I was in the grocery store earlier tonight when the couple behind me started talking about the front of a magazine. The husband pointed to the cover, a picture of a gay couple in tuxes, and said to his wife “What do you think about all of that gay marriage crap?” I immediately turned to look at the magazine and saw that the headline indicated something about gay marriage sweeping the country. The man looked over at me and I smiled, but no smile was returned. He and his wife suddenly went silent, probably assuming I was gay, and their conversation ceased. Immediately I felt uncomfortable, so I paid for my groceries and left the store. In retrospect, I kind of wish I would have turned to the man and said, “I’m gay and I’m married. Got a problem with that crap”, but I didn’t.
I came out of the closet when I was 18 years old, not that it was much of a surprise to anyone who knew me. Actually, I hate that I say that, as if I’m some kind of stereotypical gay guy that everyone knows is gay, because of my mannerisms. But that is the truth I have lived with for most of my life. It is the core of my being and even though I am proud of myself and proud of being gay, there are times that shame creeps in, much like it did tonight at the grocery store. The strange thing is that I never feel that shame when I’m dancing around my house, singing in the car, having dinner with my husband or walking my dogs. No, I only feel that way when someone else grounds me in the reality that there are many people out there who do not like gay people and are really pissed off that many of us can now get married. I just don’t get it.
I don’t get a lot of things. I’m a simple man. I don’t really understand politics and what I do know about the differences between the sixth and seventh circuit courts I get from a friend who is very political on Facebook and explains these things in layman’s terms. I know that makes me sound like an idiot but it’s the truth. That political blindness also swerves into my personal life where I am often blindsided by other people’s isms and phobias. I firmly believe in what America stands for and I’m extremely patriotic. I love my country and I love that we all have a right to believe in what we want, whether those beliefs are based in love or hate, but I just don’t get it sometimes. I really don’t. If someone could explain to me in a logical manner why my being married to a man affects anyone else then maybe I’d be able to stand back and understand your point of view.
I’ve heard the religious remarks and arguments, but again, my being gay or married doesn’t affect you so why do you care? I’ve heard the family value standpoint, but again, my being gay or married doesn’t affect you so, why do you care? I’ve heard the right wing, conservatism, which I don’t understand, but have heard over and over again and yet again I ask, how does my being gay or married affect you?
It doesn’t. It seriously, genuinely, absolutely 100% doesn’t affect you. In fact, I can be standing in a grocery store, buying groceries for my gay family and until you assume I’m gay, you don’t even watch what you say, out of fear that you might offend someone. It just totally baffles me.
I often wonder what these conversations must be like behind closed doors of people’s homes. “Lenora, we must be very, very careful of those gays who moved down the street.” “Don’t worry Harold, I’m watching my back. I won’t let them get me. I passed one today and he tried to smile at me, but I just looked the other way.” Let me remind you at this point that those folks who have so many issues with gay people are traditional, family-value based people.
Do you want to know what happens behind our closed doors? Well, tonight Alex had a work event that I attended with my cousin. Afterwards, Alex went out to eat with a friend while I made a salad at home and fed the dogs, too tired to go out. When he came home, we watched television and played on our phones while the dogs slept in our laps and the fireplace crackled in the background. Alex went to bed about midnight and I took the dogs outside and looked at the moon. Probably the same moon you look at when you walk your dog at night. Then I came inside, threw another log on the fire and started writing this blog.
We live such an exciting life.
I’m just not so sure why people are so damn concerned with us. It’s pathetic really. The fact that you are so concerned about gays getting married really says more about you than it does about us. What are your fears? This is usually the point where people scoff and throw some religious principles out in defense of their beliefs. I usually don’t address those religious types, but today, I think I will.
My mother passed away several years ago from a rare disease. She was an extremely spiritual woman of strong faith. I had the honor of holding her hand as she died and watching the last remnants of life slip away from her as I said goodbye for the last time. She had always told me not to get attached to her physical body because she believed she was just a “bag of soul”. My mother firmly believed in an afterlife and she firmly believed in being a good, kind and compassionate person. She was extremely political and had severe opinions on any issue imaginable. She was a wise person and saw through people in ways that often made them uncomfortable because she would call them out on what she thought was cruel or unkind. She was known to call the police when she saw people hitting their kids in stores or had left their dogs in hot cars with no windows rolled down. She did not like unkind things being spoken in her home and she was a woman of strong family values. Her only issue with me being gay was her fear of how society would treat me.
None of that matters really. What matters is that I watched her die. In those last few moments I did not hear any trumpets blaring and I did not hear any words of wisdom. She was quiet and she was still. If you have ever watched someone die or have been there for those last few minutes, you know what a powerful moment it is. Several friends and family were in the room and we all watched as her heart rate dropped and then she passed away quietly.
I’d like to think that she immediately went to the afterlife she believed existed. I’d like to think that those last few moments, if they were conscious, were spent thinking about when she and my dad taught me to ride a bike and my mom kept saying “pedal, pedal, pedal” over and over again. I’d like to imagine that she thought about our summer trip to Beaver Island to visit her best friend, or watching Alfred Hitchcock movies late into the night, eating peanut butter sandwiches and apples with salt, when I was in high school. Maybe she thought about my dad and when they first met. Or maybe even about a boy I never knew about that wrote her terrible love poems and tried to hard when he didn’t have to. Hopefully she thought about her sister, and her mother and the those years she grew up in 1950’s Indianapolis with all of the great music of that era that she loved and her favorite restaurant The Tee Pee. Images of elegant Christmas Eve dinners with tall candles burning and beef tenderloin with asparagus. Church services for Palm Sunday and Easter, her favorite holidays, with the children dressed up and the hymns strong and hopeful. Maybe she thought about our dog Benji or our trips to Gatlinburg. Powerful thunderstorms where she would dance and sing, imitating Singin’ In the Rain, even at 60. I have no idea what she thought about in those last few moments, but I just can’t believe, as her life flashed before her eyes and all of the good and strange memories flooded in, that she was consumed with her pride at a political or value based stance. I just don’t think in those last few moments she really gave a shit about random people she never met and the political privileges they were allowed to have.
Do you? Really, really think about it.
I can’t imagine why anyone would want those to be their last few moments on their death bed, filled with the conviction and pride that they had stopped someone from getting married, no matter where that belief is based. A smile perched upon your face as you slip away from this world, full or pride knowing you had accomplished your goal against people you didn’t even know.
That…the proudest moment of your entire life.
What a waste of a life. If that’s the case, you obviously have a very serious ax to grind with us over some obviously personal issues of your own. If not, then maybe back off. It truly doesn’t affect you anyway. It’s just crap, right? Please spend your life to a manner that will fill you with the most wonderful memories possible in those last few moments, because those are truly a reflection of your life.
And for the record, my mother is shaking her finger at you from heaven. I’m sure of it.
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