been a year. And everything in life seems somehow
sweeter. I've been doing concerts for a lot of years,
but since coming out in The Advocate last
April, it's as if I were taking the stage with
my saxophone for the very first time--finally
stepping into my shoes fully and completely. On our tour
last summer, the music seemed better, the shows were
more fun, and, to my great surprise, attendance at the
concerts actually increased.
For the past 15 years of my life, coming out
seemed like the ultimate gamble. I was worried about
my career. I was worried that fans would desert me in
droves, that the radio station where I host a morning show
would pull the plug, that my record sales would nose-dive.
Simply put, I was concerned that life as I knew it
would change dramatically. Turns out, I was wrong. The
only thing that really changed was me. Now I can
finally be "me" in every aspect of my life.
The big loss I feared never materialized. Instead of
losing people along the way, I gained
people...and in the most unlikely ways.
I also gained something else--something
invaluable that I'd been searching for forever:
I finally felt like a whole person.
The first day that the magazine started arriving
in people's mailboxes, I got an e-mail from
k.d. lang. It was one sentence--like,
"Congratulations, the water's
fine." I thought, Wow, this is amazing! Then I
met David Mixner, the veteran gay rights activist, and
the next month, at his request, I was playing at a
fund-raiser for marriage equality at Sen. Ted
Kennedy's house in Washington, D.C. I thought, How
did I get here?!
Opportunities I could only imagine before were
suddenly becoming my reality. I got a call from
People magazine. They wanted to make me one of
their 50 most eligible bachelors. Huh?! I had been
trying forever to get even a CD that I've
released reviewed in People, and with all due
respect, they couldn't have cared less. Then I
do an Advocate interview, and, presto, I'm in.
I scratched my head: What's different? Why is all
this happening now? Well, finally there was
some kind of dimension in my life where there
The radio station where I work, 94.7 The Wave in
Los Angeles, even used the People story as a
sales tool for my show. They made this beautiful flier
and sent it out to clients to drum up new business. They
were proud that their morning host was in the magazine, and
it made me so proud of them.
I got countless e-mails and calls from
colleagues and friends in radio and the music
business, saying, "Way to go." Most important,
there was an outpouring of acceptance from fans--and I
mean total support.
I was most
concerned about the men and women I had seen at shows
repeatedly: What would they think? Would they ever be
back? Well, it felt to me that they finally
appreciated being let in, in a way. Their relationship
to the music and to me had been strengthened by this one
simple act. And, yes, they did come back, with even more passion.
And there's one very shy 15-year-old up
in Northern California, a young sax player who read
the interview online, and it was the impetus for him
to reach out for a little bit of guidance. Interestingly,
he's not gay, but I think there was something about
my revealing myself that had some resonance with him
and helped him come out of his shell. I spoke with him
several times. I think I learned even more from him
than he did from me.
For so many years I had built up this wall of
fear, and it seemed insurmountable. And finally last
April, something inside me decided to try to break it
down. I got on the other side, and when I looked back at
where this wall had been I saw that it had been an
illusion--a total figment of my imagination.
And I realized that this wasn't just
about my coming-out. There was a real life lesson
here: When you face your fears head-on and get through
them, you realize there's so much more you can do in
life if you take fear out of the equation. It's
all about getting on the other side of the wall. I am
so thankful that for me, this was a really beautiful
lesson to learn.