(Below was written in response to the U.S.Senate failure to include U.A.F.A. in the current Immigration Reform Bill. It would have allowed Gary to sponsor Sam as his legal spouse).
Since Tuesday, we’ve struggled with any kind of simple answer to that sort of question (we are very lucky to have so many who are asking it). But, we struggle each and every time with what to say. So struggle it is.
1. “Go away”
2. “Find somewhere else to sit”
3. “You’re a total nobody”
4. “No one cares about you, anyway!”
5. “You think anyone would care if you were dead?”
6. “Go find someplace to be with the other losers”
7. “You mean nothing to me. Now get out of my way, you fag”
8. “You suck”
9. “Ew gross, get away from me”
10. “You think I care? Move away or get hit. Your choice”
11. “Do you think you even matter?”
Am I a kid again? Am I at work? Am I someplace different? Am I dreaming?
No, just history repeating itself.
Events and statements are made that remind you, and most of all make you feel, a certain way you did before, that you had to be strong enough to get past. You see, for almost 20 years, I believed all those statements. I knew at five years old I was different. I can still picture the reading circle, in kindergarten class, when I first had this thought: “I am not like these kids. There’s something different. Something’s not right.” I did have that thought with those exact words. I can even tell you exactly where I was seated in the circle that day. I can also tell you exactly where I was seated when, many years later in the same building, I realized what that “different” was. So many, many years. Always wondering, “Why? What was different about me? Why do I not feel like I could be friends with most kids?”
It was in Reading class, I was seated by the window looking out as I usually did. I was never sure whom I would make eye contact with, so I learned to play it safe and always be looking away or as if I was doing something else (Ignore, yes). It was before class had started and some boys were in the back of the room talking about someone or something- what exactly I cannot say for sure- but I can be sure that at the end of a sentence I heard one of them say it: “gay.” In what reference, I do not know. But , finally, I did know. My first thought, still clear to me as it was then, was: “Oh, my god! That’s it. Holy shit. I am one of those people. What did I do wrong? I’m gay.”
It would years later before I spoke those words to anyone but myself. Some 20 years or so have gone by since I first did have to “come out” and say it. It’s come up here and there, of course over the years. But now I find I have to say it not to just one or two people, but to the world. Why do I? Number 10 above is why.
“You think I care? Move away or get hit. Your choice.”
That was just said to me just the other day. The difference is, this time I am not a scared child. I have faced the rejections, faced the hatred; heard the hate words said about me. That is nothing new (and sorry to say, not old either). What is “new” is having your own country say it to you. “New” is when ADULTS say it to other ADULTS.
Tuesday my government said to me…you do not matter. We sacrificed your patriotism for others. Simply put, all conditions aside, your needs, as Americans citizens, do not matter to us. You mean nothing. Your asset value, however, we do base on any of your income and expect that from you. The fact of what kind of person you are, how you as an individual contribute, or do not, to society, makes no difference to us. Your family needs and closeness; what kind of relationship or love you all share, that does not matter to us, either. The government flat out said to Sam and myself, that the two of you (and 35,000 other American’s citizens married to someone form another country), you do not matter to us.
So I get confused. Am I a kid again, am I at work, or is this really happening? What did I do wrong?
Nothing. I did nothing wrong then and nothing wrong now. But at least I can say, I did DO something. But knowing doesn’t take the pain away. Having someone to share the pain with, however, does make it a bit more tolerable. Knowing the pain they are going through, just to BE with you, well, that’s a new feeling for me. I still have a hard time with that every day (and it’s getting worse, not better). Why is Sam going through all of this just to be with me?”
Oh right. Number 11 above, proven to me on the 11th of November 2011.
(Hopefully what I, WE, do now, will one day make that little boy or girl, sitting in their reading circle, know the answers we did not. Most of all, “No, you ARE just like the other kids.”)