Preppy and I were marching in the Pride Parade with the crew from Southern Voice and David Magazine. Everybody’d dressed as “Newsies,” which my gal pal Slutty Mandy had still managed to turn into fetish wear. It’s a talent, folks, I’m tellin’ ya.
We’d just returned from our honeymoon, and my column that week was simply a wedding photo accompanied by the note “Sorry boys, something came up…” We thought it was pretty damn cute.
As Preppy and I walked the parade route, a couple of overgrown paperboys holding hands, I was a little stunned, and pleased as punch, by the number of people shouting out congratulations. I suppose I shouldn’t have been. Our long road to the altar was well-documented, with weekly updates.
“It’s like the biggest wedding reception line ever,” I told him as we strolled down Peachtree Street. This was almost as good as the gift registry.
These people didn’t know me, but the connection through more than four years of reading the column made them feel like a friend had found the right boy with whom to settle down. Their support has meant more to me than I could ever hope to express.
I have learned over the years that so many fears, frustrations, and hopes really are universal- it doesn’t matter if you like boys, girls, or some point in between. We all want to find our place in a community, and have a sense of purpose. We have a basic human need to connect.
Having an outlet in which to do that every week has been one of the great blessings of my life.
Another “paper of record” will emerge in the Atlanta GLBTQ community, whether that’s online or in good ‘ol print, because as my friend Rich said, “There’s still people who want it, and still people who want to do it.” And I look forward to what happens next.
But I’m sad to see this particular chapter in my life close. I loved our little magazine, made great friends there, and think we all did a damn fine job. I am forever grateful for being welcomed in some small way into people’s lives. Thank you, thank you for that.
The challenge to myself, and I guess to others as well, is to find a way to continue that connection. I found my voice and my inner activist in the last four years. I’ll keep writing, and I’ll go back to posting it on topherpayne.com [and now weekly on Project Q Atlanta].
God knows I’m in no danger of running out of things to say.
So this isn’t really a goodbye, just a change in the state of things–a new adventure. And experience has taught me that no matter how things might seem at the time, that’s never really a bad thing.
Topher Payne is a veteran columnist, actor and playwright based in Atlanta. He is the author of “Necessary Luxuries: Notes on a Semi-Fabulous Life.” Find the book and his columns at topherpayne.com. You can also follow him on twitter.