Jan. 17, 2023

Grady Throneberry gets thrown into fire to rise from the ashes

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My guest, Grady Throneberry, the first openly gay police chief in Kentucky and a former bi-vocational pastor, gets thrown into the fire, when a spurned boyfriend outs him to his church and the city major. All hell broke loose and Grady went through the most painful and dark period of his life at 64. With sheer courage and determination, he came back from the clusterf*&k and shares a story of rising from the ashes, filled with love, support, romance, and fulfillment.

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Coach Maddox  0:03  
Hello, Grady Throneberry and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I am looking forward to our conversation.

Grady Throneberry  0:11  
So Maddox, thanks for having me.

Coach Maddox  0:13  
You bet. Well, first, I'd like to just tell the audience that you and I don't know each other from Adam, we've never met, this is our first time to have a conversation. So I'm just going to be just as surprised as the rest of you are and whatever he brings to the table. Grady is, he's the first openly gay police chief in Kentucky. He is a former by vocational pastor. And He's author of a book entitled, gay and gray, my journey to the rainbow. And there will be links in the show notes if you'd like to check that out, as well. So great, I guess the first question I would love to ask you is, how do you define or what is it mean to you to be an authentic gay man?

Grady Throneberry  1:08  
That's an interesting question that acts as I was thinking about the show during the last hour, I've thought about how many times people have jokingly said to me, you need to get your gay card. And it took me a couple of times to hear that to figure out just exactly what that meant. And I've kind of rejected that. I decided I don't need a gay card, I've got a great card, and bad, bad gay card, I think most of them mean that you have to do all the things that other gay men do. You've got to go to the gay campground, you've got to go on the gay cruises. You've got to go to the gay parties, and you've got to be hooking up all over the place and all those sorts of things, you got to be a heavy drinker. You know, maybe a smoker just depends. There's so many things, and everybody defines that differently. And I finally figured out that I am an authentic gay man. Without the gay card now, I've got a couple of holes punched in that card. But living authentically, I do what I want to do, I do what I like to do. And I'm having a great time and maybe someday I'll get all the holes punched in that card. But for now, I'm just fine. And I'm authentic.

Coach Maddox  2:57  
You know, I love that you're calling that out, Grady. I've heard that all my life. And I've even said it. You know, a friend will say, Oh, I've never seen X movie, you know, whatever the movie is Steel Magnolias are some of the things that we as gay men tend to just cherish and love and, and I'll say, Oh, we're gonna revoke your gate card. And we've also it's kind of just accepted thing that we do, but I've never really unpacked it the way you just unpacked it. And you've called something out that I think it's worth pointing out. And that is the gag card has a certain like, stereotypical aspect to it. And, and at the same time, most of us, most of us as gay men really don't like being put in that stereotypical box. yet. We're the ones that say that saying we're going to take your gay card away, or where's your gay card? We're really bad sometimes that doing the things to each other or to ourselves that we don't like coming from someone else. But I love how you call that

Grady Throneberry  4:03  
out. Yeah, thank you. And just to give you an example of that Maddox. I got into a real debate in the last few months about why I wasn't going to the gay campground. And the issue isn't that I don't want to go to the gay campground. The issue is that I can't be showing up on social media sitting around a pool with other men who may not be as close as they should be. You know, my position is such that that just can't happen.

Coach Maddox  4:46  
I can see that as as the chief of police there is a certain you know, a certain Yeah, what am I trying to say reputation or that you you must uphold in order to have the respect of the people that you oversee and, and the city at large. That makes perfect sense to me.

Grady Throneberry  5:10  
Yeah. Yeah, it does to me too, but it does put us out. We go to one of the local gay bars almost every Tuesday night and play trivia. And it's a blast. And we love to socialize with, with our friends. But I'm not, I'm not the guy that has more than one drink during that two hour trivia game. I'm a stripper. Because I can't be staggering out of a bar. You know, and I don't mean to represent that all gay men drink too heavily, because that's not the case at all. But there's an expectation that if you're going to be there, you're gonna be doing things that maybe you're uncomfortable with. And so I just don't feel the pressure for that anymore. Yeah, no, I

Coach Maddox  6:06  
agree completely. And even though we can't say that it all came in? We do. I think that studies show that alcoholism runs about 40% higher among gay men than it does from our strike counterparts. So there's, there's some truth to that. You know, there's definitely some truth to that. Well, all right. Well, I love what you shared, let's jump into our main reason for being here. And that is to hear your life's journey, your story, and particularly what has been the biggest challenge in your life that you've either gone through or perhaps are continuing to go through.

