Twenty three years ago, I walked into the Pacific Center, an LGBT center in Berkeley, California, for a gay men’s night, having no idea that I would meet the love of my life, my husband Mark.
That I can call him my husband, legally, under the laws of both the Federal Government and all fifty states, would have seemed an impossibility to me back then.
The first gay wedding I ever attended was in the late 80’s, when a high school friend of mine “married” his partner in Southern California. I put the word “married” in quotes because, back then, it was such an impossible concept – this idea that two men could marry – and it was at once an act of defiance and an act of love.
The ceremony, such as it was, involved five of us – the two grooms and three friends. We went to the Huntington Museum – a gorgeous place in Arcadia, California – and together we entered the bamboo garden. There, amidst the tall stands of bamboo, with the three of us huddled protectively around the couple so no one else could see, they exchanged hurried vows and rings.
I was all of 22 years old.
What a different world the young adults of today are entering into. When Mark and I met in 1992, we didn’t believe this day would come in our lifetimes. When we started our LGBT wedding directory, PurpleUnions.com, the name itself implied that we were lucky to get the recognition of civil unions. I still kick myself for not also having bought PurpleWeddings.com. LOL…
In 2008, we jumped into advocacy with both feet, starting the Gay Marriage Watch blog, which later became Marriage Equality Watch. In that year, anti gay laws were still gaining ground, and our bright, beautiful victory in California at the state Supreme Court was quickly eclipsed by the lies and hatred of Prop 8. Even then, just seven years ago, we didn’t know if we would get here.
The fall of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell put the foot on the accelerator, as the country saw out and proud military veterans for the first time, and all that activist energy flowed from the military into marriage equality and other LGBT movements.
The US Supreme Court rulings in 2014 only threw more fuel on the fire. I had hoped for marriage equality nationwide by 2020. I didn’t dare dream it would arrive so soon.
Mark and I have married twice – once in 2004 in San Francisco, only to see it snatched away from us, and again in 2008, also in The City. Many other same sex couples have now done the same around the country and around the world.
There are still other battles to be fought. In many states in the US, you can be fired or kicked out of your home for being LGBT. Transgender rights deserve much more of our attention. And there are many places around the world where it’s still a criminal act to be gay.
But those are fights to start tomorrow.
Today Mark and I will celebrate what has come before, and where we are now.
Today, in San Francisco, we march.