In two days, I will celebrate my 50th birthday. For the last nine-and-a-half years, I have had the good fortune to share my life with a beautiful woman that I love with all my heart, and with our two sons (her biological children that I was lucky enough to inherit as my own). Four-and-a-half years ago, my wife and I were married in a church ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas where we live.
Our marriage is not legal: there are hundreds of rights, responsibilities and benefits that we are not allowed access to. But it is no less a marriage than any other. A legal document does not control our love for one another nor our life together, but we deserve the protections that come with that piece of paper. Someday, I believe, we will have that. But only because we give a damn, and because other people give a damn and are willing to stand with us in our fight for equality.
I am 67 years old. When I first started to come out most gay and lesbian people didn’t even admit to their real names, where they worked, or where they lived because of fear that they would be “outed.” Back then being “outed” amounted to personal suicide.
You would lose your job, your home, and possibly your family. This was all pretty much taken for granted as just the “way things were”.
At the time I was married to a man. I remained married for 18 years, had one daughter, and tried very hard to be what society said I should be.
In 1978 I met “the love of my life”. I had had several flings but nothing really serious until I met Debbie. When we met, I was still married and she had been married (to a man, no children) for 7 years.
Within 2 years we were both divorced and living together. We married ourselves (not legally of course) at a beautiful spot in the mountains near our home.
I was in the Navy during the dessert storm war. I was stationed on a submarine tender called The USS Dixon AS 37 as a ships serviceman. I was three years in to my four year enlistment. I was also recently divorced from my wife as I had just come out to myself as a gay man. This process took years as I was raised southern Baptist in Ohio. In my naivety I shared with shipmates, who I thought I could trust, about guys I had dated and one of these people whom I trusted reported me to the Military Police.
Soon thereafter all my co workers were interrogated and questioned about what they knew about me. Within a few days they boarded my ship and in front of everyone, I was handcuffed, read my rights and arrested for suspicion of sodomy! I was taken to base security and interrogated. I quickly learned that whomever it was that turned me in was someone I had trusted with intimate details of sexual experiences. It was the most humiliating/infuriating moment of my life.
I was being asked to put my life on the line for my country and simultaneously was being told in no uncertain terms that I was a 2nd class citizen of this country. Charges were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence; only after I was followed by military personnel in unmarked cars for 6 months! Ever since that experience I have NEVER BEEN more proud to be a queer man, and I teach my children who I have adopted the importance of self discovery and diversity EVERY DAY
I have been with my partner for three years now. He is a wonderful man and I love him with all of my heart. We live together and often dream of the day we can be married, adopt children, and raise a family.
My partner has been serving in the military for nearly 10 years and it frustrates me to no end that he is forced to lie about who he is in order to keep his position. He is a quiet man and would never try to rub his sexuality in anyone’s face, but simply mentioning the fact that I exist would strip him of years of dedication and hard work serving our nation. The military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has forced me to become his secret, and this is so damaging. It fosters feelings of shame and secrecy that hurt us both on deep levels.
My partner must pretend to be straight. He cannot have a picture of me on his desk. He is reluctant and fearful to go out with me on the military base to grocery shop or get dinner, because if we were to run in to someone he knows, he would have to lie about who I am.
If we were a heterosexual couple, and we were married, he would be entitled to provide me, as his spouse, with medical insurance, higher education tuition reimbursement, and a whole host of other benefits. He works just as hard as his heterosexual colleagues, but is refused the same benefits that they enjoy.
In instances where military members are injured or killed, the military prides itself on how it pulls together and help the family of those left behind. They claim they look out for each other, especially in times of need. But if, God forbid, something like that was to happen to my partner, none of that support would be available to me.
My partner works to protect and serve this country. He deserves the respect that comes with equal treatment. This equality is at the very heart of the great nation he serves.
During January of 2002, I went into an online chat room for the first time ever and developed a friendship with a woman from Israel. Coincidentally she was soon to arrive in the USA to study at a University in Texas. I invited her to stop in California, en route, so we could meet and soon I realized that this was the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.
Our relationship flourished while Dor was studying in Texas and soon she transferred to a college near my home in Marin County; and so we moved in together and married as soon as it was legal for us to do so. At the time, my daughter, HC, from my previous relationship was five years of age. Dor and HC developed a close relationship and they could not have loved each other more.
We were able to change Dor’s student Visa to a very limited R1 Visa. Notwithstanding the fact that California recognized our domestic partnership and subsequent marriage, I, the US citizen, could not sponsor Dor in the same way as a different gender couple could.
Dorit taught Jewish religious studies, Hebrew and Bible at a local congregation, and was qualified for the Religious worker’s Visa. We were luckier than many others in the same-sex bi-national community because we had found a way, albeit expensive and fraught with difficulties.
I grew up in a very small rural town in Oklahoma. I was the youngest girl of a family of seven and the only one lesbian in my family. I was outed by a town busy body when I was sixteen years old, not because she knew for a fact that I was gay, but because my best girl friend at the time and I would sit outside her home for hours on end talking.
The day after she announced this at a church meeting in my small town, the parents of all the female classmates started calling me and my parents to tell me to stay away from their daughters. My best friend called to say that her mother had forbid her from socializing with me or she would be placed in a psychiatric ward.
I escaped that small town, and have an amazing life. I have a partner of six years and children that I love and care about. I work as a counselor at a facility where I am openly lesbian. I am out to all of my friends and co-workers. I am glad I did not give up that week in Oklahoma when I was isolated and all had turned away from me.
