With a love that’s true…Always

A dear Blogger friend married his Someone of 20 years today in Palm Springs. We, Fearsome and I, were honored to have been able to attend. The wedding was kept secret, for the most part, to keep it a simple quiet occasion at the Riverside County administration offices. Fearsome was a last minute Best Man, Larry & Tim were the handy witnesses, Ron was the spur of the moment photographer and Pat was the official accidental visiting foreign dignitary.

The added bonus was that the dearest blogger friend was asked to witness a wedding for a couple that was there all alone just the two of them who were obviously very much in love.

I’m verklempt.

Michael & David AKA UrSpo & Harper's Keeper

Michael & David
AKA UrSpo & Harper’s Keeper

David & Fearsome photobombed by Michael

David & Fearsome photobombed by Michael

The rings

The rings

The wedding party

The wedding party

Thanks Edith!

I remember growing up with Archie Bunker. The grumpy bigoted white man who somehow could grow and change outside of his narrow minded views. He usually had the help of his wife Edith, his liberal long haired son in law or his black neighbors. Archie was a character that showed change, evolution and even growth was possible.

All in the Family was a ground breaking show for the 1970s. I remember it breaking into otherwise taboo social subjects of the era, notably race. It did occasionally touch on homosexuality but I somehow missed this episode that Matt Baum brings to us today. Giving credit where credit is due I found this clip on Joe.My.God this morning before I found it on Matt’s YouTube channel.

This episode actually touches on gay marriage. The show was originally aired in 1977. From Matt’s clip, the episode appears very well done. Now I want to find the whole episode. In the mean time check out this clip. I will post an update if I find the whole episode in a format I can embed here on this here blog thingy. I believe it’s important to know some of what changed our history and helped our culture to evolve on such social issues.

UPDATE: full episode was an easy find.

Not forgotten

It was early summer probably about 1985. I remember sitting on the couch of my then boyfriend listening to Bronski Beat.

We discussed how we could relate to the story the lyrics told. We moved to the rhythm and the beat of the music. We shared a few beers and a home made dinner as we discussed what we both had done at work that day. John was a good cook. At the time I was a respiratory therapist at a local community hospital, he was the new director of the newly opened AIDS community center.

When we had AIDS patients in the hospital it was I that was assigned their care. I was single, gay, had no kids and had probably been exposed. Thus it was always my job to take care of them, as they were always gay men just like myself. John’s job had him entrenched in the community. He was tasked with care, education, support and most of all organizing disorganization and fear. Fear infiltrated our culture. People feared us that we might be sick. We feared each other. We feared our own selves and what was to become if us. We did our best. We somehow found strength.

I cared for my patients, he for his clients. All were sick and dying. More were getting sick daily. Our friends, sex partners, lovers and those we didn’t know other than seeing them. It quickly became identifiable. A look you could tell, once they were sick. Others weren’t yet sick but knew of people they had been with who were.

At the time AIDS was a horrible death sentence. No one knew how it was transmitted. The treatments were next to non existent and those they had were only experimental. Still somehow we marched on. We were fearful yet managed. We were the dirty ones, the diseased feared by everyone including sometimes each other. Yet we stayed strong for each other, we were all we had as a community.

We danced. We danced to music and danced the dance of life. Loving each other as this was the life we were given, it was our time as the twenty somethings. We were the future. I don’t know what happened to John. It was a short boyfriend-ship. We each moved on. Many of my friends died, past lovers died and “encounters” died as well.

At the time we lived and survived. We still dreamed. We marched on. The ability to take a relationship to the level of government recognition let alone marriage wasn’t even part of those dreams. I remember just dreaming of a day when I wouldn’t be afraid of becoming sick, a day when my friends weren’t dying and that I would somehow escape to have a long happy life myself.

One of the dreams I shared with my lover Tim was to move to San Diego one day. Neither of us had ever been to California, but San Diego sounded like a nice place. That dream went to the place dreams go to, somewhere far away. Neither of us made any moves in that direction. Tim and I went our own way after a couple years and Mark came into my life.

By this time we had tests. Anonymous test because if it was recorded it was on your medical record and you were marked. I tested negative for the HIV virus. I was elated. I know I had been exposed multiple multiple times, because men I had been with all the way back to age 18 were either sick or dead. I was elelated that I had escaped, thus far. So Mark decided to get tested as well.

