Q. How did you come out?
A. When I was younger, we didn’t really come out as much as we let people get it by osmosis. There weren’t a lot of people that said, “Are you gay?” and you said “yes” or “no”. You just started hanging out with your friends who were gay and people picked up on the fact that you might be and eventually people just sort of murmured it. So, that was how a lot of people came out back then. Finally, when I was 27, my parents asked me—and so that would be the one time I said, “I’m not going to lie to you. The answer’s yes.” And then we had a nice long conversation while my Stouffer’s spinach souffle burned in the oven. I’ll never forget that night.
Q. What does Pride mean to you?
A. When you accomplish something, you’re proud of it. So, what have we accomplished in 50 years? Well, 50 years ago police were raiding bars and throwing gay people in jail. So, we’ve come a long way in 50 years. So, how did we do that? By being true to who we are. By being honest about what we’re about and being brave enough to come out of the closet — and that is an accomplishment for which I’m proud...for the brave men and women that continue to do that.
Q. Who is/was your role model?
A. My greatest influence for being who I am and being authentic was an English professor at college. He was out and proud in the 70s, and everyone talked about it. Well, we ended up becoming good friends. He was like an uncle, and he always said, “Be true to yourself. Be honest about who you are. It all starts with honesty. From there, most of life will work itself out.” His name was Jim Boatwright. He passed away from AIDS in 1987 and I miss him very, very much.