“Y’know, it seems to me that you already possess the faculties to comport yourself – safe and sound – through the maze of personalities and issues you’ve taken on. My best advice is simple, and no doubt you already know it; have confidence in your convictions. Speak truth, and when someone in power is trying to use you, speak truth to their power.”
Those words were said to me in April, in response to one email, I sent to someone to whom I was a complete stranger, asking for help and advice. I needed some guidance on how best to handle the situation and the fight we were in with regard to Gay Rights group’s agendas, politicians, lawyers, etc. I never had any previous communication with her, but I knew, she would have the best advice. When DOMA was struck down on the 26th of June, we waited…and waited…and waited…and my anger (and Sam’s) started to build. I strayed from the dignity and composure of handling our situation; and rightly so, as we never should have been denied on our first application. We had been used by individuals, lied to and asked to lie for, and taken advantage of with emotional manipulations by others. Knowing people previously denied like US were receiving their benefits, people have received green cards, how could I not start to become angry? Sam has not even received the simplest thing we need: his social security number. Months have gone by, and we are still “living in limbo” and have only received news of regress, not progress. So just last weekend, after receiving news of yet further regress, I had said to myself, that the week ahead would be one where I was going to try all I could, one last time. I would try to reach out to any media, our Atty. filed a letter to USCIS, and we will submit the travel application for Sam. This way, I could honestly say, I did all I possibly could to myself, Sam, and most of all, Sam’s family. I did not end the last school year the way I thought it would, and being the first week with students, I never imagined it would start off worse than it ended (having to resign as Art Club advisor, for example, really hurt myself, and I have seen the hurt in my student’s eyes when I told them). I had lost my strength and composure to fight over the past 11 months; we did not have a summer “off”.
I knew one day myself and Sam would meet Alice Hoaglund in person to be able to say “Thank You.” This past week, we had the honor and pleasure to meet, and I was finally able to say those words to her. The circumstances of our meeting this past week were far from what I ever imagined: when, where, and on what date. Sam and I had both previously seen the incredible film, The Ruby Player, about Alice’s son, Mark Bingham. I do not think I need to say anything more on how seeing the film, seated behind Alice, with our best man Rick (who appears in the film), my sisters seated beside us, affected us. Before we left Alice asked me, “did they?”, “A few did, yes, but two politicians helped more than I thought”, I replied. And she put both her hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eye and said “I’m sure you handled it well. We need to keep in touch.” The circumstances of our meeting: pure perspective.
I re-read the entire email Alice had sent me yesterday for the first time since I received it so many months ago. I had handled it well; not sure I have lately. But, as in April, the words she spoke to me then, have helped me to regain my strength for what lies ahead, more than I or Sam, can ever say.
THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN , ALICE!
(and having now met you in person, while we “knew”, we can confirm…your son was right.)
For information on The Rugby Player film (when and where you may see it or to pre-order a DVD) please visit the film’s website, Facebook Page, or follow on Twitter. You will be supporting Alice, the memory of Mark, Independent fim-makers (such as the incredible director, producers, editor and contributors of this film) and the LGBT community.