Marriage Project

Jill is lately married to a former radical-cheerleading, performance artist, addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet. It was a Day-of-the-Dead affair.

This is a series of journal like posts made between xxxx and xxxx where I explored the feelings around the marriage equality act and …

Marriage Project, Day 21

February 29, 2012
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Have you noticed one of the themes of this project: altruism. The fact that people who aren’t necessarily interested in marrying are psyched about the opportunity of marriage for those around them. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

My family collects pairs of marriages like cards. My sister has had two (played one, holding one). My stepsister had two (played them both). And my dad two (one played, one holding). My mom folded her hand after being dealt one bad marriage. And the other sister went all in but hers ended in death, not divorce. Me? I’m a spectator, no playing.

Never in my life did I dream about or consider getting married. The white dresses, the flowers, the dry cake and crappy champagne, this was the stuff of my friends and sisters. Always the bridesmaid was I, in my sweat-stained pastel taffeta and stiff toile. Weddings taxed me, made me tired, gave me anxiety over having to make small talk and couples dance. Weddings were things other people did; they were things other people had done to them. And the rate at which people collected them baffled me.

When I came out in my thirties, I realized my aversion to marriage was part nurture, part nature. On the one hand, I had been nurtured to equate marriage with failure. On the other hand, gay people couldn’t get married by the nature of their relationship. And, my whole paradigm had been off: I was looking at it through fake-it-til-you-make-it eyes. Now, as an out gay person, marriage was out of my grasp whether or not I wanted one. Relief. I didn’t have to explain myself anymore. I’m just gay not weird.

So it seems strange the idea of marriage equality has ignited an activist flame in me that hasn’t been lit in years. Watching my state legislators vote to affirm gays and lesbians of our right to marry, I found myself choking back tears, getting goosebumps, and fervently live blogging on Facebook as the vote went down. There I was, sitting alone in front of my laptop, saying over and over, “hot damn, hot damn.” I could not find words big enough. Heart racing, skin tingling. It is happening in my state. My state!

I think about one of my best friends, who last year was only “embracing the concept” of having a girlfriend. She now talks excitedly about her lover as being her “person” and how they are going to get married in every state where it’s legal. I think about friends who have been together for decades, friends who raise children together, friends who have just found each other, friends who want a family. And all of the untold, unknown stories across the state of commitment, love, and sacrifice. Suddenly, I want this for them. Her and her, him and him, and them, all of them.

Do I want it for me? This is a question I thought I had answered and that now hangs precipitously unanswered. Hopefully soon, we will all have that choice in Washington.

Cat Carrel
Spokane, WA

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Marriage Project, Day 22

March 1, 2012
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She made me a skull wedding cake. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

I left my husband on May 11th, 2001, after 5 years and two children. I felt free. I basked in my independence! I fell deeply in love with freedom. Seven hours later I met my best friend, my for reals husband M. He made me feel that I had been missing out on everything love for my entire life. Now filled with awe and adoration, I settled into the role of a complete soul.

Our first year together was filled with world-altering events including 3 Spokane earthquakes (always on a Sunday in the morning, we waited in bed for the earth to shake us awake), a hurricane that seemed to claim only the most impoverished, the infamous 9/11, and the conception of our son. Any one of these events would normally be enough to process in one calendar year. The love and companionship served as a buffer to the outside threats and worries.

I came into this relationship with considerable baggage: some insecurities, but mostly bags stuffed full of my three children’s clothing and toys. M instantly became one of us. We were a family for the first time. ME! I was part of a real family, something I’d lacked for most of my life. This newness bonded me to him and him to me in ways that I knew would never change in any way other than the normal stretching and molding that comes with growth.

In December ’04, little Phoenix, who was at that time 8 tiny years old, turned to M and said “When are you and my mother going to Marry?” To this day Phoenix claims the prize that he chose the moment of the proposal. We were engaged during a commercial break of “Fear Factor”, wedged between people eating 100-yr-old eggs and the finale of being catapulted into 5000 gallons of horse manure. Epically awesome.

We married twice.

