It all started with a crazy idea – what would it be like to be a “mature” man who has been married for a long time and one day to discover that he is gay or maybe always has been and just didn’t accept the reality?
The germ of the idea led to a few tentative episodes of a story that I called “Going Gay.” Its lead character was named Tim Hartleigh. He was a recent widower, having been happily married to Julia for 50 years. His best friend suggests that Tim take some time after his wife’s death to figure out what’s next in his life. After a year, Tim decides to sell his mansion outside Denver and go find himself. He first travels to Las Vegas, where he and Julia had honeymooned. “Sin City” is just the place for Tim to dip his toe into the world of gay sex. After some awkward attempts, he manages to find something in himself that he didn’t know was there, and he lets hit out with a joy and sense of freedom that is entirely new to him.
He then heads to San Diego, where he meets some men in a similar circumstance and is introduced to a gay porn model named Beau. Tim and Beau begin a steamy romance that leads them both to new understandings of who they are and what they seek in life.
After finishing the “Tim” story, which went to more than 75,000 words, I started on the second installment of the trilogy. It’s a prequel to Tim’s story, and its protagonist is Tim’s son, Bruce. The third part will be about Tim’s grandson, Kieran.
Here’s the key: Tim goes through most of his life living as a straight man (which he had no reason to think he wasn’t). For him, exploring his sexuality is a life-renewing adventure, and he embraces it with eager energy.
Bruce reluctantly accepts that he is gay in high school, but is living in 1981, when it is just beginning to be safe to be openly gay. He struggles to keep his secret, but then reveals it to his best friend, Craig, who surprises him by saying he feels the same. After a hot summer of sex with Craig, Bruce leaves Denver for college in California, where he is free to explore his sexuality and live openly as a gay man, although still not “out” to his family and friends back in Denver. Bruce’s story continues up to the present and culminates at the same moment as Tim’s.
Kieran is the son of Bruce’s daughter and is living in the present. He has always know he is gay and is out to everyone and finding his way in a world that is foreign to his uncle and grandfather. Three generations of gay men in the same family give insights into the various modes and experiences of going and being gay over the past half-century.
As the story unfolded itself to me, I came to realize that isn’t so much a “trilogy” as it is a “trilogy of trilogies.” Each story take place over three distinct times and locations, and involves different characters, so there are actually nine parts in total. I guess that makes this a “nonology,” sort of like the Star Wars saga!