Today my wonderful man turns another year older, although with the clouds of uncertainty hanging over our heads, he doesn’t really want to make a big deal out of it. He asked me not to get him any gifts this year, so I didn’t, but I made sure he woke up to a smile, a hug and two birthday cards. The first card was one that I knew would make him smile (funny cards with pictures of dogs on them always work.) The second card is the one that I have scanned with this post. And it made him cry.The reason I had to get this card, was because I’ve never found a birthday card before that so perfectly describes the most striking qualities about the man I love.
Firstly,he works hard. Really hard. It has overwhelmed me how hard he has worked for both of us for these past three years, not only working full time as a middle school teacher (not exactly a relaxing, easy job), but also working two other jobs just to keep us financially stable. In addition, he is talking to lawyers, working on our website and contacting senators as part of our ongoing fight. Yet still he finds time to take computer support calls from friends and family, who rely on his computer knowledge to keep their technology from breaking down. If he’s lucky, he gets four or five hours of sleep a night. He is in a constant state of exhaustion, but he keeps going, because he knows he has to.
Secondly, he cares deeply. I‘ve never in my life met someone who cares so much, often to the detriment of himself. He cares for me, like I have never felt cared for in my life. He cares for his family, making sacrifices for them without even thinking about it. Even though today is his birthday, he doesn’t really have the energy to celebrate it. But his mum and his sister are coming over tonight, with food and cake anyway. Because he knows its as much about them needing to show their love. In fact he’s calling today a second ‘Mother’s day’, because he knows how important it is to her.
He cares very deeply about his job, the children that he teaches and nurtures. Months before we went public with our story, Gary was constantly worrying about the impact that it could have on the kids he taught. Every time he has had to take a day off of school because of our struggle, his primary worry was always ‘How will this affect my kids?’. We only went public once he had checked thoroughly that it wouldn’t cause a problem for either his school or his students. Ironically enough, during a parents meeting, one parent had the gall to say ‘Didn’t he ever think of the children?’ A statement that proves that they didn’t understand Gary at all.
How much he still cares about his school is remarkable to me, considering how they violated his privacy and broke so many laws you can’t count them one hand. A few years ago, he was humiliated during a staff meeting where they discussed, planned, and used his sexual orientation in a “game”. All he asked for was an apology, and never got it. Some parents and faculty members have shunned him completely, because he has taken a stand for equality. He constantly sees staff members collecting money for others who have had accidents or fallen ill, or even just hit hard times. But there has never been a collection for him, despite all that he has been going through. He does have some wonderful support from certain people in that school, but the incidents of discrimination have wounded him. Despite all that, he still cares.
Thirdly, he gives his best for the people in his life. There are hundreds of examples I could give, but one that springs to mind is his work with a local Boy Scouts troop. He has been helping them earn their art merit badge, giving up more of his sparse spare time. Despite his exhaustion he will still take long phone calls from troop leaders with queries. I find it ironic how much work he is doing for this scout troop, especially in light of the discriminatory practices of the Boy Scouts nationally. But Gary doesn’t see that when he’s there, he just sees what he does as for the benefit of the kids.
So here’s to another wonderful year with you, baby!
I loved you from the moment I first met you, and I always will…