Grady Throneberry  6:45  
Okay. I was born a baby boomer. And in the midst of this, and there were certain expectations of men at that time. I was born into a family of very macho men, very conservative men. And about adolescence or pre adolescence, I realized that I was different than I was gay, I was much more attracted to boys. And but I had to, I had to I had to live as though I weren't. expectation, that was the safest thing for me to do. And so the short version is I grew up, went to high school, dated a girl and married her. In my early 20, we had a couple of kids and everything was going along pretty well, except that I still knew that I was gay. I had always known that. And my first experiences were with boys. I don't know if that's common or uncommon, but that was my experience. And I live that way as a conservative. straight man for the next 4041 years. And I finally got to the point where I realized that I couldn't live that way any longer. There was always this underlying discontent, maybe some anger, and I didn't know where it was coming from. Didn't go to a therapist or anything like that. But I finally decided that the last third of my life was going to be different than the first two thirds. And I had to come out and so I began that process it started out being pretty easy. started exploring and trying to develop some gay friends and told my then wife and my kids, what was going on. They were in total disbelief. As you might expect, they're never a hint that that dad might be gay. I had been, in addition to my role as a police chief, by vocational part time pastor or associated pay Esther in one of the local conservative churches, which was, again, it was just part of my persona.

And that didn't work out very well either. But anyway, I told them

and met someone who I originally considered to be a friend and a kind of a mentor kind of a coach. He was a little younger than I, but he had had a ministry background, working with youth in a church setting. And so there was kind of a connection there. We began meeting for watch a couple of times a week. And I thought it was pretty good. I was gratified that he took an interest. But it didn't take long for that friendship to turn into something more. And it started to become romantic. He got impatient with my progress. My coming up progress, was very dissatisfied that I hadn't filed for divorce and left the church where I was at and told my boss, the mayor that I worked for, and took it upon himself to expedite the process. And he did that in a fairly brutal way. Wow. Yep.

Coach Maddox  11:45  
Wow, how did that? How did that change things? I mean, I've heard stories like this before, but it's it's pretty abrupt and it up into your life, doesn't it?

Grady Throneberry  11:57  
Yeah, it really did. He launched a social media campaign against me, accusing me of various things from abusing math authority to get men to have sex with me and all kinds of things. contacted the church where I was serving with allegations sent letters to the mayor that I was working for, and the city council members at the time. And, as you know, with social media, it's spread like wildfire. And it seemed like within a day or so everybody knew what I wasn't prepared for everybody to know. The church leadership estimate with me and told me I had to resign. Not unexpected, but disappointing. The mayor that I work for, and by the way, there's no job security and map position other than the goodwill of the mayor. serve at the pleasure. So the mayor had asked the city attorney's to do some investigation to see if any of these allegations were true and worth even acknowledging and they decided no. The mayor asked to meet with me one evening. And I knew I was sure I knew what was coming. I thought he was going to fire me. But he didn't. He told me that my personal life was my own business. That he and the council appreciated the job that I had done. I've been the chief for 15 years. And the department was kind of in shambles when I took over. We can successfully turn things around. And then he went on to say that he didn't care if I was sleeping with five different men a week. And just to break the tension, I asked if six would be okay. And we both had a big laugh. And we actually have become very, very close friends more than just employer employee. And he's been very supportive of me. And it's been really good.

Coach Maddox  14:51  
That's an amazing story. Yeah, but it was grueling.

Grady Throneberry  14:54  
It was really Maddox. There were two much during that period, this is I've kind of summarized, but this was about a two month period when I just I just couldn't face the world. I just wanted it to go away. And it was a really, really dark period. I was sure everybody was talking behind my back. I knew that I had hurt my family. And I couldn't figure out how to get beyond it. And now, I would close the door to my office when I was at work, because I didn't want anybody coming in. I didn't want to face anyone. It it was, it was pretty painful. One afternoon, one of my officers knocked on the door and asked if he could talk with me. And I said, Sure. So it comes down and I, I stayed behind my desk, which I never did, I'd always get up and go ahead and sit in front of my desk with whoever came in. But I wanted to keep that distance. And he said to me that he knew what was going on. I said, okay, and he said, we all know what's going on. Again, okay. And he said, we all know that you're gay. said okay. And he told me that nobody, with only a couple of exceptions cared. And he said, All we really know is that you treat us all like sons and daughters. And that's what's important to us. Well, Maddox, I just about lost it.

