Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ty's Point of View


That's the theme. As the writing edition progressed and progressed, it became clear that no one was going to get any sleep. Ava and C.I. were adamant that a piece had to be written on a landmark verdict last week and, with time all gone, I said I'd write it as a solo piece.

To repeat, I'm gay (I'm also African-American). You'd think anyone coming by would know that since I've mentioned it often enough. But that appears to be 'news' to someone who claims to read our site, who I've exchanged e-mails with and who regularly sends their own writing to this site in order to get links. When C.I. helped me out by responding to a recent e-mail explaining how offended I was by what I saw (at best) as a patronizing attitude towards African-Americans and (at worst) out and out racism, the writer replied they never knew I was African-American or gay. In fact, they thought Ava was my girlfriend. (Ava and Jess are a couple. For the record, Ava's Latina. Just in case that pops up as a question in the future.)

I went public here as soon as I decided I didn't want to be a journalist. For those late to the party (C.I.'s phrase that's become so popular), cake's all gone (ibid), but what happened was a professor (in NY) who I thought the world of loved my work but, upon finding out that I was gay, attempted to ghetto-ize me with assignments and made comments that I saw as homophobic. Jim's father is a member of the Real Press and he told me that there were people who were that way in the Real Press and there were people who weren't. We always covered gay rights issue here and no one was talking about their personal lives in 2005 (the year we started) so I didn't feel I the need to air my own business. (If the topic came up in e-mails, I would inform the reader I was gay.) We were doing group pieces (and Ava and C.I. were, of course, doing their TV commentaries) but we didn't even have roundtables for the longest so there really wasn't much to bring it up with. I believe I "came out" here in early 2006. That's when I made the decision that I wasn't in the mood for journalism. C.I. got me an internship with a friend in the movie industry for the summer of 2006 and that was great (and became a job that I still hold). No turning back to journalism for me.

So that's the history for all those who were late to the party (chiefly because they were never invited). Last Thursday, the California Supreme Court overturned the discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages. It's needed. "Civil unions" are not marriage. They are sop thrown out to gays and lesbians that we really don't need to accept and shouldn't. The Court, in a vote of four to three, found it unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from marriage licenses and wedding. It's pretty basic, if it's okay for one group, it's okay for another.

It was a great moment but, back to it, panic.


Personal panic for me because there's already an effort to stay the decision and to put a measure on the November ballot that would overturn the verdict. I personally think it's unlikely to be stayed but I'm not so sure it wouldn't be stayed.

Why does that cause me panic? Obviously, it demonstrates how quickly rights can be removed.

But on a personal level, in college, I got involved in a long-term relationship. When I moved out to C.I.'s house (the first! Ava and Jess followed me then Dona and Jim), my long-term relationship became a long-distance one. My boyfriend graduates in May and then moves out to California. It's been nearly four years. We are committed. We've been committed for some time. With all this commitment already, at some point, it's either marriage or the nut house. (My attempt at a joke.)

And while I could see marrying him (and look forward to it), the very real possibility that the verdict could be wiped away in a November vote caused a panic. We haven't talked about marriage -- we don't talk about giving birth either. As a general rule, we don't talk about things that aren't going happen. But suddenly marriage becomes an option and it may only be an option for a few months.

So that put pressure on me and pressure on him. When we spoke on the phone Thursday evening, I noticed that we both avoided mentioning the discussion. We did in a quick (five minutes) call Friday morning. Friday night, we both brought it up at the same time. Neither of us wants to rush down the aisle. (Is that even the right term?) But we've got nearly four years now. We'll soon be living together. And for what may be a brief moment in time, we could get married.

Are we ready for that? No. We both agree. There are couples who have dreamed for years of this day arriving. (And if this were a group piece, C.I. would be telling me the first state to issue a same-sex marriage license -- in Michigan, I think -- back in the seventies -- I think -- and I'd realize how long this has been an issue. Sorry, I lack C.I.'s memory and legal knowledge.) I'm sure there will be a rush of weddings and that they will have the same success/failure rate as in the general (read: straight) population. But while we both fessed up to not being ready, we both also floated the idea that, living together between now and November, we might be ready before the ballot vote could wipe the possibility away.

The practical side for both of us knows that same-sex marriage is inevitable. It's going to happen, across the United States, because part of the history of the country is one of rights denied, battle, rights won. But will that be a few years? Five? Ten?

And if the vote should wipe out our chance to tie the knot and our relationship lasts (as we both think it will), come 2011 would we be kicking ourselves for not getting married?

It's a lot to suddenly to deal with for two people in a committed relationship where marriage wasn't an option but suddenly is for at least a brief moment.

Jim, whose engaged to Dona, tells me I just have the usual groom jitters (not implying that my boyfriend would be the "wife," so please don't read that into it) combined with the ticking down nature of the verdict. And, as we talked about that, I saw there's a lot of truth in that. A straight guy and a gay guy comparing notes on wedding jitters.

No matter what happens next, it's a sign of the nature of progress.

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