Monday, June 1, 2009

A Time to Celebrate

I would not call myself an activist, although I do have my opinions (which I voice occasionally, much to the dismay of friends and family) and I don't usually post on this blog about my sexuality, but considering that June is Gay Pride Month I thought I would write a few things. I was reading a blog this morning and the gentleman posted the picture you see at the top of this blog - this was Kelly from Rambling Along In Life and it got me to thinking.

I remember as a kid always feeling different. It wasn't until my teenage years that I realized why I felt that way. When all of the boys were talking about girls it didn't interest me and I felt alienated. Of course I made every effort to fit in - I was so scared someone would find out about me. I would listen to people make fun of gays, they would call them names and even threaten to kill them if they ever met one. I even remember my dad talking about a singer on TV - he said "They should never let that little fag sing on TV". And twice during my high school years I was beaten up in the locker room because someone suspected I was gay. Through all of this I kept my feelings to myself. In college I met a man and was able to talk freely about who I was and what it all meant. I was still very secretive with friends and family because I wasn't sure how they would react. I eventually transferred colleges and the one I transferred to was smaller and there were very few men. It was a woman's university and they allowed men into their allied health fields and graduate programs (there were probably around 100 men enrolled when I attended). This did not encourage me to come out. The few men on campus were the same as the ones I grew up with - they made fun of gays and called them every derogatory name they could think of - so I kept it all to myself, well at least at school. I did manage to meet some gay men away from campus and get to examine myself better.

It wasn't until I was doing my internships and getting ready to graduate from Physical Therapy school that I realized that what I was doing was just plain stupid. I was living my life the way I thought those around me wanted me to. I wasn't happy. And then I met the most wonderful man - Thomas. There was an immediate connection and I knew I couldn't let this opportunity go by just because I was scared. It didn't take us long to know we wanted to be together and even though I had planned to take a job in Louisiana I decided to take the biggest chance of my life and move to New Mexico to see what would happen. That was twenty years ago and we are still together - I guess I made the right choice - right! Not long after Thomas and I got together I knew I needed to tell my family and friends - I wasn't about to hide the fact that I loved Thomas and that we were a couple. So I slowly started telling people and each time I came out it made the next time that much easier. I apparently have some very good friends and a great family because for the most part they were all very accepting. There was one incidence where a friend informed me she was a born again Christian and couldn't be friends with me since we wouldn't be together in the after life. Surprisingly this didn't bother me - after reading her six page letter I tossed it into the fireplace and moved on. I always thought I would be devastated if one of my friends or family rejected me because of my sexuality, but I wasn't and I realized this woman wasn't a real friend and if she couldn't support me in my life then I didn't need her in my life.

Thomas and I officially got married on October 11, 2004 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Even though the rest of the country doesn't recognize it we still feel very strongly about that ceremony. We shared it with our closest friends and family and one day I hope that it will be legal anywhere in the United States. I know we are still dealing with Defense of Marriage Acts, constitutional amendments in a lot of states banning gay marriage and Prop 8 in California but I have faith that marriage equality will be here during my lifetime. There are so many people out there fighting and I can't let myself think that it is all in vain. I believe that it will make a difference.

Kelly's blog also talked about Stonewall. The events that took place that night really helped gay rights. Those men and women were so brave to take on the police and stand up for who they were. Thomas and I had the opportunity to visit Stonewall on a trip to New York. We sat and had a drink and talked about what it must have been like to have the police barge in and question you just because you were out with friends in a gay bar. I really admire those people for paving the way for Thomas and I to have such an open relationship. Stonewall took place on June 28, 1969 - the events were possibly flamed by the passing of Judy Garland. She passed away on June 22, 1969 and was buried on June 27, 1969. A gay icon was gone and it seemed that a lot of gay men were mourning and they had had enough.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Mark, for writing such a lovely, personal blog. You and Thomas are both great guys, and I am so happy you found each other. Thanks for sharing yourself.
-- Vicki Bell Motel

John and Diane said...

Well, I obviously had some catching up to do on your blog - you have posted a lot on here in the last week! I really enjoyed all your posts. Like Vicki said, thanks for sharing yourself. For someone who kept their feelings to themselves for so long, it's great to have you write about all this. And I do think that gay marriage will be legalized and accepted in our lifetimes - and you 2 are helping to lead the way, whether you consider yourselves activists or not. Keep the faith!