If you want to know all about me, & why I believe so strongly in human rights and treating people with love and compassion, the best place to look is my book, which explores all of these topics more thoroughly. You can get a copy of my book, entitled "The Remainder of My Life" here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/troy-carlyle/the-remainder-of-my-life/paperback/product-5016741.html
But if you just want a quick rundown, here goes:
I grew up in Dodge City Kansas, where I was a “Charlie Brown” kind-of kid. I took up the violin & once I got to high school, I joined the debate team. I was smart, though, and set my sights on the Air Force Academy.
I received a Congressional nomination to the Air Force Academy from Kansas Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1980.
I struggled at the Academy with academics. I kept my sense of humor, however. In 1982, I resigned my position as leader of the intercollegiate cadet debate team to make a movie—a “James Bond” comedy that made fun of cadet life. “Beyond the Chapel Wall” was the first (and to my knowledge only) cadet production of its kind— and became an instant “cult classic” within the tiny and tightly knit USAFA community.
After graduating, I became a navigator on C-130 cargo planes, and traveled extensively throughout Europe, Turkey and Central America. My nickname was “Magellan,” which I thought was pretty cool. I would travel with a footlocker of travel guides to make the most of our short layovers in famous cities and remote locations. No matter where we went, I could be counted on as the guy who knew where to go.
Eventually, I was asked to join an elite unit whose mission was so classified (TS, SCI); I’m not even allowed to talk about it now (though I will say it had to do with the space program). :-)
I struggled with my sexuality, however, hoping against hope that my “gay” feelings would just go away. When I was 29, I finally figured out that I was gay, and that it was time I learned to accept it. I needed someone to talk to, and took a huge risk by confessing to a friend of mine, who was a pilot.
Well, he ended up “confessing,” too, and it felt good to have someone to talk to, though we never had an intimate relationship with each other.
He did have an intimate relationship with another guy, however, but unfortunately for both of us, this “other guy” turned out to be a “fatal attraction.”
So when my friend tried to break up with him, this guy decided to turn us both into the AF Office of Special Investigations (OSI) as “homosexuals.”
Our subsequent court-martials were a national sensation—with articles in the New York Times and even an episode of NBC’s “Dateline.”
Though the “prosecution” argued strongly for nine years in prison, the jury in my trial settled for a “dishonorable discharge.” That was in 1993, and thus ended my nine-year Air Force career.
I taught film & video at the Art Institute of Houston for a few years, then started an advertising agency back in North Carolina… but life didn’t really start up again for me until 2000, when I bought one of the oldest neighborhood bars in the coastal town of Wilmington, NC and converted it to a blues bar.
The Rusty Nail at Beatty’s Tavern was my life. I sank my whole spirit into it, and we had many exciting adventures over the following six years, including some great national press (National Geographic Traveler, Sept 2005). We were an integral part of the Cape Fear Blues Society and their annual Blues Festival, and were the only bar to have a float in the Azalea Parade.
I also honed up on my “fiddle-playing” skills, & occasionally got up on stage to jam with the bands.
The Rusty Nail was all about the music, and many new bands cut their teeth at our humble little establishment.
In 2003, I contracted HIV through unsafe sex. Though I spent much time, over the following three years feeling sick, the doctors in NC were baffled by my failing health. It wasn’t until December of 2005 that I was finally diagnosed. By then I had lost 40 pounds and could barely walk.
By the time my stepfather and my brother got to Wilmington to bring me back to Tyler, Texas, no one thought I would live much longer. I left behind almost all my possessions and my bar, The Rusty Nail.
I was put under the care of an HIV specialist, and gradually, my health improved.
Even then, there were “glitches” in the system. At times, I was denied health care, and at other times, I have seen gross mistreatment of those in both the LGBT and the HIV communities.
East Texas is a paradox… that includes some of the best and worst examples of humanity I’ve ever seen.
This site is dedicated to all those who have gone before us, and all those yet to come… but mostly, it’s dedicated to us… you and me… here and now. Let’s celebrate the fact that we’ve made it this far, and stick together in the hopes that we can make a difference for ourselves and for others.