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My name is Mark DeWolfe, and I actually move to the Wasatch Front in 1996, so I moved out here from Northern Virginia. I came out here for a job opportunity, and ended up only staying with that job for like six months, hated the job, so got out of that and pursued another career option. And what is your identity, as far as sexual identity and gender? Uh, the fact that I'm gay? Homosexual, there's no questions, there's no bisexual there, I'm very clearly gay. For a long time, people told me, well you're not really gay, you've got to get into a relationship with a female, and so for a long time, wanting to make my family happy, i said, ok, I need to go and get in a relationship with a woman. And I did that for a year, and at the end of the year, I found myself hating the fact that here she is falling in love with me, and I don't have any feelings at all sexually towards this woman. At all. Unfortunately we did multiple times engage in sex, and it was not working. I knew at that point I said, this is really sad that in order to prove to myself who I actually am I end up using this girl. And she was falling in love, she was talking about marriage, and buying a house, and I'm thinking, you know Mark, you're a shmuck. You know you're gay, and this is ridiculous. So, she actually finally ended it. She didn't make me be the bad guy, thank God. And so she wrote me a letter, and it ended, and I was finally able to start to follow the pattern of getting into a relationship with another male, start to date and learn who I was. You say you have a pretty interesting coming out story - what is that? It was actually during the winter Olympics that I came out of the closet. I had done a commercial for the LDS Church in 2000, and I think it was like the public service announcement for Utah in 2000. In the video I'd seen how much weight I'd gained, and I think it was just from being unhappy and living in the closet, so I'd put on all this weight and I was 280 pounds. This video we'd filmed in the spring, and it was like September, October when it finally hit the television stations, and I was like Oh, my God, I'm huge! This sucks. And at that point it was right around the time or shortly thereafter that I'd broken up with this girl I'd been dating. So I dedicated myself to losing weight and I started to talk online with people, with other guys that were gay, and started to get into the gay websites of dating and met somebody in another country, actually, in Canada, and so him and I were communicating through the internet, and I started to really push myself to lose the weight. I went from 280 to 227 in like 3 months, and drove up to Vancouver, British Columbia and met him. I started going to therapy to deal with this issue of the fact that I was gay and there was no avoiding it. And at this point I'd been with a woman, and I said, this doesn't work. So I'd called up my mother, she lives in Florida, and I'd said, I've got to tell you something. And I wasn't at that point where I was ready to come out of the closet. You know, I hate that term, but I said, I've got to tell
my parents, you know, whether you like it or not, I'm not going to be one of these guys that sees their parents pass away and have lived a lie their whole life. I mean to come clean and stop living this lie. So I told my mom, look, I've got to tell you something. And she said, what is it? And I said, well, I'm not ready, I'm not at that point to tell you. And so, the next day she calls me back, and she's like, look I need to talk to you. Oh my God. Why? What's going on? And she's like, I didn't sleep at all last night. What's wrong? You've lost all this weight. Are you sick, do you have cancer? I haven't slept at all Mark, please just talk to me. And I'm like, OH MY GOD! I've got to tell her! And I say look, mom, I'm gay. And She's like, oh, is that it? Is that all? I knew. Everybody that I've told so far, I've told a few close friends, who were like, no, this is another one of your jokes. You're pulling our leg again, you're full of shit, you're always doing this shit to us, and now it's the gay thing. So I was like no, no it's true. Mom, I'm gay. And she's like, you know, it doesn't matter, I love you, blah blah. Then, like three weeks later when my sister tells me, yeah, mom's in therapy. So in my movie the China Buffet, that's where that comes from when I come out to my mom, and she's like, oh, I love you, it doesn't matter. And then I walk out the door, and she's like "OH MY GOD MY SON IS GAY! So that's the real inspiration is like the real story that happened to me. That's how I came out. And then it's funny because during the Olympics I was working security part time at the state liquor store in the valley, and so I started getting all these phone calls from my siblings. You know. And of course they're all inebriated when they call me. It's funny because my sister Connie, she'd call up and she's like, Oh my God, I feel so bad! You've lived 32 years in the closet, and so terrible! And I was like it's ok, it's ok. Both my sisters felt bad. My brother Chris calls me up and he's crying. And he feels so bad because he felt as though it was his fault picking on me being the younger brother, and he was crying, and that was actually fairly sad to hear my older brother crying. He felt like it was his responsibility, which it wasn't. But it's sad how people an interpret these sort of things. And then my other brother Vaughan, he calls me up and of course he deals with things through humor, and he says, did you hear about the gay midget? He came out of the cupboard. So that was his way of dealing with things. My dad and I, we've never really discussed it. He's really ultra-conservative Catholic, and so it's one of those things where I think that maybe he's still learning, and starting thinking there's maybe more to this than a choice, this doesn't make sense. So, we've never really sat down and discussed it, but they're both great now, because when I do bring somebody and they meet they definitely see them as family. Why do you say you hate the term coming out? You know, it's just like one of those expression, you know, coming out… maybe it's a connection to that song, you know, who is it that sings that? P!nk?
