We’re going to get a bit personal today.
Way back in third grade I had one very good friend. I was probably too young to have many close or serious friends. From what I recall friendships were pretty much based on location and similar interests. Either oh we’re friends because you live next door or “I like He-Man too” and we’re off to play and bring our trading card doubles to lunch.
Anyways, way back then I had a huge fight with my best friend. Very dramatic for that age. We probably couldn’t agree who was Mario and who was Luigi. Some classmates asked why we weren’t hanging out and he said something like, “oh he’s gay, he sucks”. Just something a third grader would say. Not gay as in oh he likes boys and hit on me. Not any understanding or recognition of what it meant to be gay anymore than when we used to use the word retarded as a slur we actually meant the other person was of a lower IQ and should be receiving proper treatment and help for it.
But the words stay. I was labeled gay. In third grade. And at that age and time we were taught gay meant bad. Ignoring logical things like the fact that at that age none of the boys would know what to do with a woman. Or even a firm grasp on what made men and women different. I remember watching Rizzo in Grease freak out because she missed a period and I thought, “wow she’s awfully upset over punctuation.” Just because I didn’t hang out in the same places as my classmates, or play sports, or whatever the hell else was going on I was the odd one out. Or, you know, queer.
Now even though I’ve been sure of my heterosexuality all my life (had a girlfriend in first grade, which meant we walked to school together, high five!) this ostracizing gave me an empathy for many along the way. Not just LBGT but any color, religion, anything. Yes I’m a white middle class Catholic male. I’m the most majority of majorities. But I ate lunch alone, I cried myself to sleep, I got into fights because I couldn’t take it anymore. I skipped school, I had elaborate pranks pulled against me. All because I wasn’t “normal”. Granted, all of that led me to who I am today. I read, I studied, I discovered things. Instead of having to endure two-a-days I walked all over town, went to the public library, had conversations with strangers and all told became something awesome.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a young boy inside who just wishes he had some friends at school so it didn’t hurt all day.
Which brings me to today. I got all this crap because people thought I was gay. In the end, I could still marry. I never once wondered if my choice of partner would cause others to hate me. I didn’t have to worry about being treated as an equal. When my wedding was being planned the legality of it was never once in question. I carry around hurt for decades because of an unfounded mistreatment. Imagine if it was real? Honestly, I might just be a statistic if so. An eulogized name. Who on Earth would want to put themselves through that hate, that bigotry, that isolation every single day for their entire lives?
Someone who loves another person so much its worth it.
To look across at your partner and know that all that hatred is absolutely worth it because you don’t have to go through it alone. All that is being asked is to be equal. All that is wanted is to know that if anything bad happens, which it is most likely to happen, no law or policy can keep the two of you apart.
I’m not publicly political. I don’t march or sit in or anything. But I will gladly sit alone again anytime in support of just one of my LBGT friends and I was so happy for all of you today I cried and had chills over my body.