Coach Maddox  16:50  
I would have lost it. There's no two ways I would have lost

Grady Throneberry  16:53  
it. Yeah, yeah. It was. It was really emotional. And, in fact, when he left my office and pull the door shut, I did, I did break. It was so cathartic. And that was the point at which I just decided it was okay. I don't care who knows. I'm not advertising it, but I don't care. Who knows. I'm fine with me. Well, and

Coach Maddox  17:28  
I know from my own experience, and you can probably validate this, when you stepped into that place of being okay with you, the rest of the world followed. For the most part. There's always gonna be some exceptions. But I did notice that a point when I fully accepted myself and allowed it to be a no thing, the rest of the world allowed it to be a no thing. It was that true for you. For the most part,

Grady Throneberry  17:59  
for the most part, and you know, there's still people that I run into from my past and even from my present that don't know as I said, I don't I don't wear it on my sleeve. I don't wear you know, sparkly tank tops to work or any of that stuff. There's still some that don't know, there are still some that hold me in contempt there. Many people from especially church folks who haven't spoken with me since 2017, and probably never will,

Coach Maddox  18:46  
and yet they call themselves Christians.

Grady Throneberry  18:50  
Well, that's qualified, I guess. But, you know, I have learned that I can only fix me. I can't fix everybody else. And that was a hard lesson because I'm wired. I'm hard wired to be a fixer. You know, I'm a I'm a police chief. I was a pastor. I was a parent. I naturally have this need to fix things. Fix people and discovering that I can't was a really hard lesson to learn but I learned it

Coach Maddox  19:36  
well and once once learned as hard as it was once learned didn't that in some way liberate you?

Grady Throneberry  19:44  
It was yes, you're right. It's liberating. You know, I for most of my life, I thought there was something really wrong with me. And, you know, my my theological education and serving as a pastor and all that I, I knew that this was wrong thinking. But I prayed that God would fix me that God would heal me of this gay affliction. And daily and God never did. And I finally concluded that the God who raised the dead and gave sight to the blind, and made lay men walk could have healed me how he wanted to.

Coach Maddox  20:52  
Well, and and perhaps, perhaps he did, Grady, maybe it just looks very different than what you thought it might look like in your mind, maybe healing you was making you straight. But when you tell that so far, what I've heard of your story completely sounds like a healing to me. You were what the healing look like, from from what I can see is that you were you were healed from thinking that you needed to be straight in order to be happy and healthy and have a rewarding life.

Grady Throneberry  21:27  
Yes, yes, that's true. What I also finally figured out is God didn't heal me because there wasn't anything wrong with me. Exactly. I thought there was something wrong. You know, I never could accept that. This was right.

Coach Maddox  21:52  
Your your only thing that needs to be healed? Was your thinking.

Grady Throneberry  21:56  
Yes. Absolutely.

Coach Maddox  21:58  
Crazy. How long ago was this when the man brutally outed

Grady Throneberry  22:03  
you? That was the beginning of 2018.

Coach Maddox  22:09  
So it's literally fresh. That's only four years. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I know that you talked about how bright brutal it was and how painful it was and how dark time it was. But standing in the place where you are now looking back on that? Is there any part of you that can see

Grady Throneberry  22:31  
the perfection in it? I'm not sure I see. The perfection what he did I see some perfection in the result. You know, the result? Well, in point of fact, if that hadn't happened, I might still be in the process of coming up, instead of being fully out.

Coach Maddox  23:05  
Well, there you go. Right there. It's death by fire. I mean, yes, it was incredibly painful and dark, but it moved you through at a rate that you probably would have never been able to do on your own

Grady Throneberry  23:24  
may not, you know, I don't really know. I would like to think that I had the courage and the strength to do it on my own. But gosh, when it when that bandage was ripped off, it was it was really ripped off. And

Coach Maddox  23:45  
no putting that genie back in the bottle

Grady Throneberry  23:50  
at all, not at all. So it's you know, what started out? You know, adults often quote scripture, and I'm getting a paraphrase this you know, but you know, what, what he intended for harm God used for good. And that's often the way it happens if we just let it happen, and don't fight it. Anyway, as painful as it was, everything's good now.

Coach Maddox  24:27  
I have to believe that he must have been in a very dark place himself to do what he did. Happy people don't do shit like that.

Grady Throneberry  24:43  
Yeah, I don't know. I you know, I've spent a little time trying to psychoanalyze him and his motives and all that stuff. After he did all this, he wouldn't communicate with me at all. He ultimately moved to the bus cific Northwest and married some poor schmuck

who had been in a relationship before. So I spend my time just praying for that other guy.

Coach Maddox  25:14  
Well, and it sounds to me like you, you dodged a pretty major bullets.

Grady Throneberry  25:20  
It does, doesn't it? Yeah. Yeah. Big gun.

Coach Maddox  25:24  
I mean, you know, I, you've already mentioned that you have a fiance, which you're gonna love and planning to marry. It's sounds like life has taken 180 degree turn?

Grady Throneberry  25:43  
Yeah. The better, much better.

Coach Maddox  25:48  
Yeah. So at that time when you shared with your, your family, your wife and the kids? Was there something in particular that was there any kind of a an event or some turning point that put you over that edge that you knew you had to do that? You identify something that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back?

