Aaron Anson had no dreams to become an author but during the process of journaling through his later-in-life coming out process, he thought perhaps his story could help others.
“I realized others may be suffering in the same way I was in the process of loving and accepting myself,” the 49-year-old Merritt Island, Fla., native says. “So from there it evolved to others. Particularly in the black community, there’s still so much taboo and so much is swept under the church rug or the rug at home. I was at a point financially and otherwise where I could say what I want and what I feel. Others want to talk about this but they’re never given an avenue to do so.”
Anson calls his book — “Mind Your Own Life: the Journey Back to Acceptance” (Balboa Press) — “semi-autobiographical.” In it, he uses his story as a jumping-off point to offer advice to others oppressed by religion-based anti-gay bigotry. It came out in June. He’s having a release party, open to the public, at Cobalt Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event is free. Copies of the book — $20 in paperback or $35 hardcover — will be available. It’s also available on Amazon and in e-reader editions (aaronanson.com).
Anson was married for 15 years to a woman and has two now-grown children, Aaron and Kesha and six grandchildren. He worked most of his adult life in construction and insurance and came out to his ex-wife at age 35. A phrase he happened upon while channel surfing one day about finding one’s “own destiny” resonated with him in a way in which no religious teaching ever had. He grew up Baptist but had explored several faiths in an effort to find peace.
“It was really an epiphany,” he says. “I started really questioning my life and realizing how much of it had been laid out for other people.”
A longtime Atlanta resident, he met his partner Oliver in 2007. They had a commitment ceremony that year in Atlanta and consider that their wedding date but got married legally upon moving to Washington in 2008. They run a Mac repair business together and live in Dupont Circle.
Anson enjoys construction, art, reading and traveling in his free time. He also enjoys yoga, hiking, biking and theater.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
Fourteen years. The hardest was telling my wife at that time I was gay.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Hanks Oyster Bar
Describe your dream wedding.
Bora Bora, at an over-the-water honeymoon hut.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
The environment and homelessness
What historical outcome would you change?
Church and state. Government should not be sanctioning marriages of any kind and should be solely a personal commitment between two people.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
Drive-in movies and double feature matinees.
On what do you insist?
On empowering people to find their own truth and identity amidst the excessive religious and political rhetoric.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Do I love you because you’re beautiful, or are you beautiful because I love you”?
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I would flat-out reject any attempt to change what makes us unique and the core of our being.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
That we are spiritually connected to a sovereign universe by our minds, and our bodies are the physical outcropping of it, just like the rest of nature: plants, animals and clouds.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
To spend time celebrating and appreciating the achievements they’ve already made and not focus as much on the fighting aspects, which only leads to more resistance.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
My amazing and supportive husband.
What gay stereotype annoys you most?
That being gay is only about sex and being labeled gay no matter what your contributions are to society.
What’s your favorite gay movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Compulsory schooling and degrees that teach us what to think opposed to how to think.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
World Peace Prize for promoting inter-religious understanding.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That religion was being handed down to me by those who had it handed down to them and was not as tested as I was led to believe.
Proximity to airports and many cool cities. Great weather with lots of theater, diversity, art and museums.