I was terrified to elope because of a comment from his mother years prior where she basically gave me the New Jersey look of death when explaining that she WOULD in fact be watching her oldest son exchange vows. Okay, alright … nooo problem .… However, due to being a woman and all that entails, our plans had to change. We wanted to enjoy our honeymoon, and we wanted to own our ceremony. This moment belonged to us. We needed that. So we eloped, honeymooned, came home, finished paying the deposit and finalized the larger-than-comfortable wedding ceremony taking place in just under two weeks. This worked out so well, having two weddings. We owned both. They were ours. We loved each other so much, we married twice.

Over the last few months with all the changes going on politically, I have been overjoyed (to tears at times), at the idea of watching some of the people I consider family contemplate their turn to have all the legal rights my husband and I enjoy. But mostly, because I get to see them get married twice.

Betsy Wilhelms
Spokane, WA

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Marriage Project, Day 23

March 2, 2012
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I had a similar reaction to this photo of Governor Gregoire and Representative Jamie Pedersen after the historic House vote to legalize marriage equality in Washington. A new and better world. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

My daughter walked into the living room and saw me crying, re-reading the newspaper article for the third time.  She asked if I got an ouchy and needed a band-aid or a kiss.  I told her “no,” and she asked me what was wrong.  I told her “nothing,” so of course she asked me why I was crying.  I told her I was happy, and that sometimes grown-ups cry when they’re happy.   She asked me if I was happy because the princess in the picture found her prince.

Gregoire Marriage EqualityAfter I stopped laughing – because obviously my kid has amazing comic timing – I told her, “No, he is not her prince, but the story below the photo is about something that happened with those people, and it is very good news.”

Of course next she wanted to know what the story was about.  I had to think about it; I mean how do you explain a gay marriage bill to a 5 year old? Speak her language. My five year old loves Disney. So I told her that today the kingdom we live in decided that when Mommy finds her princess, she will be allowed to marry her.  She told me I was silly because I didn’t need to ask those guys, I just needed to ask the princess.

That’s what struck me. Nope, I don’t have to ask those guys or fight some other guys or anything else anymore.  I just gotta find my princess (not as easy as it sounds) and marry her.  The best part is knowing my daughter will never remember a time when I couldn’t marry a woman. Or a princess.

As someone who has been married and divorced, marriage means many things to me. Pretty high on the list of why marriage matters, is that marriage is one way that children identify who is in their family.

Seeing me marry Ms. Princess – when she comes along – is just one more reason that the next generation will not think of two same-sex parents as different, inferior or weird. Marriage equality will just be a fact of life to them.  Everyone will grow up knowing that some kids have two moms or two dads, just like the children of my generation grew up accepting step-parents as commonplace.

Someday when my sweet little princess grows up, she will probably hear about our generations’ civil rights battle in history class.  She will probably shake her head, roll her eyes and wonder why kids like her are forced to study silly relics of the past. Just the same way I did when forced to read about past generations and their civil rights battle.  I remember thinking, “Well, that stupid stuff is never going to happen again or anything, so why is this important to me?”

It was a matter of fact to me. Black people are people, so of course they deserve all the rights white people do. Um, duh!  It’s a silly concept, discrimination.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could disagree with my logic. The worldview I was raised with taught that equality was just a fact.

I look forward to my daughter growing up in a generation that will feel the same way about the fact that gay marriage was ever illegal. Um, duh. What a silly concept.

After my daughter was tucked into bed that night, I sat up, still re-reading the same article, and I thought more about my daughter as she grows up.  I thought about what her life will be like if she is gay, and it made me happy to think that she will not have to consider what that means for her ability to fall in love, get married, have kids, have insurance, buy a house, retire and die in her soulmate’s arms.  Whether my daughter is gay or straight or something in-between, she will take it for granted that she will have a “normal life”.

I know that I considered all of those things as I grew up, and I probably would have decided to follow my heart a lot sooner if happiness had seemed as possible then as it suddenly does now.

Thankfully, being exactly who she is will seem a lot less scary for my daughter than it did for me.

