What Does it Mean to be a “Hintergay?”

Originally Published December 10, 2016 on Prowdr.com

From the top of my childhood neighborhood in New Jersey there was a lookout of the Manhattan skyline.  As a youngster, I remember thinking it looked just like the Emerald City in the distance (and my mom said she never knew…) Like many of us in the LGBTQ community, I saw the city as a sanctuary — a place where I could finally be myself.

As an adult, I lived in the great urban gay centers of West Hollywood, the Castro and Chelsea.  These places allowed me to be myself, and live the life I wanted – the life I thought I could never live in the suburbs.

At 38, I was a New Yorker for over a decade, just like I had always wanted to be. By then, however, my feelings about City Life had started to change. I’d given up drinking several years earlier, so nightlife had lost its luster.

I worked too much, so much so that I’d put my writing career on the backburner for a well-paying corporate career. I had a tiny apartment (with lots of character, mind you) in the East Village. Yet, I yearned for the quiet that only Sunday morning in New York could provide.

After I met Kyle, the man I would later marry, I increasingly became a homebody.

With money Kyle had saved up, we decided to look at buying a weekend place in Hudson, New York.  It’s a great little gay-friendly artist community on the Hudson River, only a two-hour train ride from Grand Central. Our realtor showed us some wonderful old houses. I had visions of cooking meals, walking my dog on the quiet streets, sitting by a cozy fire…having a home.

That day, on the ride back to the city, we started talking about what our lives would look like – Monday through Friday in the city and Saturday and Sunday in Hudson.  The more we talked about it, the more I realized that our lives were bound to feel like we were always going to be waiting. It would be constant delayed gratification, waiting for Friday evening. 

Without thinking about it, I blurted out: “Instead of working for the weekends, how about we make the weekends our life?” 

Kyle looked at me puzzled, but with a definite glimmer in his eye.  “What do you mean?” 

Truth be told, I didn’t know what I meant. However, we started to talk about our individual love affairs with Vermont. What began as an off-the-cuff remark soon started to take shape. We both began to realize we were moving toward a different chapter in our lives.

Though I had an MFA in Creative Writing, I had been spending most of my time in Corporate Marketing and Communications. (With the exception of some articles here and there.) Kyle was seeing his company tightening the purse strings time and again and was aware that layoffs were always on the horizon. He began to talk about his love of skiing and a secret aspiration to sell real estate. Our new mantra morphed into “follow our bliss.” 

We also began to think about the role of the larger community in our decision. At that time in 2010, Vermont was one of only a few states that gave LGBT individuals both the freedom to marry and full protection under the law.  We wanted to invest in a community that invested in us.  With that, the die was cast.  We formulated our plan: buy a multi-family house as an investment property.  We’d live in one unit for a few years until we got settled and rent the other apartment to cover our mortgage.

In March of that year, we took a trip to Vermont’s largest city, Burlington.  It had things we liked about it, but wasn’t what we were looking for. Undeterred, we got into the car and started driving south on Route 89. We stopped in Stowe, but that was a little too risky, even for people throwing caution to the wind. We knew we needed to be closer to a larger population center.  

We ended up at a coffee shop in downtown Montpelier, the state capitol. It was the Green Mountain Film Festival weekend and we bought tickets to a documentary about Myanmar and the Buddhist Monk protests. We watched the movie and participated in a question and answer session with two of the monks featured in the film. When it was over, we walked around the quintessential Vermont town, with its steeple churches and quaint shops. 

We were very much set on moving to the Hinterlands, (a German term meaning “the land behind.”) I like to think of Kyle and myself as Hintergays (yes, it’s a word I made up — but it fits!) We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into but we moved to Warren, Vermont — about 25 miles from the capital city. Recently, we bought a mid-century chalet style house in need of renovation. In fact, check out the first installment of my home renovation series here in the STYLE section of prowdr.

Immediately, we knew we were home — exactly where we belong.

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