It is no one’s business what goes on in your bedroom, except of course if you are gay. If you are gay, you have to get other people to care about it so they can vote for you to have equal rights.
We were supposed to cheer when Delaware, the first state and the state where I was born and raised, legalized civil unions. Except that did we not already deem that “separate but equal” is in fact NOT EQUAL?
It is hard to live a life of always having to take a moment to process any given situation in your head and make a choice about how you are going to present yourself. Before I got married, my wife and I were able to just use “fiancée” and not have to be cornered into a gender-specific response that would out us. (How sad is it that at times that was a positive?) After the wedding, we both took turns telling each other about the first moment that we referred to each other as “wife” to someone we did not know and how that felt: liberating, freeing, and scary. It is hard to know how someone else will react, and of course we shouldn’t care, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
We live a life of challenges. We have to think, over think, and think some more when we make certain decisions. When I came out, my mother was afraid for me because of how hard a life it might be, and at times, it is.
Let me tell you about our experience with the hotels on our honeymoon because it will give a clear example how something so little and simple as checking into a hotel becomes complicated for a gay couple.
Upon arriving at BOTH hotels, they had us in their systems as a Mr. & Mrs. We are completely positive that our travel agent sent the information to them correctly, but it was clear to us that someone looked at that information, assumed that it was incorrect, and manually adjusted it. While this is minor to some, it really impacted our feeling of being welcome there as a same-sex couple, or even just as any couple on our honeymoon.
When we arrived at the Moorea Pearl and saw this mistake, we corrected them and simply brushed it off. By the time we got to the Bora Bora Pearl and it was the same thing again, along with his and hers bathrobes in our room, it really became upsetting, hurtful, and impersonal to us. So, we firmly yet politely expressed our feelings about the situation to the person who welcomed us and brought us to our room. The next morning, we had a sit-down conversation with the reservations manager, who was very understanding and apologetic. They followed up with us later that day and even upgraded us to a premium bungalow. We also received a bottle of wine with a note from the general manager apologizing for the situation. We felt that they worked very hard to reverse the initial impressions that we had formed to make the rest of our stay a good one. All in all, we ended up having a positive experience with them and felt that they put a lot of effort into correcting a mistake that they made.
I wish I could say that this situation was an isolated incident, but the truth is we go through it all the time. This time was just worse because it was our honeymoon. It is hard to know what goes through people’s minds when they make these assumptions. Even if someone thinks the reservation is wrong, before anything gets changed it is so simple to do some follow-up, but that is not the default from our experience. The person saw two names, one of which can be a male or female name; they saw the word honeymoon; and they decided what that must mean. Change has to come from individuals, from one person taking a moment to not assume, to double check, and to realize that there are many kinds of people in this world and not just one.
All is well that ends well? Yes and no. Marriage can be stressful regardless, and I challenge straight couples to put yourselves in our shoes and think about how much more stressful it can be when the simple, daily life tasks become things that have to be well thought-out. How going into the bank to make an adjustment on your accounts and having to explain your relationship feels; having to file your federal taxes separately and fill out two customs forms when you come back into the country because only the state will recognize your union; having to take a breath every time you meet a new person and fear their reaction when you introduce your wife.
I am not trying to complain because the truth is I have a wonderful life. I have the love of the most amazing woman. I have the support of my family who wants nothing more than my happiness. I have great friends to see me through. Not everyone has all the love and support that I do, and it is still a challenge. So I just ask others to stop and think for a moment about what many take for granted, and appreciate it. And to stand with us in our fight for equality.
Some thoughts by a few great women:
Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.
– Marianne Williamson
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
– Eleanor Roosevelt.
Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be.
– Elizabeth Gilbert