26 January 2010

"Congratulations on Your Marriage"

It was a Sunday in 1980. I had recently moved to San Francisco, and had gone to the cinema with my best friend Steven G. to see the movie "Ordinary People." I am not sure what happened to me while watching that movie, but when it was over I "came out" and told Steven that I was gay. He was cool about it. That was good.

The next day, I arrived at the bank in Berkeley where I had been working nearly a year and greeted all my co-workers with "Good morning. Just to let you know, I'm gay, and if you don't like it, that's your problem, not mine."

Yes, I became a rebel at the age of 20.

Since then, I have never made it a secret that I am gay -- whether at work, with friends, or wherever. I am not militant about it -- I'm not "in your face"; but I also figure it is my life to live and if you have a problem with me being gay that's your issue, not mine.

Sure, I lost friends over this. My mom didn't talk to me for two years after I told my parents -- in an odd turnaround, I thought my dad would freak out and my mom be supportive. It was exactly the opposite.

I met Matt in 1994 and we got married in California in July 2008. We became one of the 18,000 lucky couples whose same-sex marriages were designated by law as still valid after the entire PropH8 mess.

So, we attended a taping of "The Big Bang Theory" on 24 November 2009. That day was a Tuesday, it was the 15th anniversary of the actual day we met (a Tuesday) even though we met on 22 November 1994.

During the taping of the show, there are gaps between scenes when the cast and crew are not filming. To fill those gaps, and keep audience members alert and peppy until the cameras roll again, they have a guy who tells jokes, organizes games, hands out chocolate, etc.

During one of those breaks this guy asked for audience members to step up and tell why they liked "The Big Bang Theory." Of course, being a huge fan of the show, I hopped right up and told the audience I was a fan because it had characters who were people like me (smart and socially outcast). So, we chatted for a while, this guy and me, and he asked me what else was going on.

I mentioned that this day was my 15th anniversary with my spouse, and that we came to the taping as an anniversary present. The audience applauded. The guy asked where my spouse was, and I pointed to Matt and Matt stood up to a round of applause from the audience.

So now I'm thinking: "Here is my chance to put in a plug for the fact we got married," so I said: "We were one of the lucky couples who got married in California last year when it was still legal." As soon as the words left my mouth, I thought: "What kind of reaction is this going to get? They already applauded twice, will they applaud again? Will they be repelled? Will someone throw something at me?"

The audience gave us the biggest round of applause yet, including a few cheers. I was totally floored by the warm and accepting reception.

After the taping, we were talking with a security guard to get directions back to our hotel, because the Warners lot is huge and confusing. A group of five or six young women -- probably college-age (because the minimum age to attend the taping is 18) -- walked by us and one called out "Congratulations again on your marriage. That's just so great!" They were all fresh faced and smiling; and I remembered this group of young women was the source of cheering earlier. I said: "Thank you" and they left.

It was at this point, for the first time, I think, that I understood that gay marriage would one-day become a reality for every same-sex couple who wants it. To have so much genuine and warm support from a group of young people was gratifying and reassuring.

By the way, if you or someone you know is part of a same sex marriage, then visit my other blog site We Are Married Too. We are trying to get every gay and lesbian married couple to add their stories.

2 comments:

Lara said...

Tears.

I share your dream, and as a marriage celebrant in Australia, I hope to see laws all around the world change in my lifetime.

Happy Anniversary!

Christopher said...

Lara! Thank you for your kind words.