The morning after President Obama announced that he was for marriage equality, I pulled the cord that opened the curtains in my bedroom and I sensed that something was different. Was it just that the sun was shining after days of rain, I wondered, or was it the cherry blossoms that had fallen during the night and made the grass look like there'd been a snow storm? I felt as if I were looking out at a totally different world and then I remembered what it was. President Obama had spoken at last and the world was new.
Why was that day different than any other day? Nothing had really changed to give my partner of over fifty years and me any new legal rights. We still couldn't leave our estates to each other without excessive taxes, nor could we give each other money as married people can, and we would still have difficulty getting hospital rights for each other in most of the states in the country. So why was it a day that I knew would go down in history? I have just, inadvertently, revealed the reason. I wrote "partner," not spouse or husband. Even after fifty some years of being together and eight of being legally married in Massachusetts, I still am cautious, still living a Double Life (as the book Norman Sunshine and I wrote together is called) subconsciously but now I wouldn't have to do it any longer. I could say out loud anywhere to anyone "this is my spouse" (I'm not crazy about the word husband since it still connotes one person being more in charge than the other, although that will change in time). I can shout it if I want to, because the leader of the most important country in the world, our president, has said that it is right. For the first time in over half a century of living with what almost caused me to kill myself as a young adult, forced me to leave home too young because I was afraid my parents would discover my shame, sent me to an analyst to try to cure my disease and caused me to live a secret life until I found someone to love who helped me face the world -- for the first time it was all right. It's as if I had been diagnosed with a fatal cancer and had just been told that the x-rays were wrong and I was perfectly well.
Norman and I have not suffered, as many gay people have, because we were luckier and could assimilate more easily in show business and the art world. We were not brutalized, except when we were young, and we had somewhat successful lives. But I think how different it would have been if we had grown up, as I pray young gays, lesbians and trans-genders will, in a world of acceptance. I know we would have contributed more to others and to our community instead of staying off by ourselves so much of the time where we could hide our love without fear. I also know that it isn't going to change overnight. I always thought that same sex marriage would one day be the law of the land but it would come too late for us because we were getting older. It doesn't matter anymore. Obama has taken us to the top of the mountain and shown us the way the world will be. That is enough for us to know that the ones who come after us will have a better life.