This is where the adventure really began, and where I met Dave, the love of my life. In 2000, both of our dads accepted assignments at the US National Laboratory there which was set up during the Manhattan Project in WW2. So there we were: two British 17-year-olds, displaced to the middle of nowhere, west of the Smoky Mountains. Actually, they call Oak Ridge a city now, and it has a large and well-reputed High School, home of the Wildcats football and volleyball teams around which the entire life of the school – and the city – seems to revolve. Well, that and the strong church community.
Dave and I quickly infiltrated ourselves into the school gym and weight room (pictured), but our chosen sports appeared to cut little ice with the coaches – although that was set to change when they saw what we could do! Instead, we got ourselves into a private club, now known as Man.Power, set up for guys keen to develop their bodies in sports like wrestling, acrobatics and just straight bodybuilding. A high proportion of gay body worshippers there, certainly, but not exclusively so. But it was a closed environment in which to get ‘up close and personal’, and to discover ourselves within a caring and sharing community of like-minded guys, forming trusting friendships that would last a lifetime. It became the training home of our troupe – Man.Power.Acrobatics. We owe so much to Chad, the guy who set it all up and allowed us, as young outsiders at first, to be admitted.
How could we have imagined that fetching up in Oak Ridge would lead eventually to me becoming a professional circus performer, to meeting a life partner, to becoming a gay dad… but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself again!
Meanwhile, here’s a picture of Oak Ridge’s Clinch River, very close to our friend Cody’s fave ‘swimmin hole’ where we spent a lot of time in the summers. Cody’s place, which he shares with school coach Andy, is well hidden in the trees on the opposite side.