Honestly, the only reason I was ever brave enough to come out at all was because of my kid. I didn’t want her to see me have tolerable, if not downright unhappy relationships with men and think that is all she can expect for her own life.  So, thanks kiddo for reminding me that I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to love, marry and live happily ever after with whomever I please.

Kristie Towry
Spokane, WA

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Marriage Project, Day 24

March 4, 2012
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More than a year ago, a woman I had never met asked if I needed any help with the Day-of-the-Dead crafts for the wedding. She made Mary’s bouquet and garland, and a garland for the flower girl, and this incredible painting of two girl skeletons in love. And she’s one of those people you’re just grateful exists. You know? One of those people who makes community seem even more familial. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

In recent months I’ve heard the phrase, “Two gays getting married compromises the sanctity of marriage.” What exactly is the sanctity of marriage? As I understand it, it’s the commitment of two individuals who choose to spend the rest of their lives together, loving each other, working together, being a foundation for one another, a partnership.

Marriage is merely a label for something that already exists: their love and commitment.

What if you read, “Interracial couples getting married compromises the sanctity of marriage.” You wouldn’t, because it’s an outrageous notion! Why is it any different for homosexuals?

What if your husband were in a car accident and you were denied seeing him in the hospital before he died? What if your child had a deadly allergic reaction and your wife was denied authorization for his medical care? Now, replace the words husband and wife with partner. It’s still just as unfathomable that it could happen, and yet it does. People are denied their rights as human beings simply because of who they love.

What right do I have to decide another person’s fate? Who am I to say that another person’s love isn’t valid?

Why is it that I can get married to anyone of my choosing as long as it’s the opposite sex? It doesn’t matter if I actually love them, it doesn’t matter if I intend to stay married or not.

I almost married a gay man for tax purposes. This definitely isn’t what marriage is supposed to be about. Yet, two people who have lived by the “sanctity of marriage” aren’t legit. Talk about hypocrisy.

Marriage Equality to me has nothing to do with Marriage and everything to do with Equality.

Erica Roscoe
Spokane, WA

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Marriage Project, Day 25

March 5, 2012
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OK. So, I was heartbroken all weekend to have run out of stories. I love these stories. This project is a reminder of how much love matters and how deeply love is supported by our community. The antagonists have one argument they repeat: If you have rights, my rights will be cheapened. But we have love stories. Stories of friendship. Stories of devotion. Stories of equality. I read these and my chest breaks open. I read these and I love harder. Thank you for sharing them. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

I grew up in a Catholic family: we went to church every Sunday and I went to Catholic schools my entire life. We never really talked about gay people and so when I started having feelings for other boys I hid it from my family and the world. I thought there was something wrong with me and that I was a flawed human or a sinner. Since we never talked about it I didn’t know that I had gay family or that one of my cousins was living with a man who he had been dating for a very long time. After I graduated from Gonzaga, I thought that I would find a girl and settle down and just try to be “normal”. I have had girlfriends I cared deeply for, but never felt like I was giving them my entire self. I was cheating them and myself out of being truly happy.

I met a couple (a gay couple) who took me under their wing and showed me that two men can be happy together. They helped me find who I truly am and helped me come out of the closet. My family took it surprisingly well. I make jokes with my mom about me being gay when I was little since we loved to listen to Stevie Nicks and watched some of the “gayest” movies I can name, but she said that she had no idea.

Anyways, this is supposed to be a story about love not my entire life so I’ll get into my love life. After many attempts at finding love and failing, I met the boy of my dreams, and not what I would have pictured the boy of my dreams to be. He is nothing like me; he likes video games and anime, and I like Cher and going out to gay bars. As I am writing this he is blasting the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, nerd!! Jean-Pierre is everything that a companion should be. He is loving, caring and puts up with me!! We have been together for 2 years. I know that may not sound like a horribly long time, but to me it seems like ages. I have never been with someone that long and felt like nothing has changed since the moment we met. We still annoy friends with how cute and playful we are. We still do everything together and most importantly we still love each other.

