A reader writes:
My Uncle passed in '96. His partner passed before him and his will was overturned, so my Uncle received the bare minimum after a more than decade-long relationship. At my Uncle's wake, the family of his partner showed up to take the few things away from his house (mainly furniture). It wrecked a day that should have been a time to say goodbye. I wish he was around to see a day like today. The ability to trivialize his relationship to a fling or something worse kills me. He and Robert were in love – that should be enough.
My husband and I had a dear friend. He came to be like a grandparent to our children. We met him at church and became friends. He was my parents' age, married and with two grown children. One Sunday we arranged for him to visit us – what would become the first of many visits over the years. On that first visit he told us that he was gay.
He came out in his 70s but only to us. To the rest of the world he was a straight, married, dad, music and animal lover. Oh and opinionated, very opinionated. We also shared an admiration and respect for Barack Obama – his words, books, character, family – and we were both strong supporters. Our friend also was in the closet about politics – not able to share his views with family, colleagues, many friends. So we would talk about Obama during our visits and we would often exchange emails, share videos, and generally just rant about politics. He would tell me that he had seen many leaders in his almost 80 years and he wondered if Americans realized just how fortunate we were to have such an exceptional leader. And yes, sometimes we would just comment on the President's engaging smile, sense of humor, and way of making people feel comfortable.
When our President announced his support of marriage equality today I immediately wanted to send the video to my friend. And then it hit me that my friend died in January and that I couldn't share this extraordinary moment with him. He lived almost 80 years and never heard a President affirm who he was. How would his life be different if this moment had come when he was a young boy or a young man just out of the army, or before he married a woman? He made the best of his life but he did wonder, did grieve for what he never was, for how he never lived.
Somehow when the President of my country affirms marriage equality it feels like our nation is officially "out". It feels like our LGBT brothers and sisters are officially accepted – even if not by everyone. Ever since the announcement I can't stop crying for my country, for the pain of our past, for the pain yet to come, for the hope of a more perfect union realized, and for my friend.
(Photo: Standing with a character from his book Where the Wild Things Are, author and illustrator Maurice Sendak speaks with the media on January 11, 2002 before the opening of an exhibition entitled, "Maurice Sendak In His Own Words and Pictures," at the Childrens Museum of Manhattan in New York City. By Spencer Platt/Getty Images)