I didn’t have an easy time accepting my sexuality. I grew up loved, but I lived in fear of saying that I was gay, let alone acting on that fact. I was 30 before I came out, and essentially lived a second teenage during that decade. I did my share of exploration, but always, I was looking for and not finding another man with whom to share my life.
My mom, Lorene “Red” Sullivan Andris, kept alive the stories of three branches of our family, and I, James Fernand Andris, wrote down and expanded upon these stories over my lifetime. This past week, I met my seventh Andris cousin, Ghislaine Andris Rockwood, a most fortunate Andris reunion. All of this started, however, with Jean Joseph Andres and Ursula Hocquemiller. It is likely that Jean Joseph and Ursula met because both their families were working on the reconstruction of the Basilica of St. Laurent at Kempten in the Allgaü region at the very southern tip of Germany. They likely just started their family right after 1700, and by the end of that first decade, they had a daughter, Anastasie, and three sons named after the legendary three wise men, Melchior, Balthazar, and John Gaspar. Yet six more sons would issue from that union, including my fifth great grandfather, Jean, in 1712 and Ghislaine’s fifth great grandfather, Antoine, in 1721.