Earlier this week in my first blog entry of the new year, I peeked into my future through the eyes of numerology. I learned that everyone goes through a nine year cycle of numbers, based on a numerological formula, each number painting a theme for that year that will set the tone for the next 9/10th of a decade.
I learned that 2011 is a "1" year for me and will be marked by the releasing of old disappointments and failures, as well as nurturing new beginnings, adopting new priorities, making new goals, and finding a new vitality. In effect, I am hitting the reset button on my life. I am a blank slate and can make of myself anything that I desire. This is the perfect time to correct the mistakes of the past and position myself so as not to repeat them.
I think that the first step, for me, is to find a role-model...someone who I feel serves as a good example and whose behavior I would like to emulate. I gave this subject a great deal of thought before sitting down to write this entry. I thought back to my childhood and young adulthood to determine who were my role-models during that period in my life.
As a young gay man, I really can't think of who my role-models were in that respect. I turned 13 years old in 1986, and at that time society was still a long way from tolerance, especially in my small, Southern hometown. There was still a great deal that we didn't know about AIDS and many people thought it was a "gay-disease". There were rumors about such famous people as Rock Hudson, Martina Navratilova, but they were just rumors and as they were not a part of my own generation I didn't feel any connection to them or my life.
On television, we had Jodie Dallas (Billy Crystal's characters on SOAP), and the sexually ambiguous characters such as Uncle Arthur, Mr. Humphries, and any character played by Charles Nelson Reilly! I had not yet discovered The Rocky Horror Picture Show and it would be years before gay celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Degeneres, and Ricki Martin came out.
My earliest memory of a positive gay character that I could identify with was Billy Douglas (played by Ryan Phillipe) on One Life to Live. I never really watched soap operas, but I happened to be baby-sitting for a family member one day. I was flipping through the television looking for something good to watch when something made me stop on ABC. It was the scene were Billy comes out to Reverend Carpenter. Here was a character a bit younger than me, but who was going through the same thing that I was. I began watching OLTL every day just to see how Billy's story played out.
I was also very shy as well as self-conscious, and absolutely hated going out in public. If someone looked at my wrong I would feel that they were judging me; if I I heard someone laugh, I would assume they were laughing at me. It wasn't until I got my first job working as a courtesy clerk for the local Piggly Wiggly that I began to come out of my shell. I felt that I had a lot in common with women in general,so I began looking to strong women as role models.
One of these women was Glorificus (not her real name), who was my boss when I worked in the textile industry. She was a woman working in a male-dominated environment and had to straddle the line between being assertive and strong as well as feminine. It also helped that she had a gay son herself and understood about a lot that I was going through. Glorificus helped me find myself as a leader, by making me her assistant manager. She also helped me become more self-sufficient by co-signing my first car loan and helping me get a suitable vehicle.
There were other women along my life's journey that taught me a lot about myself and the world in which I live Julie, Vivian, Michelle, Debbie, Becky...these are just a few of the women who helped me to find myself and become stronger than I was and yet allowed me to be vulnerable when I needed to be.
Times change, but good-values never do. However, it is always a good idea to reevaluate long-held thoughts, beliefs, and values from time to time and tomorrow I will share my choices for my role-model(s) for the next part of my life. Feel free to share your own role models (past and present) in the comments section below.