Lee Lynch POB 1675 Valrico
FL 33595 firstname.lastname@example.org
I thought it was all about the wedding, but boy, was I wrong. As they say, a
wedding is tying the knot. You sign papers, make public vows, and accept the
support of friends and family. You also tell your spouse that this is forever.
And ever. And ever.
Once upon a time, there was nothing to signify a gay joining but a bedroom and
an overstuffed VW hauling furniture, the stereo and a cat in a carrier. All too
often, a few months or years went by and the VW would head off in another
direction, plus or minus a cat. But that didn’t always happen. You just didn’t
hear much about the knots that stayed tied.
Recently, my sweetheart and I were invited to help celebrate the 25th
anniversary of a couple who didn’t have the advantage of a formal knot-tying
ceremony. They fell in love in high school and had nothing but their love to
keep them together. It couldn’t have been easy. Certainly my early
relationships succumbed to the wrath of the closet, which could scar one with a
habit of easy dishonesty, especially within oneself. If you’re not honest
with yourself, how can you be with your partner? You end up stumbling around
inside a house with no foundation, in a maze of lies and denial that make it
impossible to sustain a relationship.
These days, I know of so many couples who stayed together till death did them
part, and I know more who have hit the 25 mark, the 35 mark, 40 years and
beyond. By the time I was 40, I’d learned how to stay, but back in my twenties
and thirties, I only knew how to unravel the rope, never mind tie a lasting
knot. And even at 40, I didn’t know enough to make good choices. That took
another 20 years. How did these long-lasting couples who’ve come out since
Stonewall know who to choose and how to make it work?
Our 25th anniversary friends had no guides. Those of us who came
before sure didn’t set a good example. I think this couple must have had
gumption, hard-headed determination and respect for themselves, for each other
and for their non-anointed marriage.
Not that we didn’t have gumption before 1969. We had it all right, but most of
us used it all up fighting the wrong fights. We fought ourselves because we’d
been told we were demons. We had trouble respecting our unions. How could I
think well of my partner if she chose a demon like me? How could I trust a
relationship between demons? How could I even want it, much less confidently
promise forever? It was always easier to get in the weighted down VW and move
on than to face my own demons.
Then, suddenly, the Stonewall riots, which scared me because I believed that
shining a light on gay people was dangerous. Those rioters flipped on the whole
circuit breaker. Closets melted in the heat of the lights. A glimmer of
self-respect shone into our souls. At the same time, teenagers in small town
America were falling in love and looking at the marching gay people on T.V. and
understanding they were not the only ones, that they were not demons, that they
were people of great value.
It still wasn’t easy for our friends, because they loved in a world that
continued to demonize people like them. It was dangerous outside each other’s
arms, but they didn’t drown their fears in liquor, or sabotage their tie by
moving away. They never found gay books until 2003, but they played sports and
got good jobs and stayed together and saved money and bought a home with a good foundation. For their first dozen years they were so closeted they had no gay friends. Finally, a friend at work came out to them and they had another couple who could share the special moments in their lives. They announced at the celebration that they made it this long partly because of that friendship.
My sweetheart and I drove 25 hours round trip to witness their accomplishment.
Relatively new ourselves, it was important. In the large convivial room there
was a glow of accomplishment. The couples’ two families were there as were work
friends and team buddies. I imagined, afterward, the heart-rending moments of
rejection and eventual acceptance that made this day possible. This
couple, whose gumption surely must have wavered now and then, gifted all of us
by bringing us together to toast their example and their achievement.
See, their smiles seemed to say, there’s no demons in this room. Not in us, not
in you. They can’t untie this knot.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2011