I was a four year old boy when I was picked up from a minor fall. My boo-boo was brushed off and it was the first time I heard, “You’ll be OK. You’ll heal long before you grow up and get married.”
So when I reached puberty that promise fizzled. It suddenly seemed to only exist for my three sisters. I came to the realization that I was gay and gay people were not even thinking about getting married in 1968, the year I turned twelve. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure I had not yet learned a word for being attracted to another boy.
We, as a culture, have come a long way since 1968. Gay people have learned that it is healthy to “come out.” We have learned that we are stronger when we have a community of others around us lending us emotional support. We have developed our self-esteem and become more productive and find it beneficial to live with the partner we love. We have learned that we are not alone. We now know that we can get married and raise children. We call this “lifestyle”: family living. For the most part, our families have accepted us for as we are and now the citizens of our state have voted to affirm our relationships!
So, as it turns out, my grandmother (even though she didn’t know it at the time) was correct in 1960 when she told me I would grow up and get married. Mom-mom has been gone a long time, but I knew she loved me then and I know she would be ecstatic now to know that I have this opportunity, in 2012, to finally get married.
The realization that marriage is now a reality says to me as a gay man that my community and my family respects me as much as they respect the marriages of my three sisters. This vote FOR Question 6 is was about the inclusion of everyone in our society. Extending this marriage opportunity has strengthened the concept of marriage in the broader community.
We can now place the expectation on all of our children, straight or not, because more people will have everyday conversations about the inevitability that ALL relationships are affirmed and respected when they culminate in marriage.
Our gay sons and lesbians daughters will now set their goal on sharing in that societal expectation.
Thank You Maryland!
Mark Patro is President of PFLAG Baltimore County (Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians & Gays)