Growing Up Blind – John Warren (part 5, After College)

This is the conclusion of a 5 part essay for the Essays on a WV Childhood project.  To go to the beginning of the essay and start with part 1, click here.

Growing Up Blind (part 5, After College) 


30 years of John's journals, 1980-2010


 Ironically, so many Christians befriending me in spite of my struggles had an effect they didn’t anticipate.  I felt intense guilt for being attracted to other men, but I was greatly encouraged that there were people who knew the ugly truth about me and still chose to be my friend.  There was a part of me that began to think, “Hey, if these people will still be my friend, then maybe this is not such a horrible thing after all.”  

In the years after I graduated from college there were many times I felt that I had to choose between my faith and my sexuality, and for many years I chose Christianity. The prolonged conflict between these aspects of my personality, however, took its toll.  At the age of 32 I took a job in a new city and took the next seven years off from church.  

Today, I describe myself as an agnostic.  My beliefs have changed, and I am no longer convinced that it is a sin to act on my sexual desires.  I am now 42 years old and for the first time in my life I am ready to date someone of the same gender.  

Whatever happens, you can be sure I’ll record every major development in my journal.

Image credits: John Warren

Mr. Short-Term Memory

Tom Hanks created Mr. Short-Term Memory on Saturday Night Live probably 20 years ago.  The “Blind Date” episode is a classic — it’s over 5 minutes long so if you don’t have that kind of time, just fast foward to the last 90 seconds… me.

Mr. Short-Term Memory spits out his poached salmon into a napkin in horror, claiming to the waiter that someone has put “already chewed food in my mouth!”  It cracked me up 2 decades ago, and today it’s still funny, but not in the same way.  The first time I saw it I thought it was obviously an over-the-top joke.  Today, it just seems like a thinly veiled reference to how dumb we are when it comes to recognizing the obvious.

This country is getting sicker and heavier and more depressed.  West Virginia is leading the pack, but apparently we can’t agree on why or what to do.  How about this?  We feed our kids toxic garbage.  Those kids grow up, they keep eating that way, and they teach their kids to eat that way.  Currently the Kanawha County Schools can’t conclude that “flavored milk” is a bad option for kids.  A packet of ketchup is passing for a serving of vegetables.  And the “super donut” is being served for breakfast in my daughter’s child care center.

It is right in front of our eyes, and we think someone else is chewing up this food and putting it in our mouths.  Ad men who hock trash to eat are lauded as creative geniuses, as if what they are peddling and to whom doesn’t matter.  We wring our hands about how hard it is to “eat right.”

Since someone else is chewing it up and putting it our mouths, I guess we don’t have much choice.