Posts Tagged ‘gay’

Tommy and Loni pose for me at Dupont Circle (photo: Reed)

I was walking through Dupont Circle at dusk when I passed a man and woman sitting on a bench.  As I got passed the couple I heard them both make some sexually suggestive comments to me.  Flattering ones, but still it’s awkward to hear.  I kept walking for about 30 yards and stopped and thought, this could be interesting.  So, I turned around and decided to walk back and give my $10 to them.  “He’s coming back” Tommy said a bit nervously perhaps as I headed back toward the bench where they were seated.

I spent the next hour talking to Tommy and Loni.  I soon learned that Loni was a transgender.  She told me that she had the full surgery and was completely operational.  “Wanna take a look” she said with a demonic smile.  Hmmm, I think I’ll pass.  

They went back and forth a little deciding who was going to accept $10 until they finally agreed that Tommy would.  “You have no idea how many times I have really needed $10″ he says.

Although now he has a place to stay, Tommy used to live right here in Dupont Circle.  “I love the park, but the problem with this place is that there are too many people sharing my room” he says as he gives way to a hearty laugh.  I laughed as well.  He shared that one time he was sleeping on the edge of the fountain at the circle when he rolled off into the water. (Hey, I’ve been in that fountain too!)

When Tommy came to DC last October, he said he “jumped right into the gay community.”  He explains that back in Detroit there is not a strong gay community any more.  “There used to be like 60 gay bars there, now there is maybe six!”  Although he says that Detroit gets a bad reputation, there are some really beautiful parts.  “The architecture is amazing” he says as he explains that Detroit has the largest collection of art deco architecture in the US (I always thought it was more of a Miami Beach thing.) 

Tommy says that he will use the money to help someone else out.  “I try to help people all the time” he says.  “What comes around goes around – I live off the kindness of others.” 

Tommy showed me some of his dance moves (photo: Reed)

I asked him what he was doing for money and he replied, “Tomorrow I am starting a stripper job – I need a wig though, know anywhere I can get one?”  I actually don’t have a lot of knowledge of wigs surprisingly.  He also told me that he uses a pseudonym for his dancing.  “I go by Gordon – it’s my brother and dad’s name.”  Wow…that just seems wrong.  If I found out my brother was stripping and using my Dad’s name, I think I would be more upset that he was using Dad’s name than I would be that he was stripping. 

Tommy told me that he used to be a designer until he was laid off three years ago.  And before that – 27 years ago to be exact – he used to do modeling.  In fact he said that he was the first male model for Calvin Klein.

We exchanged contact information and I said goodbye.  Just then Loni started talking to a guy who approached her.  This guy seemed really strange, like he was under the influence of something or had some mental illness.  Tommy was quick to make sure that she was ok.  Once the other guy left, Loni went on her way and I started heading home.  Tommy and I walked a short ways together and chatted a little more.   He told me that some times he writes phrases with chalk on the sidewalk at Dupont Circle.  “I like this one thing I wrote, Speak without doubt!”  I like that too.

I actually saw Tommy again today in Dupont Circle, but he was busy talking with someone.  I have a feeling I will see him some more.

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The Year of Giving received so much attention yesterday due to Liane Hansen’s report on NPR Weekend Edition.  I got about 3,500 hits and 75 messages yesterday alone.  So many touching stories from you about how you somehow relate to one of the recipients or have been moved by my own commitment.  I hope that you know that your letters and stories mean a lot to me.  I am slowly responding to your emails.  Please keep sharing…together our collective stories and efforts make a difference. 

Many of you asked how my job interview went on Friday.  Thank you.   I think it went well…but I won’t know anything for probably a week or so.

Did you read the article that was linked at the end of Alex’s email yesterday; interesting research on the contagiousness of kindness.  I don’t have a controlled study like they had to conduct their research, but my unscientific data shows the same results.  It’s powerful.  Have you found yourself catching the bug?  If so, please drop a note here and share what you are doing to spread kindness.

When I ended up at a small gathering at my friend and former work colleague Daniel’s house I was introduced to Ed.  One of the nicest guys I have met.  His easy demeanor and sense of humor strike me immediately.  I asked if he would accept my ten dollars.  He said sure. 

Originally from Colorado, Ed is a “self employed contractor, carpenter, tile setter” specializing in renovating kitchens and bathrooms.  Although he does all kinds of work, he has a special interest and talent in working with full round log timber frames.  He got started after he completely remodeled his own log house in Colorado 16 years ago. 

Well there was more interesting things about Ed.  He is a motorcycle aficionado, lists skiing and glass blowing among his hobbies, and was an exchange student at the University of Tampere in Finland.  I was an exchange student in both Mexico and Spain and have also been to Finland almost 30 times.  It’s funny the similarities that you can discover when you take time to speak to a stranger.

I shot some video of Ed.  He talks a little about his work and interest in building homes as well as what he thinks of DC.  He was extremely open about himself and spoke to me about coming out that he was gay.  Now 45, Ed only came out 8 years ago when he moved to DC.  When I asked him if there was anything that he could use help with that I could post on my Lend a Hand section, he laughed and said “you can help me find a partner!”  So new territory for the Year of Giving to serve as a “match-maker” of sort.  Ed shares what he looks for in a partner.  If anyone wants to meet Ed, please shoot me a message with some information about yourself and I will forward your message on to Ed.  Who knows…maybe he will contact you!

As for the $10.  Ed was heading to see a band at the Black Cat and said it would end up getting spent there most likely.

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