Mar. 24, 2017

A Gay Marriage

I love all of my nieces and nephews. Lord knows I have many to love, but, in Terry, I am, without a doubt, the most proud. He is 53 years old and he is getting married for the first time. I never thought I’d see the day when this would happen. And yes, it’s because he’s gay. He called me one day and made his announcement, “Jim and I are getting married!” He‘s marrying a younger man. Jim is 52.

“You are,” I exclaimed in excitement. “Who is going to be the wife?”

“Wife? There is no wife,” he laughed. “He’s my husband and I’m his husband. There will be no wife at my marriage.”

“Well, who is going to wear the wedding dress then?”

“No wedding dress. This is not a wedding, it’s a marriage.”

Well phooey! If anyone would wear a wedding gown, it most likely would be Terry. He’s a professional dancer and has great legs. Not to mention he used to be a female impersonator. Terry used to do a great Liza Minnelli and for years he worked aboard a luxurious cruise liner doing shows for them.

Jim has told me of his first encounter with Terry, “He was dressed as Jessica and had this red wig on. He looked like hell and I thought then how I didn’t ever want to have anything to do with him.”

As a homosexual, Jim began that chapter in his life following a marriage, three children and a divorce. It was pretty much that simple. He’s a strong willed man, a man who knows what he wants, what he likes and he doesn’t take flack off others. His sons accept him for who he is and they’re very supportive of their father being gay. Jim’s family respects him. You either accept him, or you don’t, and he’s fine with that.

It wasn’t that simple for Terry. When he “came out” one of my brothers called me and said, “Are you sitting down? I have something to tell you.”

“Yes, I’m sitting down. What happened?”

“Our nephew, Terry, is a homosexual.”

“Okay. What happened to him?”

“Nothing,” my brother said in exasperation. “I’m just telling you, he’s gay!”

“Oh. Well duh. I thought everyone knew?”

That was the big family news; Terry came out of the closet. Many of our family members are judgmental in their Christianity (what an oxymoron, right?) and when Terry came out; he was severely judged by his own family. I understood that, first and foremost, he had to come out of the closet and it would be, by far, one of the most important steps he would have to take. When Terry did tell everyone he was gay, it ignited his long journey into to self-discovery and that journey is what brought Terry to where he is today.

I’ve stood at the sidelines watching my precious nephew stumble down this path, going through his terrible trials and tribulations of life, all because of his sexual orientation. Most of his adult life was spent in a liquor bottle as an alcoholic while he coped with who he was.

When my daughter realized her cousin was gay, she kept nudging me and saying, “Mom…Mom.” I finally tuned to her, knowing full well why she was nudging me and asked what she wanted. “Is he gay?” She was 10 years old at the time this realization hit her.

I turned to Terry and said, “Amber wants to know if you’re gay?”

He laughed and said to my daughter, “Can’t you tell? I wear it like a crown.”

And, he did (wear it like a crown). He was still on that path of Self-Destruction; the one he had to take before he could reach the road to Self-Acceptance.

For years Terry drowned himself in a bottle of liquor until one day, he met Jim. Through this man, who had so much inner strength and peace, Terry found his own strength. He found self-respect, pride, and, at long last, acceptance. He completely turned his life around. He became the man he is today. Terry went through his own hell, mostly alone, before he finally found someone who helped him come the rest of the way.

I think one of the more difficult things in Terry’s life was his father’s denial. He just wanted his dad to love him for who he was. My brother had an extremely hard time with his son’s homosexuality. He wouldn’t even acknowledge him at first and then slowly, he turned. My brother loves his son with all of his heart. He might grumble under his breath about Terry being gay, but there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for him. They both know that.

When my nephew called to announce his marriage to his Life-Partner, I was beaming with pride. Of course, I did do my Christian duty (I was trying to get to it before the other overzealous zealots in our family did). I reminded him of the cliché, “If God intended man to marry man he would have made Adam and Steve.”

“Is that it,” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered, and then quickly added, “No. One more thing. You’re on your own, pal. When you stand before Christ and be judged, you-are-on-your-own!”

Homosexuality used to be thought of as a psychiatric disorder that was related to pedophilia. Many believed if you were “a queer,” you had to be a child molester too. I remember those days growing up. They were all grouped together as sexual deviates: pedophiles, rapists and gays. Terry grew up in those times too. No wonder he felt so much pressure. Then to have his own family judge him as a sinner, one who cannot be saved through the Devine Grace of God.

Funny thing about that though, according to God, one sin is just as bad as the other is. It’s only in the eyes of man that we give it different levels. God loves us all, sinners that we are, and He accepts us as we are. I also seem to remember reading that Christ would be the judge of us, not man and, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” quote.

For what it’s worth, I love my nephew. I adore him and I’m so very proud of him. When the time of Judgment comes and I stand before Christ, when He asks me, “Michelle, why were you so proud of Terry?”

I will answer, “Because, Lord, he came a long way to get here. He has accomplished so much in his life and came farther than most will ever go in their own. Terry beat a demon in a bottle of Vodka and lived to tell about it. He rose up through the ashes of an outcast and stared down another demon of self-loathing. Thank you for sending Jim to him and most of all, thank you for loving Terry just as much as you love the rest of us. I did not judge him, Lord. I left that job for You.”