The first day of the year brought home to me one of the challenges ahead in 2009 for me, the LGBT community and for all Americans. There has been so much heated debate behind the recent passage of Proposition 8 that bans Same Sex Marriage in California. Proponents of that measure have also stepped up in the courts to nullify the 18,000 unions that took place previous to the vote. Both measures are in the court for a decision on the constitutionality of such acts.
For me it is a matter of equal rights under the law. Plain and simple! However, the human side of the story has never impacted me so much until I met Tim and Kurt (names have been changed for their privacy).
I was at the Midnight Sun last night to meet up with some friends. Gary stayed home. When I got there and was in line to get a drink at the bar, there were two guys in front of me that were engaged in a lively and friendly conversation. They were laughing and making funny remarks. I had to smile. It was nice seeing such joy being expressed.
Once I got my drink, I stood at one of the tables and was watching the music videos and comedy sketches being played. Soon, Tim and Kurt joined me at the table. Both of them engaged me in conversation. They were funny. I found out that they were from the Central Valley here in California. They have been best friends for almost 20 years. They were out in San Francisco enjoying the holiday.
Tim was more talkative and he told me that Kurt’s partner passed away about 16 years ago. Then he said his partner died in March. They had been together two years and were planning to get married once it was legal. He spoke about their life and love together. He spoke about attending to his partner (he referred to him as his “Hubby”), while he was in the hospital. His partner had come out of a marriage and had children. When he would take a break for a couple of hours from sitting at the hospital, while one of his partner’s children sat by their father, he would be called within the hour, because his hubby wanted him close. There was so much love being expressed as Tim spoke.
When his partner passed away, Tim was going through the normal stages of grief. However, on his birthday, with no warning, his partner’s ex-wife and children took possession of many of the items at the home with no regard to Tim. There was nothing legal set up to protect Tim’s interests. The actions by these people showed no regard for the relationship that Tim had with his man. The legal protection of Marriage was not available to Tim.
Tim wept openly. He missed his love. He spoke through his tears about how society and people marginalize gay relationships. He told me to make sure that Gary and I protect ourselves under the existing laws and use Living Wills. He reminded me the world does not really care about our community and that we need to continue to fight for our rights.
I hugged Tim as he wept. He told me that he did not know the loss his friend, Kurt, felt when he lost his partner 16 years ago. Now he knows. After a short while, Tim and Kurt said goodbye to me and left the bar.
I met up with my friends, George and Luis. We ended up going to a Club called The Café for Latin night. My friends Little David, Gonzalo, T.J., Ryan, Alfredo and Michael were there. I sat and watched both old and young LGBT people together. Some were coupled and some were searching for that special someone. It is all part of being human. We are a living and thriving community of individuals whose lives will not be marginalized. Our relationships are as real as any other relationships. Under the law they should be treated the same as every other citizen.
I am determined that in 2009 to work for the rights so Tim’s story is not repeated again.