I would never have thought that I would want to spend the rest of my life with the same person, but now I do. Don’t get me wrong we are several years away from getting married and starting that phase in our lives, but it will happen someday. I am so happy to have the best boyfriend in the world. Someone who would go to the ends of the world for me and not complain about it. Someone who will put up with me singing “If I Could Turn Back Time” in the shower EVERY morning. He is the love of my life and I hope that we will be sitting on our porch in our rocking chairs when we are 70 and still feel the same way. I can’t wait for our children to visit us in our nursing home with their kids. I can’t wait to spend everyday with the person I love. And we all should have that right: whether or not we decide to use that right should be up to us not the government or religion. I want to thank JP for being himself 100% and never letting anyone get in his way. I am the luckiest person in the world and love him with all my heart.

Danny Hawkins
Spokane, WA

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Marriage Project, Day 26

March 6, 2012
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I don’t know what to say about this story. I received it by email yesterday and cried as I read it. And I’m crying now as I prepare to post it. I love this man. This man I’ve never met. I love his bravery. I love his heart. I love his story. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

As I sat in the Tilford Center watching Governor Christine Gregoire sign the final marriage equality bill on my laptop; I broke down. A tsunami of emotion crashed into me. Tears started streaming down my cheeks. I never thought the mere sight of our Governor signing this bill would have such a powerful impact on me. I hadn’t so much as shed a tear at an actual wedding ceremony, but this was different.

I’ve been out for almost six years now. It’s been a liberating experience; and I’m extremely lucky to have such amazing family and friends who support me every step of the way. But it wasn’t always this easy. I struggled with my sexuality for over a decade. Initially, I knew I was different but I couldn’t put a name to it.

I spent my school years in paralyzing fear that I would be outed. I saw how my peers treated the only two out gay men I knew in high school. It was more than just bullying, it was harassment and assault. I heard people in the Churches we frequented speak in disdainful hushed tones whenever homosexuality would come up; as if it was something to be ashamed of and thus hidden and locked away. Homosexuality was the black box in the corner that people either wanted to pretend wasn’t there, or throw it in the trash.

The tipping point came during my journey out of the darkness and isolation of the closet and into the light. It was a whirlwind of trials and tribulation. I found myself doing things I never thought I would do. I was cutting myself frequently. The cold steel of a razor blade against my soft skin made all the mental anguish melt away. I knew it was wrong; and I knew where it led, but I kept telling myself that the circumstances were so horrible and painful that I needed it. One day, after my hopes for a smooth coming out were dashed, I took it a step further. I wanted to end it. Pills, booze and a blade were the weapons of choice. Suffice to say, I didn’t succeed on obtaining my objective and I now realize that I’m the luckiest person I know because I didn’t succeed.

But this is why I cried watching that bill signing. This is why marriage equality means so much to me. You might ask, “But Blaine, what do these stories have to do with one another?” It’s simple to me though. All our lives, those of us in the LGBT community are assaulted and bombarded with words of hate and venom. Being out and proud is a daily hike up the hill. It’s never easy. But in this one moment, I saw so many people come together and shout from the top of the hill, “You’re just like the rest of us.” I heard them affirm our identity and affirm our sense of humanity. That’s what marriage equality does. It says to everyone, “You’re as good as everyone else.” How powerful would that message have been to teenage me who thought I was sick and perverted? Even as someone who wouldn’t have dared to get married at that age, the very idea that we could see a reality in which people in the LGBT community can potentially live with the same dignity as everyone else would no doubt have been an epiphany to someone who never thought they would see that day.

Blaine Stum
Spokane, WA

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Marriage Project, Day 27

March 7, 2012
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This essay was written in 2004, but the local presses wouldn’t publish it. Moreover, the writer asked me to withhold her city and state. She said bigots where she lives like to take their viewpoint out on your pets. Progress has real costs. The backlash is ugly, as we see repeatedly in a candidate like Rick Santorum. We are given voices to speak. We are given stories to tell. Speak truth to power. Speak it as long as you live. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

Here’s looking at you
by Marguerite Quantaine

Publicly, Thomas Jefferson believed in the principles of freedom. But privately, he grappled over whether the worst white man was still better than the best black man.

