Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sean!

Sean and the Sassy Spo-Shirt

Sean Breen, my sweet, funny, empathetic, endlessly-supportive friend is turning 40 today.  The idea for this post came from D@vid who has already posted a fantastic tribute to Sean.

For several years as a gay but in-denial married man, I secretly and guiltily read blogs written by gay guys.  I never dared to "out" myself by commenting on anyone's blog, even anonymously.  Although I knew I was attracted to guys, I never even considered myself in the closet;  I was a married father with teenage children, for Pete's sake!  I wasn't gay!!

I had several blog favourites, but it was Sean's blog which struck a chord with me the most.  He was so honest and passionate about living life on his terms.  At times, Sean seemed almost vulnerable, yet was so very brave in putting his fears and insecurities "out there" for the all the world to see.

In November 2010,  Sean announced he was stopping his "Undie Monday" feature due to lack of participation and put out one last call for submissions.  I thought, "My gosh, what if no one submitted a picture?   That would be so sad!"  I was so concerned about Sean's feelings getting hurt that in an impulse, I quickly snapped a out-of-focus pic of my pasty-white, flabby, unattractive torso * and send it in.  My first blogger contact ever and most certainly my first-ever undie shot!

* I don't think that any more!  Sean and many kind online friends quickly convinced me that my negative self-image wasn't accurate.

He thanked me for the pic and added,  
"Oh, and....Um...WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF!"
Such is the power of words that Sean, in that single phrase, provided me with the encouragement I needed for me to begin my present, incredible gay journey.

His response prompted me to pour out my story, fears and insecurities in an e-mail to Sean.  Thus began incredible, extensive e-mailed conversations during which Sean convinced me that I was indeed an extremely sexy, desirable guy and that where ever I fell on the spectrum of sexuality was okay.  He taught me that everyone's sexual path is different and each one is to be cherished.  Sean convinced me that sexuality was something to be celebrated and that living one's life with honesty, fully and joyfully "out" was the only option.

Eventually, with Sean's encouragement, I started my blog and began to embrace the changes in my life.  In the (occasionally) tumultuous months which followed, he provided constant support, encouragement, an education in all matters gay and concerned ear for me to pour out my fears.  In the terrible nights after my wife and I separated permanently, Sean was the only person to whom I confided my fears, despair and anguish about the impact all of this would have on my family.  Through it all, he constantly reminded me that living an honest, open, "out" life was the only way to true happiness.

Thank your for your incredible support and encouragement buddy!!  I will never be able to repay you for all you've done for me.  Embrace your 40s Sean;  the best time of your life is ahead of you!!

10 comments:

  1. Your story with Sean has almost brought me to tears. What is it about that draws us all to him. His warmth? His charm? His honesty? His he ability to make us feel like we are the only person in the world he is helping, at any given moment? His husband is a very, very luck man.

    Your tribute to Sean is lovely and heartfelt. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. I wish there was something more I could do than just wish him a Happy Birthday; maybe somehow, someway, I will be able to give back to him, just a portion of the support he has given to me. What a wonderful, wonderful, man.

    Now...can you explain to me why all of the guys say, "woof?" I know it's a compliment but surely there is a little something more interesting to it. In addition, what does it mean to be a "Bear?" lol

    Thanks and have a great night!
    - Robin

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  2. Robin: thank you for that wonderful tribute to Sean also! I don't know about the "woof"; I'm a gay newbie. Someone else will comment on that, I'm sure.

    A bear is generally a gay / bi man who is hairy, muscular, masculine and heavier-set. Anyone can identify himself as a bear, if he feels like it. I'm not sure I'm muscular or hairy enough to be a "bear."... perhaps a slimmer, less muscular version called an otter. At the rate I'm gaining weight, I'll be a bear-size soon enough!

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  3. Very heartfelt post! Cheers!!

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  4. With D@avid's post, and now yours, I feel like Sean should get a lifetime achievement award. Only not an Oscar, because he is not acting. He's for real.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Sean and Jeffrey about 18 months ago. Good people! They live in my home town, so I'm looking forward to seeing them again the next time I go back.

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  5. Damn! Did I spell D@vid with an "a" ? Sheesh...

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  6. anne marie in phillyMay 18, 2011 at 5:04 AM

    "my negative self-image wasn't accurate" - you got THAT right, buddy bear! you are drop dead shaggable! what a nice tribute to sean, also!

    now go to cubby's blog and spank him for his 45th today!

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  7. BB: You repay me every day with your friendship. I am honored to be part of your journey. You are all part of my blogger family and I will always try to be there for any of you any time I can. I love you all for your charm and courage and willingness to open yourselves up so that others may learn from your experiences and struggles. You all inspire me to be who I am and reaffirm that there are great, loving, trustworthy people in this world. Thank you for this and for being my friend.

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  8. SteveA and anne marie: thank you! As to spanking Cubby, I'll wait until I meet him in person.

    WCS: lucky you to have met Sean in person!

    Sean: Thank you for you kind words! Like every cancer patient, I learned courage big time during my surgeries, treatments and recovery. The "charm" comment took me a bit by surprise; Really? Me? You're very perceptive and intelligent, Sean, so I'll accept that description with thanks.

    I have my own selfish reasons for blogging. However, as I receive e-mails and comments from married gay/bi men in the same situation as me, I am increasingly feeling another sense of purpose to this blog which you identified: "So that others may learn from your experiences and struggles."

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  9. "Sean seemed almost vulnerable"

    I'm not sure the "almost" is accurate. Sean is an extremely loving, feeling and giving man. It's no wonder friends flock around him. Such people are whole human beings and by making their true feelings available to all, they're vulnerable in the best sense of the word. I was very fortunate to meet Sean last summer on two occasions and realize in person what a great guy he is. I am not at all surprised that he was a source of encouragement and advice to you at a time of need.

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  10. Just stumbled on this older post. I have to say that Sean has also helped me in many ways. First he lead me to this blog. Later just by reminding me why I am making this journey. I hope to meet him very soon in person to give him the hugs he deserves.

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