No, not that one… I'm coming out, I want the world to know… who is that? Diana Ross? I don't know. I think it's like, I like more coming to terms with who you are. The expression Coming Out is, I don't know, it's like I'm going to come out as being gay almost to me means like you've made the decision that you are this way, where to me it's like I'm coming to terms with the fact that I am gay, I always have been. I have a really hard time with it's a choice, that just… that's one thing that people talk to me about, and are like, well, it is a choice. No it's not a choice! No it's not. That would mean that tomorrow I could go and meet some girl and say, I'm gonna choose to date, and have sex… no I can't. And people don't understand. If you've been in an intimate situation with a girl... I don't' care how ugly she is or how good looking she is, I"m not attracted to that gender. And it's not fair to that person. So you talk about your online experiences. Was that the first time you'd had contact with other gay people? No, I'd actually… I think that at an early age it's like there's people that were very feminine acting that I'd met and probably like when I first started having same sex attraction feelings, and I wanted to deny it, and was afraid to come out or just afraid to be associated with… being raised Catholic it's one of those things where you hear derogatory terminology, I mean I can't ever say I've heard from my family the word "faggot," but you know definitely well, like he's fruity, he's limp wristed, he's a femme, I can't remember what the terminology was, but it was definitely from an early age brought up that there's something wrong with that person, they're different. It was not acceptable in the household. And so I knew who those people were, I think I'd always associated people that were gay the way a lot of media portrays them as very femme, limp wristed, that sort of thing, and it wasn't until I started to get more into the scene and started meeting more people, well, no there are people who are very straight acting, there's a whole variety in the scene, and it's not… everybody that's gay does not look the way the media typically portrays. Dharma and Greg, there's a character on that show that every one's like, that's what a gay person acts like, that drives me nuts, that stereotype. It's in some movies, to make people laugh when they have that comic relief, the gay character that's feminine. So did the Olympics have any sort of bearing on the timing of coming out, or was it just coincidence? It was more coincidence. I wasn't like looking at all the athletes, saying, God, now's the time… look at the way he bends over as he goes down. So why the age of 32? You know, I just think I'd finally reached a point where I said, this is absolutely ridiculous. You know? Who are you fooling? You're gay. Are you going to be one of those people
that is in their 50s and 60s and finally coming out? It's like, the gay culture's come a long way, there's a lot more acceptance, and why are you holding out? This is miserable. So I reached a point that I don't know, I don't know what the breaking point was … I’m sure getting on line and looking at all the other gay guys out there looking for a relationship, I'm sure that that had part to do with it, because here are other guys that are single, why are you going to live your life to make everybody else happy, why can't you be happy? And so I saw that there was all these other gay guys out there… It was interesting because when I went up to Vancouver, it was December of 2001, because I'd come out in 2002, but when I'd gone up there they have one street in the city of Vancouver that's like a gay street, where you have a lot of gay businesses, and that sort of thing, and it's a lot more accepted in Canada than it was here. So I remember going up there, meeting this guy, and like walking down the street, and there's all these people that were gay that were completely out, and for the first time in my life I kind of experienced freedom, was able to be who I was, and it was pretty cool. When did you discover that community for the first time, and how