I started my career as a journalist in 1976 as a news reporter, one of a generation of journalists inspired by the investigative reporting devoted to Watergate. As a young reporter, I kept a careful and solid line of separation between me and my subjects. I got my sources to open up, but never opened up about myself.
Life was good for a 19-year old kid. I was a Division 1 athlete, attending the same top tier university as my grandfather and uncle. I had made it out of my small rural hometown—where holding down a 4.2 grade point average, competing year-round in sports, and serving as student body president all came too easily. Getting out of this mediocre environment made me proud and excited. I was now attending classes taught by some of the brightest professors in the country. And when it came to my sport, water polo, I was playing for one of the top programs in the country, being coached by two Olympians and competing against many players who would go on to represent the United States in Beijing, London, and Rio.
1974—“I’m like you,” the hand printed and hand delivered note said. “My name is Jimmy. I live on this street. I am 12. Will you meet me behind my house tonight at 5?” In the small mailing envelope there was a picture of Hercules, cut from a book. When I was Jimmy’s age, I’d wait until no one was around, and then pull out the “H” volume of the World Book Encyclopedia, and stare at the picture of Hercules.
1976 – When I first moved to NYC in 1976, as far as the world knew, I was a 24-year-old straight guy, former college jock, and up-and-coming banker. All my friends were straight, at least during my first few years there, and served as my New York “family.” They knew I was gay, but it didn’t matter. We regularly hung out at “Eddie Condon’s,” my dad’s world-famous jazz night club on 54th Street; we shared picnic baskets at summer evening concerts in Central Park; and we threw surprise birthday parties for each other.
August 1972: I chose this photo for a reason. It was taken one month after, at 20 years of age, I’d had my first sexual experience with another man (In it, in August 1972, I’m dangling my legs in a pool in Panama City, Florida.).
Gustavo Otto and Bryan Hogan were a handsome, well-built Manhattan couple. Gustavo, a graceful Chilean, graciously posed nude for my camera in our lush garden, while I captured him in various positions.
1979/1980—My first visit to Fire Island was over Halloween weekend in 1979, long after the resort’s summer season had ended. The legendary Sandpiper, a ramshackle wooden disco that had been the center of Fire Island Pines gay night life for more than a decade, scheduled its closing party for that weekend. I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to use the empty lavish Pines beach home of a friend of my aunt so I could attend it. I traveled there with my two closest gay male friends hoping to experience a taste of the sybaritic lifestyle that Fire Island was known for.
Ms. Matlock: This week we are going to learn how to write a well-structured letter.
Me (to myself): Cool
Ms. Matlock: Each of you is going to write a letter to Michael Eisner. He is the CEO of Disney.