Twenty years ago, 1993, I met the man of my life at a chance encounter. Neither of us were among those who got involved in political activities, but each of us had just joined an “MC” leather club and the club had decided to join the “March on Washington” held on April 25, 1993. So we both went along. This is the day we met and began our journey.
Most of what we did that day was stand around. We were too far away from the speech-givers to hear what they were saying. We began to have a discussion that continued for years. The start of that conversation that day was…
…”do you think that gay people will ever be treated fairly?” … much less as equals.
Back then, we were still reeling from the impact of HIV/AIDS infections which were killing gay men rapidly and by the thousands. It was hard to be advocating for “gay rights” when most people were afraid of us. And most of us were afraid of how others would react if they found out we were gay, and feared discriminatory retaliation by employers, family, friends, and providers of services. Most of us — my spouse and me included — were in the closet. In 1993, I had not yet “come out” to my mother, siblings, or friends, much less anyone where I worked.
Back then, we never imagined that:
a) we could have legally purchased our property, built a home, and have it titled jointly in the names of two non-related men.
b) we would be able to have the title to our property reflect us as “tenants by the entirety” — the most protected level of property title only allowed for married couples.
c) I could be casually and comfortably myself, a married gay man, where I work.
d) we would be able to marry in the state where we built our home and our lives.
e) my spouse would be able to extend his federal benefits to me because the most discriminatory section of the 1996 “Defense of Marriage Act” would be found unconstitutional by a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.
Twenty years ago, today was never.
Well, hell hath not frozen over, but here we are: married, protected, and about as equal as any other married couple. And by the explosion of “likes” and comments on a posting of my spouse and me on a popular social network — once again, it is evident how much the tide has changed. So much love — from so many people!
Who woulda thunk?
I am ready to move on, but still have a very heavy heart that 35 states in the USA still prohibit same-sex marriage, and 29 of those states have codified that discrimination in their state constitutions. Once so deeply embedded, it is damn hard to change.
But then again, only 20 years ago, we never thought that we could or would be able to achieve what we have — legal marriage, federal benefits. Perhaps sooner than we think, these other states will tear down walls of discrimination, grow up and have a heart. I can still dream.
But I am also a realist, in knowing that the naddering nabobs of negativity, hatefulness, and people who think my spouse and I are immoral are out there in large numbers. We will continue to live productive, honest, and faithful lives and demonstrate for all to see — we are no different / no better / no worse — than anyone else.
Life is short: be grateful how society can adapt and change, sometimes more quickly than we ever thought possible.