did that come about? I can't remember what exactly made me start looking for… I think probably maybe I saw a banner or an add or something I imagine that was like, you know, men looking for women, women looking for men, and then men looking for men, and it's like, hmmm… let me check that out. So I'm assuming, I don't know, what… I can't remember the name of the website that I was on that I'd ended up finding that guy that I met, and we ended up being in a relationship for like a year and a half. And then he cheated. Shocking! Somebody cheating in the gay culture is amazing. Why do you say that? I've just known so many people who have been cheated on, and I've known so many people that have gone behind their girlfriends back, or their boyfriend's back, and done this thing, you know, not saying… I'm sure it happens constantly. We all know it happens. Doesn't matter if it's gay or straight. It's just sad that there's a lot of cheating in relationships. It sucks. So after meeting people on the internet, where… What's your relationship with the gay community now? You know, I'd like to become more active I guess in the gay community, I mean obviously I go to Pride, and you know, unfortunately one of the few outlets other than the Gay and Lesbian Center as far as meeting people is the club scene, which you know… I'm not real heavy into. But as far as my level of activity in the gay culture, if I see like events that I can go and support, if I've got that time off, or if I have a friend that is performing or doing something and wants some support, you know, a local or a friend of mine is doing a documentary for the Wasatch Front, I'm helping him out.
*laughs* So hey, as far as when i get the chance I try to get out, you know, and do what I can. Like I said, it's more on a one on one basis when a friend asks me to do something, I'm more than happy to. A friend of mine, Paul, that was running Club Rage. Did you see the video? I did! That was an awesome video. So when he was originally over at the other club, we had talked, and it didn't sound like he was going to pursue anything, and then when he went over to Rage, I'm like when are you going to do it? And he's like, well how about next weekend? OK. It was Pride weekend. And I ended up doing several interviews with those people they brought in for Pride. It's on Luminous Productions on YouTube. But if you want to see my interviews with those guys they brought in, what's his name… Those adult entertainment stars…? The porn stars? *laugh* But the thing is I want to be politically correct when we put the interview together I always refer to it as the adult industry rather than porn stars… but the same thing. Brent Corrigan. And then the Jerichs, and then a straight actor, Johnny Castle. But those were also on YouTube if you ever check those out. They turned out nice. Since coming out around the early 2000, 2002, approximately, has your level of engagement and awareness of community always been at this level that it is now? No, I mean, I've definitely… you know, you meet people, you go to social events, you go to Pride, you start to see who kind of like the regulars are, you know, I had a great opportunity - Walter. Do you know Walter? He was a huge performer here for a long time, and he used to do all the drag shows here, and he ended up moving to California. But he's kind of been like a staple of the community. And I think he was at Pride this year, I think he was in the motorcade. I don't know what his official title was, but he helped me out on my film the China Buffet. He was the yoga instructor. He was in drag, so… but great guy, and meeting him and other people that are in the community, and starting to learn like who's who over time by going to different events, parties, you know, social events. So I've come a little bit, but I'm starting to learn more and more. Would you say it's mostly a social kind of engagement with the community? You know when I get a chance to do anything with video production with the community, I definitely jump at the opportunity. I'd like to do more video work, but I don't think people are aware that I'm out there.
