You and I remember the days so well, I think, Stephen Sovie, when being gay and being “in the life” pretty much had to go hand in hand. Because when being gay is outrageous, living a quite, ordinary life can mean never finding other gay men.
I think young people have it easier today. Not only can more of them be gay where they are instead of by fleeing to urban centers like you and I did, but they can use social media to interact with ordinary gay people outside of norm-enforcing (and limiting) spaces.
Oh sure, there are still tons of problems. Grindr and Scruff culture can be ruthless and brutal. Chem sex and meaningless connections are a huge challenges for our younger generations.
But many, many more gay youth, like Fred Shirley, are able to meet guys and be real, and be whole, without the rigamarole and unrealistic standards of “the life.”
And good for you for finding your guy. :-)