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.
Thank you for fighting! This is a day of VICTORY! We still have to reach marriage equality on the other side of the pond here in Austria, but this is definitely a milestone. And then also Christopher Street Nr15 became a national park last week, so proud of what you’ve achieved.
You know, I always thought that I live in a time where no date will be in History books in 200 years time, but I think I’m wrong. And I’m glad I’m wrong.
See you, keep up the fighting,
This left me with tears running down my face. I spent years with friends and colleagues (I am a hair stylist) ~ people I dearly loved who struggled through marriages and then finally came out and then eventually lost their lives. I watched them lose so many friends out here in Northern California. They never knew that my only son would be gay and that he would grow up to devote his career to supporting sexual health for LGBT youth, and that he would be happy and going to school in San Francisco, free to marry. I would give anything to be able to sit and have this conversation with them ~ to see their beautiful faces once again and know that this day is coming. As always, there is no one out there who can take a snapshot and get to the heart of the matter with such clarity and compassion like you can, Rob. Your writing on LGBT issues is the best that I have found out here, no matter what subject you have tackled. Finding your essays wherever I come upon them is a treasure. Thank you not only for this, but for your vast seeing eyes and always open heart.
Thank you so much for this, Patricia, I am humbled.
I remember seeing the same emotions when same-sex marriage became legal here in the Netherlands. It must be a bittersweet time for many of you. Beautiful article and letter.
thanks for that very nice and much needed tribute. i’m sure there is a giant gay pride party going on somewhere beyond the rainbow.
Damn onions. Must. Quit. Slicing.
Reminds me of the end of “Longtime Companion,” where all the deceased friends come back to the beach to join the living in a celebratory dance.
Got me thinking about the friends I’ve had who didn’t live to see this outcome, as well as the multitudes of unsung men and women who worked on this in so many ways over time immemorial, yet never got to grab the brass (gold) ring.
Peace to all those departed and to those who continue to carry the flame.
Damn onions. Must. Quit. Slicing.
Reminds me of the end of “Longtime Companion,” where all the deceased friends come back to the beach to join the living in a celebratory dance. Got me thinking about the friends I’ve had who didn’t live to see this outcome, as well as the multitudes of unsung men and women who worked on this in so many ways over time immemorial, yet never got to grab the brass (gold) ring.
Peace to all those departed and to those still carrying the flame.
I am sobbing. Made me think of my friends who are gone, and how much fun we would have had celebrating this VICTORY!
I am crying, beautiful letter.
Rob…an amazing piece of writing.
I am executive producer of DARKER PROJECTS an online audio drama production company. I am contacting you for your permission. To record the entire posted article into an audio presentation. I will be casting my finest male voice actor and will do the final post production myself.
Thank you for your time and I hope to communicate with you soon.
Hi Mark– you have my permission. Please credit Rob Watson and put a reference to http://www.evolequals.com . Would love a link when you compete it! Thanks for the interest.
Rob, Thank you so much.
I expect we will have it available, FREE OF COURSE, on our server by weeks end next week… although I am shooting for a 4th of July Special presentation Celebrating the Supreme Court Ruling.
Again, Thank you so Much.
[audio src="http://www.darkerprojects.com/audio/other_voices/0001_OtherVoices.mp3" /]
Sorry Correct address is below:
[audio src="http://www.darkerprojects.com/audio/other_voices/0001_OtherVoices(2).mp3" /]
This is great Mark… here is the link that worked for me however…
That was incredible. I like best when he describes what his friends would have said (Probably a lot of people like that part).
It’s true, though. I didn’t give a thought to anyone who had passed on before this went through, but now I’m amazed and ashamed that I didn’t. I don’t really know anyone who is dead, but to all the people who died while still fighting for this cause… Today is for you. 🙂
What a beautiful and heartfelt letter. I have to agree, I never thought I’d live to see the day when this would happen. Now I look forward to even more rejoicing when Marriage Equality is a reality across our great nation.
How lovely and heartfelt. Thank you to all who have come before me and fought the battles that I was either too young or too afraid to fight. Forever grateful!
This is incredibly beautiful–thank you for sharing it.
What a beautiful letter… :*)