They might be a little more aware after this. You say you were raised Catholic. What's your relation to any sort of spiritual practice now? You know, I think that… I was actually raised in Catholic school my whole life. I went through grade school, was Catholic, high school was Catholic, and then finally when I went to college it was just a regular college. But my spirituality now is probably based in how you treat people, and a lot of people, you know, that I know that are devoutly religious, they pay their tithing, and they treat people like shit 6 days a week but on Sunday, man, they are like Jesus Christ. They're wonderful. But they treat people like shit the other 6 days. And I'm like, you're missing the point, you are totally missing the point! I would say all your Christian faiths say that you're supposed to be Christ-like, but these people, you know, treat each other like shit and they stab each other in the back, and I think it's imperative how you treat people… do I have a religion that I follow, no, I would probably fall back on the Catholic faith, because it's what I'm comfortable with, but I don't necessarily follow any religion right now. I just say to myself on a daily basis, how do you treat people, how do you interact with people? It doesn't matter if you give tithing every month on all you earn, but you drive by that person and it's pouring down rain and they're trying to change their tire and you don't look twice… I have a neighbor in my neighborhood, he's got tacked Trees of Christ in his house, and he's deathly heavy into his LDS faith, but you can see through the farce, and he's doing whatever he can to buy himself a ticket to the kingdom… For me my spirituality, you know, I do believe in God, obviously there's a lot we don't understand, that we have to have faith in, but I think a lot of it falls on how you treat people, how you treat your fellow man. which unfortunately a lot of people treat them like shit. But they're good Catholics, and they're good Mormons, so that's all that matters. You talked about attending the Pride Festival in the summer. What does that mean to you? It's actually great, and it's one of those opportunities where I have so many friends that are straight, and they interact and I think it's a great opportunity for the straight community in Utah and then the gay community to come together, and it's so much fun to see people that are not gay to come out and experience the event and accept other people for who they are. And it's just a great outdoor festival, and it's getting bigger and bigger every year, and it seems to be more and more acceptable… Were there demonstrators this last year? I didn't see. I think I saw one. The rain put out their hellfire, I think. Was that the guy in a tie, and he had like a sign that he was holding, and it was one dude, probably like late 30s, and my friend and sister stood next to him for a picture, probably just to mock him, I don't know, whatever. But he looked really uncomfortable.
Really heavy set guy with a goatee, and just so disappointed. And he wears the black shirt with the lettering, GOT AIDS YET? We'll have to tell him next year that we missed him. I was going to take my camera up there and ask him some questions. But he wasn't there this year. Maybe he was at Hometown Buffet. So have you been going to the Prides pretty regularly since you came out? I try to make it. If I have to work or something that weekend I can't make it, but I try to make it to every Pride Festival. Do you think it's changed since you came out? I definitely think that it's gotten bigger and more accepted, and I see lot more families out there, you know, which I don't know if they're supporting a brother/sister/parents/sibling, I don't know who they're out there to support, but it's great that you see more of a variety, more of a crowd out there, and it's great. You used the term straight acting earlier, as opposed to the image of gay people, especially gay men that's portrayed in the media, kind of femme, limp wrist is the term you use. What are you're thoughts on these different images that are present? You know, it's funny, because like I was saying, the media likes to portray the very feminine acting gay male, and you know, but yet it's funny because reading personal ads online, the one thing I see thrown around all the time, very straight acting. Very straight acting. You know, and so I don't put that in my online profile - I don't put "straight acting,” so you don't need to worry that anyone's going to figure it out, K, that we're gay. Just want you to know that. So if we're walking down through the mall, nobody would ever figure out that I'm here to be gay, because I'm straight acting… I just kind of laugh. I love to read the personal ads, what the people say sometimes just absolutely shock me, with what they'll put in some of their ads. I'm trying to think of some of the more shocking terminology that I've read where I'm like, I wouldn't even want to talk to this person, wouldn't want to venture, because I can already tell I'm going to hate his guts, because of certain things that he puts in his ads… Why would you ever put that? Straight acting would be one of them. But I've seen some really obnoxious, just real bold things where people just have a lot of confidence that they put on their ad. I usually enjoy when people are more sarcastic, I think that goes hand in hand with my humor, when they make fun of, oh, I like long walks on the beach, and things like this, and they start laughing, or they make some note that that's not what I really like. I can agree with that as kind of fun. I like when people are very real, you know, about who they are or you can see they've got a sense of humor by the way they come across in