Grady Throneberry  26:21  
I'm not sure if I can put my finger on that. Other than maybe it was fear of being discovered anyway. You know, and that, that's very likely because I needed I'm not sure how exactly to say this, and needed to be gay, openly. And that desire was really strong. And I was afraid that I think I was afraid that at some point, I might have said or done something. And then just exposed myself.

Coach Maddox  27:16  
Well, you know, the beauty of the way it all came down is that you no longer have to look over your shoulder. This is true. It's true. There's there's nothing looming in the darkness that you have to fear. What if this happens?

Grady Throneberry  27:34  
Right, right. Yeah, you're absolutely right. But, you know, Maddox never really had close relationships with other men. You know, not romantic relationships, but friendships. And I was always, I was always too guarded, to, again, fearful that something that I said something that I did some expression or gesture with my hands or whatever, might reveal something that I didn't want them to know. And

Coach Maddox  28:18  
I have heard this from many men, Grady, again, who kept other men at bay didn't let anybody get close because they were so fearful that that closeness would they would figure it out. If they got in close enough. They figured out

Grady Throneberry  28:35  
Yeah, yeah. And, you know, that was a big missing piece in my life friendships with other men. And so

I have a lot of really good close friends now. And that's been, it's been wonderful.

Coach Maddox  28:58  
And are those close male friendships a mixture of straight and gay man?

Grady Throneberry  29:03  
Yes. Because I don't have to have anything from the straight man. And the natural friendships that occur, but among gay men are beautiful.

Coach Maddox  29:18  
I mean, you know, I think it's worth kind of calling out all the things that you didn't have before this happened. And all the things that you do have

Grady Throneberry  29:31  
since this has happened

Coach Maddox  29:35  
yeah, and of course, you lost some things. But, you know, oftentimes the things that fall away, don't serve us anymore. Anyway. Some of the relationships, some of the the church, those things fell away because they weren't in business. Just my take. They weren't any longer for your greatest and highest good

Grady Throneberry  30:01  
Yes. The folks that really thought were friends, I was clearly wrong about for 10 years, I was in a Friday morning Bible study 15 other other guys. And they were all from very conservative, Big E of angelical churches. And none of them have spoken to me since I came out. That was painful. But I got over the church where I served. For the most part, they don't have anything to do with me. Since I resigned there, I have officiated a couple of weddings for church members, and some funerals for church members, families and things. So not everybody there despises me. They, unfortunately, just following the leadership of the church, by the way, the church told me that I could remain a member, I just couldn't be on the staff anymore. And I said, Well, why would I want to do that? And they also said that at some point, I can rejoin the staff. I said, Well, what event is going to trigger that? And they couldn't tell me. So I haven't been back there. have no desire to go back there. Have you made a new church home? Yes. A gay couple that I met early on, when I was trying to find gay friends, which is the thing that I needed most invited me to their church. So we went, I went with him one Sunday morning, and I went with him a second time, and very, very quickly realized that was the place I needed to be. It's an open and affirming former Southern Baptist Church, Southern Baptists kicked them out. When they, when they started performing it same sex wedding. So we, we wear that as a badge of honor now have been X Southern Baptist. And they're just the most loving people in the world. And we're there all the time. I teach a Sunday school class, and we have great friends. There's many gay and lesbian couples, they're my fiance are in fact, our second date was church. I invited him to go to church with me. And he's the first guy that I've ever dated. That said, Yes. And I thought, well, wow, this is a good side. And so we go, I mean, we go every Sunday, he serves on a committee and, and there was one Sunday morning, Maddix when we, we were just exhausted, and we decided to sleep and well, Monday morning, he looks at me, and he says, I don't like that. We didn't go to church yesterday. So so they love him and he loves them. And it's a great place to be. It's a family. Yeah, yeah. And I've discovered there's other ways to do ministry than from behind the pulpit. So that's, that's been good. You know, sometimes I have great theological discussions with with gay men and bars who are not that I have to spend a lot of time in barbed wire, isn't it? But you know, there a lot of gay men struggling with faith, you know, because the church at the larger church hasn't been kind to, to the LGBTQ community. And so I found it's a good place to have conversations. And they're, they're hungry for some reassurance that God still loves them, and there's a place for them.

Coach Maddox  34:45  
Yes, that intersection where God and gay crosses

Grady Throneberry  34:49  
me. Yeah,

Coach Maddox  34:50  
it does exist. Absolutely.

Grady Throneberry  34:54  
Absolutely. It does. Yes.

Coach Maddox  34:57  
You know, I know you've had Get through literal hell to get where you are. I really hear it, I feel it. But I'm also hearing a really wonderful success story. I'm hearing like you, you have. It sounds to me like you have the life that perhaps you always wanted.