To get these anonymous tests you had to go to back entrances to county health facilities. It was less than glamorous. Usually standing in an alley behind a building with other men like yourself. Heads looking at the ground, little if no talking as fear permeated like a rancid fog in the air.

Mark’s test didn’t go as well as mine. He was positive. We stayed together for a couple years. Unfortunately Mark was not a well man on many levels and our relationship ended not because of his HIV but because of other reasons. Mark is no longer with us. I remain negative to this day. But I remember the horror of what HIV/AIDS is in graphic detail.

Why do I post such a memory today? The day that our federal government validated our relationships as equal. I post this memory in honor of all of the men that I knew, loved, cared for and laughed with. These were the men that marched before and with me. The men that paved the way for what we enjoy today. One step at a time. They worked, opened businesses, loved, shared, lived, gave, volunteered, taught, lead, cried, feared, parented, fought, built, created, cared, mentored and marched. I owe what I enjoy to all that came before me as well as those who march with me today.

They may have never dreamed this day would come, but in ways that they do not know, they helped get us here. They aren’t here today to call, hug or share it with in physical form. They are in spirit. They are in my heart. They are in your heart. All live through us. Let us not forget them, but rejoice with them.

….lets dance, love & celebrate Love. Love won today. Freedom won today. Our constitution won today. We won today. Those who walked before us won today!

(Posted in memory of Jerry Smoot. Thanks Jerry for teaching me to dream. Dreams really do come true.)

 

 

Marriage, it’s legal.

My last post went up minutes before the U.S. Supreme Court validated our relationships nationwide.

Congratulations to all!

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We, a married couple, in front of U.S. Supreme Court in April 2015 just before our 25th anniversary. Today that court validated all Gay and Lesbian relationships as equal and validated us for who we are, who we love.

And what about marriage?

Growing up I never dreamed that I would marry. In fact when I came out to my parents at age 16 my mother cried. She said she was crying not that I was gay, but that I would never be married, have a life long love or children. The children part didn’t bother me but the life long love and equal partner did.

I was gay and if that meant I would never marry then I was going to have to learn to live a single life. I would hope to meet a partner one day that would stay with me. We would live a life together without a legal contract. We would be subject to others making health care decisions for us. Others having rights to what we had built together if something happened. We would have to make our wishes known and protect what we could through trusts, contracts and wills. We could love but we would be different. We would never be able to marry or be recognized equally and legally.

Today I live a life that was never even on my radar. We have been together 25 years. We were able to marry here in California in 2008. In 2013 our marriage was recognized nationally. We now can make healthcare decisions for the other should we need to and our estate that we built together is ours. We are equal. Our life, ourselves to its core at the deepest level, is validated. It means more to me than I could ever begin to conceive that day when my mother cried.

I write this as we wait for the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Many couples like ourselves wait to see if they too can be recognized as we are…Equal & Validated. I sit in anticipation that hopefully my brothers and sisters, who like me were born with a same sex attraction, will all finally be able to choose to marry if they wish.

Love, it’s a four letter word, a good one.

Same Love

Love, an emotion that is Part of our human experience.

Attraction, a tendency that is inate in us.

Equality, an ideal that is a quality that most believe in and strive for.

Respect, a quality of charachter.

Ireland made history yesterday. The Irish public, a mostly Catholic nation, voted overwhelmingly to write Marriage Equality into their constitution. Of eligible Irish voters 60.52% turned out to vote in the referendum. Of those going to the polls yesterday, 1,201,607 voted Yes for writing Marriage Equality into the constitution and 734,300 voted against the referendum. All political parties endorsed voting Yes.

A majority of the Irish understand the value of respect. They understand validation. They respect Love. They honor relationships.

I am moved. I am validated. I am respected. I am accepted. I am equal. I tip my top hat in honor of a nation that has evolved, a nation that has grown, a nation that is human.

I’ve known that I was attracted to my own sex since I was a very young boy, as long as I can even remember. I was taught to hide it, be ashamed of it and deny myself actually being myself. I and millions of others. Fortunately I was not one to follow the crowd or the message I was being given. I came out to my family and at school when I was but sixteen.

My world opened up. My family accepted me, my real friends in my high school stuck by me. I never even dreamed that one day, one day I would be respected enough by society at large to have my love accepted. My soul, my being, my love, my attraction, my expression, my self to the deepest core of me accepted and respected as equal. I thought I would always be lesser. I’m not.

