I had another post planned for today, but in light of what is going on in our country right now, I thought I’d postpone it and write this one instead.
In California “Today and tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear two cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).” (HRC.org). If you are not familiar or want more specifics on what is at stake, please click here 🙂 . In the simplest, layman’s terms, the Supreme Court is about to make a giant step for or against marriage equality.
I want to share why this is an issue that I hold very dear to me. The issue of marriage equality is something that should be important to everyone in this country, but for me, it doesn’t hit close to home, it is my home.
My godfather, Tim, who is also my first cousin, is gay. Tim has been a profound influence on my life since day 1. He is on my mom’s side of the family and has told me that my mother, Lois, felt more like a 2nd mom to him than an aunt. Tim and my mom were actually relatively close in age because there is a 16 year gap between my mom and her older sister. I believe my mom was about 15 or so when Tim was born, so not exactly the same age as most aunts. Mom tells stories of how she would babysit Tim and his siblings and the time the spent just pulled them closer together. I cannot remember a time in my life that Tim was not a part of. He has been there to celebrate all of my accomplishments, has never missed a birthday, and I have always known that I can rely on him for anything.
I vaguely remember the day that Mom told me Tim is gay. Just as I can remember Tim always being around, I can remember Ken just as much. There is not one memory I have of Tim that Ken is not a part of as well. But, as a young child, and not knowing that gay was a thing, I just assumed Ken was Tim’s best friend. And I was right. But he is so much more. I don’t know how old I was, I’d guess between 5-10 years old. I was out to dinner with my family, including Tim & Ken. I’m not sure what spurred this revelation on, but all I can remember is being in the lobby of some restaurant and my mom explained to me that Ken was Tim’s boyfriend and that they are in love, just like Mommy & Daddy are in love. I don’t recall this disclosure being life altering. I just remembering thinking, Ok, cool! I like Ken! He always plays with me when he’s around, so he can stay! (And this remains true to this day! Ken is definitely the sillier of the two, often receiving an, “Ohmygawd! Ken!” from Tim.) From then on, that’s just how it was. There was no mention of Tim without Ken. I swear their names have merged into one: TimNKen. When are TimNKen getting here? TimNKen have invited us for dinner! I get to go to New York City with TimNKen! I never thought anything of this, right or wrong, normal or strange….it’s just how it was.
In 2005, Tim & Ken traveled to Massachusetts to be married. I was a sophomore in college. If I am being honest, I can remember being a little off-put by the idea of them getting married. If they wanted to live together, have a civil union, and love one another…GREAT! I had absolutely no qualms with that. I really hadn’t explored in my own faith and in my own heart, how I felt about gay people being married in a Christian setting. I was stuck in my literal translation of the Bible. I never said anything to anyone because didn’t want to hurt any feelings, but that was my opinion: Civil Union?? GREAT! Congrats! Christian Marriage?? Woah woah woah…the Bible says “No.” Sooo….WTF are you doing?!? It was a mindless and underdeveloped opinion.
I’m not sure what influenced me to rethink my opinion on gay marriage. Maybe it was the fact that as my college years went on, I began making more and more gay friends and realizing that I wanted them to be able to have the same happiness in marriage that I hoped (and still hope!) to have one day.
In my more recent years, I have become what some refer to as a “Fruit Fly!” Now, this is different from what may people think is a “Fag Hag.” Hags try to change their gay friends and turn them into a constant shopping partner, gossip girl and Dear Mr. Abby. Granted, some people are like that, but not all gays. The Fruit Fly on the other hand, loves the gay man for who and what he is and just wants to soak up their fabulousness. I try to subscribe to the fruit fly religion. I’m not sure what it is that draws me to gay men like a sorority girl to flip cup (I speak from experience on that one. It’s RIDICULOUS how quickly we flock to a competitive game of flip cup!). Perhaps it is their passion for life. Maybe it’s their ability to cook (I certainly can’t!). Maybe it’s their fierce fashion sense. Maybe it’s their quick wit with a snarky comment. Or maybe…it’s their bravery and conviction that it will get better.
Whatever it is that draws me to the gay community, I have been blessed to have each and every one of my gay friends in my life. I am fiercely loyal to my people and anything or anyone that tries to harm them better keep an eye out for my Madonna-Arms 😉 just kidding…but in all seriousness, I just don’t understand how our country can legitimize denying legal citizens the same rights as everyone else in this country just because of who they choose to love. I tried to explain this to one of my students today, and on the spot, the best simile I could come up with was, “It’s like if I fell in love with a black man and was told that I am unable to marry him simply based on the color of his skin. Or a Jewish man. Or someone from a different state.” The student hasn’t quite grasped the idea yet, but it’s a work in progress.
Say what you want about gay marriage in religion. My opinion has personally changed. God’s greatest commandment for us was to love one another. Do I know if partaking in a gay relationship is a sin? No, I don’t. But I also know that I sin daily and my sins are no less than anyone else’s. I also know that it’s not my job to judge, thank God (literally). I don’t have to choose who gets into Heaven and who doesn’t. I seriously pray that I will be in Heaven, glorifying God with all my brothers & sisters, gay and straight. But judgment not my job. My job is to love my neighbor and love my enemies. I know I fall short in loving people the way God asks me to, but I try.
Speaking of love, back to Tim & Ken. These men are two of the kindest, most loving people I have ever met. Since Tim and my mom were so close, when she died, Tim felt as though he had lost a mother as well. Tim was there was Mom died and didn’t leave my side for days afterwards. He helped me pick out dresses to wear to her services (I never thought I would hate shopping!), worked with me to write her obituary, and did his best to answer my most unanswerable questions. But most importantly, When I just needed to cry, Tim held me close. And Ken was right by Tim’s side, holding him when he needed to cry and supporting him when God just seemed cruel and unfair.
This past summer, Tim & Ken celebrated 25 years of unity. They have only been married for 8 of those years, but they have persevered, celebrated, cried, laughed, and loved through all of them. Tim & Ken are a beautiful example of the loving relationship I hope to have one day.
So you’re telling me that two men that capable and filled with love to spill out all over the world…don’t deserve the same political rights as heterosexual citizens? I have seen love in many of its forms and I have been blessed to feel love in many ways. No one love is greater than another. We are all equal under the law and in God’s eyes.
I look forward to telling future generations of the day when “Aunt A’s gay friends could all get married, no matter the state, and all of Auntie A’s friends had open bars at their receptions because they knew she’d be there!” I just hope you will join me in our fight for equality and stand tall on the right side of history.
ps…today’s post is red because, in support of marriage equality, people all over social media sites have turned their profiles red!
NOTE: Right before publishing this post, a friend shared this article, in which the author argues that simply changing your Facebook picture red for a day or 2 does not make one a moral crusader, and is actually, useless. At first I was offended, Hey! I’m supporting the gay community! Don’t take that away from me! But the more I thought about, the more I realized that he’s right! Sure, it’s nice to show our support, but that’s not enough. It doesn’t change people’s ignorance and it doesn’t change the 9 justices opinions. I should have done something more so that this didn’t end up in front of the Supreme Court in the first place! But now is better than never. I am going to take author Brian Moylan’s advice and donate money to the Human Rights Campaign so that they can fight on my behalf. I seem to be a pretty good writer, maybe I’ll write a letter to my senator demanding equality for my gay peers. The tangible options are many.
What will you do?