I am very happy in my marriage and consider myself quite fortunate that when my husband and I decided we wanted to be lawfully wed society acknowledged our commitment to each other. We could share in our joy by celebrating with family and friends and our contract was legal. It breaks my heart that my gay and lesbian friends have not had this privilege. I believe there are now seven states and the District of Columbia that honor same sex marriage. Halleluiah! But it has been much too slow.
I grew up in the 50’s in Missouri, the heart of the Bible Belt, although where I lived in the community of Clayton, folks were quite progressive. Although my mother was alcoholic and our home dysfunctional, I didn’t hear disparaging remarks about homosexuals. Actually I never hear the word homosexual, gay or lesbian. I remember my first experience with a couple of the same sex very well.
In the apartment building on Bryon Place lived Abby and Gladys. Abby’s hair was snow white. They were both what I thought of as grandmother types although I doubt they were actual grandmothers because I never saw any children or family members come to visit them. They lived directly above us for the 14 years we lived in that complex. As a very young child I would climb up the joining back stairs and would be welcome into their cozy kitchen filled with gadgets and knickknacks that were missing from my house. Abby seemed to be home when I got out of school and often she had made a batch of cookies just for me. Although they lived just a few feet above our apartment, it felt like a different world.
When Gladys would arrive she would hug Abby and then give me a gigantic bear hug as well. They both were a bit chunky and I loved their arms around me. Together we would have hot chocolate and/or milk and cookies but the best part was the attention they gave me. I savored those moments we shared. They truly seemed interested in me; my thoughts, my worries, my creative endeavors and best of all they helped me with my homework when I needed it. They were such wonderful role models of love, understanding, and caring for each other and life in general. I didn’t dare tell my mother how much I admired them for fear that she wouldn’t let me go back. As it turned out she was glad I had a place to go when our situation became intolerable when my father died at the age of 45.
The puzzling part was this; whenever I would mention Gladys or Abby to my mother or ask a question about them, she would answer in a whisper. For instance I said, “Mom, are the two women upstairs sisters?” She would quietly and slowly tell me, “Noooo, they are not.” Hesitantly she told me that they were homosexuals and then awkwardly she tried to explain that one of the partners acts like a woman and the other takes the role of a man. How strange! I wasn’t sure what that meant. Right before my eyes I saw two charming women who were good to each other, very sweet to me, had a beautiful life together and who laughed often. Hmmm, I had a mom and a dad and I didn’t have any of what these women had in the apartment above.
It would have been perfect if Abby and Gladys could have married and then I would have been an attendant in their wedding. They deserved the honor of being a properly married couple as well as all the millions of gay and lesbian couples today who wish that for themselves. I don’t believe it is fair for only heterosexual partners to have this freedom. I am going to visualize that the path to marriage equality all over this country widens quickly and that very soon this unjust issue will not even be a topic for discussion. I look forward to that day.