“Will you marry me?” These four words alone will knock you off your feet no matter how long you’ve been dating. The shock and awe of the surprise, the thrill of the rush to say yes…or not right now, all send a sonic rush through the veins of both people involved. The contractual obligation to legitimize your love and longevity should make anyone nervous. But when it comes to gay couples, turns out odds are in our favor. The Williams Institute conducted a study which shows LGBT marriages end in divorce at a rate lower than heterosexual relationships. On the other side of the coin, the same institute also noted that lesbians marry at a rate much higher than men and a lesbian marriage is much less likely overall to end in divorce. It kinda makes you sit back and wonder…why can’t we get our shit in order about this marriage thing. After all, who doesn’t want to live “happily ever after”?
Maybe Mother’s Day of 2012 wasn’t exactly the best time to have a conversation with my mother about gay marriage. But the President of Hope just endorsed his acceptance of gay marriage. It was something no other President had done in U.S. history and ironically, this was the first time in my life where I had actually taken the concept seriously. It’s funny how you never think about how your life will change until you meet someone who has. “So, what do you think about gay marriage?”, I asked although I already knew what my judgmental mother would say about this topic. “Well,” she paused and continued. “I just don’t accept it. I don’t think it is right. Bill (her fifth husband) mentioned he hated he voted for Obama because of this. We just don’t have any respect for him anymore.” After her initial comments, it was a series of our usual debates on controversial topics—I provide the facts while she provides her meritless opinions. But it wasn’t until we discussed children of my potential marriage where she once again proved her position of being my mother slid her into ultimate descent. “So what about if we had kids in our union? How would you treat them?”, I inquired. She responded in an abhorrent tone, “…well, I’ll just say this. The kids are welcome in our home. You are welcome in our home. But who ever you choose to be with, they will not be welcomed in our home.” Wow! For a woman who received an alleged doctorate of theology from an unaccredited, make-shift church, she sure as hell embodies and morbidly exemplifies the antithesis of her faith. But then I thought, why the hell did I expect a reasonable position about marriage from a dependent woman who has been divorced four times and married five?! I guess the joke was ultimately on me for expecting tolerance and acceptance even after all of the pretend training she received. Six months later, we started to speak again. I guess silence and occasional separation is needed in challenging relationships if they ever have a chance at working.
Fast forward to 2016 and acknowledge the power of substantive, spiritual growth. I couldn’t be at a happier place in my life now. A partner is a true partner when balance, understanding, and love are the premise of your union. My mother and I talked about gay marriage again. But this time, it was poignant. This time, it’s serious. This time, is MY time. There is a light that breaks through the darkness of ignorance when it comes to not giving a shit about what people think or “agree with”. The more this ideology is owned, the more others will gravitate in that light with you. She’s actually interested in my relationship and so is my father. Although it is something we don’t discuss in detail, the acknowledgement is a powerful moment within itself. “I can’t wait to meet him and we are all looking forward to hanging out with him.”, my father exclaims. The journey to this moment was a long one. But regardless of opinions and feelings, my life is MY life. I’m the only who gets to set the rules for it. While elaborating on my feelings and position on marriage, I explained to my father, “You know, we actually are considering getting married and most like will get married. But what gets me Dad is not enough for everyone to act supportive. There are issues that affect the LGBT community that I am apart of and no one thinks about that. You guys will tell me you are happy, but run to the polls and vote against my community’s interests. You have a son who is gay. OWN THAT and know there are opposing interests in the legal system that affects my rights as well. The family can’t take the lazy road on the politics; it’s purely unacceptable.” I think for the very first time in my old man’s life, he actually experienced a paradigm shift. Good for you, Pops!
Marriage is never just about the couple, but about blending two families together. Although family is never an ideal arrangement of harmonious connections, drama seems to always wait around the corner for the right moment to unfold. Perhaps that is what many of us are afraid of. We may not want the confrontation. We may not want the backlash and have the hard conversations with our parents and loved ones about a decision which still has taboo and disapproval written all over it. But that’s what being a man is all about. You have a right to defend, protect, and love who you desire just like everyone else does. That means owning it and living in the truth of that. I think about each time my mother got remarried and believe me, there were enough examples! Each time the family had their own accounts as to why her partner wasn’t good enough and she’s straight…lol! Why would our experiences be any different as gay men? Over time, they had to accept her choice; in time, that usually happens. But I guess the one thing I did receive from my mother is the reluctant concern to be bothered about what another bitch thinks….lol. She had her faults, but there were more gems that came from her behavior and choices from hindsight and reflection. We all have a right to be happy. Thank GOD we all have a right to be married now. I mean, why debate anyone over what’s ultimately a contract between you, your partner, and the state? Unless anyone outside of the couple is willing to sign your marriage certificate, then no one you know should interfere with your decision and journey to live….happily ever after.