When people think about LGBT stories and the holidays, some imagine scenes of argument and strife or -- sometimes worse -- tension and polite-acting relatives. Well, this story isn't like that at all. This is the Christmas story of Ryan and Eddie.
The love story started in college. Ryan grew up in a small, rural community in Canada and had always dated women. Eddie was dapper, gay exchange student from England. After a night of (cough) lowered inhibitions, the two started dating. It was a confusing time for Ryan. He'd never dated a man before, and the only person he knew from his small town community who came out of the closet was immediately disowned by her family. But there was something about Eddie he just couldn't give up.
They dated in secret, only "friends" to everyone else, until Eddie had to return home to England. It didn't take long for Ryan to follow Eddie across the Atlantic, but despite being in a different country, they still kept their relationship quiet, to everyone, friends and family alike, for nearly two years, because Ryan just wasn't ready.
And, OK, this is where I got stuck. Eddie's family is completely open and accepting, and he came out of the closet when he was 16, with little fanfare and no drama.
"Two years?" I asked Ryan, kind of horrified. "And Eddie just put up with it? Didn't he get pissed off?"
"No," Ryan assured me. "He knew I needed to take my time."
I found that answer really unsatisfying, and I wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth.
Eddie backed up the story. "I was never frustrated with him. I was frustrated with the world, but not with him."
My astonished "really?" was probably a little harsh and more than a little rude.
"He was worth it," Eddie insisted... and it might just be his adorable accent that did it, but I was convinced.
So after two years, Ryan and Saint Eddie moved back to Canada, and on the top of Ryan's to-do list was coming out to his parents. He was nervous, really nervous, and he had reason to be. His parents were conservative, church-going people, and homophobic jokes and ignorance were not unheard of at family functions.
And those family functions, like the holidays that were quickly approaching, were one of the things Ryan worried about most. He has an large extended family, and Christmas was always a loud and chaotic affair full of laughter, food, and games. He was scared that being open about his relationship Eddie would end it all. His parents would be uncomfortable, his cousins (many of whom are good country boys) would be worse, and the holiday he loved would become a tension-filled nightmare -- that is, if he didn't get disowned himself.
But Ryan charged forward and came out to his parents. And the world absolutely failed to end. There was surprise and a very small amount of drama that ended with his father stating plainly, "I want you to be happy." Ryan introduced his parents to Eddie that same day, and everything went great. The whole episode actually left Ryan feeling embarrassed at just how much he had underestimated his parents.
A few weeks later, when Christmas rolled around, Ryan brought Eddie into the family holiday craziness. Everyone treated Eddie just like they did everyone else's boyfriends and girlfriends. No one had any fits, outrageous or passive episodes of homophobia, or tense uncomfortable moments. It was Ryan's wildest dream come true.
When Ryan recounted the tale, one thing he said in particular really struck me: "Last year's Christmas will always have a place in my heart for being truly unremarkable."
And that is what makes me love this story. What makes it unremarkable is just what makes it remarkable. It is a story of love and acceptance trumping the fear and hate gay people in our society have come to expect.
So, this Christmas, I wish for all our holidays to be unremarkable. I think it could be a really good time.
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