Grady Throneberry  35:23  
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And, and by saying that I don't want to represent that I didn't have a good life. My ex wife and I are still best friends. We still care about each other very much. We have coffee or lunch once a week. And she's been very supportive. Although she doesn't quite understand the gay thing. You know, she thinks that something I might have chosen, rather than been born into. And that's okay. She still respects me and supports me. So I've had a good life. I've had the, you know, the real had what a lot of gay men longed for, and never really have as children. Which I love dearly. So, you're right. It's, it's been a success. It was a long time coming, but it's good.

Coach Maddox  36:19  
How old are your kids?

Grady Throneberry  36:22  
40 and 44? And are they all cool with the gay thing? You know, that's a very, that's a good question. My eldest, and her kids are perfectly fine with it. Her kids love my fiancee. And she does to my youngest. I'm not sure if she's okay with it. She's another one who thinks that this was something that chose to be instead of was born to be. And she's not at a point yet where she will let my fiance be around her kids. Not sure if she ever will be. I hope and pray that she will. But she's kind and to my fiance, and we're still very close. So it, I think it's as good as I could have ever expected it to be considered. What they thought our was all those years.

Coach Maddox  37:47  
Yeah. Well, yeah. That had to be really tough on them as well, you know? Yeah. The family they go, they almost go through I think as much as we do sometimes when the truth comes out. Yeah, well, Grady, what words of wisdom would you have for someone that is on a journey that's similar to yours?

Grady Throneberry  38:15  
Oh, my goodness. Don't know that I can give a definitive answer to that specific answer to that. One of the one of the things that I tell people all the time, whether they're straight or gay, or whatever it is.

Just be kind to yourself. Life is short. Be kind to yourself, do good things for yourself. Don't let anybody else tell you what your journey should be.

Because everybody's got advice. And occasionally, it's good advice. But it's, it's usually specific to them.

Coach Maddox  39:11  
It's usually Yes. It's temporary through the lens that they're they're looking

Grady Throneberry  39:15  
through. Yeah, yeah. And I think it's well intentioned. I think most people that would give you advice about coming out, just want you to be happy. They want you to be yourself. But you've got to do it in your own time and in your own way. That's, that's the only real advice that I would have for anyone. And what

Coach Maddox  39:44  
is the biggest lesson that you have learned through this experience?

Grady Throneberry  39:53  
Be patient I thought when I came out Maddox that I would immediately find the love of my life. And, you know, we'd start a new life, have a picket fence, and all of those things. And, you know, just be the happy, flamboyant gay couple, or, you know, whatever, whatever gay couples are supposed to be. I had this vision, in my mind of what that was gonna look like. And so I started making friends and I started dating and dating is grueling, at best. And

Coach Maddox  40:47  
that's kind of putting it mildly. That's an understatement. I think actually.

Grady Throneberry  40:51  
Yeah, I'm trying not to cuss. But savings a bit. So let's just put it that way.

Let's call it you either you either go to golf bars, and the likelihood of finding your soulmate at a bar is it's low, because everybody else is more pathetic than you are.

Coach Maddox  41:23  
I said, it's a needle in a haystack. And

Grady Throneberry  41:26  
yeah, I mean, I shouldn't say that. Because I have a lot of friends that, you know, I see at bars, but it's, it's just not the best place necessarily, to find your soulmate. The dating apps are awful. I finally figured out that the algorithms aren't designed to help you find somebody they're designed to keep you paying every month. And so they never match you up with somebody that's a good match. And you know, you get on those things, you can be whoever you want to be. And most of the people that I met on dating apps, were just liars. I finally gave up on all those

Coach Maddox  42:13  
apps are not good, that's for sure.

Grady Throneberry  42:16  
No, they're not. My friends. You know, I've had two or three, I guess three guys that dated for five or six months. And, you know, it didn't work out my friends. Were all saying just stop looking. Just stop looking, you know, someone will show up. And I don't know if this is true for everybody. But I stopped looking that thought, you know, I've got a good life, I'm happy I can do whatever I want. Go wherever I want. I don't need someone else to you know, to make me a whole person. And so I got to the point, I decided I was just going to be content. And six weeks after family made that decision. I'm sitting at home on a Saturday night with a book in my lap and the television on and my best friend is a physician who's like me came out later in life. The end of the guy who was dating at the time, had gone to dinner, called me and said we're going to the bar. Why don't you come join us and this is about 1030 at night, Maddox. I said now, I'm in for the evening. I'm sitting here in my jammies. I'm not going back out. We hung up 10 minutes later, I said this is silly. Why am I sitting here by myself? I'm just gonna go. So I called him I said, order me a drink. I'll be there. And we're sitting there having a drink. And the guy who's now my fiance Watson. We had been we had served on the Board of Global Gaming, of course for about a year together. I had dropped off the board and hadn't seen him for close to a year. So we're, we just started chatting. We started our own side conversation. That was on a Saturday evening. On Sunday, we continued to text back and forth. And you know, it was it was nice. Monday was Memorial Day. That was 21 months ago or something. And so we had our first date and all we did was walk across the footbridge into southern Indiana, have lunch at one of the little restaurants over there and just talked for several hours. And it went really really well. And so I thought well, I'm going to invite the scattered Church, and I did and he said yes. And we've been pretty much inseparable ever since. And that was 21 months ago, 22 months ago. But I stopped looking. And he showed up.

