Thursday night, I’m renting a car and trekking down to my beloved hometown of Steubenville, Ohio. Logan is accompanying me for the drive, and I’m super-excited about this weekend adventure back into the Ohio Valley. There’s nothing better than seeing the island of Montreal in the rear-view mirror, where my stresses will be left behind for the moment.
Like most long-distance weekend roadtrips to the Buckeye State, the itinerary is jam-packed. 2 11-hour drives (to and from), a list of delicious hometown staples to feast in, some of my best friends from high school, etc. I would also like to hang out in downtown Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Most of the time will probably spent driving, sleeping, eating, and drinking with good company. It will be a nice weekend of relaxation, reunion, and showing off the hometown to the boyfriend.
I’m super excited. But, there’s this lingering feeling in the back of my mind. I’m bringing my boyfriend to my hometown. I never came out in high school. I came out to my core group of best friends. But, for a lot folks, I never took the time to come out directly to them. I feel like everyone back home should know by now, thanks to the magic of Facebook, gossip, etc. But, I’m sure it will be a little weird seeing many of these people for the first time in about five years – with my boyfriend at my side.
I’m not absolutely sure how the vibe in Steubenville is going to be with these circumstances. It’s a quaint little rust-belt town on the periphery of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. But, I’ve never been a visible gay man there. Even when I came back to visit after I had come out of the closet, it was just something that I didn’t bring up unless the subject came up.
It’s funny how, living here in Montreal – and even while living in Dayton, Ohio – I’ve always kinda forgot about my gayness. I never really had a problem with holding a guy’s hand in public, or anything like that. It never seemed any more abnormal to me than a guy and a girl holding hands. And, I think that’s how it is in most places in the US and Canada. I tend to forget that there is still a number of communities in the US, Canada, and around the world where a simple thing like holding hands with a guy can get you called out or even beaten. I mean, it’s good that society has reached a point in which I have the luxury of not thinking twice about holding my boyfriend’s hand in public. But, it sometimes leads to a false sense of complacency and security when I venture outside that bubble and into more regressive communities.
I’ve been running possibilities through my head. What happens if I have to defend myself and/or Logan from some high-strung bigot? What if the situation becomes physical and/or violent? How do I stand my ground without provoking a fistfight? What do I do if it comes down to that? I mean, I love my hometown, and I would love to assume that my hometown is as progressive and as unconditionally loving as the group of friends and neighbors that I was blessed to grow up with. But, it’s hard to be certain that I won’t run into someone who causes a problem. So, I’ll just have to prepared for the situation – and be on alert.
Nonetheless, I’m super excited about the trip. I have a long list of shit to do this week to make up for all the lost study time this weekend. But, I can’t wait to be in the car on my way back to Ohio. It’s going to be so epic!