I remember a time way back in grade school when being called gay meant your peers wanted you to see yourself as being very limp-wristed and feminine. I say they wanted you to see yourself as that not because they actually saw you in that light, but because you were different, and it was the only way they knew to describe that difference. Being gay back then meant, in their minds, as having to conform to the stereotype. I was definitely gay, just not the stereotype, which confused everybody, including myself.
I remember a time back in college when people were pointed out and it was whispered that they were gay. It was often said with disgust, and with a sad nod of the head, as if the person whispered about had unwisely chosen to pursue homosexuality like they had their major course of study. The solution agreed upon by folks doing the whispering was one of turning to God for guidance and salvation.
I remember when I first started dating my husband, when we were discovering what a real relationship between us—two men—meant both to our lives and to each other, and the giddiness we felt. There were so few people we could share this with, and we constantly had to fear those around us even thinking we were a couple. Family couldn’t know, most friends couldn’t know, roommates couldn’t know, and co-workers certainly couldn’t know.
And I remember when things started to change.
I remember when voices finally started to speak up and state that homosexuality wasn’t a choice, that it was a normal part of life. We were a normal part of life. I remember when friends started looking at us as a real life couple, and treated us as they themselves had been treated as a heterosexual couple. Attitudes began to evolve, and it usually started with people who had a family member come out as gay. One couldn’t call someone else a fag or some other name without being reminded of their own flesh and blood.
I remember when domestic partnership benefits were introduced, and my boyfriend and I started to feel like we mattered in the bigger world. We’d joked about the idea of getting married one day without ever realizing it could be a reality, that it would ever actually happen. We mused what it would be like to look at each other and say the word “husband”, knowing it was legal and true.
I remember when the day came we did get married, and then my little brother and his partner got married several months later. The looks on our faces can never be forgotten. Those feelings don’t go away. And then, quite suddenly, the state of Michigan had to recognize the marriage my husband and I sealed in New York. We couldn’t be discriminated against for what we are; human beings. We couldn’t be discriminated against for who we are to each other; spouses.
I remember in the beginning of this November when we were put on notice that things were going to change. We were going to be discriminated against, and it was going to be put into law. There was going to be a push to undo the part of our life together as spouses. We were going to be pushed back down into second class citizenship yet again.
And I will remember the fight that challenges these changes every…single…step of the way.