Coach Maddox  45:17  
Well, and if you only came out in 18, and you're telling me and 20, you met him? You didn't, you didn't have to wait for very long. That's pretty fast.

Grady Throneberry  45:28  
Well, I'm a catch. Of course, I'm just kidding.

Coach Maddox  45:34  
I love it. You got to own it. You got to own it.

Grady Throneberry  45:40  
I'm just teasing, of course. But yeah, when I started that coming up process at the end of 17. And that, you know, all kind of culminated in the beginning of 2018. And we're almost beginning of 23. So it's been good. He's, he's not at all what I expected to show up. And you're smiling. So you probably understand that I do. The guys that I've dated all been early to mid 50s. had a little trouble with anybody older than that, because they just really kind of had given up and didn't want to travel or do much. And, you know, and so I just kind of didn't see this one covered Maddox.

Coach Maddox  46:39  
That's usually what it hits. Just like all your friends said. That's exactly what happened to me. He wasn't, you know, what I was expecting or, and it was just out of the out of the blue one day from a very unexpected place. And I'm thinking it's the real deal.

Grady Throneberry  47:01  
Well, that makes me happy. makes me smile.

Coach Maddox  47:06  
It makes me smile, too.

Grady Throneberry  47:07  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And when I, you know, the, my only criteria for being with somebody was, I mean, I couldn't be with a dumbass. I had to be with somebody who was intellectually compatible, who I could have deep conversations with, who love to explore the world, and culture and the arts and all that kind of stuff. And and that's the guy. The only challenge initially, was that he's 30 years younger than I am.

And I was pretty insecure about that, at first, more concerned about what other people would think about that. And then I just figured out hell with it. I don't care what other people think about it. So

Coach Maddox  47:59  
well, the guy I'm with is 20 years, my younger. Yeah. And when we, when we started dating, we didn't talk about age at first, we had known each other for a couple three weeks before he even came up. And when we did finally talk about age, now, a little pre story, the beginning of the year, he lost a 20 year husband to liver disease. Oh, well, they'd been together for 20 years. So when we discovered our age, I said, you know, there's a 20 year difference between us. Are you okay with that? And he looked me square in the eyes. And he said, after going through what I've gone, gone through, I'm going to take the happiness when

Grady Throneberry  48:46  
it comes. Yeah. And that

Coach Maddox  48:50  
that changed me I was a little uneasy about the age difference. And in that moment, when he said that, I really got it. And I let it go. And I've not given another thought, since.

Grady Throneberry  49:04  
Well, yeah, you know, the age difference can be an issue if you let it be an issue. But the age difference also is energizing, and that he sees a lot of things from a perspective that I don't have. And I see things from a perspective that he doesn't have. And so we have these, we have these great, sometimes two and three are conversations about a single political issue or a single cultural issue. And it's a learning experience for me, and he's incredibly bright. He speaks four languages. He's teaching himself piano and guitar at the same time. he's just he's one of these people whose mind is always going. One of the funny stories that I tell is, we decided we were going to go for a three night cruise just a little getaway weekend, couple of months after we started dating, and we're heading out the door luggage in tow. And he says, Oh, I forgot my quantum physics book and my graphing calculator. So what? Yeah, he said that, I need to go back and get those. And that's what Well, yeah, last time I went on a cruise. I was really disappointed that I forgot my quantum physics book and my graphing calculator, but that's the way his mind works. He's always trying to learn something.

Coach Maddox  50:52  
My guy were, like, separated at birth twins separated at birth, because mine's the same way.

Grady Throneberry  51:00  
Really? Well. You know, it's, it's, yeah. When I tell people and I knew I couldn't be with a dumbass, but I didn't really sign on for this. They just laugh. So. But it's good. He's, he's incredibly smart. And that's a need that it can't just be about sex, you know?

Coach Maddox  51:27  
Exactly. Well, and I've noticed that, you know, being with the younger guys certainly does inspire me to take really good care of myself. And, you know, it's, it's inspired me to be more active because I want to be able to keep up with him for a long time to come. Yeah, he laughingly says it's the opposite. He's 20 years younger, and I am and he struggles to keep up with me sometimes.

