Sunday, February 17, 2013

Modern Pioneers

   I'm sitting here, avoiding homework, as I too often do. I decided to re-watch the video of my wedding day, which brought unexpected tears within the first ten seconds. I remember it perfectly -- the gorgeous sunny day, our friends and family gathered in one spot, all there to show us love and support. How amazing every single moment of that day was.
   We had the privilege of having Carol Lynn Pearson conduct our wedding. For those who don't know who she is -- she's an LDS author, poet, and lyricist who is an advocate for gay rights and for bridging the unfortunate gap between the LDS and gay communities. She said many beautiful things during our ceremony, but my favorite line by far was at the end, after our vows. I had mentioned that I wanted to stop fearing how people would react to our holding hands because I knew I had nothing to be ashamed of. She closed with a simple but powerful statement that I had never thought of before: "You are pioneers...on a very important frontier. And there will be less and less fear...of people seeing you holding hands."

   Elise and me? Pioneers? The dictionary defines Pioneer as "a person who is among those who first enter or settle a region, thus opening it for occupation and development by others." I can relate that definition to what she meant by us being pioneers for younger generations (or just other people) who are gay. Many, many gay individuals long before me have paved the way to equality; and although we still have quite a ways to go, we are so much closer because of those driven, brave people. I guess Elise and I really are among those who are paving the way, just by having our ceremony in a state where our commitment isn't legal. We showed that our love means just as much as everyone else's and that we were going to celebrate and honor it even without the state's support. When we planned this wedding, we had no intention of being pioneers; we simply wanted to celebrate our love and relationship with the people we loved. How cool though, to find out that we were a source of inspiration.
   More and more eyes will continue to be opened to the truth and beauty of love between two women or two men. More and more people will see a gay couple holding hands and feel happiness for two people in love, rather than feeling disgust for something different than them. Stereotypes can be broken, judgement can be lessened, and comfort zones can be broadened. All because of pioneers. Pioneers aren't just people with bonnets and covered wagons....they are those who start journeys with the intent of others being allowed to follow to the same ultimate goal. Freedom. Equality. Love.
   I am grateful that Carol Lynn Pearson brought to our attention that my beautiful wife and I are pioneers, because I never would have thought that otherwise. We are. You are.
   Be respectful and kind, but be brave. Push away your own fear of what others will think or how they'll react to "those two girls holding hands," or "those two boys hugging for too long." Get rid of your fear - to in turn erase their fear of us....their fear of different. 
   Thank you to the people in my life who have been open and able to change their views of myself and of other gay people. It means a lot to me to know that you now embrace what you once shunned. I wish that same loving change of view for every person who has experienced or is experiencing a loved one coming out of the closet.
   To my wife -- thank you for helping me break free from many of my own fears; and thank you for sticking with me as I continue to fight against the remaining ones.