So many of my readers wonder why Barry Ferguson's character hides in the shadows compared to Ryan, Ryoga and Martin. The truth is that my purpose for Barry's character is to become a critique on the second-generation queer movement. While the younger guys enjoy the metropolitan lifestyle of boys and booze, Barry prefers to live his quiet secretive life with his lifetime partner Stephen Longheart.

Barry has had a far-less fabulous coming out experience as his contemporaries have. Born and raised in Visalia, California -- a small city in the Central Valley known for its family values. Therefore, it was a culture shock for Barry Ferguson to come to the metropolitan chaos known as San Francisco.

Ferguson grew up in a small-town atmosphere. His father was an tractor driver and his mother stayed at home and baked apple pies for the kids after school. He was on the honor roll every year in high school, the quarterback of the local footbal team with the hot girlfriend he could take to drive-ins. And then he found out he was gay. Within seconds of discovering his affair with a male friend, his religious parents disowned Ferguson and threw him out of the house. His girlfriend broke up with him. His male friend opted for suicide. With only $200 to his name, Barry journeyed into San Francisco by train at a time when Polk Street was Castro, the time of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City.

Of all the guys, Barry has successfully been able to keep his private life to himself. And he has good reason. He's had a history of swinging unprotective sex in the pre-AIDS days of the 1960s in local bathhouses. Barry was very fortunate to not get AIDS and HIV but he has had to watch some of his best friends in San Francisco painfully die of the illness. Ferguson became part of the first Act-UP chapter in San Francisco and participated in the March on Washington, demanding that the nation become increasingly aware about the gay Americans that live within it. And the rest is history. Queer history.

With his protest days long behind him, Barry focused himself on being a mentor to young queers in the city. He developed a close friendship with Ryan Hitomi, a new guy wandering into San Francisco, and soon became part of the Ryan's group of young gay friends. After Tyler Stonebrook left Stephen Longheart for a quick and brief affair with a young Japanese pizza delivery guy, Ferguson quietly comforted Longheart through friendship and eventual seduction. With their fond interest in leather and the Castro's S&M scene, Ferguson and Longheart have managed a lenghty relationship which lead to the eventual adoptions of fraternal twins Peter and Jessica, to the dismay of Stonebrook.

However, Barry takes on a new challenge that he has never thought that he would see in his lifetime. When mayor Gavin Newsom grants same-sex marriage at City Hall, Barry will find himself on an emotional rollercoaster that tests all the fundamental values that he grew up with.

Barry Ferguson's model is Robert Robbins.