This is an open letter that will never see the inside of a mailbox. It is a letter from my heart, being sent to hearts that no longer beat. They are now in the space of the spirit, but I miss them just as I would if they were still beating on the other side of town.
The fight for equality that culminated with an enormous milestone this last Wednesday at the U.S. Supreme Court has been waged for a long, long time. Many years before couples started approaching courts—first, most significantly, in Hawaii—the notion had occurred in the minds and imaginations of many of us. It did not rest there for very long.
Marriage was a pipe dream, really, and with the specter of AIDS beating down on us, it did not seem to be a priority worth even worrying about. I remember a gay pride event years ago at which the very first “freedom to marry” T-shirts were being given out. Many looked at them with cynical bemusement. “Oh, honeys, “ the MC drag queen quipped from the stage. “I am sorry, but they are never going to let you get married. They just aren’t.”
And yet, here we are.
On the night of the great dual marriage equality decisions, author Armistead Maupin wrote on his Facebook page, “Tonight we will celebrate for all who never lived to see this day.”
I took his comment to heart. My thoughts and feelings went out to my legion of loves, the friends and lovers who are now beyond the veil. How amazed they would be! This letter is for them:
We had quite the day yesterday back here on Earth. It was one that we did not even speculate we would see when you were here. We fought for it, anyway, you and I, even though we were still in the little battles. The big battle for us, of course, was the one we lost. You lost your lives, and I lost you.
It is funny how the grief never really goes away, but locates somewhere in the back of my mind. Yesterday, I was giddy with the exuberance of justice prevailed. Today, I just wanted to call you and talk about it.
Your voices are all going off in my mind right now—what you would be saying, how you would be reacting. Paul, I hear you the loudest . . . probably because we had our own holy union when at a time when all else was denied us. I can hear your amazed laughter, making fun of Pat Robertson and Governor Christie and their whining. Now we would be plotting our next moves, always thinking two steps ahead politically.
Mark and Glenn, I hear you guys immediately planning your weddings. Not to each other, but I know where your minds are going first. Mark is being romantic, Glenn is going for fabulous. His vision is growing and growing with building momentum, and then he stops short on a dime as he remembers the minor detail that he does not have a viable prospect to marry.
But Keith does, and so while thinking about all those still against us, he starts to think about how he and his partner can do something simple and tasteful, perhaps at the beach, in front of the setting sun.
Pierce is declaring how he will never marry, unless it is to a rich man whom he can divorce for all his money. Unless they had kids, in which case he would stay faithful. Kids are important, he declares.
Joe is saying he will never marry, and I think he means it. I still think he will, though, if he meets the right person. He laughs at me, but the look in his eye tells me I am right.
And today, here we all sit, in collective amazement. It was a day we never thought we would see. I regret that it did not happen when you were here. Just knowing that you could walk in the world more equal would have made your lives, our lives together, so much richer. We walked in the shade, slightly hidden, and it would have been fantastic to own the bright middle of Main Street.
We leave this world better than we found it, that is for sure. I know you have left in many ways, but I also have to acknowledge that it is you who inspire the strength I possess for this fight. You are in the very fabric of who I am, and always will be.
So, thank you, my loves. Until we can dance together again . . .
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Special thanks to Rachel Hockett for editing help on this article.