It has been a very long week for us, with all the preparations leading up to going to Washington. Gary is exhausted, between having a ridiculously busy schedule at school, keeping our website updated and as well as working the extra jobs he has had to take on in order to support both of us. I wish there was more I could do to help, but since I cannot work to support us and don’t have his web design skills, I am often left feeling frustrated. I think the most difficult aspect of all of this, is how much the work and the stress eats into the time we have together as a family. Evenings and weekends will disappear and neither of us will feel we had more than a few fleeting moments to just enjoy each other’s company.
It struck me the other day, that since we started this struggle to be together, we have been going through a sort of social upheaval that bears a lot of resemblance to an experience that every gay person has faced one way or another, the ‘coming out of the closet’ experience.
Coming out of the closet, no matter what age you are, always has an interesting social ‘ripple effect’ on the people that you have gathered around you. Some of the people will say that they don’t know how to react, and that they need time. Then they will become distant, and you will find yourself questioning if they were truly your friends in the first place.
The more hung-up and dysfunctional of your friends will condemn you immediately, and separate themselves from you entirely. This is normally not a surprise, as these people are normally fairly obvious, but sometimes it comes from someone very important to you, and can sting deeply.
Others will react with support and acceptance, but not really know what they should say, sometimes creating an awkwardness in your relationship with them. This normally doesn’t last, as their intentions are good, and with time they will adjust and your relationship with them will continue normally.
And most surprisingly of all, there is often someone whom you were not close with at all, who will step forward unwaveringly and tell you exactly the supportive and encouraging thing you needed to hear. Often this person will be the voice that speaks out against your detractors, or shames those people who condemned you. I have found that the support of those unexpected voices is often remembered more than any of the rest.
Since Gary and I went public with our story, we have seen this same ‘ripple effect’ across a much wider social group than the small collective of friends that you have as a young man. But the effect is the same, but as ever, it has been the unexpected support from people that we were hardly close with, that have surprised us the most.
I think why I find this kind of support most admirable, is because it is founded in a solid personal morality. The distant acquaintance that speaks up has little personal emotional reasons for supporting and loving you. They are speaking up because they know in the very core of themselves, that this is unjust. And they are standing up for a stranger, because they recognize genuine love and are giving it the respect it deserves.