I never imagined that Marriage would ever be possible as a gay man. I never imagined what it would be like to stand in front of friends and family and declare my love openly. Marriage was one of those things I never allowed myself to consider because the actual thought of not being treated as an equal is just too much. My life had almost seemed laid out for me. I would move to the city, into the gay ghetto, volunteer and an AIDS shelter and my friends would become my family. If you wanted to be around other gays, you would have to work in a creative field. I never had another thought about how things would work out for me. The fairytale ending wasn't a wedding, it was being able to be open about who I was.
It's become so common to hear hateful things about the life I was born into. As a grown man, I feel almost immune to all of the vitriol about my supposed lifestyle in the comment sections of online papers, or from politicians and talk TV because their suppositions are my truth. As a child, I spent almost every waking minute of my life worried someone would say something, call me faggot, threaten me, or just always choose me last. I just wanted to be ignored. (and mostly I still do). I felt like an embarrassment to my few friends and family. I felt bad that my sisters had to have a gay little brother. I didn't tell anyone about it, nor did I have to tools to figure it out. I didn't have a book to read or a show to watch. Even now, I don't understand how kids are expected to handle the enormity of a secret like that. My mother convinced me that I was special and I believed her when she said she was so lucky to have me as a son. I don't think I would have made it through if I hadn't had that. I wanted to be dead, but I could have never done that to her. I hate even typing this out because it brings me back, and even though I have made peace with it, it's still so heavy. So much of my adulthood has been a reaction to the first part of my life.
Being able to vote No on the amendment to ban gay marriage in MN was something else I never thought I would do. I can't describe the feeling of waiting in line for hours with others who are voting on your rights, as if you were a thing and not a person capable of loving another human being. Imagine if people were casting a vote as to wether or not you could legally be treated the same as everyone else? It can best be described as bittersweet. I wonder what it would have meant to the 5 year old me. Having my family vote No or even Yes. What it would have meant to hear the President say he supports gay marriage. What it would have meant to hear Mitt Romney say he will get rid of any legislation supporting gays and lesbians and their rights to adopt, fight in the military or to get married. What would I have felt about those commercials from outraged parents, lamenting their kids had been taught about gay marriage? None of that would have changed how I was born, but hearing the slightest bit of support would have given a hopeless kid some sliver to hold on to when life was almost unbearable.
I have been crying on and off the last few days thinking about the enormity of gay marriage being voted on and passing in 3 states and Minnesota's amendment banning gay marriage being defeated. The majority of people in those states and my state, however slim, feel that I am equal. The President of the United States feels that I am equal and that tender part of me that never hardened after all these years feels validated. Even though we have a long way to go, I've never been prouder to be from Minnesota. To everyone who is fighting and for those who voted with me, THANK YOU!