Note: This is a very special guest post from my husband Tod regarding an event that took place after I posted our family picture on Facebook.
Last week I made a crucial mistake, I forgot my past.
I forgot where I came from.
I left my home town when I graduated high school and never looked back. Sure, I go home to visit my family, but I never went or will ever go back to who I was when I lived there. Over the last 26 years I have developed into the person that I am now and I love where I am in life. I am happily married in 10 states; I have two amazing children, a wonderful home and a career that I enjoy. Over that time I transitioned from someone that felt he had to hide who he was to be accepted, to someone who has embraced who I was and was willing to take a stand to show others that I am worthy of acceptance, and that if you are unwilling to do so, you are the one that is missing out. I have come to believe that personal stories and being true to who you are can make a difference. When someone is faced with prejudice or difficult decisions it is my hope that those who know me will stop and think, "Wow, that is not true, my friend/co-worker/cousin/brother/son is gay he is not like that, or his kids deserve two legal parents, or he and Tom have been together almost 17 years now, they deserve to be legally married and have access to the legal rights that are associated with marriage."
Last week I made a crucial mistake of challenging the beliefs of someone back home by means of an innocent picture of our family posted on Facebook. This someone had a similar upbringing to mine, but they did not make it out. They did not have the opportunity to learn that anything different from what you have always known is not always wrong. As a result I was attacked with the very line that epitomizes the life I escaped when I left home: "I don't cram my lifestyle down your throat, so why do you insist on cramming it down mine?" As gay people, we spend our lives having the heterosexual lifestyle shoved down our throats in every aspect of our lives. Not too surprisingly our friends quickly rallied around us and showed their support on Facebook. Some took to the defense and tried to lash back at the person that made the comment while others took the approach of reassuring us that the attack was unjustified and we should just remove the person from our lives.
Surprisingly enough that is pretty easy to do, I have never met my attacker and in all likelihood the only time I will even be in the same room with him will be at a family funeral where it will be easy to avoid one another's company. However, it goes beyond that. Despite being from a fairly conservative family and growing up in a conservative area, I was able to come out fairly unscathed. I was not disowned by my family, I did not lose any close friends, and if anything I have softened the hearts of some people who were greatly tested when it came to practicing unconditional love and paved the way for the next generation of gays or lesbians in my family. Having those comments posted on Tom's Facebook brought me back to the insecure kid I was before I left home, took me back to the fear and self-doubt that I had escaped. Over the past week I should have been enjoying the fact the candidate I believe in with my heart and soul won re-election, I should have been rejoicing in the states that moved our country in the right direction when it comes to marriage equality, I should have been enjoying my daughter's seventh birthday…
But instead I was quietly dwelling on how tired I was, tired of having to defend who I am, tired of having to fight for basic recognition as a person, a husband, a father, and a human being with feelings. Within the next month or so Tom's book will be published and I will never be able to go back to a life in the closet again. How we met, how we fell in love, how we built a life together, and how we started our family will be out there for everyone to read. This does not scare me; rather I face it with great pride in Tom for putting our story in book format, providing the type of resource that we did not have as we created our own family. Those that want to live their lives in hate will continue to do so and unfortunately there is very little we can do about that. Thankfully, I am surrounded by an incredible group of people that brought me to the point of forgetting that people filled with that sort of hate were out there in the first place. And those same people will get me back to where I was before I was dismissed as anything less than whom I have become.