On Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, Sundance channel's new TV show, Joel Derfner and I find ourselves in the middle of The Jealousy Plot:
He likes boys, so do I.
He's a writer, so am I.
He gets married, I do not.
Boy, this role is a bummer, no? Well, no. It has been one of the great honors of my life. I have known few greater joys than watching Joel Derfner say "I do" -- twice.
Joel and I met in college, bonding over angst and ice cream. Would the world accept us? Would we ever find love? Were we doomed to an eternity of staring through a plate glass window at our dreams?
On May 4, 1993, Joel put his nose against that window and saw a whole new world of treats, a basket of bon bons neither of us had previously imagined. The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples had a constitutional right to marry, that the denial of a marriage license violated basic civil rights.
We grew up alongside marriage equality. Hawaii was far away and in 1998 voters overrode the court's decision. But then in 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriages. The California Supreme Court followed in 2008 and some 18,000 couples flocked to the altar before Prop 8 shut down that aisle. By that point, there was a patchwork of possibilities for gay men and women who wanted to be married.
And by then, Joel was in love with Mike.
In our short adult lives, we have watched the world change. When we met, there was no marriage equality. Then there was hope. Today, there is a great crescendo in the chorus of "I do's". Joel couldn't get married in the same state where he lives, but two weddings later he is legally and spiritually hitched. What was once unthinkable got so much better - personally and politically - from nothing to something is an infinite increase.
The truth of our friendship is that we're not running the same race. We share similar desires -- we like boys, we want to write -- and we marvel at each other's talents. We have compassion for one another's pain. We are foolhardy individualists, carving our own paths through a tough world. Where The Plot shoves acrimony into the analogs, ours is a friendship of affection, sympathy and support. I cheer Joel's victories as if they were my own because he teaches me what is possible.
Last week, a 25 year-old caller to Jane Pratt's radio show on Sirius XM told me he plans to propose to his boyfriend of seven years on Christmas Eve. The caller could not remember a time when marriage equality was not part of the national conversation. He has no memory of Egypt.
This is not my happily ever after, but I am awed to have been a part of it. It gives me hope. I am standing beside my best friend and I can see the Promised Land.