialization reinforced this internal orientation (along with a birth date I share this propensity with my father) and many pivotal moments in my life have been fueled by this predilection.  At any moment and in most every situation I prefer to watch and listen rather than edge toward the center of attention. Large crowds overwhelm me; not because I am weak or too delicate for their physical hustle but because of the oceans of verbal, emotional and spiritual signaling bouncing around large gatherings like thousands of tennis balls; each with its own propulsion system and trajectory. To me this is a gauntlet too erratic to be run; so I look for an exit or some device that allows me to better control the situation rather than be overwhelmed.

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During a period of my life when I owned and ran a small business and was required to navigate the deep waters of social events my lifesaving devise was a short list, usually 5 or 6 names, of individuals with whom I needed to converse during the evening. By focusing on finding, engaging and eliciting tangible result from a conversation with these people I navigated many a cocktail party, product launch or gala fundraiser without the need for pharmaceutical intervention.

So as s, s it occurred to me that I have had
another managing devise that has supported through the more personal moments of my life; my camera.

d3d05e575f45083d6dda94e367f50095Turns out I’m the one behind the camera more often than not.  What better foil for keeping the world at a manageable distance than by filtering exchanges through a piece of alloyed technology?  What better perch for observing the random, rich and sometimes ridiculous escapades of life than by manning the recording devise and removing myself from the scene. Psychologists reading this (armchair or otherwise) will have a heyday with this acknowledgement but I’ll save you the energy and own up-front the downsides to the introvert’s existence (though I’ll
be quick to remind you there are upsides too).

For me the upper-most up-side is that my life, to date, has been a tapestry of unique, rich and unexpected threads all of which I lay claim too, having initiated each and executed the same regardless of the supporting tool in hand.  The downside has been, and continues to be, my need for a tool as I chart a path out of my own head and into the swirl of life around me. Yes it’s true, the diversion offered by a tool can keep me safely in my head but it also can keep me distanced from new adventures and interactions.

6a4033e5b50a3784bbd9a3ebbe82cf14So the tug of war continues. Some days it’s easier than others to venture into those
noisy, uncharted and seemingly unsafe waters.  When I do take the plunge I am, more often than not, rewarded with a gem of an experience beautifully set in another person’s life.  We laugh. We talk. We learn. Sometimes we love and sometimes we lust but it’s never dull and rarely as scary as I thought.  And then I have days when I just want to dive deeper into my introvert’s construct and watch things from a distance.

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Which tug will win the war today is an interesting question; one presented regularly and to which I’m never sure of the answer. It keeps every day interesting.  So bring on the balance of my 50’s, the 60’s, 70’s and beyond. I’ve got a front row seat to my own development and a few tools which help me navigate the depths of any waters.

- James Swann

 

 

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Mark Morrison

Conifer, Colorado

e2a226a21c962ff9db72948e0b2c9db8“A Sense of Who I Am”

My name is Mark Morrison and the pictures I’ve included will give you a sense who I am, and the journey that has brought me to the place I am today…a happy and reasonably sane gay man enjoying the life I have been given.

I was born in 1957 to a no nonsense father and a very insecure mother who loved me and raised me as best as they could with their emotional limitations. Along
with my younger sister I would say we had a pretty good childhood growing up in a suburb outside of Denver, Colorado.  I was a sensitive little boy who became a nice kid that never gave his parents one bit of trouble growing up.

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At a very early age I developed a relationship with God that kept me a good church kid. I always felt different and “less than” the other boys my age. Being a late bloomer physically didn’t help those feelings of inadequacy as the other boys would taunt me in the communal showers in gym class. Junior High school was a lonely place for me. And then when puberty did finally hit in 10th grade I knew I was attracted to men. Oh NO…I’m a Christian. I can’t have those feelings. My first sexual experience happened when I was 21. Dear God I had opened Pandora’s box big time. The shame and guilt were awful, and I promised God I would never do that again. We all know how that turned out now don’t we?

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So I went to Bible College, became a Youth and Music Pastor and married a nice girl from the church like I was supposed to. We had two beautiful little boys that I adored and cared for with my heart and soul. But my constant struggle with my sexuality ate at me night and day. I tried every Christian thing I could do to get “fixed”. My wife and I divorced after 13 years of trying. I eventually came to learn you can’t fix what isn’t broken.  At the time we divorced I was a producer and on air talent with a Christian television station in Pittsburgh, Pa.  When the wife let everyone know I was gay I lost my job, and the love of my boys for a very long time.  Several dark years followed. But my ever present relationship with God saw me through it all.

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For the last almost 13 years I have been happily partnered to a great guy named Ray. We have an amazing life filled with wonderful adventures and most importantly love for each other. It’s not a perfect relationship, but I thank God for it every day. To me it is satisfying, and where I am supposed to be. I am living an honest life before God and my family. One of my great joys is to have been reconciled with my youngest son Todd. We have a great relationship, and I am so grateful.

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So as I march all too quickly to the big 6 0h, I do so with gratitude and determination to be the best darn Mark Morrison I can be…mentally and physically. I love the wisdom that I am gaining. I don’t              really like looking in the mirror and seeing the ageing process so much, but it’s all part of the experience. Life is such a precious gift and opportunity to make a difference in each other’s lives as gay men. We’re in this together boys. Thanks for letting me share my story with you my brother’s from several other mothers. Hugs all around!

-Mark Morrison

 

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