Ultimately, Jefferson’s failure to champion equality left his own illegitimate child enslaved, opening the wound which has since defined – not the competency of his mind – but the capacity of his heart.

We are once again at a crossroads governing the use of fine print to qualify freedom and equality.

But this time, the Jeffersonian paradox challenges whether we, as a nation, believe the worst heterosexual is still better than the best homosexual.

Because all the worst heterosexuals in America can marry.

But even the best homosexuals cannot.

As the high court strips away all righteous rhetoric and political posturing, it’s possible they’ll recognize a raw reality, i.e., even when heterosexuals commit the most heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molestation, spousal abuse), their known deviant behaviors are ignored by American marriage laws.

However, even when homosexuals are model citizens, their one identified aberrant activity is prepossessed.

The court must then question whether this speaks to the heart of who we are, regardless of whom we perceive ourselves to be.

On the one hand, we insist the purpose of marriage is a belief in the sanctity of family.

On the other, we ignore the fact that millions of felons sitting in high security prisons nationwide are predominately heterosexual, having marginal moral character at best. Yet each has a right to marry.

In some sit suspects held for complicity in the 9/11 attacks. And even they have the legal right to marry in every state in this nation.

But Lily Tomlin doesn’t.

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, David Berkowitz, and the Menendez brothers can.

But Ellen DeGeneres can’t.

The loathsome, imprisoned Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, could.

But the honorable, sitting U.S. Congressman, Barney Frank, cannot.

If the court entertains the position that “sin” is the foundation on which law is defined, will it validate the proponent “hate the sin, not the sinner” premise?

Can it then ignore evidence verifying it isn’t “sin” being shunned, profiled, attacked, ridiculed, or denied equal rights? Only American citizens are.

Will the court ask why there are no marches planned, political wars being waged, or state constitutional amendments being drafted against the seven deadly sins? Or, why it’s only a singular, Bible referenced, declared abomination being targeted?

And, if this is an inflamed edict, could it set precedence for other inflamed edicts as just cause to alter constitutional law?

The court might recognize the ten commandments governing the worship of other Gods, building graven images, working on the Sabbath, cursing, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness as written in stone. But being gay is not.

Politicians and pundits insist same-sex marriage is un-American, implying we can’t remain an “America The Beautiful” if we allow marriage to be maligned. Because, like that best loved song, the institution of marriage has been declared our national heritage and pride.

But only the Supreme Court can decide which American-born citizens qualify as entitled to inalienable rights, and which (regardless of birthright or exemplary character) do not.

Before then, the justices may be compelled to reflect on citizens like Katherine Lee Bates. A woman who spent 25 years in love with another woman, and her entire life as one of America’s finest homosexuals. Who felt, authored, and gifted our nation with those cherished words, “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

Perhaps it’s even possible our Supreme Court will decide it’s time we stopped cherishing a broken institution that denies equality to our totality, and in so ruling, bind us by law to cherish each other, instead.

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Marriage Project, Day 28

March 8, 2012
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Getting to share a love story every day is a gift, like when you’re a kid and your grandparents start telling you how they met and you’re trying to picture the scene — the world scrubbed and bright. The best version of itself. And you can feel it. You can feel their devotion. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

When I think about marriage equality, I think about my moms — that is, my mother and her partner, Kathy.

Kathy is family, and not just because she calls me with her computer problems. She has laughed with me and comforted me, given me a roof to sleep under and sometimes a piece of her mind, too. She’s the best step-parent I’ve ever had (and there have been a few), simply because she made room in her life for my brother and me when she fell in love with our mother. It wasn’t a struggle; she just embraced us. What’s more, she’s wonderful to my mom, a true “all in” partner in life.

Kathy also has multiple sclerosis. She’s still getting around pretty well most days, but her medical care is expensive. Though my mom is able to provide her with insurance coverage as a domestic partner, it costs much, much more than extending coverage to a spouse. Because they know that the claims of their relatives could still carry more legal weight than their relationship, my moms have been very careful in preparing for the inevitable—formalizing their wishes, naming medical proxies, etc. I’m glad they’re diligent, but I wish they didn’t have to be. It’s clear that inequality carries actual costs.