their profile… People that are too serious in their profile, I won't do this, I won't do this, here's my list of standards, k, I'm not going to go here, I'm very religious, I'm not out, I won't be coming out any time soon, it's like they put down all these restrictions, you haven't even met them yet, it's like boy, it already sucks dating you, and I haven't even met you, forget it. No way. As someone who wasn't raised here, coming into Salt Lake relatively late, and I guess if you came out here, you might not have experience in other places, but what are some things that set us apart, since you have kind of a unique perspective on that? Well you know, the… It was a shock to come to Utah, and first of all my perception of Utah before I moved here was I think I had some confusion between the Mormons and the… what's that Pennsylvania group? The Amish. That's what I thought it was going to be like. Horse drawn carriages, and I know a lot of people talk about like Mormons have horns and tails, and I never heard any of that until I got here, so I kind of like had this idea that Mormons were the Amish, were the same thing, but I'd actually come out and I'd visited, and I'd applied for a job as a police officer, and had gone through the steps, flown out here several times, and actually really liked the fact that Utah was much slower than the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. And people were a lot more genuine, a lot more sincere, in Utah. When they said hello, they meant it, it wasn't just because that's what you do when you walk thorugh the door of their store. So I really liked the sincerity, the honesty, it wasn't as crowded, it's a nice area, I love the mountains, the altitude was great, so those were all things that definitely brought me to Utah. And then when I got here and I got hired, and I was working, I quickly realized that not being Mormon in the place that I worked, I was going to be the odd man out, above and beyond the fact that I was gay. You know. And I guarantee that if I'd come out it would have meant, wait, if I had continued working with that agency, that would have sucked. I would have hated life. I'm sure that there is a reason why I'm not with that agency. But when you get inside of a government vehicle, and there is a picture of Joseph Smith on the door, and you question, like, you know, and I was using another person's car that day, so you have this picture, this religious thing, and separation of church and state doesn't necessarily apply in this state sometimes. But I get in and I didn't know this guy was majorly Mormon, and the guy that I was riding with was like, well I am. Well… This is going to be a long shift… This is going to suck… So anyway. That was kind of like my experience upon arriving in Utah and starting to learn. And then I think for anybody that's not from here, if you want to get a taste for the culture, go to KSL.com and look at the commentary after an article is posted about anything relating to the Church, or Proposition 8, or the gay culture, you will see ignorance is bliss. You'll see that these people that are so religious, you will see a lot of their thought, or their train of thought. It's pathetic. Have there been individuals that were particularly instrumental in helping you do that, mentors?
I've got to give kudos to my therapist Carol. She's just a wonderfully nice lady, who as I went in and talked to her about some of the struggles that I'd had, some of the hesitation and stuff, she was just awesome, you know? And people, I think that there's this negative feeling about therapy, and they say, well, I'm going to a therapist, oh, what's wrong? You ok? You need to talk to somebody? Well, no, that's why I'm going to the therapist. I"m not looking for more friends, I'm looking for a therapist. So I started going to somebody that could help me as far as coming to terms with who I was, and she was great. She was absolutely fantastic. And she helped me overcome a lot of the obstacles, a lot of challenges that I had personally, and she'd actually done this one thing, and I don't' mind, I've told a million people this story. One of the things that she had me do as part of my therapy, she's like I want to you write a letter, and I want you to come out to your mother. I want you to write down, don't send it, ok? Just write the letter and then next week bring it back. I want to read what you write. So I brought it back the next week, and she read like 4 lines, and she was like, you hate yourself for being gay. And I sat, and I thought about it, and… did I write that? It's been a week.. She goes, no, just by this, that shows that you are not happy with the fact that you're gay. And I think she hit the nail on the head. Well, she was at that time. And that was one of the biggest challenges about coming out, again accepting who I was, and not being part of the mainstream as I'd been taught. That, you know, normal is straight, and gay is… a handicap of some time. And so that was just one of the exercises. And it was one of the things that she helped me work through, and it was awesome. Do you feel that you've been able to pay it forward, to favorite issues? In just the gay culture, or across the board? I guess in general, maybe the gay culture specifically, in any direction. You know I've been asked, several times, it's like here you are, you're 38, you've accepted who you are, do you ever go and talk to other people and such, and I said, I can't say that I have talked to specifically gay people. I mean, I've had friends that I've met and it doesn't matter whether they're gay or straight, I'm there to talk. You know, if somebody needs to talk to me, and I've had some close friends that had some issues, probably over the past year, I had this one friend of mine, and I really wanted him to be in one of my videos. And I've wanted him in one for a long time, and it took 6 years. And the day that we were going to film, he showed up, and he was a mess. He broke down crying. And so everybody else that was there for filming had already left, and he was texting me, and just really uptight about being in front of a camera. But when we got there we sat down and it wasn't really necessarily about being in front of a camera, it was about other issues in his life, he was having stress and drama. So we sat down and we talked for an hour, hour and a half so he could calm down, and then he did the acting job and he was phenomenal for his first time. I shouldn't even say for the first
