I chose to use the image of the painting, Jeune Homme nu assis au bord de la mer (Hippolyte Flandrin) on my blog because I have loved it ever since I became aware of it while on my mission in
Europe, though I have not seen the original, which is in the Louvre in . Paris
I had not been familiar with the painting, but it evoked strong feelings in me at the time that coincided with some of the feelings I describe in my inaugural post and upon which I will elaborate in subsequent posts ~ feelings of passion, freedom and of being myself on the one hand, and peace, purity and beauty on the other.
While on my mission, I pasted a postcard of the painting in my journal. Years later, in a paroxysm of shame, self-loathing, and paranoia, I removed it, along with a dozen or so pages describing my most intimate feelings during those weeks that I flirted with embracing the “real me.” (After all, what would my children and/or my wife think if they ever read passages of my journal in which I came the closest to revealing my deepest, innermost thoughts concerning my same-sex attraction?)
I deeply regret now that I don’t have those pages, that I tried to erase that period of my mission and my life. I wish I had those pages from my journal to read and ponder over. But this painting evokes that period of my life when I think I came closest to accepting myself and affirming my same-sex attraction.