Grady Throneberry  51:57  
Well, you know, medics, I've just turned 68 I don't have any idea what 68 is supposed to look like, or act like or think like, but I'm pretty sure I don't look that way. Or think that way or act that way. Because when I said I don't want to live the last third of my life, like I live the first two thirds. I've got to keep going. I'm determined to live until I die. And by living I mean, you know, I want to go to plays, and I want to go to museums, and I want to travel and I want to go to concerts and all that kind of stuff in and we do that. And and I also say I can still do today everything I could do when I was 30 but some of it just not as vigorously so so I you know it's you just keep going. It's the saying that

Coach Maddox  53:03  
what I used to do all night long now takes me all night long to do

Grady Throneberry  53:12  
okay, I guess I'll read into that whatever I want to.

Coach Maddox  53:16  
I love it. Well, Grady, thanks so much for sharing this story is it's a story of victory. It's a story of hope. And yes, there was some intense pain along the way. But you know, you you really have gotten the live happily ever after ending it sounds like to me, and you know, which just goes to prove that it's not always a pipe dream or a fairy tale. We can I think we can have it all if we really play our cards right? And, you know, live our lives, right? And so on and so forth. What a wonderful story of of success and

Grady Throneberry  54:03  
yeah, I Yeah, one of one of the reasons I wrote this book was well, I wrote it for three reasons. One was I had to, you know, it was cathartic to write it. I also wrote it as a kind of a no turning back point for me. Figuring once I memorialize all this, I'm never going to be able to go back even if I had a desire to. And the third and most important thing was to encourage other men who are struggling and have been struggling all their lives just like I did.

And I've met I was gonna say dozens but no, I've met hundreds

who are still in the closet who are still struggling to come out. They've always known who they are. And I've gotten emails from people all over the country who, but not a lot, because a lot of people don't communicate, but who have read the book and said they, they found some strength in it for themselves. Two days ago, I got an email or a message on Facebook,

from a fellow in an adjacent state, who similar background is a medical professional. And then his message was that.

And he'd been communicating with me over the last three years, he finally was able to get the courage to dissolve his marriage. His adult children are still supportive, and both he and his now ex wife. And he was just thanking me for not just the book, but being willing to talk with him on the phone, and listen to his struggles.

Coach Maddox  56:11  
You're changing lives with your story.

Grady Throneberry  56:15  
Well, that's what we're all supposed to do. It is

Coach Maddox  56:17  
what we're supposed to do is the same reason you wrote your book is why I hosted this podcast. Exactly. Yeah. You know, you listed things off, can't go can't go back can't go backwards. And, you know, it keeps me in check and keeps me moving forward. And I've grown so much. I've learned so much from the people that I get to share with stories and from the guests, but also the listeners that write in I just learned so much.

Grady Throneberry  56:51  
Yeah. And you know, the book is the book and also my willingness to I'm kind of an extrovert. Now, I was an introvert until 2017. When people, you know, I start talking to people anywhere, it doesn't matter. And maybe because of the work that I've done, I have an ability to get people to open up and start talking. And it's really an honor when people are willing to share their story with you. And so many, so many stories. There's some commonality to them. But there's also some differences, some of uniqueness.

Coach Maddox  57:44  
I'm experiencing exactly the same, the honor that you talk about and the sameness but the different nests all at the same time. Yes, sir.

Grady Throneberry  57:52  
Yeah. So anyway, I've been gratified, really gratified by conversations that I get to have with people and some feedback from the book and from, you know, I do some writing some blogging. It's been it's, it's been encouraging. I'm not reaching as many people as I want to, but working on it,

Coach Maddox  58:18  
it takes time. It takes time. Just Just keep keep going. You will. It's a slow building thing.

Grady Throneberry  58:25  
Yeah. Yeah. Sure, you're right.

Coach Maddox  58:30  
Well, I loved your story was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. Are you ready to measure this some rapid fire questions?

Grady Throneberry  58:40  
Yes, we'll see if that. No Riva, or whatever it is, I've been taking helps my brain answered quickly

Coach Maddox  58:48  
see if I can catch you off guard. So first question is, if you could live your life over, would you live it the same? Or would you do it differently? And

Grady Throneberry  59:01  
why? I'll say that I would do it differently, except for the fact that that suggests that I have regrets. And I don't really have regrets. As I said, at the fact that I lived as a straight man, you know, went to seminary, I've got kids. Those are blessings that a lot of men don't get. So well. It's a double edged sword. That's a tough question. Maddox. I'm sure that's the white why you crafted this that way. You know, there's a possibility that if I, if I had lived it differently, I might not even be here today. I might have been a casualty of the AIDS crisis. You know, I could have been one of the victims of that one of the Could have been a number. Yep, you know, somewhere? I'm not sure. If they can look at it one way and say yes, I would have lived it differently. On the other hand, I could have been that person that could have been through three or four divorces. Who knows? Yep.

