The bigger marriage equality became in the news, the more I thought and determined that I am an LGBT ally. The only problem is I don’t actually know anyone who is openly gay.
I had a friend in high school that I suspected might be gay, but then we went Disneyland on a high school orchestra trip. He sat behind me on the Matterhorn and in the dark he whispered in my ear “Heather, I love you.” Not knowing how to respond I just started screaming. But it led me to believe that he wasn’t gay. Sometime between now and then he has come out of the closet, but I haven’t seen him since high school. So I don’t think that counts. My mom’s cousin who committed suicide, was gay, but I never met him. My MIL’s friend’s son is gay, but again a tenuous connection. Somehow I made it past the age of 30 without actually knowing anyone who is openly gay.
I recognize that I have been somewhat sheltered.
Just because I don’t personally know any gay people doesn’t mean that I assume that they don’t have feelings and that their love isn’t valid. I don’t personally know anyone from Luxemburg either, but that doesn’t mean that I assumed that they don’t wish to be respected and treated fairly.
Last week that changed. On New Year’s Day, a friend came over. He and my husband used to work together. We’ve had dinner together multiple times. He’s brilliant, compassionate and has a toy room in his house just for his nieces. I always thought if he was Mormon I would set him up on a date with my best friend who is single. I asked him what was new in his life.
“I came out.”
My first thought was ‘You’re not Mormon, so you can’t be coming out as an Ex-Mormon, so I guess that means you’re gay? Wow, I really didn’t see that one coming.’ Later my husband said, ‘I worked with him for a year and never had a clue. We went on several business trips and shared a room and nothing ever tipped me off.’ I suppose for some people it just isn’t obvious, particularly if you’re living in a strongly conservative community and people feel a need to suppress it.
After that we had a conversation about his life, how his family is taking it and the most recent marriage equality ruling in Utah. The three of us talked for a couple hours. I am so happy for him! I am happy that he feels like he can be his authentic self. I am happy that he can find what he defines as meaningful love. I am happy that marriage to someone he loves is a possibility in his future. I am happy that he seems happier than ever before. Yes, it is not all smooth sailing. Family is not always accepting, but hopefully they will remember their love for him with time. I don’t know that words can express the value that comes with allowing yourself to be authentic self. I wish him only the best.
In other LGBT ally issues, Feminist Mormon Housewives requested that I write a post for them on Safe and Sound. It is an awesome organization, and I highly recommend that you check it out.