He was stirring green beans and butter in a red plastic bowl, when I realized I could watch the way Paul held that fork for the rest of my life. That was the dividing line. There was the time before I knew I loved him and the time after. A bowl full of green beans marked the event. When the smiling reporter stood next to me and Paul on the upper deck of a bar, under a brilliant Maine summer sky and asked me what I was feeling about the Supreme Court Ruling in favor of marriage equality, I was thinking of the time before.
"Sadness," I said.
Paul knitted his brow and looked sideways at me. The reporter lowered her microphone, making a cutting gesture across her neck to the cameraman. This was not the reaction she was hoping to capture. But the Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality on June 26, 2015 was a dividing line. There was a time before and a time after. Happiness and sadness go hand in hand. The two complete each other. Without great sacrifice there can be no great change.
"They were tears of joy," I attempted to modify my statement.
But they weren't and that's OK, because I was thinking of the time before.
Paul and I married each other five years ago when marriage equality existed in only a handful of states. Though we lived in New Hampshire, we chose Massachusetts for our event because Republicans were considering a ban on same sex marriage in our home state. We testified at the New Hampshire Statehouse against the marriage ban and listened as elected officials called us "diseased," "sinners," and "animals." When we protested against the characterizations, we were told to be quiet and respectful of those speaking. I cried then too, because listening to someone characterize the man I loved and the family I was trying to protect as animals was difficult. How could I respect that?
I was also thinking of all of the years I spent passing as a straight person. No one comes out after decades in the closet unscathed, but I avoided much of the hatred and bigotry that others who were braver than me had to endure. Sometimes I feel like a poser, like I came late to the fight and tossed a few pebbles at the Goliath of hate. There were those before me who will never get to know what it felt like when the White House was washed in a Rainbow of light or when the confederate flag was lowered and the rainbow flag was raised. But, none of this happened without so much pain, heartache and loss of life. We need to remember and recognize those who helped us cross those dividing lines.
I know there is still so much work left to do. Closed minds will not automatically be changed because the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. But yesterday we opened a new chapter and finished the previous one. So, I had a good cry. It was an ugly faced, snotty, galloping sobs type of release behind the closed door of my office and it felt good, because without sadness happiness cannot exist.
Now, I'm ready for the next chapter. I see lots of marriages in the future and weddings always make me cry.
William Dameron's personal blog is The Authentic Life