Coach Maddox  1:00:23  
I think that's a perfectly acceptable answer. Yeah, I love it. Good. hacked it. I love that you unpacked it a little bit and kind of looked at both both sides. Okay, good. So here's like, one question that has three questions all together. They all go together, though. Do you have a really close? Do you have really close gay men friends?

Grady Throneberry  1:00:47  
I do incredibly close and supportive.

Coach Maddox  1:00:52  
And do you allow them to see who you really are?

Grady Throneberry  1:00:57  
Oh, yeah, they know all. Everything. Well, actually, there's nothing hidden. They know. Yeah. They know pretty much everything.

Coach Maddox  1:01:06  
And with those man, if emotions come up, do you feel safe enough and comfortable enough to cry in front of them.

Grady Throneberry  1:01:14  
We cry in front of each other all the time. That's been very liberating. I love that.

Coach Maddox  1:01:20  
And congratulations, because it is very liberating. And it's something that some men will live their lives out and die and never experience. So the fact that you have that, I would say you need to celebrate.

Grady Throneberry  1:01:34  
Oh, gosh, my next. My, my fiance is a talent agent here in Raleigh has been for 14 years. And so as you might imagine, we go to a lot of movies and we go to a lot of Marvel movies. I can cry at the ending of the Ant Man movie. And that's how tender hearted I am. Right there. Right there.

Coach Maddox  1:02:01  
I was the one that was always crying in the Coca Cola commercials.

Grady Throneberry  1:02:05  
i Yeah. Oh, my gosh, I was. Yeah, I was reading a book. One of my favorite authors is a guy named Silas house, who's a Kentucky native married gay man. He he just released a new book called Lark ascending. And I read that book, couldn't put it down. So I'm sitting in chair in the living room. Seven studying physics or something, I don't know. And I get to the last two pages of the book, and I just start bawling. And he said, You came to the end of the book, didn't you? Yes. You know, but I don't care. If I feel like I need to cry, I'm gonna cry.

Coach Maddox  1:02:49  
I am just like that. In fact, I cry multiple times a week. It's just, uh, you know, and people I subway. amazing to me, how many people equate that with sadness? And truthfully, rarely is sadness. Right? Yeah. It's it's a variety of different things. But sometimes it's happiness. Sometimes it is just being deeply touched. In fact, more often than not, it's something that has deeply touched me. But rarely is it sadness. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I cherish the ability to do that. So congratulations to you for your ability to do that. So final question. When you're about to take your last breath, and you're reflecting back on your life, what will be the most important thing

Grady Throneberry  1:03:46  
the most important thing will be that I had, hopefully, a positive impact on somebody else. You know, since coming out I've been a, I've been a much kinder person. I because I'm not, I'm not angry all the time. I don't think somebody's always had to screw me. Or cheat me. And I'm not patting myself on the back. It's just what this process has done to me and for me. I try to find a way to encourage or lift up somebody every day. I'm gonna gather that if we go to Red Lobster for dinner, I'll just start a conversation with the server about whatever it is. It doesn't matter. Sometimes I will ask them about the story behind their tattoos or you know If this is their full time job, what do they do? And just try to encourage somebody the checkout person that target which is where all gaming shop, don't you know? Nobody told me to target a target. Yes.

Coach Maddox  1:05:23  
You know, I just want to say, Grady, I think you deserve to pat yourself on the back. We don't do enough of that for ourselves.

Grady Throneberry  1:05:31  
Maybe I tend to be a little self deprecating, but, but I hope that when I take my final breath that I can, I can feel like I've done something to make somebody else's life better.

Coach Maddox  1:05:51  
It's beautiful. I love that. Well, this has been absolutely amazing. Thank you for the wonderful story and sharing so openly. Thank you for the wisdom and the learning that you shared. I know I've gotten a lot from hearing your story and I'm I'm quite sure that the listeners will as well. Thank you for having me. It's been an honor and a pleasure Grady and I just want to say to you that certainly in my eyes you are an authentic gay man.

Grady Throneberry  1:06:22  
Thank you Maddox. It means a lot

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Grady ThroneberryProfile Photo

Grady Throneberry


Grady is the first openly gay police chief in Kentucky. He was formerly a bi-vocational pastor (until coming out and being asked to resign by his church), was married to a woman (doing what was expected at the time), and has two adult daughters. He has known he was gay since childhood, but lived as a straight, conservative man until 2018.

​He is passionate about social justice, criminal justice reform, equality and diversity. The arts and travel are interests he shares with his fiancé, Devin.

Grady has a PhD in pastoral ministry (a hybrid of theology and practical ministry) and is the author of Gay and Gray: My Journey to the Rainbow.