Sunday, October 4, 2009
Our friend from Boston, Patrick, came to visit us recently in San Francisco. This would be Patrick's first time to the West Coast and I believe only his second time on an airplane. We were both excited for Patrick to get out of Boston and see the world, this would be the furthest he had ever been away from Boston in the 40-something years on this planet. Needless to say, I was happy that Paul and I were a part of this life changing experience for Patrick.
Going back a bit, I met Patrick in the summer of 2004 - he was advertising his photography business and I was looking to get some photos taken of myself. I had turned 30 and wanted to remember, what was then my favorite age, myself with some photos. I went to Patrick's studio and I immediately connected with him. We both had similar interested and had this inner level of shyness and insecurities that stemmed back to our childhood. I just bonded with him and got to know him.
Upon meeting, I just knew his life had not been easy being gay - he was overweight but attractive - I just knew that people, especially gay men, had been judging him on his weight his entire life. It pissed me off. Throughout most of my teens and 20s I was not very attractive and quite awkward and I knew what it was like to be judged on ones exterior rather than what's inside. By some grace of God, I evolved into something I never thought I would be - an attractive person. I had recently moved to Boston and still had no friends, every time I tried to make a friend the guy would usually want to have sex and never would want to get to know me for who I was. I felt like Patrick and I was exactly at the same place in our lives - we were lacking true friends. I wanted this not only for me, but for Patrick as well - but I was still trying to figure out how to make friends, so how on Earth was I going to help Patrick make friends?
I kept in touch with Patrick after the photo shoot and decided that I would just be completely honest and real with people and figure out a way for both of us to get out into the social world in Boston. I placed an ad on Craiglist that basically said: " Hosting a game night at my apartment on Friday nights." I received several responses that were sexually charged and weeded through them to find ones that I felt were genuine. I had amassed eight responses that I felt comfortable with and I set up the first game night including Patrick. Patrick was hesitant and trying to figure out a way to make excuses not to come to game night, but I wasn't taking no for an answer. I wanted people to see what I saw in him - someone that was kind, funny and talented - I also wanted people to see that in me too.
Game night had arrived and everyone showed up including Patrick - the group was awkward at first, but every Friday night we would meet and get more comfortable with each other. The group was so diverse from age, race and personal backgrounds. The game night eventually evolved, when I met Paul he was invited and so were several of his friends. It continued to grow from there and it became a hit in the South End of Boston as the "it" place to go as an alternative to the bar scene. It didn't all go smoothly at first, people were hesitant to get to know me thinking I was a snob or superficial and people were also hesitant to get to know Patrick as well because he didn't fit the "the Boston gay look."
I also had decided to join the Boston Softball League through Paul and that led to meeting many more friends. I also told Patrick about the league and he started off coming to our softball games taking pictures of my team - that led to him taking pictures of the entire BSL.
Three years ago I left Boston and by that point both Patrick and I had become friends with many wonderful people. Game night and softball had been the perfect launch pad for both of us to make new friends. Currently, Patrick is still taking pictures for the softball league and he received a special award from the BSL thanking him. Patrick and I both grew together in many ways - we both broke out of the shells we were in at the time that we met and we branched out into the world. Patrick will always be special to me - I am so glad he embarked on the journey of coming out to San Francisco. I hope it's just the beginning of his travels:-)