Have you ever taken the town or places you grew up for granted? I know I have.
This past weekend, I took a friend of mine to my old hometown. I was planning to do a one-day trip, but my family was on their annual vacation and decided to take a fun adventure to San Diego. Unfortunately for me, I had to work. Sad day, I know. They asked me to house-sit for them. I didn’t mind house-sitting, but I had this feeling that I didn’t want to go alone.
So, I hit up that same friend of mine who passed out flyers with me at the gay pride parade to see if he was interested in going home with me for the weekend. He was down to spend time away from the big city where we live. Thus began my planning of what I’d show him once we got to my hometown.
I’d never brought anyone from my current circle of friends to my hometown, mostly because the two places are a few hours away from each other. Along with that, the people I try to invite and take out there are usually busy with work, family, or other things.
Remember that post I wrote awhile back — “A Native American With Same-Sex Attraction” — where I talked about my Native culture, the language, poverty? My friend was going to see some of those things firsthand. Though my hometown is only a few hours away from the big city, he and many others haven’t actually seen the Native American culture. Surprising, huh?
While on the road trip, a lot of things were going through my mind. My friend would be seeing both the good and the bad stuff of where I was brought up.
The good: Seeing where I was raised from a child to my late teen years, where my faith was being built up, and where I got my values.
The bad: This is where my SSA or gay feelings started and the places I used to get bullied when I was a small kid. I decided that once we did get to my hometown, I just wanted to focus on the positive stuff that helped me to become the man I am.
Once we got done with my doctor’s appointment, we were free to roam around the rural parts of my hometown and…the 45-mile radius. Within that 3-day weekend, I wanted to show my friend that though I lived in a community that was very diverse, we still somehow lived in unison. How so? The weird thing about the community where I lived is that it was divided into two categories, religion and culture, yet the community respected each other to work together and not let that divide each other.
During that weekend, we were sightseeing the culture side of my hometown. I showed him my Native tribe, and the neighboring Zuni tribe that was 20 miles away from my hometown. I showed him the ways we were different and how the family structure was very different between the Zuni and Navajo tribes — not only the family structure, but also the language and the dietary foods as well. I think he enjoyed the diversity within both tribes.
With the religion side of the community — my hometown and the neighboring towns — you could definitely tell that I lived in a very conservative community. Of course, the dominant religion is Christianity, but there is also the Native American religion from the Navajo and Zuni tribes. Not to mention that my own hometown has a Mormon community.
Everything had somewhat of a conservative Christian influence in each town, and one thing was certain: homosexuality was frowned upon.
I explained to my friend that the topic of homosexuality was either a “turn-or-burn” message or a hush-hush topic. You never talked about it, or if you did, it was in a negative light.
But as I said before, I wanted to show my friend the positive side of my hometown where I grew up.
By the end of our trip, my friend met my parents who’d come back from their summer vacation, and they welcomed him with open arms. Upon talking to my folks, my friend gained a little bit of perspective on how I was brought up, both faith-wise and personality-wise. I also took him to my older brother’s church, an English-, Navajo-speaking church, and he got a glimpse at how the church functioned within the Navajo reservation.
I think my friend got a new perspective of me and how all the different aspects of my hometown made me who I am today. It also refreshed me on how I view my hometown and community and made me see how great the place I once lived really was!
Overall, I think this trip was well-needed — for both of us.
Do you ever go back to your hometown and remember the good and the bad of coming from there? Have you ever taken a road trip with a friend and let him into the deeper parts of your life?
* Photo courtesy thomashawk, Creative Commons.