time, that's a cop-out. He did a phenomenal job. But I'm basically, as far as like friends and the expression pay it forward, it's not just for gay people, but it's for anybody, you know. That are friends of mine, of course I'll take the time, you know. A friend of mine who she just lost her daughter this past year, and she let me have it, because I had not showed up to the funeral, and her daughter was 22, 23. And she called me up and she basically let me know that I had dropped the ball. And that made me feel like total shit. And we finally had a chance where I could take her out to lunch, and we could talk and let out some tears and it was awesome. Again, it's not necessarily gay or straight, just anybody that's a friend, take the time to listen to them. What are your thoughts on… It sounded like you had some interesting thought on the significance of therapy on the coming out process, as a general part of who I am as a human being… I think it's on an individual basis. I mean, people that have these issues with therapy that think it's maybe a negative thing, people that are in therapy are nuts, or these negative connotations, by all means, I tell people if you're having struggles with your wife, your kid, relationship issues, you know, it doesn't hurt to go talk to somebody, a professional. And a lot of times your employer has some type of program set up where you can go and talk to somebody, and again I think that there's like this kind of like evil cloud that falls… oh you're going to see a therapist… by all means, I think that it can really help. I'm sure that there's somebody out there that will say that it can also hurt, but maybe not the right thing for everybody. But I know that for me it was great, and I've not heard of people having a negative result of going to a therapist. So, by all means, I would say, I'm sure there's quacks out there. I've heard that there are therapists that are tea and cookies. My good friend Bradley said there are good therapists and bad therapists. Tea and cookies is basically sit there and stroke you and say, oh, you're doing a good job, your great, ok we'll see you next week! you're great, you're wonderful, you're making a difference! And maybe that's not what you need. You need somebody that can kind of challenge you and force you to face some realities. You know. And the thing is I think from what I've learned going through some therapy, is that you have to come to terms with things; they just basically give you the tools. You know. They don't tell you what you need to do. They don't' dictate back to you what you're going to do next. You have to make that decision, what's right for you. So people didn't understand that. They give you different outlets, and make you aware of things yo might not have been aware of. A good therapist. Did you have anything else you wanted to talk about, anything else that came up for you? I think I've talked enough!
I have a question - what do you foresee is going to happen with the gay community as it gains visibility and younger queers are coming out? I think it's great, I think we've come a long way as far as people are able come out now at an earlier age, and so you don't have people falling into that trap where they're 32 before they come to terms, and I think for older generations than myself, they're in their 50s and 60s before they're coming out. I think you'll have people that are more happy about their life. If they're just teenagers, and I meet people all the time. I have a room mate I rent a room to, and he's 20, you know, and I'm like man, that's awesome. That you're 20 and your parents know. To the fact that he had the courage to be able to tell them at such an early age. And I think what's going to end up happening is I hope that 30, 35 he's going to be in a long term relationship with somebody that's going to be his partner for the rest of his life… I think you'll see a lot more satisfied, happy people. I mean there's always going to be conflict with the relationships, but I think you'll have more successful, long term relationships because people coming out earlier and finding somebody that is their partner for life. At least that's what you would hope for for this newer generation. What do you think has enabled people to come out younger? I think without a doubt it's definitely things like the Pride Center here, Pride events, more acceptance, more of an understanding that there's nothing wrong with you, this is not actually a bad thing, people being educated that being gay is not a mental illness, it's not such a negative thing that I think prevent a lot of people from coming out before. YOu know, I think that it's probably much more openly discussed issue, you see lot more of it in the media, where it's not such a negative thing. Thank you Mark!
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