I lived in Miami, Florida in the seventies, during Anita Bryant’s rampage to make it legal to discriminate against gays in housing and jobs. At that time I was in my twenties and quite naive; although I was quite familiar with and supportive of women’s rights, I had been unaware that discrimination based on sexual orientation existed (hard to believe, but as I said, I was very naive). It immediately felt inherently wrong to me. I spoke out to friends and neighbors and voted against the proposed ordinance, but sadly it passed. After that, gay rights became a special interest for me. I have known a number of gay people throughout my adult life, but was not personally involved for a long time.
When my son was in high school, his best friend was a gay boy. I admired him for not letting peer pressure influence his choice of friends and like to think I was an influence on him. Now, I am more personally involved. My significant other’s son is gay and while he is not “officially” my step son, I think of him that way. He and his partner of ten years…who is always introduced as a son-in-law…are very important to me. They would like to get married and become parents…and they should be able to.
It infuriates me that they (and others) are discriminated against in so many ways simply because of who they are. I believe all rights are human rights regardless of race, creed, color, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity or anything else.
I think that one of the moments I knew it was ok to be gay came as a blessing in disguise…the moment that I told my parents was like a bomb exploded. In my mind, I thought I had back stabbed my family, my guilt doubled at that moment. What was worst, the people that I love, my immediate family, turned their back on me. You couldn’t really blame them, both of my parents were born and raised in Venezuela, in a Roman Catholic family…let’s just say that being Gay, well it wasn’t their cup of tea!
They grew up in a society where being gay was frowned upon. So, I understood why they reacted the way they did, don’t get me wrong it still hurt like hell! I had to leave my house for a few hours, I had my friend pick me up, I was devastated and couldn’t be around my family. When I finally came back to my house, my mother tells me that she had told my extended family…my heart sank, I felt like the whole world around me collapsed. As I was crying my eyes out, my mother tells me to look up, that she had spoken to my grandmother…take in mind this is a conservative women, who at the time was 75 years old, and who is a faithful catholic…told my mother:
“Shut up, what is wrong with you? That is your son, that‘s Richard the kid who loves and adores his family. Who cares who he loves in the bedroom, that is his private life, not yours. You are his mother and all you need to do is show him unconditional love that is all you need to do!” Like I said it was a blessing, though it’s taken many years for me to accept myself for who I am, it was my grandmother Emma, that helped me surpass the first step in accepting myself. As for my family, well I am with them, and though it is still hard for them, they accept me…and all it took was a 75 year old woman, to tell them SHUT UP!
I give a damn because I want you to know that you will always be loved, by your parents, your sister, your cousins, a friend, a neighbour, or in my case an old and wise woman, my grandmother. Who no matter where she grew up, no matter how she was raised and no matter what the church thinks of homosexuality, she never rejected me, or saw me as the gay grandson, she just saw/sees me as her grandson.
I’m a 45 year old single gay male who has been HIV+ for 13 yrs. I will also add that I’m a recovering alcoholic/addict who has been clean & sober for over 4 years now.
I’m extremely grateful to say that I was granted full adoption of my now 6 year old nephew 2 years ago after the passing of my sister from pancreatic cancer. He is bi-racial (mother=white & father=black) and his father is a married man (not to my sis) who signed off on his parental rights.
I was present at his birth and have been the primary male role model in his life. He is an extremely well adjusted boy and I have explained in detail about all of our “special circumstances”. He has attended countless gay A.A. meetings, HIV+ support groups & prevention/education classes with me. He has even been involved in my advocacy/lobbying efforts by being by my side while I spoke in front of our city council. He is well loved by all and has been dubbed “the poster child for diversity”.
Words could never describe my pride and how grateful I am for such a wonderful network of extended family. I’m joining Give A Damn to do whatever I can to ensure that my son and especially those children without strong representation don’t have to suffer from the hate and prejudice of others. I myself remember what it felt like to be teased. My family was poor, espeacilly so after my mother came out as a lesbian when my parents divorced at age 11.
While my experiences were nowhere near as bad as what others have had to endure, no child should ever have to go through anything remotely close to it.
My names Brianne, I’m 17 years old and four years ago, I realized I was a lesbian. It started when my friend Toby, whom at the time, I didn’t know was transgender, started showing affection towards me. She got into some trouble and had to move away. Later, I was informed that he was really a she. At first, I was beyond pissed, but then I realized that a person is a person. I then began exploring my sexual orientation and long story short, I turned out to be a full blown lesbian.
I knew I’d have a problem with this because my dad, a high power Christian/Methodist, was HIGHLY against anything that went against the Bible. And, my mom wasn’t really in the picture but she’s highly against it as well. Dad wasn’t suppose to find out until I turned 17. He wouldn’t be able to control me then.
I chose to tell my mom when I was 15. We went tanning and it took me about 5 minutes to finally get my words out. She responded with: “Its just a phase but either way it is completely disgusting!” Since then, the only time I’ve talked to her about being gay is when I told her my dad found out. It kills me that my mom is not there to support me, but its even worse to know Dad will never be happy for me.
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According to The Houston Chronicle: "A Houston judge entered an order on June 24 which prohibits a father from leaving his children ...Author: Admin
Approximately 500,000 children in the U.S. are in foster care. And more than 120,000 children languish in the public child welfare system—all while responsible, nurturing adults are prevented from adopting them.