Marriage equality is more than an ideal to me. It’s personal. I do believe that if our nation still aspires toward liberty and justice, this change must happen, and it must be sweeping. But I also just want my moms to feel the security of knowing that their commitment to each other will be honored by the community-at-large. They’ve faced a lot of disapproval over the years, so I imagine it might be some small compensation to feel that their rights are affirmed and protected by the state. And while a legal certificate couldn’t make Kathy more important to me, it would still feel good to know that it’s official. We’re family.


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Marriage Project, Day 29

March 9, 2012
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We’re getting some profound advice from our neighbors to the north. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

As a Canadian, I am very aware of how extremely fortunate I am. Not only because Canada is a vast and beautiful country, populated with innumerable open-minded and generous people, but also because those same open-minded and generous people make it possible for me to marry whomever I choose. I am granted the same rights as all Canadians, and that is as it should be.

Had I met someone in Canada, fallen deeply in love, and thought worthy of marrying (or vice versa), there would be no trouble whatsoever. However, as luck would have it, I met and fell in love with an American woman. And while I could marry this wonderful woman here in Canada, that would require her to move here, and that is something I would neither ask nor expect of her. She has her responsibilities in North Carolina, a business to run and an aging mother to attend to. She takes her responsibilities very seriously, and I respect her for this.

She is such a loving, generous, fun, and funny person; I feel so fortunate, like the luckiest woman on the planet. I’ve never met anyone I can look at every morning, every night, every day, and think, Oh yes, you, I want to be with you, always. And yet we cannot be together every single day. I am painfully aware, on the days that I am with her, that I can only spend six months out of the year with her, and those six months must be spread out over the entire year.

I’ve met numerous people during my visits to North Carolina, too many to count, and all have been so very friendly, so very supportive of our relationship, understanding of our desire to be together, and basically disgusted with their government’s sometimes backward way of thinking and doing things. Some people are well meaning but rather clueless, and say blithely, “Well, you’ll be moving here then, right?” When we explain to them that that is (so far) impossible, and why, they are quite aghast, since they cannot conceive of such injustice, and rightly so.

The powers that be in North Carolina are attempting to introduce a bill that would deny same-sex couples the right to marry in that state. It’s up for vote in May of this year. This is absolutely shocking to me, in the year 2012, that people are even thinking this way, let alone actively trying to make it happen. What kind of people still actually think that such a bill makes any kind of rational sense? What kind of people still actually think that other human beings can, and should, be denied their basic constitutional rights, in the year 2012? It hurts my heart and my brain to even try to imagine such a person.

But even if this bill were not to pass, at the federal level same-sex marriage is not allowed or recognized, and so marrying in that state would not be enough to allow us to stay together indefinitely. And obviously, we’re shooting for indefinitely. And obviously, we are not the only ones in this situation. My heart goes out to every couple who finds themselves in this detestable situation, denied the right(s) that so many of those who are denying them that right take for granted. It shouldn’t be this be way. Equality should not be put up for a vote, or something hotly contested by politicians. It should be a given. Hopefully, soon, very soon, it will be.

Rebecca Swartz
Winnipeg, Canada

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Marriage Project, Day 30

March 10, 2012
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I’m not going to spoil the happiness of this story, but I have to say, one of my favorite lines ever: Marriage agreed with me. Yes. Yes, exactly. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

Love is love; it has no prejudice toward color or gender. Love is just love. I have never been able to understand why that is a problem for others. Nor am I able to understand why any two people in love cannot express that within marriage. Why does one couple’s love mean more than another couple’s love just because of a silly thing like gender? It just doesn’t make any sense to me and I’ve gotten into debates about it to try to understand the point of view that gay love isn’t real love. But by the end of these debates I didn’t understand any more than I did before, I was just a lot more upset and teary eyed.

I grew up in the country in Eastern Washington and wasn’t exposed to very many “controversial” things, but I was the black sheep of the family. I was always a little too outspoken, a little too open minded and far too curious. So I decided on a whim to pack my things and move to Long Beach, CA to see what life was like without people telling me what was right and wrong or even worse, proper.

