Lisbon, IA

A green kite charts a speedy parabola through the blue sky. The wind comes out of the west, a brutal, invisible pressure that makes trees lean, tractor-trailers wobble, and the man with the kite stumble forward. The Big Muddy pushes south, high water next to grassy, manicured banks, more indomitable than the midwestern wind. Davenport, Iowa's waterfront is hardly a bustling commercial center, but numerous people move up and down its bike path while others talk quietly under freshly-painted gazebos. A minor league baseball stadium has thrown its gates open and fans in red jerseys pour in to enjoy a late afternoon game with the river as a backdrop.

What is the hardest decision you've ever made? "Being me." The African-American man in the white sedan is in his mid-forties and wears thin-rimmed glasses and a gray t-shirt with cut off sleeves. "You married?" No. "Are you bi?" What? "Are you bi?" No. "A lot of people in this park are bi." Is that what he is referring to when he says that his hardest decision is being himself? "No, no. By 'being me' I mean, not getting too crazy, keeping myself from getting crazy. I can be pretty wild." He says that he has to be a mentor to his younger siblings and children. He does not want them to see him in a weak moment. He remembers seeing his own father in weak moments.

He pauses.

"That whole gayism thing, that's probably the number one decision people tell you about, isn't it?" No, but a few interviewees have discussed coming out. "People tell you all kinds of stuff, don't they?" Some of them. Sometimes. "It's probably your smile—you've got good teeth. I saw you over here and I said: 'shit, why ain't I better dressed today?' Yeah, you got a good smile, but I don't know what you're like underneath."