I met my first partner in 1981. Things were very different back then. He and I had to always have a level of secrecy about our relationship. We always had to make sure we rented a two bedroom apartment to keep up the illusion. I didn’t hide it from my family, but Jamie did. I didn’t hold this against him. It was a condition for the time. When he was on his dying bed in 1989, I had to call his parents, not only to tell them he was dying of AIDS, but also, he was gay. When they came to the hospital – only once, I didn’t know which was worse for them. As we all stood by his bedside, the nurse woke him from his morphine drip to say hello. They made small talk for a few minutes before saying their goodbyes. As I walked them out of the curtained area, they said, “When it’s over, call us.” They left to go back to Michigan. The circumstance was numbing, but this broke my heart even more. But as we all did back then, I agreed and moved on. Now, as the years have gone by, the world has changed. But there is still a level of hatred and plain ignorance in the world. Sometimes it is in your face when a bakery refuses to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Other times it is more subtle when family treats a gay couple different than a straight couple. Either way it hurts.
Upon finishing Hillary Clinton’s new book, “Hard Choices,” I realized something important. Whatever you feel about the individual, there is good and there is bad in the world. And she is good. If you’re not helping to heal and bring people together, you are part of the problem. It is just that simple.
In the last chapter, she speaks about her 2011 historic International Human Rights speech. She spoke of the myths the world uses to oppress and dehumanize gays. She made clear that gay rights are human rights. After listening to the full speech, I wondered how anyone could disagree with such a basic human rights premise? If you haven’t heard the speech check it out.
I couldn’t help wonder how things would be today if my first partner and I were still together. What our lives would be like with a family that extended from his and mine. Everyone knowing we were gay.
Gratefully, I found a man I have been with now for 23 years. We celebrate every day when we can openly call each other “partner.” Recently, After seeing a movie, I reached out to hold his hand in public and for a moment I felt what it is like to be free.
Watch the full video:
Listen to full audio only below: