The personal odyssey of Kevin Richberg
“I did find something special... I found 33 amazing individuals who were willing to take a chance on love and life. A shout out to all of them.” -Kevin Richberg
I said one of the purposes in founding SFGN was to illuminate gay lives. Today we shine the light on an intriguing young man who has engaged unique odysseys in his journey on this Earth. His latest adventure perhaps was even bolder than his hiking of Mount Kilimanjaro, bull shark diving in the Fiji Islands, or bathing in a mud volcano in Columbia.
This young self-motivated gay adventurer, who embraces life so enthusiastically, entered on the most feared journey of all: he embarked on an amazing journey into the heart and soul of gay life-dating.
Online, Kevin Richberg, who graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from MIT, after finishing school in Southern California, announced that he was going to criss-cross America in search of thirty dates with thirty different men in thirty different cities. Call it speed dating raised to a higher power.
Using his skills as a self-sustaining journalist, he was going to write and blog about his dates and his experiences- and he did, from Pensacola to Spokane. With updates on advocate.com, Twitter, his website, and a Facebook page, Kevin recorded his transcontinental dating escapades, which culminated with his last date, on October 31, in Beijing, China, where he confides online, that “it did not go well.” Still this is a journey worth sharing.
Not anyone could have dated Kevin in this blind-date and blinding excursion. First, you had to write him and apply. Second, he had to fit you into his crazed schedule. Third, who the hell knows? It was a fascinating idea, and if I had known about it, I would have asked to be included.
Kevin’s meticulous scheduling started him on the East Coast in NYC and he went as far northwest as Spokane. Each date was a full day affair, from around noon, when he arrived at his new destination, till around midnight, when he would have to sleep before his next day’s morning drive to a new venue. So it was as much work as pleasure, as planned in some ways as spontaneous in others. Maybe it was not as taxing as white water rafting in Columbia or as majestic as circumnavigating Iceland, other adventures already on his resume, but this was still a demanding task.
He spent four months planning to ensure that he and his dates had a good time, while giving him the opportunity to write about gay culture and, in his own words, “to prove that traditional first dates are alive and well.” His recorded blog shares his surprising successes in Spokane to his cancellations in Chicago. He got wasted in Boise, hung over in Oregon, went ice skating in Wichita, got to see the zoo and aquarium in Denver, the banjo museum in Oklahoma City, and had great pizza in Laramie. At the Texas State Fair, he witnessed a three-legged Frisbee catching dog. But hey, what about the men he dated?
Here is a guy, with a Master’s, who has been at various stages of his life, a DNA chemist, director of residential assistants, drug testing specimen collection agent, bartender, and medical researcher. Handsome, healthy, apparently bright, and considerably attractive, why would he even need to do this? Just what is the reason to find 30 guys in 30 days from 30 different cities? His own blog may answer that question, because he writes “I haven’t yet experienced love at first sight.”
Still, too much of his blog is about pizzas in Minnesota and jiffy lubes in Missoula. So I am a critic- shoot me. I am thinking Kevin writes best though when he details the humanity of the human experience he engaged, as when he blogs extensively of the blind date with a blind man and his seeing eye dog, Faith, in Billings, Montana. There he pens that “My date has faith that one day in the future, maybe 5, maybe 10 years from now there will be a therapy to restore the retinal cells he’s lost over time. But until that day he will always have his amazing commitment to a full life, and a different kind of Faith, his Seeing Eye companion.”
The romantic that is Kevin came out with his date in Spokane, from being romanced by a rose on his hotel bed, making a piece of pottery, indulging in a chocolate apothecary, to sharing time in a hot tub later in the evening with his companion, “a complete gentleman.” You could tell from reading about Kevin’s writing on the couple he dated in Boise that he appreciated the sustenance and charm of their romance, admitting he was uncertain dating couples was the goal of his journey. But he notes after the date that, “it had been the most unique of experiences, and I was sad to see it end.”
As a writer, I try to put order to things, not necessarily to do your thinking for you, but to do mine for myself. With this type of dating endeavor, Kevin Richberg, along the way, was learning not so much about others, but more about himself. Awestruck over the beauty of Utah, “a wet dream,” he declares, he bemoans the fact he must leave so soon, but finds time to write of the Mormon he left behind.
At different times in our own lives, we go on journeys of self-discovery, and no matter where you go, eventually there you are. Some of us took a VW bus and just wound up anywhere. Kevin had a more purposeful path, so he got to go by the lounge where Matthew Shepherd was abducted, but he did so in the arms of a 20 year old student from Wyoming he described as “tall, blond, and very good looking.”
I think what I enjoyed most about reading Kevin’s blog is how it jogged my own mind, and my own journeys, from the day I met a young man named Spiros in Mykonos, to the afternoon I met Morgan in a theater in London, to a rendevous with a hitchhiker on the Pacific Coast Highway in 1972, that wound up as a romp on a sandy beach in Big Sur. You trespass on one person’s path in life, and it intersects your own.
At the age of 32, Kevin has already gone skinny dipping in Sea of Galilee, snorkled with Dolphins in Tunisia, and walked through Roman ruins in Tunisia.
His journey has made me reflect on my own horizons, large and small, some too long ago to even recall. Most of all Kevin’s journeys should remind all of us how precious life is, how special everyone we meet can be, and how every day is a new opportunity to make a difference and be something special.
Kevin Richberg, who I still have not got to interview, but feel I know a little bit, is well on his way to a life, which as Rudyard Kipling wrote in ‘If’ is going to give “the unforgiving minute 60 seconds worth of distance run.” Let those words be a tombstone for all of us.