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Jack's Take: First Times

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Photo courtesy of Jack Hilovsky
Photo courtesy of Jack Hilovsky

As I embark on a new monthly column for the Seattle Gay News, I want to take a moment to introduce myself and explore the concept of firsts.

For many of us, the last two and a half years brought many firsts. The first worldwide pandemic of such a magnitude in nearly a century, the first presidential election ever where the loser denied losing, the first time many of us began examining our consciences to determine whether we are antiracist, and so on. All the way to the World Health Organization this summer proclaiming monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, the first time since the AIDS crisis in which many of us felt scared and a familiar sense of dread all over again.

But for all these negative firsts in the broader universe, there has been a positive counterbalance in my own life, for which I can only express gratitude. Three months ago, on June 14, a project I spent 12 years of my life bringing to fruition, well, finally came to fruition.

In 2010, I sat down to pen a story about my best childhood friend and how that relationship evolved into my first Gay experience. Twelve years later, after countless expansions, contractions, revisions, and edits, this tale was ready for the world. After multiple rejections, I finally found a publisher in Buffalo, NY, who agreed to help me make my dream of being an author a reality. (For more, see On the Road with Jack
I settled on the title RJ, Farrah and Me: A Young Man's Gay Odyssey from the Inside Out for my coming-of-age memoir. The Farrah in the title is Farrah Fawcett, who rocketed to fame thanks to her pinup poster and Charlie's Angels TV role, embodying the "it girl" of the late 1970s. RJ and I met in theatre class as teens and became fast friends, only to discover we shared a mutual obsession with the blonde starlet. Our friendship turned physical one year later, which brought pleasure and pain as I struggled to confront my sexuality in light of my traditional, Catholic upbringing

When SGN Editor A.V. Eichenbaum interviewed me about the memoir on the Radio SGN podcast in July, we enjoyed such a freewheeling conversation that they invited me to write a column. And so, another first (although I had written a column for the Capitol Hill Times and the LGBTQ+ magazine 'Mo over a decade earlier).

Earlier this spring, an additional first happened. As I approach a milestone birthday next year (I'm not telling!), I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago. My significant other joined me, and together we embarked on what they call the French Way, a 500-mile trek that began at the foot of the French/Spanish Pyrenees and took us through northern Spain, across mountain, desert, and forest.

Seven days into our walk, I came down with COVID. I'm grateful it was mild and allowed me to continue. But then my significant other developed a painful leg ailment, called the Disney rash (don't ask, just look it up). We took a breath from our daily march to let the rash resolve and were thankfully on our way a few days later (fortunately we were able to avoid groups and stay in private rooms for the remainder of our outdoor journey). I learned about the importance of staying in the moment and not trying to orchestrate or control life so much, accepting things as they are. And that I'm adaptable. And I learned about adventure, making dreams come true, and finding an inner resilience.

I hope this column may challenge you — and you might even gain a new perspective. Because I have a feeling that firsts, dear reader, will continue to surprise us as we travel this path called life.

I'm looking forward to experiencing it with you. Thanks to the SGN for giving me a forum to explore with you.

Jack Hilovsky is an author, actor, and blogger who has made his home in Seattle since 1986. His first book, RJ, Farrah and Me: A Young Man's Gay Odyssey from the Inside Out, can be found at Third Place Books (Seward Park & Ravenna), Fuel Coffee (19th Ave., Capitol Hill), Nook & Cranny Books (15th Ave., Capitol Hill), Madison Books (Madison Park), Pegasus Book Exchange (West Seattle), Barnes & Noble (Northgate), and University Bookstore (U District).