Thursday, May 15, 2008

Proposals and Conversations and Rulings, Oh My!

I was speaking to my mom this past Sunday (Mother's Day) about getting married (some day). Like she often does, she talked about me finding a good filipino woman. I proceeded to tell my mom very casually, as I often do (in recent years), "Mama, I'm not going to marry a woman. I'm going to marry a man."

The conversation typically cycles through whether or not I'm sure and the fact that I can "arrange" to marry a woman from the Philippines (as if I couldn't find and marry a woman on my own! jeesh! =P ). But this time I told her that I don't want to do that because I want to be happy. I'm not going to be happy marrying a woman and besides the fact that it's not fair for her. Plus, I don't want to bring someone else into "our family" who I don't even care about (referring to some random filipino gal). I told her that the person I bring into "our family" is going to be someone I love and care about. It's going to mean something when he's part of "our family".

Then to seal the deal, I told her, "Well, when did you find out that Papa was gay? Wouldn't you have wanted to know? I don't want to do that. I want to be happy."

She couldn't argue with that. In fact, she seemed to receive it in a way that was a bit different - as if she was shifting from the denial and accepting the truth about her son . . . .

I told my mom and the rest of my siblings in November 2001 that I was struggling with same-sex attractions then on Christmas 2005 that I was no longer "struggling" and that I've found peace with God regarding me being gay. Since then my mom has been in the closet (we switched) about having a gay son, saying that she didn't want her sister (my aunt) to know about me.

During the conversation this past Sunday with my mom, I concluded with asking her to tell my aunt. The family had gathered at my aunt's place and so less than an hour upon my arrival I was bombarded with the usual interrogation from my aunt. You know, the "Sooooooo, when are you going to get married?" *insert high pitched inflection at the end with a filipino accent*

So I told my mom, "you've gotta tell her." I took the opportunity to tell my mom that I just want to be real and myself when I'm with the family. Plus I want her to be able to think of me - the normal and gay, sweet and good nephew that she loves - when she thinks of gay people. If she doesn't know, then she'll continue believing her stereotypes.

I hope my mom tells her sister about me. That would be a step forward for her. She said she would later in the day after I left. I'm proud of her though. She's been through a lot. Remember "my parent's before the divorce"?

I know that I'm very fortunate to have a family so loving and accepting of me. I'm proud of them!

I've also been proud of my city - Long Beach, CA - this place in which I live. Last September, in "One Man's Change of Heart" I made reference to how my own city council unanimously passed a resolution in support of marriage equality. It was amazing at the time because there had been two or three previous failed attempts to pass such a resolution in the city council. Here we are a city with an estimated 80,000 GLBT residents (according to census) , 20% of our city population, and it was still controversial. But then something shifted and the council at the time passed it unanimously. They took a step forward.

And now today, I'm sure you've heard the news and the buzz - the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny same sex couples the right - the freedom - to marry.

Article from CNN
Article from LA Times

CNN Report (video)
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome Speech (video)

Mayor Newsome Interview (video)

The pursuit for marriage equality isn't over as I'm sure opposing forces are mobilizing for a State Constitutional Amendment banning same sex marriage on the November ballot. Who knows how this drama will continue to unfold. My prayer is that justice will prevail.

It's not about politics for me. It's about justice. I'm not about to get die-hard political activist-y right now (since my approach is to be a catalyst over being an activist) but it just seems clear to me that we ought to support an individual's rights as a fellow citizen - not deny certain rights because of the kind of citizen they are. I know people have varying views about civil unions and domestic partnerships and stuff and how those have "some or most" of the civil rights, obligations, and responsibilities as marriages do, but "marriage-like" rights aren't the same as having the same rights of marriage.

Didn't some other high court in U.S. history rule regarding another hot topic at the time that "separate but equal" was unconstitutional?

I'm just saying.

Our civilization continues to take steps forward. I take steps forward. My mom takes steps forward. My family takes steps forward. My community and my city takes steps forward. My state is and is trying to take steps forward.

But at the end of the day, whether or not certain types of relationships should be deemed legal and allowable or not, I think we ought to focus on the fact that these are people who are in relationships and want to honor them. Whether gay or straight, our community needs healthy relationships. Those who are currently in long-term committed relationships set an example for those of us who barely know how to stay in a relationship (much less get into one!).

I have no doubt that one day I will have the right to marry. So how do I stay married?


Anonymous said...

Hey there!!

I am so excited about all of this! I hope your Mom tells your Aunt..Love ya

Becky O

Christine Bakke said...

"So how do I stay married?"

Good question. Seems so few raise it because we are just so concerned about actually getting married, and forget about the whole keeping married thing.

Interested to hear what others say...especially those who are in a life-partnership/marriage situation.

Steve said...

I like your litany of people who are taking steps forward. It provides some perspective.

So, what's the difference between a catalyst and an activist?

Anonymous said...

"Plus I want her to be able to think of me - the normal and gay, sweet and good nephew that she loves - when she thinks of gay people. If she doesn't know, then she'll continue believing her stereotypes."

So true, Eric. This has been one of the major motivating factors for me to take risks when I can, to speak up when I can ... and get rid of the stereotypes people still have about the LGBT community.

Thanks for all you're doing!