SP Premium
750,000-999,999 SparkPoints 765,110

Day 222 - Throwback Thursday

Friday, July 10, 2015

This is day 222 - a day I've been eager for a long time. It has been 222 days of logging into SP and having at least 10 minutes of fitness activity every day (always more than 10 minutes, but who's counting). Anyway, it's time for a little reminiscing...

When I was a kid, there was a TV show that was quite popular and had a huge impact on my life. It was called "Room 222" and starred Michael Constantine, Karen Valentine, Lloyd Haynes, and Denise Nicholas. It ran from 1969 through 1973. It was a groundbreaking show for its portrayal of people of different races learning to work with and learn from each other in a high school setting. It was created by James L. Brooks ("The Simpsons," "Taxi," "Lou Grant," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Broadcast News," "Terms of Endearment," and more).

There was always an important lesson that was learned by the end of each episode, usually about accepting people who are different and getting along with all people. It spoke to me in many ways (even though I was in elementary school and junior high for most of the series), and I didn't want to miss a single episode.

When I was in the 5th grade in 1967, I became friends with a girl named Sonja. She was African-American, and she was my best friend. I used to go over to her house after school (she lived just a block away, where I was about 6 blocks walking to my house). Her mom was the best, and she was like a second mom to me. I loved going over to Sonja's house and hanging out. I didn't think about the fact that we were different - we were both 10 years old and we enjoyed the same things. Her older brother Bob was like the big brother I never had.

The following year, my family moved to Indiana, and my best friend stayed in Michigan. We stayed in touch for a while, but eventually, as friendships between 11-year-olds would go, we lost touch.

Fast forward 6 years, and Sonja let me know that she was going to be attending the same college that I had chosen. I'm not sure how she found out, but I was so excited. Her brother Bob had already been attending Alma College (in the middle of Michigan) for two years, and now we were both going to be there together.

For the first three years of college, we spent many a night together. We had a group of friends and hung out together, studying, talking, philosophizing, and being friends. It was like "Room 222" but graduated from high school.

In the fall of my senior year of college, 1978, I decided to come out. I had been engaged to a girl for most of college, and I knew it was a lie to continue the relationship. We broke up, and word got out quickly that I was gay. In about 4 days, most of the campus knew about me.

Sonja turned away from me in a way I would never have believed. It was as if our friendship of nearly 12 years meant nothing. Another friend that was my roommate sophomore year also rejected me. I felt abandoned and alone. My best friends for the past 3 years were gone, and I had to start over.

About 10 years after graduation, I got a phone call from my old roommate and Sonja, who conference-called me to apologize for being so distant from me after my coming out. As it turned out, both of them had gay brothers (Sonja's older brother Bob and my roommate's younger brother Chris), and they didn't realize it then, but I was the conduit that enabled them to accept and love their brothers, because they had once been friends with (and loved) me.

This year marks 36 years since I graduated from college. I'm still very close to Sonja and my old roommate. In fact, I'm flying to Michigan in two weeks and will be spending the night with Sonja and her husband and their two kids (a very blended family - Sonja's husband Jim is white, and their son Nathaniel is biracial, and their daughter Grace was adopted from China).

I learned so many lessons watching that old show Room 222 from the 60s, and those lessons are still pertinent today. Accepting people who are different is an important part of life. Being able to see beyond the differences and recognizing what is the same allows us to be respectful and connected.

That show from the 60s and 70s still resonates with me today, over 40 years later. And I'm forever grateful.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • no profile photo CD15118206
    Wow! Thank you so much, as always, for your bravery and honesty. You are, by far, the most authentic person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing "on line". I'm a little younger than you, but I remember that TV show! Loved it!! I am so happy for you that Sonja is still in your life - what a precious gift. I'm sorry you had to experience such pain and rejection in your past - but look at how wonderful your life is now!! I have a couple of relatives who, I believe, are gay. I'm heartbroken for them because I want them to have a beautiful, honest and authentic life like yours. Both are living lifestyles that I don't think are true to who they really are. Not ready to confront them (one is my brother, the other a close cousin) for fear of being wrong and hurting them. I guess I'll know if and when the time is right......
    2060 days ago
    Wow what a touching blog. I am so glad your friends saw the light.
    2060 days ago
  • no profile photo JEANNETTE59
    emoticon Nobody does it better, Steve!
    2061 days ago
    sounds so very familiar -
    DH has a niece who is my age. She had a BFF since middle school. When he came out, she totally cut him out of her life. I really hope one day she'll realize he is still the same person - she is the only one who has changed

    I have a good friend, Jon. He's from a very STRICT Baptist family. He was engaged to a girl for years, but fortunately he was brave enough to admit the lie and break that off before they set a wedding date. When he came out, his family didn't take the news very well. It's been several years. Jon now lives in MI with his SO (not married...yet) and they have adopted a baby. Both families are back to being very close. And Jon's younger brother had it a bit easier when HE came out.

    my BFF from high school adopted a baby girl from China and named her...Gracie! Gracie is 15 now and is in China this week visiting the orphanage that found her a family. She is with a group of girls who all came from that orphanage. They all raised money before their trip to donate needed equipment/supplies to the orphanage (my July 1 blog has pictures and a video, if you are interested)

    AND...I loved Room 222!

    hope you have a great weekend
    2061 days ago
    What a great blog. You wrote it so well that I felt your pain when your friends turned their back on you. I am glad they reached out and made things right. That's what its all about, isn't it. We are all on this earth together. We all have hearts to love and that is what God intends us to do.

    Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for being my spark friend.
    2061 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    What a PROFOUND blog! How your life was shaped within a wonderful family, how you dealt with rejection, being brave and honest. Your life is like a quilt,, patches of this and that of your life..
    How wonderful that you did not resent Sonja and the others for their rejection.

    I hope you enjoy your trip to my wonderful state. Take some pics of things so we can see these wonderful people. It made my day!!!
    2061 days ago
    Congratulations on your 222 days, Steve! Very glad Sonja and your roommate did turn things around and that you are all still close! Have a happy time visiting them - often old friends are the best!
    2061 days ago
    Awww.. you made me cry... what a wonderful story! thank you for sharing...
    2061 days ago
    WONDERFUL WONDERFUL blog and you are so articulate . I like to think of SP as kind of a mini "Room 222."

    By the way thanks for the reminder . that was a great show.

    2061 days ago
    Room 222 was absolutely my favorite show growing up. I'm sorry you lost your friends for a time but so glad there is a happy ending.
    2061 days ago
    I remember that show. I may have seen the re-runs. So glad to hear that Sonja and your college roommate reached out to you and apologized. They didn't know how to handle the situation. They had to learn and understand, which they did.
    2061 days ago
    Wow Steve, what an amazing blog of lessons, change and things coming full circle! I was so moved by these two recontacting you and the way things were woven together!
    I can also imagine and understand your feelings of loss and abandonment!
    It's wonderful you still have these friendships and will be seeing Sonja and family...and it sounds like a beautiful family!
    Thanks for sharing such a heartfelt memory!
    P.S. I,too, remember and watched Room 222 emoticon

    2061 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/10/2015 2:40:15 AM
    I enjoyed this blog so much and maybe, just maybe it will touch some people's soul on SP.
    2061 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.