Needless to say, I was not prepared for what I was about to experience going to a design school in California. Within the first couple days I had met many men far more feminine than I, had seen gay couples walking in public holding hands,  and had a guy living as a girl in transition down the hall. Most shocking of all was my fashion-designer roommate telling me that yes, people actually buy ugly purses for thousands of dollars!

It all was shocking to me, but I loved every minute of it. I lived in the dorms for a few months then moved to the apartments with a friend. After living there for a couple months we went to our first Pride Festival, since our apartment was right by the parade. I had never seen such a celebration; there were scantily clad men and women on floats singing, “I’m. Coming … out. I’m coming out! I want the world to know …” there were the manliest drag queens I’ve ever seen along with queens I thought there was no possible way they were really men. There were Dykes on Bikes (which I secretly found myself crushing on), there were gay couples young and old, black, white and every race under the sun. I honestly had never experienced such an outpouring of love in one place.

Soon after Pride my roommate and I were joking and wrestling and then kissing. Yeah, that was another shock to say the least, but it didn’t stop us, nor did it take us long to fall completely head-over-heels in love. It was a whole new feeling that was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Neither of us felt we could tell our family, and because we were both living away from home neither of us had to. I remember being scared yet absolutely proud to hold her hand in public. What if somebody saw? What if it upset someone? I realized I didn’t care, she was my girlfriend and I was proud to hold this beautiful woman’s hand anywhere we went. Though the relationship didn’t last till death do us part it was an important chapter in my life and it opened my eyes to the fact that I have this amazing capability to love a person – man or woman. It taught me that gender has no bearing on the depths to which you can love a person.

I moved back to Spokane two years later and was so scared because I knew I would have to come out of the closet to my family eventually, and I did about a year after my son was born. When I did, my sisters were not surprised because I seemed a little too friendly with that roommate from college I had brought home for break. But they didn’t understand why I would want to limit myself to no marriage and no more babies if I decided to be with a woman. I told them that I wouldn’t be limiting myself at all! I knew eventually marriage would be a possibility, and as far as kids go my son was a bit of a fluke since I wasn’t supposed to be able to have babies at all. So whether I chose a man or a woman there would be hurdles to overcome.

Four years ago I met the man who would become my husband in the truck-stop shower where I worked. No I am not making this up, I swear! He is everything in a person I knew I needed. As we grew closer as a couple and a family we started talking about marriage and began seeing it in our future. My biggest fear was that I would be unable to give him a child of his own. I knew he loved my son, but also knew that he wanted his own. We set our date to be married on 10/10/10 at 10:10am (because yes we are that cheesy) and they were amazing weddings. Yes, weddings.

We had the day all planned, our vows written, the readings carefully chosen and the altar built. We were prepared for our outdoor wedding to be inside due to rain. Everything was set except for the marriage license. So we went down to the courthouse to get it and the clerk told us that we could not be married until the 11th at the very soonest due to Washington’s three-day waiting period. We were one day too late. I proceeded to go to the bathroom and hysterically cry. Many tears fell until we decided to go get married at the Hitching Post in (no waiting period) Idaho, and then we could renew our vows on our wedding day.

It was an amazing day; I had never felt so in love as I did when he swept me across the room for our first dance. I knew that this man had declared his love to me for both the woman I was and the one I would become. He had taken my son as his own and loved me even if I couldn’t bear his children. And with that kind of a public declaration of love I knew that we would come across hard times but with his hand in mine we would make it through.

I may be a total romantic, in fact I know I am. My doctors all said that it would take fertility drugs to give me another baby. Yet, we got married 10/10/10, went on a honeymoon for a week and found out the next month I was pregnant. Obviously, I know a little paper saying we were married didn’t do the trick. But in my heart it was the moment that I said “I do” and “until death do us part” that created peace within my body. Marriage agreed with me. As I write this I have my baby sleeping in my arms and my husband sleeping next to me and in this moment I think I may have fallen in love with him all over again.

Tina Valdivia
Spokane, WA

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