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.