Our Supreme Court of The United States will soon be handing down a decision. We hope the decision is just and respectful. We hope it will confirm the majority of states that have Marriage Equality and give Marriage Equality nationwide. Our national polls now show a majority of Americans support Marriage Equality. But witnessing a nation, a Christian Catholic nation, giving equality through a non-disputable majority vote… That moves me deeply.

We have a long way to go on many fronts as a human race inhabiting one world, to bring equality to each and every one of us on every necessary level. Yesterday Ireland took us a step in the right direction. I thank them. I honor them. I am humbled by them.

I have an Irish heritage. I have an Irish first and last name. I’ve always considered myself an American of Irish decent. I’m proud to call myself that today.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are Fearsome. I encourage you to enjoy their message and music. Love is just that, Love.

Supreme Court decides to let lower court rulings stand

I’ve been legally married to my husband since 2008 here in California. After we were married proposition 8 passed thus barring any more same sex couples from marrying here. We remained legally married in the state along with some 14,000 other couples during the years until prop 8 fell under last years SCOTUS ruling. Also falling last year was DOMA so for the first time our marriage was recognized by the federal government.

There were 7 cases from 5 states on appeal to SCOTUS, today SCOTUS denied review on all seven of those cases thus letting the lower court rulings stand. So 5 more states, including my home state of Virginia, now have marriage equality. Those lower court rulings will also affect 6 other states that did not have an appeal in front of SCOTUS today, so look for marriage equality in six more states in the days ahead.

Congratulations to all the couples who live in those states and who wish to be married. Your day is either here or coming very shortly.

Some are disappointed that SCOTUS did not take the cases on and make a sweeping ruling legalizing marriage nation wide.

I’m a glass half full optimistic kind of guy. I am happy that they did what they did today.

First; to take it on would have meant that all of those couples would have to wait for a final ruling which would not come until probably June,  many could and some did marry today. They have waited long enough. Second, the other federal courts that have yet to rule now have an even stronger precedent than was set by DOMA’s fall. The highest court, by not taking the appeals, validated the lower courts ruling letting their decisions to strike down bans set precedent thus making it more likely other federal courts will rule for equality and any appeals weaker. Third, we really do not know how SCOTUS would have ruled next June, most likely for…but no one really ever knows the outcome until it happens. Fourth, with this 60% of Americans will now live in states where marriage equality is the law… who would have ever dreamed this to be this soon, even last summer.

The glass is half full,  it’s more than half full…it’s 60% full. And it will get even fuller even faster now. We are blessed to live today. I grew up in the days where marrying my partner was not an option that we ever would dream would happen in our lifetime and my life ain’t even half over. I’m still young!

So to all who can now marry, congratulations! And may your marriage bless you as much as mine has.

And to those who are disappointed; be happy for those who can now marry, count the blessings we have received thus far and let’s just keep marching toward eqaulity for all. We will get it, it’s coming closer day by day.

Anniversaries

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We have 3 of them.

Being a gay couple together for many years now we have 3 anniversaries.

The day we met 24 years ago it was instant. April 1990. We started a long distance relationship as I lived in Virginia and he in Seattle. After six months of that it was move or part. We definitely did not want to part so I moved to Seattle October 1990. We always have celebrated the April date because we felt we connected immediately.

Then there’s the wedding date. July 9, 2008. Yes 6 years ago today we married legally in California before prop 8 passed. Prop 8 did not invalidate our marriage but only prevented same sex couples from marrying after it’s passage. Those that were married stayed married in the eyes of the state of California.

We had been together 18 years at that point and did not think that marriage would change our relationship. It did. Marriage made us stronger. Our families really got into it, suddenly our siblings were really, legally in laws. We were legally family. It made a difference. We were legally bound and could make decisions for the other if needed. It was actually reaffirming. Strange but true.

We were married at the county administration office by a clerk with both straight and gay couples watching and all were supportive. We saw straight couples marry right there with us and were witnesses for our close friends John & Tim. We were the same. I hope those couples are as happy and secure as we are.

Afterwards we called friends from the car (we had not told anyone but the restaurant we were going to) and told friends one by one we had just married and that we were going to be at Paesano’s on 30 th st and if they could stop by for pizza beer and wine it was on us. Sixty people showed up with a moments notice to celebrate. It was a perfect day. We then called our families as most are out of town and shared the news. The love and joy that surrounded us I will never forget and will always be grateful for.

We still celebrate April 29 as our anniversary, but we don’t forget July 9 and celebrate it too.

So happy anniversary to my Fearsome Better Half!